Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Cake with a Surprise Inside (two actually)



My oldest turned 15 a month ago. {Yes, I am a month behind in blogging. There's no catching up.} Anyway, each year on her birthday, I'm reminded of how she came into the world - 3 months early and only 2 pounds 15 ounces. Now she's teaching herself and others (via YouTube) how to play the guitar, she's making her own spending money from babysitting jobs and doing her own laundry (not perfectly, but she's doing it). Oh, and she's a year away from driving a car. I'm. Not. Ready.

But ready or not, your kids grow up.




So let's bake a cake and forget about our kids growing up and leaving us for a minute ...one recipe of white vanilla cake batter, six 6-inch round cake pans, 6 jars of gel food coloring in the colors of the rainbow. It's beautiful and makes a huge impact - the oohs and aahs you hear when you pull out that first slice!


So what is the second surprise in the cake? Well, just keepin it real -in my haste to get 6 layers of cake in the proper order all frosted and perfect, I forgot to pull the parchment paper off the yellow layer of cake. I cut into the cake, everyone waiting for the big surprise, and I felt some resistance, then I felt a bit of embarrassment. I knew exactly what the problem was. I cut through the parchment to get the first piece out, then I gently pulled the entire piece of parchment out of the rest of the cake - voila! What a relief!


It's a good lesson to learn when it's only close family around to see the blunder!


Happy Birthday Ellen!




To make this rainbow cake (originally seen at Whisk Kid), I used my favorite white cake recipe (without lemon zest) and divided the batter evenly into 6 bowls. A scale is handy for this to be sure the layers are the same size. Add the desired amount of food coloring (Spectrum or Americolor gels are easiest to use) and pour into 6 separate greased and parchment-lined 6-inch round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.


Layer and frost with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (leave out the raspberry puree). I used this easy method of decorating.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lego Star Wars Brownie Pops



A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

...a 5 year old had a birthday party. His grandma made all the guests brown Jedi hooded capes and the little Jedi warriors went home with one of these brownie pops.

To make these for your little Jedi, follow the instructions for basic brownie pops.

For the yellow Lego head, shape the brownie into a marshmallow shape and chill. Make a peg for the top by shaping a piece of Tootsie roll and inserting it into the brownie shape. Dip the end of the lollipop the stick in yellow melted candy pieces thinned with vegetable oil and insert the stick into the bottom of the brownie. Then dip the entire shape into yellow candy melts and let dry. Then pipe face with fairly stiff black royal icing using a very small round tip (I used a PME 1.5).

For Princess Leia and Hans Solo, make round brownie forms, insert the stick and dip into a mixture of mostly white, with a few yellow and pink candy melts to make a skin tone mixture and allow it to dry. {For Princess Leia, while the pops are drying, form the braids by making thin snakes out of Tootsie roll and coiling the snakes into a flat round shape. Set these aside.} Dip the top, back and sides of the heads in brown candy melts for the hair. {For Princess Leia, while the brown is still wet, attach a Tootsie roll braid to each side.} Pipe the face using fairly stiff black royal icing and a small round icing tip.

For the storm trooper, do your best to shape the head into a Rolo candy shape with a flaired bottom. You can use tootsie roll snakes for the bottom edge to create the flair if it's easier for you. Insert the lollipop stick and dip in white candy melts. Pipe the details using fairly stiff black royal icing and a small round piping tip.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Have you tried...Wheat Chex with Peaches?


I love, love, love peaches. But I'm picky. They have to be perfectly ripe and juicy, not mealy (of course), in season, and grown locally. I buy my peaches from Soergel's and let them sit on the counter until they are perfectly ripe (the fruit yields to gentle pressure and it is no longer green at the stem end). If you're not ready to eat them when they become perfectly ripe, they can be placed in the fridge for a few days longer.

I don't know about you, but I don't generally like my peaches cooked, like in a pie or a muffin. I think that some of the flavor is lost in the cooking and well as the texture that I love.

My favorite way to eat a peach is for breakfast with Wheat Chex and milk and just a sprinkling of sugar. There must be enough peaches in the bowl so that there is peach in every bite. It's a bonus if the peaches are cold from the fridge. Sometime I indulge and use whole milk - it's like having dessert for breakfast, a la peaches and cream.



