Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunday Night Cake

Tap out

Yep, I'm ready for a cake.  But let's ease into cake making again with this Sunday Night Cake.  Just a one layer cake and it's square.  Wait a minute!  No layers?  Square?  What the? 

This seems like a cake my mom would have whipped up for a Sunday night dinner.  No layers, just served in the cake pan with a simple frosting.  Yes, this takes me back....  This cake is making me feel old timey.  (or should I say child like)  Memories of being a kid and seeing that cake being baked and stealing licks of the frosting.  Or even better, getting to lick the beaters after the cake batter was made.  (simple pleasures of childhood)  :o)  And it was generally just a boxed cake mix.  But that didn't matter as a kid.  Cake is cake after all.

I'm not sure why, but I really feel odd about making a square cake.  I know, it is only a different shape of pan.  But it just seems so alien to me.  (and not just because my cake pan cabinet is overflowing with round cake pans)  Do I even have a square cake pan?  I know I have glass ones, but I don't think I actually own a metal 9 inch square cake pan.   Does this mean I have to go out and buy one?   Hold the phone....I got some cute mini spring form pans and mini bundt pans from the hubbie for Christmas...idea forming......the need to buy something new going on back burner.....

So I started writing this post last Sunday, after I posted the lemon pistachio cornmeal muffin post.  I was feeling pumped to get right into another recipe.  But I still had an Apple Tart to make for Tuesdays with Dorie.  And the whole pan dilemma was still weighing on me.    So I put it off. 

Yes, square versus round is a serious thing one I must ponder. 

Okay, it wasn't so much a ponder as it was a weather thing.  I was going to go out and buy a square pan....'cause you spin me right round baby right round?'s hip to be square?  <what??>  No.  It was the weather.  It was so freakin' cold (wind chill is not my friend).  So I stayed in the office during my lunch hour on both Monday and Tuesday. 
I should probably mention that there is this cold/flu/demon illness floating around our office/city/country.  And I should also mention that some people still feel the need to come into work everyday when they're sick.  Really?  Really? 
 Guess I should also mention that I have asthma.  Now that doesn't mean I'm more susceptible to getting a cold, rather that when I get a cold chances are it's going to mess with my asthma.
Wow, pretty long winded for someone who can't breathe through her nose. 
All this to say that I'm sick and have been at home for the past three days from work.  And there has been no activity in the kitchen.....or anywhere else for that matter......

My hubbie has been making all the meals and taking care of me.  Oh sure I'm a treat, and who wouldn't want to be around a mouth breathing, mucous producing, lung hacking up person like me?!  Love you honey.  I'm going to be isn't pretty....and by 'it' I mean me.  And I know everyone who knows me will find this hard to believe, but I'm kinda whiny when I'm sick.

It is now Saturday and each day I have been feeling worse than the last.  (today being no different)
So I can't bake this cake......

I gotta tap out......this cold/flu/demon illness is kicking my butt.  Honey, it's up to you now.  You gotta get into the ring and make this cake.  I will do a running commentary from the couch.

Yep, we gotta keep this contagion within this house. 

I'll just be over here keepin' pretty.  I'm pretty, right hon?  Oh great, ya had to get the pic of me breathing through my mouth....sigh. 

Okay, so I am going to talk the hubbie through this recipe.  And I'll take some photos from a distance.

Parchment paper being cut for bottom of pan.  Huh, he folded it in half and then cut a circle.....that seems like a smart thing to do....huh....

Ingredients at the ready...

Butter and sugars getting all mixed up and fluffy...

Eggs added one at a time....he had his doubts but he totally rocked at adding one egg at a time without the other eggs following.

Flour and sour cream added in 3 parts.
First you add the flour....

Then you add the sour cream.....and then the flour and then the sour cream and then...yeah flour.

Hubbie is doing such a good job!  I wonder if I'll be able to talk him into this again. 

Batter up....and into the pan.  Yes, we are using a 9 inch round pan.  I didn't want him to use the mini pans.....'cause ummm.... I wanna to be the one to use them first!  (just a smidge whiny there) 

And into the oven for 35 minutes......

Okay, it has been 35 minutes and it is still way jiggly in the middle.  Another 8 minutes added on.
And another 5 minutes added after that.  I always seem to need more time when it comes to baking....why is that?  And another 8 minutes added.  sheesh.

Frosting is next.  Starting with some good chocolate. 

Looks like somebody likes my chocolate chopper thingy.

Heating it up to a pudding like consistency.  Looking good honey.

