Bakealong Berry Blitz Tort

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

I know I’m pretty late on getting this month’s challenge, but I did just get married, so I feel like that’s a pretty good excuse (there’ll be a whole other post about my wedding).

I ended up making use of it for an inpromptu Memorial Day BBQ we had. It’s a little involved, but it’s nothing crazy hard, and definitely worth the work. The basic elements are pastry cream, butter cake and meringue, but you end up with an impressive looking cake. The flavors are great, especially if you’re a sucker for berries and cream like me. This would be a great dessert for any kind of summer get together.

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Ingredients

PASTRY CREAM FILLING

  • 20 ounces whole milk
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/8 ounces cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces heavy cream, whipped; optional
  • about 6 3/4 to 9 ounces fresh raspberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries
    *For a simple shortcut filling, see “tips,” below.

CAKE

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

TOPPING

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 5 1/4 ounces Baker’s Special Sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 ounces sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 ounce sugar*
    *Substitute prepared cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.IMG_0398
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, egg yolks, and whole egg with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.IMG_0397IMG_0397
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks/cornstarch to temper the yolks. This keeps them from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk. If you’ve never had to make anything with a hot milk/egg mixture, this step is very important. IMG_0399
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk, pouring it through a strainer to capture any bits of egg. Bring to a boil over medium heat (this may happen very quickly), stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; the mixture will thicken significantly.IMG_0400IMG_0401
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Transfer the filling to a heatproof storage container, and top it with a piece of buttered plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the filling so it doesn’t develop a skin). Refrigerate until cool, or for up to several days. I strained my mixture to get out any chunky bits.IMG_0402IMG_0403
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Or lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well. I only had 9″ pans but it worked fine, for the most part. Also, if you bake cakes frequently enough, pick up some parchment rounds in the size of your pans. They save a lot of time and energy.IMG_0404
  8. To make the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well combined. Scrape the bowl, and beat briefly to incorporate any sticky residue.IMG_0405
  9. Beat in the vanilla, milk, baking powder, and flour; the batter will be stiff.
    Spread the batter in the prepared pans (it will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that’s OK).IMG_0406IMG_0407IMG_0410
  10. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy; gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form rigid stand-up points).IMG_0408IMG_0411
  11. Spread the meringue on the cake batter. Sprinkle the almonds over the meringue. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, and dust on top.IMG_0412
  12. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned. The cakes will puff up significantly; don’t worry, they’ll settle as they cool. If you used a 9″ pan like me, I would recommend checking them at 20 to 25 minutes. I pulled mine a minute early and the bottoms were a bit over done.IMG_0413
  13. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully and thoroughly loosen the edge of each cake, and gently turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. The best way to do this is to place a flat object (a giant spatula, a small baking sheet) atop the pan, and to turn everything over.IMG_0414
  14. Lift the cake pan off the cake, then place a cooling rack against the bottom of the cake. Turn everything back over again, so the rack is on the bottom. Some of the almonds will fall off during this process; just sprinkle them back on top. I used a sheet pan to turn the cakes out then flipped the cakes back over to the cooling rack.IMG_0415
  15. When you’re ready to finish the cake, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. Stir it gently, just to loosen it up enough to spread; stirring too vigorously can break it down and turn it watery. It’ll probably have a few lumps; that’s OK. For slightly richer filling with greater volume, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, and gently fold it into the pastry cream. Again, don’t beat the pastry cream; it’ll be a bit lumpy, but that won’t affect the taste. Add the cream, it’s totally worth it.IMG_0416IMG_0417
  16. To assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling. Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. I spread half my filling on the first layer, spread out the berries, then spread out the second half on top of the berries to keep the berries in place and secure the top layer of cake.IMG_0419IMG_0420
  17. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time.IMG_0422

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I ❤️ Churros

I know cinco de Mayo isn’t really much of a holiday in Mexico. I know it’s just turned in to another day for Americans to drink in excess, but as with most holidays, instead, I see it as an excuse to make something tasty.

I think you would be hard pressed to find too many people that don’t like churros. Fried piece of dough, warm, covered in cinnamon sugar? Sign me up. I know one of my favorite snacks at Disneyland are their famous churros, and if I spot some on the menu in a restaurant, there’s a good chance I’ll order them.

