Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do You Remember Me?

Yeah. So ummm. It's been awhile. How've you been? Whatcha been up to? Oh really? Wow. Very interesting. Oh. Me? Well, not much. Just school, work, kid. Same ole same ole.

I've been keeping busy in the dessert and pastry world. Not so much in bread. Which is a shame. I meant to make challah for Thanksgiving but I ended up pretty much doing everything for that dinner that there was no time for that. Instead of going through a whole essay of work I've done I'll just share the pics:
My turkey. Isn't he pretty?

Orange tartlets.

Bunny groom's cake. Not my work but my friend helped out for this wedding.

Wedding Cake. This ended up being pretty tall. Or taller than I'm used to dealing with. It was a nightmare getting it set up.

P.S. Cassie, you happy now? :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Just realized I haven't been here since August. But in my defense my computer's been sick and I haven't been able to upload pics. I could use my mom's mac but we don't like each other (the computer and me that is). I have been busy. I've finished almost all my culinary classes, I'm finishing up my gen ed right now, and I have a wedding cake this weekend and another possible job later. I've been taking pictures, so when I finally get around to uploading them somewhere I'll post all of them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hello... Again

To my few followers, I've missed you. I've been busy busy busy. I started one job and then ended up taking another job somewhere else. A steadier job with a possible future. Say it ain't so! It can't be true.

So anyways, I haven't had much time for anything. In my free time I sleep. I'm one of those now lol. But I just started my pastry class (and my last lab class for school, YIPPEE!) so whatever cute things I make there I'll try to take pictures and show it off. I am also entering a cake competition so there will be pictures from that. And I've been comissioned to do a couple cakes coming up so there will be pictures from that too.

And lastly, very certainly not least, my last chef instructor suggested I try getting into this pastry school down in Orlando. He says with a letter from him I'm as good as in so I just need to find the money to do it. Anyone willing to make a contribution? :) But that probably won't happen til next summer at the earliest.

I hope to get back on here again real soon with something worth talking about and showing off. Later.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blueberry Buckle From Cook's Illustrated

Wow! Long time no see. This will be super short because I'm coming from one appointment and getting ready to go to my job and really I should be spending this time with my little girl. But I made blueberry buckle the other day and I just had to share this pretty picture of it.

Buckle is a kind of coffee cake, so Cook's says, and it is, but as they also say it is mostly fruit. Like 2 parts fruit to 1 part batter. Hopefully tonight I'll sit down and add the recipe to this post. Be patient to the few of you that actually read this and haven't given up on me. :-P

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I have about five different blogs I follow that have done blueberry muffins or cupcakes and I've been craving them since the first blueberry post I saw. We had breakfast last night for dinner (my fave!) and I had my mom pick up some blueberries for my pancakes. Well, pancakes don't really need that many blueberries (especially since I'm really the only one that eats them that way) so I made Banana Blueberry Muffins. I found a recipe on epicurious.com, my go-to site for recipes, and found a banana chocolate chip muffin (check the recipe out) and switched out the chocolate for blueberries. The only thing I did really was increase the amount of blueberries. I think I put in a cup but I say add as many as you like. These are very very yummy and moist. I should have put crumble on top but I wasn't thinking. It was late and I was tired.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth everyone! I know I'm late but I was a little busy. This is going to be very short today. This is another decorated cookie entry. So recipes are still the same. Same sugar cookies. Same royal icing. But anyways, I made these cookies with my little girl. I'm hoping to make this something we do every holiday: I make the fancy cookies while she paints them. Eventually she'll get into decorating them too and we'll be a pair of decorating cookie fools! So here she is showing off her cookies and may I just say, she did a spectacular job, just look at the pride in her eyes.

And here's my take on the Fourth of July cookies.

Hope you had fun and enjoyed fireworks somewhere, if not here's a pic of what I saw.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Southern Sweet Tea Cake

My mom recently discovered this sweet tea flavored vodka and she brought some home the other day. We tasted it and it tastes like someone added a lot of vodka to their sweet tea. Which I have no clue why anyone would want to do that. I'm not a fan of vodka so this isn't something I'd drink straight and I can't think of what to mix it with. But my brain got to churning and thought about Sweet Tea cupcakes and cakes. I took my basic yellow cake recipe and substituted this sweet tea vodka for the dairy (milk, sour cream, yogurt). The outcome was OK but the vodka taste was a little strong, which I thought was weird. But I stayed with my idea. This time I made a batch of the same yellow cake but I brewed myself some really strong tea and used that instead of milk, yogurt or sour cream. That outcome was better, not a strong tea flavor but still good. Next time I might brew even stronger tea.
So, I wanted the buttercream to match of course. Right? So, in this case I just used a simple buttercream: 1 part butter, 2 parts powdered sugar. I brewed some more really strong tea and used that in place of vanilla. I added just enough til it started to change in color, I think 3 T. Then tasted it. Still not very tea-ish but a good start. I frosted a cupcake and tasted. Still not very tea-ish. So I added a teaspoon of lemon extract (I would have used real lemon but I didn't have any), adjusted the powdered sugar cause it was getting too loose and tasted again (too much of this tasting could start to show at the beach, if you know what I mean). It tastes just like sweet tea with lemon. So cool. I frosted another cupcake and tasted again (oh dear lord, again) and it was so good. I still think I need to make really really strong tea. But I'm working on it.

