The Renée Fleming Golden Chiffon

I have to admit that this week’s selection from the Baking Bible was another one of those that didn’t inspire me, and is something I probably wouldn’t have baked if I wasn’t participating in this bake-through. On Saturday, instead of working on this cake, I made bourbon pecan pie truffles, because they just sounded delicious. I mixed & rolled them on Saturday, then spent some time on Sunday dipping them. I made a good mess, and had fun doing it, but managed to completely avoid baking this cake, even though I had all the ingredients on hand. Monday rolled around, and I saw everyone else start posting about it, and they all made some reference to it being quick and easy. Ok, fine, I decided to try and make it in the evenings this week. So, yesterday, I made the cake, and I said to myself, “I’m going to cheat, just this one time, and buy lemon curd for the whipped cream.”

Sigh. It’s always worth it to make it from scratch. I bought a jar of “lemon curd” tonight on the way home from the gym, and it was just awful. I knew as soon as I opened it that the smell was all wrong. Then I tasted it, and it was nothing but sadness. It actually tasted a little bit like stale vegetable oil. Of course, Jay pointed out that it’s probably not entirely the company’s fault, because it’s actually best before November 2015… which means it’s probably been sitting on the shelf at the store for a good long time, if a canned product actually managed to reach its best before date. So, it’s going back to Sobeys.

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Posh Pie

I found it amusing to learn that the name came before the concept for this week’s selection from The Baking Bible. As of Saturday morning, I had no real plans for this week’s recipe, so I figured I’d take my time making it, since we didn’t really have much in the way of plans this weekend. I made the cookie dough on Saturday morning, then left it in the fridge while Jay and I watched the Baden Santa Claus Parade from our front porch. Then we went out for a couple of hours to browse around the Christkindl Market in Kitchener. In the meantime, we both received a message letting us know that friends who moved to Toronto last year were going to be in town today and wanted to know if we could get together. Another couple offered to host, and I offered to bring the Posh Pie, not having looked at the recipe particularly closely. When we got home from our Christmas window shopping, I rolled out the cookies and put them in the oven before getting ready for my office Christmas party last night. This morning, I took a closer look at the recipe and realized I really should have made it yesterday, if I wanted to serve it tonight, but it seems to have worked out anyway!

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Spritz Butter Cookies

I rarely look far enough ahead in the Rose’s Alpha Bakers schedule to know what’s coming up the next week, but this week was different, because some of the group baked pumpkin pecan pie last week, and some of them baked these spritz butter cookies. When I saw that this was next, I knew Jay would be happy. Spritz cookies are one of his favourites. He was surprised that they’d be included in a cookbook like this one, because as he claims, he’s been making spritz cookies since he was 6 or 7. Quite possibly with this same cookie press set.

Gotta try out all the shapes!
Gotta try out all the shapes!

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Pumpkin Pecan Pie? Or Spritz Butter Cookies?

The baking schedule got a bit turned around this weekend. Marie had intended to have the pumpkin pecan pie on the schedule at the right time for Thanksgiving dinner. She posted to our Facebook group recently to apologize – because for Americans, having the pie made in time to post about it on the Monday before Thanksgiving Thursday would mean that it would have to sit all week waiting for the big event. I have to admit, I’ve never really understood why Thanksgiving’s on a Thursday in the US, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, at the last minute (after I’d baked it), the schedule got updated to swap pumpkin pecan pie with spritz butter cookies. I did not make spritz butter cookies. Since I’m married to an American, we often do two Thanksgiving dinners. One for the real thing in October, and one for this silly American thing at the end of November. Since we don’t get Thursday off, we did it the weekend before, this time. Perfect timing for pumpkin pecan pie!

I don’t think I have much to say about this one, really. I didn’t take many pictures, either.

You roll out a pie crust, then add chopped pecans:

Deep dish of pecans
Deep dish of pecans

Add the sweet goo that is pecan pie filling (sugar, egg, butter, golden syrup…), and bake for round 1. Make the pumpkin filling. I got no pictures of this, but it’s basically cook pumpkin with sugar and spices, then whiz that in the food processor, then add eggs, cream, and milk. Really, the whole thing is about all things that are delicious. After the pecan pie layer has cooled a bit, add the pumpkin filling, and bake again, only this time with a pie shield to protect the crust.

Next stop: Thanksgiving dinner. We had apple pie, pumpkin pecan pie, cornbread, and rolls. Er.. and the stuff Jay made, too. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots, green beans and salad. Actually, you know, despite not being much of a cook, I contributed to much of that, too – all but the turkey, gravy, salad, and converting the cornbread into stuffing. Jay prepped the veggies and cooked the potatoes, but I did the seasoning and mashing and whatnot. I’d call dinner a success. Nobody went away hungry, but plates were clean, and we had turkey soup for dinner the next day. We also now have a freezer full of poultry stock, since we tend to save up chicken carcasses until we do a turkey, then boil all the bones at once in the pressure cooker.

Despite both of us trying both types of pie, neither Matt nor I had trouble cleaning our dessert plates. Jay’s even had some pie in the last couple of days since then, so I must have done something right. He’s not generally a leftovers person. Inspired by my recent trip to (…Swabia? Bavaria? Technically, modernly,) Baden-Württemberg, I made a crème anglaise (aka vanilla sauce) to go with the apple pie. Feedback on that, so far: a little bit thicker and a little bit more vanilla, next time. Next time is tomorrow night, for my contribution to a potluck “soup strainer” Movember lunch at work on Wednesday. No auction this year, though, so I’ll have to find other ways to get the baking out of the house over the coming year!