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Churros may seem intimidating, but they’re really not that hard. If you’ve ever made choux before, like cream Puffs or eclairs, you can make these, as they use the same dough. You can make these as regular sticks, pipe them in to fun shapes, or make some over the top ice cream sandwiches.

You can fry these in a deep frier, or any kind of wide, deep pot, but a Dutch oven does work best. You have a lot of space, and it holds heat well, which helps for consistent frying. I also can recommend using a digital thermometer enough. I love this one from polder. I use it for roasting meats, making candy, and with deep frying, it’s easier to watch the temperature, and make adjustments to raise or lower the temperature of the oil.

While churros are best fresh, you can also fry the doug ahead of time, then warm them in the oven before tossing the churros in the sugar mixture.

Churros

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 6 oz butter
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 c + 2 tbsp flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • Ice cream (optional)IMG_0383
  1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 quart of vegetable oil over medium heat until it reaches 330 degrees.IMG_0392
  2. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat , bring the milk, butter, vanilla, first amount of sugar and salt to a boil.IMG_0382
  3. Once the mixture comes to a boil, mix in the flour, little by little, moving quickly. The dough will come together in a ball.IMG_0381
  4. Continue cooking the mixture, until the dough leaves a thin film on the bottom of the pan.IMG_0380
  5. Transfer dough in to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.IMG_0379
  6. Running the miser on medium/low, slowly add the eggs, one by one, waiting until the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one.IMG_0378
  7. Once all the eggs are added, mix until the dough comes together and is glossy.IMG_0376
  8. Place dough in a piping bag fitted with a medium/large star tip.
  9. Mix together the second amount of sugar and the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  10. If you’re making shapes like circles or hearts, pipe these shapes on parchment, before frying. You can also use this meathod for the more traditional stick shapes, for more consistent pieces. When frying the dough, place most of the paper in the oil, dough side down, until it comes off the paper, being careful not to touch the hot oil.IMG_0373IMG_0371
  11. When the oil is up to temp, pipe the dough in 3 to 4 inch long pieces, straight in to the oil, using your finger to separate the end of the dough from the tip.IMG_0366IMG_0365
  12. Fry until dark golden brown, flipping the churros once one side has browned.IMG_0370
  13. Once the churros are done, place them on a wire rack, and let cool for 5 I minutes.IMG_0364IMG_0369
  14. Toss the slightly cooled churros in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Eat warm.IMG_0391IMG_0368
  15. If you’re making ice cream sandwiches, let the churro rounds cool completely before placing a scoop of ice cream on one churro and sandwiching it with the other.IMG_0386

Spring Carrot Pots

Even as an adult I have a soft spot for the ever popular cup of dirt. I know their generally geared towards kids, but who doesn’t like chocolate pudding and cookies?

As I mentioned in my Robins Egg Cake with Filo Nests post, I love the spring, and I get really inspired by spring and Easter, and cups of dirt seemed like a great base for a cute Easter dessert. Wanting to up the cuteness quotient, I wanted to make carrots you could pull out of the dirt and eat, and because no one wants a real carrot in their pudding, I went with peanut butter carrots. The carrots are great on their own too, you can set out a plate of them with other Easter candy, or stick a few in a basket.

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The base is my favorite chocolate pudding recipe. It’s thick and rich, but if you want something a little sweeter sub milk chocolate for the dark chocolate. For the cookies, I used extra chocolate cookie dough, but you can just as easily use nabisco famous wafers, or Oreos.

Ingredients

Chocolate Pudding

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, choppedIMG_0341
  1. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the milk, and half and half.IMG_0343
  2. Place yolks in a medium bowl.
  3. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot, but not boiling.
  4. Temper milk mixture in to yolks, and return to the pan.IMG_0342
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling.IMG_0344
  6. Remove from heat and mix in butter, vanilla and chocolate, until incorporated.
  7. Strain into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap to the surface, then refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.IMG_0345

 

Peanut Butter Carrots

  • 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
  • 1 package orange Wilton candy melts
  • Green frill toothpicks or Easter basket grass (see notes below)

For the carrot tops I tried to different things. The first was using Green frill toothpicks that I cut the pick down to 1 1/2 inches. The other was using Easter basket grass. I gathered in to bundles of 12-14 pieces, then tied them off before cutting  a  1 1/2 inch piece with the knot at one end.IMG_0347