I don't buy Wheat Chex the rest of the year, but during late July and August, I'll go through several boxes. Then the peaches will be gone and I'll mourn them for a little while, and I'll move on to another cereal. When berries come into season, I'll get onto the Kashi Autumn Wheat with berries kick. When it's chilly outside, only Frosted Mini Wheats with hot milk will be as comforting. I'll never eat bananas on any cereal.

Do you have a favorite cereal and fruit combination? Do you even like to eat fruit on your cereal? I'd love to know!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Provençal Tomato Tart with a Crunchy Savory Tart Crust



This is a wonderful way to use the abundance of tomatoes from your garden or farm market. I wouldn't exactly call it a quiche, although it does have a little egg custard to bind the filling together. The main stars are the tomatoes, and the Gruyere cheese, and the herbs. There's also a little Dijon mustard in there, but it's not noticeable - it just adds a little extra flavor.

And the crust! I loved the slight crunch from the addition of semolina flour. It is the perfect complement to the savory filling.

The tart calls for a bit of herbes de Provence, but since my bottle of herbes de Provence is getting old, I thought I'd chop up a combination of herbs from my garden - thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, and summer savory (new to my garden this year). It's delicious, fresh, seasonal, and pretty too.

Provençal Tart with Gruyere and Herbes de Provence
from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

one par-baked 9-inch Crunchy Savory Tart Crust (recipe below)
12-15 plum tomatoes cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (I used a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs - rosemary, thyme, sage, summer savory, and oregano)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light cream
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the tomato slices in a colander and place it in the sink. Let the tomatoes drain their excess water for 15 minutes.

Spread the mustard evenly over the tart shell, then sprinkle the cheese and half of the herbs. Lay the tomato slices in overlapping concentric circles until the crust is entirely covered.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl with the cream, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture evenly over the tomatoes until it comes to about 1/4 inch from the top edge of the crust. Pour a little cream on top if there is not enough to fill the tart.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the custard is set. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crunchy Savory Tart Crust
from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening
a glass of ice water

Put flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to combine.

Add the butter and shortening and pulse several time until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some butter chunks still visible.

Remove the blade from the food processor and dump the dough into a large bowl. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water evenly over the dough, then use your hands or a wooden spoon to bring the dough together to form a ball. The dough should be just past crumbly, but holding together. Add more water as needed, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary to get the dough to come together.

Cut the dough in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness, fit it into your tart pan, and trim the edges. Chill 30 minutes. Prick the bottom of the tart with the tines of a fork, line the tart with parchment or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Place the tart shell on the center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights from the pan and return the tart crust to the oven. Bake another 5-10 minutes for a par-baked shell (crust is golden brown and no doughy areas remain), or bake for 10-20 minutes for fully-baked tart shell (golden brown all over). Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tomatoes, from Seedling to Fruit


It's time for tomatoes!

You might remember last Mother's Day, when all I asked for was a garden. I never dreamed this little plot of land could produce such bounty.

May 8, 2011


The seedlings went in shortly after and the mushroom compost was spread around to keep the weeds in control and nourish the plants. (The mushroom compost is the only fertilizer we used.) I bought so many plants, I had to give some away, but I packed as many in the garden as I could.

May 23, 2011


A little more than 3 weeks later on June 15th - I think that rate of growth could break a record - in my garden anyway. It's so green and lush. They look happy.

June 15, 2011


Here they are, another three weeks later on July 5th, the day before we left on a 2-week vacation to the other side of the country. Are you kidding me? I was stunned at how well the garden was doing. The plants were loaded with green tomatoes. I hated to leave it.

July 5, 2011


When we returned home, the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen. The beefsteak tomatoes were so big that after a heavy rain, the plants and stakes just couldn't support them anymore. They toppled over and have taken over our sidewalk. We'll just walk around for now. There's just no moving them, or the stems would break. The tomatoes from these plants are huge. Some have been eaten by chipmunks, but there are so many tomatoes, I don't even mind sharing.

August 12, 2011


There have been multiple days of harvesting, but here's what I picked on just one of those days...

The beefsteaks:

The plums:


Tomorrow, I'll show you a delicious tomato tart you can make with the bounty from your garden or farmer's market.

But guess what I'm doing today.

Canning, of course! And thinking of how nice it will be to have jars full of tomatoes for making wintertime soups and sauces.

I'd love to hear how your garden is doing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fattoush {Middle Eastern Chopped Salad}



I beg your pardon! Fat what?

