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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Though I have always been afraid to work with yeast, I decided that at some point in my life, I would need to learn….why not now?  My mom had been asking me to make this one apple bread/cake for a while, so I took the plunge, and baked with yeast.  I can’t say this was my best creation, but it was good.  I think I over-baked it a little, but it’s not really my fault that the juices from the apples overflowed…and got all over the oven…and started smoking so I had to take it out and switch it to the other oven, during baking…and wait for the other oven to preheat so that it could finish…but the timer shut off, so I didn’t actually know for how long that needed to be…Let’s just say that I was faced with more than a few problems.  Needless to say, it was still good.  Just slightly over-baked.  After baking this, I was determined to get the whole “baking with yeast” thing down pat.  Parts two and three to follow…

note: I’m having trouble importing the recipe, so if you want it, you can find it at Confessions of a Tart.

Sometimes I get so stuck in my ways.  After my previous fiasco with the Baked cookbook, I refused to open it, or even look at it — I know, kind of silly, but I really did not want to be reminded of my malt ball cake failure of epic proportions.  But there it was, glaring at me from my bookshelf, everyday, since the beginning of June!  Just shy of seven months later, I finally caved and opened the book.  Ah!  And what a relief it was.  I was once again entranced by the cookbook’s recipes and alluring photos.  I decided I’d stick with a more conservative recipe this time, one that seemed far simpler, but by no means less delicious — even Oprah raves about this brownie!  The Baked Brownie was sooo good, and even better as the base of a brownie sundae. 🙂

“THE BAKED BROWNIE
Yield: 24 brownies

The Baked brownie is a beautiful thing. It has won the hearts and minds of many people, been featured on the pages of O Magazine as a favorite thing, and won best brownie by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen and the Today Show. Our brownie really owes many kudos to our friend and superstar pastry chef Lesli Heffler-Flick. She created the original ultimate brownie for us. It is dense, chocolatey, and slightly fudgy, and we are forever grateful to her for letting us adapt her recipe.

Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several factors. 1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth. 2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter, and 3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been overbaked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.

Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.”

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I thought that I didn’t like butterscotch…I guess I was wrong.  This sauce was delicious.

Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce – Smitten Kitchen
Adapted loosely from The Washington Post, who adapted it from The Perfect Cake

Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. [A flat whisk works great here.] Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine and this is where, despite the simplicity of the recipe, you get to feel all “chef-y”. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce (without burning your tongue!) to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. I ended up using a full teaspoon of flaky salt and the listed amount of vanilla to get a butterscotch sauce with a very loud, impressive butterscotch flavor but the strength of your vanilla and intensity of your salt may vary.

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve come full circle.  Yes, it has been one full year, 365 days, since the birth of my blog.  I thought it appropriate to re-invent my first post to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Bringing Home the Bakin’.  Once again, I made the Buche de Noel for my French Class, this time using a delectable triple-chocolate variation.  Though my Bouche does not look as pretty in the slice close-up as it did last year, this recipe was excellent.  It was very chocolate-y, but far less sweet than many (most) cakes, and wasn’t covered in waxy buttercream, as per last year.  I would 100% recommend this recipe.

As for my vision for the coming year, dorm-room baking might be a little difficult, but I’ll just have to find a way…I’m sure my roommate and the people on my floor wouldn’t mind the occasional homemade baked good.  😉

Stay tuned — there is LOTS of holiday baking to follow!

Buche de Noel – Martha Stewart

Chocolate Genoise

INGREDIENTS

Makes one 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-inch cake.

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for parchment and pan
  • 2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-by-1-inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment; butter and flour paper, tapping out the excess flour.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda together twice into a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Skim off white foam, and pour clear yellow butter into a bowl, discarding white liquid at the bottom. Set aside in a warm place.
  3. In a medium-size heat-proof bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; stir until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and beat on high speed until mixture is thick and pale and has tripled in bulk. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. In three additions, sift flour mixture over egg mixture, folding in gently with a spatula. While folding in last addition, dribble melted butter over batter and fold in.
  5. Spread batter evenly in pan, leaving behind any unincorporated butter in the bottom of the bowl. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until cake springs back when touched in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t overbake or cake will crack. Let sit in pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
  6. Dust surface with cocoa powder. To make rolling easier, trim edges of cake, and cover with a sheet of waxed paper and a damp dish towel. Invert onto a work surface, and peel off parchment; dust with cocoa. Starting from one long end, carefully roll up cake in towel. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4.

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (The quality of the chocolate is very important here — I recommend Guittard semisweet chocolate chips.)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of cream tartar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, stirring well. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff. Whisk a third of the whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remainder of the egg whites.
  3. Whip cream until it holds soft peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Ganache

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (Again, quality is key: I used the same chips.)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop chocolate into small pieces, and place in a medium bowl. Heat cream until bubbles begin to appear around the edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Refrigerate until cold but not solid, stirring occasionally.

TO ASSEMBLE

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make chocolate genoise and mousse, ganache icing, and meringue mushrooms (optional)
  2. To assemble cake, carefully unroll genoise on the back side of a baking sheet (discard the plastic wrap and waxed paper, but keep the towel). Spread chocolate mousse evenly on cake to within 1 to 2 inches of one long end. Reroll cake, starting from other long end, using towel to help roll it. Cover with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Place cake, seam side down, on a serving platter; tuck parchment around it to keep platter clean while decorating.
  4. Whip ganache at medium speed until it has the consistency of soft butter. Cut two wedges off ends of cake at a 45 degrees.angle; set aside. Ice log with a thin layer of ganache. Attach wedges on diagonally opposite sides of log. Spread ganache all over log, using a small spatula to form barklike ridges. Chill until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.
  5. In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate until smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread melted chocolate 1/8 inch thick over parchment. Refrigerate until cold, 10 to 15 minutes. Roll paper back and forth until chocolate splinters; sprinkle over cake. Chill cake until ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve, arrange meringue mushrooms around and on cake, and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar. (I used white chocolate instead.)

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Mmmmm, so good!  These cookies had that wonderfully, crumbly, sandy texture that I love, as well a smooth, somewhat-subtle coffee flavor.  Dotted with chocolate chips, and slivered almonds, these cookies are delicious, not to mention incredibly easy.

Coffee Crunch Bars – Molly Wizenberg

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.
  • Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl until blended, about 2 minutes. Add espresso powder and almond extract; beat 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing until just absorbed after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds (dough will be thick).
  • Turn dough out onto ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Using hands, press dough into 12-inch square. Pierce all over with fork at 1-inch intervals.
  • Bake until edges are lightly browned and beginning to crisp, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on sheet 1 minute. Cut into 48 bars. Immediately transfer to rack; cool (bars will crisp as they cool). DO AHEAD Can be made 5 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

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Because I am the best sister ever, I woke up early this morning (my sister’s birthday) and made breakfast for her.  I think it is pretty safe to say that one of Rachel’s favorite, if not her most favorite, breakfast foods is the Dutch Baby pancake.  I’ve made many Dutch Babies in my time, but I always find a fault with them: too eggy, too soggy, too buttery, etc.  Finally, I found what seemed to be the BEST recipe yet, and it was, but I had a little trouble getting it out of the pan, so please excuse the not-so-prettiness of the pancake.

German Pancakes – Smitten Kitchen 

Yield 2 9-inch pancakes.

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour, sifted
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons soft butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans well. Put eggs in blender container, cover and process at “stir” until light yellow in color. Push “mix” button, remove cover and add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into prepared pans and bake 20 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°F and bake 10 minutes. Slide onto hot plates. Serve with lemon slices, powdered sugar and butter.

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