Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Modern Baker: Real Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake. Is there a better summer dessert? I think not!

The Modern Bakers are baking their way through The Modern Baker Cookbook by Nick Malgieri. We are now in cakes. These little shortcakes were quite easy to put together. N.M.'s strategy of using the food processor is simple and I'm hooked on this process for pie crusts. I combined the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the food processor. I pulsed in the cold butter and then the egg and buttermilk until it all became a ball. I then made six large shortcakes by hand and placed them on a silpat to bake. In 20 minutes I had perfectly golden shortcakes. These beat those spongy store-bought shortcakes any day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Modern Baker: Heirloom Chocolate Cake

The Modern Bakers are baking cakes and this heirloom chocolate cake is a decadent delicious dessert for any night of the week!
The cake is made by whisking sugar into butter and then adding bittersweet chocolate, eggs, flour, and salt and whisking. The directions couldn't be easier and the ingredients are almost always on hand. This makes this cake so easy to make.

The cake is baked in an 8inch cake pan, cooled, and then refrigerated. N.M. says the cake is too soft to serve without refrigeration. I didn't quite understand why until afterwards.  The cake is dense yet soft, almost like a cross between a brownie and fudge. The refrigeration helps hold it together.

One little sliver of this cake feels like a decadent treat. We served ours with whip cream and strawberries to celebrate the last day of preschool and then walked some over to a dear friend who was celebrating the last day of kindergarten. This cake needs to shared!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Modern Baker: Blueberry Jam Cake

I must begin this post by thanking N.M. I have never been able to unmold a bundt cake so beautifully! I now look forward to my husband's birthday Kentucky butter rum cake. Bring on unmolding!!

Okay, so it is technically supposed to be blackberry jam cake, but I didn't have any blackberry jam. I did have one last jar of homemade seedless blueberry jam. I figured N.M. would support the substitution.
The Modern Baker challengers are baking their way through The Modern Baker cookbook section by section. We are now in cakes!

I began by creaming the butter and sugar. It seems almost all dessert recipes begin this way. I added the eggs and then the flour mixture alternating with buttermilk. The flour mixture consisted of flour, cocoa, allspice, cinnamon, and baking soda. Finally, I added pecans and the blueberry jam.

I omitted the raisins.
I recently saw this fantastic quote from the movie Benny & Joon.
"You don't like raisins?" 
"No, they used to be fat and juicy, now they're twisted, they had their lives' stolen. They taste sweet, but really they're just humiliated grapes."
I stand firm that no humiliated grapes enter my baking!

The cake was delicious! I'd make one again in a heartbeat! After my blueberry jam substitute was a hit I imagine I'd equally love blackberry. Come to think of it, I bet raspberry, marionberry, and chesterberry would also be fabulous! Endless possibilities....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Modern Baker: Molten Center Chocolate Cakes

Perfection has moved up a notch! I've now made the best thing ever!!

Yes, this is another cake from the Modern Baker challenge and it is perfection on a plate. It's based off of a recipe by a 3-star chef whose version calls for a frozen chocolate truffle to be baked into the middle of it. N.M. claims this recipe is even better than that. When I first read that I thought he had to be wrong. The truffle version sounds divine. Now I must concede, he may be right. (I save my full endorsement for when I've had the opportunity to try chef Michel Bras cake. He's French. Hmm... perhaps a trip to Paris is in order.)

Yes, my plating and un-molding may not be very pretty above but trust me, it tasted 1000 times better than it looks. I'll admit I almost didn't make the creme anglaise sauce to go along with it. I am so glad I did. Do not skip that step!!!! It's the perfect compliment.

The batter is quite easy to make involving bittersweet chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, and flour. I'm continuously astounded what deliciousness is created from five ingredients. I had 8 oz ramekins instead of 4 so mine was a bit larger. The unmolding was a little tricky as the ramekin is still pretty hot when you're trying to unmold but the cake was wonderful. All the edges were a cooked soft yet dense cake and middle chocolate just oozed all over the plate and into the creme anglaise.

I love that this dessert can be made ahead of time and then just popped in the oven right when you need it. This dessert must be eaten warm so plan accordingly!

Now, I'm off to pop my last ramekin of goodness into the oven.
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