Thursday, December 2, 2010

Orange and Black, Got the City on my Hat

I've been a Giants fan for as long as I can remember.  I can even (vaguely) recall Candlestick days, braving the cold and wind with my dad and brother, wrapped in blankets and joyfully eating and spitting seeds.  Baseball was the only sport my dad really followed and enjoyed so it was the only sport we watched (on tv or in person) on a regular basis.  I liked going to games, I rooted for the hometown team, but I probably could not have named the players on the team or told you how they were doing that season.  I was a kid.

High school is where I found my full-fledged love for the San Francisco Giants.  They moved from not-the-safest-or-easiest-part-of-town-Candlestick to the new-on-the-water-easier-to-get-to PacBell Park when I was in high school.  Since my friends and I could easily hop on the N-Judah to get there, we would.  I went to more games my junior and senior year of high school than I probably have since then.  It was what we did.  At that point in my life I could have named all of the players for you - Rich Auriela, JT Snow, Barry Bonds, Woody, Jason Schmidt.  These were my boys in orange and black that I rooted for, game-to-game, victory and loss.  I listened to games while I did my homework, went to games with my friends on the weekends, and organized group outings with friends and family.  I watched Barry chase the single season home run record and then the all-time home run record.  I had enough Giants gear to wear a different shirt every day of the week.  When I moved to LA for college I subscribed to MLB radio and religiously followed the end of the 2002 season.  I jumped up and down and screamed in my room when the Giants won the pennant and I proudly wore my Giants gear on campus and around LA, even in the midst of ridicule and taunting from bandwagon-Angel's fans.  Every year I was in LA I went to the Giants-Dodgers game proudly wearing my Giants jersey.  The people at my church in LA (Dodger's fans) even called me "Giants fan" as a nickname.  I'm that kind of fan.  But being a Giants fan brings you high and then has it's (seemingly) inevitable lows.  It was heartbreaking to watch the Giants lose their 3-2 lead and go on to lose the 2002 World Series.  It was humiliating when the scandal broke about Barry juicing.  My love for them was never the same after that season.  It was there, but it had faded.  It was frustrating to see them come so close and then with a few foolish mistakes (pride, anyone?) lose it all.

So I've followed them here and there ever since.  The season after the World Series I flew up to SF for opening day and I continued to attend games during summer breaks and organize group outings.  But it was never the same.  I'll blame it on the distance or the hecticness of life, but as the team and leadership changed from season to season I just couldn't connect.  This past season in particular I was out of the loop of many aspects of life because of wedding planning.  But when wedding madness died down and there were no more registries to stalk and seating charts to be updated, I found myself reading articles about this new brand of San Francisco Giant.  I'd heard good things about Bochy over the past couple of years - how he chose to build an everyman team over a team built around a superstar or two - so when people started talking about how this team in particular was coming together as a "hit and run, make a play" and not a "swing for the fences and be a hero" kind of team, it struck a chord in me and sparked my interest.  So I asked my brother (a die-hard baseball fan) what was up.  I asked him why, after all these years of mire, muck, and disappointment, this team deserved my loyalty, interest, and cheers.  And he told me that for these boys it wasn't about chasing records and being big names, it was about playing the game: being scrappy, getting on base, and getting it done.  So I watched.  As the end of the season neared, I kept my mouth shut for a number of reasons.  One, I knew I hadn't followed this particular team well enough to know their names or their stats.  Two, I didn't want to be a bandwagoner.  Three, I didn't want to be disappointed again.  I mean, in true Giants fashion, they clinched the NL West on the last game of the season. 

By the post-season my interest had been more than piqued - it was burning like a wildfire.  I read articles, learned the players names and numbers, and followed the scores of every game.  In true Giants fashion, they were the underdog in every game they went in to.  People said if they made it past the Braves they would inevitably get crushed by the Phillies.  But that didn't happen.  When the Rangers beat NY people said that the NL team that had to come up against this team would inevitably lose it.  But the Giants defied them all and took it all.  Took it all with games left to play, which was probably the most shocking part of it all.  Nobody saw it coming.  If you had told me at the beginning of the 2010 season that the Giants would go on to be World Series Champs that season I probably would have laughed and said "yeah, right"... all the while, holding on to hope in my heart that it would be a "maybe someday" for them.  I'm glad that my lack of faith didn't hold them back and that their "maybe someday" and the "maybe somedays" of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Giants fans out there has been realized.

I'll admit it, I cried when the Giants won the World Series.  I was home alone and I screamed, jumped, yelled, danced, and then as they replayed the highlights, collapsed on the couch and cried a happy cry.  The San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions, by a team who showed through every play, sac bunt, and hustle that they deserved it more than the other guy, and that can't ever be taken from them.


Next up: treats baked while the Giants were on their road to World Series Victory.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Prodigal Blogger

Blogging is one of those things I always mean to do.  I find myself musing about something random, inspired by something I see, or provoked by the thoughts of others and I think to myself "that would make a great blog post."  The problem is I rarely get around to committing the thoughts in my head to paper, much less internet.  It's probably because I know that writing is not a short or easy process.  It involves sitting down and really thinking through my thoughts so that they make actual sense, condensing them so that they're readable and not as rambly as I am when I talk, and then proofreading to make sure that all my subjects and verbs agree.  I start out thinking it will be a 15 minute process and it ends up taking an hour and I wonder what else I could have used that hour doing since there are always other things to be done.