So, if you have any ideas about what to do with that sweet tea vodka, let me know. I don't drink vodka straight so if you have ideas of what to mix it with let me know.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Since the last time I was here I've gotten a tattoo. Actually, I started it awhile back and finished since last time I blogged. It's dogwood flowers. The white one represents my grandaddy and the three pink dogwoods are my mom, my daughter and me. And each one is a generation of Virginians.I did a cake for a friend’s sister who is back in the states after living in Japan for awhile. Her husband got new orders for Virginia Beach, so everyone’s really excited to have them back.
And I've been to a concert.I took my term finals for school, started my Food Manager’s Certificate classes and now I’m working on more cookies. A friend’s birthday is coming up this week and I was wondering what to get him. Finally, I figured I’d make him something and so I’m making him “edible panties”. Heehee. I took my bikini bottom cookie cutters and made them look like panties. Here’s hoping he likes them.

P.S. He loved them!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cupcake Project

I was given a project recently to research and come up with recipes for gluten free and organic cupcakes. Organic was easy. Just replace all your ingredients with certified organic ingredients. Certified being the key word. Or it will say USDA certified. But I've never made anything 100% organic and never tasted a cake or cupcake that was made with all organic ingredients. Let me just say that when you taste it organic does make a difference. There's nothing overwhelmingly different about it, but it definitely doesn't taste chemically at all. And the color is very earthy and beautiful. I loved it!
When I started this project though I started with the gluten free recipes. In the research I did I found a lot of people saying that you just have to play around with different gluten free products. I bought almond flour, white rice flour and quinoa flour. The quinoa flour was a total mistake. I've had quinoa before and didn't notice anything strong about it. So, I thought I'd give it a try. Oh-my-God! Quinoa stinks to high heaven! I gave the raw batter a taste despite the smell but didn't really taste anything weird or off. But as they were baking the smell got worse and I couldn't bring myself to taste the final product. I don't know what quinoa flour would be good for because if it smells like that for anything, even bread, I wouldn't be able to eat it. If you have any suggestions I'm willing to take them. I have a practically full bag of the stuff and nothing to do with it.
The very very first batch I did was with just rice flour. I took my basic yellow cake recipe and converted it for rice flour (I'll give you the links I found for this research at the end of this entry). The final cupcake came out fine but not great, kinda dry.
The raw rice cupcake.
The next batch I did was with just almond flour. That didn't work out too well. The batter seemed to be doing fine halfway through its baking. But then ten minutes after I checked it the first time it appeared to have bunt but was still liquidy-ish. So then I split it and my next batch was half almond, half rice. Those came out great. The only thing I would do differently is add more buttermilk since they came out slightly dry.
Then I started in on my chocolate cupcakes. I kept with the same idea half rice flour and half nut flour. I happened to have hazelnuts in the house doing nothing so I ground those up into a flour and used that in a batch of chocolate. They are so good. The hazelnut adds a very distinct flavor. Those cupcakes would be great with orange meringue buttercream. Yummmmm...
The other chocolate batch I did was with almond flour and rice flour and they were also very good. They taste just like a chocolate cupcake and they got the little girl approval and the mom approval.
The thing about cooking gluten free is that you have to make up for the elasticity you give up when you take out the gluten. So, sources suggested to use xanthan gum to replace it safely for a gluten free diet. All the recipes I used were half recipes so I used only half a teaspoon since the package suggests to add 1 teasppon. The other thing I noticed, and I've heard about this before, was that potato starch helps create a "tender, moist crumb" (per Bob's Red Mill). So, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of that to each recipe too.
Now, it's time to plug a couple things. When making the organic cupcakes I used Simply Organic vanilla extract. I usually use it anyways because it is my preferred vanilla extract. And it's amazinly cheap for being organic. But when you open the bottle it smells like vanilla. It doesn't smell like alcohol. And you can actually put some of this stuff on the tip of your finger and taste it and not get a buzz. So, I figure if it smells good and tastes good before you even use it in a recipe then it's good enough to go into the recipe. The next thing isn't really a plug so much as I want to show you what sugar looks like when it hasn't been manhandled and mutilated. It kinda looks like the sugar you know but it's not super white. It's a nice off white color. Ever since taking a couple classes at school where some of the chefs get really heated up about the subject of organic food I always give my unorganic food a second thought. I can't afford to eat all organic right now but I prefer it over manhandled and processed any day.
See? Isn't it so pretty?
So, I've learned that gluten free can be yummy. Very yummy indeed. And organic cupcakes are soooooo yummy. (Yes yes, I know I use yummy a lot) Now go out there and play around in your kitchen!

