Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baker's Birthday

This is what it looks like when a baker has a birthday:

My loved ones are very good to me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting


Probably my biggest fail yet. I'm pretty sure the reason this happened is not related to my serial over-filling. I think it has more to do with the fact that it's an all butter recipe, and I live at a high altitude. It didn't occur to me until after the fact (obviously), but when I looked over other recipes I've used and had success with, they all had some butter, some shortening. So, did I re-work and re-try? No. No time these days. I had a very small window of baking time. But, like I said, the point was that I wanted to test her recipes before making full cake versions, now I know I've got to change the proportions of fats if I want to use them.

I may try this recipe again sometime, I'm intrigued by the salted caramel frosting. But I think I'm going to try something more summery next...something reminiscent of campfires.

TGIP Rating--Chocolate Cupcakes (didn't even attempt the Salted Caramel Frosting)--FAIL, but might work if I adjust the fats.

Next Up: S'mores reinterpreted.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Midweek Projects: Threadcakes

Yep, this is another blog about Threadcakes on another baking/cooking blog. Why? Why am I jumping on the blogging bandwagon? Because it's a completely awesome contest that I want to enter. If you are unfamiliar, the basic idea is for people to make/decorate/enter cakes that are based on a tee-shirt design at Threadless. Any tee-shirt design you like. And the thing is, the designs at Threadless are really interesting. There's tons of good stuff to maybe make a cake version of.

By way of illustration, here's last year's winner:

Based on this tee-shirt design:

Pretty cool, right? And there's tons more to look at, some with detailed pictures of the process of making the cake.

Here are some designs that I particularly like/would like to take a crack at:

THIS YEAR?!! Oh, hell, no. The deadline is August 16. That might still be enough time for YOU to do something like this, but not me. Not this year. I want to enter SOMEDAY. I have no aspirations of winning. I want to do it because it looks fun, because it would give me a decorating challenge, and because it would give me an excuse to figure out how to work with fondant (more than likely). See any designs over there on Threadless that you like?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cherry Brown Butter Bars

These little guys are...dangerous to me. And by "dangerous" I mean "make me have too many thoughts". But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Summertime=cherries in the mind of spiker. I love them. I could live on a diet of fresh cherries alone and be completely content. When I was pregnant with Prima I stopped at the grocery store on my way to work every morning (during the summer months), bought a pound of fresh cherries and ate them all for breakfast. They made me sooo happy. My midwives scolded me for eating so much fruit and told me my baby would be huge. She arrived 6 weeks early, and yes, huge for her gestational age (a whopping 5 lbs., 8 oz.), which is probably why she never had to have oxygen supplementation or a feeding tube, and came home after only 6 days in the NICU. I owe it all to those 50 pounds of cherries I ate that summer!

So, needless to say, when I saw cherries in the grocery store for the first time this season, I wanted to find an amazing recipe to use them in. Searched and searched and found...a dearth of fresh cherry recipes on the internet. I guess people don't bake with them so much. And why is that? I'm a little mystified. But, I did find at smitten kitchen, this recipe for Cherry Brown Butter Bars. Perfect.

I have never made anything before that required brown butter. Holy. The smell when it's browned is probably the best thing I've ever smelled. And the slightly brown sugary, almost smoky flavor that it gives to these bars is...heavenly. I am going to have to find a way to use brown butter in...more recipes. Maybe even some that don't call for it at all. Didn't Julia have something brilliant to say about butter?

Now, back to the ideas running around in my head...the bars are perfect just as they are...buttery, crispy, delicious little morsels with just a little fruit to cut through it. But, the mind boggles at the possibilities. You could leave the cherries out completely and make the most buttery Blondies in the world. Then you could top those with a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce, or a raspberry coulis, or you could replace the cherries with pears, or raspberries, or god forbid, chocolate-covered toffee bites! I know, it's getting a little out of hand over here.

TGIP Rating--Cherry Brown Butter Bars--KEEPER. Try alterations.

Next up: The Priestess just turned me on to The Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit. You should know that in general, I prefer regular-size cakes over cupcakes. But she has some very intriguing recipes that I'd love to try as full-size cakes. For now, I want to give a test run to her recipes by making cupcakes for the cast of the show I'm in. I think I'll do Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting.

P.S. I think this is my favorite of all the photos I've taken for my blog.