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Megans Cookin: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

French Bread, Daring Baker Style

I really procrastinated this challenge. I waited till the last minute and had to fit it in. Try "fitting in" a nine hour recipe. I got up early and made my dough. It came together really easy. Flour, yeast, salt, and water were the only components to this recipe. There was alot of down time and I worked it between errands. I know I didn't do exactly as instructed, but it came together anyway.

The best part of this challenge came at dinner time. My hubby asked where I got the bread. When I asked "what?" because I thought he new I had made bread, he asked again, "where did you buy the bread?". I told him I made it and he was surprised. He said it looked so perfect, he thought I bought it. What a complement!
Mary, aka Breadchick, of The Sour Dough and Sara of I like to cook were the wonderful hostesses of this month's challenge. Thank you ladies. I will make this again. To get the whole recipe, visit one of them! Now go take a look at the other 500 Daring Bakers and see how they all fared. You might want to take a bottle of wine and a hunk of Brie. Bon Appetit!

Extra Extra
I have a surprise brewing!
Check back Saturday, March 1st to see what I have cookin.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happily Ever After!

The wedding cake was a smashing success. Here's a picture of the bride and groom cutting eating the cake. My little cake was more then enough to serve everyone with left overs. I calculated 44 servings using the wilton data chart. There were about 55 people and a few kids. We didn't even need a sheet grooms cake. No one had any of the sheet cake and not everyone had cake.

The pink flowers, leaves, and hearts were made from fondant. I didn't know the difference between fondant and gum paste when I was working with it. . I thought they were pretty much the same thing but I was wrong. The fondant absorbs moisture from the cake and becomes soft. The gum paste stays hard. The purple flowers were made from gum paste. I see there were a few thinly iced areas in the pictures. They weren't that noticeable in person. But something I need to be aware of next time. And there will be a next time!

I made a Quick Pour Fondant Icing for a left over layer and it turned out wonderful. I didn't have the almond extract the recipe called for, so I just used Vanilla. I asked the hubby "what color?" Blue it was! This is not the same trial cake as the last test cake. Although they were both blue.
Next time? Chocolate Quick Pour Fondant I thought it would be great to dip cupcakes in. I didn't use the fondant on the wedding cake because I have to have at least one successful trial first, before I make it for other people. And two week notice is not sufficient.
Tip: Don't pour quick pour fondant on chilled cake. It sets up to quickly. Duh!

By the time of the wedding, I was caked out. Here is a picture of my sweet wedding favor. Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Bride and Groom.

And they lived happily ever after!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wedding Cake Update

Ahhhh! The groom wanted to double the size of the cake. Now he's expecting 75 people and he wants to freeze the top tier of the cake for the one year anniversary. Well, I must say that put a little pressure on me. So at first, I lost the word *no*. I was going along with the idea but totally stressing. What happen to my safety net? What if the cake slides all apart? With 75 people watching!
But first, can I tell you about an awesome blogger. Glamah16 from Coco Cooks was there to calm my nerves. She gave me her e-mail and her phone # in case I needed to ask questions. She was right there answering e-mails as quick as I was sending them off. She said "You can do this"
Thank you Glamah. You Rock!
Back to this cake thing. The next day, the groom and I talked again. I had come to my senses. I told him I would do the larger cake but I was just a home baker. Don't expect a professional looking cake. I can do pretty, but it is homemade!
Plus, I didn't have the larger cake pans, or cake boards. And the ingredients had doubled and he had to buy me some butter and sugar.
OR: We can go back to the original cake plan, (smaller cake) using the top tier (no frozen cake on the anniversary)and get a sheet cake for a grooms cake.
That's exactly the plan now! Stress relief!
That day I baked a test cake, twice. I took a doctored up cake mix recipe for chocolate cake and switched in vanilla. You know, vanilla cake mix and vanilla pudding mix. It called for sour cream and extra eggs, oil and water. Sounded simple! Not so simple!
The first time I thought maybe I left out the water or something and made it again. It just did not work. Here's a picture I took for your amusement. Eggy middle all stacked up there to show you some real texture. really bad texture. So I switched recipes. I went with a Wilton Butter Cake recipe. I made a small cake with the white chocolate filling and I got 12 cupcakes.
The cupcakes were frosted and accessorized and went to some lucky taste testers. I actually tried some fondant on the cake. I frosted it and then applied my rolled fondant. Even the hubby was in the kitchen helping getting in on the fondant action. I didn't have enough of the fondant to cover the whole cake but it was a test cake so I tested. It was getting late so all this was done with the cake at room temp. One of the tips Courtney gave me was to freeze the layers. They were alot easier to work with. I could see what she meant the next morning when the cake was completely chilled. Much more manageable.

Here is a picture of the little cake. Not fully dressed for the Ball but she's working it. I put a dowel in the middle for stability. And as embarrassing as it is, here is a rear picture of my test cake. Remember, I knew I didn't have enough fondant to cover. I was just playing! It looks half naked but tasted oh so good!. (insert snicker) The cupcakes and the piece of cake in the top picture look good. Right?

