Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TWD: Rum Drenched Vanilla Cakes

There was no way I was missing this one. I love a good vanilla cake (which the cake essentially is), and to drench it with rum? Delicious! I'm not a rum drinker, but I love the taste in baked goods.

The original recipe makes two cakes. I only made one. Fewer cakes = less Jules. It's simple math. I love that this cake calls for real vanilla beans. There is no substitute for the deliciousness that is a fresh vanilla bean. This was very easy to put together. No mixer required! The girl actually did a lot of the measuring, pouring, and mixing. I put the loaf pan right on the oven rack. I'm still not sure why Dorie always wants me to use two baking sheets for all of my cakes. Anyway, the cake baked up golden brown and lovely in exactly 60 minutes.

Love that golden color.
While the cake is baking, I made a simple rum syrup. Once the cake was cooled, I poked it on top with a long skewer. Lots. Then I brushed the syrup over the top, also lots, until the syrup was gone. I wouldn't let anyone eat it until it had been sitting, well wrapped, of course, for at least a day.

Just waiting for a fork!

The verdict? The girl liked it a lot. The boy didn't like the rum. The husband thought it was very good. I mostly liked it. There were some real textural differences in the top of the cake where the syrup penetrated, and the bottom of the loaf where it did not. I think, were I to make this again, I would make a glaze rather than a syrup. I might also add some more vanilla to the glaze. Hmmm, that's sounding good. The rum flavor was very concentrated on the top as well. I liked it enough to want to play around some more, so that's saying something.

If you look closely, you can see how far the syrup penetrated.

I served it plain, but I could see a little rum whipped cream or some fresh fruit on top. Hmmm. That's sounding good, too. Good thing I have more cake.

Thanks, Wendy, for choosing this. Go see her blog, Pink Stripes, and you can read the recipe.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loafcake

This recipe came around at the perfect time. My mother's husband loves chocolate. Father's Day was Sunday. Nice match!

Following my "cakes need to ripen" theory, I made this the night before I was planning on serving it. This was a simple simple cake to make. The only substitution I made was to use some yogurt in place of the sour cream because it's what I had. I made sure I was using the correct size pan - I read about some issues that people were having. I didn't put the loaf pan on top of a sheet pan as Dorie recommends. I never do, and things still seem to bake just fine. After 45 minutes I covered the pan so that it wouldn't over brown. At 60 minutes, it was done. I let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turned it out to cool completely.

The cake sliced into thirds pretty easily. Not evenly, but that was cutter error. I planned on filling the cake with jam, but I decided against the frosting. It was a good decision. Instead of turning the cake over to make a smoother surface for frosting, I just kept it right side up. The only part of the recipe that didn't work well for me was boiling the jam. I didn't end up seeing the need. The warm jam ended up running off the cake onto the plate. Ah well. I used my home-made mixed berry jam to fill the cake. 1/3 of jam didn't seem like enough for the whole thing. I ended up using 1 cup total to fill the cake. Again, good choice. Better, I think, if I hadn't boiled it.

Very drippy jam.
Once it was assembled, I sprinkled the top with powdered sugar. This cake was not a show stopper. But what it lacked in pretty, it made up for in taste. This is an excellent cake. It was rich and moist with an excellent chocolate flavor. We thought about other ways to serve the cake, and all sounded delicious. It is definitely on our keeper list.

Cleaned up plate and powdered sugar hide a multitude of sins.
Thank you Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes for this great choice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Raisin Swirl Bread

There are only two things in which I will eat cooked raisins. One of them is oatmeal raisin cookies. The other is cinnamon raisin bread. Woo hoo for this week's recipe!

I was reading the P & Q section, and I was surprised by how many people are intimidated by baking with yeast. Maybe it's because I've been baking for so many years, but yeast doesn't phase me at all. I use this yeast, and it's never failed me. It doesn't require proofing, which is one of the steps that may mess with people.

This was an easy recipe to put together. Thank you Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I used mostly skim milk instead of whole. I used nutmeg and vanilla. I also used this - Sweet Dough Flavor. I love the stuff. It smells like bakery and adds just the right "something" to sweet doughs. I did my first rise on Sunday night and refrigerated the dough overnight.

