Archive | April, 2012

Challenge #12: French toast and bacon cupcakes

24 Apr

This recipe magically appeared in my email one morning, and I knew it had to be our next blog challenge. Obviously, I instantly thought of a certain French Canadian’s love of maple syrup. And of course, I will jump on practically any excuse for me to buy and consume vast quantities of bacon.

To use up all that extra bacon you’ll no doubt have, I recommend bacon-beer pancakes. Hannah introduced me to this lovely blog (and perhaps even this very recipe). Though unorthodox in the breakfast department, they’re delicious. I suggest Newcastle Brown Ale for these fluffy beauties.

And while we’re on the subject of maple and bacon appearing in unusual places, Rogue just released a Bacon Maple Ale in honor of Voodoo Doughnut’s bacon maple bar (which is incredible). The beer, so I’ve heard, not so much. Still an interesting idea, though.

Let the bacon bakin’ begin.

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Greek Yogurt and Honey Pie: Denver

24 Apr

Mmmmmmm. That’s really about all I have to say about this recipe.  It is so light and delightful.

I started with the graham cracker crust (I can’t believe that Nora, my queen of midwestern/mid-century baking has never made one!) – I forgot to buy NON-quick-cook oats, which the recipe specifically states you need. Whatever. My crust turned out fine. And yes, as Nora mentioned – butter is what makes this all stick together. Use lots! Here’s my crust pre-butter:

It took way longer for my crust to cool off than I thought it would. This is usually sort of a problem for me – I can never get the timing of recipes quite right. Anyhow, it’s pretty important to have a totally-cooled crust when you’re pitting the filling in, because it’s the chilling that sets the pie. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to cool it off.

About 10 minutes into the crust-cooling (if I did this again, I’d give it 30 minutes into the cooling process), I started my filling. Water in gelatin, yogurt and honey, etc etc. Here it is, happily in its little double-boiler.

Make sure this cools well, too – I put mine out on our chilly balcony – because you really don’t want to melt the cream you’re about to whip.

Speaking of…whipped cream. Be still, my heart.

Fold the cream into the yogurt/honey, and into the crust it goes…

YAY!

Mine chilled overnight, and turned out perfectly. I took Rainy Day Gal’s advice and served with raspberries. I only have this mediocre iPhone photo from the Boy’s phone, because I forgot my camera when we went over to my parents’ for dinner.

Greek Yogurt and Honey Pie: Portland

20 Apr

I remember falling in love when Hannah made this treat last year, and my attempt didn’t disappoint. It was super simple to make, a delightfully light springtime dessert. BUT I totally failed to properly photo document this one.

Here’s some insight into my life. Because I’m a journalist, I’ve gotten into this awful, awful habit of multitasking for everything, which means I can’t just do one thing at a time. Hence, I tend to bake and talk on the phone to my mom, etc. So I apologize for the dearth of photos because of my inordinate distraction. I swear I actually followed all the directions.

The only “trouble” this recipe gave me was that the graham cracker crust (gasp, I’ve never made one before) came out more crumbly than I expected. Perhaps I should use MORE BUTTER next time. Obviously, that is the solution to every baking problem.

And of course, my good old oven made the crust super brown (also could have been because I left it in too long — curse you, multitasking).

Here’s the delicious yogurt-cream mixture before going into the crust to set. I found it incredibly ingenious that it’s basically a Jello dessert without the crazy fruit flavors. Perhaps my favorite part of this recipe was folding the yogurt into the whipped cream. It’s oddly relaxing.

The result? Glorious!

And here’s a slice. Geez, the light in my house was really poor today. I guess that’s what you get in an Oregon spring.

Also, I just want to share with Hannah how much I love her Christmas (newspaper apron and oven mitt) and birthday (set of Wizard of Oz tumblers) presents.

Challenge #11: Greek Yogurt and Honey Pie

5 Apr

The next challenge: an almost no-bake pie that is similar to a cheesecake (but, arguably, better for you).  The recipe  comes from a generally badass blog called Rainy Day Gal. I’ve made this pie once before and it was incredible but left some room in my technique for improvement. My mother is hosting us for “Easter” (Zombie Jesus Day) dinner on Sunday and I thought this would make a lovely spring dessert to take along.

King Cake: Portland

4 Apr

This Mardi Gras, I learned that “King Cake” is secret code for “giant donut.” Because that’s what mine ended up looking like. And it made a ton of food, so much in fact that I had to force myself to stop eating it and give some to my neighbors already before I turned into a giant donut.

But first things first: yeast. One of the best ways to begin a baked good.

Now to mix the other ingredients for the bread cake. Orange makes everything taste lovely, so I was pleased this recipe called for it.

Once everything got together all nice and doughy, it was time to rise.

My favorite part of this whole thing, though, was the filling. I substituted amaretto for the bourbon, which complemented the pecans well. I’m a sucker for almond-flavored anything, so this was great.

Lining the snakelike dough with the filling proved a bit challenging, but it came together once I added some water to seal the thing shut.

Then I let it rise again in preparation for the final baking call.

Once it was done baking, it looked like a giant bagel, but I soon remedied that with lots of icing and sanding sugar.

Once I finished decorating, I realized it looked just like something Homer Simpson would dream up. But it tasted delicious. I do agree with Hannah that the cake itself turned out a bit dry, but my filling made up for it. Admittedly, though, I did not use enough sanding sugar.

King Cake: Denver

4 Apr

Whelp. I hate to start my post out with this admission: I didn’t really like my creation, this time around. I ventured off Nora’s beaten path and sought my own recipe, eventually settling on one which I found on Epicurious. The filling was a magical mix of pecans and bourbon found on this Food Network recipe.  I’m not sure if it was my chosen recipe, the altitude in Denver, or just my poor cooking that caused the downfall of this cake. Maybe it was a combination of the three.  It just came out very, very dry – more on this as we go along. However, I ate the filling with a spoon while I stuffed the cake The filing was very good.

I followed my recipe to the tee – however, even just as I mixed the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, it seemed too dry. I was concerned about this, as it didn’t seem moist enough to even rise, but I kept going because I’ve never made a King Cake before (or even eaten King Cake before).  Here my dough is, all mixed together.

Lo and Behold, it did rise, but not nearly as much as I thought it would:

It was still very dense at this point. Uh oh, I thought.  I punched it down and preheated my oven.  The dough still seemed dry. And tough. F***********, I thought.  Because I wanted my cake to be filled (and my Epicurious recipe just braided the dough), I made my filling (MMM) and rolled my dough into a blob rectangle.

In the filling went!

Then, I rolled my cake back up, like a jellyroll, and shaped it into a circle. Kind of. As you can tell, by this point, my cake seemed like a comedy of errors to me. So, I went with it. I cut some strips into the cake to vent/add some semblance of aesthetic quality, and into the oven it went.

While it baked, I got excited about using my Mardi Gras colored sugar, which I bought ultra-cheap at the grocery store. I have a ton of green, purple, and gold sanding sugar now, so even if this cake was a wash, I consider this a serious win.

I whipped up some powdered sugar/milk glaze and iced my cake. SANDING SUGAR!

Unfortunately, when we bit into it, the cake was ultra-dry. Like, cement-in-your-mouth, get-me-a-glass-of-milk dry.  Maybe it’s because I’m not Catholic. It looked (kind of) pretty, though.  At least there’s that.