Blast from the Past

January 23, 2010

I knew I wanted to start my own baking blog from the time I was first introduced into the food blogging world.  Anticipating the start of my own site, I was a rampant baker and used my small digital camera to document every item produced in my kitchen, taking hundreds of shots of my cupcakes, cookies and cakes that I knew would one day be posted on my own blog.  However, now that I have my blog, I never look back or consider posting those old recipes I’ve made, however successful they were.  Maybe it’s the crappy lighting or blurry photography, or maybe it’s just because I can’t even keep up with posting my new recipes.  Well, today while looking through my iphoto albums, I was inspired to share some past photos and recipes of things I have made.  I do indeed have hundreds of photos sitting around serving no purpose!

Here is a brief excerpt of my baking, pre-rollininthedough.

Since I began baking, I have made a coconut cake every year for my mom’s birthday in October.  It’s her favorite, and I always try out a new recipe.  October of 2008, I was feeling ambitious and wanted to do something grand.  I found this recipe months before the date, and marveled over its impressiveness; I knew it was perfect.  However, when I read through the recipe, I was repulsed by the 10 sticks of butter called to make the entire thing.  I’ll repeat that: TEN STICKS OF BUTTER.  My family is pretty health conscious, so I tried to improve this buttery situation by opting out a few sticks from the cake batter.  Now I don’t quiet remember exactly what I did, but what I will tell you is to NOT do what I did.  If your going to make this cake, go ahead and make it with all its 10-sticks-of-butter-glory.  I followed the recipe for the frosting to a T and it turned out amazing.  Real vanilla beans.  As for my attempt to manipulate the fat out of this cake, well it had a weird flavor and dryness to it.  Looks impressive though….right?  I wasn’t confident enough to make a six layer cake, so I made it four layers.  I’m sure it will be amazing if it is done right.  Don’t mind if I just post a link, this recipe is super long: ultimate Coconut Cake

This next recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s Berry Surprise cake; a white cake with berries hidden inside, so when you cut it open the cake bursts with berries. This was a recipe done on a week of Tuesday’s with Dorie.  I fell in love with how this cake looked.  So pristine white, and berry beautiful 😉  One of my favorite blogs, Tender Crumb had one of the most beautiful interpretations of this cake which I was inspired to emulate.  I made this for my brothers surprise birthday party, so it seemed only fitting to make a Berry Surprise Cake. (I’m a corn-ball).  Known for over-doing it in the dessert department,  I also made ice cream sandwiches.  I can’t remember which chocolate chip cookie recipe I used (from the picture it looks like the NYTCCC), but I made two types of ice cream: strawberry balsamic and salted caramel.   What great flavor combinations,  if I don’t say so myself, these ice cream sandwiches were pretty dope 😀

To make the ice cram sandwiches, I let the ice cream thaw to room temperature, filled the cookies, wrapped them in plastic wrap and refroze.  Then about 30 minutes before consumption, I took them out of the fridge so they wouldn’t be hard as bricks.

I got the strawberry balsamic recipe from Tender Crumb blog as well: here

Salted Caramel Ice cream recipe:

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Adapted from David Liebovitz

2 cups whole milk, divided

1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)

Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.  The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup of the milk.

Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally, I’m going to share with you the first paid order I did; how exciting!  I remember slaving over these mini cupcakes all day.  It was so much work, but it was also well worth it.  I felt so accomplished and everybody loved these Chai tea and matcha green tea cupcakes (not pictured).  These were made for the Marin Chinese Cultural Association Asian scholarship dinner, so I went with tea flavors. Michelle from une-deuxsenses blog raved about this chai recipe, and I used a matcha cupcake recipe I created myself.  My first attempt at Swiss Merengue buttercream, it was glorious.  Recipe is here

A sample of past baking.  I can promise more is to come……

to be continued!

Christmas Baking

January 4, 2010

2009 was my family’s first real Christmas in a long time.  I don’t know why, but one year my parents decided not to get a tree and fuss over Christmas.  Well, this made me very sad.  Firstly, because Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday; I just love the music, gift giving and general spirit.  Second, because my birthday is on the 23rd of December and the celebration on Christmas itself is like a birthday present to me.  Third, well I wasn’t getting very many presents!  Anyways, my family hasn’t had a really traditional Christmas in quite some time, so I was pretty ecstatic when I learned we were getting a tree and hosting a Christmas dinner party.

Of coarse, I made dessert.  I had a request for a sugar-less dessert because of a health condition, so I came up with a seasonal fruit galette adapted from Martha Stewart.

I used a combination of organic pears, persimmons and apples, about three cups.  I mixed this in a bowl with 1 tablespoon on cornstarch, two teaspoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt.

I put the filling in the center of a 14 inch round pie crust, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border, and then I folded the crust over the sides.  I mixed an egg yolk and a tablespoon of cream and brushed the edges so it would bake up with a nice golden/brown color.  The only sugar I used was a small handful to dust the edges of the crust.

I baked the galette for about 1 hour until the juiced in the center were bubbling (activating the cornstarch)   and the crust was golden brown.  I dotted the top with a bit of organic strawberry jam.

This was so delicious.  No one could believe that I didn’t add any sugar to the recipe.  It was the consumed within minutes after I put the dessert out.

