October 5, 2014

Tartine's Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian Cake

Tartine Bakery's fame extends not only within San Francisco but other parts near and far.  They received a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2008 which is like an Academy Award in the culinary world.  So it was extremely gratifying for me when I was able to replicate, at home, one of their most popular cakes.  

I had my first taste of the Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian a few weekends ago with my sister.  Yes, there was a line when we got there - as there always is - but in the end waiting for 30 minutes was so worth it.  One bite of the moist chiffon cake filled with tart passion fruit bavarian cream, covered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and coconut shavings and I was hooked.   I had to try and make it for myself and lucky for me Tartine included the recipe in their eponymous  cookbook.

 The cake was perfect to bring to a family gathering to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  As I've mentioned before my people don't care for overly sweet desserts so I thought this cake was the ideal choice.   Boy was I right.  My family loved the cake, although one of my brothers said it was too tart - hmmm, there's always one dissenter in any big family...lol.   My sister commented that the cake tasted exactly like the one we bought at Tartine, surely confirmation that this recipe was a winner!

While the ingredient list and instructions may seem long the actual creation of this dessert was pretty straight forward.  Make the chiffon and passion fruit filling, assemble the layers and frost.  I spread the process over several days to make it more manageable.  In the recipe you end up with an extra layer of chiffon so I made little parfait versions of the cake in glass Weck canning jars.  I'd seen desserts presented like this at my favorite restaurant, ad hoc, and thought it was such a great idea.  

Stay tuned to this blog as I'm sure I'll be creating more fabulous treats from Tartine!

August 31, 2014

Bee Sting Cake | Bienenstich

Bee Sting Cake.  The name of this dessert intrigued me when I saw it in the Oct/Nov 2014 issue of Cook's Country.  And where there is intrigue there is inevitably a strong inclination to action so I had to make it.  It's German in origin, Bienenstich, and is basically a honey and almond coated brioche cake filled with vanilla pastry cream.   

My family prefers desserts that aren't too sweet so this cake fit the bill perfectly.  They're favorite part, and mine, was the delicious and crunchy honey almond topping.  I could just eat that alone.   Oktoberfest is just around the corner and if you need a cake to accompany your beer and pretzel why not give this bee sting a try?

July 29, 2014


Call me crazy, it certainly wouldn't be the first time.  My sister says I'm the only one she knows who would even attempt to make baguettes.  But I ask myself, why should that be?  Yeah, ok, chalk them up as one of those things that you leave to the experts.  I get it.  However, I'm a home baker who is constantly looking to grow and challenge my skills so I say bring it on. 

Don't mistake my confidence for arrogance.  My self-assurance can solely be attributed to the fact that I was using a Cook's Illustrated recipe.   They've tested it countless times and I knew I was going to get fantastic results.  I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of the recipe which is now available in the Sep/Oct 2014 issue of the magazine.  Ok, I admit it, basically I begged them relentlessly until they gave up.   Tenacity has its benefits..hehehe.  

The ingredients are few and the instructions are long but don't be scared!  Just read through it several times and pay close attention to the accompanying pictures.  I found they help a lot.    If you have access to the online recipe you definitely need to watch the video! 

I've never made baguettes before and I have to say I was really impressed with how they turned out.   Although next time I'll be a bit more assertive when I use the lame to slash the formed dough so that the openings on the top of the baked baguette are more pronounced.  My skeptical sister even said they looked like they were from a bakery!  

I've eaten my fair share of baguette, especially after having lived in a France in my youth, and I can honestly say the bread was absolutely delicious.  Will my baguette be gracing the presidential table at the Elysées Palace any time soon?  Ummm, highly unlikely, but they'll definitely be most welcome at my table anytime.   

June 22, 2014

Icebox Oreo Cheesecake

I'm such a huge fan of Instagram.  Ever since I signed up for my account I check it daily, most times hourly!, for ideas and inspiration.   That's where I saw this Icebox Oreo Cheesecake from meringuedesigns, using a Cook's Country recipe.  The cookies and cream cake looked so good I had to make it for myself.   Another big plus was that it required absolutely no baking, not even for the crust, which is ideal for summer.  Love that!


I've made a few no-bake cheesecakes on this blog before but they all used gelatin to get their firmness.  This recipe uses a homemade pudding and white chocolate to mimic the velvety texture of a baked cheesecake.    It really couldn't have been easier to make so I highly recommend you give it a try.

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