Wheat-Free Gluten-Free Baking Flour Conversions and Binding Agents Simplify Recipes

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Cookies Part I

"She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellowpolka dot bikini." Oh sorry, I got the song stuck in my head while I was decorating these cookies today. It makes me think of one of life's greatest questions: is it yellow polka dots or a yellow bikini with polka dots? You decide.
Or maybe we can just scrap that altogether and go for the red polka dot bikini.

And as you see I also worked on some school houses. It is my daughter's last day of school Friday and I made cookies for the teachers as a little (very little) thank you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

So, ummmm, yeah, I quit my job yesterday. I know it may sound like a stupid move now a days but I do have another job lined up starting around Fathers Day. My boss yanked my last straw and I was not going to put up with it anymore. So, maybe now I'll have more time to play around the kitchen until my new job starts. This week I had played around a little bit. I had a cake to make for my step-dad's aunt who turned 91. I made a white cake for her and had leftover egg yolks because of it so I found a recipe for lemon curd. I just had to figure out what to do with it. And here's what I did:

After I found that recipe for lemon curd online I decided to look through a few cookbooks I have. I didn't have to look too much because I picked up The Art & Soul of Baking first and found Lemon Meringue Tartlets. I tried their lemon curd instead of what I found online. And their recipe asks for shredded phyllo but I was trying to use what I had so I used their other suggestion of Vanilla Shortcrust Dough. I do this all really late at night so I don't have many pictures except the final product.

This is the Lemon Meringue Tartlet. I was going for a more rustic look in the beginning but it wasn't working out so I smoothed all the meringues down before toasting them and then with the left over lemon rinds from the lemon curd I made candied lemon zest to sprinkle over each tartlet. For candied lemon zest see my candied orange peel entry. It didn't take nearly as long to candy lemon zest as it does to candy peels though.

And this is the birthday cake I made that made the lemon curd possible. It looks like a cute little mini wedding cake. It's 4", 6", and 8" white cakes filled with strawberry preserves (I used Polander's strawberry spread) and frosted with good ole' buttercream. I use 1 pound of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup veg shortening and beat those until smooth then add four cups of powdered sugar and beat that until smooth then keep adding 1 cup of powdered sugar until it reaches the right stiffness, usually a total of 8 cups of powdered sugar. Then I use about 1 T of clear vanilla extract and whatever colored dye I may need if I need it.

Lemon Curd

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 cup minus 1 T sugar

3/4 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2" pieces

  1. Fill large bowlhalfway with ice water and set aside. Fill bottom of double boiler with 2" of water and bring to a boil
  2. Place eggs, egg yolks, and sugar into top portion of double boiler off the heat and whisk til blended. Add the lemon juice and mix. Place egg mixture over double boiler and whisk constantly but not vigorously scraping the sides to make sure the mixture doesn't scramble. Do this for about 7 minutes. A finished curd should register 180* and hold its shape when picked up and dropped back in. (When I did this it didn't necessarily retain its shape but you could see where it had dropped when I picked it up and dropped it back in, like a ghosting of lemon curd. Does that make sense? Let me know if it doesn't.)
  3. Remove from heat from heat and strain through a mine mesh strainer set over another bowl. Add the cold butter peices and let them set for a little bit to let them melt then whisk them in until smooth and there is no more chunks of butter. Press plastic wrap over surface of curd and set bowl in the bowl of ice water. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Can also be made with lime juice or passionfruit juice.

Vanilla Shortcrust Dough

1 3/4 cups unbleached AP Flour

1/4 sugar

1/4 t salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces

2 large egg yolks

2 t pure vanilla extract

1 to 3 teaspoons water

  1. This can be done by and or in a food processor. I didn't feel like pulling out my food processor so I did it by hand and therefore that is the way I'll tell you how to do it. First mix togther the egg yolks, vanilla and 1 t water together and set aside. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together and add the cold butter pieces. Toss the butter in to coat in flour then either with your hands or a cutter work the butter in until it resembles bread crumbs or crushed crackers. If the butter starts to soften stick it back in the frige for a little bit. Add the wet mix into the dry mix and mix with a fork until evenly distributed. It should look crumbly but hold together when pressed together. If too dry add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it looks like that.
  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to bring it all together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refirgerate for about 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to make shells roll dough out to 1/4" thickness and cut circles out that will be big enough to fit into a muffin tin, I think I cut mine out to about 5" circles. Spray muffin tins with oil and fit dough circles into each muffin cup. (I didn't have pie weights or beans so I poked the bottom of each tart with a fork to try to prevent risig and it worked pretty well. You may have to do it again halfway through the baking process). Freeze the shells for about ten minutes or until just chilled then bake them in a 375* oven for about 15 minutes or untill golden brown. When completely baked let cool on a cooling rack then turn out and let them completely cool before filling.


