Better late than never…

Well, my plan to make two fancy desserts totally fell through. As usual, things took a lot longer than I anticipated to make. Now these, I feel I should warn you, look a little like a cow heart.

Or so I imagine.

I say it’s not my fault, though. I was trying to make individual-sized cakes and had to do a bit of jury-rigging which resulted in these abominations. I like to think that if I were to make one in a 9-inch springform cake pan as the recipe instructed instead of 6 4-inch remekins, it would look a lot nicer.

But.

They taste really, really nice! The gelatin layer at the top is a nice texture contrast to the cake and the bavarian cream filling and the whole thing is subtly sweet and kind of refreshing. So a half success. I really need to work on my presentation skills which, at this point, are nonexistent.

…and, well, I think you get the idea…

Ooh, these are very nice. Sort of baked (not quite cakey, as implied by the name, but definitely more substantial than the rest of it) at the top and then it sort of melts into a lovely tart-sweet custard underneath. A very good use of the last of my Meyer Lemons.

And that’s it for the small things. Hopefully there’ll be two posts sometime this weekend that involve some rather complicated cakes.

Hopefully. ๐Ÿ˜‰

…and continues…

I made these Bleeding Heart Cupcakes last night. Alas, they fall into the category of things that, even as I’m making them, I think ‘I’m not going to like this…why am I making it?’ It’s coconut cupcakes, filled with raspberry jam, and topped with lemon frosting. Which should be good, but I think it all ends up being a bit too sweet. Although I’m a fan of desserts, I like ones that are more subtly sweet and this one pretty much smothers you with sugar.

And it has coconut which, as far as I’m concerned is a Controversial Ingredient.

Every once in a while, I get a sort of craving for coconut and then I have it and realise that I was right to stay away. It’s not the flavor so much as the bizarre papery consistency. So I’ve tried to pawn these off on everybody I know and my parents will be finding the rest waiting in the freezer for them when they come back.

But at least they’re pretty! Next on the dessert itinerary… Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes.

A baking miscellany

Once again, I’m having a mini-holiday out in the country while my parents are off on a cruise which means I have no Stompy, unreliable internet (lame!), free laundry and groceries, and a large kitchen.

I have lots of interesting things planned, but we’ll have to see how they go. I thought I’d start things off with Mojito Cupcakes. I think the jury’s still out on this one. I think I like them, but they’re very different from things I usually make, so they’ll take a bit of getting used to.

I also started on the preliminary stages of making the Gateau Saint Honore, something I’m very excited about, mostly because it requires me to make puff pastry (yes, I know I can go and buy puff pastry, but that’s not the point!). Next month, I’m going to be part of the Daring Baker’s group, so I thought I’d get some practice in before then.

So all of that was to say that I made puff pastry today. It was suspiciously easy, but I won’t know how I’ve done until I actually try to bake some of it up. I’ll keep you updated!

That’s the butter parcel (3 1/2 sticks of butter pounded into a pliable 6×6 square and set inside the dough. You fold the butter into the dough and then go through six rounds of rolling, folding, and chilling. So time consuming, but not as difficult as I was anticipating (although, like I said, it could still end in tears!).

Holy fuck!

It’s 4:40 am and I’m pretty sure we just had an earthquake (that or Stompy’s really outdone himself)! Uh, I live in Illinois, so that’s not really supposed to happen, I think. Also, I hope it doesn’t happen again as my very old apartment building did not feel too sturdy during.

Bizarre!

ETA: Yes, I know we’re on a fault line that’s supposed to be gearing up for a California-style earthquake at some point, but still!

ETA2: It was an earthquake – a 5.3 apparently (I was guessing about a 2 – obviously my internal earthquake sensor needs to be recalibrated…)!

ETA3: Okay, so the first one was revised to a 5.2 and we’ve just had a second one (‘just’ being 10:30 am-ish) that’s a 4.5. Very exciting!

Disaster strikes!

It all started yesterday afternoon. I came home from work and went to check on my plants who were out on the balcony enjoying the lovely warm weather. What I found was my two sunflowers lying on the ground across from their containers. I don’t know if it was the squirrel or the fact that it was very windy that day. I’d like to give the squirrel the benefit of the doubt, but, while it may have been windy, the plants were on the ground and I find it hard to believe that the wind knockd them over while they were on the ground surrounded by walls.

So there was an emergency repotting. They’re on their own now because they can’t come back in if it freezes again.

But the real disaster is that everyone else seems to have just given up, particularly the pumpkin.

The cat grass is looking feeble through no fault of its own. Arthur has been very enthusastically making use of it. The thing is, he doesn’t just chew on it…he rips it out of the dirt and leaves little cat grass corpses littering the battlefield. I’ve sort of tried to mash them back into the dirt, but we’ll see how it goes…

Maybe I’ll just go have another cupcake… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

At least one thing went right around here…

I got my oven thermometer on Monday and immediately put it to work. I haven’t established a pattern – the temperature differences seem to be on some sort of bizarre sliding scale:

  • 350 = 350
  • 400 = 350
  • 425 = 350
  • 425 = 395
  • 450 = 400

It makes, to quote Eddie Izzard, no sense. So basically I just check it before I put things in the oven now. The first test case was Chocolate Dulce de Leche cupcakes. I took in some to work to share round at lunch and they went over very well.

The recipe says to just put dulce de leche on for frosting, but I mixed about 4 ounces of cream cheese and…well, however much dulce de leche I had left and it turned out very nicely.

Yum!

Really, Stompy?

Toto? Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Toto or the song ‘Africa’ in particular. But is that really the kind of song you want to be playing loud enough for everyone to hear? I think that’s more of a guilty pleasure that should probably be kept to yourself.

