Thursday, July 28, 2011

Words Take Flight: A Book Cake


Remember that song that says "I want to be the girl with the most cake"? At this moment, I think I can safely say - I am that girl.  My freezer is packed with desserts in their various stages of completion.  Book aftermath, I call it. There's one cake in particular that I had special feelings for (cake is emotional, okay?) and felt it could realize greatness before my manuscript was turned in.  This was not to be.  I ran out of time, and frankly, my creative energy was waning.  My editor loves this new project so much, he's decided to make an exception and include it in the book!

Then, I fell in love and  my creative energy returned.  The object of my affection?  The artwork of Su Blackwell.  Her re-purposed book sculptures are so beautiful, they made me feel good about life after having seen them.  Dramatic, I know.  It can't be helped.  Just look at them.


Not long after, I was digging out the cake that never knew greatness for a second attempt.


This cake is loosely based on her book scupture "The Quiet American".  Although my version is nowhere near as beautiful (or permanent) as hers, mine probably tastes a lot better *wink.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Terrine



File this under easy peasy.  It's perfect for hot days when you can't stand the thought of turning on the oven. I've made it three times this month; once for a family get-together, once for a birthday party, and once simply because we like it so much.

It's not ice cream, it's not cake, it's not fudge- so I'm calling it a terrine.  Chocolate and peanut butter are melted and folded together with whipped cream then poured in a loaf pan.  A batch of  vanilla whipped cream is layered on top and the whole thing gets a generous dose of salted peanuts before freezing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poured Fondant Petit Fours



Honestly, folks.  These are no walk in the park to make.  Poured fondant has been my baking nemesis since I coated my entire kitchen and dining room in the stuff two years ago.

 Fact: it is messy!

Recently I've been working my way through a host of poured fondant recipes in hopes of finding one that is easy and not so messy.  What did I find?  Most poured fondant recipes are easy to make and all are equally messy.  The hardest part is getting a good even pour over the sides of the cakes without wasting all the fondant you've just made.  I've tried every way under the sun to apply poured fondant to these cakes - piping, spooning and pouring - and I've found the "dip and spoon" method  is best with this particular fondant.  Since it is nearly impossible for me to document this process in pictures, I made a little video to show you my method.


The poured fondant recipe I'm sharing is my favorite because it tastes the best of all I've tried. When applied to the cakes, it is semi transparent but dries smooth and opaque; the color lightens slightly as it dries. I almost bought into a white chocolate version that I will most likely use again, and may even post in this blog, but to me it seemed like a substitution for the real thing.  It didn't have the classic look and taste I wanted it to have.  The worst recipe I came across was made from a boxed rolled fondant that is softened in hot water for 15 minutes then melted in the microwave. It tasted like old perfume smells and had a slimy consistency that never fully dried.  I almost gagged trying to get a single bite down.

So why go to all the trouble?  When executed correctly, these cakes are incredibly delicious.  When  poured fondant hardens around a cake it seals in moisture and gives ordinary sponge cake a divine texture.  There's nothing quite like biting into one, and  mastering the art of poured fondant petit fours is a true notch on the baking belt.  Making them takes time, practice and sometimes, intuition.  It is full of rules and takes patience and the willingness to try and try again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Frosting for the Cause



Today I'm blogging at Frosting for the Cause.  I don't often do guest posts, but this cause is especially close to my heart.  One of my dearest friends is going through chemotherapy right now after a second bout with breast cancer. Click over to read her story and get the recipe for these bite-size chocolate & sour cream baked donuts.

Fellow bakers, find out how you can help, too!


Frosting for the Cause

Monday, July 4, 2011

French Toasted Angel Food Cake


For nearly two years I've faithfully posted to this blog at least once a week, and to get away from that routine felt strange and a little empty.  I'm glad to be back,  I've missed you!

Getting the book manuscript done was a mad dash, and it was strange to see the accumulated pile of work I'd printed out over time reduced to four or five files on a hard drive - but there it was.  Small and tidy.  My effort to inspire creativity through confection.  I can't wait to share it with all of you!

While I have no red, white and blue concoction for you on this Independence Day, this cake is delicious and celebratory, nonetheless. It's great if you're short on time and makes a superb dessert or breakfast for overnight company.

French Toasted Angel Food Cake.

It is as good as it sounds and super easy.  Add a ready-made angel food cake to your grocery list - you'll thank me later.


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