Archive for January, 2012

Bake 52 Week 4: Light New York Cheesecake

January 19, 2012

Whew! Baking from scratch is a LOT of work! Once again, I merely skimmed the recipe and didn’t realize that if I couldn’t find yogurt cheese at the store, I would need to strain plain yogurt for 10-12 hours to make it myself. Ack! Not an option when I needed to make the cheesecake that day! So, I opted for Greek yogurt, which I hoped would be strained enough to sub for yogurt cheese.

Then, I didn’t read that the cake would need to cool for 3 hours and then chill for 3 more before it could be removed from the pan. Since I didn’t start the whole process until 5pm, it was a loooooong night!

I decided to make the raspberry sauce on page 514 to top the cheesecake. I would have preferred strawberry, but the only strawberry recipe in the book did not recommend frozen strawberries, which was all I had.  The raspberry sauce was quick and easy to make.

Joseph took the cheesecake to work the next morning and by 7:30 I had a phone call with reviews from the piping group. Overall, the opinions were pretty favorable.

Brittany–liked the texture, liked the raspberry sauce, but thought it was a little too lemony.

Terry–prefers a more traditional cheesecake texture, but liked the flavor.

Earl–liked the texture, not crazy about the raspberry sauce, but liked the lemon flavor.

Joseph–same as Terry, though he tried a piece later without the raspberry sauce and said he liked it much better.

I saved a piece for the kids and I to share. Ryan was not a fan at all (though I think that was partially due to the fact that he didn’t want to try it in the first place), but Owen and Emmy loved it! I did NOT care for the texture at all and it was enough to keep me from having more than one bite. However, I really liked the flavor. I liked the lemon paired with the raspberry sauce, but I tend to like things on the tart side in general.

As soon as he finished the last bite, Owen asked me to make more.  I think next time I’ll look for a traditional cheesecake recipe. I mean really….if you’re going to eat cheesecake, you might as well skip this light stuff and go for the full monty.

If you’re interested in trying the light version, the recipe can be found on the blog of this week’s host, Talesha.

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Bake 52 Week 3: Boston Cream Cupcakes

January 16, 2012

I’m quickly learning some things about myself as a baker. First of all, I tend to skim recipes and then dive in. Not a good idea, as I usually find something important that I missed. For example, today’s recipe calls for whole milk. I have 1%. I can add some half and half to make whole milk, but I don’t have any of that. Which brings me to my next realization. I don’t have the best stocked pantry or refrigerator for baking. Which is fine….but it’s proving to be a hinderance to my baking. And yet, it’s not like I’m going to keep whole milk or half and half on-hand “just in case”. I guess that brings me back to “read the recipe” before starting to bake. And that brings me to my next realization. When I’m ready to bake, I want to bake. Had I read today’s recipe, I would have known that I would need to leave the eggs and milk on the counter for a couple of hours so that they would be room temperature. And that meant I had to get busy mopping the floor or doing some other chore that I was planning to put off in favor of baking cupcakes.

All that aside, my cupcakes finally did get made. Minus the whole milk (hope the 1% didn’t ruin all my hard work…I suppose we’ll never know the difference). I’ve decided that I need a new muffin tin. I had enough batter to make 15 cupcakes, so I had to use my half-size muffin tin in addition to my regular one. The smaller tin is a dark, non-stick tin and there was a marked difference in the appearance of the cupcakes that came out of that compared to those in my light-colored tin….they looked much more appetizing. See the difference?

When I pulled the cupcakes out of the tin to cool, their weight and texture reminded me of my favorite French breakfast muffins….a little heavy and kind of springy. Which made me wonder if the French muffin recipe would work just as well for the cupcake portion of the Boston Cream Cupcakes…..it’s certainly easier to make!

I should have taken a picture before I poured the chocolate on to show how the recipe suggested filling the center of the cupcake.  It was very simple to do, much easier than force filling from the bottom of the cupcake.  I used a pastry bag with a large cake decorating tip to fill the cupcakes and that worked very well.  I had a little bit of trouble getting the chocolate to spread over the top and drip down the sides. I even warmed it up a bit more so that it would pour more easily, but it seemed to just clump on the top. I had to use a spatula to spread it out, which made them look not quite as pretty as the picture in the cookbook.

