Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boston Cream Pie

Two days ago marked our 200th sale at the catering/meal delivery place where I work. You know what I'm going to say, right? Time for cake! We decided on a Boston Cream Pie to mark the occasion.

Before making this cake, I had never made pastry cream. I had, however, made vanilla pudding. Turns out, they're basically the same. If you've never made a custard, fear not; homemade pastry cream is too easy not to make from scratch. Just please, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not buy pudding and stuff it between your cake layers. It will taste as bad as it sounds.

This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, a wonderful and reliable recipe source. Boston Cream Pie has a few more steps than your traditional yellow cake with chocolate frosting, but a few elements can be made in advance. For instance, the pastry cream will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. Also, I baked the cake one day in advance, wrapped it tightly in plastic, and refrigerated it until I was ready to assemble the final cake.

Boston Cream Pie

For the cake:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
*Don't rush to the store for cake flour; you'll need cornstarch to make pastry cream, so read the box. Cornstarch+flour=cake flour. Amazing, I know.

1 1/2 cups prepared pastry cream (see below)

For the glaze
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chunks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" round cake pan with non-stick spray, line it with parchment, and spray the parchment.
  2. To prepare the cake: In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until very thick, until the batter falls from the paddle in thick ribbons. This will take a few minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Bring the milk and butter to a simmer in a small saucepan. Slowly stream it into the egg/sugar mixture with the mixer going, and beat for another minute.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over the cake batter. Mix on low speed just until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Check carefully for lumps and remove any with a small spoon. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, or until it's a deep golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven, run a table knife around the edges, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto to a rack to cool completely.
  7. When the cake is completely cool, use a long serrated knife or a cake slicer to slice into two equal layers. Fill with the pastry cream, spreading it right to the edges. Replace the top layer.
  8. Prepare the glaze by melting the chocolate, corn syrup, and cream together until smooth and lump free. Add the vanilla and stir well. Pour the glaze over the filled cake, allowing some to drip down the sides and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge, well wrapped in plastic.
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into egg yolks to temper them.
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture through a strainer back into the remaining simmering milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
  6. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), and then refrigerate until cool.
Note: This pastry cream recipe yields 3 cups, or twice what you'll need for your Boston Cream Pie. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to five days. Makes a good excuse to try your hand at cream puffs!

Now, what does Boston Cream Pie have to do with today's holiday? Absolutely nothing. Happy Halloween!
Until next time!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Teriyaki Pulled Pork

I needed a fool-proof recipe to break in our new crock pot, so after looking at a few versions of this recipe online, I decided to give it a try. I tweaked a few details for my version and will definitely be making my own teriyaki sauce next time--with a little extra spice!
This recipe is so easy but the results are tasty and complex. The final result is a mound of soft, salty pork, complimented by a slice of sweet pineapple, all enveloped by a toasted bun. You can't go wrong.

Teriyaki Pulled Pork
3 lb pork butt roast
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (10 oz) bottle teriyaki marinade (not glaze)
1 (8 oz) can pineapple slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl cornstarch

In the morning, place onion in bottom of slow cooker. Cut pork into 3 or 4 large pieces and lay on top of onion. If you bought bone-in pork don't worry about trying to debone the roast. Just drop it in the pot and remember: bones = flavor.
Pour teriyaki sauce over the top. Place the juice from the pineapple can into a measuring cup and add enough water to yield 3/4 cup. Save the pineapple slices for later. Add the water/pineapple juice to the slow cooker along with the garlic. Cover and set on low. Now go to work and let that pork cook down for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, remove pork to a large bowl. Shred with two forks (throw out the bone if there is one).
Combine cornstarch with enough cold water to dissolve it and add this to the juice in the slow cooker. Cover and set heat to high. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. After thirty minutes, return pork to the pot and stir together.
Serve on toasted buns with a pineapple slice. Enjoy!
Leftovers are perfect served over brown rice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Chocolate Anniversary

Yesterday I celebrated my first full year of living on my own. Yay for me! Do you know what this calls for?
Cake! Chocolate cake!
Any excuse for cake is a good excuse. I'd celebrate the end of every week with a cake if I could get away with it. Why not? Cake is delicious. Especially if it's rich, chocolate cake with an espresso glaze and chocolate drizzle. Mmm...
I'd been holding onto this recipe for a long time and finally decided to give it a try. It took me so long to commit because the first step calls for letting the mixture rest for two hours.
It is more than worth the wait. You have to have sourdough starter on hand for this recipe--I've had mine for almost as long as I've been living on my own. I named him Derp. Fitting name for a gloopy, beige mass of starter, I think.
Freshly fed and happy!

