31
Mar
11

persimmon bundt cake

I know; I’m such a flake when it comes to blogging.  I don’t really have any other excuses except for the fact that I usually enjoy reading other people’s blogs instead of posting on my own.  There was a lot of baking going on in my kitchen (baking is currently on hold) and I do have lots of pictures to share, but I’ll admit that I’ve been lazy.

This recipe comes to you at the wrong time of the year (I made this cake in October) but I wanted to share with you now because I’ve had persimmons on my mind.  My parents have a fuyu persimmon tree in their backyard and they get tons of persimmons so my dad sent H and I a box of them in the mail.  The following week we received a whole bag of fuyus from my friend.  What was I to do with so many persimmons?

H loves them (fuyus) and will eat 2 or 3 a day, but I’ve never been a huge fan of them.  The first time I tasted a persimmon it was a hachiya persimmon…the mushy kind.  After that experience I tried to stay away from eating any kind of persimmon in their natural whole fruit form.  My grandpa makes persimmon cookies which  I do like so I searched for the recipe he had shared with me.  Bummer, the cookies were made with puree from the mushy hachiya persimmons;  I had an over abundance of the crisp fuyu persimmons.  Darn.  I searched online and most baking recipes use hachiya.  I was getting discouraged when I finally found this.  I was so excited to try it out, especially because it was made in a bundt pan and I really like bundt cakes.  The cake was very yummy.  It was the perfect “Welcome Fall Season” spice cake.  I made it a few times and even turned it into a “persimmon bread” simply by baking it in a loaf pan and not icing it.

So, back to my relationship with persimmons and why they’ve been on my mind.  The cake only uses about 4 persimmons so even though I’d made it a few times we still had tons of them on our kitchen  counter.  Everytime H ate one I’d have a bite too and eventually I kind of started to like the fuyu persimmon.  It’s crisp like an apple and I’m all about crispy things.  The fuyu persimmon was finally starting to grow on me.  I probably won’t eat 2 to 3 a day like H does, but now I know they’re good for baking too.  What really pushed me over was finally looking at the persimmon tree in my parents’ backyard.  It’s beautiful!  I haven’t seen too many persimmon trees, but I really liked how theirs looked.

I’ve been looking into fruit trees for my backyard so a persimmon tree made it onto my wishlist and I finally ordered a bareroot a few days ago.  My current view from the kitchen sink is pretty bleh so I am very excited about having a nice persimmon tree to look at.  My bareroot tree just arrived yesterday and I’m looking forward to planting it this weekend.  Ok…on to the recipe!

Continue reading ‘persimmon bundt cake’

09
Nov
10

strawberry ice cream

Oh, I’m so disappointed in how long it’s taken me to finally post this recipe.  I got all the pictures and the recipe ready to go 7 weeks ago and here it’s been sitting in my Drafts.  I told myself that once I became a SAHW I would update more frequently, but I’ve had a hard time being motivated.  This stay at home thing has been an interesting transition for me.  As much as I wish I had the cleanest house on the block, I still don’t.  I feel like I’m in the kitchen, cleaning the kitchen, all the time.  I shouldn’t be surprised since I’m always in there making some kind of a mess: bringing in veggies from the garden, wondering what I will do with the abundance, baking for the sake of baking, baking because someone’s requested for me to make something, or trying out new recipes for dinner. In the meantime, my poor blog has sat here unattended.  I have a large backlog of photos and recipes I’d like to share with you, but with my track record I won’t make any promises on when you might see those.  I’ll just let you be surprised🙂.

The following recipe would have been more season appropriate if I had posted it when I originally planned, but better late than never I guess.

This strawberry ice cream is super easy to make – no egg custard involved!  The addition of lemon juice was really nice; it gave the ice cream a fresh, bright taste.  I think that’s the word I’d use to describe this ice cream – fresh.  It wasn’t too rich or too sweet.  With every bite I could taste the strawberries, the cream, and a hint of lemon.  I especially loved the little bits of frozen strawberries with every bite!  If you have an ice cream maker, I highly recommend you make this when strawberry season rolls around again.

1 lb. of strawberries

add  sugar and fresh lemon juice

mash with a potato masher, stir, and mash some more

add cream to half of strawberry mixture

puree strawberry and cream mixture (i used a hand blender)

add reserved strawberry mixture to strawberry cream puree

the final product

Perfect No Cook Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted slightly from Gourmet magazine,  August 2009
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
  • 1 pound strawberries, trimmed, halved if large
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Coarsely mash strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, and salt using a potato masher in a large bowl. Let stand, stirring and mashing occasionally, 10 minutes.

Transfer half of strawberry mixture to a blender and purée with cream until smooth (I just used a hand blender).  Return strawberry cream to bowl with remaining strawberries and chill, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

06
Aug
10

strawberries!