  1. Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
  2. Cream on low until blended.
  3. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating until blended. Beat in additional powdered sugar until mixture is thick and dough like, and will hold its shape.IMG_0339
  4. If you’re using the basket grass, form a cherry tomato sized ball of peanut butter mixture. Stick a bundle of grass in the middle, closing the mixture up around the knot, then roll in to a 2″ carrot shape.IMG_0337IMG_0336
  5. If your using the toothpicks, shape the mixture in the a carrot shape before inserting the toothpick through the length of the carrot so only the top frill shows.IMG_0338IMG_0335
  6. Place all the carrots on a parchment lined sheet pan, and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  7. Melt the entire bag of candy melts over a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth.IMG_0334
  8. Place melted candy melts in a glass ( a tall narrow container makes it easier to dip the carrots).
  9. Working quickly, dip each carrot until the coating just touches the “carrot greens”. IMG_0332
  10. Shake off any excess coating before placing back on the parchment. Repeat until all carrots are coated.IMG_0331
  11. Refridgerate until the coating is firm.

 

Assembly

  • chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 12 oz chocolate cookies (homemade, nabisco famous wafers, or Oreos)
  • peanut butter carrots
  • mini chocolate eggs
  • large piping bag
  • Container of choice (see note below)

I made my mini pots in mini silicone cupcake cups that look like  terra-cotta pots. You can use real mini pots, but you need to plug up the hole in the bottom. You can also make a large pot of carrots using a wide shallow pot, or a serving dish (I used a clear pirex bowl so you can see the layers).

  1. Whisk the cooled pudding until smooth.IMG_0330
  2. Whip the cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a mixer until stiff, but not over whipped.
  3. Fold the whipped cream and pudding together until just combined. Place in piping bag, set aside.IMG_0329
  4. Crush the cookies, either in a food processor, or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. It’s ok if it’s a little chunky, it’s supposed to be dirt.IMG_0328
  5. Sprinkle enough cookie crumbs at the bottom of the container until just covered.
  6. Pipe the pudding mixture next, until just before halfway full.
  7. Sprinkle on more cookie crumbs.
  8. Pipe in more pudding until just below the top.
  9. Sprinkle with more cookies.IMG_0327
  10. Stick a carrot, greens up, in each mini pot. Or multiple if using a large pot.IMG_0357
  11. Decorate with mini eggs. IMG_0349
  12. Enjoy!

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Bakealong Chocolate Babka

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

this month brings chocolate babka. If you’re unsure what babka is, it’s a sweet yeast dough filled and twisted before being topped with streusel. This one has a pretty common chocolate filling, with the addition of chocolate chips and chopped nuts. I’m not usually  fan of babka, but this one is so good, I couldn’t stop eating it.

Like last time, I’ll post the recipe with photos and my own notes in bold. You can check out the original recipe here. Also like last time, I recommend using the buttons at the top of the recipe to switch to ounces or grams for a more exact recipe.

Pay attention to the times in this recipe! I thought it would have 30 min to 1 hour rises like other doughs, but each rise is 1 1/2 to 2 hours and another hour to bake. I made the mistake of starting this after work and didn’t get to bed till late because of it.

DOUGH

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold instant yeast preferred the little packets in the baking aisle are fine, but if you plan on making bread often, invest in a large bag of good yeast.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder of your choice, Dutch-process or natural  I used Dutch processed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder I didn’t have this and honestly I don’t know if I would have liked it anyway
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips I used mini chips
  • 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