Fattoush is not a fat anything, but a delicious salad made with chopped vegetables like tomatoes and cucumber, feta cheese, olives, herbs, and grilled pita wedges. It's the Arabic version of the Italian Panzanella salad. It's also the perfect summertime salad to serve alongside some grilled chicken or kebabs. This version of fattoush includes some grilled zucchini and red pepper strips, but you could easily leave those out if you want. If you have some purslane handy, throw some of that in as well! This is an awesome salad.

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush
as seen at Yum Yum originally from Epicurious

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

On the grill
3 medium orange or red bell peppers (about 1 pound), stemmed, seeded, quartered
4 to 5 slender zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise in half
2 (5- to 6-inch) pita breads, each cut horizontally into 2 disks, or two 6x4x1/2-inch slices country white bread
Olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish
1 (8-ounce) cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
12 cherry tomatoes, each halved
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup (scant) pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 4-ounce piece feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (scant 1 cup)
Ground sumac (I omitted)

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush peppers, zucchini, and bread on both sides with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill peppers and zucchini until slightly charred and just tender, turning often, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to foil-lined baking sheet. Grill bread until lightly charred and just crisp, turning often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sheet with vegetables and cool. Tear bread into 1-inch pieces. Vegetables and bread can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Cut peppers lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, olives, mint, and cilantro and toss to combine. Add bread pieces. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, cumin, and sumac, if using, in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Add feta and gently mix into salad.
Transfer salad to large bowl. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summertime Cookies - Peaches and Watermelon


Peaches and Watermelon are two of my favorite fruits this time of year. I buy and buy and eat and eat until they are out of season. These aren't the juicy variety, but delicious all the same! Enjoy the season while it lasts!

To decorate the peaches:
1. Frost peach with royal icing colored with one part copper and two parts lemon yellow gel food coloring
2. Frost stem with chestnut-colored icing and the leaf with leaf green-colored icing
3. Let dry 8 hours.
4. In each of 2 small bowls, mix about 3 tablespoons of water with one drop of peach or orange gel color in one bowl and one drop red gel color in the other bowl.
5. With a food-only paintbrush, brush lightly all over the peach with peach colored water and then highlight the left side with red colored water.
6. Before the water dries, sprinkle all over with white sanding sugar.



For the watermelon how-to, see this post at Glorious Treats.

Happy Summer!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Real Raspberry Buttercream


In my last post, I showed you a little trick for filling a cake with lemon curd. Now you can put it into practice and make this special cake with the delicious combination of lemon and raspberry. It's a great summertime cake - the flavors are light and refreshing.

Cake...filling...buttercream...homemade raspberry puree...it sounds like a lot of work. It is. Baking from scratch almost always is. All those bowls and strainers (stuck with raspberry seeds! ugh!) and pots to wash - that's the part I could do without. I haven't been able to feel like washing dishes is therapeutic just yet, especially when I'm in a hurry. (It's the baking part for me that's therapeutic - unless I'm in a hurry!) But the work is all worth it once you taste the result of your efforts.

Here's a tip...if you have freezer space, it helps to make more than you need and freeze the rest, for quick assembly of defrosted components. No bowls or strainers or pots to wash the next time around. Or use the freezer to space out the work over a week's time, making each component as it is convenient.



Make more puree than you need, then freeze the leftover puree in 1/4 cup portions and save yourself from making puree each time you make raspberry icing, or raspberry ice cream, or raspberry sauce. I poured 1/4 cup of puree into each section of a muffin tin, froze it, then transferred the puree chunks to a plastic baggie for long term freezer storage. If I could find raspberry puree in the store, I would definitely consider buying it.

You can certainly freeze the cake layers. I do that anyway, whether I'm using the cake the next day or the next month. I don't recommend freezing cake longer than a month, however.

You can freeze Swiss meringue buttercream. Freeze it with only the vanilla added and add the raspberry puree when re-whipping the icing after it comes to room temperature.

I've heard you can even freeze lemon curd, although I've never tried it. Have you?

The photo below is not an actual slice from the cake above, but I wanted to show you what the inside of a lemon curd-filled cake looks like. See where I made the "dam" of icing when I filled the cake? A lot of work? Yes. Delicious? Definitely yes!


Lemon Cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman

3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk
5 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 8" cake pans with cooking spray, line the bottoms with parchment and spray the parchment.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend well. Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk and mix to blend. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/3 cup milk. Add this to the batter in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Wrap each cake layer with a double layer of plastic wrap and freeze for at least one hour or up to one month.

