Archive for January, 2011

I think I need a moment

(Title is Actual Quote from today.)

Imagine a food. This is a food that you may enjoy various concoctions and flavors. You might even be a bit experimental.

Then, someone places something in your hand. It looks like this food. It even has the ingredients and components of this food. Yet, when you take a bite, your brain goes:

WHAT THE HELL DID YOU PUT INTO YOUR MOUTH!!!

Your brain knows the components. They even sound good, if slightly on the experimental cutting edge of food.

Celery Root Carrot Cake. Okay, celery root isn’t all that traditional, but carrot cake is pretty good.

Blue Cheese Buttercream. Well, okay, kinda weird, but you had that pear olive oil cake with blue cheese buttercream that was pretty good, so you go for it.

Fried Chicken. Okay, unorthodox, but chicken and waffles is a southern delicacy, and you have even had the chicken ‘n waffle cupcake and it was good.

Citrus Buffalo Sauce. Which they should bottle and sell it was so good. Tangy and spice and I dont even like buffalo sauce.

Put it together? You have a cupcake that defies words, that is the bastard love child of an evil scientist and a high couture pastry chef.*

I give you, the Hot Josh.

“Celery root & carrot cake with Point Reyes blue cheese buttercream and citrus tinged Buffalo chicken.”

You take a bite. Your brain processes the cake. Not to sweet, very moist, very good. You bite into the chicken. Spicy, tangy, good. Yet, somehow, your brain refuses to process the combination of all of the components.

Seriously. My brain rejected this experience.

MY BRAIN DOES NOT COMPREHEND.

I can remember the taste of the buffalo chicken. And I kinda remember the cake. But even though I took several bites of everything together, I have no memory of that flavor.

They blew my brain. How many of you can say that a cupcake (or any food) did the same for you?

Read their post about the Hot Josh at Robicellis.tumblr.com.

*Actually, it is a husband and wife team, and both parties embody both examples. :)

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How to Choose Recipes

I feel that I have been a bit scatterbrained in my approach to picking recipes, and I think this has prevented me from cooking and baking many things. As such, I wanted to formalize a way to choose a recipe, so I stop spending hours searching.

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Bread for Non Bakers

(Sorry for the cell phone picture, as my camera has gone MIA.)

I have written before about my bread failures. And, in my many discussions with other bakers, many are still afraid of bread. (I am still afraid of pie crust, so we all have our fears.) Thus, when I picked up a copy of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, I was intrigued by the recipes for Batter Bread. The recipe is basically “Put things in a bowl, beat for two minutes, let rise for 45 minutes, and bake for 45 minutes.”

I thought this would be an excellent way, if it turned out, to give a basic bread recipe to the masses. We are obsessed with no knead breads, and Artisan Bread in Five gives a great way to have artisan breads at home. Yet, they still take hours, and the longer resting times give a flavor quality to the bread.

This bread recipe is not going to give you artisan quality bread. Artisan Bread comes from high moisture, long rises, and can take several days.

But, this is a great bread to whip up quickly, and to have home baked bread that is tasty and quick.

(Please keep away from cats. My kitten ate a piece of the first loaf before knocking it on the floor.)

Fannie Farmer Batter Bread
Recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

1 packed of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp yeast)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) milk, warm.
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour*

If you are using active dry yeast, then put the yeast, butter, and milk into a bowl, and let sit for a few minutes. The milk should be warm but not hot, put a clean finger into it to test the warmness. (I put cold butter and cold milk in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes.) The yeast should bubble up and look slightly foamy and smell like yeast. If you are using instant yeast, then you can skip this step.

Add sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat by hand for two minutes, or by stand mixer for one minute. Add the last cup of flour, and beat until combined.

Put batter into a loaf pan. Smooth the top, and slice down the middle with a very sharp knife. Let it stand until it has risen to the top of the pan, about 45 minutes (in my 73 degree kitchen).

Bake the bread at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out onto a towel or rack. For a better loaf, let it cool before cutting into it.

Enjoy!

*While making this recipe, I tried to emulate all of the non bakers that I knew and did the “dip and sweep” method of flour measuring. The first time, I purposefully tried to get extra flour in the batter, and the batter 1) took longer to rise, and 2) took longer to bake. In the second case, I shook the flour bag before dipping, and didn’t try to pack it in. It rose faster.

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“Best Of” Post: Recipes and Analysis

Apparently Cooked flour Frosting is the most popular thing I write about. I attempted a few other versions of it recently, and none have come out right. I found another version today which includes powdered sugar that I may try soon.

Top Five Posts of 2010

  1. Heirloom Cooked Flour Frosting: A unique frosting made from milk, flour, butter, and sugar. Traditional for Red Velvet Cake.
  2. How Many Frostings Are There: I keep adding to this list. And, I keep discovering new frostings every day!
  3. Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting. This and my Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are my most requested at parties.
  4. Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting. My Cupcake Camp entry, loved by most who tasted it, and Jennifer Appel from Buttercup Bakeshop called them “Amazing.”
  5. Coconut Ginger Brownies with Ginger Salted Caramel Sauce: My Award Winning “Ginger Dessert Bars.”

This year, my personal baking goal is to 1) Find more people to eat my cakes, and 2) attempt to document pictures and video of the various types of frosting. In my extensive cupcake research, the three places that offered non powdered sugar based buttercream also had the best cupcake cake base. (Those three places are the Robicellis (The best cupcakes in the entire world), Molly’s Cupcakes (in Chicago, but opening soon in NYC), and sugar Sweet sunshine.) I find that many people write cupcake recipes that discuss that this or that frosting is the best, but never actually discuss *Why* the frosting is good. I think educating people on *Why* what they are eating tastes like it tastes is a good step.

My professional goals are to 1) GRADUATE! (OMG I am sick of school) and 2) write the business plan for, well, a possible business. If you know me in person, please ask, if not, I am not quite ready to put it out on the internet. :)

What are your baking goals for the year?

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