Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stilton Cheese Cakes


I despise blue cheese.

If it is not in a Gorgonzola sauce swimming with gnocchi,  
I don't want to be anywhere near it.  

So I REALLY did NOT  want to  make this recipe.  Couldn't fathom it.  
Who would I pawn offer it to?  

There have been many recipes which made my
head explode on this Heavenly Bakers/Alpha Baker journey.
Recipes that were way too difficult for a novice like me.
Recipes that just didn't sound enticing.

Some recipes actually made me want to curl up
underneath a blanket rather than face pre-heating the oven.
Others necessitated recruiting a navigator,
usually my daughter,
to keep me on the straight and narrow.

What do I do next?

Let's not forget the charts, outlines,  pages and pages
of notes deciphering complicated instructions.

There have been flour explosions, cocoa powder explosions,
spilled sugar, spilled cake pans of batter,
spilled everything.
Plus loads and loads of dishes to wash.

And then the humiliation of attempting to
take a happy snap of pathetic pie lattice,
burned biscuits and lopsided cakes.

Because while I wasn't looking
this baking train turned into a 
photography contest.

Through it all, I never wanted
to run away from a weekly bake.
Until now.
Did I mention I find blue cheese revolting?

What keeps me here instead of throwing in the dish towel?

Something new or different that 
I would never choose to make on my own.
Or something  I've always wanted to bake 
but never had the nerve.

The Alpha Bakers.
The little gaggle of bakers who bake
week after week, 
whether it's a win or fail recipe.
The recipe tales, the spectacular results,
the hilarious disasters.

I feel your pain

The amazing prize worthy photography skills,
and charming out of focus blurry ones, and thankfully 
their ability to simplify a recipe
so I have a chance at understanding
the process.
Their encouragement to keep soldiering on.
Their cheers with any bit of success.
Their willingness to instantly come to the rescue
during a catastrophe.
Their kindness in never criticizing.
They make it fun
when often times it really isn't.
And isn't that the point of baking?
otherwise who's going to buy the book?

Image result for images of audrey hepburn at cooking school

Yes, the Alpha Bakers.

Not so much Rose.  And not so much Woody.
Their priorities lay elsewhere.
They aren't in the trenches with us
bringing the recipe off the page to life
that they understand so well.
A true folie a deux.

I've stacked Rose's cookbooks.
Not counting her Romantic and Classic Cake booklet,
which is around here somewhere.

One foot, one inch
330 millimeters

Oh, here it is.
Add another quarter inch or 6.35 millimeters.

That's a whole lot of  testing and re-testing,
fine tuning and calibrating.
I get it;
it's not all dark chocolate merriment.

Still,  there was no getting around it.

This was the first recipe I did not want to taste.

So even though I badly wanted to skip this week,
I read it again.

And wondered....

Why Stilton when there are so
 many other members in the blue cheese family?

This question was easily answered and I was off and running,
searching for real Stilton.

Image result for colston bassett stilton

from one of the authenticated UK Stilton dairies,  
was luckily at the same
tiny market which provided me with French sour cherries
for the pie we all made.
Y'all remember that pie?

The pie that made me go  

In for a penny, in for a pound

Once that Stilton was in hand,
enthusiasm began to build.

Here are the ingredients assembled and ready for weighing.
The organic cream cheese found in my regular supermarket
was well worth the extra dollar.
Zero gum thickeners.

Rose called for walnuts to be toasted and the skins rubbed off,
as she often does.
I never enjoyed doing this, until now.
Popped warm out of the oven into a plastic container with a lid, 
I shook the daylights out of 'em.
All but a few stubborn ones released their skins.

Cupcake papers to line the cupcake pan.

Ground walnuts tapped into place with an espresso tamper. 

Unwrapping Sir Stilton,  I was prepared to be bowled over by the aroma.

Stilton smashed with a fork into the sour cream
and tipped in the mixing bowl with cream cheese, sugar,
cornstarch and salt;  then a few eggs.
How simple is that?

The mixture is poured into a baggy, one corner snipped 
and piped into the cupcake pan. 

