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I have to dig a bit more to find the cake recipes in my files that include lard.

Meanwhile, I found this one. at Recipe Source.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I just called my aunt and asked her about pork in cake. She says her grandmother, Meemaw, made mincemeat with ground cooked pork and used it in cakes, pies, fried pies and steamed puddings. She also made a cake with cornmeal and mincemeat. She is going to go through her recipe files and see what she can find.

She said she will call me later today and give me the ingredients for the mincemeat.

If it is what I remember my grandmother making (dad's side of the family), it is delicious mincemeat.

I make mincemeat and use beef jerky, ground of course, in it and it also makes a very nice mincemeat, not nearly as sweet as the stuff in the jars.

More to come!!!

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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***thanks*** andiesenji!

I saw several recipes out on the internet for pork cakes, they seem to vary between chopped pork fat liquefied in boiling water (kind of a "lard-rendering-for-dummies") vs. ground pork sausage, either of which are in lieu of butter or shortening. I'd love to try a "Meemaw" recipe!

It was kind of interesting, all of the recipes I saw out there were listed as very old, early 1900's or late 1800's, mostly on "traditional" or "legacy" recipe web sites. I like the idea of digging up an old way of cooking and reviving it.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Oh no, my entire post just disappeared into thin air...

Just about to order fruit for cakes (should do it earlier, but I have to wait for the first paycheck of the fall semester every year :sad: )

Which fruits/combinations do you like?

I sometimes use my mother's and grandmother's recipes, sometimes more modern recipes, but I rarely use currants, and never many of them (they taste bitter to me), and always add quite a lot of shredded fresh ginger.

One of the simplest and most successful recipes I've found on the net is this British ginger ale fruit cake

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I'm linking over to a thread on the Southern Food Culture forum on Pork Cake...here. It's a marvelous recipe that Andie shared for Pork Mincemeat Cake. It is, quite simply, one of the best fruit cakes I've ever had. Don't be put off by the pork! You don't really taste pork, but it adds a richness and flavor that's missing from a lot of other recipes. It's definitely made a fruit cake and pork fat convert out of me.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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I'm going to make the Jamaican Black Cake. If I divide the batter between smaller pans ( say, 8 inch springforms instead of 10 inch and the rest of the batter in mini loaf pans ) how long must I bake them?

The recipe says 2 hours for the 10 inch springforms, so should I reduce baking time to about 1 1/2 hours? Or just do the "jab with a skewer" test?

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This is the holiday fruitcake I've been making over the past 2 or 3 years and it gets raves every time. The name says it all! Full of the rich flavours of subtly sweet dried fruit, delicate spices and soft nuts; it is heady with the perfume of just enough bourbon. It doesn't keep as long as the traditional cakes, but will last a couple of weeks if stored in the refrigerator.

Golden New-Fashioned Dried Fruitcake with Cashews, Pistachios and Bourbon

Recipe By :Ragen Daley - "In The Sweet Kitchen"

Do make the effort to find unsulphured dried fruit, as the flavour is so much better. If this is impossible, try at least to buy organic fruit

1 1/2 cups chopped dried peaches

1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots

1 cup chopped dried pears

3/4 cup plump golden raisins

1/2 cup Muscat or Lexia raisins

3 tbsps finely chopped candied orange zest -- homemade or best quality

1 cup bourbon

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground mace

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups lightly roasted unsalted cashews

2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios

1 ripe pear

1 cup unsalted butter -- room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs -- room temperature

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp Pure Vanilla extract

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut -- optional

*All of the dried fruit should be chopped to about the size of large raisins.

The day before you plan to bake the cakes, combine the chopped peaches, apricots, pears, both types of raisins and the candied zest in a non-reactive jug or bowl. Add the bourbon and stir to coat the fruit. Cover tightly and leave for 7-8 hours, tossing occasionally to distribute the alcohol.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease two (9 ½ x 5 ½ inches) metal loaf pans and line the bottoms and up the two long sides with pieces of parchment paper. Let the paper overhang the edges of the sides by an inch or so. Lightly grease the paper, then set the pans aside. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, finely grind 1 ½ cups of the cashews; add to the sifted flour mixture. Coarsely chop the remaining ½ cup cashews and the pistachios. Set these aside. Peel, core and coarsely grate the pear, then add it to the macerating fruit and bourbon mixture.

In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. The batter may seem to curdle at this point, but it will come together beautifully as the dry ingredients are added. Fold in the flour and ground cashew mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl often, making sure you reach the very bottom. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla.