I can’t believe mid-August is just around the corner.  I feel like I’m always asking, “Where did the time go?” H and I have been doing lots of yard work.  We started in April and have come a long way, but there is still lots of work to be done.  Up until this week, I hadn’t been baking nearly as much as I used to (used to being at least once a week) and when I did bake I didn’t take any pictures half the time.  We’ve recently started going to farmer’s market again and when the strawberries are good we usually end up buying a half flat because it’s such a good deal.  Whenever we buy that many, there are definitely plans for baking with some of them.  I love fresh strawberries from farmer’s market, but I find that if we don’t eat them within the first 2 (or if we’re lucky 3) days, they start to take a turn for the worst real fast.  What do I do when I find myself in such a predicament? I start baking strawberry everything!  If I really don’t have time, I’ll freeze them, but I hate having to resort to that because I’d much rather take advantage of their freshness.  A few weeks ago when I had an overabundance of strawberries I made some strawberry ice cream.  It is delicious! I’ve made strawberry ice cream before, but I think this is my new favorite recipe (which I promise to post later).  There’s no egg yolks so it’s not too rich.

strawberry ice cream

This week I had strawberries and leftover buttermilk from making pancakes over the weekend.  I found the perfect recipe for a raspberry buttermilk cake on smitten kitchen and substituted strawberries.  My cake wasn’t as pretty as the raspberry buttermilk cake, but it was still wonderful.  My cut strawberries must have been a little heavier than raspberries because they all them sank to the bottom.

strawberry buttermilk cake

And because I had even more strawberries and buttermilk leftover, I made a strawberry layer cake that I saw in the August 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  The cake in the magazine is a beautiful 4 layer cake with strawberry jam, macerated strawberries, and whip cream between each layer.  It really is a picture perfect cake that I wanted to replicate, but ended up with what I like to call a strawberry slump cake.  I cut the strawberries too thin and decided to make pastry cream instead of whip cream, which was fine except that I didn’t have enough to create a lot of lift between the layers.  Nevertheless, it was still tasty and was gobbled up when I brought it to work.

strawberry layer cake

You’d think I’d be a little strawberry’d out, but I’m not.  My strawberry plants in the backyard are doing well, but not enough for me to bake anything with them.  I usually harvest 1 or 2 at a time🙂.  H has been wanting me to make a strawberry pie so I don’t think he’ll mind if we stop by the farmer’s market again tomorrow to pick up a few packs, or maybe even another half flat.

19
Jun
10

transitions

A friend asked me to make some cupcakes for her brother’s graduation a few weeks ago.  I made chocolate cupcakes topped with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and whipped caramel ganache.  H and I ate the extras and they were delicious.  I think I finally have a few recipes down that I can rely on every time.  It’s kind of scary to think how fast the time is flying by these days; another round of graduations come and gone.  Graduation…one of those major life transitions where I thought, “What now?”.  Well, another one of those major life transitions is coming up for me again in a few weeks and the same question keeps popping up in my head.  I just keep reminding myself that it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  It’s for not being stressed out and tired all the time.  It’s for hopes of finally expanding our little family.  It’s for an opportunity to do what I’ve always been passionate about.  It’s for the best.

11
Jun
10

no knead bread

I’ll just say it…I stink at keeping a blog.  I always take pictures of what I make, but somehow, they don’t make their way on here.  I get lazy or choose to do other things instead.  *Sigh* I wanted to give you a simple (albeit lengthy) recipe to try to make it up to you.  I like making this bread because it takes almost no time at all to mix everything up and I don’t have to knead the dough.  It’s also handy to have dough ready to go in the fridge for whenever you want some fresh baked bread.

The Master Recipe – Boule (Artisan Free Form Loaf)

Adapted slightly from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups, unsifted, all purpose white flour
  • cornmeal for baking stone

1. Warm the water slightly. It should feel slightly warmer than body temperate, about 100 degrees F.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a large bowl, or preferably in a resealable lidded (not airtight) plastic food container.  Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3. Mix in the flour – kneading is unnecessary.  Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula.  Don’t press down on the flour or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing.  Mix with a wooden spoon.  If it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach in and press the mixture together.  Don’t knead!  You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist.  The dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.

4. Allow to rise.  Cover with lid (not airtight) that fits well.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room’s temperature and initial water temperature.  Longer rising times (up to 5 hours) will not harm the result.  You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period.  Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  The first time you try, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.

5. Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.  Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour.  Pull up and cut off a 1-lb. (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife.  Hold the mass of dough in your hands add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.  The bottom of the loaf might look like a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking.  The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive.  The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.

6. Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes (it doesn’t need to be covered during this time).  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking.  Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

9. After a 20 minute preheat, you’re ready to bake.  With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone.  Quickly, but carefully, pour about 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Because you’ve used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust.  Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing.  The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.  You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of the bread.  This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period.  The dough can also be frozen in 1-lb. portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

*NOTE: I don’t own a pizza peel so I usually just use one of those thin plastic cutting boards.  I don’t recommend it; it’s not the best option, especially because you have to be careful not to touch anything hot with the plastic.  It’s the alternative that I’m using for now.

