Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Doug's Birthday Cake

I always (: for the past few years) bake a cake for my younger brother's birthday. This year, I thought I would take advantage of  a long weekend to go home and bake one-- two months late. For some reason, (uh, re-entry shock?...) I never got around to making one during my time at home  after getting back from Barcelona, so a week after this country celebrated our first president's birthday, I needed to make amends .

Naturally, I called Doug (my bro) before I even got home so I could start planning. He was gracious enough (: I begged him)to request a flavor for the cake, which made my life so much easier. Always a man of style, he chose a classic: yellow butter cake with chocolate frosting. A classic... which I had no go-to recipe for, sadly. So I started searching and eventually found a butter cake and a milk chocolate buttercream frosting that both looked crazydelicious.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New York Style Crumb Cake

"Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake."  -  ???

Anybody?  For some reason, I've always remembered the movie Casper (with Christina Ricci) with this line spoken by the priest/exorcist who attempts to empty the house of the friendly ghosts.

But besides clever writing, crumb cake reminds me of the trips my family used to take to a resort/lodge in Pennsylvania every Columbus Day Weekend. Each morning, breakfast in the enormous dining hall would start with a fresh-baked crumb cake brought straight to the table as we sat down. Seeing this recipe's photo on Tastespotting (an awesome site if you feel like window shopping for recipes) took me right back to those brisk October mornings where the smell of wood burning in the fireplace gave way to that of butter and cinnamon wafting up from the still warm dish sitting on our table. ...So as you can tell... I needed a piece of crumb cake. Luckily, being home for the weekend, I had  most of the ingredients on hand, even the cake flour, and was ready to get to work.

First, many thanks to Shauna from Piece of Cake for posting the recipe with such great pics. They definitely caught my eye and inspired me to make this.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chunky Monkey Biscotti

Put together a little chunky (peanut butter & chocolate chips) with a little monkey (mashed banana) and you get these dark, rich cookies that are perfect with a cup of coffee. Based on the Ben & Jerry's flavor combo :

these biscotti have a blend of banana, chunky peanut butter, and chocolate all baked (twice, more on this later) together into the form of the traditional Italian dry cookie.

More on biscotti: The plural of the Italian biscotto, meaning cookie or biscuit, biscotti are a twice-baked (from which they get their name "bi-cooked") and therefore relatively dry cookie or biscuit. Biscuit, actually, is a cognate (Can you tell I'm a linguistics major?) of biscotto, as are the Spanish bizcocho and German Biskuit, although the latter two refer more to a type of spongecake than to a cookie!

Before I get to the recipe, I need to thank my friend and roommate from last year, Trent, who offered to let me bake in his kitchen! Not only did he save me from scrubbing the AEPi kitchen with Lysol wipes (he keeps his kitchen spick and span) , but he also was a big help: I conquered my OCD and let him measure the cocoa powder.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Delayed... wah.wah.

New posts are on the way. I swear.

For reasons beyond my control... I am still putting together my post on the biscotti, but do not fear. Once I get home (my dad should be here in a few hours), I will have more than enough time to work on finishing everything up!

I'll be adding even more posts, too, hopefully. The baking will be nonstop this weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Prepping for week 2 - just slush this time

As I get ready to attempt Sugar Plum's Chunky Monkey Biscotti tomorrow, I've been navigating streets filled with slush and ice. Winter is gross. I'm hoping the biscotti will make it all better for a day. Stay tuned for the post, hopefully late tomorrow or Friday...

Speaking of which, good news! Friday afternoon my dad will be coming to bring me home to the Dirty Jerz for the coming long weekend! (Brown decided that President's Day weekend was too early this year, so they moved back our February break.) And although I can't imagine why thoughts of New Jersey wouldn't be exciting enough to all of you, going home means returning to my home kitchen! (i.e. lots of baking will be going down this weekend)

I'm pumped.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meditations on Week 1

While I've  been getting this blog up and running, I've been thinking a lot about all the possible directions I could take it and asking myself lots of questions. Who is my audience? What do I want to tell them? What other information should I be putting on here? Does anyone actually want to hear about me baking in someone else's kitchen? Should I even bother at all?

I think I'll put off the philosophical or existential discussions for now... even though  I've already been putting off more homework than I should be mulling this all over. Right now, I can't help but be excited for this project. It came out of practically nowhere, but it's happening, nonetheless.

For now I'll just keep on baking and maybe this blog's direction will materialize out of cookies and cakes...

Speaking of which, what should I make on Thursday?!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

My first foray into baking in the AEPi kitchen was a marvelous success. The cupcakes have now all been devoured (not just by me, thanks to my friends) and were thoroughly enjoyed in all their rich, chocolatey goodness. Many thanks to 
Ina Garten, Food Network chef of Barefoot Contessa fame, for her wonderful recipe and to AEPi for their kitchen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Night Before Baking

Tomorrow's the big day-my first attempt at baking in the AEPi kitchen.

My plan for a morning of domestic goodness:

7:30......Wake up... less grudgingly than if I were waking up for class.
8:00......Have a pot of espresso on the stove and my supplies (including the recipe, duh) down in the kitchen.
8:30......Make sure I bring my camera to take lots of pics of everything. (Hope there's enough sunlight.)
9:00......Have the batter made and the cupcakes in the oven.
9:30......Take out the cupcakes and let them cool without eating them.
10:00....Prepare the ganache to cover each cupcake.
10:30....Clean up. The less-fun part.
11:00....Get ready and then go to class, feeling refreshed and stress-free, bearing some cupcakes to share.
12:00....Watch my friends' faces as they taste the chocolatey goodness.

Let's see how this goes. Hopefully I'll have it together so that I can give you the play-by-play. Wish me luck.

Prepping in a snow storm

Not a bad night's sleep. I woke up expecting to see snow piled practically up to my 4th floor window, but was surprised to see this:

Surprised, but not too disappointed. I was very thankful that the snow storm was taking its time to get here while trekking out to my 9 a.m. class.
So back to the baking the story:

With access to the key, I've planned to begin the "ritual" tomorrow morning. Today, though, I need to run out between classes and buy some vanilla extract before the big snow hits...