Next, I made Martha Steward’s Sweet Potato Cupcakes.  These were great!  The cupcakes were soft, delicious and moist.  But perhaps next time I will use an actual frosting instead of her suggested toasted marshmallow and nut topping, even though I love using a propane torch to toast the marshmallows!  I never use the broiler, a torch is so much more fun.

Here is the recipe:

Double click the recipe to enlarge.

I whipped up some decadent chocolate toffee shortbread too.  Everybody loved this.  The recipe makes a 9×13 inch pan so I had a lot to keep and give away as gifts.  You really should make this, super easy and so good!  I’ll do another post with more pictures where I leave the recipe.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Order up

November 28, 2009

I love getting an order for my baked goods.

getting paid to bake!? and usually cupcakes!?  trying out new fun cake recipes and buttercreams!?

I would almost pay to do it…… almost.  Then I remember the stress, assembly, and price of ingredients.  Perhaps it is fair that they would pay me to do this 🙂

Anyways…. this was an order I did a few months ago and never posted.  I forgot to photograph so these are some pictures hurriedly taken from the car as I was dropping them off!  It was a friend’s birthday and his wife wanted to surprise him with my cupcakes.  The friend only really likes white cake with white frosting. So that’s exactly what I did, a white on white cupcake (and emphasis on not too much frosting!).  When looking for a recipe to use, I remembered  Bridget’s blog’s white cake comparison from this summer.(Her blog is amazing check it out!)  Alas, my work had been done for me!  Bridget had compared Dorie’s perfect party cake, Cook’s Illustrated white cake, and one that she had adapted herself.  I agreed with her that Dorie’s is a bit too dry for me, I had made that before.  I decided to go with Bridget’s own recipe that claimed the best of both worlds, great flavor from Dorie’s and texture from CI’s cupcakes.

I’m super critical of my baking when it comes to paid orders.  Nothing is ever good enough. I probably made my mom eat 3 cupcakes just to reaffirm how delicious they were.  I finally believed her.  These cupcakes are delicious.  They just didn’t rise enough for me.

As for the buttercream, I just used an American style easy-peasy recipe that I adapted from another favorite blog of mine, milk+honey cafe.

This couple can be tough to please.  But they loved the cupcakes.  And so did their snooty, foodie, San Francisco food-blogging friends.

Enjoy!

White Cake (Bridget’s adaptation from Cooks Illustrated’s Classic White Cake)

Serves 12

Nonstick cooking spray

2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans

1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature

6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (11.35 ounces)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool

1. For the Cake: Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

4. Add all but ½ cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining ½ cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1½ hours.

For buttercreams, I usually just play around and don’t do exact measurements.  Add more milk to lighten it up, or more sugar for extra body.  Just see what works best and tastes good!

Vanilla Buttercream (adapted from milk+honey cafe)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

DIRECTIONS

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add half the confectioners’ sugar salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Add the rest of the sugar and mix again. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and milk, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.


Long time no post.

Last weekend I co-hosted a Japanese sushi making party!  More like “American style” sushi. haha. A large majority came out as these awkward, overstuffed maki rolls with copious rice to fish proportions.  We used the untraditional ingredients like cream cheese and smoked salmon, but the more everyone practiced the better they became.

We had all types of fresh, wonderful ingredients: Hamachi (yellow tail), Maguro (tuna), Tamago (Japanese omelet/egg), Unagi (grilled eel), Kani (articifcial crab meat), avocado, cucumber, carrots, tofu, spinach, even Inarizushi (sweet bean curd pockets that hold rice), and much, much more…. yum!  Japanese food is my absolute favorite.  I could live on it and never eat any other type of cuisine.  I was in Japan this summer, and I would have to say one of the best parts was eating Japanese food for breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and dessert of course!  I never get sick of it.  Sake, or salmon sashimi is my absolute favorite.

So I was asked to bring dessert for the event.  About 50 members of the Marin Chinese Cultural Association came together for a big cooking class.  I already had a suggestion of what I should make…..  actually more like a demand from my mother of what I had to make. My matcha cupcakes.

Now, when I say my cupcakes, I say this because these cupcakes are my signature.  I make them special by injecting sweetened red bean paste into the center and piping a heavenly matcha buttercream on top.  I created the recipe myself, or dramatically adapted one, one could say… In fact, I’m still perfecting these babies.  But don’t get me wrong, they never cease to impress.  These cupcakes are damn good.

Instructor of the class:  Kyoko Lin, with me as her humble assistant. I had the pleasure of traveling to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe with her this summer.  We are good family friends and it was wonderful to get to spend some quality time together for the first time in a long while.  Being the wonderful person she is, she still agreed to instruct the class after just coming back from Japan two days before! Imagine the jetlag!  Honestly, the woman is one of the sweetest individuals I know. It’s all the Japanese etiquette!!!

The class was so much fun and all the food was super delicious.  We had some fantastic potluck accompaniments to go with our sushi, and we also served miso soup.  My cupcakes came at the end.  Yum.

I’m not quiet sure if I’m entirely ready to disclose this recipe yet….. perhaps some more time or more perfecting.  I’m sure I’ll be able to let go in the future.  In the meantime, you can dreamily await……