Feb 27 2013

One from the Archives: Paris

IMG_3337We spent five weeks in France last summer. FIVE weeks. And I didn’t blog nearly as much as I did in Iceland. Not nearly as much as I intended.
Let’s blame a toddler, and work, and me needing to tend to both. I am immensely proud of my little family for the way we rocked this trip. And yet I have tiny pangs of regret about not doing what I said I would do. The daily post. The better documentation. So now, six months later, I’m finally organizing the ephemera. I’ve decided to not be paralyzed by regret. Not this time. Not this trip.

Because the beauty of Paris is that if you allow it, there is no time for regrets. Instead, there were perfect moments like this one.

Our last week abroad we rented an apartment in the 7th. After we dumped the bags and exhaled, we tossed Loie in a stroller and walked. And this was a view as we turned a corner.

And that, my friends, was perfect.


Feb 25 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/25/2013

Pear & ginger is a combination that makes my heart happy. For a good month in the first year of our marriage, B and I went on a pear-ginger kick. We made pear-ginger pancakes. Pear-ginger waffles. That might have been the extent of the kick but we knew that the flavors worked well together.
So when I was thinking about what to bake for tomorrow, I flipped through a binder we have of recipes and came across one I’ve done once before, a pear ginger bundt cake that incorporates a ginger syrup and utilizes crystalized ginger. I thought it would be a not-too-sweet option. Here is is from HuffPo.

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Four things.

One.
Why doesn’t any spell check recognize bundt? Makes me anxious.

Two.
Chopping crystallized ginger is like cutting a live jellyfish. It recoils and wiggles and moves. I do not like it.

Three.
Be sure to cool the ginger syrup thoroughly before adding it to the egg/milk/oil mixture. I forgot why again this time but put it in the freezer for a few moments anyway. Then, as I added I had the realization that scalding hot syrup dumped into raw eggs is a recipe for one nasty scramble. Hey, dodged bullet, nice to see you.

Four.
HOW THE HECK do you get a bundt cake to dump the cake without leaving a cake limb, a cake eye, and a piece of my soul stuck to the f’in pan? I greased it. I scraped. I jiggled. I know there is a trick. I just want to know it already.

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I hope you can tell what a Frankensteined mess this thing is. I actually cut a third of it out and decided I’d present it like a rainbow. And then realized that was absurd. So I smashed it back in. Lord.


Feb 20 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/19/13

We were in California this week.

So I wasn’t baking for Design Cloud friends. But I was with my delightful family.

My sister hosted a dinner on Sunday night. We got some insanely lovely pies from Phillips Farm in Lodi. Think part wine tasting, part petting zoo, all with breakfast burritos. You can’t really lose.

IMG_2962And while I didn’t bake, I did make some whipped cream to go with the pies. This has been my go to recipe for quite some time.

Three ingredients. If you can, stick the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes before hand. I don’t know why the hell it helps, but it does.

I’m always stumped by how you can stop whipping “right” before stiff peaks form but so far, no one has called me out for a major whipped cream failure. Sub-par whipped cream beats no whipped cream.

 

 


Feb 11 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/11/2013

As part of Sweet Mondays, I try to poll the community to see what thing would make folks happiest. The first week I attempted to embrace the democratic process and, eh, a vote of 3-2 isn’t very inspiring. So I just kind of wander up to someone and ask what they want.

A designer who joined D:CL at around the same time as me suggested spice cake. And better? Spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Is there anything in this world better than cream cheese frosting?

Truth be told, I’ve never made a traditional spice cake.  I have made a recipe my mom shared, a spiced applesauces cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and know it is a damn fine cake. Also there is cinnamon in it and our friend recently pointed out how fun it is to say “cinnamon in it” over and over.

But as a rule follower, I wanted to be sure that was a reasonable swap-in. Because there’s nothing sadder than being excited about a specific dessert only to find out it’s not quite what you were hoping for. So I asked and also looked up spice cake options. Applesauce was aok.

No photos this time, but I can say if you sprinkle some powdered sugar around the edging of the plate everyone thinks you’re fancy.

Here’s my mom’s recipe. Not sure where it came from. But it’s good.

SPICED APPLESAUCE CAKE WITH CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle.  Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.

Cake ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cups walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

Frosting:

5 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cake:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce.  At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using).

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown, and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool in pan 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate.  Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.  Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

 


Feb 4 2013

Sweet Mondays 2/04/13

When you have a community of freelancers working together, it can be hard to convince everyone that Mondays are worth doing. Like, at all.

But because I can only be at Design Cloud on Mondays and Wednesdays, I want people to be there. I work best when they make noise. Not a ton of noise, but enough that I don’t feel like I’m working in a crypt.

So I decided to make Mondays a bit sweeter. I get to bake, B doesn’t get frustrated that there are snacks everywhere, and maybe a few people having to work on a Monday are a bit happier.

For week 1, I opted for (shock) 101Cookbooks’ Rosemary Olive Oil Cake. It’s been a hit at book clubs and in bellies.

I like to use Giarhdeliia chocolate.

 

Some chocolate and sugar get sprinkled on top for a nice shiny crust.

 

Yum!