This page has moved to a new address.

the urban baker

the urban baker: September 2009

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cappuccino Brownies

The baking marathon continues. I was planning on making these mini Reine de Saba's for the chocolate portion of the "break fast" dessert-fest. I had every intention of doing so until I was surfing the net for a recipe for white chocolate ganache. My idea was to dip or drizzle this over the chocolate cakes. However, while searching I found this recipe for Cappuccino Brownies. They looked so good that I scratched the mini idea and decided to make a double batch of these. So glad I did! They were easy and delicious.

A few people asked my friend where she "bought" the brownies from. She happily said, "I didn't buy them anywhere", my friend made them! Hee hee!

What made these unique was the sprinkling of cinnamon on the top. Had I not done that, I personally don't think they would have been as special.

I also whipped up a double batch of my all time favorite ginger molasses cookies (see older blog entries). These are so delicious.

The goodies were a hit. Now I can rest (at least until my next urge to concoct something in the kitchen)!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mini Cheesecakes

The smartest thing I did with this recipe was run out and buy many silicone muffin trays. I started making these cheesecakes and after making one tray in my nonstick pans, I knew I was going to be in trouble. I purchased 4 trays. Nearly not enough. I will be getting 4 more and now I am a little obsessed. I need to find square ones. All shapes, all sizes.

This recipe for mini cheesecakes is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Christmas cookie book. You all know how much I adore this book. With that said, this is not one not one of the better cheesecake recipes that I have made. However, they were still pretty yummy.

I really wanted to top these little bite size treats with her lemon curd that she suggests. I had the perfect morning to make the curd. My kids were playing next door, Mitch was golfing which means my house was quiet and I had no distractions. I did everything the recipe told me to do, yet instinctively, I knew something was weird when the recipe said to cook the mixture to 196 degrees on the thermometer? I knew when the curd was ready, but I was too insecure to follow my gut. I am generally a rule follower, and in this case I followed the rules, much to my chagrin.

Now instead of lemon curd, I have lemon "paste". I will find something to do with it.

Instead of topping these little morsels of joy with lemon curd, I am topping them with the same cranberry yummy stuff I put on our bread pudding (made a fresh batch, of course)!

So not in the mood to type up the recipe. Simply use your favorite cheesecake recipe (as this one was so-so), your favorite crust and top with whatever concoction you see fit(after the cheesecakes are baked and set). Bake for about 10-16 minutes, depending upon your oven.

Don't make these without the silicone muffin trays. By using these trays, they just pop right out! Easy, peasy and clean up was a breeze!

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rainbow Goodness

Part II, Yom Kippur Break Fast desserts for 100.

My theme this year is pick desserts that will feed a crowd and won't keep me in the kitchen all day and all night. Rainbow cookies are the perfect cookies for this occasion. I have made these in the past and although everyone else loved them, I didn't. Maybe me not loving stuff with almond paste has something to do with it! None the less, I wanted to make them again.

This time I used the recipe from Sherry Yard's Desserts by the Yard and this could not have been simpler to make. Reading the recipe, it looks complicated, yet it isn't. The layers only bake for 20 minutes and then cool for 10 minutes. Assemble and put in the fridge. Bars are so much easier than drop cookies. I need to remember that when December rolls around!


12 oz. almond paste
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/12 pounds unsalted butter, softened
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup almond flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 drop of red food coloring or more
1 drop of green food coloring or more
2 drops of yellow food coloring (i used 5 drops)

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
(bring to a slow boil until sugar is dissolved. let cool to room temp).

3/4 cups apricot jam
3/4 cups raspberry jam

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz unsalted butter
5 tbls. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tbls. grand marnier


1. Place racks in the upper & lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 325*. Spray three 12 x 17 inch half sheet pans with pan spray. Line with parchment paper and spray parchment.

2. Place the almond paste in a large food processor fitted with the steel blade and blend for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand.

3. Add one quarter of the softened butter and pulse until it is blended with the almond paste. Blend a quarter of the butter at a time until all incorporated.