If your stand mixer or other mixing bowl is too small to accommodate the batter as well as the macerating fruit and the chopped nuts, transfer to a larger bowl. Fold in the fruit and nuts, including the coconut, if using, in several stages, evenly distributing the goodies. Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Set the pans in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, rotating the pans several times during the baking so the cakes bake evenly. The tops of the finished cakes should be firm and slightly springy, and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of each cake should come out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes then turn them out and cool completely before wrapping and storing. The cakes are beset when aged for 2 days in the refrigerator before being cut and served. Well-wrapped and chilled, this light cake will last up to 2 ½ weeks. For the very best flavour, let it come to room temperature before serving.

Rover

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I made the Jamaican Spiced Rum Cake from the New York Times Cookbook this year, and judging from the mini muffins that I made, it's my favorite recipe so far. I used brandy instead of rum, and I cut WAY down on citron -- substituting 1/2 c. candied lemon peel and about 1/3 c. citron instead, and I left out the glace cherries altogether. It has figs, dates, prunes, raisins, currants, candied orange peel and toasted almonds in it, and it makes two loaf cakes (plus 6 mini muffins). Another "variation" on fruitcake is Panforte, which is another favorite of mine.

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  • 8 months later...

I abhor typical fruitcake with the whole pieces of fruits like candied cherries (red & green), citron and other fruits. I find them dry and typically lacking in any flavor.

Last December, my boss made a southern style fruit cake and she didn't even add any whiskey to it. It was just awful.

However I am a big fan of the Jamaican/West Indian style fruitcake which many of you have mentioned here. I have a large plastic bucket filled to the brim with pounds and pounds of ground up prunes, raisins, glacee cherries, dried mixed peel and currants, along with brown sugar, rum and port wine just waiting for late November to arrive (which is when I'll start baking).

Last year black cakes were my biggest selling cakes during the holiday season. I actually ran out of them before I had time to make more for Christmas. The fruit needs time to macerate (I've been soaking some of the fruit since last December and I added more to it yesterday) and the baked cakes need a few weeks to "mellow" after the rum & wine is poured into them.

To answer a couple of questions posted earlier in the thread:

1. Burnt sugar is used give black cake its color. It's also known as "browning" and is merely caramel color. It produces a darker colored cake than homemade burnt sugar (which is made by literally caramelizing white sugar in a saucepan with a little water over the stove). I prefer the commercial preparations since the homemade one imparts a burned taste to the cake that I don't like. Plus I like the darker color of a black cake made with commercial browning.

Here are some sources to order commercial "burnt sugar" and/or "browning" for those who don't have access to West Indian markets: http://www.sams247.com, http://www.buygracefoods.com/site/p...Browning_bottle

2. Overproof rum is stronger than regular rum. For last years batch of black cakes, I macerated my fruits in port wine & J. Wray and Nephew overproof Jamaican rum. That rum is enough to knock your socks off! I also used this rum to liberally "bathe" the finished cakes. They were a bit too strong for my taste. *whew* It took several weeks before they mellowed to a taste that I could actually enjoy. J. Wray and Nephew is expensive to find here in NYC (it's about $26 for a liter). But my sister brought me back several bottles from her trip to Jamaica last year, which cut my costs considerably. I'm going to Jamaica in October and will bring back a few bottles myself. But my use of it will be very limited this time around!

This year I'm macerating my fruits in regular rum. LOL

3. Many of the Caribbean islands (mainly those that have a British history) have a version of black cake. I read somewhere that it is derived from the English plum pudding but it was modified over time. That seems plausible to me. Of course each island thinks its version is the best. I've had versions from Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, St. Vincent - regardless of the island, I think black cake is delicious when it's made by a competent baker, regardless of ethnicity.

Edited by Kris (log)
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This thread is a real eye-opener. I admit to being one of those folks who think "fruitcake? eww!" because the immediate recollection is of those dry things with chunks of unnatural fruit. Why, why? I ask you, would anyone make green cherries (if that's what they are)...and maraschino cherries are an abomination. Gaah.

I do, however, like some fruits in breads. Stollen is wonderful stuff. Date cake is wonderful stuff. It's hard to go wrong with nuts. So as I read this, I think maybe, just maybe there are fruitcakes worth eating out there. I'm pretty sure they don't come in stores, though.

One of my favorite fruited cake recipes might just barely be within the realm of fruitcake, as I read this thread, because it has dried cherries, raisins, walnuts and bourbon. It's wonderful - a family favorite - and easy to boot: Liv's Mother's Kentucky Cake from the recipe collection at The Splendid Table's website.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello!

