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Eclecticisms: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Boston Cream Pie... NOT a fail!

Although this cake turned out really well, I can't lie and say I loved it. It reminded me of something you'd get in a bakery, but I prefer that home-baked taste and consistency. That being said, it was a hit with everyone who tried it and baking it was definitely a learning experience. I don't say that just because of the milk/gross pudding/soup incident (see Baking Fail blog), but because I've never made anything like this before.
It was also a bit of a challenge to do something this involved with two people, but I think we pulled it off quite well.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Unsalted butter, for cake pan
1 cup sifted cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pan
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Link to the original recipe.

Cake Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper. I used my springform pan again, because the parchment paper kept it leak-proof. Somehow, I missed that part the first three times I read the recipe. Luckily, I caught it when it counted.

When I read this recipe, I wondered if I could substitute All-Purpose flour for the cake flour. I did a bit of reasearch and saw a few suggestions that supposedly make that an option, such as adding corn starch to the flour. I decided to play it safe and stick to the recipe. I did, however, find some interesting facts about the differences between flours.

Cake flour has less gluten and protein than all-purpose or bread flour (which has the highest gluten content). The more gluten in the flour, the chewier your dough/batter will be. If you are making an item that you want to be light and fluffy or delicate, a lesser-gluten flour is your best bet.

The more I read, the more I realized that I could study flour for a year and still not call myself an expert. Still, this is a starting point that I'm glad to have found.

Sift together cake flour and salt three times, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water; whisk until mixture is warm, about 110 degrees, and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; place bowl on mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat egg mixture on high until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine milk and split vanilla bean. Place over medium heat until hot, but don't let it come to a boil. Remove and discard vanilla bean. (I rinsed mine well and put in in with my sugar. not only are they so expensive, they'll give the sugar a nice hint of vanilla.) Using the beater attachment, pour hot milk into egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Holy cow, it looks like a cake this time!

Filling Directions

Prepare an ice-water bath in a bowl large enough to fit the bowl you are about to beat your egg whites in. In another large bowl, whisk egg yolks and set aside.

 In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. (It is essential that mixture come to a boil.) Remove from heat.

<--- Action shot!

Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. (It is essential that mixture bubble again.) Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.

Transfer filling to a medium bowl. Place the bowl in the ice bath. Stir from time to time until mixture cools; it thickens as it cools. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming. The filling may be refrigerated overnight at this stage, or it is ready to use.

Glaze and Assembly Directions

Split cake into two layers; spread bottom half with chilled filling. To split the cake evenly, there are a few tricks. I looked up techniques on teh internet before blindly going at it with a blade (NOT my specialty). Here's a video that shows the method we used. It worked great, and the cake cut evenly.

Look how well my cake cut!

Place in refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes. Wrap remaining half of cake with plastic wrap; set aside.

In a medium-size heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside to cool for 10 minutes. (Taste it, of course!)

Remove cake from refrigerator; top with reserved layer.

Transfer cake to large serving plate (the chocolate will be messy and you'll want extra room for it to spread!). Pour chocolate glaze over top.

Allow to set 20 minutes before serving.


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tickled Tuesday

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."

- E E. Cummings

This song always makes me smile. Happy Tuesday!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baking Fail

Boston Creme Pie. Good idea, right? Turns out two people in the kitchen was one too many for me to concentrate. Instead of adding 1/4 cup milk to the cake batter, I added 3 cups. TWELVE TIMES more milk than was called for! Even though I was upset that ingredients were wasted (including a $13 vanilla bean!) it caused a lot of great laughs and was yet another reminder to me... always read the recipe thoroughly. Then read it again. And again.

I'm giving this recipe another try today. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Steps to create flour flavored goo, topped with vanilla milk soup:

Butter and flour a springform pan because you realize you don't have a 9-inch cake pan (totally skip the parchment paper part... you didn't read that the first two times you read the recipe for whatever reason).

Sift cake flour and salt together, twice. Whisk eggs and sugar until well combined. Place over simmering water until warm. Remove from heat, whisk more. (That park sounds ok, right?)

