galette de rois

king cake 0999

Yesterday Future Husband and I were discussing food items. He said dinner “looked great” and I said something about how I was more concerned about how it tasted than how it looked and he said “well your food always looks good AND tastes good” (isn’t he just ever so sweet?). I replied that it wasn’t true, that sometimes my food looked ugly but tasted great anyway, to which he agreed.

The then followed with, “Or sometimes food looks great but it tastes AWFUL” to which I shot him a look and said “BUT NEVER MY FOOD OF COURSE!” where he caught himself and said “No, of course not your food. Never your food!”

No. Of course not my food. That would just be crazy.

Well this, my friends, falls into the middle category. Looks like the pastry equivalent of a melting burn victim but tastes like angel wings and unicorn glitter.

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In fact, if I had to rate this cake on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is best,  this cake gets a 2 on looks but on flavor… YOU GUYS the flavor… This flavor goes to 11.

Which is one more than ten.

Anyway, this was my attempt to make David Lebowitz’s galette de rois (aka: king cake).

The concept of king cake is thusly: You make a cake, you hide a “feve”. Your feve can be pretty much anything: a candy, a nut, a chocolate chip, or even a tiny toy… I recommend against the latter only because I am rarely eating at a speed at which choking is not already a hazard and I have no need to tempt my fate by including inedible objects in my baking. When cutting and serving your cake, HE WHO GETS THE FEVE RULES THE WORLD, or good luck, or fortune, or any variety of things depending on your region and the type of king cake you are enjoying. I’m not totally filled in on the whole history of king cake, I am much more knowledgeable about eating it.

As luck would have it, out of this whole cake the very first slice FH cut sliced right through the feve… which was extra alarming to him because he was (1) unaware of what king cake was (2) definitely unaware that there was anything hiding inside of it (3) afraid that I was trying to poison him.

After I reassured him that it was just a dried cherry and that it meant he could have been “the king” for the day had he been better at cutting things, we both had half of a feve. I think that means we are both half lucky for a year… or maybe 100% lucky for half of a year… I’m not really sure how this whole thing works. Maybe he canceled out all the luck by cutting right through the feve, that’s the more likely scenario.

Anyway, this cake was supposed to look like this:

It did not.

I could have cried and decided not to post it, or made a whole new one altogether, but having already consumed my weight in my “failed” king cake (and thoroughly enjoying it), I didn’t have it in me to make another one. Plus I was out of almond paste and the store always seems much farther when your belly is full of puff pastry and almonds.

Turns out all that filling that leaked out and baked on its own, that stuff is FREAKING DELICIOUS. In fact, I’ve been thinking about making a whole batch of the filling, spreading it out on a baking sheet, and baking the crap out of it because IT WAS THAT GOOD GUYS. Seriously. So good.

I’m sure it’s equally good (maybe even better) piled inside of the cake, as per Mr. Lebowitz’s picture above. My cake had much less filling (obviously, given the glorious almond paste puddle surrounding it) but was still irresistibly delicious, not to mention super easy to make… assuming that you can properly seal your edges unlike SOME PEOPLE. (/looks around)

king cake 1007

The moral of the story (if there is one) is that sometimes when you’re baking things don’t always go to plan.Your caramel will burn, sugar will explode all over your kitchen, or your mug cake will overflow and fill your microwave with (delicious) cake batter.

These things happen.

And when they do… you have a choice. You have the choice to give up or to try again.

You also have the choice to eat the crap out of your “failed” item anyway and just accept that the baking gods are just not with you on that day.

So, without further adieu, here is the recipe for David Lebowit’z galette de rois. Remember to seal the edges very tightly. Or don’t, it’s up to you really.

galette de rois

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

    Almond Filling
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pound (or 1 package) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
  • 1 feve (an almond, dried fruit, piece of candy, the choice is yours!)
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Instructions

