Cookies are a favourite because they have little fuss. Cakes are the opposite. It inevitably needs some sort of frosting or decoration and while I can cook a stew for hours, I have no patience for icing a cake. At times I would be willing to pay someone to decorate the cake. Cupcakes are the one exception. Maybe it’s because it’s mini size or something like that.
I also struggle with from scratch chocolate cake versus boxed cake mix. I could go either way. Only a truly exceptional cake recipe can sway me. After a few non-starters with Miette I was hoping that this would convince me to move away from boxed mix. This is a fussy recipe, you have to sift and sieve and I eyed the box mix a few times but once these lovelies came out of the oven I knew it was worth the effort. The rich flavour had a touch of dark cocoa bitterness you couldn’t get from a box. It was also incredibly moist with the finest crumbs. This cupcake was a definite win for the from scratch category.
The frosting on the other hand. I had a mini meltdown. I think I’m just not meant to properly frost things. I always struggle with it and still need to find my go-to recipe. The Miette one is not it. But with cupcakes this amazing, do you really need frosting?
I was always a peanut butter girl. While growing up my sis always requested Nutella while I asked for pb. As I got older I was able to appreciate this chocolatey hazelnut spread. The same could be said for marmalade as well. But this recipe called for both and luckily I’ve grown to love these two flavours.
Living in the burbs does not always afford me food that is less mainstream so I once again tackled Dorie’s Brioche recipe which is super simple and great tasting. While the spreads are delicious the clear winner in this recipe is the brioche. This butter bread is great on it’s own but made even more amazing with combination of Nutella and marmalade. I may have gotten a little over zealous with the broiler (I seem to always forget it’s on). The only problem was getting the Nutella melty enough to drizzle. While I did thoroughly enjoy this one I don’t necessarily think I’m ready to give up on the pb yet.
Is it wrong to think of banana bread as an everyday cake? I once had a muffin a day for a week until I realized I was essentially eating a slice of cake every day. But somehow I can’t seem to apply that same logic to banana bread, maybe because it’s called bread or loaf in this case. I make it when I have bananas that are about to go off so I’m preventing food waste right? Anyways I have always used Orangette‘s banana and chocolate chip recipe. When I saw Miette’s banana bread with nutty streusel I was intrigued. Overall it was very easy to make and I liked the crunch of the nutty streusel. Plus the cake was moist, but it felt too fancy for me and felt like I was no longer in the everyday cake category. I guess that’s the whole point of Miette and its charming ways. While I did enjoy the loaf, it won’t replace my go-to. It would be good for a nicer occasion or a loaf as a gift. Until then I’m more than happy to stay with Orangette and not mess with my everyday banana cake view.
I love potatoes and will eat it in any form. I have made it deep-fried to baked to powdered from a box. I thought I had tried it all until I read the recipe for broth-braised potatoes. It was a simple recipe but complex in flavours. There was a request for fingerlings but I couldn’t locate them so I bought an assorted bag of mini potatoes. I didn’t anticipate how great it would taste with the slight hint of lemon and sage. Of course I couldn’t just have potatoes (believe me I was tempted) so I made Giada DeLaurentiis’ Easy Osso Bucco. The combination turned my easy dinner into a decadent affair. Not bad for what essentially was sitting around reading magazines while my potatoes and veal cooked away, this is how every Saturday should be spent.
This cake is perfection. That is all. Okay not all but I’m keeping this short and simple like the cake. Quatre-quarts refers to four-fourths in french and the key four ingredients: eggs, flour, butter and sugar. Described as something similar to a pound cake, I found this cake a lot like the chinese steamed sponge cake my aunt makes. It’s lightly sweetened with a touch of vanilla (or rum or cognac if you prefer) and the brown sugar sprinkled on top is the ultimate finisher. This cake has a slightly drier more crumblier texture than pound cake making it perfect with a cup of tea. Dorie suggests berries as an accompaniment but I had it on its own and it was delicious. It’s simple recipes like this that remind me that the most basic of ingredients can make the most amazing food. It also makes me want to have cake everyday, but I don’t think my waistline would agree.
I have a confession to make. I’ve been following the French Friday scheduling but not posting about it. While I benefit with some delicious meals I miss the camaraderie that came when interacting with my fellow Doristas. So here’s my first post in months.
Roasted chicken has to be one of the best-kept secrets. It always looks and tastes amazing and requires very little work. I did not have Armagnac (the only bottle I could find was $90) so I used French brandy.
The chicken roasting filled my house with a warm comforting smell and instantly triggered my stomach. I want to roast chicken everyday if my house is going to smell like that. The brandy added a layer to the sauce I had not expected and now I want to add it to roast recipe from now on.
I also made the Bubble Top Brioche to accompany it and then proceeded to eat three of them lathered it jam before dinner. While this was a more labour intensive recipe, taking two days, the end result was worth it. The eggy and buttery flavour was perfect to dip in the sauce.
While I did not have the Cauliflower Gratin with the meal I just had to say how amazing it was and how I’m definitely adding it to my recipe repertoire from now on. Overall three amazing recipes, I’m working on the Quarter Quarts this weekend which I’m sure will be amazing because it’s Dorie and who doesn’t like cake?
Before Miette came out I had never heard to the San Franciscan bakery. And when I saw the book I thought I would just get the e-edition until I realized the beautiful detailing that went into the design of it. I’m a sucker for a pretty book especially when it comes from Chronicle Books. Miette’s pages come with scalloped edges, sweet photos and tons of pink. It’s probably one of the girliest books I own. While I’ve never even been to San Francisco or the bakeshop, the book creates a vivid picture. Meg Ray with Leslie Jonah shrinks everything down to diminutive cakes and base recipes that can be tweaked to create different flavours. With tons of step-by-step instructions and full-page photos Miette is charming and has the potential to be a lovely go-to baking book, but after a few recipes I’m not so sure. My first attempt was with the Parisan Macaron.
Last year Martha Stewart introduced me to her macarons. Airy, sweet and lightly flavoured these little sandwich cookies made their way into my heart and the homes of many my friends. They are probably the fussiest things I’ve ever made but they’re definitely worth it. So when I saw the Parisan Macaron recipe I was interested. Right off the bat there is a sidebar warning you that these little treats are unusual. The almonds are coarsely ground so it doesn’t look as sweet as they normally do. While there are minimal ingredients there are a million ways to go wrong when making a macaron. But I had made it enough times to avoid the common mistakes. Or so I thought. The coarse texture was more challenging when it came to piping and when they came out of the oven they had the lost charm that Martha’s had. When I ate them they were chewier and denser not what I expected. Overall it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t what I was accustomed to, which Ray did mention in her book. I think I’ll stick to Martha. So far the book feels more charming to look at than to make.