A couple of notes from this recipe, fortunately, nothing major ;-)
A cake that is closer to a brioche than a typical cake. It is actually very close to a cinnamon bun. Delicious with coffee or hot chocolate.
I am very happy with the result! And proud of myself too! :-D
This is a recipe I have been wanting to try forever! I lived in Louisiana for a few years and just loved this tradition, how people eat this cake all Mardi Gras season. It was a neat way to end the day on Fridays at the office. People in Louisiana are always very convivial and I've learnt so much about the various traditions (besides what people see on TV) of the Carnival season in Louisiana. So this is a salute to those whose friendship made these years fantastic!
The recipe I found was this one. I don't remember when I found it but apparently it comes from the February 2006 edition of Southern Living. Well, I can tell you I am incredibly happy with the end result, so this recipe goes into the family recipe book!
Last weekend's project was "eclairs". I needed to revisit the dough I used for the cream puffs AND the recipe for the vanilla cream used to stuff them.
I remembered some lessons, forgot others and will need to do this again to keep improving. Not that I seem to run out of people willing to try the desserts...
All in all, this week's experiments tasted really good, I just need to work more on the appearance side of things. I would say that my major fault here is my impatience. I just want to go too fast. What is frustrating is that I KNOW I am going too fast as I do it but I can't seem to slow myself down. This was particularly the case with the chocolate ganache in this case.
The eclairs recipe
For the eclairs, I used this recipe, it is a basic recipe, pretty easy to accomplish. That was not the issue. However, I'm always amazed at how hard it is to deal with oven temperatures and length of baking. See, this recipe is used to make little cream puffs, eclairs and many more other items. Everything is different, different sizes, different thickness, so the temperature and length of baking will be different for each one.
Now, as you are baking, it is not so hard to say "ok, a couple minutes more". What is hard though is to keep track of how you modify the time for the next time you want to do this. And I haven't even figured out how to play with the temperature. How do you know which temperature would be the best for your project?
One of the lessons I had learnt from making the cream puffs was that the size of the batter you put on the sheet does not change much when baking, it doesn't rise and double volume or anything close to that. So I made sure my eclairs were close to the size I wanted in my final product.
However, in my first batch, I poured the batter in a kind of rope and did a "folded" rope to ensure enough width. Well, the result was disappointing. The rope was not thick enough or high enough, which means those eclairs were flat. And the two parts of the rope did not mesh completely during baking, which gave me eclairs with a weird valley in the middle. This batch tasted good but looked horrible.
So for the second batch, I kept the pastry bag closer to the baking sheet and made sure to pour more batter. Frankly, I could have gone even further. I should have ended up with a sausage-like batter about one inch thick. The other thing is how hard it is to keep that pastry bag steady and pour the batter in a uniform way. I ended up with some funky shaped eclairs.
All in all, taste-wise, this was a success. Look-wise, well, there is still work to be done...
The chocolate ganache
Technically, this was the easiest part, just melt chocolate and mix with some heavy cream. Once again, my impatience got the best of me and my chocolate was grainy and my ganache a bit too thick.
Now, I know why I was so impatient that day, it was the traditional day for crepes and I had guests over for crepes. Why did I start another project on the same day? Who knows but definitely not something to repeat. *embarrassed*
In the end, I'm glad to say I made eclairs. The taste was really good, so I know the recipes work, I just need to work on technique and appearance. and PATIENCE!!!
There is hope!
What is your weakness when baking?
This past weekend was a heavy baking weekend. After the waffles of Friday night, I made Halloween treats for a friend’s Halloween party on Saturday (and brioche bread on Sunday). It was a lot of fun and a challenge for me... although I did bite more than I could chew, leading me to use *blush* shortcuts... However, I still managed to learn something.
I started with Halloween cookies. I used the same recipe as for the French-themed cookies I had made, but had more fun with the decorating. It was far from perfect, mind you, and my hands and arms were killing me by the end BUT it was fun. I really like that cookie recipe but will try and find other types of cookies that can be decorated. I used Halloween-themed cookie-cutters and tried to ice designs on the cookies. There is still more to learn, obviously, but Christmas is almost here with plenty of excuses to make cookies.
