Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers' Challenge Opera Cake

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was truly a challenge. A thin layer cake (or jaconde) made from ground almonds and a little flour, brushed with a flavored syrup (I used raspberry liqueur as my flavoring), then frosted with lemon flavored buttercream, covered with a white chocolate mousse and a white chocolate glaze. Wow! Talk about over the top flavor and richness!

I used the buttercream from Dorie Greenspan's celebration cake that we made in March rather than the cooked sugar version that was included with this recipe (because I just loved it!). Everything worked out well, with very little frustration. The entire recipe took me about three hours to complete and everyone who tasted it really liked it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day May 2008

A pretty pink tree peony is in full flower. (left)

The false Solomon's seal is full of hanging bells (below, center) and the spirea is in full flower. (below, left.)

A group of tiny white flowers comes up every year below the pin oak (left). Does anyone know what this is?

The red-leaf hardy geranium is blooming a little early this year (left)

Poeticus daffodils are always the last ones to bloom in my garden.

The nepeta is loaded with great blue flowers (left).

The fringe tree is limping along. The deer or some other critter munched on it this winter.

The deciduous azalea is a gorgeous peachy yellow!

The clematis has its first open flower today, just in time for GBBD.

The giant alliums are just beginning to bloom.

Buttercups are pretty, but very invasive. Think twice before you add these to a perennial bed or border! (below)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Banana Strawberry Cupcakes/Muffins?

OK. I had some left-over overripe bananas and some fresh-from-the-market -strawberries, and thought I'd make the strawberry banana cupcakes from Vanilla Garlic. Followedthe recipe exactly, except I substituted 6TBSP olive oil for 6 TBSP of the vegetable oil. They came out more like muffins than cupcakes. (Cupcakes=light and spongy, muffins=thick and dense. ) But I frosted them anyway as the recipe suggested. Good, but not great.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Daring Bakers and Tuesdays with Dorie

Well, I baked the Tuesdays with Dorie fluted polenta and ricotta cake (yum!) and didn't bake the Daring Bakers cheesecake pops. I did learn that I should have measured my pan to make sure it was the right size-- it went over the top and down the side. What a mess! But it had a wonderful texture-- moist from the ricotta cheese and figs, crunchy from the polenta and the tiny fig seeds. The honey made it just sweet enough. (I used regular clover honey, which is what I had on hand.) My husband (and official dessert taster) said he didn't like the "dates" but he liked the cake. I think it would have been useless to tell him they were figs, not dates.

The cheesecake pops, though, just didn't get done. My other life got a little spastic there for a while, and the time just slipped away. But next month's challenge looks great, and I'll make it earlier in the month. (It's a surprise-- you'll have to wait to find out what it is.)