I am hoping to make a couple of kinds of fruit cake this yearfor the Christmas season, but I remember reading that you needed to make them about 6 months in advance in order to "cure" them by basting them with some sort of liquor every so often.

I am open to trying a variety of different kinds of cakes and comparing them when the time comes, so I would love to get some recipe suggestions (for someone who loves to bake, but doesn't have any professional experience or culinary education).

I was originally thinking of something with a dark, almost gingerbread-like spicy/molasses-y flavor - very moist and with high quality fruits. But I've been reading about some other types of fruit cakes, and am intrigued.

Also, can anyone tell me where I can order some good quality fruits, rather than buying the scarey red and green "fruit" at the grocery store?

I am also interested in the "curing" process. Do all fruit cakes share this? How often do you baste them? How do you store them? What liquor is used?

Thanks in advance!

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I am also interested in the "curing" process.  Do all fruit cakes share this?  How often do you baste them?  How do you store them?  What liquor is used?

I'm so glad you started this thread. I too, could use some help.

Many years ago I used to make fruit cakes for Christmas every year. The recipe I had was for a dark, spicy cake with lots of nuts and yes, the scary, candied fruits available at the grocery store.

I always baked them 6-8 weeks before Christmas & wrapped them in cheese cloth soaked with either brandy or bourbon (as I remember, I preferred the bourbon for this), then sealed them tightly in tin foil & stored them in a dark cupboard. Once a week, I would moisten (well, it was more like drench) the cheesecloth with more bourbon, re-wrap in the tinfoil & return to the cupboard. By Christmas they were quite lovely. Fruitcake jokes aside, people actually liked them. It was always a happy thing if they managed to outlast the holidays. A fragrant slice of fruitcake accompanied by a strong cup of coffee was a lovely breakfast on a snowy January morning.

Then life got complicated & I had to cut down on my Christmas baking. Somehow, over the years, I managed to lose the recipe. I has to be somewhere, but for the life of me I can't find it. Life is still complicated, but in the last few years I've come to miss making fruitcakes.

I too will be following this thread hoping for help.

Sigh, I also lost a really wonderful pfferneusse recipe, but I guess that would be another thread.

pat, who sorely regrets her disorganized past.

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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i use a pound cake base, and use just enough batter to hold the glace cherries, raisins, pecans, golden raisins, and other stuff together. i add all teh sweet spices. it shoudl be very heavy.

wrap it in foil and douse in brandy every week or so. yum.

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Alton Brown had a lovely episode of "Good Eats" all about fruitcake, including a recipe featuring all natural dried fruit, a goodly amount of booze, plus a routine for two weeks worth of dousing with more booze: link here.

Mind you, I have not had an opportunity to make this recipe myself, but as a hardcore fan of this much-maligned baked good, I thought the recipe looked pretty darn promising.

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The Alton Brown recipe listed above is excellent. I have been baking and giving out friut cakes for years. People will remember the gift forever. I live in California and get excellent dried fruit from Peteluma; very fresh. Traditional fruits as well as pluots, several varieties of peaches, cherries, etc Mail order available with free delivery over $24 at www.oldriverfruits.com

Also you can use your fruitcake batter to make drop cookies and distribute to those who are not "worthy" of their own cake. You can probably get about 24 good sized cookies out of the Alton Brown batter.

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Also, can anyone tell me where I can order some good quality fruits, rather than buying the scarey red and green "fruit" at the grocery store?

I am feeling inspired by this thread to start thinking about chrismas cake. I make a very traditional dark english fruit cake. I can't help you with a source for fruit, but I too am looking for a good online source for dried fruit, especially whole candied orange and lemon peel (makes a world of difference), preferably in the UK, that will ship internationally. Most standard ingredients for fruit cake aren't widely available in Denmark.

Thanks!

If there's any interest, I'll post the recipe for the fruit cake. We have it every christmas and had it as a wedding cake as well :-)

/Mette

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Also, can anyone tell me where I can order some good quality fruits, rather than buying the scarey red and green "fruit" at the grocery store?

If there's any interest, I'll post the recipe for the fruit cake. We have it every christmas and had it as a wedding cake as well :-)

/Mette

Yes! Expressing interest here.... it would be lovely if you could post the recipe.

pat w

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I posted some recipes last year, including this one which is quite different:

society donor

Posts: 3,191

Joined: 20-April 04

From: Southern California

Member No.: 17,399

This is my cocoa fruit cake.

I have recreated this from a recipe written in difficult-to-read, spidery handwriting in the journal of an ancestor with the entry dated 1690.

