Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Bakewell Tart....er, Pudding

"The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.

Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almond pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almond sponge cake-like filling. "

The version I made is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam and this is how it turned out:

I either a)am a very poor photographer or b)have a bad camera or c) both, because these pictures do not do it justice. The tart was very pretty and tasted great too. I tried it out on several people and they all enjoyed the flavor of the almonds and the blueberries.

Frangipane was a new taste and texture for all of us but we all enjoyed it and started to wonder what it would be like on top of other fillings....specifically chocolate. What else?

It was great fun to try a classic British dessert (without the expensive airline tickets) and I look forward to trying more "international" baked goods in future challenges.

I was a little intimidated by the recipe at first, but once I got in to it I really enjoyed it. Here is the chronicle of my very first experience as a Daring Baker:

June 2

-Read the challenge and was totally overwhelmed. What is a frangipane anyway?

June 6

-Was finally bored brave enough to read the whole challenge. Phew! Can I do this? (In good news a frangipane is an almond paste and I'm allowed to use a Victoria sponge in it's place if I want to. Now that that's all cleared up......)

June 8

-Checked the forums and found that someone has already completed the challenge...the day after it was posted! His tarts looked pretty and somewhat easy. I'm feeling better about this.

-Realized I will have to invest in a fluted tart pan for this recipe. I've been wanting one for a few years anyway so.......YIPPEEE!

June 10

-Looked up the pronunciation of "frangipane" at dictionary.com. It's [fran-juh-peyn].

June 13

-Bought a big round fluted tart pan at IKEA.

June 24

-Realized I only have 6 more days to make this recipe. Help!

-Decided to get started! Assembled my ingredients and dug in to the recipe.

-Realized those crazy Brits use metric measurements. Good thing Brian is around to do all of my conversions.

-Realized it would just be a lot easier to use a food scale and forget about all of the math.

-Realized I don't have a food scale.

-Brian volunteered to bring home an electric balance from the school.

-Project postponed for at least one more day.

June 25

-The scale is here. All ready to go. But........too tired.

June 27

-Step One: Made some homemade blueberry jam for the filling. Took all of 5 minutes.

June 29

-Step Two: Made my very first Bakewell Tart....er Pudding.
And now the recipe.
Bakewell Tart....er, Pudding

Shortcrust Pastry
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater.

(Isn't that the coolest idea? I've never thought of grating frozen butter before but it really works great for getting your mixture to a "coarse crumbs" stage. I'll definitely use that technique again.)

Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll chilled dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and pat into tart pan and freeze for 15 minutes.


125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.

( I always thought primrose was a pale pink. Apparently not. Apparently it is a very pale yellow. Oh the things we can learn from our neighbors across the pond.)

Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine.

After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Behold: Frangipane!

To assemble the tart:

Remove crust from freezer and spread with 1/4 cup to 1 cup of jam or curd, depending on taste.

Spread frangipane over jam layer.

Bake at 400 degrees (200 C) for 25 minutes. Top with sliced almonds (I obviously only had slivered almonds on hand) and bake for an additional 5 minutes until frangipane is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or custard sauce.

(I tried it warm with Cool Whip, the poor mans whipped cream, and it was good. I tried it at room temperature 24 hours later and it was even better.)

So there you have it. The Bakewell Tart....er, Pudding. Enjoy!
My sous-chef had to make a few cookies with the leftover shortcrust pastry dough. Bonus!

An Announcement and a Cheesecake

Drumroll Please!


I'm a Daring Baker!

The Daring Bakers are a group of people from all over the world that participate in monthly baking challenges selected by the members themselves. And I was accepted into the group!!

Each month I will be making some kind of new adventurous baked good and posting about the experience on my blog.

And lucky for you tomorrow (the 1st of the month) is the appointed day! Come back tomorrow to see what kind of crazy challenge they came up with this month and what I had to go through to make it.

I'll share lots of pics and links to other Daring Bakers so you can check out their creations too.

Now, on to the cheesecake.

For a meeting of ladies that I am attending tonight I was asked to bring a cheesecake. (I'm kind of a cheesecake specialist.) I wanted to do something stunning, but not too difficult. When I opened up my latest issue of Woman's Day I found a gorgeous recipe that I just had to try.

Blueberry Key Lime Cheesecake


10 shortbread cookies, crushed (I used Pecan Sandies)
1 T. butter, melted


3 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 T. grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 t. vanilla extract
1 drop green food color (optional)

Blueberry Topping

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. cornstarch
3 T. water
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 T. lime juice

Heat oven to 325 and spray an 8 inch springform pan with nonstick spray.

