Tag Archives: dessert

latvian birthday cake (or: i verbally abuse creepy people in costumes.)

22 Aug


confession time: i am terrified of people wearing costumes. halloween makes me nervous. larpers freak me out. furries send me running & screaming.

in my opinion, people in costume act differently than when they are uncostumed.  they act like they are someone else and therefore in ways they usually would not. normal social rules seem not to apply.  and if their face or eyes are covered? all bets are off and you are more than likely going to be accosted by this crazy costumed psycho.

true story.

i have facts to back this up.

last halloween i celebrated (albeit hesitantly) at a pub down the street from my apartment and encountered two guys hovering on the edges dressed as if they had just walked out of “world of warcraft: the movie.” one was dressed in a way i can only think to describe as a giant human-sized thumb wearing a sheet and chain mail. i have no idea how else to describe it. the other was wearing some sort of demon-orc hybrid complete with retractable giant wiggly tongue and severed arm prop.  the thumb kept to himself, but the demon-orc took to licking random female passers-by or making a show of licking the severed arm in a, dare i say, “erotic” fashion.  i have absolutely no doubt that under that costume was a socially-awkward, skinny, pimpled man-child who spends his days and nights making internet cash by selling his high-level video game characters. uncostumed i have serious doubts that demon-orc would have spoken to a woman not to mention lick her.

all of that being said, i don’t mind disguised objects: they aren’t sentient and therefore won’t try to attack me out of a false sense of security.

kitchen utensils that look like animals? adorable.
bookshelves that double as doors to secret rooms? both fantastic and delightfully mysterious.
a cake pretending to be a pretzel? into it.

this seems like a good time to segue into my recipe: the latvian birthday cake. i was doing an internet search for “weird cake recipes” in honor of my friend’s self-created holiday devoted entirely to cake, aptly named “cake day.” when i came across the latvian birthday cake, i knew i had to give it a whirl. who in their right mind creates a birthday cake from yeast and saffron and shapes it like a pretzel? the latvians, that’s who.  i had a hard time deciding whether this was a cake or sweet bread or a pretzel. i still don’t know. but you know what, it tastes awesome, so i don’t care. and neither should you.

latvian birthday cake from global table adventure

what you’ll need:

2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp saffron
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2 tsp thin strips of lemon zest
2 tsp this strips of orange zest
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick 0f butter, softened)
5 1/2- 6 cups flour
1 cup raisins

for the topping: 1 egg for egg wash, 1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds

1. dissolve yeast in warm water with the saffron and a pinch of sugar. (appx. 5 minutes).

2. meanwhile, since butter doesn’t come pre-softened (unless you count the sort in the tub i suppose), let’s soften your butter.  i don’t actually own a microwave… sooo desperate times lead to softening your butter on top of a toaster oven…

3. mix your yeast with the rest of your ingredients (except those for the topping) in the bowl of a standing mixer.  you may not need all of your flour–just enough to form a soft dough. so for goodness sakes, don’t just throw it all in like a heathen.

4. knead your dough for about 10 minutes. you will be, appropriately, using your dough hook for this. your dough may try to escape. just a warning.

look for your dough to come away from the sides of your bowl. it will look sticky, but won’t be super sticky. make sense? no? trial and error is a great teacher, i say.

5. let rise until doubled in size (about 1.5 hours).

6. we will now be shaping the dough into a pretzel shape.  roll out the dough into about a 3 foot long log, then tuck ends like one would for, a, you guessed it, pretzel. keep the holes about fist sized as they will close up while baking. allow to rise for another 30 mins.

7. brush your beautifully proofed pretzel-shaped latvian birthday cake with a beaten egg and then generously sprinkle with sliced almonds. the egg will give your pretzel/cake/thing a nice shine. the almonds will just be tasty.