I was a bit concerned this morning because it had begun to rise again in the fridge. I was worried that the yeast was running out of steam for what would be essentially a third rise. The cold dough was so easy to roll out. I spread the butter and sprinkled on the cinnamon mix as well as the raisins. A quick roll up and into the pan for a rise. It did take longer than 45 minutes to crown over the top of the pan, but crown it did. It also took longer to bake than the recipe states. I baked for an extra 16 minutes. My handy Thermapen told me that it was only 155 degrees after the initial 45 minutes. That would have given me a gooey center. At 61 minutes, it was 195 degrees. Perfect.

Mmmmm. Golden brown and delicious!

The kids were clambering for me to cut into the loaf, but it needed to cool. Finally, we were able to slice. What a wonderful loaf! I love the swirls. There was a little air room at the top of the loaf, but it didn't matter. The flavor was slightly sweet and the pockets of raisins were perfect. I like the touch that the cocoa added. It wasn't overtly chocolate, it just added an extra taste. I'm pretty sure I'll be making this one again.

Just look at that swirl!

The boy really enjoyed this one!

Thanks, Susan of Food.Baby for picking this one!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes

I love a good summer dessert. While I fully subscribe to the theory that fruit isn't dessert, very often good desserts are made with fruit. This is one of them. Shortcakes are a quintessential summer dessert. They grace many magazine and cookbook covers because of the contrast in colors and the reminder of good things. I don't have a go-to recipe for shortcake because I rarely ever think to make it. When I do make it, I enjoy the heck out of it. I need to remember this one more often.

Mmmmmm. Shortcake and berries and whipped cream. Mmmmm.

I decided to quarter the recipe. I figured we were better off with four shortcakes and no leftovers. This was easy to put together. It did give me a nervous moment or two, however. I tried very hard to follow Dorie's rules and not over mix the dough. But when it all had been tossed together, I had a bowl full of crumbs. I scooped out a half cup and carefully dumped it on the Silpat. Instead of the gentle patting that the recipe suggests, I did some gentle smooshing, and made four mounds of dough. I was crossing my fingers that they would hold together. Into the oven for 15 minutes and - woo hoo! Shortcakes.

These are the mounds of dough crumbles.

Here's a close up. I wasn't sure this was going to work!

But it did. Here's a baked shortcake.
The fruit was easy. I used strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries with a touch of sugar. The whipped cream came from a can. There's no shame in spray can whipped cream. These cut fairly easily for me with a serrated knife.

Here's a side view. You can see all the delicious layers. Mmmmm.

The verdict was positive all around. The girl ate all hers and wanted more. I couldn't blame her. The crisp of the shortcake mixed with the juicy sweet berries and creamy whipped cream is an excellent combination. I can't see using this recipe to make more than four shortcakes, but I'd use it again for that. Or maybe smaller mounds and bite sized shortcakes.

Thank you Cathy of the Tortefeasor for this excellent taste of summer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

TWD: White Chocolate Brownies

I almost forgot it was Tuesday! So much going on. Anyway, white chocolate is an oxymoron. I'm not a fan, but everyone else in my house is, so I made brownies.

These are medium/low on my fuss factor scale. I didn't pay attention to the p & q section where someone mentioned this, or else I wouldn't have used white chocolate chips. They were tricky to melt with the butter. Eventually, however, I did get them to melt. The batter came together pretty easily. I did line my pan with parchment, and the sling made them easy to lift out and cut. I saw that a lot of people had trouble with these brownies being underdone. Without the meringue, mine took exactly 35 minutes and were perfectly done in the middle - moist and cakey but not dense.

I skipped the meringue topping. First of all, it was WET here yesterday, and weepy meringue is gross. Plus, I'm lazy.

Here's a big plate of finished brownies. They were darker than I was expecting, but I'm sure it was due to the almonds.

Here's a little close-up of one brownie. I love the way the raspberries sunk in just a bit.

The verdict on these was very positive. They received many thumbs at our Memorial Day BBQ. I even liked them! The raspberry added a lovely fruity tang. I would make these again and experiement with different fruits.

Go see Marthe's blog, Culinary Delights, for the recipe and really good photos.