Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perfect Party Cake (TWD)

It's been a busy month with work and to top it off, I've been super busy planning for my hub's birthday celebration. This was no ordinary b-day, as my eternally youthful hubs was celebrating his 50th! Just yesterday, we returned from that birthday celebration weekend up in Paso Robles, CA. With a weekend of fantastic wine, delious meals, and in the company of some wonderful friends, I think the birthday boy was quite content. The folks at Justin and Tablas Creek really made our wine tasting afternoon fun and interesting (and we tasted some really amazing wines), and our dinner at Artisan was exceptional.

After being such a flake this past month, I'm determined to regain my baking and blogging mojo and kick things into gear.

This week's TWD selection for Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake is the perfect remedy to get me out of my funk, so THANK U Carol of mix, mix...stir, stir for making this excellent selection! Besides, I couldn't miss out on an opportunity to bake along with Carol, who is a totally talented baker & cook who has a great knack for spices. I was a little ambitious with this cake, and had to seriously hustle to get the cake baked, frosted and photographed yesterday afternoon. The effort was definitely worth it, as I thought this cake was truly exceptional.

The beautiful white cake layers were moist and tender, yet was able to hold it's own stacked in a layer cake. The lemon scented buttercream was delicious (you just need to block out in your mind the 3 sticks of butter that go into the frosting). I went along with the recipe using raspberry jam between the layers.
Next time, I would omit the raspberry jam in the layers, as it got a bit messy to frost and slice. I hope that I wasn't the only one having layers slipping and sliding all over the place.

Without the jam, I would definitely recommend doubling the buttercream recipe (I personally like a thick slathering of frosting on my cakes).
If you'd like to make this cake (which I highly recommend), you can find the complete recipe at Carol's blog. To see the beautiful cake creations of my fellow bakers, please make sure to check out the TWD blogroll.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honey-Peach Ice Cream (TWD)

Argh, I'm totally behind on my blogging! I'm juggling a bunch of things right now...I guess I'm not as good of a multi-tasker as I used to be. Wish me luck, as I'm in major catch up mode. :)

LAST week's TWD recipe, Honey-Peach Ice Cream, is a perfect treat to welcome summer. I wished the peach flavor was more pronounced, but maybe it's because I pureed all of the fruit and didn't mix in any chunks of fruit.
If you'd like to try your hand at this ice cream, please visit Tommi's blog, Brown Interior, for the recipe.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parisian Tartlets (TWD)

The ingredient list for this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe: puff pastry, fruit, brown sugar, and butter. Who knew that this short and sweet ingredient list could create these beautiful and elegant tartlets!

As we're just jumping into the summer fruit season (yipeee!!!), I also used fresh cherries and peaches, along with apples that are called for in the original recipe (please visit My Baking Heart for the complete recipe)
Along with the 4 inch tartlets, I also made some bite-size baby tarts (cherries and donut peaches shown here):
Out of necessity, I made puff pastry from scratch, as Trader Joe's only carries their frozen puff pastry seasonally --- who knew that puff pastry went out of season!

The last time I made puff pastry was in my pro-baking class a year or so ago, and I literally made it one-handed as I was in a cast with a broken wrist (Mary Jo can bear witness to my one-armed fiasco!).

As you can imagine, the process this time around was a lot more pleasurable. In all honesty, puff pastry isn't all that difficult to make...it's scheduling the time to roll out the dough 4-5 times to get those beautiful flaky layers that makes the recipe a little tricky.

I ran out of time (apologies), so I owe all of you lovely TWD'ers a post on this puff pastry recipe, including process photos.
Roll out the dough, use a cutter (or a knife) to cut out the dough, top with fruit.
Sprinkle each tartlet with some brown sugar and dot with some butter. Pop them into the oven for 25 minutes (I only needed 20 minutes, as went a wee bit smaller for my tartlets) and voila! --- you are rewarded with a beautiful dessert!
Thanks to Jessica of My Baking Heart for a wonderful selection this week! Please make sure to make the rounds at the TWD blogroll.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinnamon Squares (TWD)

I know I've said this about several of the previous Tuesday With Dorie recipes, but I think this is one of my favorites to date! I {heart} cinnamon, so I was super excited to see a recipe where it is showcased front and center. This recipe keeps things simple, with just some espresso and chocolate to complement the cinnamon flavor.

For the layer running through the middle of the cake, I used 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup Guittard cappucino chips which I found at World Market (I love this store!):
Not only is this cake unbelievably yummy, it is super easy to make with no special equipment needed - you just need an 8 inch square pan, couple of bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. (Please visit Tracey's blog for the complete recipe)

All you need to do is combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, then gently combine. The final touch is gently mixing in a healthy amount of melted butter. If you follow these simple steps, you will be rewarded with a wonderful cake with a an impossibly moist and tender crumb.
The smell of this baking in the oven was intoxicating! I had to restrain myself from eating this warm right out of the oven.

This recipe is easy enough that I can actually imagine waking up bleary-eyed in the morning to get this prepped and in the oven. By the time I have a few cups of coffee and read the newspaper, this beautiful cake will be baked and ready to be devoured with...well, a few more cups of coffee! Okay, I'll admit it--- I'm a total caffeine junkie!Thank you Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures for selecting this delicious recipe! If you can't get enough of this cake, make sure to visit the TWD blogroll to see more delicious creations.
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