    For the almond filling
  1. Combine the almond flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and mix until it’s completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. The mixture will be grainy, but that's ok. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the puff pastry
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle or square about 9 1/2-inches wide. Using a cake pan or pot lid, trim the dough into neat circle.* Place the dough on the baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll and trim the other piece of dough and lay it on top. Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
  6. Assemble the galette de rois
  7. Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Remove the top layer of dough and parchment or plastic from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch exposed border.
  9. Strategically place your chosen feve somewhere in the almond filling,
  10. Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top and press down very firmly to seal the edges very well.**
  11. To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF and decorate the top of your galette as desired by slicing into, but not through, the galette to create a design.
  12. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top. Try to avoid getting the glaze on the sides of the galette, as it will prevent the pastry from rising at the edges.
  13. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides.***
  15. Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

*As far as I can tell, trimming the cake into a circle serves no real purpose. Next time I think I will roll the pastry sheets into 9 to 10-inch squares and bake in a square shape (less wasted puff pastry!)

**Seal the edges VERY WELL. Like, Really well. David decorated his all pretty-like even

***During baking, if the galette puffs up too much, you may poke it once or twice again with a paring knife to release the steam.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/08/galette-de-rois/

[ Adapted from David Lebowitz ]

 

fluffernutter cake

fluffernutter cake 1166

I already told you all about the Baked Sweet & Salty cake, and now the time has come to sing the praises of ye olde Fluffernutter Cake.

I will start by saying that I am surprised that there even was a fluffernutter cake, given the amount of cake batter I ate.

Peanut butter + cake batter is a dangerous combination.

Like, life-threatening.

I found this cake over on Faygie’s website (Life Tastes Good) and was immediately smitten. Anyone who has been on this site for more than millisecond probably knows that peanut butter is my one true love. Some of my earliest memories are when my uncle would come over with a small jar of Jif peanut butter and I would sit on the windowsill (with the curtain closed to conceal myself) and spoon it into my mouth over and over until the jar was gone.

Yeah, peanut butter and me, we go way back.

For those of you who DON’T know, a “Fluffernutter” is a sandwich composed of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Part of everyone’s dietary requirements. It’s great because it can be lunch or dessert, or both at the same time! I know it sounds weird but I promise it’s delicious. Seriously delicious.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy a fluffernutter sandwich in your lifetime, now is the time. You’re (most likely) a grown up so go to the store with this list:

1. White bread. Like, Wonderbread white bread. This is a fluffernutter sandwich, let’s not try to get all high and mighty on your whole wheat train.

2. Marshmallow fluff. You’ve seen this stuff, it comes in a jar. Real marshmallows will NOT do, you need this super processed sugary spread. (Also great for dipping pretzels in, FYI)

3. Your favorite peanut butter.

Now assemble the ingredients like you’re making a PBJ but with fluff in place of the jelly. Congratulations, now you’re 5 years old again. You’re welcome.

So while I was (literally) laying in bed thinking about what kind of cake I wanted to have for my birthday… the thought occurred to try conjuring a peanut butter cake… I don’t know that I’ve ever actually consumed a peanut butter cake. Frosting, of course, but cake? I don’t think so.

Then, as fate would have it, the very next day our dearest Faygie posted this very same cake on her blog.

fluffernutter 1205

Fate, people. FATE.

And who am I to ignore fate?

Generally speaking when you have a peanut butter cake (or brownie/blondie/cookie) a lot of the time it can end up just tasting like cooked peanut butter. It’s hard to describe, but almost like just slightly burned eau de peanut butter without having a real authentic peanut butter flavor.

I was thrilled to find that this cake (well, the cupcake version, which I ate fresh out of the oven) tasted like straight up cake filled with peanut butter flavor. As an added bonus, since my dream of double ovens has yet to come to fruition and I don’t believe in moving cakes once they are in the oven (sorry, I know I’m supposed to “rotate cakes halfway through baking” but that just sounds like someone trying to trick me into dropping a cake or shaking the bejeezus out of it until it falls – no thank you) I had to bake my cupcakes on the top third of the oven, which I assume is why they didn’t dome properly and instead had flat peanut-butter-cookie-like tops.

fluffernutter 2947

It was seriously like someone baked a delicious soft and chewy peanut butter cookie and attached it to an amazingly tender peanut butter cake. I want to make it again just to see if I can make it happen on purpose…

I made my cake (as I do with most of my cakes) a week in advance and thawed and frosted it the day before serving, and stored it covered in the fridge. Whether it was just that the cake doesn’t hold up well to freezing, or perhaps just because the sides were left unfrosted (or likely the latter since the cupcakes seem to do fine), the served cake was definitely more dry than the fresh cake. The flavor was still great, but the texture definitely suffered. So, my tip to you, is to make this cake no more than 24 hours prior to serving (or to frost the sides, which may prove challenging with sticky marshmallow frosting).

