Thursday, November 30, 2017

Taking Notes as I Go

Yesterday I made a cake for a bake-off at my husband's workplace. It's a fundraiser, with proceeds going to fight malaria. I'm used it as an opportunity to test out a recipe combination I wanted to try. After my success making a Smith Island cake, I thought it would be fun to make a Brazilian carrot cake version to enter in next year's fair. This is my first chance to try out my concept.

First I made the batter for the cake:

Carrots (3 large or 5 medium or 7 small)
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
dash of salt
1 heaping tsp. baking powder

Blend the carrots, oil and eggs in a blender and then mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Weighing this out (the cake layers each need 200g) yielded only 6 layers. For future reference, make 1.5 batches to get 8-9 layers of cake. Other things to note: bake at 350 for 13 minutes per 2 layers. I had a few technical difficulties here, with my oven mitt gouging one of the layers (I'm using it anyway, I plan to fill up the hole with chocolate) and another layer getting stuck on one side because I didn't have enough baking spray.

Next, the fudge frosting: 

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
10 T. butter at room temperature

Heat the cream, sugar and vanilla and pour over the chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth. Add the butter and whisk until smooth. Chill for about an hour and then use to frost the cake.

The cake chilled overnight and was taken in today for the fundraiser. I suspect I won't win the bake-off but my cake did seem to get a fair number of votes at least! Here's a photo of it being served:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Celebration!

It's not often we do our Thanksgiving dinner on the actual day. Usually I have to work and we have our celebration on a different day. Not this year!

Here's what was on the menu:

Roast goose. I followed Hank Shaw's instructions from Duck, Duck, Goose, removing the breasts halfway through the cooking and then searing them at the end. This was more work than I anticipated and I think it came out too tough. Not the recipe's fault, maybe mine? Anyway, for the price of a fresh farm raised goose I think it will be easier to stick with a smaller turkey. The gravy that is made from the giblets is pretty tasty, though.

Stuffing, topped with goose fat before reheating. Cranberry sauce which I made the other day.

Mashed potatoes, made by my husband. Sweet potatoes and marshmallows, made by my mom. She also made a Brussels sprouts and grape dish that was pretty good, so says those of us who like Brussels sprouts.

Pumpkin bread, made by my sister-in-law, and brioche dinner rolls, made by me. I made the dough last night and refrigerated it until this morning when I got up early and shaped a dozen dinner rolls. I haven't made brioche in ages!

Lastly, the pies. I had a pumpkin pie and that fabulous apple pie I made yesterday. The cornstarch worked perfectly, the crust was flaky and light, and not having a solid top crust wasn't a problem at all. I topped the pie with homemade caramel sauce which I made this morning and then there was ice cream and whipped cream because what's a pie without one or the other?

So from me to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving and may your table always overflow with lovely homemade food!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vision = Reality


I've been trying for a while now to get a particular look for my apple pies. I want them to look autumny. Like piles of fallen leaves. I want them to evoke that nip in the air that screams snow is coming and still look tasty enough to eat. It's Thanksgiving, and I want my pie to be perfect.

Here is a list of the things I tweaked for today's pie:

1. I used my smaller (new) pie plate so only 6 apples.
2. Therefore, I dropped the sugar to 3/4 cup.
3. I added 2 T. of cornstarch to the sugar because I'm tired of my pies being runny.
4. No top crust - I covered the apples with cut outs of leaves and acorns, all scored with a knife, and tossed randomly but strategically onto the pie.
5. I used an egg-milk wash rather than milk and sugar.
6. The pie was baked uncovered first, and then covered for the second half of the baking process.

Not very scientific of me, but I can probably trace each alteration to a specific result and therefore I should be able to figure out which of these I should do again.

Regardless. I am happy.

Monday, November 20, 2017

That Time of Year

This is the time of the year where I do a lot of cooking but not a lot of noteworthy things and very few canning projects. I've been making bread, and granola, and cooking pretty basic meals. It's a busy time with school and work and travel. However, Thanksgiving will be upon us shortly and I need to get ready.

First of all, no turkey this year. There will only be six of us, so I'm splurging on a goose (they are surprisingly expensive compared to turkeys). We're also cutting back on the sides: no squash and no beets. Mom will make the sweet potatoes and some new brussels sprouts and grape dish (I'm intrigued) in the place of the broccoli. I will make gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and the pies. Those I'll start tomorrow, although yesterday I roasted the sugar pumpkin and got 6 cups of purée. I froze 3 cups for a later batch of pies and have 3 cups waiting for tomorrow. This morning I made the stuffing; since I won't be stuffing the goose it's just in a dish to be heated up at the last minute. I used leeks and duck stock instead of the usual onions and turkey stock, so it'll fit with the flavors of the goose a little better. I have pumpkin bread in the freezer which I'll thaw.

One other thing I plan to do - on Wednesday I'll make brioche dough and refrigerate it overnight. Then on Thursday morning I can make brioche dinner rolls. Whatever doesn't get eaten can become bread pudding later on.

This morning I'm tapping into my cranberry reserve and making cranberry sauce. Just 8 cups of cranberries, 2-2/3 cups water and 2-2/3 cups sugar. I'll be canning whatever I don't need for Thursday as I've been out of cranberry sauce for a while. Never fear, I still have at least 4 bags of cranberries in the freezer!