I’m not much of a fan of chocolate (I know….commence with the tomato throwing), so I skipped eating one that had been topped. I was a little nervous to take a bite because the filling didn’t smell very good to me when I was whipping it up and I was worried it would taste like it smelled. Thankfully, it didn’t. It was delicious! The kids gobbled them up as fast as they could! Joseph felt like the bittersweet chocolate was maybe a little too strong and overpowering, but the filling made up for it!

This is a little bit of a labor intensive recipe. I can’t see making these again just for the heck of it (on top of being labor intensive, they aren’t cheap!), but I think they would make a really great dessert to take to a party that will be a real crowd-pleaser.

This week’s host was Amanda…a quick stop by her blog will get you the recipe and more detailed directions!

Bake 52 Week 2: Bran Muffins

January 9, 2012

I’m not really a fan of bran muffins, so I wasn’t super excited for this week.  And when I read the recipe, the first thought that came to my mind was “hoity toity”.  These bran muffins are as picky as I am.  They aren’t happy with just regular ‘ol flour….they want all-purpose AND wheat flour.  They aren’t happy with just any bran…they want a particular brand of bran cereal, and only the twigs, because if you use something different they’ll be too heavy, or they won’t even taste like bran.  They don’t want two whole eggs…they want one whole and then just the yolk of the other.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  And then when I got ready to make them and realized I had forgotten plain yogurt at the store, I was about ready to throw my hands in the air.  Thankfully, America’s Test Kitchen tells me that I can sub sour cream for the yogurt.  I wasn’t about to ask the bran muffins…they would surely tell me no.

This recipe had lots of little steps and was more labor intensive than I care for.  And as if the ingredient list wasn’t snobby enough, these muffins wanted to be turned halfway through the baking period.  Geez!  At Michelle’s suggestion, I substituted raisins for chocolate chips.  There are two things that I think NEVER belong in baked goods–nuts and raisins.  I was going to make these plain, and maybe try a few with craisins for a twist, but when she suggested chocolate chips, I thought that was the most likely option to go over well with my family.

I was surprised at how good the muffins smelled while they were baking.  And the fact that they contained chocolate chips made the kids excited to try them (good call, Michelle!).  Mine didn’t look quite as pretty as those in the book, but that’s OK….we can’t all be as perfect as bran muffins.

Owen and Emmy were eating lunch when they came out of the oven and they were a great motivator to eat their carrot sticks so they could have one when they were finished.  Ryan had his when he got home from school.  What did they think?

Two thumbs up from Ryan and Owen, and one thumb up, one thumb in the middle from Emmy (which is funny because she didn’t have any problem finishing two of them).  Joseph was pretty impressed as well.  Good as they smelled, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat one right off….pregnancy, you know.  But I did sneak a bite off of one of the kids’ the next day and they weren’t bad….for bran muffins, anyway.  I probably won’t make them again, simply because I thought they were more work than they were worth.

Valerie was this week’s host…check out  her blog for the recipe!

Bake 52 Week 1: Quiche

January 4, 2012

Welcome to week 1 of Bake 52!  I’ve been so excited to get started with this!  This week’s host is Clare and she chose a quiche recipe to start off our year.

Having never made a quiche, or eaten a quiche, I was a little intimidated initially.  However, a quick glance at the recipe showed that it’s really quite simple.  My recent success with making a pie crust made me excited to try again for the quiche.  I decided to stick with the basic recipe, but America’s Test Kitchen includes several variations.  For the recipe and more detailed instructions, visit Clare’s blog.

Aside from the time it took to make the crust (which really isn’t much), the quiche whipped together in no time.  I decided to substitute parsley for the chives because I had it on-hand.  The only thing I failed to read was that it should cool for at least 1 hour before serving….and I planned to have it out of the oven just in time for dinner.  Needless to say, dinner was a little late that night!

And what did the troops think?  Two thumbs up from Joseph and Emmy, one thumb up from Owen, and two thumbs in the middle for Ryan.  And you guessed it….I didn’t eat any.  Sorry…the weird texture is just too much for this palate to handle.

The only thing I’d do different next time is add some more veggies.  This was just the basic recipe with eggs and cheese and Joseph said it was a little boring.