Sur La Table Pie Class

I took another cooking class at Sur La Table!

(Again, please excuse the iPhone quality pictures in this post)

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This time, I went with my mamma and we took the “Pies from Scratch” class. On the menu, there was a Strawberry Rhubarb Lattice Pie and Lemon Meringue Mini Pies.

The group was much larger this time since we went on a Sunday morning so things were a little more hectic. We still had a lot of fun though and the pies we made were delicious!

¬†We started by learning how to properly roll out the dough. Turns out you should focus on the middle, roll a few times, then turn the dough slightly and repeat. It’s also good to know that whatever shape your dough is in when it comes out of the fridge, it will roll out into. So, if you have a square, it will roll into a square, etc. This might explain why my mounds of dough always turn into crazy shaped rolled out pie crusts ūüôā

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For the strawberry rhubarb pie, we mixed the fruits with the sugar, salt, and cornstarch. The pie crust was placed into the pie dish and then we added the fruits. The chef then taught us how to make a lattice on top. I’ve tried this before alone and it did not go well so I was so glad she went through this. I was and still am a little confused and will need more practice but our lattice from class came out really nicely!

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The important part here, she said, was that there was enough space between each strip so that the pie can breathe while it’s baking.

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While the pie was baking, we made the mini lemon meringue pies. It was really good for me to see meringue made again. Practice makes perfect!

We topped the lemon curd that we made with the meringue and then used a torch to brown the meringue. How cool!

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¬†We didn’t eat these during class but they looked amazing!

Once the lemon meringue pies were done, the strawberry rhubarb pie was ready to come out of the oven. They were very nicely browned and made the whole kitchen smell amazing! The edges were a little bit burnt because we added the tinfoil to cover them a little bit late, but it wasn’t that bad.

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We cut into this pie during class and it was so, so, so good. The crust was flaky and the filling was so deliciously sweet. All I wanted was a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Laurie’s Chocolate Grad Cake

I met Laurie on the first day of transfer student orientation at USF.

So, obviously, I had to make her a cake as well!

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I made this cake with the intent of giving it to Laurie as part of her graduation present. She also just graduated from USF. By the time I was done with Lindsey’s creme brul√©e cake, I realized I was carrying A LOT of stuff to Laurie’s house so I called and told her that she had a couple options.

  1. I could figure it out and bring everything.
  2. I could eat the cake I made for her, blog about it, and make her the cake again sometime soon when things were less crazy.

She let me decide and on the day of her graduation party, I just couldn’t juggle everything, so I ate her cake and have promised to make it for her again very soon.

In the midst of making Lindsey’s many stepped Creme Brul√©e Cake, I looked for a simpler but delicious chocolate cake to make for Laurie and I found the¬†perfectly¬†named one by none other than, Martha Stewart: Busy-Day Dumb Cake.¬†

All I had to do was whisk together the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. I used my bread tin because it was the only pan that was square and not in use for the other cakes I was making.

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I made a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture and added the vegetable oil (which I know finally have), vanilla, white vinegar, and cold water. It seemed like too much liquid and I was a little worried that I had something off but I stuck it in the oven anyway.¬†I mean, my batter taste test was good so it couldn’t go that badly!

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I popped it into the oven at 350 F for 45 minutes. About 30 minutes in, I covered it with tinfoil because it was getting a little dark and I didn’t want the top to burn.

When it was finally done, it was smelling super chocolatey and looked great. It looked like bread, actually, which I liked.

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I let it cool and made a simple buttercream frosting via the Food Network. I mixed butter and powdered sugar until combined and then added vanilla extract and whipping cream.

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Once the cake was completely cool – yes, I actually waited this time – I began to frost it. I noticed that the frosting wasn’t really sticking and that it was, almost immediately, melting and sliding off the cake. I gave it one thin layer of frosting and quickly shoved it into the fridge to see if that might hold it together.