It is important to use Dutch process cocoa. I use King Arthur Flour's Double Dutch Cocoa and Black Cocoa Half and Half.

When glazed with the glaze at the end of the recipe, this cake will keep for several days at room temp and will stay incredibly moist with just a loose cover.

I have in the past made this cake ahead of time and wrapped it well in Aluminum foil and kept it in a cool place for 6 or more weeks. However I now live alone. When my family was still all together, I could not keep it more than a couple of days......to give you an idea of the way things used to be, the original "receipt" called for 6 pounds of twice-boulted flour and 3 full pound loaves of sugar well beaten..... 2 pounds of butter and 3 dozen eggs. I have cut it down to a manageable size.

FRUITED COCOA CAKE original recipe ca. 1690

1 cup BUTTER unsalted

1-1/2 tsp SALT kosher

1 tsp CINNAMON ground

1 tsp CLOVES, ground

1 tsp NUTMEG, ground

1 tsp ALLSPICE, ground

6 Tbsp COCOA, Dutch process

3 cups superfine SUGAR

4 large EGGS

3 Tsp BAKING SODA

4 cups, sifted FLOUR

1-1/2 cups CURRANTS

1-1/2 cups DRIED CHERRIES

1-1/2 cups WALNUTS, chopped or pecans or macadamia nuts, etc.

3 cups APPLESAUCE, unsweetened chunky style if you can find it, homemade is even better.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease and flour a deep 11" x 15" pan or 2 10-inch square pans or 2 holiday mold pans.

In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, salt, spices, cocoa and sugar. beat until smooth.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one.

Mix baking soda with flour. reserve 2 heaping tablespoons of the flour.

Instead of sifting the flour you can simply put it in a large bowl and run a wire whisk through it which does the same as sifting, i.e. fluffing it up a bit.

Add flour to batter alternately with applesauce.

Sprinkle the fruit and nuts with the reserved flour and fold into cake batter.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cake tests done. (deeper pans will require longer baking.

ORANGE GLAZE

GRATED PEEL OF 2 ORANGES

1/3 CUP SUGAR

1/4 CUP WATER

1 CUP ORANGE JUICE

3 TABLESPOONS GRAND MARNIER LIQUOR OR BRANDY

Combine ingredients in saucepan, bring to simmer, stirring constantly, continue cooking until liquid is reduced by 1/2. Drizzle over cake ( I use a turkey baster and a perforated spoon as the glaze is too hot to dip my fingers into which is usually the way I drizzle icing . After the glaze has set, decorate edges of the cake and the plate edges with powdered sugar sifted thru a fine strainer.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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      start dusting my flowers and leaves with luster dust to add a little depth and realism to them. For this project I just made "whimsical flowers" in that they really aren't any particular flower....they're just cartoonish and colorful. Well, the roses are, well, roses.....gotta have a few roses. In the background there, you can see sort of how I did the gumpaste umbrella. I happened to have a dessert cup at home that was well suited for it. I filled out the top with gumpaste and added "ribs" with gumpaste, then put some saran on the top of that and put a gumpaste disk on it. I then cut out the rounded parts between the ribs.....and voila....umbrella! This was the first thing I made because I wanted it to have the maximum amount of drying time. Now if I were really smart, I would have made not one, but two or even three umbrellas because stuff always breaks. Always. No matter how careful you are. Especially in a commercial kitchen.....not only do you have to worry about yourself but everyone else too. I make more flowers than I need because I always manage to break quite a few. But, as it was, I only made one umbrella since I was so cocky and sure of myself. Turns out I was lucky......this time! Ok, time to roll out some terra cotta colored fondant!

      Dust the table liberally with cornstarch and roll away. I've done this so much I can just eyeball how much fondant I'll need to cover a certain sized cake. When rolling out fondant, waste no time from the time you're done rolling til you get it on the cake, because it starts drying out right away. Drying out means yukky little cracks, and me no likey little cracks! So I race to walk-in, retrieve cake, and cover it quickly.

      Then I take my trusty little pizza wheel and cut the excess away. This excess will get kneaded back into the remainder of my fondant so that I'll have enough to cover the other pot. So I take the rounded pot out of the walk-in, and, after washing my hands like a surgeon, I use the warmth of my hands to smooth the buttercream out so I have a perfect surface on which to cover with fondant. I tried using latex gloves for doing smoothing, but they are too much of a barrier to my body warmth. I need that warmth to lightly soften the buttercream for the proper smoothing. And here we have a nice smooth surface for the fondant:

      Into the reach-in it goes to set up while I roll out my fondant.......and here it is covered, with the excess trimmed away. Notice that I trimmed off my plastic wrap quite a bit before I covered it. Otherwise I would have gotten into a wrestling match with it and the fondant.

