Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Chocolate FloRo Elegance with Caramel Buttercream

This definitely is a cake for a special occasion.
wasn't kidding when she said it took 
eight hours to make.
The cake itself is simple
the frosting is multiple steps
interspersed with cooling times.
It is very sweet,
light and airy.
And wickedly delicious.

The combination of the chocolate cake
flavored with coffee
is nice.
Paired with the buttery caramel frosting
makes for a good combination.
 Glazed with Rose's
special chocolate lacquer
 off sets the sweetness.

Did anyone see the movie
with Bradley Cooper?
There is a scene
where he pours chocolate laquer
over a single layer cake
then blows gold dust over the top.
It's mesmerizing!
So of course I vowed
the next time we Alpha's
made chocolate lacquer
I would give it a try.

Definitely not as easy
as it looks.
Wonder how many takes
it took?
But so fun!

This cake is scrumptiously
I have enough leftover frosting
for a batch of cupcakes.
Yesterday was a very
long day of baking.
Next time I would
divide it into two days;
cake one day, frosting another.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Not being Jewish
Not being in a town with a great Jewish bakery
Not paying attention to the Babka at Jewish food festivals
Honey Cake!
All I knew about Babka was
the Seinfeld episode.
What a travesty.

Even with the pages of instructions
this Babka was another turning point
in my odyssey of learning to bake bread.
This was the first time 
I equated baking bread with the same
attitude as baking say, 
a cake or cookies.
For me,
a major milestone. 

It's a fun dough to work with,
sticky but fun.
It begins to puff up into
a fluffy pillowy dough
that requires a chill
to tame the added butter.
It is then rolled out and
smeared with filling,
I chose almond.

Unopened box of 
almond paste does not have 
an indefinite shelf life

Roly poly-ed into a log
then placed 
in a Bundt pan
for the last rise.

Almond paste, Muscavado sugar and Lyle's Golden Syrup
Vanilla, ground almonds 
bound together with an egg white

This Babka took an extra
half hour and still did not
rise as high as Rose said it should.
I gave up and popped it in the oven.

And then the aroma
started wafting about.
Testing the temperature
indicated it was done.

Is Babka a bread or 
is Babka a cake?
It's neither 
and it's both.
Mostly it is delicious.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Zealand Almond and Fig Bread

Rose's New Zealand 
Almond and Fig Bread
is a fun recipe.

The first step is making a sponge
and covering it with flour and yeast.
Always love this part.
The moment the sponge breaks
through the cover of flour
is total affirmation
is working its magic!

After oil and salt are added
to the dough 
and kneaded together.
it rests and rises,
then rolls into a rectangle
awaiting dried figs and almonds.

A bit more kneading
then a series of warm rises
with a fold over tucked in.

The dough is rolled into a ball,
brushed with water and 
rolled in almonds.
One last rise and off 
to the oven.

Out of the oven apricot
glaze is brushed over the hot bread.

As always,
the hardest part is waiting
for the bread to cool.
So curious to cut and see
how the interior looks.

It's really good spread with
beurre noisette
on a barely warm slice.
Tomorrow maybe
with cream cheese for breakfast
and a sigh of relief
that I'm finally caught up
with the Alpha Bread Bakers.

Toasted under the broiler with cream cheese

Ahhh, yes!
Nice on both counts.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Dutch Pecan Pi Sandies

It's Pi Day 2016

So in honor of this great occasion
Rose's  scrumptious 
Dutch Pecan Sandie cookies
have been converted into a pie.
Well, technically a tart.
With a sugar topping.

Pecans meant to blitz with flour, not sugar.

Wish I could say it was
clever inspiration
but in fact,
it was due to a bumbling mistake.

I was so excited to be using the new
Mini Cuisinart Plus
that my daughter sent for my birthday
that I didn't pay close enough attention.
The previous Mini Cuisinart,
which faithfully saw me through
Rose's Heavenly Cakes
and half way through The Baking Bible,
finally met it's demise.
The motor still works but the
blade doesn't spin.