Lemon Curd
adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
makes about 2 cups

2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cups lemon juice, or 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup lime juice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse for about one minute. Combine the lemon sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl such as a stainless steel mixing bowl and whisk together for 30 seconds. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin whisking and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and continue to cook and stir with a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl, until the curd has thickened and reached a temperature of 160 degrees F.

Rinse and dry the bowl of your food processor. Using a mesh strainer, strain the curd into the food processor bowl. Pulse the food processor while you add the butter a piece at a time, until the texture is homogenous. Transfer the curd to a container with a lid and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd. Allow the curd to cool completely and then place the lid on your container and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 ounces egg whites
10.5 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup raspberry puree

Place 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring the water to a simmer. Choose a saucepan that your mixer bowl will fit on top of without touching the water. In your mixer bowl, place the egg whites, sugar, and salt and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is very hot to the touch, about 130-140 degrees F.

Remove the bowl from the double boiler and place on your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until the outside of the mixer bowl is room temperature. It is very important that the meringue be completely cool before adding the butter.

Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon disappear before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, switch to the paddle attachement and beat until the mixture becomes fluffy and thick. This could take up to an additional 5 minutes or so. The mixture will go through a stage where it looks curdled before it reaches the proper consistency.

Add the vanilla and the raspberry puree and beat until completely combined, about a minute.

Raspberry Puree

a bag of frozen raspberries (a gallon sized bag yielded about 2 cups of puree)
a sprinkling of sugar

Place the rasperries and sugar in a saucepan and bring them to a simmer. When the raspberries are softened and liquidy, pass the mixture through a strainer (I used a chinois) to remove the seeds, trying to get as much of the seedless pulp and liquid as possible through the strainer by pressing on the solids with a spatula or spoon. Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and reduce the liquid so that it becomes a little thicker and has a syrupy consistency. Pour 1/4 of the liquid into each cup of a muffin tin and freeze. (Reserve 1/4 cup if you will be using it right away. Let it come to room temperature before adding to the icing.) Transfer the frozen puree portions to a plastic bag for long term storage in the freezer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Filling a Cake with Lemon Curd or Jam

When filling a cake with something soft like lemon curd or jam, it helps to have a couple of tricks up your sleeve so that the filling doesn't ooze out when you place the second cake layer on top.

For Lemon Curd:

Place your cake in the center of the cake board which has been lined with 6" strips of plastic wrap or waxed paper or parchment paper around the edges. This is to keep the cake board clean while you are frosting the cake. For the sake of recycling, I re-use the plastic wrap which I used to double-wrap and freeze the cake layers. Only place the plastic around the edges so that they are easy to pull out from under the cake when the cake is completed.


Place some buttercream icing in a large piping bag fitted with a large (3/4" opening) round or star tip and pipe a border of icing around the perimeter of the cake layer.


Spread the lemon curd inside the buttercream walls which you have created, but no higher.


Place the second cake layer on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 20 minutes. Then frost the cake as you normally would, trying not to press down on the top of the cake too much, which would force some of the lemon curd out of the middle. Refrigerate the completed cake until one hour before serving to let the buttercream soften a bit. Refrigerate any leftovers (because of the lemon curd filling).

For a Jam-Filled Cake:


The process is essentially the same, except that I spread a very thin layer of buttercream on the bottom cake layer to prevent any of the jam from seeping into the cake. The layer of jam is not intended to be as thick as the lemon curd, so my walls are smaller. I used a smaller round tip with about a 3/8" opening to create the walls here.


Spread the jam on the inside of buttercream wall, place the top layer and continue icing as you would any layer cake. The cake filled with jam can stay at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Delicious Multi-Grain Sourdough Pizza Dough



Homemade pizza makes a regular rotation at our house. The kids love to top their own. They put the pepperoni on so that it makes a smiley face and they can put as little or as much sauce on as they like. I usually like to top my pizza with healthier toppings like roasted red peppers and mushrooms and other vegetables. Sometimes I use basil pesto in place of traditional pizza sauce. The possibilities are endless when you make your own pizza.

When I came across this recipe for multi-grain pizza dough, I thought I'd try it and see if I could make the kids' pepperoni pizza a little bit healthier too. It's a gamble - you just never know if the kids will go for it, or if they'll turn their noses up at a healthier version of the original, push their plates aside, and promptly ask for ice cream for dessert.