GLAZE

  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt until well-combined

TOPPING

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. If your dough looks like my picture add more water, my dough was too dry when I tried to kneed it.20170404_185240
  2. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it until it’s soft and smooth. I used the dough hook in my mixer.20170404_193218
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.20170404_212825
  4. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.IMG_0310
  5. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso or not. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s OK.IMG_0311
  6. Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.
    Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges. I rolled mine a bit longer to get more, thinner layers. Also don’t just plop the filling in the middle and spread. It’s thick and can be hard to.spread thin, so I dropped small amounts all over the dough, then spread it all out to form anot even layer.
  7. Scatter half the chips and nuts over each piece. If desired, process the chips in a food processor first, to create smaller bits of chocolate and a less chunky filling. I just used mini chips instead.IMG_0312
  8. Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends.IMG_0313
  9. Working with one log at a time, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out.IMG_0314
  10. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log.IMG_0315
  11. Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Don’t stress to much if this is a little messy, there’s a streusel that will help cover up any mess.IMG_0316
  12. Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, and sprinkle half the topping over each loaf.IMG_0317
  13. Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.IMG_0318
  14. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.IMG_0319
  15. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a deep-golden brown. I swear to god the hardest part of this recipe was lightly tenting with tinfoil and NOT having it blow off before I could even close the oven. It’s not even a convection oven!IMG_0320
  16. To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F.
  17. Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely. I just want to reiterate loosening the loves when they’re warm. I forgot to, and they were difficult to remove once they cooled.
  18. Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster, if desired. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.IMG_0323

The dough is really the most important part of this recipe, which means you can play around with the filling to.use the flavors you want. I’m already thinking about making a cinnamon nut, or a nutella babka soon.

Disney Goes Retro

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to this post on the official Disney blog. I about lost my shit. Disney was opening a shop with attraction and character inspired retro style dresses! this was everything I could ask for. I had a moment of disappointment when I realzed the shop was only opening in Florida, but was relieved to see they would also be coming to vault 28 at the California resort!

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Unfortunately, real life took over and I forgot to check back on when they would be released here in California. As luck would have it, I was in downtown Disney last Friday (the boyfriend needed to go to the Lego store) and remember about the dresses, so I ran by vault 28 to see if they had them, and to my surprise I was met with this.

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They had the dresses! I had no idea But of all days to go down there, it was the day they were being released. Now the real question was if they still had any in stock, and if they carried them in plus size. If there’s one thing I’ve gotten used to, it’s the disappointment in awesome clothing like this not being available in plus.

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The first dress I made a bee lined for, was the super cute Alice in wonderland teacup dress. It was set up with the adorable Snow White apple dress and the red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse dress forming a fanatasy land wall. I just need to note how great the corresponding accessories are. You can pick up some cute lace gloves for your Minnie Mouse outfit, or an apple purse for Snow White, and I’m still kicking myself for not buying the white rabbit purse.

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On the other side of the store was a sort of New Orleans square section, with the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean dresses. Looking back, I wish I had paid a little more attention the the pirates dress. The more I see it, the more I’m falling for it. The bodice is covered in skull patterned lace, and the red sash adds great detail.

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Once again the accessiories shine. They have a haunted mansion bat purse and you can even pick up a petticoat for any of the dresses.

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In the middle of the store you’ll find the summery small world dresses. They have a great Mary Blair feel to them, without being overt. I will say this was the one dress sadly lacking in cute accessories. I think they could have done something really cool and mod but they kinda dropped the ball.

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Next to that I caught a glimpse of the dress I was most excited about. The enchanted tiki room dress.

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I wanted this dress as soon as I had seen it in the blog post I mentioned. I honestly love the tiki room more than I probably should. I have a thing for all things tiki and kitsch. Adventure Land is my favorite land. Add to that the fact that you can get one of the best treats in the park, it’s no wonder I love the tiki room.

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The dress is fabulous. A green A-line dress covered in a print made up of birds, flowers and tikis from the attraction. some great details of this dress include pockets (yay) and the adjustable button straps. The straps are actually just like the ones on a vintage kamehameha dress I own. Great attention to detail. They were actually a bit loose on me so I opted to cross them across my back and it fit perfectly.

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Next to the tiki room dress were 2 special dresses based off of Florida attractions that are only around for a limited amount of time at the California resort. The Hollywood tower dress is a fun halter dress fashioned after the uniforms castmembers wear at the attraction. You can accessorize with a bell hop hat and suitcase purse. The other dress is orange bird, which I had to google because I had no idea what it was. It’s a really cute dress but I felt kinda weird wearing something I knew nothing about.

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I have to say I applause Disney for this line of dresses and accessories, it’s smart as hell. They saw the niche market and understood that there were a lot of people out there that would snatch up these great pieces. The quality is really good, and they put in some really great details only Disney could do.

