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Wednesday, October 18th, 2006
4:40 pm - birthday cake
xwant2bperfectx hey everyone..
okay heres the deal..its my mums 40th birthday this sunday and were having a surprise party for her..the thing is ive been chosen to bake her cake as aparently im the best cook..anyway i want to make something really special for her but dont know what.she doesnt like chocolate so i cant do that but i want something that looks pretty too..maybe with some icing and '40' written on it or something.

so i was basically wondering if anyone has some really good cake recipes(birthday cakes) that arent chocolate?could you post them up?and if you could add some pics that would be even better :) so i know what it should look like..

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Sunday, June 25th, 2006
11:13 am - Portuguese Easter Bread

felician_logic and I were discussing the merits of a nice Pacific Island sweet bread. From what I know of baking culture in the islands, many of them were strongly influenced by Portuguese explorers coming and sharing cuisine. So I think this Portuguese sweet bread, usually baked for Easter but wonderful at any time of year, comes closest to a real Hawaiian sweet bread. When I was a kid we would make multiple batches, and make braided loaves that we would wrap in festive coloured plastic bags and deliver to friends on Easter. The loaf numbers and shape are strictly optional; I usually make more, smaller loaves.

The recipe was printed in the Boston Globe many many decades ago, and the author has been lost in the mists of time and multiple re-copying of the recipe.


Portuguese Easter Bread
(6 loaves)

2 cups milk
1 cup water (for yeast)
4 packages dry yeast
20 cups flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups butter
12 eggs
4 1/2 cups sugar

THE NIGHT BEFORE: scald milk. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees). Sift flour and salt into warm pan (rinsed with hot water). Work butter into flour and salt.

Add dissolved yeast to lukewarm milk. Beat eggs with sugar, add alternately with milk to flour mixture. Mix well.

Knead dough for about 20 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place in oiled pan, turning ball over once to oil top and cover with a clean towel, and then with a blanket. Let rise overnight.

THE NEXT MORNING: Punch down dough, knead gently, return to pan and let rise again until double in bulk. (Do not skimp on rising time. This is important to produce a fine-grained bread.)

Divide dough into 6 portions. Form into loaves. Place each in a 9 x 5 x 3" loaf pan. Again, let rise until double in bulk.

Bake for 1 hour in a 325 degree oven until brown. Brush crust with soft butter upon removing from oven.

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Monday, February 27th, 2006
12:34 pm - Hermit Cookies

While not technically a "cookie"... it is more of a bar... they are fabulously indulgent, and so nice with a cup of strong tea. I add extra ginger, and extra molasses, and cut the sugar by about 1/3 cup.

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each of cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix first six ingredients - add flour.
Spread in greased jelly roll pan ( 14"x10" or larger)
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cut into squares (or pretty diamonds, like I do) while still warm.

Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar if desired.

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Friday, February 10th, 2006
4:32 pm - Truffle mania

I spent the afternoon making truffles -- well, the inside part of the truffles, anyway. They'll get dipped on Sunday.

I really don't have as many people to give chocolates to as I'm making, but I just enjoy it so much that I kind of couldn't stop. It's been awhile since I played with chocolate and, like people who are wacky for knitting or beading or tying flies, it's something that both soothes and exhilarates me.

Way back in the day when I was a pastry chef, I made truffles on a large scale and they were a pretty simple operation. Basic ganache -- chocolate and cream -- flavor, chill, roll, dip.

But I've seen so many recipes that add butter or corn syrup -- or both -- and I was curious to see what the difference in texture and taste would be. So I'm trying that this time, going with the following as a starting point:

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 Tbsp. liqueur/flavoring

(I assume anyone reading this blog knows how to make ganache, but if you don't then the technique is described here.)

