(note - click on any pic to see even MORE pics at flickr)
One of my favorite kids asked for a cake for her birthday. Her eighth, obviously. All she said was "Strawberry!" ... So the cake itself is strawberry cake, with buttercream frosting.
The strawberries are strawberry flavored fondant. The dirt is crushed Oreos.
There's an additional personal story, behind the figure 8.
When I turned eight, I got a cake shaped like an 8. I loved it. In fact, it is the only birthday cake I have an actual memory of, from my childhood. We didn't finish it all, an 8 cake is actually quite large - so the rest went into the freezer.
Less than a month later, the whole family went to Scotland for a year. That whole year I remembered the cake in the freezer.
Someone watched the house, maybe rented it, I have no clue - I was eight - and I'm sure my parents must have cleaned the fridges out before we left. But I didn't know that.
When we got back to California, one of the first things I wanted was some of that cake. It was, alas, long gone. I was seriously miffed. This is a surprisingly strong childhood memory.
Thank you, Miss Chiff, for turning eight, and allowing me, some umpty-ump years later, to have some more 8-cake!
Well, that was remarkably easy, and all three of us love them. David can sometimes be finicky when I'm making something to replace "store bought" (he never favored the tortillas I made, even though Aidon and I preferred the taste), but he thinks that these look basically the same, but taste BETTER!
Plus, pennies to make! Nooks and crannies? We've got nooks and crannies!
I'll reprint it here, with my comments. I'm not sure I'd change anything, really, for the recipe itself, although I'd be interested in trying another one, for comparison. I do have some slight additions/alterations for the process, though.
Skillet English Muffins
Makes 10 muffins [It made 12 muffins, for me]
3 cups all-purpose flour [I used bread flour, because that's what I tend to have most of, rather than all purpose.]
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope FLEISCHMANNâ€™S RapidRise Yeast [2 1/4 tsp of yeast - I buy it in bulk, so I don't have packets]
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups very warm water (120o to 130oF)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened [I used butter, of course... YMMV with margarine, but I'm sure it would be just fine]
Directions [I did the mixing pretty much as indicated.]
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt.
Gradually add water and butter to flour mixture.
Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.
Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed.
Stir in remaining flour to make a thick batter.
Cover; let rest 10 minutes. [Wow was it cool to see how much it rose in 10 minutes! Go yeasties, go!]
Heat a lightly greased griddle or skillet to medium (350oF). [I brushed a bit of olive oil on the bottom of my pan and let it heat for a minute or two on medium flame.]
Place lightly greased 3-1 / 2-inch cookie cutters on skillet. [I have a set of round, metal, cookie cutters in graduated sizes. I used the 3 1/2" and the ones immediately larger and smaller. They all worked fine. This should be obvious, but don't use plastic cookie cutters - you're putting them in a hot pan! Also, I just gave them a quick spray of Pam to grease them up.]
Spoon 1 / 3 cup batter into cookie cutters; spread batter into shape. [I have an ice cream scoop that does about 1/3 cup, and that worked GREAT for this. I sprayed it (inside and out) with Pam and it was great for putting it in the cutters. That's the ice cream scoop with the lever that empties it. The smaller cutter could take a little less, and the larger one a little more. Or just have fatter and thinner muffins, and let them cook a bit longer/shorter!]
Sprinkle with cornmeal.
[Pet the kitten. Or feed him. Or both.]
Cook muffins for 5 minutes. [Depending on your stove ... I adjusted the flame down a bit, and let it go to 6 minutes. You want a nice color, but not too dark, probably. It'll take a little experimentation, but it was pretty forgiving on a lower flame.]
Carefully remove cookie cutters. [TONGS! You should definitely have tongs here. I can't believe the original recipe didn't mention it, but those cookie cutters - they're going to be HOT! If you didn't grease up the cutters well, you might have a little stickiness from the dough, but for the most part, they slid right out of the cutters, and looked like little round muffins!]
Using pancake spatula, turn over muffins and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. [5-6 minutes, depending on thickness. Again, probably better to err on a lower flame, and make sure it cooks all the way through. I actually didn't have any problems with the ones that were 5 minutes on each side, I was just paranoid ;)]
Cool on wire racks. [I forgot for the first few - they cooled on a plate just fine I think they did cool better on the rack though, when I remembered!]
To serve, split muffins in half and toast. [Wait, if you can, a little bit, or they'll mush in the middle when you slice them hot. They'll still be warm. We tried the first one untoasted, with butter - oh YUM!]
It occurs to me that although this is a new 'blog, I've only posted apple-based food, so far. Rest assured, I cook many other things, as well! Today I made cooked fondant. I even took pictures. Tomorrow I intend to use it. I sense petit fours in my future!
This Thanksgiving I was feeling kind of uninspired by my usual apple pie, although it's quite yummy, and was wishing I hadn't already told people I was making one. I really wanted to make a tarte tatin again. But pie is traditional, so I was definitely going to follow through. Then I had a brainstorm! I would first caramelize the apples, in quarters, just like I do for tarte tatin (only many more of them) and then put them in a pie crust (rather than cover them for a later flip.) Then, I thought, a bit of streusel topping couldn't possibly be a bad idea!
I was right!
It SO didn't suck!
Look at the whole entry for pictures of the process
In my last entry, I mentioned that I made a cake with some of our apples. I also made a fabulous Tarte Tatin! This was written back in September:
I'm glad to share this (or any) recipe, for the record! I got the recipe I started from, from the fine folks at Cooks Illustrated. I made two of these this past week. The first is long gone - my friends Geri and Richard enjoyed several pieces last night, and I gave them the last piece to take home. The first one came out a tad too caramelized/dark for my tastes, although it mellowed a bit over the three days it existed. It was VERY tasty, don't get me wrong, I just prefer lighter caramel. The one I made today, however, was ... dear god ... I'm really surprised there's any left at ALL! It's EXACTLY how Aidon and I both like it. Not a hint of that dark caramel taste ... it's just ... spectacular!
For those who don't know, a tarte tatin is actually a very simple apple upside down tart. Very tasty, too!
I melted the butter, covered it with sugar, and started putting the peeled and cored apple quarters in the pan:
Jammed in! I used slightly smaller apples the second time, and actually got three rings of apples in. This is the first one, the one I served at craft night: