Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Study In Almond Paste

If you've been with the blog from the beginning, can you believe it's been 3 years, YIKES, you may have read my post Mandelhoernchen Melancholy. If you haven't, read it. It is the story of a spectacular kitchen failure. Yes, they happen and they're part of becoming a better cook. And, it's taken me 3 years to revisit that failure. I avoided it at fist because I was gun-shy about the whole thing, the wasted ingredients, the futile effort, the wounded ego. Then I just kind of got side tracked with other recipes and forgot the whole thing.

Flash forward 3 years and I stumble upon the Woodland Bakery Blog and can't wait to try almost all of Gretchen's recipes. Low and behold, many of them use Almond Paste. And I'm a cheapskate, I don't want to spend ten bucks on 7 oz. of dry crumbly grocery store Almond Paste when I can get blanched almonds for $7 a pound. The cheapskate in me overrode the perfectionist in me and I decided to give homemade Almond Paste another go. Seriously, it's been over 3 years, time to get back on that horse and ride. I picked what looked like to viable options and decided to test them out. . .

Sunday, April 6, 2014

3-2-1 Cake

So when I came across this recipe it was called "1-2-3 Cake". Which is kinda an accurate name for it, but kinda backwards to me. (You'll see why later.) So I'm renaming it "3-2-1 Cake". A subtile difference yes, but it makes sense. At least in my mind. A mind that craves rules and order, and there must be order. Opps, didn't mean to let some of my crazy slip out. Just ignore. Anywho. . .

My co-worker recently had a child leave home for college. Although "T" will be a dorm dweller, she'd still like to occasionally cook. Unfortunately her kitchen resources are limited. As my co-worker doesn't "Pinterest", smart lady, "Pinterest" is web heroin, I hipped her to all the "mug/microwave" dessert recipes on Pinterest, for her dorm residing child. As we looked over them the one stumbling block was always the list of ingredients. Sure, all the dry ingredients could be assembled in packets and shipped with "care packages" but the egg and oil seemed to be the problem. Then I came across this recipe which just uses a couple of cake mixes and water. Huzzah! Problem solved.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crusty No Knead Bread

More appropriately this post should be titled; "The Bread That Changed My Life". I'm not kidding you, it has. I almost certainly won't be buying anymore rustic loaves of bread from the grocery store. I am declaring myself the official bread bringer of ANY dinner party to which I am invited. And, I have ditched my attitude towards bread making. This bread is that good and that easy. 

Seriously, I've had an attitude about baking bread. It always seemed like such a hassle. All the rising and punching down and rising again and shaping and resting and rising and baking and bla bla bla. With two teenagers, a husband in grad school, a job, a blog and two crazy dachshunds, extra patients for baking bread is in short supply. Then I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest and it didn't look too bad. No kneading, I was skeptical but I thought I'd give it a try. There was still some waiting and resting and rising but I realized, to quote The Dude, "that my thinking on this had become very uptight." So I rethought the whole timing and rising thing and gave it a whirl. 

Note: you need a heavy, lidded, ovenproof pot for this recipe. I used my Le Creuset French Oven which worked beautifully. I know, I know, they are way expensive, but if you can swing it, they are the best. Really its a "Magic Pot" if you ask me. But, you can use any pot that can take the heat and can be covered.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Basics: Swiss Buttercream v.2

I have a new blog crush: The Woodland Bakery Blog. I used to watch Gretchen Price's "Crumb Boss" videos on You Tube then got distracted and forgot about them. You know, busy mom, busy life, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then, for some unknown reason, I remembered about them last month and went looking for them again. I was so glad to discover that she'd converted the "Crumb Boss" channel to the "Woodland Bakery Blog/You Tube" channel. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, all her videos and so far all the recipes I've tried. She really knows what she's talking about but presents it in such a easy going way. No snooty, snobby, uppityness on her blog. Just great recipes presented in a easy to follow and fun way. I love it, I may even pull a "Julie/Julia" thing and blog my way through all her recipes. Maybe, when I come across all that extra time I seem to have misplaced.

Anywho, I was intrigued by her Swiss Buttercream recipe and decided to try that first. My first love is still Nick Malgieri's "Easy Meringue Buttercream", but I've always been wary of piping with it, specifically roses, things that need a stiffer texture to retain their shape. For piping roses, I loved the way the icing we used at the grocery store performed, the texture was perfect. The taste not so much. Kind of gritty, and basically just shortening and sugar. YUCK. Pretty similar to Wilton's basic buttercream recipe, perfect for piping but greasy, overly sweet and not much real flavor. Gretchen's recipe looked to be a hybrid of the two recipes. It had the egg white "Swiss Meringue" preparation of Nick's recipe, and the shortening/powdered sugar combo of the Wilton recipe. Could it deliver the right combination of taste and texture? Let's find out. . .