Especially when it’s almost my bedtime.

Unless it’s part of the 80s retrospective you were totally having the other day (e.g., Hey, Mickey; Sunglasses at Night; and 867-5309), then rock on out to Toto, my friend.

Rock on out.

RAWRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

And not in a good way, either.

After having a pound cake in the oven for nearly two hours at “350” degrees that is now crispy on the outside and STILL COMPLETELY RAW on the inside, there will soon be an oven thermometer winging my way from Amazon.com.

This one, to be precise, given top honors by Cook’s Illustrated.

Maybe THAT’S why my pie didn’t work out…

Success!

In an attempt to boost my baking confidence, I jumped right back on my Meyer lemon…horse, I suppose, and made the iced Meyer lemon cupcakes.

They turned out very well. So far, I think this is the best use of the Meyer lemons. Although I still taste some sort of chemically aftertaste in the icing, the cupcake part of this is very nice. I halved that recipe there and still got 18 cupcakes, so I’m glad I didn’t make the full batch.

Yum!

Garden update: 1 week later

So many of the little seeds that I planted last week in the egg cartons have actually outgrown their containers. I swear the instructions said to plant them 2-4 weeks before the last frost which I would say we’re at, but in three more weeks, I expect I’ll be overrun by plants, the sunflowers and pumpkins in particular.

Look! (In an attempt to buy them some space, I cut the egg cartons apart and placed them under my cake plate [to protect them from my two cats]. Then I realised that the labels I’d used were on the lids, so I’ve had to do some forensic reconstruction here to figure out who’s what…)

So the only ones that haven’t appeared yet are the watermelons. They’re outside at the moment as it’s not supposed to frost most of this week and they’ll be eaten by cats if they’re inside without cover. Hopefully the squirrel will realise that it’s in his best interests to leave them alone for now…

I’m also trying to grow an avocado tree – you have to start them hydroponically, so it’s still inside. No roots or shoots have appeared. I think it may be struggling as it has to compete with Arthur for its water.

Oi!

Stompy!

No matter how loudly you play Radiohead, I will never love you the way I love Next-Door Neighbor because he

  1. Doesn’t play Radiohead at midnight. Yes, I know it’s a Saturday and I’m just up watching Green Wing, but still!
  2. Doesn’t let the hallway doors slam.
  3. And perhaps most importantly, DOES NOT STOMP UP THE STAIRS AT ALL HOURS OF THE NIGHT WITH HIS SIMILARLY STOMPY FRIENDS! Seriously, I did not think it was humanly possibly to make so much noise coming up a staircase. When he does it in the middle of the night and wakes me up, there is always a moment of ‘Frankenstein’s monster! It’s Frankenst- Oh. No, it’s just Stompy…’

Although as much as I complain about him, it could be a lot worse and I do worry about whoever’s moving into his apartment when he moves out. At least I’m used to Stompy and his Stompy McSlammerson ways (and his friends that confuse my apartment for his at 2:00 in the morning and pound on my door yelling ‘McSlammerson!’ until he opens his door. Which to be fair is not completely their fault since we are the only two apartments in the building without numbers on our doors and when you’re drunk and it’s 2 am, it’s probably hard to remember what side of the hall your friend lives on…). And at least he plays Radiohead loudly and not somebody horrible like…Linkin Park. Ugh.

Oh, Stompy. I’m gonna miss you. Here’s hoping your replacement at least has the same good taste in (loud) music.

Your slightly annoyed neighbor,

Crazy McYellsthings

Those of you with delicate constitutions…

…should avert your eyes now.

This was supposed to be a Meyer lemon and ginger pie (a variation on the Shaker lemon pie). What it turned out to be was my first complete baking disaster. There have been things in the past that I’ve made that I have refrained from showing you, but those have all been things that I ate anyway.

This was inedible.

My mom (who is willing to eat almost anything) and I each had one bite and promptly put our forks down. I threw it away immediately, bypassing the trashcan in my kitchen and carrying it down to the dumpster so it wouldn’t be in my apartment any longer than was necessary.

I don’t know what I did wrong. So far, my best theory is that I used too much lemon juice and the extra acidity caused the eggs to not set when baking. My second best theory is that I covered too much of the pie with foil for the first half of the baking time, but it’s a distant second as I don’t really think that’s responsible. I also realised as I was constructing it that I had never made a two-crust pie before – thus the extraordinarily thick edges (I wasn’t sure how much extra dough I needed for sealing things up. ‘Not that much’ is the answer.).

I have one more bag of Meyer lemons left and they are being used in these Meyer lemon iced cupcakes that I’m planning on making tomorrow, so hopefully there will be a successful baking post then.

The nerdy television trifecta…

I have spent the whole day glued to my computer, awaiting the final episode of Torchwood, the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, and the first episode of Doctor Who.

Seen Torchwood – very sad. I cried. But not everyone that I’d heard was leaving left. So that’s good! Hopefully. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seen Battlestar Galactica – it’s a lot harder watching this show when I don’t have the next episode waiting for me already. Can’t wait for next week’s episode!

Seen Doctor Who – I love that Donna got to come back to be the new companion, she’s so much better than Martha (even though the only reason I hated Martha was that she wasn’t Rose). And Rose!? Oh, I definitely hope she turns up again – the Doctor would be so happy to see her! Working on obtaining Doctor Who, but things are going a bit slowly. Watched the Xmas special yesterday – very sad. I cried.

In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on Green Wing. Which I love!

That and Smallville.

Awesome.

Stay tuned for a gardening update and an honest-to-god baking DISASTER. ๐Ÿ˜‰