Additionally, for the first time in probably ever, I ran out of vanilla extract when it was time to make this frosting. Even though the frosting recipe doesn’t call for extract, my intuition told me that it would definitely benefit from a little extra kick of flavor – and I was right. The marshmallow fluff, though delicious. would have definitely benefited from the extra boost of flavor that a bit of vanilla would have offered. Oh, and I toasted some of the frosting. Because toasting and marshmallows go together like peas and carrots … or … you know… something and something else that go together really well.

Below is the side-by-side I did to taste-test the cakes before serving them for my birthday. Just like the sweet & salty cake, though this recipe made layers, I only had two cake pans of the right size so I got 4 layers and a dozen cupcakes. Which works out well for me because now I have a variety of cupcakes stashed in my freezer (win!).

cupcakes 2

Without further adieu, Fluffernutter Cake (with my notes).

Fluffernutter Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: One 8-inch cake (3 to 6 layers)

Ingredients

    Peanut Butter Cake:
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter(*)
  • Marshmallow Frosting
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

    For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans(*1) by lining with parchment and greasing. (I use Pam for Baking)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugars on low speed until combined. Add the softened butter and peanut butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture is combined, it will be dry and crumbly.
  4. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture, and beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and add another 1/3 of the milk mixture, mixing well. Scrape the bowl down again, and the remaining milk mixture, and mix well, until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans (Faygie recommends a kitchen scale and I second her recommendation! I think each of mine were about 750g each, although my last "layer" was cupcakes so 3 layers may be different.)
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cakes springs back when lightly poked, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the layers out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting:
  7. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heat-resistant bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (think "double boiler" method here). Whisk constantly until the mixture is frothy and hot to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes(*2). No, your arm won't fall off (though it will feel like it wants to).
  8. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high speed, using the whisk attachment. Continue beating until it gets fluffy, then add vanilla. Continue to beat on high until it’s thick, shiny, and bright white, and the bowl is cool to the touch. This took me about 7 minutes but that was using my Kitchen Aid Pro mixer, other mixers may take longer.
  9. To assemble the cake:
  10. Use a serrated knife to even out the tops of your cakes and cut each cake in half horizontally, as evenly as possible.
  11. Spread a 1/6 of the frosting onto the bottom layer of cake. Top with additional layer and repeat with the rest of the cake layers and frosting(*3), ending with the frosting.

Notes

* Generally speaking you don't want to use a "natural" peanut butter for baking. I always use Jif)

* I recommend baking this cake no more than one day before serving. If you intend to freeze the cake before serving, I recommend frosting the sides of the cake to help to keep it from drying out.

*1. I used two cake pans and poured the rest of the batter into cupcake tins and baked them separately. They took about 25 minutes to bake as cupcakes and served as a good deterrent to keep Future Husband from trying to attack the actual cake layers.

*2. If you want to be sure your mixture has reached the right temperature - you're looking to get to about 160 - 165F (this will kill any bacteria in the eggs) - if you don't have a thermometer it should be the temperature at which your sugar is completely dissolved. If you rub the egg white mixture between your thumb and forefinger it should feel smooth and not grainy.

*3. I used my hand-torch to "toast" my inner marshmallow layers for fun. It wasn't super noticeable flavor-wise. My ambition was to toast "Happy Birthday" into the top layer of frosting, but then I remembered that I suck at that - lacking both the handwriting skills and the torch skills to do so. If you have more skills (or are more brave) than I, it could be a fun embellishment.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/01/fluffernutter-cake-peanut-butter-cake-with-marshmallow-frosting/

[ Adapted from Life Tastes Good who adapted it from Piece of Cake]

sweet and salty cake

sweet and salty cake 1178

I know that by now my birthday was like over a week ago and I should get over it.

Except I can’t, because … this cake.  Guys, this cake.