Here's a few things I've learned.
1. Fondant doesn't get hard on the cake. It marries with the frosting and becomes one. (I didn't know)
2. Freeze cake layers. So much easier to work
3. Flowers are so easy to cut out of fondant and dries hard. And they are adorable!

So the actual wedding cake you ask. I have the bottom tier in the freezer and I'm making the top tier right now. Tomorrow they will be cut, filled, and crumb coated and back in the fridge for more chilling. After my root canal.


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fondant and a Wedding Cake

I've been thinking of fondant a lot lately. I've never used it before or even tasted it for that matter. I saw CakeJournal decorate sugar cookies with rolled fondant and Love-Sweet-Love made some awesome looking homemade marshmallow fondant. I was thinking it was time for me to take the dive. The fondant dive. Well about diving time, I got a phone call. My friend is getting married in 2 weeks (that was a week ago)and will I make the wedding cake. I've always wanted to make a wedding cake! (it's a small wedding) So to my sheer delight, I said yes! But, I did reserve the right to go buy a Costco cake if mine flopps. A little safety net if ya know what I mean! So I took a little trip to the craft store. $85.00 later, I was ready to dive in.

Remember, I'm a fondant virgin. Baby steps for me! I went with simple flowers to start with. I tried a rose, but they will take a little practice and frankly, I don't have the time to perfect roses before this wedding.

My plan for this wedding cake is a two tiered cake with each tier having 3 or 4 layers. I won't know till I assemble the cake if 4 layers will be to high or not. The bottom tier will be a 9"vanilla cake with a white chocolate cream filling and the top tier will be a 6" vanilla cake with lemon filling. I'll decorate with pastel yellow and pink fondant flowers. And pretty pastel pink hearts aroung the sides of the bottom tier. I bought a little wedding cake topper for the top.

We made lots of little flowers on our first try today. We will use some of these to decorate some cupcakes I will bake tomorrow. I'll be making more flowers for the wedding cake. It was just like playing with play dough. Roll, cut, and shape with this little stick tool. Easy!



Valentine Exchange

Remember awhile back, I told you about the Valentine exchange I participated in? It was hosted by Kailani from An Island Life.

Well, my package arrived on *Valentine's Day* from the awesome Shana who writes about life with her 3 little boys. Thier last name is Wiseman so the name of her blog is My Three Wisemans. Pretty catchy, dont you think? I got chocolates and candles with a holder and a heart. She even included a rose. A rose that will never die. It was so much fun, giving and receiving. Check out what I gave her here. A Big Thank You Shana!!! Your timing was perfect.

That same day, I also recieves a 14K gold cherub pendant from Karen of Simply A Musing Blog. I won this from the bloggy carnival that she participated in. What fun that was! They have the carnival quarterly and this last time there was more then 500 participants. Now thats a carnival!

So, how was your Valentines?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mock Hostess Cupcakes

There is power in food. It can spark a memory or make you fall in love. This little cupcake reminds me of Valentines Day. Years ago, I made these minuture cupcakes for a valentine road trip/picnic. They were such a hit that I made them several years in a row. So to me, they are Valentine's food.

Ultra moist, dark chocolate mini cuppys are filled with a creamy white chocolate ganache. Dipped in a bittersweet glaze and decorated with a little royal icing.

I like to make the little hostess squiggle but you could decorate with some offset criss-crosses and add a whimsical flower. Perfect for tea time! Or Valentines Day!

You can see my piping skills sucked today. I used a disposible decorating bag instead of my usual pastry bag and tip. It just wasn't flowing the way it should have. But instead of stressing, I just went with the flow. No pun intended! My suggestion when making these, make the filling first. While it is chilling, then begin the cupcakes. The glaze and icing take no time and besides, thats the fun part.

Mock Hostess Cupcakes
From the cookbook
White Chocolate by
Janice Wald Henderson
1/2 cup plus 2 TBS flour
2 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
(preferably Dutch process)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 TBS vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavey (whipping) cream
6 ounces finely chopped white chocolate
3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
3 TBS boiling water
1 TBS egg white, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tarter
1/2 cup plus 2 to 3 TBS powdered sugar
Make the cupcakes:
1. Position a rack in the center and preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter 24 (1 ounce) mini muffins cups.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the sugar. Make a well in the center. Whisk in the water, oil, viniger, and vanilla. Blend till smooth. (The batter will be very thin.)
3. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake untill a cake tester inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire reck for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and finish cooling on the rack.
Make the filling:
4. In a heavey medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Add the white chocolate and remove from heat. Let the mixture stand briefly; stir till smooth. Transfer to a metal bowl and refrigerate until chilled thoroughly, stirring occasionally. With an electric mixer, beat the white chocolate mixture just untill fluffy. About 1 minute.
5. Transferr the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch plain tip. Insert the pastry tip 1/4 inch into the bottom of each cupcake and squeeze a little filling into each one.
Make the glaze:
6. Place the chocolate in a small bowl. Whisk in the boiling water and blend till smooth. One at a time, dip the top of each cupcake into the warm glaze. Turn the glazed cupcake right side up and set on wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 5 minutes or to set the glaze.
Making the icing:
7.In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white till frothy. Stir in the cream of tarter. Gradually mix in enough of the powdered sugar to make a fairly stiff and smooth icing. Fill a small paper cone with the icing and cut a 1/8 inch opening at the tip. Remove the cupcakes from the refrigerater. Pipe a design (a squiggle,spiral,etc,) on the top of each cupcake. Let the design harden and then cover and refrigerate the cupcakes. Serve at room temperature!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nutella French Toast Anyone?

