Monday, June 20, 2016

Alpha Bakers -- Cherry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Cherry Sweetie Pie. I have tried to make this pie, which is supposed to be comprised of sweet cherries and plums, twice now, and I can't seem to do it by the book. First of all, while cherries are in season, plums just aren't, and rhubarb and strawberries are everywhere. Second, while sweet cherries are one of life's greatest joys, they are just not the world's greatest pie ingredient. Pie is the achievement for which sour cherries were born. I prefer a pie of canned sour cherries to a sweet cherry pie, especially when I start thinking about how I could have just eaten all of those lovely cherries out of hand.
In the end, I ate a few too many of the cherries to make my pie an all-cherry pie, and I didn't even try with the plums, but my cherry rhubarb strawberry hybrid was a big hit, and Rose's cream cheese crust, which I sometimes find too bland, was flaky and lovely and got raves.
I served the pie after April Bloomfield's swiss chard cannelloni from her book A Girl and Her Greens, a dinner party recipe I'd been eyeing for a while, and which paid off in subtle, delicate deliciousness.
It was a good dinner party.

Alpha Bakers -- (Rum) Raisin Pepita Craisin Chestnut [Bread]

It isn't French Toast. It isn't cinnamon raisin bread. Listen, not everything in life turns out the way we planned. When life brings you soft, sweet, bread laden with pepitas, sunflower seeds, chestnuts, and dried cranberries, count your blessings and don't ask for Rum Raisin Royal French Toast, mmmkay?
This versatile loaf would be good for many uses, but it was torn to pieces by my part-time shelvers before it had half a chance of staling enough to be dipped in egg and fried. I'll call that a win.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Aloha Bakers - Lemon Icebox Cake

This week's bake was light and frothy, except for one bit, which was hard and knotty. First, let it be said, that this is my kind of cake. Billed as an icebox cake, a term I usually associate with wafer cookies and whipped cream, but which really applies to any cake that is as much cream as cake and needs some refrigerator time to truly come into its destiny.
This little beauty started out with a light lemony sponge/angel food, baked in a tube pan. Mine came out slightly wet and salty, but very workable. Next, a lemon curd is mixed into whipped cream is mixed into a gelatinized meringue. All went well until the gelatinization process, which was also around where I shorted out my scale with some spillage. Since it was clear that everything did not weigh 57555@#@$@ grams, I had to go on back into volume measures, which always makes me grumpy. Then, the gelatin just seemed...too stiff. I added a bit more water, and heated it up some more, but in the end what I ended up with were many knotty rubbery lumps and a bit too much water in the whole, which leaked out over the next few days as it rested in the refrigerator. If you look carefully at the photo of the completed cake, you can see a gelatin lump (slightly browner) discoloring the lower right hand quadrant.

I certainly wouldn't have sold it at a bakery, but I would certainly make it again and not screw it up so much. It was much admired at my workplace, lumps and all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Alpha Bakers -- Ganache Tartlets

These little puppies were the triumph they were more or less fated to be, being more or less truffles in mini pie shells. I used half leftover ganache from the ChocolaTea Cake and half almond milk ganache (a sleeper hit) from the alternative recipe.

Alpha Bakers -- Blueberry Buckle

This was the picture, a classic American farmhouse dessert. Worked out fine except for the part where I didn't leave enough breathing room when dropping the dough on the filling and it never quite...baked. Very pretty, but too sweet and a little too much raw batter underneath.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Alpha Bakers -- ChocolaTea Cake

Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting. Perfect for drop off in the office of your choice. I still make an effort to gift baked goods to my former officemates from time to time, and they are appreciative.

Confirmed. Delicious. Also got an email saying it was one of the best another colleague had had. Simple and delicious wins every time. I didn't have the powdered tea, but I achieved a similar effect with a touch of citric acid in the ganache.  

Alpha Bakers -- Crumpets

My aunt Nicki has an adorable quirk. She uses the word 'crumpet' to refer to the catchall category of breakfast pastry, but until a few years ago, had never eaten an actual crumpet. When we discovered this, we bought a few at Stop & Shop and ate them, but it wasn't until I had a crumpet at the famous Crumpet Shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market (a place much beloved by my friend Rachel, who has excellent taste in breakfast pastry and tea), that I started to think of crumpets as something I might like to make. In retrospect, they live on the spectrum between pancakes and English muffins, so what's not to like? I'll make and eat anything that can be spread with butter and jam. My crumpets came out well, although next time I'd make the batter a little wetter to encourage more hole creation. But there will probably be a next time, despite the alluring bewilderment of breakfast pastry that's out there. I'm kind of intrigued by these.