4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolks and pulse to blend. Pulse in the almond flour, then the all purpose flour. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

5. Beat egg whites to soft peaks then fold into batter.

6. Divide the batter between three bowls (I weighed the entire batter and then divided accordingly). Add the red food coloring to one bowl and mix, then add the green to the other and the yellow to the last bowl (I needed alot of yellow to make the yellow vibrant).

7. Scrape all of one color into one of your prepared baking sheets. Use an offset spatula to spread evenly (this is the hard part). Then slide your finger along the edge of the baking sheet to remove the excess batter from the edges. Repeat with the other two colors.

8. Place the pans in the oven(I did it in two batches) and bake for 10 minutes. Switch the pans, top to bottom and back to front and continue baking for 10 more minutes. Bake the third pan repeating the process.

9. Put an empty baking sheet in front of you, upside down. Spray lightly with pan spray and top with a piece of parchment. Invert the yellow cake onto the baking sheet. Remove parchment. Using a pastry brush, brush evenly with one third of the simple syrup. smear the apricot jam evenly over the cake. Top with the pink layer and remove parchment. Brush evenly with the syrup and spread the raspberry jam evenly. Complete with the green layer, brushing with the remaining syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

10. Make the glaze: Combine the chocolate with the butter in a glass bowl over simmering water. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup and the grand marnier.

11. Remove cake from the fridge and unwrap. Pour the glaze over the top and using an offset spatula, spread the glaze evenly over the top, stopping just before the edges. Allow to cool 1-2 minutes, then, just as the shine disappears from he glaze, run a pastry comb or fork in a squiggly motion over the top to create a pattern.

12. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or until the glaze sets. Remove from he refrigerator and cut into 1 1/2" squares, using a serrated knife.

Can be frozen, wrapped tight for up to two weeks.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rugelah 101

Monday is Yom Kippur and I am baking loads of stuff for my friends 100 person "break fast". This will be one of many desserts I am doing for her. Rugelah is a great treat for a crowd. For one thing, the recipe makes lots of cookies and two; they easily freeze prior to baking. I like to line them up on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them. Once frozen, I throw in a container or a zip loc and stick them in the freezer. When you are ready to make them, just pull them out, set them on your parchment lined cookie sheet, brush with egg wash or milk, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and bake.

I have been using an old family favorite recipe for years. I wanted to mix it up a little and try something new. I found a few recipes that use cream cheese in the dough (which mine does as well) so I decided to use one and I played with the ingredients just a little. I love Rose Levy Beranbaum. I decided to try her recipe from the Rose's Christmas Cookie book. I made the crust in advance, rolled it out and put in the fridge until I was ready to assemble.

I do like to create my own fillings. I made some with apricot preserves, currants & pecans. The other filling was raspberry preserves, mini chocolate chips and walnuts.

These are better than good. I have loved this book for 25 years!

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Salted Caramel Ice cream

After reading the August issue of Gourmet Mag, I wanted to make ALL the ice creams in that issue. As you all know (for the 4 of you whom read this blog), I love caramel anything. So the idea of making my own caramel for homemade ice cream was exciting.

It has been so hot this week and with the unbearable weather, I haven't been motivated to cook. I procrastinated all day. I felt I had to check off at least one item on my "to do" list, otherwise I would have felt like a total loser. I enlisted Eli to be my assistant. Because it was ice cream, he willingly said yes.

The caramel for this Salted Caramel Ice Cream is so unbelievably good that I am surprised it was still around when it was time to combine the caramel with the custard.

The ice cream was really good. But what won my heart is the caramel itself. In the past I had always made a "wet" caramel. A wet caramel is when you combine a few ingredients and cook over the stove. This is what is called a "dry" caramel. To melt the sugar in a dry pan is the only process I will use to make caramel in the future. Homemade caramel will forever be a staple in my fridge. It will sit on the shelf right next to the homemade fudge sauce.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quick Chocolate Cake

I had to make something in a hurry. Tonight is back to school night for Isaac's school (it is no longer both Eli and Isaac's school as Eli has moved on to middle school - boo hoo!) and of course, I offered to bake for his class. And of course his teacher said "yes".