Mix cookies and butter until moist. Press into pan. Bake for 10 mins.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and mix well. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth and creamy. Pour over crust.

Bake for 60 minutes or until cake is almost set and center still jiggles slightly when touched. Remove to rack to cool. Slide knife around edge of pan. When cool, refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours before serving. (Cake will sink as it cools).

In a small saucepan mix the sugar, cornstarch and water for topping. Add 1 cup blueberries. Mash with a potato masher and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture has boiled for at least one minute and has thickened. Add lime juice and 1/2 cup whole blueberries. Pour over cooled cake. Cover top of cake with remaining whole blueberries.

Isn't it beautiful? It really turned out exactly like the picture in the magazine. I can't wait to try it tonight.

Head over to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for some more yummy recipes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Faux Sourdough French Bread

I've baked a LOT of bread in my time, but for some reason I had never tried to make French Bread until just a few weeks ago.

We were having spaghetti and I really wanted some garlic bread to go along with it. I had plenty of time and all of the ingredients, so I decided to whip up some french bread.

I checked one of my favorite recipe sources (http://www.recipezaar.com/) and found that most of the french bread recipes were made with a sourdough starter. I did NOT want to do that. #1 it takes a few days to get the starter going and #2 starters are a pain to feed and keep and divide, etc. So....I thought I was up a creek without a paddle.

And then I spotted this recipe for Faux Sourdough French Bread. It has the flavor of sourdough with out the starter. The vinegar, sour cream and ginger give it that little zing that you expect from a sourdough bread, and it incorporates wheat germ...something I'm always trying to work in to our diets, so I decided to go for it. Here it is:


4-5 cups bread flour
2 T. wheat germ
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. ground ginger
2 pkg. instant yeast
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 T. vinegar
1 egg white
1 T. water

In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour and remaining dry ingredients. Add water, sour cream and vinegar and beat well. Stir in additional 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.

On a floured surface, knead in 1 to 1 1/2 cups flours until dough is smooth and elastic. About 5 minutes. Placed dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 23-25 minutes.

Punch dough down and let rest for 15 minutes under an overturned bowl. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 14 x 8 rectangle. Starting with long side roll up dough pinching seam to seal well. Taper ends slightly to look like traditional french bread. Place seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 15 minutes.

Bake bread for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Beat egg white and water and brush over bread. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped.

That's my loaf of french bread in the picture above. Pretty nice, huh? I skipped the egg wash step so the crust isn't shiny but it tasted great!

I also found a recipe for garlic spread to put on the bread. I always try to mix softened butter and garlic powder or garlic salt but it never tastes like garlic bread. This time I discovered a better way.

Make a paste out of olive oil, minced garlic and grated parmesan cheese. Spread it on the warm bread and voila! Garlic Bread.

If you really want to go all out, put some mozarella cheese on top of that and slip it back in to the oven to melt. We did that on 1/4 of one loaf and it was EXCELLENT! I couldn't make more because we would have pigged out on it and been sorry later.

Give this simple sourdough french bread recipe a try the next time you are having pasta. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I know I've been slacking quite a bit on this blog lately but I want to let you know that next week is going to be very exciting. It's ....

Baking Week!!!!
A new recipe everyday.
Lots of pictures.
And a surprise announcement.
See ya on Monday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Tank

Every year the kindergarten classes at Greenville Elementary have a transportation show. Each kindergartner makes some kind of vehicle out of cardboard for the show.

When Ryker was in Kindergarten he (I) made a stage coach that he and his stick horse pulled around the gym for the show. Not to be out done, Cainan chose to make an army tank this spring. (Which I must say was much easier to make than a stage coach.)
You can tell by the look on his face that he LOVED it and had a great time at the show. The problem is....he LOVED it.

He wore the tank around the house for a few days after that and wore it every time someone (like Granny) came over. He grew very attached to it. So attached to it that is sat in our closet and then in our garage for months.

But, Brian finally came up with a brilliant plan to convince Cainan to let us get rid of the tank. He let him set it on fire.
What 5 year old doesn't love fire?

R.I.P army tank. One more transportation show to go. Two more years to prepare for it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jokes Recently Heard Around My Table


-Why did the chicken cross the road?
-He wanted to see a man lay a sidewalk.


-What type of stores do dogs never shop in?
-The flea market.


-Why did Cainan fall out the window and hurt his leg?
-Because the bad wolf blow him down.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Part Two

After a great weekend in Chicago we left early (although not early enough since there was a time change we forgot about) Sunday morning (Brian's birthday) and headed East to.......