For the other treats, I used shortcuts, I admit it. I used boxed mixes for the cakes and really worked on the icing technique. The mini-muffins were pumpkin spice muffins and I made them into brains, following inspirations found online. The cupcakes were chocolate and again, I found inspiration online for mummy cupcakes. All in all, I don’t think they were too bad. I definitely need to work with the consistency of the icing to make it easier to pipe.
So, for the last couple days, I’ve been looking up online tips to improve my cookie/cupcake decorating techniques and will, hopefully, soon be able to apply them.
This week’s challenge: making a few dozen cookies on a French theme for a local event. I wanted to work with a French recipe, easy to make, but challenging me, of course.
So I chose “sablés”, which are dry cookies (sable = sand) that can be shaped by hand, with a knife or with a cookie cutter. The recipe is fairly simple and does allow for slight variations of taste (adding lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice). The beauty of these cookies is that you can use your imagination in the decorating.
Recipe for the cookies
By tripling the recipe, I got around 46 cookies (2 different shapes), counting the ones that were not fit for company. I ended up with 42 "useable" ones. Note that my cookies are fairly big (5" tall and 3" wide at their largest).
And once again, I had some bananas that needed using. It’s amazing! We love bananas but never can seem to eat them before they get to the point we don’t find them attractive anymore.
I didn’t want to make muffins again, so I went for a banana cake. Now, I had done this before, I had a recipe ready to use but decided to try something new. So, off I go, searching the net to find a recipe I could easily make with the ingredients I had on hand.
And I found this recipe. It seemed quite easy and the picture made it look good. I start reading the comments, because, well, you can learn a lot from comments... Of course, you can also get very confused. Some people loved this recipe, and found it foolproof. Some said it failed, fell, etc. Some people said the order of the ingredients was not important, others said you had to put them in the order listed. Some people said it was too sweet, they added more bananas, etc. The temperature of the oven and the baking time also seemed to be very different.
I have to say, I admire these people who try recipes and change quantities, ingredients, etc. I would be so afraid to do this, not knowing how the changes will affect the final product. But I guess this is also the point of these experiments, correct?
So, this banana cake came out delicious. I did need to bake it longer than the recipe called for. It did rise and then fall when I took it out of the oven. It is so moist that I can’t tell if it’s normal or not. BUT it tastes GOOD!!!! Especially with a chocolate icing...
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It's been a busy week with not much time to bake, unfortunately. So today, I decided to make a recipe I knew would be quick and delicious: scones and cream.
I used a recipe I found many years ago and I have to admit, although the end result is pretty good, I was so impatient this morning that I didn't follow the directions closely and it could have ended in disaster. Unfortunately, I am not experienced enough to be able to experiment and invent. However, as I said, the end result is pretty good, so maybe it is a fool-proof recipe.
I was cleaning up the kitchen and had three oranges that needed to be used before spoiling, so I searched for recipes that used orange juice and this is what I found.
This is a very simple cake but oh so good. It is light, with a very subtle taste (I didn't have the orange zest but it definitely can use it). It springs back when you cut it, it is moist. Definitely a success...
The cooking time was off, I had to bake it for 55 minutes instead of 40, but otherwise, everything worked. I looked for and found a recipe for icing using orange juice. I need to find a way to get all the lumps of sugar. If I hadn't been so impatient, I might have taken the time to sift the sugar and might have seen a difference. The recipe called for 1/2 cup juice but it's a lot of sugar.... and I didn't even get to the consistency mentioned (where you can spread the icing). I did add some orange extract to the icing and I think it is definitely something to do in the future as I'd need to use less liquid to have a thicker icing.
If it hadn't been an improvised project, I would have decorated with slices of orange in addition to mint leaves, or even mandarin orange slices. Something with a strong orange color. This cake could also handle a filling, I'd go for a soft and subtly orange cream or orange jam... Actually raspberry jam could work well with the orange.
I could see using this for petits-fours, cupcakes... The recipe called for a tube shape mold, so that could look great too.
Well, I'm very happy with the final result, I mean REALLY happy, it tastes so good!!!