Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers July

Sooo I bet you're wondering why this little cake looks so different from everyone else's? Well I kinda messed up...big time :P. Let's just say things were crooked that were supposed to be nice and straight, some things were a bit on the goopy and watery side, and others just...didn't look very appetizing, to say the least.

Instead of completely giving up on this usually very beautiful cake, known as the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, I decided to improvise. I mixed all the sauces, glazes, creamy stuff together to create an 'interesting' (to put it nicely) flavor combo. To make the finished product a bit more aesthetically appealing, I decided to cut up the cake into individual squares. I figured, if the ugliness was divided up on the plate, instead of being presented as one big nasty mess, things wouldn't look so appalling to my coworkers, who'd actually be the ones enjoying this cake later on :D.

Thankfully, it tasted yummy. I didn't deviate too much from the initial recipe, as far as ingredients go, so it was more than edible. I'll blame my failures on the day I prepared the cake; I made it on my 'tortilla day' a few weeks ago...and we all know how that went :P! Oh well, it was fun, and I definitely learned a few things. As you can see, even the ganache came out off, that's why I decided to drizzle it on my cake instead of bathing the already-messy dessert chocolate.

Alrighty, I'm off...I have less than 24 hours to finish cleaning up the apartment and packing those last bits and pieces of who knows what -- you know, the random items that don't really have a designated box? I cannot wait until I can sleep for 3-4 hours on the plane tomorrow. I am super excited about moving to Boston, don't get me wrong, but packing can be quite exhausting! Watch, tonight I probably won't even be able to sleep. Whenever fun things like this in my life happen, I get too excited to actually get any shut eye the night before, kind of like a kiddo on Christmas Eve!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

See Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream on Key Ingredient.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beet the Blues Cupcakes! (July Cupcake Hero Entry) I could really use a break from all the packing. I'm on the verge of entering that overwhelmed phase in the packing process...the one where running away from the cardboard boxes and hiding under the bed until the Monster of Mess leaves the house sounds like a reasonable option! (This is why I've decided to take a break and post my July Cupcake Hero Challenge entry. :)

Speaking of monsters, all these cupcakes need is a pair of googly eyes and they're set -- they're practically alive! Don't they look like they belong on the set of a Jim Henson show? But they're not alive :), thank goodness. They're definitely edible and rich, rich, rich in flavor! They're dense too.

This is how to stuff 'em!

And the title for the red velvet-inspired cupcakes? These cupcakes are dedicated to good times in Austin, TX. If you love it here, but you're a little sad about leaving (like many good memories here!), they'll help you beet the blues ;) (the hubby came up with the cool title, btw). So there are beets in here? Yes! I used beet juice as part of the coloring for the cupcakes. My initial plan was to just use beet juice, but after adding the cocoa powder, I knew they were gonna need a little bit of help, so I added a little under a tablespoon of food coloring to the batter. I'm not proud to admit this :(, I don't like using artificial time around, I hope to get ahold of more beet juice and try tweaking the recipe to include it. Thankfully, the folks at work liked them and they couldn't taste the beet juice! Guess what else? I only needed about 1/8 cup of canola oil to make the batter! But the topping totally takes away from any 'lightness' of the actual cupcake :P...but if these cupcakes want to taste the sweetness of a cupcake hero victory, they're gonna need a little bit of the 'good stuff'. After all, I've never seen a puny cupcake hero :)!

Alright, my next post will be for this month's Daring Bakers Challenge (I did it way ahead of time, there's no way I'm baking right now! :). Next time I'm bakin' anything, I'll be in Boston!

Beet the Blues Cupcakes (July Cupcake Hero Entry)

You red right ;). These are a spin on the traditional ...

See Beet the Blues Cupcakes (July Cupcake Hero Entry) on Key Ingredient.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Enchiladas Verdes and tortilla adventures (or nightmares? ;)

It's been over a week since I've posted an entry on Flour Arrangements. The reason for my absence? I'm 17.5 days away from moving to Boston, so I'm pretty busy getting ready for the big move (packing, fixing/selling our car, cleaning, giving stuff away, etc.)! Of course, I'm still eating sweets and baking them up on my free time (like an 'Empty the Pantry' Pie that I baked earlier in the week! I'll post the recipe in a few days :), but I decided to dedicate yesterday to making something savory.

