Monday, December 31, 2012


Good job, Earth, on successfully completing yet another revolution around the sun.
The Earth travels 29919578π km at over 100,000km per hour. Anyone else think that this is worth congratulating? 
Meanwhile, we humans have watched athletes fight for gold in the Olympics, presidents fight for
office in the U.S., and Bilbo Baggins fight orcs in The Hobbit.

Now is the time of year where people resolve to accomplish things before the Earth makes another
revolution around the sun. This year I made a list of foods I want to make in the coming year. You can see this list under the new tab, "2013." 
What are you looking forward to in 2013?  

I wish you all a happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gateau Basque Cake

  So I had some guests over at my house the other day, and my mom wanted me to bake some wonderful to impress them.  I thought that this was a great idea, partly because I was dying to try this gateau basque cake-- a soft, pillowy cake with pastry cream and blackberry preserves baked right in: what could be better?  That's right, the filling is actually baked inside the cake.  No outside filling or frosting is needed; the gateau basque is perfect just on the own.  
  This cake is a variant on typical gateau basque, which is more like a pastry.  Though I may try the pastry one day, I love how the softness of the cake pairs with the creamy filling.  The cake is actually pretty simple to make, it just requires some intense egg beating at one phase.  If you have never made pastry cream before, it's really easy, and delicious.  You can use it to fill cakes, eclairs, and Chinese custard buns (I made them before and they were delicious; I'll share the recipe.) It's done when you scrape a spoon though it and the mark stays for a couple of seconds. Also, I had a little trouble spreading the fruit preserves, but in this case you can microwave it for a couple of seconds to make it softer.  For the cake you need a 9" round cake pan with 3" sides.  I just used a springform pan and it worked great.  To prepare the pan, I sprayed it with cooking spray, then lined the bottom and sides with parchment.  The spray lets the parchment stay on easier, and I also took a little batter to hold the parchment pieces together.  
  I hope you try this recipe.  It's definitely worth it.

Pastry Cream

Finished Cake

Gateau Basque Cake

Serves 8-10
Original recipe from Not So Humble Pie

Pastry Cream

1 cup whole milk
5 tbs sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tbs of the sugar with 3/4 cup of the milk.  Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is simmering.  Meanwhile, whisk remaining 3 tbs sugar with the egg yolks.  Stir in the remaining 1/4c of milk and cornstarch.  Whisk thoroughly. Add hot milk to the eggs in a stream, constantly whisking.  This tempers the eggs.  Pour mixture back into saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil while whisking constantly. Once it's thick, strain it into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap over it so a film doesn't form on the surface.  Wait until it is cool to start the cake.  (I put it in the refrigerator for a while)

Gateau Basque Cake

3/4 cups unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
1 medium orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup pastry cream (recipe above)
1/4 cup fruit preserves, softened (I used blackberry)

Preheat oven to 325*F.  Place a rack on the lower third.  Line a 9" x 3" cake pan with parchment paper.  
Melt butter and set aside to cool.
Zest and juice orange. You'll need 1/3 cup juice for the cake. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. 
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is about doubled in volume (be patient).
On low speed, add the orange juice and zest.  Mix to combine.
On medium speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Add half the melted butter and mix to combine.  Repeat, alternating the flour and butter until the ingredients are just combined.  Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan.  
Then carefully add the pastry cream, keeping it one inch away form the sides.  Spread the fruit preserves over the cream.  Pour the rest of the batter around the cream and carefully spread it, using an offset spatula, to cover the filling.  
Bake for 50-65 minutes, until the cake is brown and firm and the center doesn't jiggle.  
Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.  Then flip it onto a serving platter and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Today is December 26th, the day after Christmas.  I hope you are enjoying the season! I myself am having a lot of fun with my family this week.  In this post I thought I's just give you a taste (pun intended) of what I'm up to, food wise. Enjoy!

I made a house!  This is the biggest gingerbread house I've made so far.  I modeled it after a real dollhouse and cut out a template out of foam board.  Then I used melted sugar (just heat it on the stove) to hold the walls together and royal icing and candy to decorate.  I was a lot of fun and I'll definitely make another one next year.

Here's the back view of the gingerbread house. You can see the gingerbread man holding open the door.

Here are some of the cookies I made.  On top are snowball cookies, then hazelnut milk chocolate, and lastly the classic sugar cookie with royal icing.  They were gone in a flash :0 Also, this is a nice stand that I use for many of my desserts.

Well, that's all I have to share for now.  Have a great break everyone!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Blueberry White Chocolate Cookies 

One thing I've always stumbled upon in magazines and recipe books is monster cookies.  If you don't already know, they are basically chocolate chip cookies, only with crazy ingredients like M&Ms and pretzels mixed in to the point that you can't stir the batter  any more.  They always look so delicious, like everything I ever crave for in a fluffy, soft cookie.  Then one day, when I was looking for a cookie recipe to make for my family, I decided to make my own "monster cookie." Now, these cookies aren't as intense as some I've seen.  They are however full of  things that I especially love, like the oatmeal with blueberries my mom makes me on cold mornings and the peanut butter that I put in my PB&J sandwiches.  I really like how the flavors in this cookie complement each other: they contribute to a soft, delicate cookie and no ingredient overwhelms the others.  When making these, remember to soak the blueberries in hot water, orange juice, or, what I used, blueberry juice (since I had it on hand).  This rule goes for many other recipes as well, so if planning on making an addition to cornbread or muffins, I recommend soaking the dried berries first.  Otherwise you'll end up with hard, crispy fruit. I still have to come up with a name, so that you won't have to keep repeating "peanut butter oatmeal blueberry white chocolate" when people are complementing your amazing baking.  

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Blueberry White Chocolate Cookies


3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used all-natural creamy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup dries blueberries, soaked in hot water (see note above)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon with a fork.
Beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. (about 3 minutes) Add peanut butter and mix until creamy.
Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix until well-mixed.
On low speed, or with a wooden spoon, mix in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Fold in oats, chocolate, and blueberries until evenly mixed.
Scoop into round balls and place on baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until the edges are light brown and puffy.  Don't over-bake since they will set while cooling on the baking sheet.
Let cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack until cooled completely.