8. bake at 350 degrees f for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. see above.

this cake is most happily enjoyed while still warm and with a nice dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  jam is also quite lovely as an accompaniment.

the verdict: i don’t know if i would necessarily call this a cake, but whatever it is–i am a huge, huge fan. i literally had to take to slapping my own hand to keep myself from grabbing more.  and please note that this recipe produced a big honkin’ cake, so there was a lot of hand slapping required.  the orange with the saffron and raisins gave it a wonderful flavor that i am having a challenging time figuring out how to describe (so just trust me), and upon reminiscing on this recipe (which i confess wasn’t baked yesterday or even in the past 2 months), my roommate declared it “so yummy.”

roasted banana cupcakes (or: what to feed a zombie)

27 Apr

for the majority of my teens, sleeping was easily considered one of my top extracurricular activities. my study-abroad flatmates were actually selected based on the fact that we all filled out our questionnaires with the same sleeping preferences–go to bed early, wake up late–and during my high school days, my mother was forced to devise an elaborate (and frankly, inhumane) wake-up process that has caused lingering trauma.  (you try not suffering permanent damage after waking up every morning to someone flicking on your lights, and then with a speed usually reserved for vampires, simultaneously blasting the radio, ripping off your sheets, tickling your feet, all while bellowing your name.)

this being said, my decision to attend culinary school for a baking and pastry arts degree came as rather shocking news to those who were acquainted with my sleeping patterns. the ungodly hours of baking professionals are no secret. the school  recruiter asked me, as did almost everyone else i told, “are you an early-riser?” after a good laugh and recounting of my mother’s antics (see above), we determined that seeing as how there are few jobs that will lend to a sleep schedule to my liking, save mattress-tester or professional sleep-study subject, waking up at 4 a.m. doesn’t seem that much worse than 7 a.m.  (ok, it is… but i was trying to gain admittance.)

fast-forward four incredibly intense months of schooling on top of my 9 to 5 job, and you will find that it had been a very, very long time since i had truly engaged in my most favorite of pastimes.  essentially, i spent those 16 weeks as a member of the living dead.  my body was covered in bruises from bumping half-unconsciously into walls and filing cabinets, my stomach lining had a gaping hole from the vast quantities of coffee i had ingested, and i seemed to have developed permanent circles under my eyes to the point where i felt confident that if i joined a football team, i would not have had to bother with blacking out my cheeks.  there were moments when i worried that the overzealous might consider picking up one of the many “how to survive a zombie apocalypse” books flooding the shelves in order to protect themselves when i ambled by.  please note that moaning “brainzzz” is only funny to others when they aren’t half-sure you might be serious.

during these long months of sleep deprivation, i had often felt that i deserved luxuries that i normally (when fully functioning) wouldn’t allow myself.  (the starbucks barista who now refers to me as “her friend” can vouch for me on this one.)  therefore, i felt no moral compunction and needed very little self-convincing when i decided that these cupcakes were quite clearly more of an icing-topped muffin than an actual cupcake…breakfast, definitely not dessert…calorie-free as opposed to adding new dimension to my growing backside…the addition of bananas was all the justification that i needed.

this recipe comes from martha stewart’s cupcake cookbook and produces a cupcake so mind-blowingly delicious that i made some pretty inappropriate sounds when inhaling them.  because it calls for cake flour and there is more sifting than seems sane, the end product will be super fluffy and moist (and i am serious when i say moan-inducing…though you should be careful about this if people are already concerned you might be a member of the undead as you may just be reinforcing their convictions). the cupcake is then paired with a honey-cinnamon frosting that is truly sensational.

roasted banana cupcakes from martha stewart’s cupcakes

what you’ll need (for the cake):
3 ripe bananas (plus 1 or 2 more for garnish should you feel fancy)
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees f and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. place 3 whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15 mins.

2. while these are roasting, sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (cake flour has a high starch content, so make sure you don’t skip the sifting. i know, i know, but it will be worth it.)

3. remove your now blackened, roasted bananas from the oven and let them cool before peeling. unless you enjoy burning your fingers or need to build up heat tolerance, in which case, knock yourself out. reduce the oven temp to 350.