Before baked

But I carried on
and hoped the sugar and pecans
would cream
with the Buerre Noisette.
It looked like buttercream,
as Rose indicated,
but the flour would not 
incorporate properly.
The dough was crumbly.
After reading Marie's
it didn't look like her's at all. 
I didn't think mine would
blend into a dough
that could be rolled.
So I tipped the whole thing
into a tart pan,
tapped it down,
scored and sugared the top,
like British shortbread,
chilled and baked.

Out of the oven

I scored it again while still warm,
removing the ring and let it cool.

Must say,
it's rather good!
This is an amazing recipe,
nothing at all like
the Keebler Elves'
Pecan Sandies
of my youth.

The kitchen smelled incredible
while they baked.

I would have loved
drizzled chocolate
over the top
I followed the recipe
it is delicious.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Friday, March 11, 2016

Pretzel Bites

Note to self:
Never assume the marker in a cookbook is 
for the recipe you intend to bake.

I somehow managed to pull the ultimate
and baked the wrong recipe entirely.
I read through the recipe, 
bought both types of flour,
and finally carved out time to 
catch up on bread baking with
The Bread Bible Bakers.

Feeling quite pleased until
I reached the part that said to
form into a round loaf or put in a loaf pan.
Huh?  Thought they were supposed
to be shaped into little footballs?

Flipping back I finally notice
I made Basic Hearth Bread.
I have no idea.
Maybe my brain can't function without sugar.

So today I started again and it's an easy recipe
except my dough was very sticky
and didn't rise much.
I didn't hold out much hope
but boiled them in baking soda water
(instead of the lye step)
then brushed the tops
with beaten egg yolk.

Totally surprised 
to open the oven
and find perfectly browned
little rolls.

They are tasty tid bits.
Nice and soft and chewy.
Really good with
spicy Coleman's mustard.

I swear Rose is a magician.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Monday, March 7, 2016

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Silk Meringue Buttercream

Rose's Coconut Cupcakes are truly delicious.
Even my husband, lifelong coconut phobic,
liked the one without toasted coconut on top.
As Rose's cakes goes, this is probably
one of the easiest.
Canned coconut milk is everywhere these days.
I found organic at Trader Joe's. 

It made twenty four mini cupcakes 
and nine regular size.

clued me in on the baking time for 
the mini's.  I'm never sure
when a different size pan is used.

The Coconut Butter Cream was 
a three part production
but not complicated.
It was fun learning to make a custard
with coconut milk.
This was mixed together with butter, sugar, whipped
egg whites and Coconut rum.
I added extra coconut extract instead and it was fine.

 I came very close to dropping out of
the Alpha Bakers group this past week.
After watching more than a dozen
documentaries on sugar
it became quite clear
sugar is not my friend.
In fact, it made me bloody furious.
And I don't even drink sodas.

Well, you are probably thinking,
what is the big deal?
If you are at all curious
here are a few to watch.



or the grand slam

and the eye opening reality of 
where sugar comes from

Just the tip of documentaries from
top medical doctors around the world.
Obesity is not the only fallout.
There is something known as
Thin on the outside
Fat on the inside 
More than the daily recommended amounts
puts everyone at risk for metabolic diseases.
Say it ain't so!

recommends six teaspoons of sugar max,
which is 24 grams, per day for women.
Men get more.  Children less. And under two
years of age, zero.
That includes all added sugar, even the hidden stuff in food.
4 grams = 1 teaspoon
Reading food labels has been an education in itself.
All attempts to make food labeling easier
to understand have been blocked
by food lobbyists.
The quantities may not seem like much 
but the accumulative effect is staggering.

Image result for image cartoons of package label with sugar amounts on front

If every single product had the teaspoon/grams 
of added sugar per serving boldly labeled
on the front of the package,
we might rethink our purchase,
which is exactly why they fight it
again and again.

