“KD Land” was quite busy lately. Sorry for being MIA the last couple of
weeks months… life gets in the way sometimes and this little blog gets zero attention while I recover from the madness of my work and social schedules.
So while I was away… I made a Funfetti Cake for my nephew’s 4th birthday. I used Baking Illustrated’s Classic White Layer Cake with good ol’ vanilla buttercream frosting and raspberry jam as filling. The cake obviously exploded with rainbow sprinkles inside and out. I used rainbow jimmies for the inside of the cake and opted for round sprinkles on the outside. Fiesta!
For an Oscar’s party I attended, I made a Les Miserables-inspired dessert using the “stolen loaf of bread” concept: Citrus Almond Olive Oil Loaf (shout out to my friend Rebekah for the idea). This recipe is from The Seasonal Baker by John Baricelli. This “bread” is so delicious, so moist, so citrusy, and so goooooooood. Definitely becoming my go-to quickbread to make lately.
I also made a glorious Coconut Cake by Rose Levy Berenbaum (from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes)… but I don’t have a decent photo to share here. Ha!
This spring, I’ll do my best to keep up a bit more with the frequency of the posts. ;) There are a couple of recipes I’ve been meaning to try.
We all make something out of apples at least
twice once every fall/winter baking season. I don’t know about you but apples to me are not that exciting. I don’t eat apples on a daily or even weekly basis. I only eat them when they are already pre-sliced. Skin on is okay but it has to be pre-sliced in perfect wedges for me to eat one. Caramel dip on the side also highly preferred. I don’t know why I have such high apple-eating requirements. It’s not my favorite fruit on earth but roast those babies and my snobbish opinions about apples get kicked to the wayside.
Something about caramelized edges and the fragrant aroma. It seduces me. How can a measly little apple turn you on in its cooked and sometimes mushy form? Perhaps the little sugar scrub you give the apples prior to roasting gets them happy? Maybe the squeeze of lemon juice brings out its greatness? Or maybe when you sprinkle a pinch of salt the naughty bruised ones get wild in the oven? Oh these tricky little apples… they sure have a crazy side that even the non-fanatics can be converted to temporary groupies at least for one night.
Cooked apples other than roasted take my breath away too. Like baked apples adorned with cookie crumbles are simply satisfying; applesauce folded into your favorite spiced cake batter is utterly divine; cinnamon-y apple turnovers for breakfast is like, the best thing ever, duh; and apple pie à la mode will always be a great 3am-end-of-an-epic-Saturday-night treat.
You’re turned on aren’t you? It’s a cold, staying-in kind of weekend anyway (rainy for west coasters, blizzard for east coasters… yikes, be safe everyone). So I suggest to make this Roasted Apple Tart if you have a bowl of apples sitting in your countertop. If not, and it’s too unsafe to go out at your nearest grocery store due to severe weather, perhaps next weekend?
Roasted Apple Tart recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts. In the book, the tarts are made in 4-inch bottomless tart rings. I made mine using a rectangular tart pan. I think it looks pretty the way I made it. #justsaying
Ahh fall. My favorite season of the year. During this wonderfully cool time, my chunky scarves finally get a little breathing room after being buried in my drawer for 7 months. I can justify again the amount of money I’ve spent on boots – tall, ankle, riding, wellies, suede, calf, combat, animal skin, shearling, chelsea, shiny black, matte black, distressed brown, smooth brown, cognac, and orange red (don’t judge). And that coat I bought on sale back in April will prove to be this year’s best buy.
But what really entices me about this time of year is the idea of spending hours in the kitchen baking fall-inspired treats including our favorite fall ingredient: pumpkin.
The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli has this incredibly delicious yet super easy recipe for Pumpkin Raisin (Walnut) Muffins. I made the walnut variation not only by adding walnuts to the batter but also topping it with chopped walnuts. Insanely good. That one small change of sprinkling walnuts on top really elevated the muffins.
