Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bluebarb Pie

Hello everyone,
Tonight the rhubarb called to me once again and then my loving husband brought home fresh blueberries. I was left with no choice - I had to make bluebarb pie. It turned out fantastic. You can judge how it looked:

I roughly followed the recipe for fresh berry pie in the Joy of Cooking, I made my pie filling from:

Bluebarb Pie Filling
2 cups blueberries
2 cups rhubarb, chopped small
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (I used 2/3 cup but found I should have used the full cup for the perfect pie.)

And I used my favorite pie crust that never fails me. It was a good day for pie and ice cream. Yummy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Congratulations all Graduates!

Young and old, there's lots of graduations this time of year. My 5 year old just graduated from pre-school. I made a cake. This was for his class and their families to share at the ceremony tonight.
It was a 12" square white cake and the hat was a 6" round chocolate cake. Both were two layers, filled with buttercream. The top of the hat was a piece of fondant/gum paste that I made a while ago. So was the "scroll".

Here are the cakes after I crumb-coated each of them in buttercream and covered the square one in my Marshmallow Fondant. You can see the red fondant partly rolled in the background. I draped it over the round cake to become the grad cap.

I also used the "Congratulations" word I made from fondant at the same time as the top of the cap. I made them from Play Doh alphabet cutters. Play Doh tools are very handy with fondant. I had some mini M&M's, so I randomly sprinkled the top of the cake with them, to make it more playful - it was for a group of 4 and 5 year olds, after all! I finished it off with a trim of painstakenly placed M&M's around the bottom. I tried placing a few of them in a row around the base of the cap, but they didn't look right so I left it as is. That was fun! The pre-school owner asked me if I could make the one for next year and I agreed. What will I charge?
Congratulations all Graduates!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day cake!

Today, I think I found what I was looking for - a beautiful looking, easy to bake, yummy tasting white or yellow cake. This one is called Buttermilk White Cake. It comes from an old copy of the "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine - February 2008, page 158. I did a repeat of last Friday and made a 6" round cake and (this time) 12 cupcakes.

The cupcakes stuck to the silicone wrappers a bit, but the cake came out easily from the pan which had been greased and floured. Then I split the cake in two.

I made my favorite chocolate fudge icing and filled it. While that was setting up and cooling a little more, I whipped up some buttercream and gave a quick swirl to the tops of the cupcakes. Then we tried them! Moist and delicious, soft, delicate and flavourful.

Now, for the cake, I wanted something simple that said "Father's Day", at least symbolically. Even though my dad only wears ties on Sundays, I chose to make him a tie. A little green fondant and gumpaste cut in a tie shape and another piece cut in a semi-circle and wrapped around the top of the tie was all it took to make the tie part. The collar was just rolled gum paste cut into the right quadrilateral shapes. (A 2" by 6" rectangle was my starting point. Cut it in half, but actually cut out a triangle where the top of the tie will fit. Then trim the bottoms of the collar pieces on a slight angle up away from the middle area.) Lay the collar pieces over the tie and drape them down the back of the cake, trimming off anything that overlaps onto the cake platter.

Then I stuck "#1" on it. Not too original, but cute enough.

Happy Father's Day Weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

My sister had some rhubarb she was willing to share so I put a bunch in the freezer and then made a rhubarb crisp with the rest to share with her at lunch. It was wonderful! Especially since we ate it warm with vanilla frozen yogurt. Yummy.
I put it in this oblong pan, since it was 2-quarts, as called for in the recipe. I think a smaller, deeper dish would have been better, because the topping would have been thicker. Still, it was fantastic like this and disappeared completely once the children got home from school.

It was so good, you're sure to want the recipe, so here it is, from the Better Homes and Gardens COOK BOOK 12th Edition, page 246.