What I really Want to give them credit for, is the fact that they didn’t ignore the plus size girl. They acknowledged that there are a lot of Us out there that like to dress up and we’re eager to buy a great piece if it comes in our size. As for the sizing I found their dresses actually run large which I think is good. I wear somewhere between a 2x or 3x and their 2x dresses fit great or even a little loose, so someone that wears a 4x I would still suggest trying, you might get lucky.

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Now to add a little irony to all of this, I’m actually not renewing my annual pass for the first time in many years  I figured I might as well go out in style wearing my amazing new dress, some awesome accessories and my handmade tiki room ears. Now I just have to figure out everything I want to do on my last day. What would you do on your last day at Disneyland?

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Robins Egg Cake with Filo Nests

Some would say you shouldn’t have to make your own birthday cake, but a lot of the time I look at it as an opportunity to try something new. I’m especially inspired by the fact that my birthday’s in spring and close to Easter.

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This year I came up with the design based off of mini filo birds nests I made last year. I wanted to go big so I made a robins egg cake with a large filo nest. It took some experimenting but I’m happy with the results.

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For the nests I use shredded filo dough known as Kataifi. You won’t usually find this in a normal supermarket so it may take some searching but it’s worth it.

Filo birds nests

  • 3/4 box Kataifi
  • 6 oz melted butter plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 c cinnamon sugar
  • mini Cadbury eggs

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  1. Place the Kataifi in a bowl. Wrap up the rest and freeze for later use.
  2. Pour the melted butter and cinnamon sugar over Kataifi and mix until it is evenly coated.IMG_0264
  3. For the large nest, use a 7″ ring mold or draw a 7 inch diameter circle in parchment to form the mixture in to a ring around the 7″ circle that will fit around the cake. Remove the ring mold before baking.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.IMG_0268
  5. Once cooled, carefully slide the nest on to a 10″ cake board.
  6. For mini nests butter 2 cupcake tins.
  7. place enough mixture to fill each tin 3/4 of the way up.
  8. Using your finger form a well in the middle, but leaving some of the mixture still on the bottom. IMG_0267
  9. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes, until golden brown. IMG_0269
  10. Once cooled, use a small offset spatula to lift he nests out of the tins. Transfer nests to a plate or sheet pan.IMG_0278
  11. Place 3 mini eggs in each nest.IMG_0279

Robins egg cake

  • 6″ cake of your choice, crumb coated (I went with raspberry and cream, yum!)
  • Robins egg blue tinted buttercream
  • brown petal dust
  • vodka
  • A stuff brush
  • large Kataifi nest on a 10″ cake board
  • Fresh violas
  • mini nests for plating

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  1. Final coat the cake in the blue butter creamIMG_0272
  2. Place the cake on an extra 8″ board and cool until firm.
  3. Mix together about 1/4 tsp brown petal dust, and just enough vodka so the mixture is thinned out and not a paste. IMG_0275
  4. Place the cooled cake on a turn table. Cover the surrounding area in paper so the splatter doesn’t cover everything in the surrounding area. Trust me.IMG_0276
  5. Dip the tip of the stuff brush in the brown mixture, and using your finger, splatter the cake until lightly covered, slowly rotating the cake as you go. Cover the side and top. Splatter in action.IMG_0277
  6. Carefully transfer the cake on to the board with the nest, being carefully not to crush the nest.IMG_0281
  7. Decorate nest and cake with violas. IMG_0282
  8. When serving the cake, place a mini nest on each plate.IMG_0285

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The mini nests can also be used to top cupcakes. I filled the pests I made last year with marshmallow and sugar cookie mini eggs as well as the Cadbury eggs.

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Now enjoy!

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Bakealong Butterflake Herb Loaf

Back in August of last year, King Arthur flour started A fun challenge every month called the bakealong challenge. Each month is a new recipe that they invite everyone to bake along with them. When I started this blog I vowed to follow along every month.

This month’s recipe is a delicious butterflake herb loaf. Anytime you layer bread and butter, I’m always on board. I know yeast breads can seem intimidating, but as long as you follow the dir cations, don’t stray from the basics of the recipe it’s pretty easy.

I’m including the recipe as it is on the website, but with my own notes in bold.

