Nora and I are re-committing to the blog. It’s been a crazy (but mostly amazing!) half-year for me, packed with personal, professional, and academic growth…which unfortunately meant that I got LAZY about posting. Nora has been rising to meet similar growth/business. Recently, she suggested we each post sort of a mega-compliation of baking over the last several months, and then we’ll try to get back on track with more frequent baking challenges as per normal. I think it’s a great idea.
September is always a busy baking month for me, because both of my parents have birthdays in September! For my mom’s birthday this year, I made a cake that I am impossibly proud of. Often, my cakes are either tasty but look bad, or look good but aren’t delicious. This year, I nailed it. Using the recipe for almond paste genoise from one of my favorite cookbooks, I created an almond filling (marzipan, butter, and confectioner’s sugar), doused the cake in homemade vanilla bean simple syrup, and frosted it in vanilla Italian Meringue icing. This baby was SO good. And it was so pretty! I am very proud of how it turned out – although, I did run out of icing (oops) and had to finish the top of the cake with Sunkist Gems. It was pretty enough, but I would have liked to finish it just with the icing swirls.
My dad’s cake this year was reflective of his fiendish love for chocolate. It was not as pretty as the cake I made my mom, in my opinion, but it was very good! This is a chocolate genoise (from that same book!) with chocolate Italian buttercream. The consistency of this icing wasn’t as good as the icing that was on my mom’s cake, so I found it hard to do much with it other than just plain old “smooth” frosting. I thought the sprinkles were festive, though.
By the way, I did make croissants! It was WAY time consuming, but my products were pretty tasty! They were a little too big, and subsequently sort of doughy in the center. When I make these again, I’ll make them smaller. Maybe this will be a Christmas morning treat for my family. 🙂 Here are some photos from that process:
the best butter in the world (the best butter available to buy at Sprouts on Colfax)
obscene butter-to-dough ratio
My lovely roommate, Kelsey, helping.
I also made a delicious pear-walnut whole-wheat focaccia this fall. It is finished with rosemary olive oil! I brought this baby to a cocktail party, and it was amazing. You can see the recipe on the New York Times Food and Wine section, which is amazing, if you haven’t seen it. I took a photo of it, but now I can’t find it! Lame.
My big baking project this fall and winter is going to be: learning to make Chinese pork buns! I am going to try the baked variety, and – if I can talk myself into investing the money in a steamer – steamed ones, too! I’ve been somewhat of a Pork Bun fiend since trying the real deal in Chinatown in New York. Look at this baby!!:
That one is steamed, of course. The baked ones are golden brown and pillowy, and filled with…barbecue pork. Sounds a little bizarre if you’ve never had them, but trust me. God’s gift to your tongue. Here’s one recipe I’ll be trying out in November!
Also, Nora and I took a two-week vacation to Scandinavia this summer! In Amsterdam, we tried the city’s trademark “apple tart” (more like apple cake). It’s served warm, with fresh whipped cream. It is amazing. Here’s what one of these pieces looked like:
Edit: whoops. Nora posted her version of this photo, too. Whatever – doesn’t it look so good?!
We roved Northern Europe fueled mostly on Almonds, Granola Bars, and Peanut Butter/Jelly Sandwiches. However, we also ate Dutch Pancakes in Amsterdam (duh!) – Nora got “the Brazilian”, which had Ice Cream and hazelnuts on it, and I had “The Norwegian” – Salmon and dilled cream cheese::
We also were in the North for Herring Season. We tried. Both of us found the raw herrings to be a little too big and meaty for us to deal with.
And, you know, this happened:
Bonus – you can’t take us into museums, because we make a scene: