Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lime Curd

Did another component of the upcoming cake tonight... lime curd. Basically, I took Dede Wilson's Lemon Curd recipe and substituted limes. Tastes great, but I was hoping for more dramatically green color. Taste is key, though.

In the pictures, you can see the various phases of ingredients, mixing over a double boiler, stirring forever, and finally the curd, with visible flecks of micro-plane zested rind.

Lime Curd Mis en Place Lime Curd - mixing ingredients Lime Curd - staring to thicken Finished Lime Curd

Italian Buttercream

I had a great idea for a cake to make based on some limes I found at the farmer's market last week. Last night I worked on the first step, buttercream frosting. I used the Italian Buttercream recipe from The Wedding Cake Book. I last used this recipe way back last year when I was making sample cakes for my sister's wedding. Actually, most of the components for this cake will be based on recipes from this book.

In the pictures you can see the ingredients set-up: eggs (just the whites), water, sugar, lots of butter, and cream of tartar. Next, you see me boiling the liquified sugar (up to, but not past 250 degrees F) and whipping the egg whites. After finishing it off with the 6 sticks of butter, the frosting unfortunately broke, meaning the emulsion of its various components separated. Hey, it happens, sometimes. You can see the next-to-last picture where the buttercream's all lumpy and weird. Fortunately I managed to re-emulsify it with a little trick where you wave a culinary torch around the outside of the metal bowl while it continues to mix. Voila... smooth, delicious, insanely rich buttercream.

Italian Buttercream mis en place Boiling Sugar Whipping Egg Whites for Italian Buttercream Broken Buttercream Finished (fixed) Italian Buttercream

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yeast Starter - part 3

Sure enough, when I got home from work today, the starter had just started to overflow the new larger bowl. Looking at the bread recipes again, I realized that with all the rising the dough was scheduled for, it would take a minimum of 6 hours to produce anything. Even if I started right away, things would be going until past midnight. I decided the bread baking would have to wait for a free weekend day. This meant that the yeast starter would have to be put on ice. I poured a good chunk of the starter into a fresh smaller glass bowl, covered it up, and popped it in the fridge. The plan is to resuscitate it with more water and flour about a day before I decide to bake the bread. I'll be out of town this weekend, so I'm shooting for the weekend after.

Below you can see a picture of the starter when I got up this morning, expanded after its feeding last night. Then a picture of the starter transferred into the larger bowl, with the water and flour for the second feeding sitting next to it. Then a shot of the starter a few minutes later after everything's been mixed in. Finally, you can see what I found when I got home today, with the starter actually stretching out the plastic wrap covering the bowl. Scary.

Yeast Starter - end of phase 2 Yeast Starter - phase 3 - new bowl Yeast Starter - phase three - just fed Yeast Starter - end of phase 3

Yeast Starter - part 2

When I checked on the yeast starter this morning it had doubled in size, nearly filling up the bowl. I transferred it to a larger bowl and fed it again, according to the instructions. Now I'm worried that it will overflow the new bowl. I put it in the largest glass (non-reactive) container I own, but it's only about twice the volume of the first one. It will just have to do. The yeast should be all set to be made into bread by tonight, if I have time. I also did some Googling for directions on keeping the yeast alive indefinitely. You can keep it in the fridge and just take it out once a week for a feeding. It'll be my new pet! My smelly bowl of microbial goo pet. And you all will eat the bread I make and love it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Natural Yeast Starter

A while ago I found a couple recipes online from Bread and Cie, an amazing bakery only three blocks from my apartment. Of course, I had to try them out, but these are classy bread recipes. No powdered instant yeast for them. They want you to grow your own living yeast from scratch. Helpfully, a recipe for culturing yeast is provided, but it takes almost a week to complete and I've just now managed to get it all together. I'm about halfway through the process right now, so I wanted to post some pictures. I wish I'd remembered to take a picture before I'd thrown away the grapes (see recipe), but here's a picture of the yeast after it's been percolating for four days, and a second picture a few minutes later after I've given it its first feeding of flour and water. Tomorrow morning I'll transfer it to a larger bowl and feed it again. By tomorrow night, it should be big and bubbly enough to be turned into either Caramelized Onion Bread or Kalamata Olive Bread. Yum!

Yeast Starter - phase 1 Yeast Starter - phase 2

Monday, August 15, 2005

Chocolate Orbit Cake

Did the [flourless] Chocolate Orbit Cake from Room for Dessert today. Had some friends over tonight and it disappeared pretty quickly. Short list of ingredients on this one: eggs, sugar, chocolate, butter. Melt, mix, bake in water bath... chocolate cake! No time-consuming flour-related steps to slow things down. I accidentally bought chocolate with almonds in it, but everything seemed to mix up okay anyway. Wasn't quite sure what the texture would come out like, and it seemed a little soft even though I left it in slightly longer than the recommended time, but I had to get it out of the oven or be late for dinner. Even after it cooled, the cake was still a little soft, but... maybe that's how it was supposed to be. I assume. Oh, AND, for my birthday, my friend Marlon got me the more recent David Lebovitz cookbook, The Great Book of Chocolate. I think that was a hint. Bound to get some good tips out of there, so very cool.

Chocolate Orbit Cake - mis en place Melting Chocolate and Butter in a Double Boiler Whisking Eggs and Sugar Chocolate Orbit Cake in the Oven Chocolate Orbit Cake - fresh out of the oven Slice of Chocolate Orbit Cake Chocolate Orbit Cake