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

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

Trying new things

I’ve been bouncing around the idea to start a blog for a while. I bake like a fiend, and I’m always more than happy to teach what I know. I love fashion and the confidence it brings to me. I’m creative and crafty and I like the challenge in doing what I can to make stuff on my own. I love to Travel and share my adventures. And I love good food, no matter if it’s fine dinning or a whole in the wall, and sharing those great meals. This all seemed like it would make for an interesting blog.

My interest in doing this really peaked when my boyfriend and I went to Palm Springs for his birthday last August. I found an amazing deal at The Parker Palm Spring, and figured it was worth the splurge. We had such an amazing time I had to tell everyone I knew about it. This is when I decided I HAD to start a blog. Of course, like a lot of things in my life, I got busy and I didn’t get around to it until now, 6 months later.

In the end, here I am taking the plunge and hoping that there are people out there that want to share my experience and learn from what I can teach.

Going for that vintage tourist look.

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