Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rustic Apple Pie

I don't know why but I bought a lot of apples a couple of weeks ago. A LOT! I couldn't help myself. I went a little crazy when I saw all the different varieties available. I meandered around all the crates and containers picking up a couple of each variety as I went and before I knew it, I had a boat load! What's a girl to do? Make a pie!

Instead of making the typical pie, I went with a more rustic looking pie. (aka galette)

I keep extra pie dough in the freezer at all times for such an occasion. You can use any pie crust recipe you would like for your galette. If you want an easy (and tasty) recipe with photos, pop over to Simply Recipes.

Peel, core and slice your apples. (I used 4 granny smiths, 4 golden delicious and my favorite apple peeler/slicer) Toss the apples with 1 TBS fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of sugar. Let them rest on the counter for an hour, then drain the liquid off into a sauce pan.

Caramelized the liquid over medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

To prevent a flood of juices from collecting in the bottom of the pie/galette, pre-cook your apples in the caramelized liquid for 10 minutes over medium heat to a temperature of 120 to 140 degrees. (This stabilizes the pectin and prevents the apples from becoming mushy when cooked for a second time in the oven. Temperatures over 140 causes the pectin to break down and you'll end up with an applesauce pie.)

Remove the apples from heat, adjust the flavoring to your liking (I sprinkle in cinnamon, a tablespoon or two of brown sugar and a slash of vanilla)

Let the apples cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Roll out your dough and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Put your cooled apples in the middle of the dough and fold the dough up leaving most of the fruit exposed

Mix a splash of water with an egg white and brush it on the exposed dough then sprinkle it with sugar and pop it in the oven.

Bake on the bottom rack 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees (until crust is brown and fruit is bubbly) Check the bottom of the pie after 35 minutes, if it is getting too brown, move it to the middle rack and lower the temperature to 350.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TWD: Chocolate chocolate cupcakes

After living vicariously through all the "TWD" bakers out there, I finally have jumped on the bandwagon. (Yes, the October deadline had a lot to do with motivating me)

This weeks recipe, Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes, was selected by Clara of I Heart Food4Thought You can find the recipe on her website or on pages 215-217 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From my Home to Yours"

Although I carefully weighed all my ingredients and took the cupcakes out of the oven the second the tops of the cakes were dry and springy to the touch and a knife inserted into the center came out clean (21-22 mins) as Dorie described, I found these cupcakes to be on the dry side.

I only had one issue with the recipe... the step where you fold the melted chocolate into the batter, ...I scraped all the chocolate into the batter at once, grabbed my spatula to fold it in, and hit a big lump of chocolate! The entire amount of melted chocolate had solidified! grrrrrrrrr. (the chocolate was around 74 degrees, the cake batter around 66 degrees when I merged the two.)
I removed the big lump of chocolate out, wiped off all the cake mix that I could, and stuck it in the microwave until it was pliable again. Then I mixed it into the batter slowly. I think there were still some small pieces of chocolate that solidified but they seemed to have melted when I baked the cupcakes.

I wanted to do something different with the cupcakes so I used the vanilla cream filling that Baking Bites posted on her site. For half of the cupcakes, I used her method of filling the cupcakes ,
for the other half, I used a faster method... I shoved the piping tip into the cupcake and squeezed the pastry bag until the cupcake swelled. (some of them cracked because I squeezed too much. See the one on the left below)

The cupcakes using Baking Bites method (shown below) looked nicer and more symmetrical than the ones I filled by shoving the tip into. (shown above) However, I'm probably the only one who noticed.

I'm have a lot to learn when it comes to baking... especially when it comes to chocolate. I really, really don't like chocolate. Not only does it end up all over my kitchen, but it doesn't behave the way it's supposed to. Please leave me a message on what I need to do differently to get chocolate under control. Perhaps there's an obedience training class out there that you could recommend?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tyler Florence Banana Bread

While visiting our daughters in Florida, the youngest, Carey, made this awesome banana bread. It was light, fluffy and delicious! As much as I love her and visiting with family, I couldn't wait to get back home so I could make it myself!

