Monday, July 8, 2013

 “You see my son,” said God, “the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides.”       -Unknown

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

She led the way across the hall to the room on the opposite side; a large, well-appointed, and spotlessly neat kitchen.
Ellen could not help exclaiming at its pleasantness.
 "Why, yes--I think it is. I have been in many a parlour that I do not like as well.....Margery, if you will put the kettle on and see to the fire, I'll make some of my cakes for tea."
Alice now rolled up her sleeves above the elbows, and tying a large white apron before her, set about gathering the different things she wanted for her work, to Ellen's great amusement.
A white moulding-board was placed upon a table as white; and round it soon grouped the pail of flour, the plate of nice yellow butter, the bowl of cream, the sieve, tray, and sundry etceteras. And then, first sifting some flour into the tray, Alice began to throw in the other things one after another, and toss the whole about with a carelessness that looked as if it would all go wrong, but with a confidence that seemed to say all was going right. Ellen gazed in comical wonderment.
  "Did you think cakes were made without hands?" said Alice, laughing at her look. "You saw me wash mine before I began."
"Oh, I'm not thinking of that," said Ellen; "I am not afraid of your hands."
  "Did you never see your mother do this?" said Alice, who was now turning and rolling the dough upon the board in a way that seemed to Ellen curious beyond expression.
"No, never," she said. "Mamma never kept house, and I never saw anybody do it."
  "Then your aunt does not let you into the mysteries of bread and butter making?"
"Butter making! Oh," said Ellen with a sigh, "I have enough of that."
     Alice now applied a smooth wooden roller to the cake, with such quickness and skill that the lump forthwith lay spread upon the board in a thin even layer, and she next cut it into little round cakes with the edge of a tumbler.
Half the board was covered with the nice little white things, which Ellen declared looked good enough to eat already, and she had quite forgotten all possible causes of vexation, past, present, or future, when suddenly a large grey cat jumped upon the table, and, coolly walking upon the moulding-board, planted his paw directly in the middle of one of his mistress's cakes.
  "Take him off--oh, Ellen!" cried Alice, "take him off. I can't touch him." But Ellen was a little afraid.
Alice then gently tried to shove puss off with her elbow; but he seemed to think that was very good fun, purred, whisked his great tail over Alice's bare arm, and rubbed his head against it, having evidently no notion that he was not just where he ought to be. Alice and Ellen were too much amused to try any violent method of relief, but Margery, happily coming in, seized puss in both hands and set him on the floor.
"Just look at the print of his paw in that cake," said Ellen.
   "He has set his mark on it, certainly. I think it is his now, by the right of possession, and if not the right of discovery."
"I think he discovered the cakes too," said Ellen, laughing.
  "Why, yes. He shall have that one baked for his supper."
"Does he like cakes?"
  "Indeed he does. He is very particular and delicate about his eating, is Captain Parry."
"Captain Parry!" said Ellen; "is that his name?"
  "Yes," said Alice, laughing; "I don't wonder you look astonished, Ellen. I have had that cat five years, and when he was first given me, my brother Jack, who was younger than he is now, and he had been reading Captain Parry's Voyages, gave him that name, and would have him called so. Oh, Jack!" said Alice, half laughing and half crying.
Ellen wondered why; but she went to wash her hands, and when her face was again turned to Ellen, it was unruffled as ever.
  "Margery, my cakes are ready," said she, "and Ellen and I are ready too."
 "Very well, Miss Alice; the kettle is just going to boil; you shall have tea in a trice. I'll do some eggs for you."
  "Something--anything," said Alice; "I feel one cannot live without eating. Come, Ellen, you and I will go and set the tea-table."
     Ellen was very happy arranging the cups and saucers and other things that Alice handed her from the cupboard; and when, a few minutes after, the tea and the cakes came in, and she and Alice were cosily seated, poor Ellen hardly knew herself in such a pleasant state of things.

                                                                          -From "The Wide, Wide World" by Elizabeth Wetherell

Monday, June 17, 2013

In The Kitchen: Post The First

So this week was a rough week for various reasons, and I was to the end of my rope. I didn't think I could go any further and I was sad and indisposed. After much counseling I felt much better and came to this conclusion: when one is feeling sad, one must make cake. :)
So I did.

They have on TV this show called The All American Bake-Off, and after hearing "you need to watch it!" several (hundred) times, I figured that I should. The episode that I happened upon was all about cake. The contestants had to bake several different kinds of cake, which then got tasted by the judges and in turn were deemed "worthy" or "unworthy" according to several different things that all judges like picking on (taste, consistency, presentation...all that good stuff).
The last and most difficult one for the contestants was Chiffon Cake.
Now, although I had a slight recollection of hearing the name of this cake a long time ago, I knew almost nothing about it. I was horribly ashamed and at once was determined to learn all about this cake and, if I could, was inclined to make it (doing is the best way to learn, especially when making cake).

I found that Chiffon cake was a light, airy cake, with hundreds and hundreds of little tiny holes, making it very springy and spongy: in a word, like eating extremely delicious air.
Now, although the flavor of Chiffon cake varies greatly, the original version was intended to taste like pound cake, but with all the lovely lightness of  Angel Food cake.

And after seeing most of the competitors mess up this heavenly cake, I decided that I was going to make one, and that it was going to turn out better than the ones on the TV show (yes, I had a "challenge accepted" moment). ;)

I then set out to accomplish my endeavor.

The lightness of this cake comes from many, many egg-whites whipped into a frenzy and about as stiff as you can get them. Then you must fold them in the simple batter as gently as you can or they will turn into a wet sopping mess and you will never get your cake to rise....yeah, no pressure.