My god.

I don’t know what came over me because I was already super excited to have not only picked out what cake I was making but I had all the ingredients ready to go… Then, at the last minute, it happened.

It was just a quiet night, like any other night, lounging in my super awesome grown up monkey pajamas, watching Keeping up with the Kardashians some critically-acclaimed drama on TV with some of my best friends a stack of cookbooks by my side,  and I opened the book directly to this.

IMG_2943

It was a sign. From the heavens above. A sign.

I had to make this cake.

You see, when I received this book some Christmases ago, I had never made a “real” cake nor caramel and making both at the same time seemed like an insane task that was doomed for failure.

Now, several years later, I was still pretty sure that I might fail, but there was a chance that I could not only accomplish this goal, but that it would make a fine birthday gift to myself.

The gift of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. And cake.

I like cake.

I especially like cake when it is sandwiched between layers of gooey caramel, and salted-caramel-chocolate frosting and then finished with a light dusting of crunchy fleur de sel.

sweet and salty cake 1198

I’m not usually the type of person who usually really cares for frosting. I’m usually that weirdo who is always scraping it off of my cake and pushing it to the side while people stare at me in horror “BUT THE FROSTING IS THE BEST PART”

1. If the frosting is the best part of your cake, your cake is awful.

2. If your cake isn’t awful and you still like the frosting best, then you’re awful.

Ok, you’re not awful. In fact we should probably be best friends because then I can eat all of your cake  guilt-free while you eat all of my frosting. It’s better for the environment – no waste!

But this frosting. I would inject it into my veins if I could just to get it inside of me.  It’s so fluffy and creamy and sweet and delicious and amazing and … you get the point. You should make it. Even if you don’t make the cake. Eating a bowl of frosting is a totally acceptable thing to do.

I did learn three things in the process of making this particular cake.

(Yay knowledge!)

First – I HATE chopping chocolate. Like, really hate it. An absurd amount.

Sometimes I will even skip making a recipe JUST because it calls for chopped chocolate. I will instead find a recipe in which I can use cocoa powder instead.

Chopping chocolate is messy and annoying and awful and it takes forever and shoots chocolate particles all over my kitchen.

My million dollar idea? Let’s sell pre-chopped chocolate! You know there are chocolate crumbs in factories somewhere – LET’S BAG THAT SH*T AND SELL IT!!

Second – If you have ever made caramel before, you know when it’s done. Trust yourself.

The book’s recipes call to bring the caramel to 350F degrees. I did not follow my instinct and instead waiting for it to reach the 350F degree mark, and then had to dump it down the drain because burned caramel, as it turns out, is not actually very delicious (trust me, as someone who hates wasting food, I really did try to salvage it and make it work in the recipe).

Lesson learned: Do not burn your caramel. Instead, do it like this:

I took mine off the heat a bit before 350 but the temp kept going up all on its own. When all was said and done I think I still added the cream a tiny bit before the official 350F mark, but just trust your eyes. And your nose. You want an amber color, maybe dark amber… think : color of brown sugar. If you see black or any HINT of black-like color, you’re done for. Just let it go and start over.

Third – I need to buy another 8-inch cake pan.

As for the frosting – Future Husband is NOT a fan of dark chocolate (I will get him to the dark side eventually, but he’s not there yet). Since I didn’t want to eat a whole cake (or two, for that matter) by myself, I used milk chocolate in the frosting recipe. And I loved it. It was amazing. If you’d rather use dark, go for it.

Dark chocolate will be amazing, but I liked the combo of the dark chocolate cake with the caramel layers and milk chocolate frosting. It was a winning combination for sure.

sweet and salty cake 1199

sweet and salty cake

Yield: One 8-inch cake (3 layers)