My day today is nuts, and I knew I had to squeeze a lot of stuff into to a very small window of time. I woke up early and prepped all my ingredients, fed the kids and left the house for 7:30 a.m. yoga class (mitch graciously gets the kids to school two mornings a week).

When I got home from yoga all I had to do was mix the ingredients and get it into the oven. While it was baking I did my morning routine.

I had had a completely different dessert in mind when I committed to baking for this evening. However, when I had stumbled upon an old Cook's Illustrated magazine and turned the page to this cake, I knew I had to make it. Mainly because I had everything in the house to make it, it was easy and it is the perfect crowd pleaser.


Cake Release
1tablespoon butter , melted
1tablespoon cocoa
3/4cup natural cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
6ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped
1teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
3/4cup water (boiling)
1cup sour cream , room temperature
1 3/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1teaspoon table salt
1teaspoon baking soda
12tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
2cups packed light brown sugar (14 ounces)
1tablespoon vanilla extract
5large eggs , room temperature
confectioners' sugar for dusting


  1. 1. FOR THE PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard 12-cup Bundt pan, see illustration below. (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. 2. FOR THE CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder (if using) in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to combine.

  3. 3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Dust with confectioners' sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges; serve with Tangy Whipped Cream and raspberries, if desired.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beyond Brownies

I knew these were going to be good right when I looked at the recipe. Another winning bar recipe from my guy Nick (Malgieri). Sooooooooooo good!

The same day we were going to friends for breakfast (challah bread pudding), we were also seeing other friends for dinner. I totally overbooked us. What was I thinking? This was more socializing in one day than I usually do over a two week period!

Regardless, I had to bring treats. I wanted something I could do the day before and the Pecan, Coconut Chocolate Chunk Bars. These were somewhat similar to the dream bars that I make yet with a twist.

These melted in your mouth. They are the perfect balance between sweet, salty, crunchy, soft. Mmmm Mmmm good!

This is yet another recipe from my bible; The Modern Baker.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Challah Bread Pudding

Today we had plans to go to our friends for breakfast. Lisa and I choose to split up the cooking responsibility. She was in charge of eggs (a yummy baked egg dish with cheese, green chili's and egg - of course), fruit and juice. I offered to make a bread pudding as I had tons of left over challah in the freezer. We also picked up bagels, lox and cream cheese.

I have been saving challahs. Usually, I freeze them and then when I get around to it, I make bread crumbs and croutons. When Lisa and I decided we would get together for breakfast, I immediately said, let me make a bread pudding.

I love Tartine bakery and subsequently, love the cookbook as well. I have been in the bakery and have watched people order the bread pudding for breakfast, but never had the guts to order it. Didn't want to eat that many calories so early in the day. Hence, have wanted to make it for a crowd so I could I have a teeny, weeny little bite. Glad I made it and glad I had my teeny, weeny little bite!

The recipe calls for brioche. Challah and brioche are so similar that I knew it would work. I also made a cranberry type sauce to go over it. The kids preferred it with maple syrup.

Challah Bread Pudding


6 slices brioche, 1" thick
8 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp. salt


1. Butter a 9 x 5" glass loaf dish

2. Arrange brioche slices on a baking sheet and put in a preheated 350* oven for 4-10 minutes (you want it to be slightly toasted). Let cool.

3. To make the custard, mix eggs with a whisk. Add the sugar until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla & salt. Whisk until incorporated. Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve held over a large measuring cup (for easy pouring).

4. Place the toasted bread slices in the prepared loaf pan (for a larger crowd, I put in a round souffle dish and it puffed up and was beautiful). Pour the custard evenly over the bread, filling to the top. You may not be able to add all the custard at this point. Let sit about 10 minutes so the bread can absorb the liquid.

At this point, I made it, covered it an put in the fridge. I prepped the night before, which was brilliant.

Cover and refrigerate the left over custard as well. Just before baking add more custard. You want to use all the custard.

5. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven, on a baking sheet, and bake for an hour. If it was in the fridge, it will take an additional 20-30 minutes. To test for done-ness, uncover the dish, slip a knife into the center and putsh the bread aside. If the the custard is still liquid, recover and bake for 10 more minutes or so.