Chocolate mixture needs to cool off.  A few minutes in the mixer should do the trick.  And then the butter gets added.
Now lets get this frosting on the cake!!!

Oh yeah, baby....get that frosting on there. 
Sorry, I have to live vicariously through my hubbie as I am not able to touch anything.

The cake looks great!  My guy did a fantastic job.  Unfortunately I can't taste it.  Oh I ate a piece, I just literally can't taste anything due to this cold/flu/demon illness.  But it looks good and I've been told it tastes good and that the frosting is very chocolatey.  Sigh....I sure do wish I could taste it.

Saturday night's alright for a Sunday Night Cake.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TWD-French Apple Tart

Tart Ninja

This seems way too fancy for me to even think about making.  I don't think I've ever made a tart.  Though I'm pretty sure I bought a tart pan at one time.  Will have to rummage through my cabinets and see if that is true or was just a dream I had.  (I may or may not admit that I have baking dreams)

I do want to make this, as it looks wonderful in the cookbook.  And I'd like to prove to myself that I can do it.  But the Debbie Doubter in me says don't even try.  She could have a valid point. (even though it wasn't a point at all and just a negative comment)  I mean I could just go to my favourite bakeshop (Three Tarts) and buy a lovely tart.  They don't have a website, but the Urban Spoon does have a review on if you're ever in Ottawa, give this place a try.  It is my bakeshop of choice when I need a birthday cake or just some lovely desserts for a dinner party.   They make wonderful cakes, cookies, squares, loafs and tarts.  And all this talk of them makes me want to run there now!

So it would appear it wasn't a dream after all.....I do have a tart pan.  Go me!  Straight to the kitchen I go.  Time to peel a load of apples and slice them all up.  I'm also hoping I have a mandoline to slice up these apples.  Though perhaps I have an attachment for my food processor that I could make slices with.  I really can't imagine that I would be able to make slices with a knife....well I could, but there won't be any that were identical!

I'm doing it.  I am actually going to make this tart.  (might still be at the 'talking myself into it' phase)
Am I feeling any trepidation at the thoughts of making the tart?  Hells yeah.  Might be why I have the Michael Jackson song Thriller in my head?  And not just the song, but the video of all the zombies creeping up on his girlfriend in the video.  Is the tart crust going to be creeping up on me??

The dough for the crust went together very easily.  I decided to make it by hand, as I think I over process dough in my food processor and stand mixer.  I tried very hard to keep as hands off as I could and not to knead it a lot.  I think I managed okay. 

The last pie crust I made was so tough.  How tough was it??  Umm....pretty tough.....
So I'm really hoping this one is better.  Just have to let it chill in the fridge for a few hours now.


It was a little bit of a challenge rolling the dough out.  I ended up covering it with a piece of saran wrap and rolling it so that the rolling pin didn't actually touch the dough. (sticky)  That seemed to work okay.  But then I didn't have enough flour under the dough and it then became a challenge to get the rolled out dough to the tart pan.  (trials and tribulations I tells ya)  Nobody knows the trouble I've seen.....

Okay, the dough is now in the tart pan and looking as good as it is going to get.  Whew, that was hard work.  Can't imagine why I don't enjoy pie/tart baking. 

Into the oven it goes....with some rice to weigh it down.  I baked it for the full 25 minutes.

D'oh!!!!!  I didn't read the part of the instructions that say to chill the tart crust before baking it off.  <insert heavy sigh here>  Is there going to be a point in my life where I actually read the instructions fully??  Ever???  I don't think so either. <insert another heavy sigh>

Not sure how the crust is supposed to look right now.  Is this like half baking a crust, since I have to then fill it and bake again?  Not sure why I didn't take a picture of the baked crust. (since I seem to be a little picture crazy today...meow)  Yes, I took a lot of pictures. 

Oh, oh.  Did I over bake the crust if pieces of the edge are falling off when I touch it?   Kind of like shaking hands with one of the zombies in the Thriller video....something is definitely going to fall off.  (touch at own risk)

Let's just move on to the apple part.  I don't think I can damage an apple.

The filling is super easy to make.  (unless you include the part were I try to figure out how to cut an apple half into 12 even pieces)  Math is hard.  Word problems were never my strong suit.  True story, just ask my 7th grade teacher.  I want to say his name was Mr. Graham....hmm...but not sure.  I did not enjoy his teachings (especially math) but once I got to High School I saw the favour he did by teaching me english so well.  (I excelled at that......I know, what the heck happened??!!)  But I digress....I think I've got a tart to make.