Using that as the master recipe, I made three batches:

Raspberry (framboise liqueur -- each truffle will contain a whole raspberry)
Coffee (triple strength coffee and Starbucks liqueur)
Rum (Myers rum)

Despite intimate knowledge of what a royal pain in my ass it is to work with, I also made two batches of white chocolate ganache. Because of its high cocoa fat and milk content, you use less cream to make white chocolate ganache, and it's tricky getting something that's stiff enough to roll into balls and dip (at least it is for me).

I had a decent amount of success making white chocolate almond ganache, flavored with almond extract and finely processed, toasted almonds. It seems to be setting up nicely (fingers crossed) and each truffle will have a dark sweet cherry in the center and be dipped in bittersweet chocolate.

Then came the experiment. There always has to be an experiment.

Chai tea truffles.

I made a thick white chocolate ganache and added 2 tablespoons of Oregon Chai concentrate, plus 1/4 teaspoon each of cardamom, ginger, cloves and allspice.

Results: The tea concentrate may have thinned the ganache too much to make it workable for truffles (Oregon Chai also makes a powdered instant product, which would probably work well for this -- I admit, this was a spur-of-the-moment idea). I also ended up doubling the spices because I wanted it to really have a punch.

So ... I now have a dish of murky-looking goo in my fridge that isn't setting up very well but tastes absolutely divine. If nothing else, it's a kick-ass ice cream topping.

I think for my next attempt I'll try adding just the spices to bittersweet chocolate, since the tea flavor is such a soft background note anyway.

I'll post pictures after dipping them Sunday!

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Sunday, January 29th, 2006
11:07 am

This morning's recipe is Mrs. Teddy Donahue's Lemon Cake, which I've actually seen in a variety of forms in other places, though this one uses more oil, adds a sugar-lemon glaze, and requires lemon extract and lemon zest. Seeing as how our neighbor has an over-abundance of lemons on her tree, it's a natch. So here it is:

Mrs. Teddy Donahue's Lemon Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
1 two ounce box of Jello instant lemon pudding
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2/3 cup Canola or vegetable oil

1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl (I used the electric mixer for this) combine the cake mix an lemon pudding. In a measuring cup add the lemon juice and enough cold water to make 2/3 cup. Add eggs, lemon water, and lemon extract to the dry ingredients and combine. Pour in the oil and mix until smooth (about 5 minutes in the mixer).

Grease a bundt pan and pour in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes. While cake is baking, prepare glaze. Whisk all the glaze ingredients togethe rin a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

When cake is done, cool for five minutes and then invert onto a plate. Using a skewer or toothpick, pierce the top of the cake with 1 inch deep holes. Spoon the glaze over the cake and cool. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar or serve with fresh berries.

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Thursday, January 12th, 2006
12:37 pm - Spreading sinfulness

I got this recipe from a friend in the dinner_ideas community. Made it. Is fabulously evil.

This is her recipe, complete with her notes for success. As I do not make real cake, I used a Betty Crocker box.

Midnight Bliss CakeCollapse )

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Thursday, December 22nd, 2005
3:06 pm - Gingerbread madness.

Here's a picture of my first batch of gingerbread people, from a week or so back. They've all been eaten, though, so I have to roll out, bake and decorate some more.

RIP, little guys. You were delicious.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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Saturday, December 17th, 2005
11:41 pm - Conchas! Round Two!

I'm happy to report that my recent conchas recipe is indeed much better than the previous one. I think I would add a bit more flour to weight it down (again, I like a denser bun), but they came out exactly like bakery conchas.

I made only cinnamon ones, because, well, I like cinnamon ones.

Photos!Collapse )

I apologize for how yellow my photos are; that is the colour of the kitchen and on overcast days like today there is no other light. So everything is YELLOW. Anyway. Much better recipe.

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Thursday, December 15th, 2005
10:32 am - Molten Chocolate Babycakes

I admit it, I am a huge Nigella Lawson fan. I've never had one of her recipes turn out badly. So it was nice to see an article about her in the Times (go quick; it expires) yesterday, with a couple of recipes, one of which was Molten Chocolate Babycakes.

