My Cake Decorating Gallery

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Favorite Blueberry Buckle Recipe


I can't say I "grew up" with blueberry buckle but when my mom found Martha Stewart's mom's recipe and gave it a try, it became a family favorite, especially for The Husband. He looks forward to blueberry buckle every summer, when the Michigan blueberries are ripe and available at our local markets. I love fresh sweet blueberries, but you can make this recipe year round with any fresh blueberries that you can locate. Frozen might work but I think they would turn the batter purple. :)


The recipe calls for a ton of blueberries and my mom ususually doesn't use as many and I didn't either, and a double batch does fit nicely in an 11x17in glass dish I think. The one thing I noticed this last time I made it was that it really needed to bake a little longer and I think I was using a lower temperature because I thought my oven was running hot, but I should've kept it in longer. My tester toothpick came out juicy but because of all the berries it was hard to tell, I thought "well it's probably done, it's been that long" but unfortunately, by the time I got to Andrea's family picnic, I found out the inside was a little mushy. Luckily everyone just thought that was my intent and they seemed to like the buckle anyway.
The cinnamon streusel topping is perfect and I use it for my triple berry tart recipe as well. Overall, this is a great recipe that makes a the best blueberry buckle that I've tried, very moistmoist blueberry buckle so I hope you give it a try if you're looking for a summer dessert! If you were to bring this over to some one's house, they will surely be thrilled. :)




Blueberry Buckle

1 ten-inch round cake or 2 six-inch round cakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
5 cups wild or cultivated blueberries
Mrs. Kostyra's Streusel Topping




Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a springform baking pan, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add egg and vanilla, beating until fully combined.

Add reserved flour mixture, alternating with the milk, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Remove from mixer. Gently fold in blueberries.

Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle streusel topping over cake. Bake until cake tester comes out batter-free, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool for 15 minutes before serving.





Mrs Kostrya's Streusel Topping

As seen on MarthaStewart.com

Makes enough for 1 ten-inch cake or 2 six-inch cakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.

Using hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps. The topping can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Daring Baker Adventure: Dobos Torte



I was hoping for a cake but was surprised to find Dobos Torte as our August 2009 Daring Baker's challenge since it's a recipe that I've already tried myself!


The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of hNot Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular "Dobos Torte" based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. The Dobos Torte is a multi-layered spongue cake and chocolate frosting dessert.


My family used to order Dobos Tortes during the Christmas time due to our european heritage and it is a fond memory that I have from my childhood. As a fun challenge, I had decided for my 28th birthday last December that I would make my own Dobos Torte based on Wolfgang Puck's recipe, and it tasted exactly as I remembed a Dobos Torte should taste, except even better because it was fresh and homemade. I have a long blog post about it all here.

So I had mixed feelings about the Daring Bakers making the Dobos Torte. I was glad it was a cake but a little sad it's one I've already challenged myself with. But it was a new recipe, so I thought that would be a great thing to try out, and I certainly didn't want to miss out on the August event.

Unfortunately, this cake didn't turn out great for me. I gladly take some of the blame but this cake turned out nothing like my birthday Dobos Torte or the ones from my childhood. I must've made the layers too thin, plus Meijer only had Meijer-brand parchment paper, which made for a disaster trying to get those stupid sponge layers off of the parchment. They were so sticky. I had batter leftover after making 6 layers so I probably should've made them a little thicker.


The chocolate frosting was a mess for me as well. I didn't chill it after putting it together so that was probably a mistake, but it was such a liquidy consistency that it just glopped on and the layers slip-slided around. It was like a chocolate ganache (except way harder to make) as it just poured over the sides of my short and squatty cake. There was no chance I was going to be able to make it smooth or do any piping with this kind of hot-fudge consistency. I kept the frosted cake in the fridge overnight but much to my dismay, the frosting never hardened up like a ganache would have, so I couldn't even do any touch ups. It tasted fine but again, not the same as the other recipe or memories of my Dobos Tortes in years past.


I slapped some sliced almonds on the side, which was laughable to look at, and the top decorative layer of sponge cake covered with hardened caramel did not really do anything as far as making my monstrosity look any better.

The caramel worked better for me than in the last recipe I have tried, however the horrible sponge cake triangles which were sticky to begin with now were even worse with this caramel topping. I had to bring this cake up to my mom's house and just having a few of those triangles on top of eachother made for a disaster for trying to pull them apart the next day. I didn't like this sponge/caramel triangle topping in the original cake either (maybe I just cook the caramel too far because who wants to chew that hard of candy?) so it was nothing against this recipe, really.
The cake itelf was soo short (no thanks to my too-thin layers), so I did cut two slices and put them on top of eachother which made it look like a 12 layer cake (as seen in the top photo of this post). The flavors of the cake were still delicious, just very different from what I expected and it didn't fill in the void of "I want a Dobos Torte" like the other recipe I tried had.