13
Mar
10

cupcakes and mini bundt cakes

Here are some photos of recent cupcakes and mini bundt cakes.

These are some cupcakes that H and I got at Joan’s on Third in LA.  I think the one up front is the snickers cupcake and the one in the back is the cream filled chocolate cupcake.  I didn’t get to try the snickers cupcake; H probably finished it off in 3 or less bites.  The cream filled cupcake was ok; the filling was very sweet.

Joan’s on Third cupcakes

I brought red velvet cupcakes to work the week before Valentine’s Day.   They had cream cheese frosting and were sprinkled with lip-shaped sprinkles.

red velvet with lips sprinkles

The banana bundt cake I posted before has become one of my favorites.   I’m one of those people who will only eat bananas with very few or no spots.  Once they become spotty, I just leave them alone on the counter and let them get uglier and more rotten looking.  Ugly bananas don’t go to waste in this house.  The uglier they get, the more I look forward to baking something with them.  H knows that I will only eat bananas with very few spots, so when he sees me buying a big bunch of bananas, he knows that I have an ulterior motive.

I finally decided to try out my mini bundt pan that I received as a wedding gift (almost 4 years ago!).  I registered for the pan, but never knew what I should make in it.  Go figure.  I wasn’t sure how much batter to put in each mini bundt and ended up slightly overfilling each one.  I was shocked when I checked on them at the halfway point and saw cupcakes!

they look like cupcakes…

…but they’re not!

Fortunately, their little bottoms weren’t so puffed out that they couldn’t stand on their own.  A nice thing about overfilling them slightly was that instead of having a hole in the middle of each bundt for the lemon icing to run through, there was a small cavity to hold it all in.

drizzled with lemon icing

I recently made chocolate cupcakes for a friend’s birthday.  I made a last minute decision to make the caramel ganache frosting from the book Baked.  I really liked the caramel ganache and it was so easy to make!  I also got to use the Valrhona chocolate pearls that I recently bought at a restaurant supply store in LA.  I was having trouble piping nice round swirls and was too lazy to squeeze out all my frosting just to change tips so I ended up just piping out small mounds of frosting.  It’s not the prettiest because the frosting wasn’t smooth enough; next time I’ll use a star tip.

chocolate cupcakes w/ caramel ganache frosting and crunchy chocolate pearls

12
Mar
10

two-bite chocolate cream pies

A few weeks ago, H and I had dinner with some friends – a finger food potluck.  H loves to create appetizers and I love making mini desserts so we were both looking forward to what we were going to make.  I scoured through my cookbooks and magazines trying to find something that jumped out at me when I remembered seeing these mini chocolate cream pies in the February issue of Sunset magazine (one of my favorites). Not only did these look yummy, but the recipe looked pretty straightforward too.

My only advice is don’t over press the cookie crumbs and don’t over bake the crusts.  I was intent on making sure the crusts didn’t fall apart so I did both.  The result was VERY hard crusts that were almost impossible to bite into. I didn’t really think about the fact that egg white would probably provide a much stronger bind than melted butter. Well, they were still delicious even though everyone had a hard time biting into them.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

cookies, sugar, salt, egg white whirled to make the crust

10 lb. slab of chocolate

breaking into the slab

melted chocolate and butter

sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and milk

cook over medium heat

add melted chocolate and butter

ready to bite into

Two-bite Chocolate Cream Pies

From Sunset magazine, February 2010

Makes 24

  • Cooking oil spray
  • About 30 chocolate cookies, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. course salt
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
  • 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 5 tsp. Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 mini-muffin trays (12 muffin cups each) with cooking spray.  In a food processor, whirl cookies into fine crumbs.  Measure; return 1 1/2 cups crumbs to food processor, along with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar, the salt, and 1 egg white.  Pulse to blend evenly.

Spoon 1 tbsp. crumb mixture into each muffin cup. Press crumbs over bottom and up sides of cups. (Don’t press too hard.) Bake until set, 15 minutes. (Don’t over bake.)

Put chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring often, until melted.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 4 tsp. cocoa. Pour in a few tbsp. of the milk and whisk into a smooth paste; whisk in remaining milk.  Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened and large bubbles appear, about 3 minutes.

Put reserved yolk and remaining egg into a medium bowl.  Whisk in about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture.  Scrape egg-milk mixture into milk mixture in pan and cook, whisking, until just starting to boil, about 30 seconds.  Whisk in melted chocolate and butter.

Spoon hot filling into chocolate shells.  Press plastic wrap over surface of mini pies to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until set, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Remove pies from trays. Whisk cream with remaining 2 tbsp. sugar into soft peaks. Spoon a dollop of cream onto each mini pie. Dust pies with remaining cocoa.