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Sunday, May 1, 2011

I am baking a difference!

By participating in Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, I am committed to raising awareness and funds to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. 

This year, nearly one in four kids in America will face hunger.  That’s more than 17 million.   But, there is hope.   Share our Strength is working to connect hungry kids with programs that can help them get the food they need to thrive.
I’m taking my love for baking and putting it to good use to help kids struggling with hunger, but I need your help! Stop by our bake sale to purchase some yummy treats or make an online donation to my bake sale. Every cookie sold and every dollar donated can make a huge impact. Here are some examples:*
$1 can help provide a hungry child with 10 healthy meals. 
$4 can help provide a child facing hunger with a backpack full of healthy food over a weekend when school meals are not available. 
$9 can help connect a child with healthy lunches during summer when school is out.
$35 can help a child care center provide free afterschool snacks and suppers to at-risk children all year long.
$65 can provide a grab-n-go breakfast cart to an elementary school so that every student starts every school day with a healthy meal.

* Gifts made to Share Our Strength represent a gift to our organizational mission and are used to reach the highest number of children facing hunger in America. Share Our Strength combines your gift with others to address child hunger community by community, state by state, all across America. 
Let’s roll up our sleeves, gather our ingredients, pre-heat the ovens and together we can bake a difference!

Thank you to everyone who donates. I will be posting the location, date, and time for those in Houston later on this week.
Friday, March 25, 2011

Last time I hinted at a Tiramisu cake, which honestly has yet to be made.

But don’t fret; I have something equally delicious to post about today.

First off I’ve basically been under house arrest for the last couple of days due to my retarded ankle injury. I’m on resting mode for 2 weeks (4 days down, 10 to go) which basically means I can’t run :(. I’ve been bored. Cable-less and internet-less (stupid ATT), but I’ll be connected on Saturday again (YAY Comcast!) Enough about me let’s get down to business.

I finally tried my hand at baking again since lent started. Honestly, it has been one of the highest points of my week (besides receiving my copy of Paris Sweet by Dorie Greenspan by mail). Sad I know. But I’ve been told the cake was delicious. So in a way it was well worth the work.

This week I made a trés leches cake, which if you grew up in a Mexican home this was probably a birthday staple and for those of you who have never had the pleasure of such a lovely cake, my heart weeps for you and I shun those who deprived you of such an amazing cake. Of course I can’t with all honesty say that this cake is anything but amazing, because trust me I have had my share of unappetizing cakes. This cake can either be too soggy or too dry.

Now I first tried my hand at making a trés leches cake about a year ago, and the first time I made this cake the cake base was too dense and did not absorb the liquid effectively. The second time I made this cake, the cake base was perfect. The secret was a nice fluffy sponge cake. However the milk mixture was overly sweet and too thick to be absorbed properly, and in all honestly not the good.

BUT this time I got it down pat. Finally after several attempt I made what is in my opinion a perfect homemade trés leches cake.

After my dad’s first try, he immediately declared that this was the cake he wanted for his birthday. So I better remember because for all the sweets I bake they can never remember which one is the exact one that they wanted. So I made a note and took down all the changes I made so I wouldn’t forget.

Now I know and you know that trés leches means three milks, however I found that using only condensed, evaporated milk and heavy whipping cream rendered an overly sweet, thick milk mixture. So my cake is a technically a quatro leches cake.

Yields 2 8/9 inch cakes or a quarter sheet cake with small layers

Sponge Cake (Adapted from American Test Kitchen Sponge Cake recipe):


• ½ cup cake flour
• ¼ unbleached all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 3 tbsp milk
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 5 large eggs, room temperature
• ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 ⁰F. Grease two 8/9 inch round pans and line bottom with wax paper.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, or sift onto waxed paper.
3. Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Remove head and add vanilla; cover and keep warm.
4. Separate 3 of the 5 eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, reserve the 3 egg yolks along with the other 2 eggs.
5. Beat the 3 egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tbsp of the sugar; continue to beat whites to soft, moist peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT) Transfer egg whites to a large bowl and set aside.
6. Add the 3 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs to a mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Beat the eggs with the remaining 6 tbsp of sugar until eggs are very thick and a pale yellow color. (about 5 minutes)
7. Add beaten eggs to the egg white mixture and lightly fold 2 times.
8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over beaten eggs and whites. Fold very gently 12 times with a large rubber spatula. Make a well on one side of batter and pour milk mixture into the well. Continue folding until batter shows no trace of flour or eggs, about 8 additional strokes. (It’s ok if it takes more just don’t mix the batter, remember folding in the batter is key)
9. Immediately pour batter into prepared baking pans, bake until cake tops are light brown and feel firm to the touch and spring back when touched, about 16 min for a 9-inch, 20 min for an 8-inch and 25 min for a half sheet cake pan.
10. Immediately run a knife around parameter to loosen cake. Cover pan w/large plate. Using a towel, invert pan and remove pan from cake. Peel off parchment paper. Re-invert cake from plate onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cake and continue.