Anyway, not my best Daring Baker showing, and a bit of a bummer since cakes are my specialty and this was so time consuming considering how ugly it turned out. Still, I am glad I completed it, on time and I am glad that I know the original recipe I tried is the one for me, hands down. I hate to be a Negative Nancy but I highly receommend you try Wolfgang Puck's recipe if you like the Dobos Torte!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grandma's Detroit Tigers Cake


It might sound like a strange combination - Grandma's 90th Birthday and the Detroit Tigers, but if you knew Grandma Bliss, you'd know she's faithfully watched every Tigers game that she could and has been doing this for a long time. I must admit I'm not sure how many years she's been a giant Tigers fan, but considering this was her 90th birthday, she's been a fan a lot longer than anyone else I know.


So Chris and I were talking about cake ideas and we decided to scrap the fuddy duddy grandma style cake and go for something more fun and festive - Detroit Tigers. I looked up some ideas over the following days and I saw that most baseball themed cakes are for young boys' birthdays but I figured I would just go ahead and mesh the Detroit Tigers with some tiers and roses and "class it up" a bit.



The cake was just your general chocolate flavor (grandma's favorite) with a blackberry cream filling and I used my usual buttercream frosting for the rest of the cake. I stuck with a blue and orange color scheme and made some scroll work and also some orange roses. It was a very warm and humid day so I had a little trouble keeping the icing cool but it turned out OK. I bought some plastic tubes to help support the upper tier which I cut to be the exact height of the lower tier, just in case we had any "sinking".. this seemed to work out just fine.



I used fondant and created a pennant which I let dry for a few days prior to the party, and used regular markets (no one was going to eat this stuff) to create the Detroit "D" and write out the Happy Birthday Thelma sign. I must admit I had a minor meltdown when I was working on the pendant and The Husband said "Wife.... " and I knew he spotted a mistake. Sure enough - Happy Birtday was in the works. AWESOME. I was so mad that just wasted 30 minutes. After my meltdown, my second pennant (which I didn't like as well, of course) only took 20 minutes. I also used a styrofoam ball (which was too large, I know) and sketched out the baseball stitches and another Detroit "D" for use as the cake topper.




The fondant never really hardened (I should switch over to gum paste I think) so the ball and pennant weren't perfect by the time I had moved them all around and adjusted everything. The other mishap was that on the way to the party, the front orange rose fell off onto its face taking a few inches of side icing with it. I had The Husband pull over briefly while I patted it back into place as best I could... great, so it was lumpy and right in the front. Oh well, I hoped Grandma wouldn't notice ...




It was an awesome party at Chris' house, it was wonderful spending a day with the Bliss family, especially those family members who live far away! Grandma seemed pleased with her cake so I was happy having had a chance to make probably the only Happy 90th Birthday Grandma Detroit Tigers cake ever made in the history of man.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tasty Thai in Troy: Thai Taste



Troy has many Thai restaurants and this one is my favorite. We get takeout from here regularly and have eaten in their small but inviting dining room a few times as well. The food is so flavorful and fresh tasting, the portions are gigantic, and it's very inexpensive... what more could you ask for? I don't know much about the owners and their website isn't up yet, but it seems to be family run and everyone is very polite.




The Drunken Noodles are awesome, along with the Pad Thai and Pad Sew Ew. One of my favorites of all time was the Green Curry (Gang Keaw Warn) and Masaman Curry, both fantastic here at Thai Taste. The small details that many other restaurants leave out like fresh lime wedges and bean sprouts are not forgotten here and any place that uses the extra wide rice nooles for the Pad Sew Ew and Drunken Noodle is a big thumbs up in my book. I wish I could find a place to buy those.

Anyway, if you're in the area and want a great thai meal for a great price, try out Thai Taste. It's located in the northwest corner of Long Lake and Livernois roads in a small strip mall.


Thai Taste
5063 Livernois Rd
Troy, MI, 48098
(248) 813-0900

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cookies for a Cause: Blueberry Bonanza Bars


I've had my eye on these blueberry bars for a while. I knew The Husband would enjoy them as well as my coworkers. These tasty treats start out with an almond cookie bottom which is topped with a layer of blueberry preserves (or any other jam for that matter), and then you sprinkle on top a wonderful granola topping. The original recipe from Martha of course has you making your own granola, but I skipped that.. I only had so much time plus "Almond Coconut" would've made The Husband skip over these (though it does sound delicious to me!)

