Feb 152014
 
So You’re Making a Special Occasion Cake. Part 2: Creation

  In Part 1, I discussed all the considerations necessary in the Design phase for a special occasion cake. I gave all of them some thought and  came up with a new cake concept I couldn”t wait to make. Join me below? First, what did I decide on in the design phase? Here are my answers: Theme- It was a wedding! My uncle and his partner of 17 years were marrying and asked me and my wife to be the witnesses at their wedding in San Francisco last week. (They plan to have a party/reception for friends and family later this year.) […]

Feb 032014
 
So You're Making a Special Occasion Cake. Part 1: The Design Phase.

  I’m planning a cake for an upcoming occasion and I thought I’d do a multi-part series here on the creation of a special occasion cake. Today I’m in the design phase, so let’s talk about major considerations when planning a cake for the big event. The cherry blossom themed cake above was one I made at culinary school, in Advanced Baking class, with another student. We made a buttercream for the exterior icing, (Italian meringue buttercream, as I recall.) The layers were a vanilla white cake interspersed with lemon curd. We beat some of the extra lemon curd into some […]

Dec 132013
 
Triple Lemon Rosemary Polenta Cookies, and some notes on cookie presentation

  I made this cookie yesterday for Slow Food Santa Cruz‘s Annual Holiday Party, which this year featured not only a fantastic pour of wines from Vinocruz, but also a holiday cookie exchange. Never one to let this sort of opportunity pass without making things as stressful as possible on myself, I decided to try out a brand-new recipe, one I’d only just devised and was basing on someone else’s recipe, located on the internet, which I’d never before tested. 2 hours before the party. What could go wrong? I will temper the suspense a bit by mentioning that by […]

Dec 102013
 
Cranberry Cardamom Bread with Satsuma Caramel Glaze

  So– Thanksgiving, aka High Holy Day for Cooks, has come and gone. And you are left with, shall we say, an imbalance of leftovers. The guests fell upon the remains of the Maple Jalapeno Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts like vultures; the turkey and mashed potatoes were swiftly packaged up for later; the sweet potato crisp was claimed in the spirit of a conquering nation setting flags upon distant shores. But the remainders of the cranberry sauce, of which you admittedly make too much each year, sit alone and unclaimed upon the table, despite the tart and citrus-infused deliciousness. It’s […]

Nov 192013
 
Persimmon Pumpkin Hazelnut Bread, with tips on choosing persimmons and peeling hazelnuts

I’ve adapted this recipe from one my mom made for years when I was a kid– she followed it faithfully every autumn.  The house filled with wonderful aromas while it baked. My dad still has her recipe card from the 70’s; true to the era, it calls for canned pineapple. (I feel like half the recipes of my childhood involved canned pineapple.) I love the design on this recipe card. In this updated recipe, I use this pumpkin bread palette to highlight seasonal ingredients, so I drop the canned pineapple, raisins, and walnuts and swap in diced Fuyu persimmon, pureed Hachiya persimmon, […]

Jul 082013
 
A Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Shortbread Tart

This recipe was developed for Slow Food Santa Cruz. We are flush with berries here on the Central Coast, and it’s been strawberry season for well over a month now. If you’re a local, you’ve eaten them fresh, out of hand. You’ve had them over yogurt, and in salads. Now, it’s time to get indulgent. With our local strawberries still at the peak of ripeness, make a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Shortbread Tart. In this formulation, you will crown crisp, buttery shortbread with glistening strawberries, nestling them into a rich, dark chocolate ganache. The strawberries used in developing this recipe are […]

Jun 032013
 
Chocolate Ganache is Deceptively Simple to Make

Have a bowl, a whisk, some chocolate, some heavy cream, and a few minutes to spare? Good. Let’s make ganache. Your ratio of chocolate to cream determines the consistency of your ganache. But the ratio for a good, all-purpose ganache– pourable when warm, firm enough for truffles when chilled– is simple: 1 part cream to 2 parts chocolate. This recipe makes about 2 cups of rich, dark chocolate ganache– enough to pour over a cake for an elegant frosting, chill and then roll tablespoonfuls into balls dusted with cocoa for dozens of truffles or, say, dip a bunch of frozen bananas […]

May 182013
 
Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Breakfast Cake

Every so often I step out on this site and develop a recipe for Food52.com instead. (There are contests! It’s fun!) But I’m thinking about my main site, this one, the whole time… really, I am. Don’t be like that. Anyhow, I came up with this cake for Food52 last month. Now that the whole contest it was involved in is over, I figured I’d post it here too.  They took some gorgeous shots of the cake while they were testing it. (Check them out.) The recipe ended up being a “Community Pick” on the site. Read up on the genesis of […]

Jun 252012
 
Summer Breakfast Bread: The Quick Bread, Reconsidered.

  Quick breads are a category of baked goods which walk a line between bread and cake; they’re called “quick” because the use of chemical leaveners (baking powder, baking soda) negates any need to add yeast, or undergo the kneading, rising, and waiting that go along with it. Holiday favorites such as pumpkin bread and zucchini bread are quick breads. Squash, native to the Americas, has been a common component in American baking since colonial times. Quick breads date back to the 1800’s, when leaveners became commercially available. I studied some classic zucchini bread recipes and then took the concepts for a new spin […]