Thursday, 25 August 2016

Brown Sugar Rosemary Pound Cake

Is there one pastry that you catch yourself thinking about from time to time? You dream about it not because it is the fanciest slice of cake or most delicate viennoiserie, but because it evokes some sort of hominess and comfort. A simple slice of pound cake can do that for me. In particular I am thinking of the rosemary pound cake from my favourite cafe in Vancouver. They've stopped carrying it for a while and I catch myself peering into the pastry case every morning, crossing my fingers they would bring it back for that day. No luck yet. So in the mean time I have been making my own rosemary pound cake - something to curb the cravings until Revolver starts carrying it again. 

I love making pound cakes. They are so easy but oh so satisfying. You taste all (well all four) the ingredients that are in it: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. You don't really need a recipe either because a pound cake is exactly what it sounds like - a pound of butter, a pound of eggs, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour. It's a 1:1:1:1 ratio. From time to time, I throw in matcha powder in the mix to make a matcha pound cake. But this time it's rosemary. The rosemary doesn't necessarily make it a savoury baked good, but it adds a gentle earthy flavour.

I've made rosemary pound cake with granulated sugar many, many times. Recently I started substituting some of the granulated sugar with brown sugar. Substituting half a cup seemed to do it. It adds a subtle caramel-y note without being too overpowering. It also doesn't mess with the texture of what makes a great pound cake.

A traditional pound cake recipe which calls for a pound of each ingredients yields two loaves or one large bundt. I've halved the recipe here just in case two loaves seem excessive. But let's be honest, one can never have an excessive amount of pound cake. 

Brown Sugar Rosemary Pound Cake
Yields one small bundt or one 9 x 5 loaf

227g (2 scant cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 tablespoon rosemary, finely ground
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs 

Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, salt, and ground rosemary.

In a large bowl or bowl of a standing mixer cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time and make sure each one gets fully incorporated before adding the next. If you add them all at once, there will be a much higher chance that the batter will curdle. 

Gently mix in the dry ingredients and mix until no more flour is seen.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes (and for 50 - 55 minutes if baking in a loaf pan). Serve warm or cooled with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

My Favourite Strawberry Lattice Pie

Hello, it's me. Did you not recognize me? Did you have to do a double take just to make sure you were on the right page? This is not a cake, I know. What am I doing? I don't really know. What I do know though, is that since last year, I have been in love with making fruit pies in the summer. Cakes always feel like a commitment, especially if they have multiple layers. Pies on the other hand, still feel homey and rustic even when they are adorn with the most intricate braided lattice tops and the works. They are approachable and I am definitely not afraid to approach one or two...or more slices after dinner. A fruit pie is like a fruit salad encased in butter, but let's just omit the latter and focus on the salad portion.

I have made this pie filling many times. When they are in season, I love throw in some diced peaches in there along with the strawberries. This pie also lends itself as the perfect vehicle for a big scoop of ice cream. Pie à la mode might be the most perfect dessert. Actually, can my life just be made à la mode with all the scoops of pistachio ice cream?

The reason why you have not seen more pies on this blog is because pie crust still intimidates me. All butter? Half butter, half lard? And do not even get me started on coconut oil. So as an attempt to mitigate my pie crust-induced anxiety, I stuck with a classic recipe - the all butter pie crust from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Thank you Food52 for being a generous god and sharing this recipe with me and other pie makers out there. Thank you for soothing my anxiety-ridden pie journey so that perhaps I can stop being a one trick cake pony and branch into other parts of the baking word. You can probably expect to see a few more pies before summer wraps up, even though I am in denial that it is already August and summer will be wrapping up soon. 

My Favourite Strawberry Pie
Yields one double crust 9-inch pie

All-Butter Pie Crust
Recipe from Four & Twenty Blackbirds
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
4 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup ice 

Strawberry Pie Filling
5 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted 
Note: I adjust the amount of sugar of the pie depending on how sweet the strawberries naturally are. If it's peak strawberry season and the fruit are already really sweet, reduce 1/2 cup of brown sugar to 1/3 or 1/4 cup. Taste as you go along!