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine 3 cups of milk (instead of the 1/4 cup) and the $13 split vanilla bean. Wonder why the recipe says to use a small sauce pan, since 3 cups of milk would never fit. Heat but do not bring to a boil. Remove vanilla bean and slowly pour into egg mixture.

Pour into springform pan. Quickly pour back into a bowl, when it starts to leak all over the table. Watch the dog clean the spillage off the floor, as more spills down onto his head. (He will have a crusty head for a few days.)

Comment on the soupy-ness of this "batter". Go eat dinner and come back after about 15 minutes.

Question the still soupy consistancy. Notice that someone bumped into the oven and made the temperature 250, not 350. Turn it back up, walk away.

Return after about 10 minutes. "How much milk did we put in?" Yeah. Take the pan back out. Scrape the layer of flour-flavored pudding off the bottom of the pan (after pouring the "soup" back into a bowl, as they will have seperated).

Steps to create flour flavored pudding, topped with vanilla milk soup:

First and foremost, decide to save this cake.

Watch Rob take over. Tell him he is adding way too much flour. Be ignored, since you are (after all) the milk culprit. Put about 3/4 of the milk and a shit ton more flour (mixed well) back in the oven at 350. (Debate on "adding one more egg" about 5 different times before settling on not doing so.)

Sneak in while Rob isn't looking and turn down to 325, convinced that all that flour will end up bursting into flames at a higer temp. (Ok, that was an exaggeration. I just didn't want it to burn.)

After maybe 20 minutes, remove.

See that you have not made anything near cake-like. Marvel at its ability to bounce against isteself, but nothing else.

 Laugh. Cry. Be angry. Taste. Make face and spit it out. Write blog.

Once again... fingers crossed please! I will conquer this recipe!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tickled Tuesday

I'm not gonna lie. Writing my Tickled Tuesday blog has made me realize that Tuesday is probably my worst day of the week. I have no idea why, but I tend to be in the crappiest moods on Tuesdays. Writing this blog does help force me to be positive, so it's a good thing. Anyways. I'm in a poopy mood right now and having some issues coming up with some happy messages. I'm going to post a few Marx Brothers videos that make me laugh (including today). :) 

The last one explains how they got their names... super neat!

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Eggs in a Basket (AKA Eggs in a delicious piece of toast)

I’m not a huge fan of using up all of my egg yolk by soaking it up with toast, so I’d never tried Eggs in a Basket before. This past weekend I went up to MI with my future sister-in-law, and we stopped at a Cracker Barrel where I tried them for the first time. Wow. I’m sure part of it had to do with the fantastic bread they used (sour dough) but I think I’ve found a new easy (and versatile!) b-fast favorite.


Eggs (1 for each slice of bread)
Bread (Your choosing; I used marble rye)
Toppings if desired (Cheese, hollandaise sauce, hot sauce, etc.)

Cut out a circle or other shape in the center of each piece of bread. You can use a cookie cutter, small glass or anything that will be big enough to fit most of the egg.

Melt butter in pan and lightly brown the toast on each side. (Don’t be too shy with the butter!)

Once toasted, crack an egg into each center and fry (medium heat) to your liking. I’m an over-medium king of girl, myself.

Put topping on (if desired) and crown it with the cut-out center. I used the lemon-chive cream sauce that I had left over from making Zucchini Spaghetti.


Zucchini "Spaghetti"

This refreshing and healthy recipe was a perfect way to use up some of the zucchini and chives from my garden. It's quick, and no cooking is involved so it's especially perfect on a hot day. I found that the dressing recipe made way more that was needed, but it works well on all kinds of other dishes. I had some with my Eggs in a Basket this morning. Delish!

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart (nothing new there!).

Cream Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fine sea salt
1 cup light cream (I used about 3 parts heavy cream and 1 part milk. The store by me didn't have light cream)
1/3 cup freshly minced chives

In a jar or other lidded container, combine lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and shake until salt is dissolved. Add cream and chives; shake to blend. Season with salt. Store, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Shake to blend before using.