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To my relief, it did and when I took the cake out, I was able to add a second, thicker layer and it actually held. Obviously, I kept with my theme of the day and added party sprinkles ūüôā

The cake was so moist and a deep, sweet chocolate. The buttercream was a perfect addition and definitely added a light and refreshing taste to a very chocolatey cake!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Lindsey’s Cr√®me Br√Ľl√©e Cake

Two of my BFFs graduated from USF this last week!
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In anticipation of graduation, Laurie (in blue) and I (in black) decided to surprise Lindsey (in white) with her own special sash and cake to present to her at Laurie’s grad party. I discretely asked Lindsey what her favorite cake flavor was in advance. I told her I needed inspiration for the blog and she said she loves cr√®me br√Ľl√©e.

I found a recipe from The Hungary Buddha Eats the World that had the steps pretty clearly lined out. There were¬†many steps so I wanted to make sure I was following a recipe that was clear. I studied the recipe for a week and outlined the steps for myself so I wouldn’t get flustered. The slight difference for me though was that I was going to be using vegan butter to not upset Lindsey’s stomach – it was a semi Vegan cake ūüôā

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Step 1: Custard

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While the milk simmered, I mixed egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. The milk was then slowly added to the egg mixture. I worked carefully because I was worried that I would accidentally scramble the eggs. I then added it all back to the skillet to continue to cook and stir it until it thickened.

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I let the custard cool to room temperature and then placed it in the fridge to cool for two hours.

Step 2: Caramel

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I’ve made caramel before so I was confident about making it for this cake. Before starting it, I buttered my cake pans in preparation. I then put all the ingredients into a skillet and turned it to medium heat.

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I made sure to whisk, whisk, whisk for a good 10 minutes.

When it was done, I split the caramel between the two cake pans and set them aside for later.

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Step 3: The Cake!

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This is when I first tasted the Vegan butter. I know, I know, a chef should always taste their ingredients first but I was going to be using it regardless so I just went for it. I don’t know if any of you have had vegan butter before but it was not great. I was a little worried about the taste but it was too late now!

I creamed the butter and sugar and then added the eggs and vanilla.

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I mixed the dry ingredients separately and then mixed it in with the egg mixture. This made a nice, moist batter.

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This batter¬†was then evenly distributed into the pans. The recipe said to be careful not to disturb the caramel too much but I didn’t have that problem – the caramel didn’t move. I also tasted the batter at this point and it was really good! The vegan butter tasted perfectly fine once mixed with the other ingredients.

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I put the cakes in the oven at 350 F for 35 minutes.

Step 4: Frosting

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While the cakes were baking, I made the buttercream frosting. I was daunted by the recipe because of the meringue aspect. As you all know, I’ve been struggling so much¬†with meringues because of the hand held beater I’m using.

I combined the eggs and egg yolks and beat them for about 8 minutes. Since I don’t have a stand mixer, I couldn’t let them mix while starting the other parts of the frosting like the recipe said to. My beater was pretty exhausted at this point and was making a lot of noise so I held on tight. When that was done, I started on the sugar syrup.

After my last failed attempt at meringues, I finally bought a candy thermometer and it was so, so helpful! I combined the sugar and water and heated it up.

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When the syrup got to 285 F I quickly removed it and poured it into a glass measuring cup. I slowly poured the syrup into the egg mixture and continued to beat the mixture together until a nice, soft, and fluffy buttercream formed.

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Step 5: Assembly

I was super pleased with how the cakes looked and smelled when they came out of the oven!

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When I removed the cakes from the pans, the bottoms were nice and browned from the caramel. Do you like my makeshift cooling racks? =P

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When the cakes were cooled, I started to cut them in half lengthwise. It was the first time I’ve done this so when I cut the first one, it wasn’t even and I lost a little chunk of cake. It wasn’t¬†too much of a loss though because it gave me a chance to try the cake (it was yummy!). The second cake went much more smoothly.

I took the custard out of the fridge and started to build my layers starting with a caramel side down.

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Obviously my layers were a little bit lopsided but having been my first time, I was pretty impressed with my work.