Rhubarb Crisp
5 cups sliced rhubarb, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw but do not drain)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose (I used whole wheat) flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut (I didn't have either and I didn't miss them)

1. For filling: place rhubarb in a 2-quart square baking dish. Stir in the granulated sugar and the flour.
2. For topping: in a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts (or not). Sprinkle topping over fruit.
3. Bake in a 375degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes (40 minutes for thawed fruit) or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with ice cream. (Yes, definately with ice cream!!!)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Hana Banana-Nut Loaf p. 422

Bananas were on sale by the box here recently, so the ones we got last weekend are now at the "use me or freeze me" stage. So, I cracked open the Bread Bible and found this recipe. I didn't have macadamia nuts so I used pecans instead. The loaf was wonderful. It was packed with nuts and banana. It seemed greasy coming out of the pan - to the point that butter dripped off the waxed paper that was lining the pan. Once cooled, it did not seem greasy at all and it was lovely. The loaf was soft and smooth, other than the delicious crunch of the nuts. I chose not to use the coconut in the recipe that was listed as optional.

I baked this one on the regular "bake" setting on my convection oven, so the top of the loaf is even, not flopped over like so many loaves I've made in the convection oven! I baked it exactly 1 hour at 350, as the recipe said and it was perfect! Very good recipe. I'll be sure to make it again! I must be more patient when blending my sugar and butter - they need to be very well blended or else you get blobs of butter that will not incorporate into the batter. I'll do better next time!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yellow Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

Thank you to those of you who have commented to me personally about my blog - you have inspired me to keep at it and keep baking. I was starting to wonder if I still had any audience! Since I do, today I tried a new Yellow Cake recipe. I am starting to try recipes to make a wonderful cake for my parent's anniversary cake.

I tried the Yellow Cake recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book 11th edition page 131. I made it into a tall, 6" round cake with 11 cupcakes. (It was designed to be two 8 or 9 inch round pans or a 9 x 13 inch pan). It baked up nicely and tasted fine, but it was not super wonderful or anything. It was not light and fluffy like a boxed cake mix would be. I looked at other recipes and some used cake flour and some used more eggs, so I will keep looking for the perfect cake.

Here are the cupcakes with buttercream icing and a half strawberry on top! An hour later the strawberries showed their juices, so if you're going to do this and want the cupcakes to remain dry, put the berries on at the last minute.

Now for the cake, and its fondant covering: remember that a while ago in Bulk Barn Buys, I made a batch of Marshmallow Fondant (MMF for short)? Well, I used today's trial cake to test it out. First, I covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream and then I warmed a fist-sized blob of my MMF in my hand. (It was stored in the fridge). I rolled it on my fondant rolling mat and placed it on the cake, just like the store bought fondant. It did not tear and it molded up easily and evenly around the cake.

When I took a closer look, it wasn't as perfect as the store bought fondant - it had very small cracks over most of the cake. You had to look closely though.

Maybe you can see it in this photo. I think if I had kneaded the fondant more or added a little more shortening, the cracks may have disappeared. Either way, I like the taste of this stuff, whereas I throw out store-bought fondant on the pieces of cake I eat. I'll try kneading it more next time. You can see that it also colors nicely. The blue is also MMF. The pink hearts are not. They are left-overs from Valentine's day.

I used my new 6" round by 3" deep cake pan. This cake was probably as thick as my usual two-layer cake, but I baked it in one pan and cut it in two using my cake levelling tool.  I have the cheap cake levelling tool - the one with the wire. I found I had to start the cut with a knife because I didn't want to break the wire to get it to "cut" into the cake's crust. Maybe with a thinner cake that didn't bake quite so long, the crust would not be so thick and it would work better. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Buttermilk Bread p. 33

I think this was the best white bread I've made yet from this book. It looked great, it tasted good, it rose up nice and fluffy - making it nice and light and the loaves were a nice size and the crust was crispy and shiny. I didn't use the amount of flour the recipe called for - but only a half cup less. I did not cover it in seeds because my children don't like that. And I didn't have actual buttermilk, but since most recipes say you can use soured milk in place of buttermilk, that is what I did. It turned out lovely.

See what I mean? Isn't it beautiful?

On May 31st, I made two loaves of Batter Whole-Wheat Bread from page 103. It was quick to make (no kneading and only one rising) and it tasted fine. It would have looked perfect too, if I had taken the wax paper off the tops of the loaves before the wax paper stuck to them. When I removed the waxed paper, the loaves sunk. I'll be more careful next time. The recipe says to "Slice and serve with soft cheeses, topped with a wisp of ham." I packed it in a picnic basket with some left-over ham and some cheese and the whole family went on a picnic. It was wonderful!