During the Bush administration
The WHO was effectively blackmailed
by having millions of dollars withdrawn
unless this guideline was shelved.
It was but not forever.

Image result for cartoon images for sugar

80% of grocery store products have been carefully laced
with sugar.
It's called the "bliss point".
Food corporations aim for 
"stomach share"
world wide.
Unfortunately for some of the
lower consuming countries,
smaller amount of weight gain
from sugar
trigger metabolic disease
in populations
which were historically leaner.
No country is safe.
Corporations are targeting
"emerging markets"
with a vengeance.

Image result for cartoon images for sugar

This lacing of food with sugar is equivalent
to lacing cigarettes with nicotine. 
The strangest side effect
is how our taste for food has
been changed without us realizing it.

Fun Fact
Phillip Morris Tobacco Company
Kraft Foods conglomerate

I always wondered why this crazy
obesity epidemic happened.

The  consumption of
30-60 tsp in 24 hours
would take approximately
two hours of running
ten miles of walking
to burn off.
The average American
consumes 30 teaspoons per day.
That's just the average.
Many consume many times over this amount.
One soda can have from 24 to 36 grams of sugar.
Fruit drinks can have more sugar than soda.
Straight fruit juice might as well be soda,
the body reacts the same way
without the entire pulp and fiber.
There goes my healthy cherry juice
and green smoothies.
Flavored yogurt as much added sugar as ice cream.
Say what???

Image result for images for sugar cartoons

Giving it  up wasn't easy,
but the difference
is a pleasant surprise.

My goal is to stay sugar free during the 
week except for one portion from our weekly bake.
It might seem extreme
but the link between dementia, cancer,
heart, kidney disease 
and sugar is frightening.
My father died from dementia.
My mother from cancer.
Diabetes, heart and kidney disease run in my family.
Ignorance is not bliss for me.
If I can remove one of the triggers,
then I need to try,
even if I don't want to.

diet cartoon: Cartoon of woman in grocery store looking for the foods that will not kill you.

Yes, it can seem like
diet recommendations constantly change
throughout the years.
The difference is
As technology advances,
so can science
and the medical profession's
understanding of cause and effect.

Image result for images of funny healthy eating
By all accounts,
I should be a walking cup of  tea
(milk and two sugars, please)
with cookies for legs.
I'm not sharing this information to annoy you.
It's more for my benefit.
This is a benchmark week for me.
I don't have kids at home
or it would be more difficult.

Image result for images of funny healthy eating

 Rose has done all the work for me.
Add up the sugar grams in a recipe,
divide it by serving and voila!
I enjoy baking,
even if it vexes me at times.
I'm just going back to how it 
used to be, when a homemade dessert
was for Sunday dinner.

A cupcake never tasted so good.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart

By all the Alpha Bakers raving reviews,
this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart
should be spectacular.
I fear this is the culprit
in my tart falling short.

Don't let the hazelnuts over brown,
Rose instructed.

Quite certain mine did
but there was no way I was starting over.
In the midst of baking, I had unexpected
company, namely my lovely daughter in law 
with three lively grandchildren.
Normally I would revel in a surprise visit,
but I was up to my elbows in boiling hazelnuts, 
then skinning said hazelnuts.
In the middle of the merriment,
I popped them in the oven for toasting
and promptly received a long distance phone call
I'd been waiting for all day.

You know what is a sure way to
over brown hazelnuts?

Not turning on the timer.

I carried on anyway because
I knew if I stopped,
I wouldn't make this tart.
And I was beyond caring at this point.

Over browned or not,
I can't grasp the flavor, which is odd,
because I truly love hazelnuts.
This is one recipe I'll have to try again,
only with canned hazelnut praline paste.
 Definitely down the road a bit,
when we finish 
baking through the book.
It wasn't difficult, 
just not something to tackle with frazzled nerves. 
Rose Levy Beranbaum