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter,softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmply packed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the salted caramel
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sour cream*
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with butter and parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until well smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the sugars to the butter mixture, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scrape down the sides again and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for another 30 seconds.
  6. With the mixer on low, carefully add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is well-mixed.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.
  8. *These cakes are VERY delicate. Since I made mine a week in advance, I very carefully wrapped my cooled cakes and kept them in the freezer until I was ready to use them. Be gentle.
  9. For the salted caramel:
  10. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. (I hate dirtying extra pans, so I cheated and warmed mine in the microwave for just under a minute, stirring to ensure the salt dissolved).
  11. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.
  12. Cook sugar mixture over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(see note above), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
  13. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
  14. *You can make the caramel up to two days in advance.
  15. For the frosting:
  16. Put the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  17. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat (again, you can cheat with the microwave if you like. You don't want to BOIL the cream, only heat it to a gentle simmer).
  18. Meanwhile, MAKE ANOTHER BATCH OF CARAMEL. Don't worry, you just did this at least once (or twice, if you're me) so you've got some practice in...
  19. In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(unless yours is done before it reaches 350F), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.
  20. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate.
  21. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted.
  22. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  23. Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch (This took about 8 minutes and I started to worry about my poor mixer but he pulled through).
  24. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy. Transfer to a container until ready to use.
  25. *You can prepare the frosting up to two days in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.
  26. To assemble the cake:
  27. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top and let the caramel soak into the cake.
  28. Spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting.
  29. Top this with the second cake layer and repeat with caramel, frosting, and fleur de sel.
  30. Top this with the third cake layer and spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and place cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.
  31. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. This frosting is amazing. I would say it spreads "like butter" but it spreads SO MUCH BETTER than butter. It spreads like a soft, buttery, cloud.
  32. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Notes

* You may notice that my cake is only two layers while the recipe makes three layers. I realized (a bit too late) that I only had two cake pans of each size, so I opted for a 2-layer cake, and got about 12 cupcakes in addition to my two cake layers. This worked out in my favor as now I have a bunch of frozen cupcakes to enjoy at my leisure.

* This cake can seem overwhelming. Help yourself out by breaking it into steps. Day one: Make caramel. Day two: Make frosting. Day three: Make cake. Day four: ASSEMBLE ALL THE THINGS .

* This cake can be stored in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/25/the-baked-bakerysweet-and-salty-cake/

[ Recipe from: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking ]

sweet & salty cake | wee-eats.com

irish soda bread pudding with vanilla bean creme anglaise

bread pudding 1047

Hello, friends.

Today is Sunday.

Also known as: March 16th.

Also known as: My Birthday! (/thunder claps)

But today’s post is not about my birthday, or the two cakes I made, or my new birthday toys. We can save that for Thursday.

Today, my friends, is about this:

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Bread Pudding.

With creme anglaise.

Made from your St. Patrick’s day leftovers.

No, not your corned beef and cabbage leftovers (although now I have a strange urge to create a savory corned beef bread pudding). This is made from your irish soda bread leftovers.

You know that bread we made last week? Well, chances are you didn’t eat the whole loaf, and if you haven’t tossed it by now it’s definitely stale.

Let’s not be wasteful, OK?  Not when there’s deliciousness to be had.

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This bread pudding was inspired by this beauty from Foodness Gracious, who is responsible for flipping the Irish soda bread switch in my head this year. Seeing that picture causing me to create last week’s tasty St. Patrick’s Day treat in the first place JUST so that I could use it to make bread pudding. The fact that the soda bread came out so tasty on its own was just a bonus.

So, transform your stale, old bread into sweet, creamy, deliciousness with the help of just a few eggs and cream. I bake mine uncovered because I enjoy the contrast of the creamy custard to the crunchy crust, but if you prefer a tender crumb through and through, cover yours with foil while baking.

Irish Soda Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 1 11-inch (2 quart) casserole

Ingredients

    For the bread pudding
  • 5 to 6 cups bread cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon set aside
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • For the creme anglaise
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract

Instructions

    For the bread pudding
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. 2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and fill 2-quart casserole with bread. In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour over the bread cubes and let sit 20 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the milk mixture.
  3. 3. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar over the bread pudding and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and the center is set. When it is done baking, the outside should be set and pressing on the center should not release any liquid from the bread pudding. (Internal temperature should reach 165F degrees)
  4. For the creme anglaise
  5. 1. In a small saucepan, heat half and half over medium-low heat until bubbles form around the edges, about 6 minutes. You do not want the cream to full boil or simmer.
  6. 2. While the cream is heating, whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a small bowl until combined.
  7. 3. Once the cream is heated, whisk warm cream into the eggs a tablespoon at a time to temper the yolks.
  8. 4. Once about half the cream has been added to the yolks pour the entire egg yolk mixture into the pan with the cream and continue to heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  9. 5. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made 1 day ahead)
  10. Serve creme anglaise over warm bread pudding.

