Saturday, October 4, 2008

Not Dead

Well, it's been a busy year!

In December, I met the man of my dreams. In March I moved in with him, and in April I was offered a job that required we pack our crap and move. In June we moved and started our new jobs, and in August we were married!

My job is a good, but very stressful one (at times - I'm hoping that improves). With all that has been going on, I haven't done any blogging - here, or any of the other 5 blogs I run!

I have, however, been doing plenty of cooking. And now that cool weather is upon us again, I've been doing a bit more baking as well. I hope to catch up here, and maybe I will try to re-join Daring Bakers.

Hope all has been good in your lives!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'll be Back

Well, life has thrown lots of changes at me so far this year - and there's been another one! This is a good one - a new, awesome, job (more details after everything is in writing), and it, naturally, requires another move! I'll be relocating to Cape Cod, hopefully for June 1st. So, in the meantime, this blog is on hold - I simply have too much going on.

I hope I don't get booted from Daring Bakers....

Friends, I'll be in touch with new contact info soon. Foodies, I hope to see you sometime in June!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Will I ever bake again?

I think three people might read this blog - and to those three people, I apologize.

After spending the winter being sick, I have now packed my life into boxes, put them in storage, and moved in with my boyfriend while we look for a house to rent. Chaos - my life has been chaos. I fully understand why moving is ranked in the top ten of most stressful life events. Anyway, I wasn't able to do last month's Daring Bakers challenge, but I hope to get back to posting something, even if it is only DB challenges.

OK, off to cook something.

Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Been a Bad Winter

Wow, I haven't posted in forever. This past month has been from Hell - constant illness, cold, dark, wet weather - I have always hated February, which stinks because my birthday is in February.

In any event, I am not doing this month's Daring Bakers Challenge. I have been too sick, too busy, and too distracted to spend 7 hours doing something I'm not good at nor particularly enjoy - make bread. Hopefully March will be sweet - all the way around.

I have a bunch of recipes to post, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lemon Merigue Tartlets

This month was my third Daring Bakers Challenge, Lemon Meringue Pie. I was psyched about this recipe, as I loves me some lemon curd. I've actually done lemon meringue tartlets in the past, but it's probably been at least 10 years, and using a completely different recipe.

I thought this recipe was pretty straightforward, and none of the components was too difficult. I make a lot of pies, so the crust was standard - though this time I used my brand-new food processor. I have always made my crust by hand; this method was certainly faster
, and yielded good results. But I found that the dough was moister than normal, as it seemed to take more water before the dough "balled up." I'll have to play with this technique some more before I decide which method I like better.

The lemon curd recipe was different from the one I have used in the past, and after reading some comments about trouble people were having with it, I was a little worried. But it went off without a hitch, and the resulting curd was very nice - and very lemony! Just the way I like it.

I'm not a huge fan of traditional meringue; I like mine drier which calls for a much lower baking temp and longer baking time. And since I was afraid of the weeping problems some folks had, I decided to "cheat" a bit - I piped my meringue on parchment, baked them off, and then topped the filled tarts without baking them again. This worked like a charm, and I got to have my crunchier meringue.

Lastly, even though I have tartlette tins, I am currently into the more rustic look of using cupcake pans for the crust. I first did this in a pinch when I could find my fancy tins, but I really like the look and size of tarts made this way.

All in all, a great challenge!

The Recipe
(recipe from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets

Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.

Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have a Cool Yule (Log)

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a Yule Log. I'd never made a Yule Log before, and I was relieved that the recipe was not yeast based, so away I went.

The recipe provided had plenty of steps, and I wondered if this was going to be tough to get done given all of the other holiday stuff I have going on, but the steps don't actually take too terribly long. In spite of that, it took me forever to get the thing frosted for some reason.

The recipe is at the end of the post.

I used the recipe as written for the Genoise, opting not to flavor it with anything else. I've done Genoise before, so I had no problem with the batter. However, I baked it a touch too long, and the result was a bit of cracking when I rolled the log. But it did roll, so, it was all good.