Out in the middle of nowhere in the Irish Hills of southern Michigan we found a parking space about a mile from the main gate (and that was in the parking lot) and started walking. We had about an hour to walk around through the merchandise haulers (that's NASCAR talk for semi trailers full of t-shirts and hats) and see the sights.

Here is a pic of me hanging out with Carl Edwards before the race.
Then we made the climb to our seats and settled in for the race. The pre-race parade of drivers was the closest I got to the living breathing Carl Edwards. But he waved right at me. See?
NASCAR is different than any other sporting event (well, that kinda goes without saying) in the fact that the higher your seat is the more expensive it is. Those Row 1 seats are the cheapest in the place, because you can't see much except for what is right in front of you....which is basically a blur of color as the cars fly by for a few seconds.

Our seats were perfectly situated right at the entrance to pit road and high enough so that we could see all the way around the 2 mile track. I could use my binoculars and see Chandie Johnson sitting on the pit box watching the race.

The other big difference in the seating is that there are no stadium seats. No backs. No arms. No cupholders. Just hundreds of bleachers with little numbers painted on them to show you where to sit. We were packed in there like sardines. And can I just say for the record that I'm sure in the middle combat as the enemy is advancing on your position the sound of four American F-15s flying a few hundred feet overhead is very reassuring and comforting. But when sitting on a thin strip of aluminum 3 stories in the air surrounded by thousands of screaming fans it is terrifying!!

This is more my speed. Slow and silent.
This was our view of the action from our spot in Turn Four, 26 rows up. (Sorry the pic is of Michael Waltrip's car. It's really hard to time it where you can get a picture of the car you want when they are going 196 miles an hour.)
Anyway....the race was very quick (3 hours) with only 3 cautions, two for debris (boring) and one for David Reutimann's crash into the water barrels right in front of us (thrilling). If you weren't glued to the TV watching it, here is what happened.

Jimmy Johnson led almost the entire race (like 186 of 200 laps). Greg Biffle had a short stint at the lead but spent most of the rest of the day eating Johnson's dust in 2nd place. Then on lap 199 Johnson ran out of gas and Biffle took the lead......until he ran out of gas.....at which point Mark Martin (one of our favorites) won the race after leading 1/4 of a lap the entire day. Very exciting!

Here is poor Greg Biffle getting a push to the pits after the race.
This is a picture of the JumboTron where they were showing Mark Martin's celebration and post race interview from Victory Lane. Unfortunately his car ran out of gas just after he crossed the finish line so he wasn't able to do a victory lap or anything. So the only shot of him I have all day is this one. :(We left happy and tan, but not burnt...unlike the majority of other race goers. Not sure if those NASCAR types believe in sunscreen. Wow. It was bad. I did learn a new vocabulary word though. If you get a sunburn while wearing a "wife beater" t-shirt and then decide to walk around with no shirt on at all (which seems to be popular) you then have a "skin beater" for all the world to see.
Overall a great day and a great weekend. Now I'm worried about how I'll surpass this birthday gift next year. 300+ days to plan I guess.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chi Town

Brian and I had a great weekend in.....

We did A LOT of walking (approx. 10 miles total) along the lake shore and back and forth across the......

We saw.....

as we walked through Millenium Park on our way from the Planetarium (free day, yay!) to Navy Pier.

That night we checked in to our FABULOUS hotel (the 4 star Hyatt Regency O'Hare for $50 on Priceline, yay!). We slept in .......

and gazed up at.......

As we rode the glass elevators up to our floor we looked down on....

After a restful night we hopped in the car and headed to the greatest store on earth......
Back to the hotel and the realization that (a) eastbound traffic is at a stand still and (b) the train station is right in front of our hotel. So we rode the train in to the Loop again and did some more walking. This time down to.....
The Field Museum was interesting, but unfortunately the Real Pirates exhibit was sold out already.

Next we strolled along Michigan Avenue (amidst some very smug and joyous Twins fans) and ate some Chicago style pizza. Then it was back to the train station (two transfers and all) and out to the burbs and our hotel for an early night....because we had to be up early for


To be continued..........

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Manic Wednesday?

It's summer. Who can keep the days straight?

Still no time to post. Here is a demotivator to hold you over until tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alive and Well

I'm still here.

I'm still watching it rain.

I just haven't had time to blog for a few days.

Brian and I had a super great weekend in Chicago and at the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway for his birthday.

Later in the week I'll post pictures and tell you all about it.