I found awesome blueberry preserves at my Kroger and it is soo tasty, well worth the $5. It's called Bonne Manam Wild Blueberry Preserves. I had no idea I'd like blueberry jam that much. I made a double batch of the cookies, as usual, and cut generous portions of these crumbly goodies. I used half organic (read: twice as pricey) honey oat granola and half Kroger brand (the only two without raisins/weird flavors). I liked that the organic granola had bigger chunks but we liked the cinnamon Kroger brand flavor better. I'd like to try making my own granola sometime.. yummy. Granola is one of those items that should be labeled as "high risk", as in, it's very easy to eat way too much of it!
Like in my previous Cookies for a Cause events, my donation was to bake the cookies and bring them into work. Then, 100% of my coworkers' donations go directly to the Alzheimers Association, a great cause. These cookies were a huge hit, quite a few of my coworkers' favorites, and I am happy to report we raised another $19.55, for a grand total of $175.57 collected from my Cookies for a Cause adventure. I am looking forward to many more baked batches of goodies! I keep telling them - I'll keep baking if you keep donating!
I know you'll love these cookies so here's the recipe for Blueberry Bonanza Bars on Martha's website.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comments Comments Comments!

Just a little note to let any readers know that I must be the last blogger on earth to realize that Blogger had a "automatic e-mail notification" checkbox feature. I was so annoyed that I had no idea when kind people would take the time to leave a comment, and I would happen upon them months later, especially on older posts. I thought I looked for this feature before, and maybe it is new, but anyway, I finally checked the box and even snagged my first comment! Thanks to Julie of Melanger (who has an awesome blog) for testing it out - my first comment notification! I look forward to keeping up with comments better in the future and as always, thanks for stopping in!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Recipe from Emeril: Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms



The name might sound a little boring but all of the positive remarks on foodtv.com and the picture caused me to try this new recipe out for a weeknight dinner. I give it a Giant Thumbs Up, it was delicious! Just something different and it wasn't too much of a pain to make, either. The result is tender and juicy chicken thighs with a rich brown sauce with quite a bit of kick. Very flavorful. The only labor involved is slicing up all those mushrooms which wasn't too bad.


Give this tasty recipe a try for a different spin on the same ole weeknight chicken dinner. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs which reduced the fat and were just as juicy and tasty. I also always have "Emeril's Essence" on hand so I just used that instead of making my own, I tend to buy it and add it to get some extra "BAM!" in my recipes. Also, because boneless skinless thighs are smaller and cook faster, the last step really is just intended to "cook until sauce has thickened into a gravy-like consistency" since the chicken is probably tender already at that point. The sauce really does thicken up quickly so don't skip that last 20 minutes or so. Hope you like it, we thought it was delicious over brown rice!


Here's the recipe for your convenience, or check it out on the Food Network website!


Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms
As seen here, on Food Network

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups dark chicken stock
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 cups steamed white rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions
Set a 10-inch, straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken thighs with the Essence, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, skin side down in the pan and sear until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and sear on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter and mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring often to make a light brown roux, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, stock and rosemary to the pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Serve the chicken over rice and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking," by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William Morrow, 1993.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cookies for a Cause: Heavenly and Double Chocolate Brownies



Well I am a little late in posting this but here it is finally. I decided to try out some brownies for my one-woman bake sale for charity, which I do at work. It's getting to the point where people know to stop by my desk in case they have the munchies in hopes to happen across some freshly baked goods. I'm starting to find out what kinds of desserts my coworkers like, and even including some of them in picking out recipes if I have my Martha Stewart Cookies book with me.


For the brownies, I couldn't decide about which recipes to try so I chose one Double Chocolate Brownie recipe from Martha and one Heavenly Brownie recipe from my "101 Things To Do With A Cake Mix" recipe book which I have been meaning to try.

The results? Martha's brownies were a classic deep and dark chocolate brownie. I didn't frost them, but they did have a lightly crispy top built in and they tasted like a great old fashioned brownie, no surprises. The Heavenly Brownies used a Devil's Food cake box and made a brownie "bottom" which got topped with a cream cheese, powdered sugar and egg mixture on top. This was an extremely sweet and soft brownie with a delicious creamy white topping that turned golden brown after baking. I preferred the sweeter Heavenly Brownies (no offense Martha!) even though I could recognize the box cake flavor. It basically comes down to if you're the dark chocolate type of person or a sweet-a-holic; my coworkers were also split on which one was their favorites.

I baked these beauties for July 8th at work and I am happy to report we raised $19.89 for the Alzheimer's Association. As I've noted before, 100% of the money donated by my coworkers goes to the charity of my choice, and my donation is the cookies themselves in an effort to raise money for a great cause. So far, it's working out wonderfully and I look forward to how well we'll do over the upcoming months.

Here is Martha's recipe online if you're interested, and check out that "Things To Do With A Cake Mix" book.