The babycakes recipe is a big fave of mine -- I made it for a dinner party a few months ago and it was a major hit, and super easy to make. I served it with fresh whipped cream (not too sweet, because the babycakes are really sweet themselves) and a few fresh berries. The cakes themselves are still good the next day, and freeze nicely, though of course they don't stay molten.

The recipeCollapse )

current mood: hungry

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Wednesday, December 14th, 2005
10:31 am - New conchas recipe

As yet untried, but this one came with reviews from people who had obviously tried the other one and disliked the density.

More yeast, less flour, as expected.

The recipeCollapse )

I may try this one out tomorrow.

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7:40 am - Wednesday is L.A. Food Love Day

This week's LA Times Food section is full of holiday food cheer. Along with a bevy of excellent dinner recipes (the carrots with smoky pimenton-orange glaze and the roasted chestnut soup are tempting me past my dislike of cooked carrots and chestnuts), they include recipes for Chocolate Riggo Squares and Espresso Angel Food Cake. I'm focusing on the squares because they seem to be more gathering-friendly and are cookie-esque in size. You can read the entire article here: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-dessertbar14dec14,1,4703886.story?page=1&coll=la-headlines-food

Chocolate Rigo Squares Read more...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 13th, 2005
4:00 pm - Cookie madness.

I've been so busy doing cookies that I haven't posted anything about them -- real life intruding on Internet life, how sad.

First up, I made Ina Garten's Jam Thumprints, which are always a hit at Christmas. I made half with apricot jam, half with raspberry.

Also: gingerbread men from Rose Levy Berenbaum's book, "Rose's Christmas Cookies" (recipe to be posted later when I have it in front of me.)

Also: basic Toll House cookies, on account of my husband insists.

Also: the classic Marshmallow Creme Fudge because, let's face it, there's no better fudge recipe around. And here's a cute web site showing kids making it!

Dear god, I think I still have another batch of cookies to make before I'm done ...

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Sunday, December 11th, 2005
1:05 am - Conchas

This evening I made some conchas, from a recipe posted elsewhere by felician_logic.

Here is the recipe I usedCollapse )

And here are my comments on the recipeCollapse )

And some pictures from the processCollapse )

Overall, my take on the cakes is that the recipe is pretty much idiot-proof. I worked on this while tired from a long day and not paying too much attention, and I got impatient with the kneading, but the cakes came out tasting and having the texture of the ones at my local bakery, although they're a little denser (which, actually, I like). I would definitely make this recipe again.

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Saturday, December 10th, 2005
12:47 pm - Saveur: Victoria Sponge Cake

The May issue of this year's Saveur included a feature piece on Cream Tea Country (county of Devon). This recipe was included.

Victoria Sponge Cake
makes one 8" cake

3/4 pound + 1TBSP salted, european style high fat butter, softened (best first ingredient listing ever)
3 cups + 1 TBSP self rising cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups double Devon cream (www.britshoppe.com if not locally available)
3/4 cup strawberry jam
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 360

Grease two 2" deep, 8" round cake pans with 1/2 TBSP butter each. Dust with 1/2 TBSP flour each. Set aside.

Beat remaing butter in large bowl with mixer on high for 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Combine eggs and 6 TBSP of water in another bowl. Add half the egg mixture and half the flour to the butter sugar mixture. Beat well for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining egg mixture and flour and beat for 5 minutes.

Divide batter between pans. Bake until toothpick doneness (35-40 minutes). Invert onto racks and allow to cool completely.

Beat cream in medium bowl until stiff. Put on cake layer on a cake plate, spread top with half the jam, and then cover the jam with cream. Spread top of remaining cake layer with remaining jam and place it jame side down on top of the cream. Dust cake with confectioner's sugar.