Let cool and serve.

Cranberry Sauce


1 cup cranberries
1/4 + 2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tsp. corn starch


Put all in a heavy duty pot and bring to a boil. Once boiled, swirl pan for a minute or so until it thickens. Take off heat. The fruit will thicken as it cools. Pour over the bread pudding.

So yummy!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ginger Pear Upside Down Cake

I was reading my email blast from Saveur on line. This recipe for Ginger Pear Upside Down Cake tickled my fancy and I ran out and bought some pears. Not only did this feel like "Fall" but I also needed another dessert for yet another Rosh Hashana dinner.

This was relatively easy to make and assemble. Hence, the end result was so-so. Although it looked super pretty, it was a bit on the bitter side. It bugs me when things don't taste as good as they look.

If you do plan on trying this recipe, I used only 2 1/2 pears. The recipe calls for 4-5 pears which is way too much.

You be the judge!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Honey Cake for a Sweet New Year!

The Jewish New Year starts on Shabbat this year. Generally, I make a shabbat dinner most Friday nights. This Friday's sabbath dinner will be filled with much of the same fan fare but with a little bit extra.

I made a few honey cakes; one for us, one for Levi's preschool teachers, one for our favorite neighbors and some little loaves for some very special people (3 of Eli and Isaac's past teachers).

Rosh hashanah is the beginning of the High Holy Days. From the beginning of Rosh hashanah to the eve of Yom Kippur Jewish people embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repent for any wrong doings from the previous year. Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. This is a time for making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

For me, it is a time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly. There is plenty of all three.

I had never embarked on making a honey cake in the past. I was surfing a few cooking websites this particular one grabbed me. I found this one on the Epicurious website and it isn't called Majestic and moist New Years honey cake for nottin! Not only is the cake laced with loads of honey and sugar, but it has strong coffee, fresh orange juice and lots of wonderful spices. Whether you are Jewish or not, this cake will prove to be a huge crowd pleaser.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Little Wafers

Today was Levi's first day of school. He was super excited and couldn't wait to get out the door. He likes being one of the older kids and love being a "ducky".

I decided to make his teachers a little shortbread type cookie. I pulled out a few books, but the Cherry Orange Flaky Flats from 125 Cookies caught my eye. They were light and flaky. If I make them again, I will probably make them thicker (the recipe called for them to be rolled to 1/8").


1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbls. sugar + more for dusting
6 Tbls. cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 Tbls. cold veg shortening
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 large egg, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried cherries


1. Put flours, slat & 3 tbls. of sugar in food processor and mix for 10 seconds. Add butter and shortening, and mix until mixture looks like small lima beans. Mix in zests. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and 2 tbls. cold water. Add the dried cherries.

Continue to mix until it holds together. Press dough into 6" square, wrap and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. Remove dough from fridge and put between 2 pieces of wax paper and roll a rectangle 12 x8" and about 1/8" ( I would do 1/4") thick. Trim the edges evenly. Use a pizza cutter and cut 2" squares.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each cookie with the egg white and then sprinkle with a little sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350*. Bake cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 20 minutes until light golden and the bottoms are light brown. Cool completely.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Best Cake Ever

When my friend Kate and I decided we would co-op shabbat dinner this week, we divided up the cooking chores. To be honest with you, this is the only way to fly. I have always said it would ideal if we all lived together on a compound, divide up the "stuff", do what you enjoy and let your fellow compound mates do what they love. Wouldn't it be great to live on a compound with a few of your best friends. Divide up the cooking (that could my job), cleaning ( Stephanie's is the pro at that), career (Kate is good at that) and extra social activities and fun (Mindy - cuz she is never idle). All our kids would have tons of kids to play (other than their Sib's) with and we would all be in such better moods. A girl can dream, right? Kate and I sat at her kitchen table, planning our menu and market list, her husband, Steve, walks into the room and starts chanting "caramel cake, caramel cake, caramel cake". Well, that was settled, I was making my caramel cake.

This, truly is the best pound cake EVER! Steve describes it as the perfect balance between cake and perfection however without having that flour after taste that some cakes have. I guess when one bakes a cake with 3 sticks of butter in the actual cake and and 1 stick in the frosting, one should not taste the flour after taste in such cake!