Apples have been peeled.....
Before baking

and ready to go in the oven.... 'cause apparently the oven is less scary to the apples than my spatula.  Wait until they meet the potato masher!

After baking and some mashing

Apple filling goes in

I didn't think I could do it, but I managed to slice all the apples up into somewhat equal slices without the use of any instruments other than my own hands and a knife.  Ta-da!

Apple slices added to tart......
sugar sprinkled on....

And here is the tart fresh out of the oven.  It isn't as brown around the edges as the tart in the cookbook, but it has already been in the oven for at least 10 minutes longer than the instructions say.  I am making the executive decision and pulling the tart out of the oven.

Well, I'm pretty darn pleased with this tart...the first tart I've ever made.  So glad that I tried it and didn't let Debbie the Doubter influence me!
I still need a lot of practice with my crust making, but overall I liked this apple tart.  The flavour was great and the tart went together pretty easily.
I'd even make this tart again!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins

Do you know the Muffin Man?

I love lemons, I love Pistachios and I love cornmeal.  Bring them altogether into a muffin and well Sir, I think we have a winner!
And I am (dare I say it) looking forward to making these muffins.  I know, I know, I'm like a broken record.  I just want to believe that all the recipes are good and I'll love them and there will be peace on earth.  (okay, maybe I'm asking a smidge too much)  But just a smidge! 

Now that I've read the Baked Note for this recipe, it is imperative for these muffins to turn out.
Let me just share here the Baked note (verbatim).

Baked Note:  How do you improve upon a muffin?  We once watched, mouths agape, as a line cook sliced a large(head-of-cabbage size) muffin vertically, then basically pan-fried it (cut side down) in some browned butter for about 30 seconds.  Should you do this to every muffin?  Maybe.  Should you do this to our Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffin?  Absolutely!

Come on!  I need this recipe to work out, so that I can do that to a muffin.  Who knew you could do that to a muffin??!!!  Part of me says, 'hey, you're way too excited about this'.  To that, the other part of me says, 'oh yeah?'  (Okay, that part doesn't have great comebacks) 

First, let me start with the tedium of shelling pistachios.  Yes, I know I can buy already shelled pistachios. (thank you for pointing that know who you are)

But I already have this bag of pistachios.  And besides, if I bought them already shelled I'd miss out on the satisfaction that comes with shelling my, not really.

Ingredients are at the ready. 

I am so not pulling out my food processor to chop up a few pistaschios......she says before she reads the rest of the instructions that then say to put aside a quarter cup of the chopped pistachios and then process the rest until they are a powder but not superfine.  Note to self:  read all the recipe's instructions before starting recipe.

Here's my food processor silently mocking me.  Or not so silently.  I'm pretty sure it just called me a loser!  And just for that, I'm chopping the rest of the pistachios to a powder, by hand. Hmpf!! I'll show that food processor!

Think I'll just move on to zesting.  My zester has never offended nor judged me.  Though it has scraped my knuckles a few times.  Am I the only one this happens to?  Is there a right and wrong way to zest?

Wet ingredients mixed up and ready to go.  This pic doesn't really show it, but this mixture is such a pretty yellow.  One might say lemony yellow.

So I folded the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  There's no picture of this, but it truly did happen. (honest)  I was just a little thrown by the batter, as it seemed really thick.  And the worry was compounded, when I read the instructions and it said to tap the pan on the counter to level out the batter once the muffin tin is filled....umm my batter is way too thick and doesn't move.  Did I put in too much flour?  

Batter up

Scooped the thick batter into the muffin tin and added the chopped (by hand) pistachios.  I really think the chopped by hand pistachios add more to these muffins.  Or I need to believe that.  (same thing!)

 Well, I think thick batter or not, these muffins turned out great.  At least they look great.

Am I going to have to make this recipe again to see if perhaps I did add too much flour? Does a bear sit in the woods? (only if he's taking a.....)

I did try the Baked note. (and cannot recommend it enough)

This is your muffin......

 This is butter browning.

And this is your muffin browned in said butter........any questions?

One question remains.  Did I make the muffins again?  Yes, yes I did.  I had to!  And did I chop the pistachios by hand again.

No, no she didn't!  

So I wondered if perhaps I had added too much flour to my first batch (because the batter was so thick).  Well, this time I measured carefully and even added a bit more sour cream and lemon juice and the batter was still really thick.  I guess it is just a thick batter.  No matter, these muffins were delicious.  They were great as is, and even better in the browned butter.  This is a recipe I will make often.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with the muffin man.

But before I go...

Things you should do: