Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Digital Layouts

Here is a digital layouts that I have been working on this evening. I have several others, some even include my son, but for some reason I cannot as yet post them to blogger. I will be checking out why as soon as I can get some time.
The word art is by:, Thanks Bethany!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week at Tuesday's With Dorie the selection was Bill's Big Carrot Cake; Amanda from Slow Like Honey chose this.

I really like the cake in of itself. It was packed with carrots and rasiens and nuts which gave it a very dense healthful kind of taste to it. It also called for coconut, but I decided to omit that, I wanted the carrot taste to come through. I also substituted 1 cup wheat flour in for one of the all-purpose and changed it from one cup oil to 1/4c oil and 3/4 applesause - and it still turned out great. I also cheated and did not make the frosting from scratch. We are trying to conserve on our grocery bill and since I already had frosting in the pantry I went with that.

I didn't have three round pans and also I wanted to try out my square silicone pans. I have discovered that if the batter is thick enough that I need to do a better job spreading it out into the pans. Both cakes although beautiful were shorter in one of the corners then the others. I solved that by making sure to stack the short corners on the opposite ends. All in all, this turned out wonderfully.

This is what my six year old daughter said "I don't like the nuts, but I love the rest. I'm not kind of a nut person, I just like peanut butter."

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

From Baking: from my homeYields 10 servings

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
Serving:This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

Storing:The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wedding Album Page 1

So my husband asked me when I was going to start doing our wedding photos.....I told him it was more like re-doing since I am starting all over in PSE 4.0. I haven't been able to find a good source of how-to do stuff into PSE, but I am learing bit by bit.

Here is the front page of our album.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TWD: Marshmellows

I still could never get those pictures loaded for the Lemon Cream tart, I am thinking there must be something wrong with the actual files.

I did not participate this week because I had my parents in town for just a few days, not because my husband rolled his eyes when I told him what this weeks recipe was. "Just Marshmellows??" "Like the three packages that we have in the cupboard"...... He is a really great supportive guy, so it was funny hearing this from him.....Oh well.

Please check in at Tuesday's With Dorie to see what others are making. And check back next week for my version of Bill's Big Carrot Cake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart

Let me just say I am extremely excited to finally be able to use my tart pan again. I bought it a long time ago and I think I made one thing, but have not made anything else to date in it.

For some reason I have always had a major issue trying to zest something. While my husband was at the store I asked him to get a micro-plane thingie to zest the lemons that was on his list, I have one tool, but when I tried to zest it didn't work. Well unfortunately he couldn't find a zester and came home with a bottle of dried lemon zest. I got down to making the Lemon Cream and opened that bottle, yikes - it smelled so strongly of preservatives or something.....I was worried that it wouldn't turn out. The recipe calls for you to rub the zest into the sugar to "aromitize" (my word) the sugar. Well since it was dried I decided to drop a tablespoon of boiling water to rehydrate the zest and then rubbed it into the sugar. After that it was easy until I got to the cooking stage. It took forever to get that sucker up to 180 - I was using a glass bowl, but for the future I think I am going to purchase a stainless steel bowl. Eventually I sorta stopped whisking the mixture at the end to let it get up to that heat...I could have been incorporating too much air for the mixture to cook by stirring so much. It was definitely interesting when I strained that mixture I had a lot of gunk so I realize this is a very important step. By the time I got the mixture strained and into the food processor it had cooled quite a bit below the recommended 140, so I was concerned if the butter would incorporate correctly.

But in the end the lemon cream was perfect.

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 Tablespoons (21 Tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces
1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell

Getting ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

To Make The Lemon Cream:Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over a pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice. My Notes: I used a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, added the sugar, zest and then whisked in the eggs and lemon juice just until foamy. Then I set the mixing bowl over the pan of hot water. Others were having trouble reaching a temperature of 180 degrees, but I think that's because they used glass and not stainless steel.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into food processor; discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.Refrigerate until ready to serve.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (9 Tablespoons) very cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

To Make The Dough:Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in--you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10 seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change--heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press The Dough Into The Pan: Butter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces clinging to one another, but not so hard that the crust looses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Bake The Crust:Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling. Serves 8-10.

edited: for some reason I am having issues uploading photos....will try again later.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Can I just say YUM! Well I was excited because this was right up my alley. Chocolate cake....and even better Gooey Chocolate Cake. I read a few of the comments on this and realize that some were having issues with actually having a gooey center, so I was prepared to venture forth. First I got all my ingredients and realize I had a few problems. First, I only had 4 oz of chocolate and it was semi-sweet instead of bitter. Also I had not thought to look at the recipe and did not know to pull out the fact I am lucky that I have a pretty stocked pantry and that no out of the ordinary ingredients were called for.

So I got my butter (margarine actually) from the freezer (yikes, told ya I should have looked at the recipe earlier) and nuked it for a few seconds. Got the four ounces of the chocolate chopped up and into the bowl with the softened butter.

And by the way, I was worried about how the chocolate was going to do because not only was it semi instead of bitter, but it had the pale look to it. It had obviously not been stored at optimal tempuratures. I felt a little better after I started to chop it because underneath was that dark, delicious chocolate I had come to know and love. The egg part and the dry good part was quite easy, but it did seem that it was far outweighted by the wet After reading that note about being careful that the butter could separate I was nervous but it melted beautifuly. I even pulled it off the burner a little early and had a few small chunks left to go into the batter. The batter mixed up without a single issue. (whew!)

I used the foil star muffin tins and ended up with 8 cupcakes. I sprinkle chopped pecans on a few and I even stuffed half a caramel cadburry egg into two of them. They were not gooey as the recipe stated. This could because I was using chocolate chips since I didn't have another ounce of chocolate. These did turn out very delicious though and I am determined to play around with this recipe until I can figure out the secret to getting that "gooey" center.