Out of the oven and cooling down before a long rest
in the refrigerator.

Finally cool enough to try with a could-be-riper pear
and wine.

Hey, it's not so bad! 

Or my favorite
Sparkling Pear Cider from France
which is so exquisite 
my daughter chose it for
her wedding brunch.

For extra fun Trader Joe's organic strawberry jam.

It's even better!

As days went by, the distinctive blue cheese flavor mellowed
becoming a faint note in the background.

These little tidbits were well liked
by blue cheese lovers.
I could tolerate them but I think
I would actually love them without the blue cheese,
doubling up on cream cheese instead.
Such quick and easy little cheesecakes.

That's the other thing that keeps me here,
to be nudged to actually bake out of a collection of cookbooks
gathering dust.
I respect Rose's efforts.  I may get frustrated and annoyed,
I may swear more at my poor little Kitchen Aid mixer than I have ever sworn at anything
in my life.  

Really Rose?
Are you kidding me Rose?
Why, why, why Rose?

I wonder if her ears ring?

But I learn.  I overcome my own inadequacies and lack of patience.
The pay off is a delectable experience.

My family and friends think I'm some sort of baking genie. 
I laugh at the very idea.  I'm just holding on by the seat of my pants
along for the ride, like a water skier behind the wake of a boat.
I know the truth
I point them in the direction of picture perfect results
but they are too busy oooh'ing and ahhh'ing and asking
me to please make it again.

Which is how recipes become a part of family celebrations,
holidays, special occasions or no occasion at all.
That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Miette's Tomboy and Orange Chiffon 

The best part? Reading the Alpha Bakers' posts each week..
That is always the best part.
I applaud their efforts
as much as my family does mine.


The Baking Bible is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble



  1. Vicki, this is your best post ever. In fact, it may be my most favorite blog post from the heavenly bakers and alpha bakers combined. You articulated so well what it's like to be a part of a Rose bake along and to be a part of this wonderful group. And your cheesecakes look great!

  2. It's amazing what a blurry photo can hide :) I think we're all in this because we're curious and want to learn. And if that means making seemingly strange savoury cheesecakes then.... Actually I haven't made mine yet and I'm going to make them all savoury so I'm not being that brave.

  3. Wonderful post, Vicki! You really captured the whole esprit de corps.

  4. What a wonderful post, warm and lovely story telling. LOL "Who would I pawn offer it to?" made me laugh :D

  5. I haven't commented before, I am not an Alpha Baker just a big fan of Rose and her books, but I so enjoyed reading this post I had to echo what the others have said, well done! Jeannette

  6. Oh Vicki, what an adventurer you are! Such spirit in this journey we are on. As a group, are we a gaggle (of geese) or a kettle (of hawks) or a murder (of crows)? Appreciate your honesty Vicki. So refreshing. Great post.

  7. Love this post Vicki! You have summed it up perfectly. I have missed baking/blogging but most of all the reading. But as of this week I will be no longer working insane hours (at least for a few weeks).

    The power of a team in the trenches, even a virtual team and trench, is amazing. Such an inspiring group.

    Tearing up now!

  8. I love your post and you written it so well! Your cheesecake looks wonderful with jam! Why didn't I think of it?

  9. ב''ה

    Great post. Love your description of your plugging through.

  10. the best post i read so far, right on point, and real. Thank you for sharing!

  11. What a wonderful tribute to the Alpha Bakers! You've so aptly but lovingly explained the reasoning behind wanting to belong to a group of bakers like this one...wonderful. It's all about the experience and the sense of belonging. Thanks so much for writing this,Vicki. Gorgeous job on the cheesecakes as well! ;-)

  12. My hat is off to you and all the other tireless, dedicated Alpha Bakers. You are all truly an inspiration! Not because of the photos (blurry or sharp, I think they are all fabulous), or the amazing results (which I say from tasting experience are delectable), but to watch on the sidelines and cheer on all of these baking forays.

    And at least the failures are pretty spectacular (Mom - are you still peeling spun/whisked sugar from the ceiling??)