Monthly Archives: October 2009

October Smells Like Cake

Cakes have been a major component of my life for the past few weeks.

I found myself with some time on my hands this month
and it coincided nicely with receiving Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s new book
Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

Although I’m not a big cake eater
(I’ll take pie over cake
and ice cream over them both)
I love to bake them.

Given my tepid feelings towards cake consumption
I consistently have a problem with what to do with cakes once I make them.

The thought of having too much cake on hand
and then it going to waste
is what normally stops me from baking
but I put that concern aside for a little bit earlier this month.

Inspired by the new book
I took an evening to lounge around in bed and page through my new treasure.
The dogs kept me company as I looked through it
passing by the chocolate chocolate chocolate cakes
and then suddently staring at a photo of a beautiful four layer cake
called Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake.

While I like milk/dark chocolate
I never really crave it.
I do crave lemony things, however.

That yellow cirtus has my heart for sure.
Have you ever seen a piece of fruit look so happy?
You can cook/bake/clean with it!

I go through a lot of lemons and need to plant a lemon tree already.

Now that you know my feelings on lemons
you could understand why I would be drawn to a recipe calling for zest in the sponge, curd to fill, and curd in the white chocolate frosting.

Sponge set up

Zest bomb

Out of the oven

Pulling away from the pans
as it should
after a few minutes

I left it to cool and started on the curd.

I would have photos of the curd in progress
but the first batch turned out poorly
and it was because I followed directions.

PSA: Don’t make anything that is lemon-based in a stainless steel/metal container.
Just don’t.

I don’t care what the recipe says.
Use a glass bowl and wooden utensils and I promise you
your lemon whatever won’t taste like it passed through water fountain pipes.

Cause that’s what happens in a stainless steel pot.

but we don’t need to talk about it.

(Don’t forget to add the eggs when making your curd.
You can’t just add them in at the end.
Yeah. I did you a favor and learned for you.)

So I made another batch and then set everything aside to cool overnight.

The next day I made the buttercream.

It had a fair amount of white chocolate


Back to the stove with some butter, eggs
and vanilla

The frosting base had to cool too
(notice the name of the cake did not say “Woody’s Quick Lemon Luxury Layer Cake)
but after cooling I whipped in some butter

then the some of the lemon curd

and ended with a whole boatload of amazing buttercream.

I put that aside and went back to working on the cake layers.

Cooled and torted

Simple syrup to keep them moist
(helpful since they were already a day old)

Curd in between

I sigh a happy sigh.
It looks like sunshine.
Who wouldn’t want to eat sunshine
…that tastes like lemons (and not of fire)?

Whoever doesn’t want to
well, I’ll have their piece of sunshine then.

Buttercream on top and in between the sandwiched layers

Crumb coat

I know some bakers don’t do a crumb coat
but I swear by them.

True to its name
this is the coat that captures all the crumbs in your frosting
that way they don’t end up marring the surface of your pretty cake.

After I applied the crumb coat
I put the cake in the refrigerator to set up a little bit
so as to make the final frosting layer nice and smooth.

That was the goal at least.

Perfectly smooth buttercream frosting on a cake is one of the hardest thing for me to do.
Possibly harder than Pie Crust.
If I ever met Crust and Buttercream in a dark alley at night
I would run away
screaming in terror.

Buttercream won the battle this time.

It also seems I was so enraged at losing the Battle of Smooth
that I could not take a decent picture of the finished product.

It was a night of failures
because I also added some yellow food coloring to the icing
and it turned splotchy from lazy mixing.

Thats what you get.
Bad lighting
subject cut off
and the equivalent of cow spots on the cake.

You’re just going to have to like it
or not like it.
Whatever you want.

It wasn’t winning any beauty pageants
but hot damn it was good.

If you’ve ever wondered
what it’s like to try to get a nice slice of cake for a photograph
it looks a little like this

I quit after three slices.

The insides

You can see the buttercream filling is a little bit cracked.

After I finished frosting the cake I put it in the refrigerator to set up again.
When I took it out
I didn’t wait until it had warmed up all the way through to slice it
so it cracked a little.

My problem with having too much cake was taken care of when I tweeted that I had a lot of cake and no one to eat it.

Summons were issued
and the cake went a’traveling to a little ol’ Houston bar.

I still came home with a few slices
but it was better than having the behemoth sit in my fridge for a week or two.

This cake was not the only cake to come into my life this month.

I made an angel food cake too.

Good ol’ Woody liked a lot of egg yolks in his cake
so I had about fifteen whites in a big bowl in my fridge.

You can see theres a few spots where the flour didn’t incorporate well.
It was still pretty fluffy and light
and since it was my first angel food cake
I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

I didn’t do all the cake making this month.

Dorothy Young put on a Cheesecake making class.

The master showing us how it is done

Some students listening and reading their notes

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

Dorothy Young’s tasty pumpkin cheesecake with candied pecans

This guy was also there
making coffee

and of course
for those who couldn’t attend the class
there were plenty of people live-tweeting it

This isnt even a full round up of all the cakes I’ve seen this month.
October is also not over
and of course
I have a few more cakes planned.

I will practice again with a cake with a buttercream frosting
trying to attain perfect smoothness with a non-crusting frosting
and probably get frustrated with it
then stalk off to do something where I am not involved with preparation
like eat tacos.

Thankfully that respite won’t be too far out of reach this weekend.
I have giant plans involving taco trucks this Sunday.

To maximize the taco-rest opportunity
I should start the cake on Saturday
go to bed pissed off at the cake that night
wake up to eat tacos
then come back blissed out and issue a beat down on the buttercream.

you better watch your back buttercream.
When I’m done with you
you won’t even dare to wrinkle.