4. cream the butter and sugar on med-high speed until it is pale and fluffy. add the three egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. scrape down the sides as necessary.

add the peeled, roasted bananas and try not to gag. yeh, i think we can all agree on what this reminds us of…  alright, that being said, ahem, beat to combine.

4. add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating back and forth. you will do three flour batches, alternating with two sour cream batches. beat until just combined after each addition. if you beat too long, your cake will lose its fluff. beat in vanilla.

5. in a separate bowl, whip your egg whites to soft peaks with a mixer on medium speed.

fold in 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten. this basically means that you will sacrifice some of your whites so that your dense batter won’t snuff it all out. gently fold in the remaining whites in two batches.

6. divide the batter evenly among the lined cups. they should be about 3/4 full. bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. make sure you rotate your tins once half way through. once baked, transfer the tins to a wire rack to cool.

the cupcakes can be stored in air-tight containers at room temp up to 3 days, or frozen up to 2 months.

now for the honey-cinnamon frosting:

what you’ll need:
2.5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. on med speed, beat all ingredients until smooth.

2. wipe off your brow, whew, that was tough.

use immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days in an air-tight container. if you refrigerate, make sure you bring it back to room temp and beat it smooth before using.

they can also conveniently be made baby tiny size as a nice post-brain snack.

cupcakes even your hips will love

27 Aug

up close and personalthis cupcake, this one, right here, to the right,  is magical. truly.  so low in calories and so low in effort.  really, a monkey could make this cupcake.  and then if that monkey, was say, on a diet, it would be so psyched to eat it. 

im currently in this “health kick,” which is partially to blame for my lapse in posting as of late (cough, this entire year).  it is extremely hard for me to keep tasty baked treats around my house without consuming them all in one sitting.  post-baking you can usually find me in the fetal position clutching my overgorged stomach damning (while simultaneously looooving) those horrible-amazing-i-hate-you-omg-i-want- some-noooow treats.  and it is the summer season after all, or at least some semblance of the summer season (curses new england!), which means heating my house up with an oven is not desirable.   basically the baking gods are against me. 

but then, while wallowing in self pity, i heard a rumor.  one that led me to believe that i just might be able to bake my cake, and by george, eat it guilt-free too…

and with that introduction… i bring you… the diet soda cupcake! ta daaaa! when my friend nic first told me about the infamous diet soda cake, i did not believe her for a second.  its true, i thought her a dirty, rotten liar.  this mythical cake seemed both delightful, and absolutely terrifying.  because the basic idea is this: take any box cake mix, dump in a bottle of diet soda, mix, bake, and bam… low cal cake.  shocking.  the diet soda threw me for an absolute loop. after discovering the recipe on a blog, i 1. apologized for thinking my friend a dirty, rotten liar, and 2. decided what the hey, ill give it a go.

diet soda cupcakes

(adapted from: gina’s weight watcher recipes)

 ingredients

what you’ll need:

  • 1 dry box cake, any flavor
  • 10 oz diet soda, any flavor
  • 2 egg whites (prob don’t need, but i read that this will make the cake fluffier)
  •  

    1. preheat oven according to box directions and line cupcake tins.

    2. beat cake mix, diet soda and egg whites. fill cupcake tins until 2/3 full.

    3. bake as directed on box, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

    4. once cool, i dusted them with some confectioner’s sugar.  unfortunately because it was hot and somewhat sticky out, the sugar melted and didn’t look nearly as beautiful 10 minutes later.  you can also top with fat free whipped cream as a tasty alternative.

    and for you weight watcher fans in the audience, each cupcake is only about 2 points!  wooo!

    mmmm

     

    one last pic to truly whet your whistle… 

    another exciting note: this is non-dieters approved.  i managed to trick my friend lindsey (of picky eatings)’s husband into eating them  and he did not notice a thing out of place. i might even go so far as to say he thought they were delectable.

    so, the verdict you ask?  eat. now. yum. sigh.

    if you need me, i’ll be in the corner in the fetal position.