NOTE: *DO NOT rotate pans in the middle of baking. Opening the oven door will cause the cake to sink in the middle (or so I’ve heard because it can’t have possibly happened to me…)
*Invert the cakes IMMEDIATELY so that they don’t sink.
*If you don’t want to dirty plates, what I do is invert the cake onto wax paper and then re-invert it onto another piece of wax paper and allow it to cook on the wax paper.

Milk Mixture:

• 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk
• 14 oz can evaporated milk
• ½ cup heavy whipping cream
• ½ cup whole milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Whipped Cream:

• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 tsp gelatin
• 2 tbsp cold water
• 10 tbsp powdered sugar
• 2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place mixing bowl and whisk attachment into freezer
2. Mix gelatin and water in a waterproof bowl and allow to bloom for 10 minutes.
3. Once gelatin has bloomed, place bowl over a double boiler and dissolve mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature. (If mixture thickens again, reheat it until the gelatin melts.)
4. While the gelatin cools, beat the heavy whipping cream in the chilled bowl to soft peaks
5. Add gelatin mixture along with vanilla and sugar
6. Whip to stiff peaks and refrigerate until use

Assemble cake: 

Once cake has cooled, place one cake layer onto desired serving board/plate. Divide the mixture in two portions about 2 cups each. Slowly pour ½ a cup of the mixture onto the bottom layer, brushing on the remaining of the portion onto the cake. Making sure that the milk mixture is being absorbed properly. If you have a sunken spot, it will be denser, poke that part with a fork to help it absorb the milk mixture. Once milk has been absorbed, add about half of the whipped cream mixture, add fruit or other filling if using any at this time (I’ve used pineapple chunks, just make sure to drain the pineapple chunks so you don’t have a runny mess, and pecan pieces.)Place the other cake layer on top and repeat with the addition of the remaining milk mixture. Frost and decorate according to desire. Refrigerate until ready to be served. This cake gets better with time. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011
On a cloudy day.

Well not's particularly sunny today. Lovely.

I'm ridiculously happy today so I thought that I would try my knack at writing again.

Unfortunately this year I gave up bread for lent so really I have no
recipes to share today but I do promise to get back to baking once I can stand not sinking my teeth into a scrumptious cupcake covered with equally decadent frosting of some sort.

Today I ran the longest I have ever run in my life and I can honestly say that I wanted to die the last 10 minutes. It felt exhilarating. A feeling I never thought that I would equate with running.  The old me would have mean mugged you if you even mentioned getting off the couch for anything but eating. Not today. I slipped on my shoes (which I haven’t had to re-lace since I got them two months ago!) and went into the cool morning for my run. I should mention that about a week and a half ago I got knocked down by a dog while I was running.

Laugh if you must but trust me it did happen.
Grace! As innocent as she looks she was the first culprit to knock me over!

I swear she came out of nowhere. The first time I encountered her she kind of nudged me in the back of the leg but then continued to run next to me. Which was okay but then after 20 minutes of running with me
(yes I said 20 minutes) she got impatient and nudged me again except this time I was clearly lacking balance and I fell to my knee, twisting my ankle on the way down. Trust me this is not the first time I have had dogs follow me or knock me over. They've even followed me home. I'm a dog magnet! Anyways I injured my ankle which still happens to be swollen and the pressure from today's run irritated it a bit.

Regardless today has been an awesome day. Not even the special on the plague I'm watching can ruin my good happy mood. The only thing I need to make this day 10x better is some Tiramisu (hint hint... Look forward to a post on that soon) which I have acquired a deep love for.  Damn you lent. Only 37 days left until
Easter and the end of my lent!

Oh by the way Happy St. Patrick's Day! Hope everyone is engaging in my favorite pastime...pinching people who don't wear green! What can I say; I’m a simple kind of girl.

Until next time eat some cake for me! Please!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies with coconut, baked from freezer
A couple of months ago as I started my obsessive blog reading I ran across a baking book title several times. Apparently Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours is a very popular book among foodies. After seeing it mentioned countless times in over a dozen blogs I wandered into my local Borders and found the much mentioned book. It was love at first sight. The cover of the book pictures a scrumptious looking cake (which I have yet to make), and the pictures inside further reinforced the yummy factor of the book. Alas I left the bookstore without the much coveted book. Months went by before I stumbled onto, which has to be one of my favorite websites to shop from, and there on that site I found the book (way cheaper than at the bookstore) and I bought it.