I love enchiladas, I especially love enchiladas verdes. The sourness of green tomatillos mixed with the deep flavor of chilies and aromatic spices makes my mouth water. Until yesterday, I never actually tried making the green enchilada sauce from scratch...but I'd been wanting to. So Friday night, I 'studied' a few recipes and noticed that they all called for tomatillos but different chilies. Some of them used anaheim, others used poblano, and still others used serranos. Since poblanos are mild, I decided to go with those (I'm a wimp and can't take the heat); I didn't even add a jalapeno to the mix, that's how mild I made the sauce. I was very happy with the results, but I do think I'm going to add at least one jalapeno next time -- just to give it a little kick. After all, this is Mexican food!

Since I was feeling pretty confident after making the sauce, I thought I should try making flour tortillas again. (I tried last year and they came out like chips, except far less tasty.) I used a recipe that had great reviews, but I accidentally added baking soda instead of baking powder, so the tortillas tasted like baking soda (gross!). I threw that batch out and decided to experiment with batch #2. I didn't like the fact that the first recipe called for shortening, and I usually purchase whole wheat tortillas made with canola oil, so I replaced the shortening with butter and canola oil. The taste was right on, but the texture was off -- the tortillas were crumbly and not flexible at all, there was no way I was going to be able to stuff then roll them into I tried AGAIN. I added a little more butter to batch #3 (like 3 tbsp) and used whole wheat flour; I also added baking powder, an ingredient the first recipe called for. The results? Nasty tasting wannabe tortillas that tasted like baking powder. (I don't know if it's just me, but I can taste the baking powder/soda in baked goods sometimes, is that weird or what?) It wasn't even that much, 1 tsp in fact! After the third tortilla failure, I felt really bad for wasting all that flour, so I decided to take a break and try again some other time.

I've come to the realization that my tortillas come out crappy because I, seriously, do not have the touch. I've made tortillas with my grandmother before, when she put the tortilla dough together, and, still, not one came out right. She would use that same dough to make her great-tasting, perfectly round tortillas, though! I don't get it...I can make pastries, but not tortillas, at least not yet. I will try again! One day, I will make an edible tortilla -- I am determined!

Check out the evolution of my many tortilla failures below (whole wheat ones not pictured, you can only fit so many mistakes into one photo :D!). Come back in a couple of days to check out my pantry pie! Maybe in a few weeks I'll actually have a successful tortilla recipe posted :).

P.S. Check out the July Cupcake Hero Challenge! I can't wait to post the recipe for this month's theme :)...look out for it!

Enchiladas Verdes

A simple but savory recipe for green enchilada sauce.

See Enchiladas Verdes on Key Ingredient.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mini Strawberry Pie and a Chocolate Cherry Turnover

Happy 4th of July! Hope you are enjoying the day off with friends and/or family. So far, I've spent the day baking/cooking/grocery shopping...and celebrating the fact that Jose sold our car! Woohoo! This evening we'll hopefully be attending a free orchestra concert with fireworks in the park :D, read about it here. That doesn't start until a few hours from now. In the meantime, I think I'll just relax at home with the hubby, enjoy the day off, and watch the cool/nerdy 4th of July specials on the History Channel. But before I do that, I'll leave you with a few yummy recipes.

The mini strawberry pie is a fun dessert for two, we plan on taking it to tonight's fireworks show :)! As for the turnover -- well, I had a bit of pie dough left over that I didn't want to waste, and I also bought some cherries yesterday. So I made a dark chocolate cherry turnover for Jose.

(I was originally hoping to make a cherry cake, using fresh homemade cherry jam and other good stuff...but then the dough turned into cement-colored gooeyness and, in the end, the 'cake' couldn't be rescued. I tried, really, I even went so far as the bake it, but the outside burned and the inside didn't cook. Such is the life of a Sophie-baked Frankenstein cake.) Thankfully, the dough for the pie/turnover came out really yummy...not healthy, though. I still haven't figured out how to make butter-less pastry dough -- any ideas?

Hope the rest of your day is delicious and fun...and free of kitchen adventures gone wrong ;).

Mini Strawberry Pie and a Chocolate Cherry Turnover

The pie dough recipe is really delicious, almost cookie-like in ...

See Mini Strawberry Pie and a Chocolate Cherry Turnover on Key Ingredient.