I then brought over the buttercream and started to frost the cake!

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Since this was a festive cake for Lindsey’s graduation, I decided to spice it up with rainbow sprinkles.

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I let it sit like this a few hours knowing that I wanted to write a message on top, but also knowing that I have never been skilled at cake decorating.

Eventually, I mustered up the courage and spent a good half hour writing and re-writing different messages on the top of the cake with a toothpick. I watched a few YouTube videos on the best techniques and finally went for it.

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I still need some practice, but overall, I was pretty happy with my cake writing.

Lindsey was so surprised and happy to get her cake and sash! On top of that, the cake was a big hit! It was so moist and the flavors worked so well together. By the time the party was over, there was only about a fourth of the cake left and Lindsey happily took it home with her.

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Sweetly,

Simona

 

Soccer Ball Ice Cream

Happy Humpday! 

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Do you see that soccer ball? That soccer ball is actually an ice-cream maker that I got Ward for Valentine’s¬†Day.¬†Over the weekend, Ward, Jade, and I decided to give it a try (finally)!

Guess what flavor ice-cream we chose. Yes, that’s right – STRAWBERRY! We had to finish them up and thought this was the perfect occasion.

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We chopped up the remaining strawberries and pur√©ed them. I still had some leftover “frosting” from the Sloppy Joe Cookies so we added that to the mix as well.

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We let that sit while we heated whole milk, heavy cream, and sugar until the sugar dissolved.

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After the cream cooled, we added the strawberry purée and mixed it together.

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We poured the mixture into the bowl side of the soccer ball. I convinced Ward to add chocolate chips to the ice cream as well ūüėČ

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We filled the other side with ice and salt.

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This is when the fun began. We took it outside and started kicking it around. It’s safe to say that Jade¬†had a lot of mixed feelings.

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We kicked it around for ten minutes and then opened it up to mix. It was cold but still not ice cream. We kicked it around for another ten and it was better but STILL not right.

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We were tired by this point (it was pretty heavy) so I sat down on the couch and kicked it back and forth between my feet while Ward cooked lunch.

Eventually, real ice cream did appear from the soccer ball! It looked very pretty and when we ate it, it had very small chunks of strawberries, and it was perfectly creamy. I really liked the chocolate chips in it but Ward would have preferred it without them.

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It was fun to make this ice cream but we might consider a more traditional ice cream maker in the future for the sake of our tired arms and Jade’s sanity. To be fair, she¬†kind of got the hang of it…

Sweetly,

Simona

‘Sloppy Joe’ Lemon Strawberry Cookies

Here’s your Monday morning pick me up!¬†

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After making my Strawberry Crumb Bars, I was still left with a good amount of strawberries so I researched strawberry cookies. The recipe that continued popping up was lemon cookies with strawberry frosting. I used a combination of two recipes I found online to make my own.

I used My Cake School’s recipe for the lemon cookie batter. All the recipes I found online called for a¬†box of pre-made lemon cake mix, which I didn’t have, so I made my own. I zested two lemons and added that to the mixture of flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. I added the eggs and Crisco (which, I decided to use instead of butter) to that.

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I put the dough in the fridge to rest¬†and followed Jen’s Favorite Cookies recipe for the strawberry pur√©e frosting. I placed the sliced strawberries in a pan with a little bit of water and cooked it until I could break the strawberries down into a pur√©e.

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I  let the strawberry purée cool in the fridge while I baked the lemon cookies.

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Once the cookies were all the way cooled, I took what should now be¬†strawberry frosting out of the fridge. I noticed that the “frosting” was very jam like. I added the powdered sugar and stirred and stirred and then added more but it never got to frosting consistency. I decided to frost the cookies anyway and see what would happen.

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As you can see, the frosting was very liquidy and didn’t hold like, well, frosting. It kept dripping, which is why I decided to call these, Sloppy Joe Cookies! Honestly, though,¬†could you resist these?

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Sweetly,

Simona