Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Everything looks better through a glass cake dome...

Case in Point: this very non-assuming Morning Cake that I made last week is one of my favorite obsessions, but alas, does not look overly interesting until posing beneath a glass cake dome.

My son enjoys Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen, which is fast becoming one of my favorite books of all time. If I ever get to open my dream bake shop, I do believe I will frame most of the pages for the walls. We both greatly enjoy chanting:

Milk in the batter
Milk in the batter
We bake cake and
Nothing's the matter!

Which is what led to us making this Morning Cake (actually named Lydia's Winter Fruit Cake) from Marcella Hazan. I love a morning when you can have cake with the coffee, and I love even more when I get to bake this the day I want to eat it. Usually I have to freeze 2/3 or more to pull out when company arrives, and it does very well coming straight out of its frozen slumber and hopping into the toaster. Very rarely do I put butter on anything, I save butter for restaurants with good bread, but this I deem as worthy in my own house. I feel I deserve it, since there are 3 whole pieces of fruit in it...and no fat but a couple T's of olive oil - how I LOVE the Italians...

I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class this last month (my last class was Monday), and should have prepared myself for the hydrogenated shortening horror that I should have assumed would be a major part of such an endeavor, but somehow overlooked it while envisioning myself making flowers and borders.

Of course my food snobbery prevailed, and I made all my frostings with Spectrum's Organic Shortening. I figured if it was good enough for my tamales last Christmas, it would be doing wonders for this. I was right in the taste department anyway, there was no greasy feeling on the roof of your mouth when you ate this, it just is crazy sweet. This was my best attempt at the rose with my Organic non-hydrogenated palm shortening, and as you can see, I have some work to do.

My most favorite thing about this cake is beneath the surface however, because I tried another of Dorie Greenspan's recipes for White Cake (Actually called Perfect Party Cake, and rightly so, in her Baking book). I usually am not a fan of White Cakes, truth be told, I avoid them at all costs. But this one was worth every one of the 8 T's of butter; it was firm, lemony and cut into perfect slices, and had I used her frosting instead of the Wilton Class Frosting (consisting of a fair amount of that shortening...) I'm sure I would have eaten the whole thing by now.

It too looks better beneath the glass... you can hardly tell that I was so frustrated in piping this frosting that I had to stand up and take a deep breath before continuing.

Today was my first day of guerrilla potty training for my almost 3 already son. I am personally embarrassed that he freaks out and usually cries anytime I mention trying to get out of diapers. I felt most of the day like I have a new puppy...but after 3 stars on the potty chart hanging on the refrigerator and maybe 25 mini M&M's I think he is starting to get the picture.

Still, today I managed to make this awesome bread, my first success with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day's approach to loaf pan breads. This was their Oatmeal Bread which also had oat and wheat bran, whole wheat and white flour. It was so nice and soft that I kept poking my fingers into the top every time I walked past it while it was cooling. If you are interested in making bread the easy way (no offense, Nancy Silverton...), this is the best book to show you how. And it has the best immediate satisfaction. I was obsessed with this last December, and I still am getting excited about it.

Finally, since we were sticking close to home due to the guerrilla training, we spent a fair amount of time in the basement, where boy-o has his trains set up, and I have all of the wool, yarn, sewing, paper, beads, giftwrap, mat board and workshop stuff that wouldn' t fit in my kitchen. Note to self: Someday I want my kitchen to just be one big workshop, i,e. Pole Shed (with style, of course).

I ordered Stitch n'Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook from Amazon last week for a class I plan to take at a yarn shop soon (and because I'm rather tired of renting knitting books from the library and then having to remember to return them on time). There was a pattern for a knitting needle case that I made today out of some fabric samples from the upholstery shop my uncle runs in Northern Wisconsin, and some of the fabric I had lying around. I was so happy with how it turned out, now I just need more needles to fill it.

But my inherited aluminums look great for now.

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