The starter in the recipe seems to mellows out a bit once its mixed with milk and flour and allowed to sit out. Then it bakes and creates a deep rich cake with no sour or tart notes whatsoever. If you don't have your own starter, go to the kitchen right now and make one. Seriously. Not only can you use it to make this unbelievable cake, but you can also make the best breads, rolls, pancakes, muffins, waffles, quick breads, and pizzas you have ever eaten. I love having a starter on hand. And I love this cake recipe.
Where's my fork?

What can I say? The folks at King Arthur Flour really know what they're doing. Now go get baking!
Until next time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lemon Icebox Pie

It's time to bid summer adieu, and it couldn't leave fast enough for me!  But before I bust out the ol' pumpkin recipes, here's one last nod to hot, sunny weather.
Now before y'all go all crazy on me, yes, I used store bought graham crackers--which usually contain partially hydrogenated oils. However, the brand I buy contains only palm oil--which is high in saturated fat but contains no trans fat. Make sure you read your labels!
This recipe is so simple, it's silly. And it tastes like lemon ice cream--minus the fuss.

Lemon Icebox Pie

For the crust:
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs (if you use cinnamon graham crackers, omit sugar)
2 T sugar
3 T melted butter

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle Brand sweentened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice
1 Tbl vanilla
1 Tbl zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a fork, combine crumbs, sugar (if using), and butter in a medium bowl until well mixed. Press mixture into bottoms and up sides of a 9" pie pan. I find it easier to use the bottom of a measuring cup to press my crumbs into place than fighting them with my fingers.
Bake 10 minutes.
Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and condensed milk until combined. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla and zest and pour into prepared crust, smoothing the top with an off-set spatula.
Freeze overnight. I know, I know. Trust me, it's well worth the wait!

Next time I think I'll make my edges thinner, and maybe I'll add the zest. A little color never hurt anyone, right?

Until next time!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kitchen Inferno

August at my latitude is unreal. Living without central air at my latitude is also unreal. Baking in the summer teeters on suicidal.
A couple weeks ago I made a lemon cake as a send-off treat for someone I worked with. It nearly killed me. Having the oven on raises the temperature in my kitchen to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit! Why not just crack a window, you ask? Because all the windows in my lovely abode have been painted shut. Not by me, I'll have you know!
So where am I going with all this whining? I'll tell you: the joys of a microwave mug cake.
I love being able to have a single-serve dessert without the fuss of baking. If you're new at microwave 'baking,' give it a shot. I trust I don't have to tell you how much better these are than storebought. And no p.h.o.!
This recipe is my go-to when I'm craving a melty chocolate treat. I love it because it calls for pantry staples and doesn't even require an egg! There are many, many more microwave cake recipes out there. My only advice? Try them all!

4 Tbl flour
4 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl cocoa
dash salt
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 Tbl water

In a large coffee mug, mix flour, sugar, cocoa and salt using a fork. Add oil and water and mix to combine. Pay attention to the bottom of the mug--make sure you get all the flour mixed in. Microwave for about one minute. Brownie should still look wet in the middle. Do not overcook this, let it be gooey and glorious!
Enjoy experimenting with mug cakes--don't let the heat get you down!

Until next time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bye Bye Cake

With very little warning and no turning back, one of my supervisors left the company last week. Staying true to the nickname she dubbed me, I baked her a send-off cake for her last day.
I made her a mini double-decker lemon cake with a lemon glaze, using my knock-off Starbucks Lemon Loaf recipe. She was very appreciative and it was the least I could do.
The recipe itself is so tasty and spot-on with the Starbucks version, you really don't need an excuse!

Copycat Lemon Loaf
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 c sugar
2 Tbl softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 c lemon juice
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c + 1 Tbl powdered sugar
2 Tbl milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of your stand mixer, place eggs, sugar, butter, extracts, and juice and mix to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add oil and mix well. Pour into prepared pans and bake 20-25 minutes. Cool in pans on a cooling rack. Mix your glaze ingredients. Remove cakes from pans and ice with the glaze. Slice when set.

If you bake mini cakes, you will wind up with extra batter. No worrries--pour batter into a greased 9x9 pan and bake for 35 minutes or until it tests done. Ice it with your leftover glaze.
Alternately, you can forget the mini cake plan and bake the whole recipe in a greased 9x13 loaf pan for 45 minutes. Cool it in the pan on a rack and ice when cooled.