      So back into the walk-in they go to stay firm while I take me a little breaky:

      This is the view out the back door of the kitchen. We look over the Kai-Tai Lagoon and the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately you can't see the Olympics in this picture because it's cloudy. But man, on a clear day......it's outstanding. Off to the right, beyond the trellis thing, is a large garden full of culinary things....a la Chez Panisse. We've got rosemary, bay, basil, fennel, oregano, chervil,onions, squashes (in the fall), thyme, decorative flowers, arugula, and more. Whenever we need herbs....just go out back. We get most of our produce from local farmers who come to our back door. One of the things I LOVE about Tinytown. It really beats the in-city large mass produce vendors. As I look out the back door, I sip on a latte that I made myself from our aging and undependable espresso machine. Luckily, today, I managed to pull a pretty good shot. Ok, break time over! Back to work! My next step is to turn my pots over. I will turn the larger pot over first. I slip my offset spatula underneath the saran wrap and lift the cake off, and set it aside on the table. An important thing to note: If I'd used a mousse, curd, or jam filling, I wouldn't have been able to do this so easily. With a refrigerated buttercream filling, the cake doesn't flex at all as I lift it. I managed to nick a little of my polyfoil covering with my spat when I went to lift the cake. Nuts. Oh well, I'll cover that with a flower later. I melt some white chocolate and smear some in the center of my board. I need to anchor the bottom pot so it doesn't slip around.

      I flip the bottom pot over, place it on top of my melted white chocolate, make sure it's centered, and peel the saran wrap off.

      My next step is to mark where I'm going to place my top pot, then insert straws within that area to support the weight of it. I decided to place the top pot slightly off center, and traced a circle with my paring knife to mark it. For most cake supports I use straws. They're easy to cut to fit, cheap, and they work. The only time I use wooden dowels is when there is an UNGODLY amount of weight or a weird center of gravity involved. I used to use regular heavy duty bar straws, until I discovered.......bubble tea straws! They are super heavy duty and very large.....they have to be for people to suck up that lovely bubble tea. I don't really think that fad is going to catch on here much in the states, but as long as I can get the straws I'm happy. I get them from an asian novelty wholesaler in Seattle. I think it's Viet-Wah, but can't remember for sure.

      Anyway, I insert the straw, mark it with my thumb where it's flush with the top of the cake, then pull the straw out and cut it. I use that straw as a measure to cut the rest of my straws. In this case I will use 5. One in the center and four around.

      Now I'm all ready to place the top pot on......oh, wait, except for a swirl of buttercream on top of the straws to anchor it a bit. Next, I use my melted white chocolate to adhere an appropriately sized round cardboard on the bottom of my top pot.

      Once that's set, I flip over the top pot, and place it on my bottom pot.

      Voila! Now, I really have to make sure that the top pot won't slide around, so I stick a few bamboo skewers down through the middle and through the cardboard til it hits the bottom board. I use the side of my needlenose pliers to pound the skewer down through. Now starts my very favorite part of this whole thing.....details! I figured that using my silicone lace impression molds will make great detailing on the pots. Here's the one I'm going to use to detail the bottom pot:

      I dust the inside of the mold with cornstarch........then roll out a quick piece of fondant, and roughly press it in:

      Then I place the top piece of the silicone impression on top, and roll it like crazy with a rolling pin. With the top part of the impression still in place, I pull off as much of the excess as I can.

      Then I remove the top piece, and pull all the ragged edges back in......

      Then I brush a little water on the back of the piece, and adhere it to the pot. I keep making them until the pattern has gone all the way 'round.

      I use a different lace mold to make a pattern on the top pot. Now it's time to do the rims. When I did the lace impressions around the pots, I used fondant, because I needed the stretchability of it to conform easily to the shape of the pot. A little stretchiness in this case is good. But when it's time to do the rims, I don't want ANY stretching going on whatsoever.....I want uniformly thick and perfectly straight strips, so for this I'm going to use modeling chocolate, which of course has been colored the same color as the fondant. See the neato embossing on my strip? I found that little embossing wheel at Seattle Pottery Supply, believe it or not, and it was cheap too. The embossers are interchangeable and it came with about 10 different patterns! I rolled out my strip, then embossed the pattern twice (one next to the other) then used my pizza wheel to cut nice straight even edges. I made two top strips and two bottom strips....the bottom strips are just plain.

      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
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