November 29, 2008

Fall, pies and more pies

Fall is a beautiful time of year in my neck of the woods. Crisp, sunny, blue skies, warm sweaters, farmers markets on Saturday, local apples and sugar pie pumpkins. Here's a snapshot of a little day trip my hub and I took, before the snow flew.....

Fall was the time for me to begin experimenting with pies! I have been working my way through "The Pie and Pastry Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum. I am a huge fan of "The Cake Bible". It has completely changed the way I bake cakes, and the results from her books are always amazing! The Pie and Pastry Bible is truly fantastic.

First up, the perfect apple pie. Her technique to perfectly cooked apples with a deliciously caramelized cinnamon-y coating is to first toss the apples with a sugar mixture, and allow them to macerate. Collecting the juice that they exude and reducing the 'apple juice sauce' on the stove allows for the concentration of the delicious apple flavour, without a worry of the pie bubbling over in the oven. Here's a shot of my apple pie before baking;

I looooove rhubarb. not only for the fact that it so rediculously easy to grow, I adore the flavour. Rhubarb strawberry crumble is my specialty, so this was my first attempt at a 'solo' rhubarb pie. The addition of lemon was perfect! I have to say, this is now one of my favourite pies. Please excuse the crumpled table cloth, haha.

My dad was in town visiting for a few weeks recently, so i just had to try one of his favourites, lemon meringue pie. WOW. You need this book.
NEED. this. book.

October 27, 2008

The Sweet 100

Mmmm... 100 different delicious delicacies... sounds beautiful! This post comes from Cakespy, and it definitely caught my attention! I was curious to see how many i had actually tried. Follow the link to Cakespy and do it yourself - these are Cakespy's guidelines:

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten - or make them a different type colour
3) Cross out any of them that you've never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
5) Optional: Post a comment here linking to your results - or just post a comment letting us know how many you've tried, orwhat you're going to try next!

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also know as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers

17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")

18. Dixie Cup

19. Rice Krispie treats

20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche

23. Girl Scout Cookies

24. Moon Cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle

35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta

38. New York Cheesecake

39. Napoleon / mille-feuille

40 Russian tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Creme brulee
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugalach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Home made marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavours (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc..)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire's Shortbread
99. Animal Crackers
100. Basbousa

Hmmmmm... I guess i've got my work cut out for me! BUT.... note that nothing is crossed out for me! I do not discriminate with baking! Sugar love, baby!

September 1, 2008

Pink Cupcakes

I hosted a baby shower for my cousin's little girl, and had TONS of fun making the baked goods and appetizers. It was a co-ed shower, so I tried to not make it "too" girly... the colour scheme was pink, brown and white (which yes, is quite girly), but there were no storks or little baby things... just good food!

Here's a shot of the table, with the treats that i made before my aunts brought their goodies:

In the back are the fresh blueberry tarts filled with pastry cream. In the front are an assortment of cheese bites: fig with walnut and blue cheese, feta with dill, and goat cheese with almonds. The giant pink puffs are, of course, delicious cupcakes. Here's a close-up:

Sorting through some photos, I came upon this shot of some MORE pink cupcakes I made a while ago:
These were strawberry yellow cake, with fresh strawberry swiss meringue buttercream. YUM!

August 14, 2008

Cruchy Almond Tart

Although I experienced quite a blogging drought, that did not correlate with a BAKING drought! Now, I have to make up for lost time, and fill in the blanks.

This is going back a while....

I tried David Lebovitz's version of the Chez Panisse Almond Tart for the first time. I've had my eye on it for a while... and it sure didn't disappoint! I brought it for dessert at the in-laws', and everyone loved it.

You should try it - although he describes it as being difficult to do, it isn't that bad. The pastry is quite different, and you aren't able to roll it and end up 'smushing' it into the tart pan:

The tart does require quite a bit of tending-to while in the oven; you need to break up the crust that forms on the filling every few minutes.

I now remember that the tart took a lot longer to bake than I had allotted, and as a result we were a few minutes late for dinner. BUT no one dared complain when they saw this sucker!...

We cut small wedges of it, and speared them into our bowls of vanilla ice cream. It was mentioned in the link above that the tart was taken off the menu at Chez Panisse due to people complaining they couldn't eat it with a fork.... Gimme a break! Pick it up - it's delicious.

August 8, 2008

My Goodness, How Long it has Been!

Shame on me, it has been tooo long. I barely started blogging, and then disappeared..... But I guess that's what finishing your Masters does to ya!

So, I guess I have some catching up to do.

Let's start with the most worldly of all - our trip to PARIS!

or as I referred to it: "The Pastry Tour of Paris!"

I won't document every stop i made at a patisserie, because that would just be far too long! Here are a few of the highlights:

#1: Lenotre!

Oh, to take a course at Lenotre one day! I know there are quite a few throughout Paris, but there just so happened to be one just down the street from our hotel!

What an amazing display of talent!

This one is my favourite: I'm not even sure how they did this - but it is beautiful!

SOOOOoooooo many mouth-watering choices!

Half an hour later, we were strolling down Avenue des Champs Elysees, and i looked up... and there it was! The pastry Mecca of Paris!

#2) The fabulous Laduree!

Being from the middle of Canada, I can honestly say that I had never tasted a Parisian macaroon... Macaroons in Canada are usually a mixture of coconut and chocolate, and in no way resemble their French cousins. But when I learned of the Parisian macaroon in the 'blogging world'... it sounded beautiful and intriguing... Here is a photo of their beautiful macaroons from one of their window displays:

And I was able to choose from their DOZENS of flavour choices!

Here is a bootlegged picture of some of their beautiful pastries:
Haha, as soon as the lady in line behind me saw me take a picture, she took one... and the guy caught her taking the picture, and yelled at her! hehe... it pays to be stealth!

We took our beautiful prizes to a near-by park, and had a delicious break from our long walk. My husband has a real 'thing' for strawberry rhubarb, so when we saw their gorgeous wild strawberry rhubarb tart, we had to get one. Who the heck wouldn't want to eat something that came out of this box?!:
And the beauty that lay within:
We were in heaven.....

And then i opened the little baggie with my two macaroons; A dark chocolate macaroon, and a salted caramel macaroon. My husband is not a bit "fan" of macaroons, as it turned out... so (oh no....) I had to eat them all myself!
ah well, that's what the gym is for, eh?
how beautiful! how scrumptious! how sweet it is......

May 24, 2008

Wedding Cake Extravaganza

phew..... i feel like I need to sleep for days.
My friend and I make wedding cakes for friends and family, and now have started making them for other people. This weekend we happened to have taken on a little more than we normally would.... 2 cakes. And we both have full-time jobs.
Needless to say, we are totally EXHAUSTED
But, here is one that we made (sans the floral cake topper). excuse the crappy pic... it was taken late at night on my dining room table ;)

I will post a picture of the other cake as soon as i get a copy... of course, we both forgot our camera when we left to set it up at the hotel.

here are some photos of wedding cakes we've made over the last few years:

March 23, 2008

Cream Puffy Goodness

I have always wanted to try my hand at the Cream Puff. I've tried the Cheese Puff, with great success. I guess that extra step of making the pastry cream always prevented me from giving it a go. But today was the day!
I used Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Profiteroles and Pastry cream. They were great! My little niece, who is not quite 4 years old, ate 4 of them at dessert! Four! More than anyone else! She liked them. a lot.

Here I am piping out the Profiteroles (Choux pate)

You wet your finger to pat down the little peaks

The finished product - filled with delicious pastry cream, drizzled with chocolate, and dusted with powdered sugar