4 large egg whites

10 T sugar

  1. Bring the double boiler back out. Fill bottom of double boiler with two inches of water and bring to a boil. In the top of the double boiler whisk together the egg whites and sugar until blended. Place over double boiler and continually whisk while over heat. Keep an eye on the temperature of the egg whites. It needs to reach 160* and can happen pretty quickly. When checking the temperature take the egg whites off the heat. Just keep whisking while on the heat or you end up with scrambled eggs.
  2. When it reaches 160* place in bowl of stand mixer and whip until cooled, increased in volume and look like marshmallow.


  1. Spoon curd into tart shells. There should be left over curd. Spoon meringue over each tart. Art & Soul says to spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe it onto tarts but I just spooned it on and smoothed it out. Toast under broiler making sure to keep rotating as to not burn the meringue.
  2. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009


OK. I have a few before class starts and I forgot the book I'm supposed to be reading at home. They blocked facebook and myspace so here I am bored and my good friend Cassie at HTEAC thankfully provided me with distraction. Here it goes:

Metal or non-stick? Depends on what I'm cooking. If it's sturdy enough - metal.

Cast iron or stainless? Cast iron.

Cutting board: silicone or wood? Wood

Knife: carbon steel or stainless? whatever I can get my hands on. My knife kits is stainless I believe

Kitchenaid or hand mixer? I have the Kitchenaid stand mixer and hand mixer

Cooktop: gas, electric, induction? electric :( and not loving it

Side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top? freezer on top. I don't really have a professional opinion but I love the freezer on the bottom.

Apron or whoops? At school and work aprons are a must but at home I usually just let it fly. But my mom's making me an apron or two.

Mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer? Depends on what I'm in the mood for.

Sandwich or wrap? SANDWICH!

PB & _________ ? raspberry preserves

Pancakes: syrup or applesauce? maple

Cake: scratch or mix?once again, depends on what I have time for. I always prefer to do it myself but if time it tight then mix

Chili: beans or no? NO!

Napkin: cloth or paper? cloth if I'm eatting out but hell if I need something else to wash.

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out? I would love to do it myself but there's nothing like NC BBQ.

Chicken: white or dark?dark, I love the thigh meat

Ice cream: cone or dish? dish, I like lots of ooey gooey sauce on my ice cream.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fun With Fondant

I got another mold the other day from firstimpressionsmolds.com for a cake I'm doing for a friend. I got to playing with it yesterday and thought I'd show you the fun I had. One I went to town with and actually painted with luster dust and petal dust to make it look like the Marine Corp seal. The other one I dusted all gold which is what my friend asked for for her cake I'm doing in June. Voila!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bridal Shower Cake

I just finished doing a cake for a bridal shower. I was given free reign again and was only told that the bridesmaids are wearing navy blue. I already knew I wanted to work on my lace so I just went with the navy blue base and white lace on top. As I decorated it I added to it, like the roses and the fleur de lis. And here's my final product. I hope you like it. More importanly, I hope the customer likes the cake.

Here are some detail shots:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby Shower Sugar Cookies

So, those sugar cookies I told you about. Yeah, I got a job to do 3 dozen cookies for a baby shower for a baby girl. And thank God cause I do way better with cute girrly things than boy stuff. I've done these onesie cookies before for another baby shower as an experiment I threw in with a cake I did for hire. So sometimes do things for free pays off. At least I'll keep telling myself that :)
Not much to say about these. I mentioned previously that I did these same cookies for Valentine's Day and you can find the recipe at that blog entry. The same person that put this order in is also ordering a bridal shower cake and if she approves I want to do sugar cookies in the shape of lingerie. I'm already going to the store tomorrow to buy the cookie cutters anyways. If anything they can be swimsuits for the summer.

So anyways, here are a few of my favorite things.... Oooops, sorry. Got musicals on the head a little bit:

"That would be... harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. And world peace!" --Gracie Hart

Who wants to be a doctor when they grow up?!? I wanna be a rock star!
Give peace a chance.

Tiny baby shout out to HTEAC.

Hey girl! Wassup?

Second star to the right, and straight on til morning.