"Spaghetti" Ingredients
1 pound small zucchini, rinsed, dried, and trimmed at both ends
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing
Sea Salt

I borrowed this mandoline from my parents. I didn't even know what it was until looking it up. The blades are EXTREMELY sharp, so I didn't do the cutting myself. I have a bad track record with blades in the kitchen. (I slice my fingers on peelers with child safety covers.) I have a scar to show for my kitchen clumsiness too; I stabbed myself in the hand cutting open a bagel as a kid. Oops...

Evil, evil machine.

Using the julienne blade of a mandoline, slice zucchini into long, thin strips.

Transfer zucchini to a colander set over a mixing bowl. Toss zucchini with salt. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature. (This is a good time to make the sauce.) 

Gently squeeze zucchini to extract excess water. Transfer to a bowl and toss with just enough dressing to evenly coat the zucchini. Season with fleur de sel (sea salt) and serve.


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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tickled Tuesday - I need your opinions!

Tuesday is here again, and along with my “Tickled Tuesday” post, I want to ask for your help/opinions. Here are a few recipes that I am debating on trying. Do any of these look especially interesting? Do you have any recipes to share that you’d like me to try?

Tofu/Seitan main course (As a vegetarian, I REALLY don’t try enough of these!)
Layer Cake (nothing too "cakey" though)
Sunflower Seed Butter cookies (Essentially peanut butter cookies, but with sunflower seed butter instead.)
Tomato Sauce (A cream one perhaps? A Vodka Sauce maybe?)
Zucchini parmesan (assuming I have enough in my garden)

On a side note, I am starting to look into graduate programs. I really want to get involved in some kind of Social Work, dealing with Special Needs Adults. I'm super nervous. I can't imagine affording it or working it into my work schedule, but it's something that I really want to do, and don't want to drag my feet on. The longer I wait, the less likely I will be to start, and I really do want to start. And finish. And succeed. Maybe the fear of not succeeding at it is what's holding me back? I don't know. I reached out to a school about their MS programs and an organization where I might be able to volunteer. It's a start, and step one is sometimes the biggest one of all. now i just need enough info to make the plunge!

I need to keep that quote in mind.

Ok- finally to my TT part of  this post. I found this website and it's awesome! I get so depressed reading the paper in the morning and this site provides nothing but Happy News.

Enjoy your Tuesday!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deviled Eggs

They sound so evil but taste so delicious! These bad boys are great as finger food, a snack, breakfast, pretty much anytime food is involved really. I'm surprised I hadn't made these before, since they're super easy and pretty quick!

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise

¼ cup Light Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing (I used regular mayo)
½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
½ teaspoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Boil the eggs. I've read (and found to be true) that older eggs tend to work best for hard boiling. The shells are porous, and the older the egg, the more air has been able to penetrate the shell, helping avoid sticking when you are peeling them.

Although there are several ways to boil eggs (which I had no idea of until about 2 years ago), the method I prefer is to put the eggs in cold water (with at least an inch of water covering them) and bring the water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and let sit for 15-20 minutes (covered!). After the eggs are done, either let them soak in ice water for a bit or keep under cold running water. This not only cools them, but stops them from cooking any further.

 Remove the egg yolks by slicing each egg in half and popping out the center. Depending on how they were sitting in the egg, the white may be a bit thin in parts- be extra gentle with those. Other than that, it's easy to do.

Mix the mayonnaise, mustard powder, vinegar, salt and pepper together.

Mash up the yolks into the mayo mixture until smooth.

Fill the empty egg white shells with the mixture and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day before serving, OR, eat immediately like I do! I actually think I prefer them at room temperature or even a bit warm, as opposed to chilled.

Bon Appetite!

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So I completely forgot to post yesterday! I've also had a post on deviled eggs ready for about 2 weeks, but I still haven't gotten around to uploading the pictures. Fail.

Here is your (late) Tickled Tuesday fun. If you haven't seen Eddie Izzard's standup, please DO! He's hilarious!