I know on Valentines day it will be *rush and run* so I thought I would make a nice breakfast Sunday morning. So I made this Nutella French Toast Casserole for breakfast. I cut out little hearts out of ham and poached heart shaped eggs. I served it with fresh expensive delicious strawberry's and hot coffee.

But the Hubby was to busy,
and the daughter was to sleepy,

Sooo... I put it all in the fridge and went to church.
Guess what they're getting for Valentines Day!

(I dotted the top with butter but it doesn't need it at all)

This is really more of a Bread Pudding and it taste absolutely wonderful! But if you want to call it French Toast Casserole and eat it for breakfast, who am I to stop you?

Nutella French Toast Casserole
aka: Nutella Bread Pudding

4 pieces of Texas Toast
Nutella spread
3 Eggs
1 Cop Cream
1 Cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Spread bread with Nutella. Cut in half diagonally and put in small casserole dish.
Combine all other ingredients and pour over the top. Smush bread into liquid and let sit for 10 minutes.

Bake 350 for 40 minutes or till set.

Serve warm or room temp.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Sweet Treat!

I got home from work this afternoon and there was a little treat in my mail box!
I won a little weekend contest over at Helen's of Tartlette fame. Out of 154 contenders, I was one of two lucky winners!

One dozen of the most marvelous Cannelles I've ever tasted. Well, the only Cannelles I've ever tasted. But they were marvelous. A perfect afternoon snack with my cup of tea!

So a big Thank You to you Helen. You made my day a little bit sweeter!


Monday, February 4, 2008

Strawberry Bread with Strawberry Butter

Every year around Febuary, I start getting so excited for the strawberry patches to open. Of course, they don't open till the end of April, but strawberrys stay on my mind all Spring, till I can sink my teeth into those big fresh juicy berries. There is nothing as good as local grown, fresh, perfectly ripe strawberrys. To sustain me through, till fields yield their glory, I used frozen for this quick bread.

I made mini loaves and it reminded me of zuchinni bread. The strawberry flavor is very sutle and the cinnomon seems to take center stage. Then add your Strawberry Butter and your taste buds start singing. This butter would be good on waffles or scones too.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Morning, noon, or midnight munchies. I'm submitting it to Gretchen Noelle of Canela and Comino, who has selected quick breads for this month's Homegrown Gourmet.

Strawberry Bread
This recipe from CDKitchen
for Snook's Bayside Club


3 cups All-purpose flour
2 cups Sugar
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/4 cup Vegetable oil
4 Eggs
1 1/4 pound Fresh strawberries; sliced -OR - Unsweetened frozen berries, thawed, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped (I left out the nuts for daughter reasons.)
2 (8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch) loaf pans

Strawberry Butter
By:All Recipes
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (I used superfine sugar)
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar and strawberry preserves until creamy. Cover, and refrigerate until serving.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Adoption Approved

Dine and Dish had an Adopt a Blogger Event. Veteran bloggers "adopt" newer bloggers and kind of show them the ropes. They're there to link up and give bloggy support, and just be a friend.
Well, I'm happy to introduce my new mom. sister. Her name is Jennifer and she writes Bake or Break. BOB for short!
She has some amazing recipes and pictures. You'll be licking your screen by the time you leave her blog. My daughter made her Cinnamon Swirl bread one weekend, and it was demolished. Good sign of a good recipe and easy enough for a 13 year old!.

Next, I made her Chocolate Mascarpone Bronwnies. They never made it to the photo booth or to the frosting. They came out of the oven smelling so good. We could not wait for cooling time and we wanted warm brownies! They were heaven sent. Melt in you mouth goodness. I can only imagine how over the top that chocolate ganache would have pushed them. Oh, Wait, I dont have to imagine. I'm making them again. They are to die for if your a chocolate lover, or brownie lover, or if you just love sweets in general!

So grab another cup of coffee and a napkin, kick back, and check out Jennifer's blog. Your gonna love it!

Here's a peek at my *to bake list* from Jennifer's blog.

Double Delicious Cookie Bars
Chocolate Charlotte
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheese Cake
Raspberry, White Chocolate, and Pecan Loaf
Cream Cheese biscuits with chocolate gravy