My first batch turned out heavy and dense (like most of my banana breads) It was tasty but I wanted light and fluffy. (picture a kid at the checkout stand at Wal-Mart pitching a fit because they wanted something... yep, that was me)
Exhibit A:

I emailed the above picture to her and asked her what I did wrong. I followed the recipe to a tee and it came out heavy and dense. :-( It turns out that she didn't follow the recipe to a tee. (She is so much like her Father... He makes little changes to a recipe and it comes out mouth watering... me, I follow a recipe to the tee and... well you get the picture) Anyway, Carey explained that she was out of plain flour that day so she used self rising flour plus a pinch of salt and baking soda instead. Amazing how little things make such a big difference!

While I was baking batch #2 (this time with self rising flour) I remembered that we ate the bread while it was still quite hot. Aha! Another clue! I let the 2nd Banana Bread cool for 15 minutes before I sliced it.
It was closer to hers but still not quite right.
Exhibit B:

I had 3 bananas left, so on the 3rd and final batch I sliced the bread as soon as I took it out of the pan. (10 mins)
Exhibit C:

You can find the original recipe at:

The changes I made from the original recipe for the last batch of Banana Bread were:

I used:
2 cups (10 oz) Self rising flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
3 bananas (about 13oz /381grams)
and I folded the flour in instead of using the mixer.

In all three batches, my banana / sugar mixture never looked what I'd call a "light and fluffy banana cream" as described in the recipe. Maybe you can tell me where I went wrong...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Peninsula Grill's Ultimate Coconut Cake

This cake is the signature cake belonging to chef Robert Carter of The Peninsula Grill in Charleston, SC. It is based on his grandmother's recipe and it has become the cake-of-choice for Charleston brides. After tasting it, I can see why. It is heaven.

I believe you either love coconut or you hate it. There's no in between.
My younger sister, Belinda, hates it. She can detect a teeny-tiny drop of coconut in a huge vat of anything. While growing up, I got everything she tasted that had even a hint of coconut in it. Life is good. :-)

I love, love, love coconut.
There, I've said it. I'm Tammy and I'm a coconut-a-holic. (is there such a thing?)
If a dish has coconut in it, I guarantee I will love it.

I love to bake, I love coconut, I was in the mood to try a new recipe, so I did a google search for the perfect coconut cake recipe. After reading through several blogs and seeing this recipe come up over and over again by other coconut lovers, the decision was made.

Since the cake looked very intimidating, I thought about ordering this cake from the Peninsula Grille and having it shipped to me. I justified that the $100 price tag would be well worth it 'just once' for a very special occasion. However, to have it shipped to my location, FedEx wanted $100. Time to go to plan B... make it myself!

Chef Robert Carter was generous enough to share his recipe and to show us how to make it when he appeared on Martha Stewart show. Good news for me because I learn better if I can see how it's done first! To view the video of chef Robert Carter making the cake, click here then on view video (I couldn't download the video so if Martha has changed the link, try searching on Martha Stewart's website for the Ultimate coconut cake.)

There are a lot of steps to the create this masterpiece but none of them are hard to do and it is well worth it! I took this cake to our Wednesday night Bible study and you would have thought I discovered how to walk on water. Everyone was absolutely amazed with the presentation and the taste.

Typically, I don't post recipes that others have posted on their sites but since Martha keeps updating her URLs, I'll give you the recipe at the very end of this post. That way if the link doesn't work, you still have the recipe. (Nothing frustrates me more than a broken link! ...or a bad recipe!)

Important things to note:

  • You must use Plugra butter. (it has more butterfat... a key ingredient)
  • You must cut this cake while it is cold (else the lovely filling squishes me on this)
  • Let it come to room temperature before serving. (2-3 hours)
  • You are not allowed to leave a negative comment if you made any changes to the recipe. Baking is a science and all the ingredients and measurements are essential.