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
8:14 am

Today’s LA Times Food Section featured an article titled, “Overnight Success.” The success in question was, alas, not a cookie for the holidays, but a yeast-bread coffee cake recipe that sounds wonderful for the midweek baker not able to spend the wee hours waiting for dough to rise. You can read the entire article here: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-overnightdec07,1,3670273.story?coll=la-headlines-food

The paper version includes a step by step photo essay on how to fill, shape, and slash the stuffed horseshoe. Interested folk can e-mail me and I’ll attempt a scan for you if you are inclined to try it.

Read more...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 6th, 2005
8:35 pm - They did it again!

Day Four of Cookies?

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows.

These are Not. Cookies.


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6:52 pm - Letter to Food Network.

Dear Food Network;

Your 12 Days of Cookies started off strong, it really did. But already, on Day Three of Cookies, you've annoyed me.

Rosemary Cheese Spritzes are not cookies. They're ... I dunno. Cheese puffs! They're an hors d'oeuvre! You can call them a "savory cookie" all you want, but they're friggin' cheese puffs!!

And Day Two of Cookies? The Noci Croccante (Hazelnut Crunch)? Ummm .... hello? That's hazelnut brittle. It's a damn CANDY.

Come on, Food Network. This is supposed to be the 12 Days of Cookies, not the 12 Days of Random Crap. You'd think the damn Food Network would know the difference between cookies, candy and freakin' cheese puffs.


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Monday, December 5th, 2005
3:51 pm - Because you can never have too much Mexican Chocolate

...or something. My latinity demands a hearty respect for Mexican chocolate. The LA Times happily obliges by posting a recipe for M.C. Flan that sounds delightful.

Mexican Chocolate Flan

2 cups milk
2 (3.1 oz.) disks of mexican chocolate (I use Ibarra)
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup heavy whipping cream
10 egg yolks (I save the whites for merange (sp?) cookies or chiles rellenos)

Place milk in saucepan with chocolate and 1/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat unti; the schoc. and sugar are dissolved (5-10 minutes). Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a lrge bowl and stor in the whipping cream. Set aside.

Place remaining sugar in a large skillet over high heat. Reduce heat when sugar starts to melt, stirring only occaisionally, until the caramel is clear and golden (5-7 minutes). Quickly spoon caramel over the bottom and around the sides of a glass 8 inch round cake dish. Set aside til firm.

Lightly whisk egg yolks then mix them with milk mixture. Pour into the baking dish. Place dish in a pan of hot water and bake at 325 until a knife inserted int he center comes out clean (about 1 hour). Place on rack to cool slightly, then refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Gently release flan by running a tip of a knife around the edge. Use fingers to gentle pull sides away. Place a serving plater over top and flip flan onto the platter.

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3:23 pm


Today's baking adventure: Pumpkin Bread. I bought pumpkin for Thanksgiving, but never made pie. So now ... holiday gifts!

The recipe below makes two loaves, and I adapted it from a recipe in the November 1995 issue of Bon Appetit. My changes all had to do with spice; for something called "Spiced Pumpkin Bread" it was, in my opinion, awfully skimpy on the spices. So I tripled the cinnamon and added one of my favorite baking secret weapons -- Chinese Five-Spice.

Spiced Pumpkin BreadCollapse )

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1:48 pm - One more task down.

Well, that's done -- I just spent the last three hours decorating tins for the holiday cookie gifts.

This year, we got all of 'em at the Catlin Gabel Rummage Sale. I have no idea why people would donate those cheap metal containers that Danish butter cookies and fruitcakes come in, but thankfully people do. This year we bought about 15, at prices running from a quarter to 60 cents a piece.

So. Then I sit down with gift wrap, a pen, a ruler, scissors and Spray Mount (an artist's best friend), wrap a strip of paper around the outside and glue a circle of matching paper to the lid. Ta-da! Custom cookie tins.

I would also like to thank A&E for running four straight hours of "24" on Mondays, giving me something to watch while I played with paper 'n glue.

Now the house smells like Spray Mount. But the tins are done. Now on to the actual baking.

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