September 8, 2018

Three-Layer Pound Cake

This was me thumbing through the September 2018 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine and an image of this Three-Layer Pound Cake immediately stopped me in my tracks.  It was so visually stunning with its multiple layers that I knew I was going to make it.  As I read through the recipe I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cake was made using the reverse-creaming method.

Don't be scared off!  Basically this just means that the dry ingredients and sugar are mixed together first.  Then you add in pieces of butter and mix until thoroughly combined.  Half of the liquid is then added and mixed in followed by the remaining liquids.  I find this method produces a very tender cake with a beautiful crumb.

The recipe is very straightforward and easy to follow.  My only revision would be to divide the batter evenly in to thirds to achieve even layers.  The recipe said to use 1 1/2 cups of batter each for the bottom two chocolate layers which left a thinner layer of vanilla batter on top.  Also, I wouldn't be so diligent about smoothing out the top of each layer.  I actually prefer the jagged look.

The baked cake is seriously good.  I had two slices straight away because it was so delicious.  I gave away the remaining slices to my siblings because I didn't want to be tempted!

September 3, 2018

Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies

San Francisco has no shortage of excellent bakeries and I love sampling as many of them as possible.  Recently Jane The Bakery was awarded the 2018 winner of best croissant and pain au chocolat in the city by French Morning website.  This accolade pretty much guaranteed a visit to the bakery from the likes of me.  While Jane's viennoiserie were delicious and deserving of the title what actually caught my attention were the Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies.  I'm a sucker for citrus flavored desserts so I put my detective hat on to see if I could replicate these cookies myself

I was first introduced to these cake-like cookies many years ago by my friend Jill's family friend Patti.  Patti was known for her Patti Cakes which were cookies made using boxed cake mix.  It was love at first sight when I tried them back then, but the thought never crossed my mind to make them from scratch.  Tasting Jane The Bakery's cookies motivated me to give it a try.  

A Google search resulted in quite a few recipes and I ended up trying this one from West via Midwest.   The results turned out fantastic and tasted just like the ones from Jane's.  Score!

August 27, 2018

Olive Oil Cake

Did you know August is National Olive Oil Month?  I certainly didn't until recently.  So I thought it was very fitting to make an Olive Oil Cake before the month came to an end.  I have an online subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine and on the website there's a section called "Trending With Our Members" which lists recipes that are currently popular with subscribers.  Their version of olive oil cake was at the top of the list so I knew it was going to be good.  

I'm surprised I'd never made this cake before but I probably deemed it too boring in its simplicity.  How wrong I was!  I couldn't believe how delicious the cake was with such a moist and tender crumb.  No need to worry about a strong olive oil taste because it's not really there.  What really shines through is citrus notes coming from the lemon zest.  The cake is gorgeous on its own but you can certainly embellish it with some fresh strawberries and whipped cream if you're so inclined.

August 23, 2018

Pineapple Buns with Chinese BBQ Pork

Hard to believe but after living in San Francisco for more than twenty years I must confess that I'd never tasted a Pineapple Bun until  just recently when I made them myself from a Cook's Illustrated recipe.  It sounds a bit silly to admit since my neighborhood is literally inundated with Chinese bakeries that sell this popular sweet bread.   One taste of the soft, fluffy interior and crunchy sugar top crust and I was a goner.

The secret to this bread is tangzhong, a cooked flour and water paste, that's added to the dough and makes the interior so light and soft.  I adore working with this dough - it is so forgiving and has the most beautiful elasticity.   You seriously can't mess it up!

The topping is piped in spirals over the proofed buns and is made of a butter, powdered sugar and flour mixture.  In the oven it melts down the sides of the bread and bakes in to a crunchy crust, very similar to craquelin on a choux pastry. 

I ended up filling my buns with Cook's Illustrated char siu or barbecue pork, another staple dish in Chinese cuisine, which I recently posted to my blog.   The savory, sweet filling was a delicious complement to the pineapple bun.   I brought samples of my first batch in to the office and my Chinese-American colleagues gave them the thumbs up.  If that's not the seal of approval I don't know what is!

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