I would love to share this recipe with you, but I have been told by too many people to market it. I just might!

p.s when I woke up the next morning to take more photos of it, it was pretty much gone. I am almost certain Eli ate a piece before bed (after having a huge slice at dinner) and another for breakfast. I have got to figure out a way for Eli to like fruit as much as he likes his carbs and sweets.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

My friend Karen thought it would be a good idea to have a group of mom's over to her house for brunch the day after school started. She figured it was best for us all to bitch and moan in one room rather than play telephone with one another. Actually, it was a good idea. It gave us perspective and we were all able to laugh at the mundane.

I was really on the fence as to whether or not I was going to be able to make it, however when I decided that I would pop by, it was 10:30 p.m. the night before. Which meant that I had to make something at the crack of dawn the next morning and it had to be quick and easy.

I had tried a few granola bars in the past, but they were basically...cake. I really want to try and get more healthy choices thrown into our daily snack binge and I felt this would be a good place to start.

I used the Ina Garten recipe as my base, yet switched it up a little. I added some ground flax seeds and used oil instead of the butter. I didn't have any dates, but I did have some dried figs which I kept kind of chunky. I love dried figs and these were a winner. I also substituted dried cherries (cuz I love them) for the cranberries.

I plan on making these again, yet, more with the kids in mind. I want to try various combos using chocolate chunks, white chocolate, whole almonds, peanuts (just cuz they like them), toffee pieces, other dried fruits and dried banana chips. I probably wont use all of these ingredients together, but I will find a combo that they like and then keep experimenting with those.

They were really good. I received a few emails and calls regarding these and I have a feeling we are going to be seeing our neighborhood kids eating lots and lots of homemade granola bars.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pumpkin Loaves

I think it is somewhat expected of me to show up the first day of my kids school with a little something sweet. I don't know why I choose to make pumpkin loaves, but I did. I am almost certain I decided to make these because they are super easy and do not require a mixer. Plus, I could double the recipe and please many recipients at one time.

These cakes are really moist. In my opinion, what makes them so good, is the frosting. Isn't that always the case??? Again, I love this recipe because it is easy prep and easy clean up.


Serves 9.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) regular (or reduced-fat) cream cheese, very soft
  • 1/4 cup honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.
  3. Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.
  4. Make Honey Frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until smooth.
  5. Spread top of cooled cake with honey frosting. Cut cake into squares to serve.

I did in fact double the recipe and I was able to get two large loaves and 5-6 small, mini loaves. One of the larger loaves went to a teachers luncheon for Eli's new middle school. The other one went to the ladies in the office of our elementary school. The smaller ones went to Mrs. V, Isaac's new 3rd grade teacher (we couldn't be happier) and a few of our past, favorite teachers.

It's fun to give!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Today my dad would have been 89. He died 2 years ago, January.

He loved his food and would drive to tim-buck-two and back just to get the best of the best. He loved the T-cakes at Martinos bakery, which also became a favorite of mine. A family party wasn't complete with out these perfectly square, maple flavored cakes. When I was pregnant with Eli, I craved all the flavors from my childhood. I would be embarrassed to omit how many of these little yummy treats I ate while Eli lived inside of me. My dad also loved a good french bread (specifically, the heals of the bread-toasted), a perfect malt (actually, he made the best ones) and Sees peanut brittle . The list goes on and on.

However his favorite was a pecan sticky bun. Where ever we went or traveled to, my dad was always up for a good pecan/sticky bun. He loved the ones at the Nordstroms lunch room but his all time favorite were the ones at Louise's Pantry in Palm Dessert (they have since moved). Growing up, we would go to Palm Springs at least once or twice a year and the weekend wasn't complete without a trip to Louise's. Most mornings, he would saunter in with the little white bakery bag. Regardless if you were hungry or not, the smell was so intoxicating that you couldn't resist.