This time the gamble was worth it, because we all loved this pizza dough! Even my pickiest eater liked it! The flavor was wonderful and it baked up beautifully. I like it too, because it creates a use for the unfed sourdough starter in my fridge that would otherwise be thrown away. {Find the all-white-flour sourdough pizza dough recipe here at King Arthur Flour.}

Tips for making pizza:

  • Pizza dough should be soft and not too stiff. Only add as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking to your hands while kneading. You can always use a little more flour when shaping the pizza if it's a little sticky.
  • If you have a clear plastic straight-sided canister like this one from Rubbermaid or this one from King Arthur Flour, place the unrisen dough in the canister and mark the level with a piece of tape. It's easier to see when the dough has doubled.
  • Use a preheated pizza stone for best results - allow at least 45 minutes for the stone to heat up. Alternately, use a preheated cookie sheet. The cookie sheet will be preheated whenever the oven comes to temperature.
  • You can shape, top and bake the pizza directly on parchment paper - just slide the paper right onto the pizza stone from a cookie sheet or pizza peel
  • For traditional pizzas like pepperoni, I prefer a mixture of shredded provolone and mozzarella cheeses. I also prefer to use part-skim mozzarella - it's drier than whole-milk mozzarella or fresh mozzarella so it doesn't get as liquidy when baked. Fresh mozzarella, however, is great on a Margherita Pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil.
  • Lightly saute any vegetables to desired tenderness before placing on the pizza and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Multigrain Sourdough Pizza Crust
adapted from Jen at My Kitchen Addiction

Makes 2 medium pizzas

• 3/4 cup warm water
• 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
• 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1 cup unfed sourdough starter
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 heaping tablespoon pizza dough flavor (optional- I omitted)
• 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or use white whole wheat flour)
• 1/2 cup whole rye (pumpernickel) flour
• 1/2 cup milled golden flax seed
• About 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sourdough starter, olive oil, pizza dough flavor, and Kosher salt. Mix until well combined.

Add the whole wheat flour, rye flour, and flax seed to the bowl, and beat vigorously (with a dough whisk or a wooden spoon) to combine. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Gradually add in the all purpose flour, stirring to incorporate the flour. When the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl, use your hands to knead in the remaining flour until smooth (about 5 minutes). Use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the bowl.

Shape the dough into a ball, and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (this could take 2 - 4 hours). At this point, the dough may be divided, lightly oiled, and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for one month in a zip top plastic bag. Remove the dough from the plastic baggie while still cold, then bring the dough to room temperature before shaping and baking.

When you are ready to bake the pizzas, preheat a pizza stone in the oven to 475°F. Split the dough in half and shape each half on a piece of parchment paper. Top with your favorite toppings and bake on the pizza stone for about 10 – 12 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sugared Edible Flowers for Cake Decorating


Do you grow pansies in your garden? Did you know you they are edible? If your flowers have never been sprayed with chemicals, throw some on top of a salad and serve it to your kids - they'll get a kick out of it! Just like they did when I coated some pansies with sugar and used them to adorn my daughter's birthday cake.



Supplies you'll need to make sugared flowers:

  • pansies or other edible flower cut with a 1-2" stem
  • scissors
  • paintbrush that has only been used for culinary purposes
  • 1 egg white beaten with a 2 teaspoons of water (use pasteurized egg whites if you like)
  • superfine or caster sugar (you can make this by placing granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
  • cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment or waxed paper



Using the stem to hold the flower, place the flower upside down on the lined cookie sheet. Use the paintbrush to coat all surfaces of the underside of the flower with egg white mixture. Lift the flower from the cookie sheet and coat the top of the flower as well. You may need to support the underside of the petals with the fingers of the hand that is holding the flower while painting the tops of the petals with egg wash. Try to get the paintbrush between the overlapping petals if you can.


Hold the egg white-coated flower over the bowl of superfine sugar and use a spoon to sprinkle sugar first on the underside of the flower, then on the top. It will take some practice to get the sprinkling just right so that only a thin layer of sugar is all over the flower. You want to be able to see the details of the flower while still covering the flower completely with sugar.


Set the flower on the lined cookie sheet and use the scissors to cut off the stem where it meets the calyx, or green petal-like part at the base of the flower. Allow the flowers to dry completely (I allowed them to dry for a couple of days before storing them). They should be stiff and dry and will keep for weeks, perhaps longer, in an airtight container. Handle the dried flowers gingerly, as they can break during handling.


Lovely. Happy 9th Birthday Annie!

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