Notes

* You don't have to use irish soda bread, any cubed bread will do. I recommend challah or brioche.

* If your bread isn't quite stale yet, you can cube the bread and let it sit out for about an hour to dry out, or pop it in the oven and give it a quick light toasting.

* If using unflavored bread, I recommend adding some cinnamon to the bread pudding batter, because cinnamon makes everything better.

* Leftover slices of bread pudding can be stored, individually wrapped, in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave, covered, about 1 to 2 minutes on 50% power, checking periodically.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/16/irish-soda-bread-pudding-with-vanilla-bean-creme-anglaise/

irish soda bread pudding | wee-eats.com

whole wheat roasted banana muffins

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I first made these muffins on a whim, I had two super-ripe (on the verge of garbage-can-ripe) bananas sitting in my fruit bowl begging not to be thrown away. I stared at them for a long time, thinking,  relatively certain that every banana bread recipe in the world requires more than two bananas. I could have made some banana pancakes, but at 7:00 PM on a weeknight (after we had just eaten dinner) it might have seemed just a touch odd to start making pancakes.

So, I pondered a moment and decided in a moment of genius to ROAST the bananas. In my big dinosaur brain I figured with SAT-style math equations that two ripe bananas plus the roasting power of the oven (divided by the square root of the deliciousness of regular banana bread) should equal the flavor of at LEAST three bananas… Then I decided to amp up the flavor with a bit of whole wheat flour and tweaked the moisture content just a bit to make sure the texture doesn’t go bananas on me (ha- get it? BANANAS).

Et, voila!

Banana bread was had. Well, banana MUFFINS, to be more exact. But in my world banana “muffins” are really just banana bread poured into a muffin tin.

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They ended up being FRIGGIN DELICIOUS and I couldn’t wait to share them with you guys… except that I didn’t have any to share. Because instead of sharing them with you I shared them with my belly. So I had to buy some more bananas and play that dreadful game we all play when we want to  make banana bread: The Waiting Game.

Buy bananas now, eat banana bread in 5 to 10 days.

Must not consume all of the bananas before said day arrives.

I also fully intended, now that I had purchased a surplus of bananas specifically to make these muffins, to do that thing where you bake a slice of banana on top of the muffin and it looks super pretty.  Unfortunately, due to a fierce smoothie addiction that is apparently contagious (since FH caught it), I ended up with the same issue as last time – only two bananas.

No extra banana fanciness. Maybe next time. For now, make the bananas, maybe press a piece of sliced banana in the top and let me know what kind of magic happens. Throw on some streusel while you’re at it, or stir in some chocolate chips… Or, if you’re evil like me, trick your Future Husband (or person of your choice) by whispering to them menacingly after they’ve raved about how good the muffins are, “Psst – they have whole grain flour in them…” and watch the color drain from their face as they stare at you in horror for making them eat something (almost) a teeny bit healthful.

You monster.

roasted banana muffins

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 9 to 12 muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Ingredients

  • 2 (or 3) ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (I used 2/3 cup regular all purpose + 1/3 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Place unpeeled bananas on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet (for easy clean-up) and roast about 20 to 30 minutes until completely blackened. Remove from oven and cool slightly until cool enough to handle.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour(s), baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl, mash roasted bananas. Once the bananas close to room temperature, whisk in the sugars and oil until incorporated.
  5. Add the egg and stir to combine.
  6. Add the flour in two additions, and gently fold until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs clinging to it.

Notes

*If you would like to top these with streusel or just a bit of crumbled brown sugar, it will yield a slightly sweeter muffin.

*You can still see little chunks of banana in my muffin - if you don't want chunks just mash your bananas to be chunk-free!

*These were great with 2 bananas (which was all I had on hand) but if you want to add a third banana (mashed or chopped) I would keep the rest of the ingredients the same.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/11/whole-wheat-roasted-banana-muffins/