19 July 2010

TWD: Lots of Ways Banana Cake


I was hesitant to make this one.  Banana cake?  Meh.  I figured it'd be another loaf or bundt cake that I'd try, generally like, but never finish eating.  It would take time away from my sewing!  Besides, the sewing was making me realize I hadn't actually done a decorated cake in a good while.  The last seriously decorated cake I did was a full year ago:

I wondered if I was going to lose all the skills I spent so much time building.  As much fun as TWD is, we rarely make anything decoratable.  Perhaps I'd make a cake for my upcoming birthday?...But I felt guilty, as I always do when I contemplate skipping a recipe.

So I read the recipe.  What is this?  A layer cake?  With any icing that I want?!  Oh now, that's different!  I can decorate this cake!  Finally!  Let's do this!

I made the cake pretty much according to the recipe.  I did run out of light brown sugar, so I added about 1/4 c of dark brown.  I also didn't want to open a can of coconut milk for a measly 1/2 cup, so I used whole milk instead.  Finally, I used my old standby method to prep the pans: grease sides (and I do mean grease;  I keep a small can of Crisco for just this purpose) and flour them, and line the bottom with parchment.

I was surprised that it took nearly 45 minutes to bake two 9 inch layers.  I was also surprised by how dark they were.  I was a little afraid they'd taste burned!

(I didn't get any pics--the camera battery decided to die on me.  Le Sigh.)  

Once the layers were done, on to decorating.  I had a big bowl 'o buttercream in the freezer, made when we did some egg yolk-heavy something or other a while back.  I took the design of the cake from the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook, one of my very favorites, and made the color palette a little lighter than theirs.  I piped out chocolate fireflies and moons and iced the cake in blue and green, piping on a green grassy border when I was done.  I was pretty happy with it in the end.  FUN!  Can we do another one soon?  Please oh please? Thank you bunches, Kimberly, for picking this one!

As far as the actual taste of the cake:  it's not bad.  Inoffensive.  It reminds me of an okay carrot cake, but with banana instead.  I mixed some of the buttercream with chopped pineapple and coconut for the filling (I like pina coladas, sue me)  and I like the addition.  I'm on my second piece now.  The first was too cold but this one is nice and room temperature-y.  I think I'm gonna have to think a bit about whether I like it enough to do again...

12 July 2010

TWD: Brrrrownies

or however they are spelled.

I was major mega OMFG Dudes excited about this week's recipe (chosen by Karen) because it involves two of my fave things:  1) homemade brownies and 2) York Peppermint Patties.  Both fall squarely under the category of Things I Cannot Have In The House Because I Will Eat Them For Dinner And That Behavior Is Not Becoming In A Person Past Thirty. 

The recipe promised to be a quick one, too, extra special hooray good because I was already distracted in my first week back home by a couple of new acquisitions:

Visiting my friend Maura last week got me excited and determined again to work on sewing and quilting. She is absolutely ridonkculous with making fabulous stuff, and while I'll never get there she sure makes it look like fun.  I had tried sewing as a kid but quickly got frustrated with things not turning out as I wanted them to,  and for some unknown reason it never seemed to occur to me to ask my grandmother, who I only lived with my whole childhood and who only sewed like, I don't know, all the time for assistance or lessons.  I can vividly remember watching her lay out and cut material for dresses and quilts on the kitchen table (as well as occasionally reaching into a pile of cloth and coming up stuck with pins, realizing too late I had just tried to grab her latest quilt-top in progress).  Anyway, I bought the machine from a collector here.  I think I shall name it Phyllis, in homage to her 1971 birth.  I got the cabinet at a local thrift store and spent all week stripping, refinishing, and repainting it.  It was a lot of work but I think it came out pretty well.  And now I have a bunch of books and am blithely neglecting most everything else in my fervor to sew stuff. 

But I did squeeze in time to make the brownies.  I melted the chocolate and butter in the microwave instead of the stove.  I only had 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, so I did the "cocoa +butter" sub for the other ounce.

It was all good till I added the eggs, then it seized up something awful.  Is it because the eggs were cold?

The finished batter was still really thick--and it only thinly covered the bottom of the pan.

When they were done, I was dismayed.  Oh, word?  THIS is what they are supposed to look like?

These are without a doubt the fugliest things I have ever baked.  But they are also so so SO good!  Perfect chewy (NOT fudgy) consistency, though I wasn't super thrilled that they were impossible to get out of the pan.  And peppermint patties!  YUM.  I would like to be able to share them but they are just too hideous.  Maybe with a smear of icing--and a better method to keep them from sticking.  Or maybe i just make other stuff--chocolate tarts and such--for company and keep these ALL. TO. MYSELF. *sinister laugh*

05 July 2010

TWD: Tarte Noire

So....yeah.  TWD.  This week.  Dharmagirl picked it.  I did it.  It was pretty good.  I'd consider doing it again.  But...it just wasn't very exciting, yanno?*  It's a tart crust with chocolate ganache in it.  Crust, chocolate, cream, butter.  Simple.  Spartan.  Restrained.  Minimalist.  Best left that way.  After weeks and weeks of multiply-adjectived days-of-prep-requiring last-minute-grocery-run-requiring finicky things, I'm left without words.  So....how about some pictures?

Since the filling is basically just chocolate, you need to really like what you use.  I couldn't find my ever-elusive all-time very favorite eating chocolate, so I subbed this instead:

After I mixed in the cream and butter--gently, as per the recipe's instructions--things were not looking good and ganachy.  Check it:


So...I was a Very Bad TWDer, disregarded the instructions, took ahold of that whisk and beat the everlovin' daylights out of it.

I was pleased to find tart crust in the freezer from some other project, so I baked that and filled it.

Half the recipe gave me the perfect amount for two deep 4" tarts.  On first eating they were nice and smooth; one half tart was thawed and refrigerated a couple of times and its consistency was grainy and kind of offputting but it still tasted the same.  Voila. 

*and yes, I realize it's a bit eye-roll inducing to be unexcited about a chocolate tart.  Sorry.

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