One of my favorite things about the recipes and the King Arthur Flour website is that all their recipes can be changed from volume to weight (in ounces or grams) with a quick press of a button above the ingredients. I always prefer weight over volume so this keeps me coming back to their recipes.

DOUGH
8 ounces milk
2 ounces butter
1 1/4 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
17 to 18 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 ounce potato flour or instant potato flakes, optional, for increased moistness 
FILLING*
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated onion or chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or chopped fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
*See “tips,” below.

The filling in this recipe is a great place to tweak the taste to your liking. As long as the amount of butter stays the same, you can change the herbs and spice all you want. Like I learned I don’t like caraway seeds. Also next time I make this I want more garlic and to add thyme as well. Maybe you want it spicier with red pepper flakes. Or sweeter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Have fun with this part.

Instructions

  1. Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl; or in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the butter melts. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. I warmed everything up until most but not all of the butter was melted, which allowed the mixture to cool quicker.IMG_0247
  2. Transfer the milk mixture to a mixing bowl, and add the eggs, yeast, 4 cups of the flour, and the potato flour and mix to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough — using your hands, a stand mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle — until it’s smooth. The dough will remain somewhat sticky, but should definitely form a ball. During the summer, or in a warm/humid climate, you’ll probably find you have to add the remaining 1/4 cup flour.
  3. Place the dough in a greased container, cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, until it’s puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk. I cheat and put this on my stove with the oven on, but not too close to the vent, or it will get too hot.
  4. While the dough is rising, place the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. See note above about changing the flavoring of the filling.IMG_0249
  5. After the dough has risen, deflate it and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, place the dough on a lightly greased or lightly floured surface (your preference), and roll/pat it into a 12″ circle about 1/4″ thick. Cut 3 1/2″ to 4″ circles with a cutter, large canning jar lid, or English muffin ring; you should have about 10 circles. Make sure the dough is thin! You get more circles which means more layers. I also cheated and re-rolled my scraps. 

  6. Spread the butter-herb filling on half of each circle, fold in half, and place fold-side down in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough, filling another 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Or place all of the circles in a 12″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″ tea loaf pan. Shape any scraps into small rolls; or butter them, and pile them into the wells of a muffin tin. They won’t look pretty, but they’ll taste just fine. Divide out the butter before spreading so you know it’s divided evenly.IMG_0253
  7. Cover the pan(s) with greased plastic and let the dough rise for about 90 minutes, until it’s puffy and starting to fill the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.IMG_0254
  8. Uncover the loaves, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes. Bread baked in a ceramic pan will take 5 to 7 minutes longer to bake than in a metal one. Tent the loaves with foil if they look like they’re browning too quickly.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven; brush it with additional melted butter, if desired. Turn the loaves out of the pan, and serve warm. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

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    Finished and ready to inhale

Lucky Ice Cream Pie

 

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I love any excuse to make something delicious. Christmas, Mother’s Day, Arbor Day, it doesn’t matter to me as long as I can make something. This year my St. Patrick’s day was also inspired by another holiday, pi day.

I’ve seen a lot of recipes that utilize the marshmallows in lucky charms, but seem to neglect the poor cereal. All I can think of is that lonely box of de-marshmallowed cereal. So I utilized the cereal to make a pressed crust to form the base of the pie.

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A few tips for making this as well. You don’t need to warm up the ice cream before mixing it, that’s why I used the stand mixer.  If you let the pie sit overnight the marshmallows soften up nicely from the moisture but still add texture. Also, gel food colorings like americolor are best for this sort of thing, and you can change up the color or flavor of the ice cream for other holidays.

 

Lucky Ice Cream Pie

 

Lucky Charms crust

  • 4 ounces lucky charms cereal, marshmallows set aside
  • 3 ounces butter, melted
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
  1. Place cereal in a food processor and process until broken in to small pieces. 20170315_213842
  2. Transfer cereal to a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.
  3. Press crust mixture evenly in to a pie tin.20170315_233944
  4. Bale for 8 minutes. Cool completely before use.