Until next time!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brew Pub Bread

I was tired of looking at all the bits and pieces in my kitchen. Staring at me from the shelves--Guinness, molasses, a little bit of to rid myself of these ingredients without wasting them? Then, like a ray of sun straight from Heaven, I stumbled upon this book. My boss and fellow foodie lent me his copy.
Under the bread section there it was: Brew Pub Bread. I read through the recipe, my pulse quickening with every ingredient listed. Finally here it was: a chance to clean out my pantry/fridge and bake something delicious!
The recipe yields two loaves--one of which I baked in a loaf pan and the other I shaped into a round using my brotform.
This bread is amazing! Thanks to the beer, it comes out of the oven a beautiful dark brown, but the crust is thin and soft. It is very dense and a little crumbly, almost like a quick bread texture. But it cuts really well and makes wonderful toast. The flavor is great--the mixture of the deep molasses and dark beer balance each other out while the oats give the bread a nice chew. Definitely a keeper!

Brew Pub Bread (2 loaves)

2 c dark beer
1 c oatmeal
2 tsp salt
½ c molasses
½ stick (1/4 c) softened butter, unsalted
1 ¼-oz package (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
1/3 c warm water
5-6 c unbleached all-purpose flour

In small saucepan, bring beer to a boil. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine oatmeal, salt, molasses, butter, and hot beer. You can do this by hand—mix in a large bowl. Set aside and cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water. Add to oatmeal mixture and stir to blend. Stir in flour, 2 cups at a time, stirring well after each addition. Using dough hook attachment, knead 5-8 minutes. Alternatively, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in oiled bowl, turning to coat entire surface. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, and gently divide in half. Shape each piece into a loaf and place in ungreased 9x5 loaf pans. Cover as before and let rise until doubled in bulk—about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375˚. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until sides pull away from pans. Test for doneness by (carefully!) turning loaves out and thumping the side, near the bottom. It should sound hollow. If the loaves haven’t browned on the sides near the bottom, cover the top with foil to keep from burning and bake another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack.
Until next time!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pride Cakes

June is pride month! Hooray!
I can think of no better way to show one's pride than by baking rainbow cakes...especially if they're rainbow cakes baked in a "canoe" pan (insert conspiratorial wink here). How perfect! Haha, I crack myself up.
Anywho, I used the zebra cake recipe to make these. I whipped up the batter, divided it, colored it, and layered it in my greased pan. Simple. I baked these beauties at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they tested done.
This batter makes a very dense cake, which isn't ideal for filling. But I think these babies are pretty fabulous without it. If you want to try your hand at filling your own rainbow cakes, please leave me a comment, I'd love to hear if it worked for you!
Now go out and find a parade to lead!
I love using Wilton gel colors. They don't water down the batter.
After I finished 'bulls-eyeing' the batter. Remember: R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.!
I had just enough better left after filling the canoes to make 2 eyes in my round pan
Fresh from the oven!
So pretty!
Until next time!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

When a friend of mine turned 21, she told me all about drinking an Irish Car Bomb. Needless to say, the idea of chugging a drink before it has a chance to curdle sounds pretty awful to me. But then I saw these cupcakes. A dense, chocolate base filled with a core of rich, spiked ganache, and then crowned with a swirl of boozy frosting? Well, what can I say? When it comes to drinking, I prefer to eat my alcohol.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
(based on recipe found here)

1 c Guinness stout
1 c unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c cocoa powder
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 c sour cream
Ganache Filling:
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 c heavy cream
2 Tbl butter, softened
2 tsp Irish whiskey
Bailey's Frosting:
1 c unsalted butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbl Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease or line 24 cupcake cups. I only own one cupcake pan, so I baked my cupcakes in two batches.
In a medium saucepan, bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.

While the mixture is cooling, in a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixture, beat eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.
Add the chocolate mixture and beat just until combined.
Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat briefly. Use a rubber spatula to fold the batter until combined.
Divide among the lined/greased cups.
Bake 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn cupcakes onto a rack to cool. 

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the filling. Or if you're a good multitasker, feel free to make it while they bake. Put the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.


Bring the cream to a simmer and pour it over the chocolate.
Leave it alone for one minute, then, using a rubber spatula, stir from the center out until smooth.
Add the butter and whiskey and stir to combine. Set it aside to cool while you make the frosting.

Beat the butter on medium speed for a few minutes, or until light, scraping sides as needed.
 Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add all the powdered sugar.
Add the Bailey's and increase the speed to medium-high, whipping until light and fluffy (~2-3 minutes).
To assemble: Use a melon-baller to hollow out the cupcakes (go a little more than halfway down).

Transfer the ganache to a piping bag, or a squeeze bottle, or even a freezer zip-top bag and fill in those holes!
Then, using a large star tip, pipe a swirl of Bailey's frosting on top of the cakes, masking the ganache.
Store in an airtight container. We kept ours in an airtight container in the fridge and they lasted a week. Let them sit out at room temperature so the icing softens before serving.
Until next time!