Here’s a not-so-new tip… toast the walnuts that get folded in the batter for a nutty flavor but leave the walnut topping untoasted so it doesn’t end up tasting burnt – you don’t want the nuts to take two trips in the oven.
You’ll notice, I still haven’t gotten over the Sprinkles-initiated brown paper liners. Still obsessed.
John Barricelli also has a new-ish book out called The Seasonal Baker. I haven’t had a chance to get my copy but I think I know what I’m asking the hubby to get me for Christmas.
Did you catch Christina Applegate’s Saturday Night Live monologue last weekend? She sang. She sang and sounded great (I had no idea she can sing). And she sang about the still stress-free-pre-holiday-mid-October-season. You know, when it’s still two weeks before Halloween and the intensity of holiday errands and parties have not yet kicked in. The monologue ended and I thought that the clever SNL writers articulated (in a song) what we all subconsciously know. Mid-October is probably the most restful-ish fourth quarter of our 2012… of my 2012. It’s after my birthday and just right before holiday madness. Thanks to the brilliance of SNL, from now on I will make it a point to be mellow-yellow every mid-October for all the years to come. Except when I decide to bring back month-long birthday celebrations like I used to before I hit the big 3-0. I turned 30 this year and I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I take that as a good sign.
If you are relishing your chill middle of the month weekend like me, I share with you America’s Test Kitchen’s orgasmic Classic Bread Pudding.
It is indeed orgasmic. This Classic Bread Pudding is everything that a bread pudding should be. Creamy but not soggy. Rich but not tooth-achingly sweet. Classic but definitely not boring. This bread pudding is like the Ralph Lauren of desserts. All-American. Old school classic (I use that term to describe bread pudding as time-tested) but sensational. And just like Ralph Lauren, you will find that you will often reach for this dessert in your wardrobe of tried and tested recipes.
Five reasons why you need to make this bread pudding this Fall:
- Challah Bread – toasted to dry out so it absorbs all that custard
- Luscious custard – you won’t overcook it guaranteed, it’s ATK folks
- Crunchy topping – a result of reserved toasted challah bread sprinkled on top with brown sugar
- Bourbon-Brown Sugar Sauce – ’nuff said
- Repeat: BOURBON!
Hope you are registered on ATK’s website so you can access this recipe. This also aired on ATK’s show on PBS. If you are registered, the bread pudding recipe is here. And if you have membership, the Bourbon-Brown Sugar recipe is here.
Summer is officially over but the temperature here in Southern California is still a sizzling 81°F. We are seeing a cooling trend later in the week (finally) but the past few weeks felt like Hell on Earth with scorching heat too unbearable to even open my mouth to complain about.
With this crazy weather, continuing to make summer-inspired treats remains totally acceptable post-September. We live in sunny LA after all. My go-to summer dessert each year is a Key Lime Tart. It’s absolutely delicious and hella easy to make. I don’t screw around with my Key Lime Tart from a flavor standpoint. Although I do welcome a nice change once in a while… like a white chocolate-coated graham cracker crust, adding lemon zest or grapefruit zest to the custard, or using pâte sucrée as substitute crust. But at the end of the day, I still prefer the classic Key Lime Tart recipe of crispy, sweet, and buttery graham cracker crust (sans any coating) and good ol’ tart Key Lime custard. Top it off with some whipped cream and I am ready to die and meet my maker.
If you dig the classic like I do, Baking Illustrated’s Key Lime Tart recipe is fool-proof. I have tried no-bake or icebox Key Lime Tart recipes in the past… but I have to say it’s not my fave. That’s personal point of view but you can certainly try it and see if you like the texture. With this crazy hot weather lately, I am sure I will have a deeper appreciation of the icebox version had I tried it.
Don’t have Baking Illustrated in your baking book arsenal? Get it here.
By the way, I cannot wait for fall baking! Once I see Starbucks bring out their red cups, it’s my signal to start freezing pie dough for Thanksgiving! But before that, hope you get to make this tangy Key Lime Tart as your last “hot-as-balls” Indian summer hurrah. Pardon my language, but it’s been way too hot for way too long already.