All-Butter Pie Crust
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay!).

Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. 

Add two tablespoons of the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Mix and cut it in with bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue adding the liquid, one to two tablespoons at a time. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

Shape the dough into two flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment (yay nonstick!) and fit it on the pie plate.

Strawberry Pie Filling
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine strawberries and the sugars. Add in the dry mixture and mix well. Let the filling rest for 10 minutes.

Spoon the filling into shaped pie crust, leaving the liquid behind. 

Add little pieces of the butter on top of the filling before arranging the top crust.

Assembly and Baking
Coat top crust with a simple egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case any juices bubble over. Bake at 425F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375F, move the pie to the centre oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.

If the top crust is starting to get a little dark too quickly, throw on a pie shield and you are set!

Let pie set for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into it. Patience! After the pie has set, go to town and top a slice with three scoops of your favourite ice cream. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Chocolate Marble Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (aka Cake #VIEWS)

Recently I have spiralled into this unhealthy obsession with Drake. I want to caption everything with a Drake lyric. I try to sneak in "somewhere between psychotic and iconic" into every human interaction I have. I hope one day I can introduce myself by saying "last name ever, first name greatest." But until then I'll just be here...turning birthday into a lifestyle. Please send help. 

I feel remotely better than I'm not the only one though. I was chatting to Thalia last night and we came into mutual agreement that we will meet in Toronto (aka Drake heaven), rent an AirBnb, build a Drake shrine, and make all the Drake cake together. *squeals*

So let's backtrack a a time that Drake wasn't the essence of my existence and the blogging was still a novel thing to me. So what got me into blogging? What made me decide to set aside a good chunk of my weekend to bake, fail at baking, bake again, and then take photos of the non-failures? Other people's blogs. I was obsessed with reading (more like stalking) other baking blogs. 

One of the first blogs I followed is the one belonging to Joy the Baker. She's super rad and her cookbook Homemade Decadence is such a fun read. I never get sick of the description of her apple cheddar pie. Joy also talks a bit about New Orleans from time to time and I'm all about the NOLA vibez. I think my girl/blog crush status for her went through the roof when she came up with Drake on Cake. CAN WE TAKE A MOMENT TO TALK ABOUT HOW AMAZING THAT IDEA IS. Can we talk about how I wish I was witty enough to come up with something like that. So here is my little homage to Drake cake, a feeble attempt of mine to up my cool levels by a factor of 0.1. 

If you need me, you can find me listening to the Take Care album on repeat.

Chocolate Marble Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: Three-layer 6 inch cake

Classic Vanilla Cake
1/2 cup 2 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
130 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 salt

Devil's Food Cake 
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
100 ml milk
3 tablespoon sour cream/plain greek yogurt

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz (115g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cup (375g) icing sugar
2 - 3 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Classic Vanilla Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and grease three cake pans. 

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine. Gradually pour in the milk and add in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the three prepared cake pans and set aside.

Devil's Food Cake
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated.

Add in the dry ingredients and start mixing on slow. Gradually add the milk and sour cream/greek yogurt.

Marbling (Cake Batter): 
Using a spoon, dollop big spoonfuls of the chocolate batter into the pans with vanilla batter. Using the spoon, swirl the chocolate dollops into the vanilla batter. Careful not to swirl too much, or else the marble will not be prominent when it has finished baking. 

Bake for 35-37 minutes. Check for doneness a few minutes before the 35 minute mark by using a toothpick - if the toothpick comes out clean, you're good to go. You can also test for doneness by gently pressing your finger on the cake - it should spring back up.

Cream Cheese Frosting
In a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and unsalted butter until mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly add in the icing sugar, one cup at a time. Add in the vanilla extract. Add in the milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

For the blue text, I reserved a few spoonfuls of the cream choose frosting and added a couple drops of blue food colouring.