Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Half-A-Birthday Cake

It recently occured;

Favorite's half-a-birthday.

That glorious time where you are as far away from your birthday as you can ever be. The last one is 6 months behind, the next 6 months ahead. Favorite pointed out that this event should merit a cake. I thought so too.

So you might say to yourself "Oh Kerri! What a lovely cake you made! And after work! You are glorious!" While this may be true, it is not because of this cake. If you are also wondering why my cup, plate, and pecans look gigantic I will erase the wonder from your minds and reveal to you, it is a tiny minicake. As it was not a full birthday I did not make a full birthday cake. I actually made a quarter of a cake recipe, but let's not quibble. It was half of a single layer, how about that? Anyway, the fun thing about this cake is that I made it in the food processor in about 5 minutes. Well, that was after I toasted all the pecans (about 10 minutes). I had my doubts about this minicake... after I quartered my recipe it had only a tablespoon or so of flour, the rest of the cake being comprised of 1 egg, sugar, and pecans (and a tsp or so of baking powder). I zipped it up in the food processor until smooth and poured it into a greased and floured tiny little (4" diameter?) springform pan, topped it beautifully with whole pecans, and popped it in the oven. The tiny cake took as long as a full sized cake to cook (about 22 minutes!) but once it came out it looked lovely. Favorite ate it with happiness and relish and it was moist, and nutty.

The thing I liked best about the cake, not
having eaten most of it, was the appearance of the surface. It looked a little like it had been washed with a sugar syrup before baking due to the sheen and smoothness. Let me show you it's beauty:

I also just loved being able to pop it out of that tiny springform without having to worry about what happened to the bottom. It made it look just so neat!

Well I feel accomplished, though perhaps not deservingly. Nonetheless I shall advance to the next baked good as I have run out again. Next up:
The Obligatory Strawberry Rhubarb Pie of Spring!

Coffee Chocolate Nut Cookies

Or something...

So I've been trying to catch up on my backlog. If you read my bean past buns post you may notice it is a little anemic due to my need to catch up with myself. Maybe you like that about it since I usually waste your time with many many words and not nearly enough good pictures. As it turns out too many words and too few pictures make boring food blogs. Oh well.

Here are my cookies. These are the cookies I promised to post the other day and didn't. Favorite and I made them a million years ago (re: this past weekend) when his parents came to visit. The cookie is flavored with instant coffee. It is flavored quite strongly so that they actually taste a bit like coffee ice cream. Yum. Then it has chunks of dark chocolate. Since I couldn't find my chocolate morsels, Favorite and I cut up Hershey's special dark bars. Boy, big chunks of chocolate somehow taste way better than chips. The squareness makes it more enjoyable somehow. Lastly there are some chopped up walnuts. Pretty tasty cookies. They went fantabulously well with all of the dark, highly alcoholic beers we sampled on Saturday.

More Steamed Bean Paste Buns

Ok, so I am repeating myself a bit, but even though I've spoken about making bean paste buns before I don't think I've ever posted pictures.

I decided to make bean buns because I had a lot of bean paste left over from making the ichigo daifuku and I wanted to use some more of it before I put it in the freezer for next time.

Here they are! Oh the excitement.

Some things are much more difficult than others to get pictures of. Especially when you try to do it right out of the steamer while they are still getting your lens all fogged up.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baked French Toast

I don't usually post things I consider to be "meals" as this site is about desserts! However considering this "meal" was baked and contained copious amounts of fruit, butter, and sugar, I feel posting it is justified.

Mmmm baked french toast! Ok so it is a terrible picture. For some reason it was absurdly difficult to capture the texture of this item in the lighting the day provided me. But I digress. This sugar laden start to the morning was prepared as a send off to Favorite's parents. They had come to visit Saturday a little before noon, which started a 24 hour consumption-of-tasty-things fest. We first had turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwiches for lunch on Saturday. Then we went out for homemade ice cream that the candy house down the street makes. It was the perfect sunny, but not-too-hot day for ice cream. For dinner we had Grammy's recipe terriyaki chicken wings, baked beans (not homemade) and potato salad. Favorite then helped me make some cookies (these will be posted tomorrow!) and for dessert we had the cookies and a tasting sampler of beers including a number of Favorite's special homebrews.

After the cookies had been eaten (most of them anyway) and the beer had been drunk I prepared the french toast for the next morning. I used this recipe from with a couple little twists. I used a big fresh loaf of french bread that I had sliced into big fat texas-toast sized slices and had left them out for a day to dry a bit. I made the custard recipe as written and layered by bread in the pan, pouring the mix over the top. I then squished the bread down to sponge up the liquid, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for the night. In the morning I put a good amount of berries in with the bread, pushing them down into the eggy mixture. I then topped the whole mess with the crumb mixture (I used pecans instead of the nuts suggested) and popped it into the oven before beginning preheat. This was really just to make sure that my cold glass dish wouldn't shatter. I know they are not supposed to, but it made me feel better. I definitely cooked the dish longer than the allotted 40 minutes as the berries exuded a lot of juice that I wanted to reduce so it wouldn't be mushy and gross. I put some maple syrup on the table with the french toast, but I also put down some fresh whipped cream and fresh berries. I don't really think the maple syrup got touched.

Although this was the first time I had made a dish like this, and although I had read mixed reviews about baked french toast recipes being too eggy, or two soggy, or generally not good, I thought this came out great. It also got rave reviews and the lasagna pan I used to make it was nearly empty by the time the four of us were done, so I think I am satisfied. If I made it again though, I would probably cook it for longer than 40 minutes even if I did not add berries (although why wouldn't you add berries? they were fabulous!) just to ensure the thick layers of eggy bread got cooked all the way through. Even with the extra cooking time the french toast was fluffy yet moist and spongy, definitely not dried out. I definitely recommend trying this. It would also be very tasty with small chopped apples in the mix.