The cake has five steps:
1. The filling: You make it the night before assembling the cake.. and it is awesome. (to whip it the next day, I had to divide the filling into 2 parts. My 5 qt couldn’t handle the full load) click here for recipe

2. The cake: Two 10” cakes. (At first, I was disappointed when I took them out of the pan. They reminded me of corn bread… large crumb and very yellow. I may try less baking powder next time… what do you think? When you watch the video, Rob said a tsp and a half of BP, but the recipe on Martha’s website has 1 1/2 TBS… (P.S. The final cake tasted great so maybe no change is needed) click here for recipe.

3. Simple syrup (can be made ahead of time and stored up to 1 month refrigerated in an airtight container) Click here for recipe.

4. The frosting… (warning: This is very addictive) click here for recipe

5. The assembly: click here for directions

Here's a picture of my final cake. I got a bit wild when applying the coconut to the sides and ended up covering the whole cake with coconut.

Side by side comparison:

If the URL's above are not working, use the recipes below.

Coconut Filling
This delicious coconut cake filling is courtesy of Robert Carter from the Peninsula Grill, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Makes enough for 1 cake .
5 cups heavy cream
3 cups sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 T water
9 cups shredded sweetened coconut


  1. Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coconut is finely chopped. (this will make it easier to slice the cake. Don't skip this part)
  2. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water and set to the side. (the ratio of liquid to cornstarch doesn't seem right... I added 2 more TBS of water)
    Place cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved
    Add the cornstarch mixture to the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, about 1 minute.
    Remove cream mixture from heat and stir in processed coconut until well combined.
  3. Transfer to a large baking dish or bowl; let cool.
    Cover filling with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  4. When you are ready to assemble the cake, place half the mixture in the bowl of an 5 qt electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for 4 to 5 minutes. (should be smooth and creamy) Do the same process for the rest of the mixture.

The Cake

Makes two 10-inch round cakes. (you'll be cutting each layer into 3rds later)

Nonstick cooking spray with flour (I like Baker's Joy)
1 pound unsalted PLUGRA butter (can purchase at Fresh Market or other high end store)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  1. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans with cooking spray with flour; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cream, vanilla, and coconut extract.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.
  6. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined.
  7. Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing cakes from pans.

Simple Syrup

Makes enough for the entire cake (two 10 inch layers)


3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar


  1. Place water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Store up to one month refrigerated in an airtight container.

The Frosting

makes enough for the entire cake


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted PLUGRA butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped


  1. Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until creamy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, slowly add vanilla extract, seeds from vanilla bean, and confectioners' sugar.
  3. Continue beating until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

The final assembly:

Makes one 6-layer cake

Ingredients needed:
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes, toasted
2 Coconut Cake
Simple Syrup
Coconut Filling
Coconut Cake Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spread coconut flakes in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden, 5 to 7 minutes; set aside to cool.
    Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; discard trimmings.
  3. Cut each cake into 3 even layers. (also known as torting)
  4. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan.
    Place one layer on the cake plate. Brush with about one-fifth of the simple syrup.
  5. Spread 2 cups (4oz) of filling on the cake.
  6. Place a second layer on top.
  7. Repeat process with the next four layers and top with last remaining layer.
  8. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting, keeping in mind you may not need to use all of it.
  9. Press toasted coconut into sides of cake; remove parchment paper strips.
  10. Chill cake at least 5 hours and up to 5 days. (the syrup is more evenly distributed after 1 day)
  11. Slice immediately; bring to room temperature before serving
  12. Sit back and listen to all the praises.

Bobby Flay from from the TV show THROWDOWN! challenge Robert Carter on this recipe ...and Bobby won… The next time I make a coconut cake, I’ll try his recipe and blog about it…

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wilton Fondant and Tiered cake class Final

Here’s my final from Wilton's Fondant and Tiered Cake class that I took at Michael's Craft store. The cake is a White Velvet Butter cake from The Cake Bible (TCB). It is torted and filled using TCB lemon curd mousseline and covered with TCB fondant.

I stayed up until the wee hours making the royal icing lilies. It took longer to peel the lilies from the foil after they dried then it took to make them.

Fondant make a very pretty cake and although it was tasty, I prefer a cake that is frosted with buttercream.