Luckily, I got them all folded in without too much trouble (the trick here is to use an EXTREMELY large bowl) and the batter was in the pan and into the oven before I could worry about any of it.
Well that wasn't too hard, was it?
The cake rose to amazing heights in the oven, and before I knew it, it was time to take it out.
Once out of the oven, the cake must be turned upside-down to cool (most Chiffon/Angel Food cake pans have three little tabs around the rim to rest on when you flip the pan over).
Now came the problem. I have this habit of being impatient with cakes and things, and once something is done being baked, the hardest thing is to wait for it to cool before you get to decorate it. Unfortunately, this particular cake takes AT LEAST an hour to cool before you can even think about taking it out of its pan. A whole hour. My life was over. I couldn't even fathom waiting that long for a cake....

Luckily, I had another cake that I was working on at the same time. This one was a gluten free carrot cake, and I was kind of excited, yet also worried about it.
You see, it was Father's Day and my dad's favorite cake of all time is none other than: carrot cake.
So I was kind of going out on a limb to try this recipe that I had never treid before. But I put my best foot forward and set to work.
The method for making gluten free cakes is pretty much the same as regular cakes (as far as I can tell, not having made many myself), and soon I had the batter ready and in its pans.

Then I made the big mistake. I tasted the batter. I don't believe I have ever tasted a cake batter that was so disgusting in my entire life. I was horrified! How was I supposed to give this to my dad, the king of carrot cake, for Father's day?
I just sighed and put them in the oven to see what would happen.
After some time I took them out of the oven and felt the top of one. It felt like most any cake would. I was surprised and was impatient to see what they would feel like once I turned them out of their pans, but I had to wait for them to cool. Luckily, they didn't take much time at all.

I turned them out and frosted them with some buttercream that I had ready, and then tasted a bit of the crumbs that had been left behind. It tasted just like regular carrot cake! The texture was almost the same and all the flavor was there. I don't have to tell you that I was most pleasantly surprised.

So, happy that one cake seemed to turn out fine, and it being all frosted and ready, I at once turned to my Chiffon cake and wanted to finish that as well. Only, it hadn't cooled long enough yet. I was very, VERY, upset. So I made my second mistake of the day: I took the cake out anyway.

It was perfect. All light and perfectly golden brown....I was a very happy girl.
I turned it onto a pretty cake dish, and spread some of the raspberry sauce that I had made earlier (just cook some fresh/frozen raspberries in a small pot with some sugar and lemon juice until reduced by half) over the top. I didn't like the look of it however, so I made a glaze with powered sugar and lemon juice and drizzled it over the top. It was perfect.

After dinner everyone tried the cakes and dad loved the carrot. He honestly couldn't tell that it was gluten free, and was most pleased to find out that it had no wheat flour in it.

My lovely Chiffon cake came next, and although he liked the flavors, my dad didn't particularly like the texture (don't ask me why, but he just doesn't like light, spongy textures when it comes to cakes/pastries).

I loved it. It was deliciously light and lusciously, yet subtly lemon. I was eating a cloud.
Only, I noticed that something was wrong. My cake looked lopsided. I was horrified!
As it turns out, there is a very good reason for cooling the cake for over an hour....the sides will collapse if it is even the slightest bit warm when taken out of the pan. Oops. :P

So my cake didn't turn out perfect, but it was pretty good for a first try, and over all I was very pleased. :)

Lemon Chiffon
 Yield 1- 10″
 Egg Yolks 6 Lg (108g)
 Vegetable Oil 4 fl oz (1/2c)
 Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice 6 fl oz (3/4c)
 Lemon Zest from 1 large lemon
 Lemon Extract 1 tsp
 Cake Flour 2c (260g)
 Sugar 1 1/4c (250g)
 Baking Powder 1 Tablespoon (15g)
 Salt 1/2tsp (3g)
 Egg Whites 6 Lg (180g)
 Sugar 1/4 c (50g)
Cream of Tartar 1/4tsp

Mix Method:
 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
In the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the first 8 ingredients and blend well. About 1 minute on medium speed.
Transfer this batter to a large mixing bowl and clean the Kitchen Aid bowl well to be sure there are no traces of oil left in the bowl.
You will then use the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to foamy on medium speed.
Gradually increase the speed to high and slowly add the sugar to the meringue. Continue whipping to medium peaks.
In 3 additions, fold the meringue into the reserved batter in the large mixing bowl.
Pour the batter into your ungreased chiffon pan and baker for approximately 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Makes one 2-layer 8-inch round cake
3 cups (about 15 ounces) gluten free flour mix
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated peeled carrots (about two large carrots)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter two 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. Combine gluten-free flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Add sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or add to a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer. Beat until smooth, about one minute. Add vanilla and beat for another minute. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Fold in carrots, walnuts, and coconut with a spatula.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use a small knife to cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Invert cake layers onto rack, peel off paper and allow to cool completely.
So now that you have heard my story and have learned of my mistakes, perhaps you will try one (or both) of these recipes at at home. :)
Happy baking!

I am back!

I am very sorry to have left, but our family was "fasting" internet for a while. (not my idea at all by the way...) :P But now I am back and have much to catch up on...

As some of you may know, I am in the middle of my second semester in the culinary program at Pensacola State College. I am working for my degree as a professional chef, and hopefully as a pastry chef sometime in the future. I have learned so much already, and I am looking forward to learning more along with all the fun stuff I learn on my own, and I would like to share it with you all. I am hoping to be able to have one post a week on here for my dear readers. However, as I tend to have major changes in my schedule during the week, I can't promise anything...but I will try to the best of my ability. :)

So get ready for some major kitchen fun! :D