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Deep-dish apple tart: Portland

5 Oct

Well, it appears I started this post months ago and forgot to finish it. (Rats!) So, much delayed though it is, I present my attempt at an Amsterdam-style apple tart. All in all, I’d say it turned out pretty well for a first attempt.

photo (7)

Used a combination of apples, including golden delicious and probably gala (honestly, it’s been too long).


Love how cut butter looks before being blended with sugar.

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The key, it seems, is dough that’s sturdy enough to hold up in a pie crust-like shape, yet dense enough to be fluffy like cake.

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Apples and cinnamon: no better combo

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A little egg wash before baking

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The top came out wonderfully browned

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Not quite the same texture as the piece we ate in Amsterdam, but it was well received at the office and is probably the best-looking baked good I’ve ever made (and mine usually aren’t so aesthetically pleasing), so I’ll call it a victory for Upfish.

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Challenge: Apple tart a la Amsterdam

12 Jan

Here it is, in all its glory, the Amsterdam apple tart. Part cake, part pie, amazingly delicious. Hannah and I loved this so much on our trip to Amsterdam that we went back to Winkel on our last night in town to try it again. Perfect dessert.

Amsterdam apple tart


So, without further ado, it’s time for us to try making our own.

Here are two recipes I found last year that could guide us to a terrific tart.

Bundt Cake: Portland

5 Apr


Well, call me lazy. I’m embarrassed it’s taken me more than three months since I made this cake to post about it. Perhaps because I had to download all the photos from my phone (there’s got to be a better way…).

For my first-ever Bundt cake, I’m pleased with how this one turned out. I decided on Root Beer Bundt Cake from the Crepes of Wrath, to help send off a coworker. The texture and taste were wonderfully rich and dense, but I might do without the frosting next time. It proved a little too rich with an already rich cake.

Bundt cake ingredients

Standard wet and dry cake ingredients were employed, along with some high-quality, real-sugar root beer (and, wow, could I tell a difference).

Blaine and bundt cake

Blaine, a devotee of Bundt cakes himself (and whose own Baileys Bundt cake photos I’ll post soon), volunteered to help me craft this cake. Here he’s stirring the butter-sugar-cocoa-root beer mixture to melt all the elements before incorporating it with the dry ingredients.

Bundt cake batter

Once cooled a bit, the wet ingredients met the dry ingredients in a lumpy batter that then went into a buttered and floured, nonstick bundt pan.

Beautiful bundt cake

Finally, because I’m always curious about the origins of things, when my mom had mentioned that Bundt cakes became a fad of sorts in the 1960s and 1970s, I looked up a bit of history.

It turns out the Bundt pan is the product of a Minnesota man: H. David Dalquist, a culinary pioneer who developed the signature pan, with its fluted sides and round center, according to a 2005 Associated Press obituary. The company that he and his wife, Dorothy, started in the late 1940s, Nordic Ware, still exists today. And there’s a reason why only Nordic Ware pans carry the “Bundt” in their name: It’s a trademark, hence why the “B” is always capitalized. (For example, this is the one I have, and it’s instead called a “fluted mold cake pan.”)

Though first created in 1950, the pan didn’t catch on until the 1960s, when the Betty Crocker brand of entertaining was taking off and cake-mix cakes were all the rage. My mom remembers a recipe for Harvey Wallbanger cake made with yellow cake mix and Galliano liqueur being passed around, but there are also from-scratch recipes available.

Frosted bundt cake


Here’s a final view of the cake. I only frosted half, and it’s not the most artful frosting, but the cake itself was just the right balance of chocolate and root beer. I’ll be using this recipe again.


Bundt Cake: Denver

6 Mar

Wow, ok. Back from my almost three-month hiatus from blogging. Ridiculous!

Part of what made me lag in this post is simply the fact that I totally, completely failed at making a successful Bundt cake on my first attempt. It tasted delicious, but completely shredded when I removed it from the pan. See, as evidence:

bundt fail cake

bundt fail in pan

Tragic, right? BUNDTPOCALYPSE.

That was an orange bundt cake, whose recipe I modified heavily to include buttermilk and tangerine. Maybe I modified it too much? The real issue here, I think, was that I buttered but did not flour the pan. It’s a non-stick pan! Nonsense. Either way, valuable lessons were learned.

The second cake I made was a more traditional lemon Bundt cake. After tangerine failure, I needed something to build my confidence back up, and lemon is probably my favorite flavor to bake with (well, that or almond). This recipe was unusual in that you whip cream and fold it into the batter – something I’ve never done for a cake before. Because I’m  a dolt, I didn’t really take many photos of the baking process – but it was, you know, making a cake. You get the idea.

I like really citrus-y baked goods, so I added extra zest and juice. I also snuck a little orange zest in, for good measure.


This cake turned out marvelously. One little dent in it when it came out of the pan, but it was no repeat of #bundtdisaster, above. That’s what icing is for! It was so rich and moist. It was a little dense, but that’s how Bundt cakes are.

finished no glaze

To finish the cake, I first glazed it (while warm) with lemon juice/confectioners’ sugar, and then (once cooled) I used an icing of heavy cream/confectioners’ sugar/vanilla extract. The heavy cream kept the icing thick, instead of that runny icing you get with milk-based mixtures.

With glaze:

finished glaze

I served this cake at my roommates’ annual “Palentines Day” party, and it was a success. I’d definitely make this recipe again. Glazing the cake before icing it kept the cake moist and stopped the icing from sinking into the cake and making it soggy.

finished iced

Challenge: Bundt cake

27 Dec

bundt panThis Christmas was a boon for baking. I got a cast-iron skillet and a bundt pan, so naturally I’ve been feverishly brainstorming what to make first with each.

With New Year’s swiftly approaching, it seems like the right time to try out a bundt cake (and that skillet will see a peppercorn tri-tip steak soon). I’ve never made one before, so I’m not exactly sure what to expect. But I’m happy to find that there are so many different recipes out there. Here are some of the highlights.

From the Crepes of Wrath
Banana-caramel bundt cake
Root beer bundt cake
Pineapple bundt cake

From Smitten Kitchen
Lemon cake
Gingerbread bundt

From Alton Brown
Apple spiced bundt cake with rum glaze

From Martha Stewart
Devil’s food bundt cake with ganache

From The Oregonian’s Foodday
Several varieties, including blood orange and rosemary; hazelnut cranberry; apple; and whiskey-soaked dark chocolate

And because it’s a novelty, if nothing else: Buzzfeed has a visual list of bundt recipes.


UPDATE: I missed this before I posted originally, but The New York Times offers a video of how to make a Flaming Baba Au Ruhm in a bundt pan, which looks pretty fancy — and fun. And a hat tip to my mom, who left a comment: She suggests a Harvey Wallbanger cake, in vogue in the ’70s.

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.

Challenge #10: Mardis Gras King Cake

21 Feb

If it hasn’t become supremely evident by how excited I get around various holidays, I like themed baking. A lot.

And with yesterday being Mardi Gras, what could be more appropriate than a classic carnival baked good.

I’d never heard of a King Cake before a couple weeks ago, but they are THE cake for Fat Tuesday. Basically, it’s a yeast cake with icing and Mardi Gras-colored sugar (see below).

The baby figurine evidently has something to do with the holiday’s religious origins, but now whoever finds it in their piece must make the cake the next year.

No matter its origins, I got my inspiration from this Food Network recipe. Emeril also has his own variation, so that should give us a good idea of how it’s done.