I’ll get your friend, Crust, in November.
In the kitchen
with a pumpkin.



Filed under Cooking at Home

Eatin’ Some Food in Bahstan – Fancy Pants Edition

Last weekend Husband had a conference in Boston
and I went with.

I grew up in Massachusetts
and figured it would be fun to rent a car and drive past my old houses
especially since the foliage was supposed to be pretty in those parts of the state.

I’m a sucker for red, yellow, and orange leaves
and those just don’t happen in Houston.

We were to leave on Friday morning and stay through Monday evening.

It almost worked out that way.

We missed our flight on Friday.
They wouldnt let us board the plane
but that’s not the point of this entry.

I am watching my mailbox for vouchers though
because you better believe got all up in Continental’s business after having to deal with the GATE GUARDIAN IN RED
and customer service

::huffs and puffs::


We spent most of our Friday sulking in IAH
and arrived in Boston too late to really do anything.

It was about to start raining
and to top it all off
I thought my eardrum ruptured on landing.

Luckily this turned out not to be the case
but it still hurt tremendously
and I couldnt hear out of it for about ten hours.

I concluded that the only way the day could get better
was to end it
so I went to sleep while Husband frolicked at the first night of his conference.

The next day
it was still raining
Hub went back to the conference
and I was left to figure out what to do.

With all the rain
I decided that renting a car was not going to happen.

Getting around in Boston proper was a little crazy
and I wasnt comfortable driving around on unfamiliar highways in a rental car
especially in the downpour.

Instead I picked up from where I left off on researching Boston restaurants
and decided to try Marliave.

I made reservations on
and commented that I would like to do a three course meal
chef’s choice
with the only restriction being no seafood.

I don’t like seafood.
I’ve tried and tried to like it
but it all tastes disgusting to me.

I’ve had fresh seafood of all types
and no matter how hard I try to fall in love with it
it always tastes like something at the bottom of a freshwater fish tank to me.

Say what you will
but thats how I roll.

I made reservations for 1:30p
and when I got there
the hostess didn’t seem to be aware of my reservation.

The hostess asked where I would like to sit
either upstairs or downstairs
and I chose upstairs for the light.

In the upstairs dining room
there were only two other tables with patrons
both of which were paying their checks.

The server came by and introduced herself and asked if I’d like a drink or anything to start with.

I guess no one was aware of my reservation or request.
I asked if I could do a three course meal
chefs choice
(sans seafood)
and she looked a little confused.

Like… appetizer, main, dessert?
“Yes, that would be great.”
Ok, let me go check with the chef.

She came back a few moments later
and by that time the two other tables were gone.

The chef says that’s no problem.

So it began.

Standard nibble delivered to all tables.

Bread panfried in olive oil
with olive oil
and olives.

It was a bit olive-y
if I do say so myself.

1st course:

Duck rilletes with brioche toast and apples.

I thought the rilletes were a little muddy tasting on their own
but when put together with the apples and mustard or brined items
they were quite good.

The caperberry was best with the duck however,
and I would have been happy for a few more of those on the plate.

2nd course:

‘Hand-stuffed’ ravioli in roasted tomato sauce.

I could tell the ravioli were made earlier in the day
because the edges were a little tough
but the tomato sauce and filling were outstanding.

I thought this was my main course at first
and was a little bummed that they forgot about the wine pairing
but it dawned on me halfway through
that this was the pasta course
and this was going to be a four-course meal.

I began to pace myself accordingly.

Sure enough
the server cleared my plate
and set down a big steak knife and new fork.

iPhone photo, sorry

3rd course:

Pancetta wrapped stuffed rabbit loin with leg, whipped potatoes and mushrooms

The only downside of this dish was that the salt in the pancetta
took away some of the thunder from the rabbit loin.
It was just a little too much.

The wine that was paired with the entree was
(at least what the sever said)
a 1994 California Cabernet.

I can’t find that on their wine menu
so the world may never know.

I am not a huge wine drinker
but enjoy a glass when it is paired properly with food
and such was the case at this meal.

4th course:

Pumpkin pie with cranberry relish

The pumpkin pie was straight out of the fridge
and I like mine better.

The cranberry relish was very good though.

I appreciated the fact that the chef let the tartness of the berries play a role in the dessert
instead of trying to make the whole thing sweet sweet sweet.

After I managed to eat almost all of the dessert
I asked for the check.

Between the time the server cleared my plate and brought me the bill
Chef Scott Herritt came out to see what I thought of the meal.

I was struck by the fact
that he was wearing a perfectly starched and unwrinkled blue shirt
and all I could think was that he kept that in a closet somewhere
specifically for occasions when some random chick comes in alone
and orders a massive lunch.


He spent only a few moments at the table
(literally. Like five seconds)
but I remarked upon the cranberry relish
and also that I loved the caperberry with the duck rilletes.

He looked at me warily and smiled,
said he was glad I liked it and thanked me for coming in.

When I got the bill
I saw they comped me one course
which was nice
and fair
since I only asked for three.

During the meal
I wasn’t sure if I needed to say something
“Scuse me, am I supposed to be getting four courses? I only asked for three… BUT DON’T TAKE IT AWAY! I LOVE THESE RAVIOLI!”
or leave it be
and I opted for the latter
waiting to see how they would handle it.

That being said
I was something between touched and flattered
that the chef would want to share his work with someone that walked in and said
“give me what you think is best.”

That or he thought I was a restaurant critic
and was trying to ply me with as much excellent food as I could eat.

I’ll take it either way
thank you very much
because it was quite delicious.

10 Bosworth St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02113
ph. 617.422.0004

Not-so-fancy-pants edition of eating in Beantown to follow.


Filed under Not Cooking at Home