A few years ago, we were all together at The Four Seasons in Aviara. Pretty much anything at any Four Seasons is good, but the sticky bun won his heart. When I got home, I wrote them and asked for the recipe. Off course, they obliged. I made them for my dad and he gave them the thumbs up. Since then, I have ventured out and have made the ones from Cooks Illustrated (pure perfection) and in honor of my dad's 89th birthday, I made the ones from The Modern Baker cookbook.

The gooey, caramel glob for this recipe has to be hands down the best one I have made thus far. However, I must have done something with the dough. It didn't rise, in my opinion, to it's full potential. I even gave it an extra hour of rising time. I have a feeling my yeast may have expired. That is the only reason I can come up with as to why these were not perfect. I am going to have to try them again, maybe when it is not so hot outside and the temperature is a little bit more mild.

The kids liked them even though they were not as light as I would have liked for them to be. More importantly, they liked singing to Poppy and each one of them made a silent wish as they blew out the candle. I can guess what they wished for. I secretly wished for the same thing.

Happy Birthday, Dad. September 8th will always be a special day for me and my boys!

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

The end of the summer means cramming all that is possible into a 3 day weekend. For us, returning from vacation, my days were filled with stocking the fridge, meal planning for the week, returning to packing lunches (yuck) and lots and lots laundry. We did manage to say yes to one labor day invite. Which means, I was forced to add one more thing to my list of chores; cook for a crowd.

As you all know (for those of you whom even bother to read my blog. I believe there is one or two of you) I love The Modern Baker. Thus far, everything I have made from this great big book of everything scrumptious is wonderful. The chocolate hazelnut tart is no exception.

I opted to make the sweet crust, and with his suggestion, opted to add ground almonds to the dry ingredients. This dough really came together nicely and was easy to assemble. After sitting in the fridge for 2 hours, I attempted to roll it out, however it was a little on the wet side. I decided to press it into the tart pan and it turned out great.

The recipe has orange zest in the ganache. I still have a a small bag of candied orange peels in my freezer. I decided to chop some up and add them to the top of the tart which complimented the toasted hazelnuts.

The tart is super rich, but got rave reviews.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Miguel!

Mitch answers to Miguel more often than "mitch". So, when I really want his attention, I yell out Miguel. 99% of the time I get a response!

Today is his birthday (won't say which one) and for the past many years (31) I have always baked him a cake on his birthday. It is typically a coconut cake. However, last year when we all gathered around the table to sing and give him his goodies, he was somewhat disappointed. He mumbled something to the tune of...ohhhh, it's not your fabulous carrot cake. That little murmur has stayed with me, haunting me one year later.

Last week we were away on vacation and it was Eli's mission to find out what he was craving, carrot or coconut? As we didn't get home until late yesterday, I had to organize, get my market list together, as well as unpack and attempt to do 11 loads of laundry. It is now, 8:59 p.m. as I write this and I am one tired gal.

He had a good day. The day started with around of golf. Matzoh brie was waiting for him when he got home. Cake was cooling and ready just in time to meet his whole family for lunch. So glad I decided to take it to lunch. It was a big cake, more than enough for the 18 of us, with a little left over for tomorrows breakfast.

The cake was gone within 24 hours and I have already had requests for another one.

This one was adapted from an old Saveur Magazine.

I have also made this in a bundt pan, a tube pan and as mini cakeletts. For the tube pan/bundt pan increase the time slightly. For the cakeletts, decrease the time. I usually bake for 12 minutes and then keep checking until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 1⁄2 cups canola oil
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine salt
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 7-oz. bag shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large carrots, trimmed and finely shredded (about
2 cups)

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3⁄4 lb. cream cheese, softened
8 tbsp. salted butter, softened
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9" × 13" pan with nonstick spray; set aside. Put sugar, oil, and eggs into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed together into a batter. Add pineapple with juice, coconut, walnuts, vanilla, and carrots and gently fold together until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth top with a rubber spatula, and bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 50–55 minutes. Set cake aside to let cool completely.

2. For the icing: Put sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, 4–5 minutes.

3. To assemble: Spread the icing over the cooled cake to cover, creating swirls and whorls, if you wish. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled, about 3 hours. Cut into 12 squares and serve chilled.

Labels: , ,