I was so excited that I sent the book to the wrong address. Luckily it was to the house of a family member and I picked up the book shortly after it was delivered. For weeks the book sat on my kitchen shelf, I would occasionally eye the pages with a madness that is equivalent to that of a kid at a candy store. I finally got the courage to bake from this book, I have to be honest that I half expected the final product to be a let down as is what tends to happen when something is hyped up to the level of this book. I was wrong. My first baking experiment with this book was the Perfect Party Cake (pg. 250.) Since then I have trusted that whatever I bake from this book will turn out amazing.
Chocolate chip cookies, baked from room temperature

Today was no different. Today I took a try at My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (pg. 68.) These cookies are amazing. I used a Callebaut bittersweet chocolate block and though it was strenuous work to turn it to chunks it was well worth the effort. I have to be honest I've been dreaming about this cookies since Monday. However something unfortunate happened on Monday when I made Red Velvet cupcakes (they weren't what I expected), I finished all the vanilla extract. I almost flew into a panic when I measured out the last teaspoon. So in order for these cookies to happen I had to buy some more vanilla. I settled on Madagascar Bourbon vanilla (it smells really good, I kind of want to live in the bottle.)    

I have to admit making this cookies took a bit of time. I never knew how hard it was to bake and take pictures at the same time.They are well worth the effort. When I was searching online for people who had baked these cookies for the Tuesdays with Dorie group, I found that a lot of their cookies look flat. Now I like my cookies being a little on the chunky side. So I divided my batter in half (also added coconut to half.) I toasted the coconut and placed the half with coconut in the freezer while I baked off the other ones. The room temperature cookies spread more but still remained soft and chewy at the center which is a must for me. The ones that were chilled did not spread as much but also had a nice texture, the coconut did however add a nice saltiness to the cookies. This book is a must! I absolutely love it and these cookies are amazing.


My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
From: Baking From My Home to Yours
Makes 45 cookies (I got around 51)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional) or pecans (optional)


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well-blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate and nuts. (The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. If you'd like, you can freeze rounded tablespoons of dough, ready for baking. Freeze the mounds on a lined baking sheet, then bag them when they're solid. There's no need to defrost the dough before baking - just add another minute or two to the baking time.)

Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.

Bake the cookies - one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point - for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center; they may still be a little soft in the middle, and that's just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Today started out like any other day. I walked into my local Borders to search for a book and to my disappointment I did not find it. I did however find this:

I don't know why it always happens. I go to the bookstore with a clearly defined goal and I somehow end up wandering to the same section of the bookstore time after time. The cookbook section. Today was no different. Except today I found this book and straight off the bat I was enamored by the cover. I can only imagine how good those cookies on the cover taste. They are drool worthy.

Unfortunately I did not buy the book (story of my life), however I think that the gods were in my favor today because what did I see on my Facebook page as soon as I got home ? Well  a cookbook giveaway from My Baking Addiction. Yes the exact book that I eyed so hungrily at the bookstore. So I entered the giveaway now I'm just hoping that I win this book. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed until the winner is announced.

This here is a blog.

Thank you Captain Obvious

I have started a blog. It's pretty obvious I think at this point. If you are here I'm hoping this is what you were looking for if it's not well stick around maybe it will work out for the both of us [fingers crossed]. I bet at this point you are wondering "what the hell is this blog about?", well I'm glad you asked. This blog is about absolutely everything. I know it can be a little overwhelming. I like to bake, I like to [pretend to] cook, play video games, photograph food [not saying I'm an expert], and recently I've taken up running. Most importantly this blog is a place for me to complain and rant to all of you.
Dora, my retarded dog
So over the last year or so I have become a devoted food blog reader. I seriously have become obsessed with several blogs [I cannot remember my life before blogs.] I do have to say that Cakespy is by far one of my top blogs. I think it has something to do with Cuppie. Anyways, I decided that it was about time that I stopped just reading and started contributing to the blog world. I am by no means a good writer so at some point the posts will just seem like a long rant. But I swear if you hang in there I will eventually reach a point.

Leila. the little princess
I might occasionally bore you with the misadventures of the three babies in my life but I will try to keep that to a minimum no matter how adorable they are. So here is my first post. I promise the next one will be better and include very tasty information.

Grace, my little grandma

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I am a college student who would rather read a baking book then a textbook. I have become quite adventurous recently and enjoy trying new things.
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