For today there are no recipes or demotivators or pictures of adorable little girls with braids.....just this note to let you all know I'm still alive and well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Braids

I think she likes them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunny Sewing

Due to our negligence and raising a border collie puppy, we have no good lawn chairs. All of them have been rotted by the weather and chewed up.

Sitting outside in the evenings watching the kids splash around in the baby pool or play baseball is no fun when you have to sit on the hard wooden steps or the ground. Laying out to get a little sun is out of the question too. So I decided to do something about it.

At a Memorial Day Sale fabric sale I got three yards of cheapo white terry cloth, with the intention of making a cover for my lounge chair (the only one even close enough to still holding together to make it worth the effort.)

I started by doing some very technical duct tape repairs. Then I traced around the chair took some careful measurements .

I sewed pockets on each end and two tie straps in the center then slipped it over my chair.

The whole project took about 30 minutes and it turned out perfect for a little sunbather.....
....or two.
Of course it has rained almost everyday since then so I haven't been able to try it out yet...but I'm looking forward to putting it to good use very soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where's The Beef? *Updated*

I recently tried something that I never in a million years thought I would even remotely desire to eat.

A Veggie Burger.

(Can you tell which one is vegetarian and which one is beef venison?)

(Yes, it is the one on the left. The adult hand and the layer of avocado should have given it away.)

I found the recipe through a link on a previous Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Sharon at Because I Must said that these burgers were good as burgers and as crumbles in a salad or taco. So I decided to give it a try.

She was right. The veggie burgers were delicious! Brian and I ate them for two meals in a row.

They are basically just black beans, corn, peppers, onion, garlic, a few spices, bread crumbs and an egg all mixed up, pressed in to patties and baked (or fried). They were very easy to make and they were extremely flavorful. They really reminded me of the Black Beans and Rice dish that we like. This is a recipe that I will definitely use again.

Don't you just love Tempt My Tummy Tuesday?

For more great recipes check it out today over at
Blessed With Grace.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Manic Monday

A wonderfully demotivating t-shirt by the geniuses at http://www.despair.com/.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

May Results

Three more pounds.

It's not the 10 I was hoping for, but maybe that was a little unrealistic.

Losing three is better than gaining one, so I guess I'm happy with my results in this month's competition.

Hopefully June will prove to be a very "healthy" month. With a weekend in Chicago for just the two of us and a NASCAR race thrown in there I have my doubts.

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ella Kaelin

I'm an aunt again.

My fifth niece was born on May 18th waaaaaaaay out in Pittsburgh, PA, so I haven't seen her yet.

I haven't even seen any pictures of her yet. But I hear she is a real cutie, so I'll just have to take her parents' word for it.

Of course I had to make her something cute to welcome her to our family. I found some super cute flannels at the Memorial Day fabric sale at Jackman's and decided to make her a set of the two sided flannel burp cloths I've shown you before here. But this time I left off the flower, which I've found doesn't stand up in the wash very well.

Over at homemade by jill I saw similar burp cloths with a rag edge. I decided to make two plain and two rag edged.
I mixed and matched the patterns so they are all cute on either side.

Also at homemade by jill I saw a cute little vinyl bib pattern and got inspired to make little Ella a bib as well. (Sorry, forgot to rotate the pics.)

This didn't turn out exactly as I had planned, but it's still cute. It was supposed to have purple piping around all of the edges....and I made one like that. It was much cuter than this version except for the neck hole. The turn was just so tight that it was a mess trying to get the terry cloth backing, vinyl covered fabric front and piping to lay flat. I would have had to *gasp* hand sew it. I DON'T HAND SEW. So I just made another version without the piping.

I made all of these goodies (and the aforementioned bib failure) one morning and got them in the mail to Pitt that afternoon. These are such simple, cute and easy baby gifts (especially for babies like Ella that really don't need anything because they have big sisters that have handed down all of their clothes, toys, accesories, etc.) that I make them frequently and give them away. You can't go wrong with burp rags and bibs.

Although, I have heard tales of babies that don't spit up much. I've even witnessed parents walking around carrying their babies without so much as a tissue between themselves and the little tyke. I've never personally experienced anything like that. I carried as many burp rags as I could fit in a jumbo diaper bag plus several changes of clothing for the baby and one change of clothes for me.

Yeah. It was that bad. All three times.

Nursery workers at church actually called my son, "the spitter" and wore special (aka old) clothes when they had to work in his room. Brian never touched one of our kids in the morning before school or church. He just couldn't take the time to change clothes before heading out the door. You should see the way he still cringes everytime someone hands him a baby. Old habits die hard.

Boy, I don't miss those days. I can still smell it. Ugh!