Hazelnut Praline Cookies

Yeah, I know. An odd choice of featured image for a recipe that actually contains relatively little butter. I was flipping through The Baking Bible, looking for this recipe, and landed on the header page of the “Cookies and Candy” chapter. How can you not love a cookbook that has a full page image of a stack of sticks of butter like that? Mmm… butter.

Anyway, on to this week’s assignment. As Marie said in last week’s Baking Bible round up, these cookies would be super easy if it weren’t for the blanching and de-skinning of the hazelnuts! I made them the same day that I tackled the double batch of Rose’s Sugar Brioche. Skinning hazelnuts was certainly one way to pass the time while waiting for the various stages of the bread. I can definitely think of better ways to pass time, though.

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Southwestern Corn Spoon Bread

This month, in adventures in bread, it’s the turn of Southwestern “corn spoon bread”. Or “southwestern corn” spoon bread? Or maybe southwestern “corn spoon” bread. Wherever you put the pause, I say it’s yummy. To be honest, this is yet another one of those recipes I wouldn’t make unless I was doing one of these bake-throughs. Mostly because I hate prepping vegetables. And fruit. But I’m much more willing to put up with it with fruit, for the sake of desserts. With this one, I started getting stuff out to make it, and discovered that, of all the things that were needed for this, I’d neglected to put onions on the grocery list, because I just assumed that we kept them in stock. Jay agreed to prep the vegetable matter and grate the cheese, if I ran out and bought a bag of onions. Works for me! I roasted and peeled the red pepper before heading out, and came home to many little bowls filled with carefully measured out and chopped ingredients. He even found some not-quite-frozen-yet cilantro in my herb bed.

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Sugar Rose Brioche

I was so confident that this week’s Baking Bible selection was going to be amazing that I made 2. That meant a quadruple batch of brioche dough, which consists of a dozen eggs and a full pound of butter, not to mention the flour, sugar, and yeast. I started this on Saturday morning and wanted to take it to a party that night, so I took several shortcuts. I used the proof cycle on my oven for both the sponge stage and the rising stage, which made the yeast a little more active than it might normally be. I opened the fridge door at one point, and the dough had pushed the lid off its rising container and was doing a pretty good imitation of The Blob, trying to consume the neighbouring container of spinach. Fortunately, I caught it before too much veggie carnage could take place.

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Marble in Reverse Cake

Well, the full title is “Marble in Reverse With Custom Rose Blend Ganache Glaze,” but I didn’t make the ganache glaze. So, it’s just Marble in Reverse cake. Or really, just marble cake, because it’s still a marble cake, even if most marble cakes are mostly vanilla, whereas this one is mostly chocolate. Why is that? Why are marble cakes vanilla with a little bit of chocolate thrown in? If you like chocolate, you probably prefer more chocolate over less, and if you don’t like chocolate, you probably want none of that chocolate business interfering with the purity of your vanilla. Then again, maybe you’re one of those indecisive types who just doesn’t have a favourite and doesn’t care that there’s more of one over the other, and just figure that variety is the spice of life, so stop with the philosophical discussions and just give me my damn cake so I can eat it!

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White Chocolate Bread & Cookie Strudel

Last weekend, Jay & I took our first trip to Las Vegas, taking advantage of the same seat sale that I used to go East back in September. 🙂 We celebrated our 9th anniversary on Tuesday at Cirque du Soleil, and we watched Penn and Teller from the second row, on Monday night. Sunday was the Grand Canyon.  So, this weekend was a fairly quiet weekend at home, and I caught up on my Rose’s Alpha Bakers baking.

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Fudgy Pudgy Brownie Tart

First off, let me say a big Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canucks. Above is the view out the window above my baking counter – I really love this time of year. I hope you’ve been able to spend time with at least some of the people you love this weekend. 🙂 I had the chance to go home and visit my immediate family a couple of weeks ago, then friends had us over for turkey dinner yesterday, and I managed to have a good visit with my Grandma today. She hasn’t been doing so well lately, in a variety of ways, so I’m really grateful for the good days, right now.

I’m also really grateful for friends who were happy to share their Thanksgiving table with us. Yesterday afternoon, we went for a walk in the woods at an off-leash dog run area with our friends and their pup, then came back to their house full of wonderful holiday meal smells. My contribution to dinner was a batch of rolls (from The Bread Bible), along with a frozen lime meringue pie (from The Baking Bible). An aside: I realized while I was baking this weekend that I tend to keep (possibly creepily) close track of my friends’ tastes, because I really like planning and baking things for people that I know that they’ll enjoy. My friend Jimmy used to be part of the Thursday lunch BBQ crew at my office, before he went to work at another company. Every August, for the Thursday closest to his birthday, he used to bring in a couple of key lime pies that his mother made, because they were his absolute favourite. I offered to bring dessert yesterday, and was flipping through my mental inventory of what would be appreciated, and settled on the frozen lime meringue pie. It went over really well.

On to this week’s assigned baking from Rose’s Alpha Bakers… I sent a note to my friend Gilad the other day, pointing out that we were midway through October, and since this is the second-last month of his “year of desserts,” I let him make the choice of what he would get this month. He went for the one with brownie in the name, so this week’s dessert was his!

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