Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cake Wreck Chocolate Cake

The best advice I could possibly give you, and forgive me if this seems glib, is to work. Work. Work. Work. Every day. At the same time every day. For as long as you can take it every day, work, work, work. Understand? Talent is for shit. I’ve taught school for nearly thirty years and never met a student who did not have some talent. It is as common as house dust or kudzu vine in Alabama and is just about as valuable. Nothing is as valuable as the habit of work, and work has to become a habit.
via chillit.htm

Some days things go horribly wrong.

I wonder if there is matter under my wild blond hair and between my big ears.

I love making old fashioned chocolate cakes. Two layers of moist chocolate cake, frosting to hold the cake together, ganache poured over the entire pastry and chilled. The result is a chewy layer of rich chocolate that encases a thoughtfully frosted cake.

Well, that is the intent of an old fashioned chocolate cake.

Needless to say things go horribly wrong sometimes.

For example, I frosted a perfectly honorable chocolate cake with a light whipped cream icing, all in a days work right? Toss it in the freezer and warmed a chocolate ganache in a double boiler. I had 15 minutes left on my shift, the last shift of the week, Friday. With 5 minutes left for the day I casually pulled the chilled cake out and set up a wire rack to pour the melted chocolate over the cake.

Only at the end of a day on Friday would this ever occur....

Whipped cream and hot ganache make a huge mess.

Did you hear me - don't be like the baker and melt a perfectly good cake.

What happened? I was left with a cake, you see above melting into a huge puddle of sweet disaster.

I kind of wanted to cry but I wanted to laugh even harder. I grabbed my camera and snapped a quick photo, then chef reminded me that the key to success is to be able to fix your mistakes. Believe it or not this massive disaster was saved.

One more good laugh with chef, no tears, I was out the door with yet another week of baking and "pastry school" under my belt.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Source, Chef Christy Fox
Makes 2, 8" cakes

This is a great everyday chocolate cake, it is the recipe that I use at the bistro and was handed down from the chef. Please note that there are roasted beets in the cake, they give the finished product moisture and a deep rich color. Simply roast a few beets in a bit of olive oil until soft to a fork, cool, peel, and puree.

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup beet puree
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup hot water

Pre heat the oven to 350. Line two 8 inch cake tins with parchment paper and oil.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler until smooth. Set aside.

Mix sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

In a mixer, combine sugar, vanilla, salt and chocolate/butter mixture. Mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time until just mixed. Do not over mix.

Add sour cream mixture and beets to the batter until just mixed.

Alternately add flour/cocoa mixture and hot water to the batter. Watch for lumps and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the the center of the cake springs back when your index finger lightly taps it or a tester comes out with only crumbs.

Cool and invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Frost how you wish!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Waffles - Gluten Free

I haven't told you about something.

I really should have shared this a lot earlier.

You know the waffle story a couple weeks back?

Turns out, HE was right.

Yeah, I know.....

Egg white waffles are far superior to anything else I have tasted. I have yet to try yeasted waffles, which seems like my perfect waffle, until then, I will stick to the egg white method of making waffles. Further more, I will adhere to this pumpkin waffle recipe until tulips are pushing up through the frozen ground next Spring.

Pumpkin because I love any vegetable that is orange. Give me something that is orange and I will eat or drink it. Well, anything but government cheese. I draw the line folks. I have a love hate with Cheetos. Love 'em but hate everything about them. Doritos? Don't even set a bag near me they will be gone. The orange that I do want to devour with reckless abandon include pumpkin, yam, every form of winter squash, anything candied with orange. That is the orange I am talking about - the real orange. Mother Nature's GOLD.

I put pumpkin in waffles and melted my own heart. Three weekends in a row. This recipe is large, large for a family of two. I try my hardest, I powered through 3 waffles in one morning but I do not recommend it and the stomach ache accompanied by complete and utter lack of motivation brought on by a full belly.

Unless..... you are with someone with the same intent.

And if you must know......

If we are going to eat ourselves into a waffle pile of worthlessness:

I do not like anything on my waffles. I use a fork to cut manageable pieces off so I can eat them with my hands. I dunk waffles if the mood strikes. I eat waffles like toast.

Pumpkin Waffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ( I used Bob Red Mills GF AP Flour and J didn't even notice )
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp.

Make more waffles in same manner.

Freeze excess waffles wrapped in plastic wrap and pop in the toaster to reheat.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time to Choose

When I’m nervous, I laugh.

When I’m tired, I struggle to form sentences.

When I’m hungry, I'm grumpy.

When I’m sad, I want to hide away.

When I'm stressed, my shoulders meet my ears and my neck hides.

When I'm happy, you will know.

Happiness is my favorite emotion, right next to love.

Emotions are as necessary as water to well being but just as hazardous when flooded by such. Conditions change. Happiness is fleeting but at the end you must choose to be happy. Choose your emotions, reactions, demeanor. 

Learn from those around you, choose to be happy.

You are in control of yourself, your emotions, your reactions. Choose wisely, with intent.

No matter how far you have gone down the wrong path, turn back.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


People ask me what my favorite thing is to bake, I always answer beaming with confidence. Cookies.

Shortbread to chocolate chip to carrot cake sandwiches. I love cookies. Cookies without flour. Cookies. Cookies. Cookies. Letting the dough rest, baking until fragrant, developing unique flavors and textures all go into the beauty of baking cookies.

If you ask what to try from the pastry case I will hand you a cookie. Invite me to a dinner party and I will bring a plate of cookies to munch on for dessert. I took cookies to my favorite Mexican restaurant. Recently I had some work done on my teeth, the dentist asked for cookies in exchange.

The key to enjoy baking is to be efficient about the process. I have a few master recipes for cookies that I enjoy and know that work for me, I take these base recipes and slightly tweak it depending on what I have on hand. As an example, recently I made a double batch of sable dough and added a few sprigs of finely chopped rosemary to half the batch and rolled the other half in crushed Texan pecans.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's, Baking


2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour.

For the decoration (optional):
1 egg yolk
Crystal or dazzle sugar.

1. Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

2. Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball -- and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it's easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

4. When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

5. To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

6. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)


Lemon Sables Before mixing the butter and sugar together, pour the sugar in a bowl with the grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons. Work the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and aromatic, then cream it with the butter in the mixer.

Parmesan Sables Replace sugars with 3/4 cup very finely grated Parmesan added to the beaten butter. A few grains of fleur de sel may be gently pressed into the top of each sable before the baking sheet is slipped into the oven.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


There are things that take my breath away. This is one of them. Enjoy!

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.