 

Marshmallow ice cream filling

  • 1 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 cups lucky charms marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups Marshmallow fluff
  • green food gel coloring

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  1. Place 3/4 of the ice cream in a stand mixer with 3 drops of green food coloring. Mix until evenly colored and smooth.20170315_234037
  2. Quickly fold both marshmallows in to the ice cream. 20170315_234134
  3. Place the filling in the cooled pie shell, and carefully spread evenly in the shell.20170315_234433
  4. Freeze for at least 2 hours.20170315_234545

 

Whipped cream cloud topping

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lucky charms marshmallows
  • gold dragees
  • rainbow sprinkles

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  1. Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff but not over whipped.
  2. Place in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
  3. Pipe various size dollops across the top of the pie, covering the ice cream.20170316_235452
  4. Sprinkle with gold dragees, rainbow sprinkles and extra lucky charms marshmallows.20170317_000011
  5. Enjoy!

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Happy pi day!

I’ve been celebrating pi day for at least 14 years now (we won’t talk about how old this makes me). It started when a coworker, who knew my love of baking and all things nerdy told me about it. I celebrated this was a pretty mediocre tasting, but great looking cherry pie. This pie managed to gain quite a bit of Internet fame, and I still see it around every pi day.

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The original

 

I’ve made a few more pi pies, including a pretty great peanut butter chocolate pretzel pie. Or just what ever pie would strike my fancy. One year I even toted 2 pies out to Arizona because I went out to watch spring training and couldn’t stand to miss pi day, even if I was out of town.

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peanut butter pretzel pi pie

Over time my friends and I started going out every pi day to celebrate and eat pie. It became our tradition. The location would vary, people would come and go over the years but it was our tradition.

 

Time has gone by and our tradition has slowly faded but I can’t pass up a slice of pie on march 14th. So to celebrate this year, I offer up my favorite pie dough and some pictures of my favorite pies.

Pie dough (makes enough crust for 2 pies)

  • 140 g + 165 g Ap flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 227 g cold butter, cut in to small pieces
  • 58 g water
  1. Mix first amount of flour, salt and butter in a mixer until mixture forms marble sized pieces.
  2. Add remaining flour, mix for 10 seconds.
  3. Add water, mix until incorporated.
  4. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until completely cold.
  5. Roll out to 1/4″ thick. Place dough in a pie pan. Cut off anything dough going more than a ½ inch over the side of the pan. Crimp edges and cool until solid.

 

Stanley’s Wet Goods

I can’t even begin to say how proud I am of my brother in law John. He’s smart, hard working and gets on well with my crazy family. After years of working in aerospace, he decided to take a leap and do what he really loves. This is why he opened Stanley’s Wet Goods, in Culver City, CA.

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The Stanleys

I always knew he had great taste in in wine and spirits as well as a good design aesthetic but I was still blown away when I first saw the shop, and it didn’t even have any of the wines out yet. When you walk in, to the left you see geometric wood shelving lining the wall from floor to ceiling, filled with wine from and some pretty cool vintage George Briard ice buckets. To the right you see the bar area, beer cooler and spirits. The whole area is topped by a low ceiling made up of a striking wood chevron pattern that continues outside to the front of the store.

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Shelving and ice buckets
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Checking out the newly opened store

The amount of thought and care put in to the store is very apparent. The wines are categorized by country, and for larger wine production countries like France and Italy, separated out by region. The selections are well thought out and varied. On the far wall there’s also a cooler for champagne and some wines so they’re ready to drink.

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Trying some of the goods at home. I’m particularly excited about the passion fruit Berliner weisse

By the bar area you have the beer and spirits. The beer selection isn’t huge, but there’s a good variety of types of beers and locations as well as a nice selection of ciders. The spirits aren’t your run of the mill bottles. You’ll see some familiar items, but also some new and interesting spirits to try. There’s also a nice selection of bitters, vermouth, and other mixers for cocktails. One of my favorite things about the spirits section is all of the bottles have black tags explaining what they are and a few of the bitters even include recipes on the tags. It’s this attention to detail that I really love.

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Spirits
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Bitters and recipes

The bar it’s self serves up wines, beers and a handful of mixed drinks. It gives you a great chance to try out some of the products you see in the shop and enlist the help of the knowledgeable staff in choosing more items to take home and what you can do with them. The shop is also just a block away from downtown Culver, so you can stop in for a drink during your night out, or even grab a bottle to bring to dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.

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Bustling bar area

I truly wish him the best, and I hope that everyone will get a chance to see what a great place he started.