I decided on chocolate buttercream rather than the coffee, and simply added a half cup of melted semi-sweet chocolate to the recipe. I could have used more, or perhaps a bittersweet chocolate for a stronger flavor, and I used rum. The result was delicious!

I filled the log with a layer of buttery caramel (one of my favorite things to make), and then a layer of the buttercream. After rolling, I brushed on some rum with a pastry brush (mostly because I thought the cake was too dry - and I like rum).

After frosting the log, I chose to make the meringue mushrooms, and am I more than happy with the way they came out. In fact, I handed one to Geoff, he bit into it, and said, "Um, what kind of mushroom is this?" He actually thought it was REAL! Ha!

The overall result is not overly pretty, but I do think it looks like a log! This has to travel tomorrow, so I didn't bother with any other decoration. I'm not nuts about this particular Genoise recipe (it's a bit too sweet for my taste), so if I make this again, I'd probably opt for the recipe I usually use (which also doesn't call for corn starch). All-in-all, a successful challenge, I'd say!


Yule Log

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Filling and frosting the log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Chestnut Chocolate Filling (adapted from Martha Stewart)

2/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chestnut cream
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup chestnut cream
1 tsp. salt

1. Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees;, 2 to 3 minutes.
Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form.

3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Joe Froggers

This year, I made a huge batch of Joe Froggers for my co-workers. I gave them each a bag of cookies, along with the recipe, which is more than 100 years old. The cookies, the way I make them anyway, take much like ginger snaps, and can be made thin or thick, snappy or soft. They rock with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

This recipe is as it appeared in the cookbook. This makes a LARGE batch of dough, and you can easily halve it. If you don’t want to roll the cookie dough, you can form balls with your hands and press flat. I find that a 350 oven works better than 375, and will keep them from burning on the bottom. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, and loosen while hot. I tend to make mine thinner and bake them a bit longer so they are more like ginger snaps.

The Story

A long time ago there was an old Negro who lived in Marblehead, MA. His name was Uncle Joe, and he lived on the edge of a frog pond, and the pond was called Uncle Joe’s Frog Pond.

Uncle Joe made the best molasses cookies of anyone in town, and people called them Joe Froggers because they were as plump and dark as the fat little frogs that lived in the pond. Marblehead fishermen would give the old man a jug of rum and he would make them a batch of Froggers. The fishermen liked them because they never got hard, and women packed them in sea chests for the men to take to sea.

Uncle Joe said what kept them soft was rum and sea water. But he wouldn’t tell how he made them. And when he died, people said, “That’s the end of Joe Froggers.”

But there was a woman named Mammy Cressy, who said she was Uncle Joe’s daughter, and Mammy Cressy gave the secret recipe to a fisherman’s wife. Then half the women in Marblehead began making Joe Froggers. With a pitcher of milk, Froggers became the town’s favorite Sunday night supper. They were also sold in a local bake shop. Children bought them, instead of candy, for a penny apiece, and they remained popular for several generations.

Joe Froggers, 6 inches in diameter, are made almost everyday in the old Village Tavern in Sturbridge, and on Sunday nights they are served with a pitcher of milk, in the Publick House. The chef got the recipe from a woman whose ancestors lived in Marblehead in the days of Uncle Joe. The recipe has been in her family for more than a hundred years.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups dark molasses
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 cups flour
  • ¼ cup rum
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. clove
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. allspice


  1. Cream shortening and sugar until light.
  2. Dissolve salt in water and mix with rum.
  3. Add baking soda to molasses.
  4. Sift flour with ginger, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. Add liquid ingredients alternately with flour mixture to creamed mixture. Stir well between additions. Dough should be sticky. Chill overnight in refrigerator.
  5. In morning, flour board and rolling pin. Roll dough out to ½ inch thickness. Cut with large cutter.
  6. Bake in 375 oven for 10 or 12 minutes, or until done.

    From: New England Cookbook
    By Eleanor Early
    Random House, 1954