Why do I feel this urge to blog, you ask?  Not really for readership (since I don't widely advertise my blog or often share it with others) and not really because I feel like I have amazing things to add to the greater world wide web conversation.  Mostly for my own posterity.  I am more likely to type up my thoughts online than sit down with my journal and write them out.  I am also more likely to pull up my own blog and read the things I've written and remember thoughts, feelings, desires, and expectations from those moments in time than I am otherwise.  The blog world really is no different from my real journal world (save a little censoring of truly personal details) because I write in my journal like it's going to some day be read.  I realized early on that if I wrote down every thought I ever had, I could only guard them for so long because some day I'd inevitably die and who knows what would happen to them then.  So I write in my journal like it's going to be read and published some day.  Of course there are things in there that I wish I hadn't said, written, or thought... but such is life.  It's not like the boy I liked at that time was so secret or my frustration with my situation so hidden anyway.

So.  That's all to say that my goal is to blog once a week.  As this blog is one named after my love for cake and has featured very little cake, maybe I'll get back on that subject.  Or maybe I should have named my blog "Christine Hearts Cake and Likes to Ramble" and that would have been a more accurate description.  In any case, I have been doing a whole lot of baking, even with my more than strenuous commute, and so there are a couple of blog ideas and a whole lot of pictures waiting in the wings.  I'm excited for my first set of holidays in my own kitchen.  I'm going to go holiday cookie crazy... I've already invited some friends over for a nice little cookie party.  Maybe there will eventually be a post on that :) 

In the mean time, hang tight.  I'll be riiiight back.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A House is Not a Home

A couple of months ago we took the plunge.  Months before we actually bound together our lives (in the best possible way) in holy matrimony, we bound our lives financially by purchasing a house together. 

It's funny, how a house becomes a home.  When we first set foot in this house, we took mental notes as we walked around.  Wood floors, check.  Scratches on the wall, needs work.  Cabinetry looks pretty new, nice.  Our perspective was objective.  We were merely checking items off our mental lists as we tried to figure out if this house would suit our new life together.  It will be the first time either of us owns property or truly lives by themselves (and still then, not really since we'll be living together as husband and wife), so I think we're an odd combination of minimalistic and optimistic.  We would have been content with something simple and at the same time had grand visions of grandeur.  I hoped for a large kitchen where I could simultaneously mix, chop, and prep without having to constantly rearrange for more space.  I desired a walk-in closet because luxury of having one is one I've become accustomed to.  But I also desired a house where space would be used and lived in, not observed and kept pristine.  The home I grew up in had always been just that - a home - and I was eager to nest and create my own.

Not long after we took our initial walk through, we went ahead and purchased our house.  As months went by, we finally sealed the deal.  This house, full of potential and hope for the future, was ours.  Is ours.  We've spent the past couple of months transforming the empty house into our home.  We've painted, installed rolling cabinets, cleaned, moved in our stuff, and have slowly but surely claimed this little house as our own.  As we've poured our time, sweat, and energy into this house we've come to love it in a way we would not have had everything been done for us.  I see the places where the teal paint bled on to the white cabinets, and while it's a point of frustration for my perfectionist self, I know that I did that and I will eventually fix it.  I see the floor, once covered in dust and construction grime (we are having some work done professionally), shiny and new looking and I realize that I did that.  I watch our furniture arrive and I think to myself "wow, that is the sofa I'm going to throw myself on at the end of the day, and the dining room table we'll use when we host Thanksgivings and Christmases."  Everything is coming together and our house is becoming a home.  Our home.  The home of a Mr. & Mrs. so filled with joy and hope and anticipation of the rest of their lives together.

It is my house of dreams.  Not because it has amenities up the wazoo, but because it's where the seeds of the hopes for the future are planting themselves.  This will be the place where T and I start our marriage, where we raise our children (someday, hopefully), and where we will fight and make up, rest after work, and entertain friends and family.  I could not be more excited.  :D  Oh yes, and I'm getting married in 6 days.  That's certainly exciting too :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

I get the feeling that's what T and I are experiencing right now.  The finishing touch on what I called the "planning" phase of wedding planning happened last week when I sent our florist her deposit check.  [Aside: I consider wedding planning in two stages - planning and preparation.  Planning entails research and making decisions and making deposits but everything still exists in theory.  Preparation is where the rubber meets the road and things start getting done for the wedding day, decisions for the day are made, people are asked to help, and the floating details are solidified.]  That was the last thing to be crossed off our list (well, the rehearsal dinner is still TBD, but that's because we're waiting to see if we can host it ourselves) and it was the only thing that we didn't research forever before we made a decision.  To be honest, the entire past month has been quiet and wedding-planning-free. 

It's been a nice little lull, although it has built up in me a desire to get this show on the road.  Kind of like "helloooo everything's planned and ready to go SO WHY ARE WE NOT GOING?!" except I realize that part of why everything is not going yet is because we planned and hoped for this quiet time in between when planning was happening and preparing started.  As much as I've got ants in my pants and am ready to start preparations, I realize that if I had gone straight from planning to prep I would be a nervous, emotional, and burnt out wreck.  Thus, I am thankful for this time, even if I am anxious for it to be over.  Nobody needs a bridezilla on their hands, least of all my wonderful and patient fiance.  As it is, the anticipation is good for me because it means that because I've been looking forward to the commencement of preparations, I'll probably enjoy them more.  Because while the planning is what it is at this point, there is still much to be done...

And the doing will start this weekend.  We're hoping to start and finish a project this weekend with "hope" being the operative word.  We have time before this project absolutely positively MUST be done, but it would be nice not to have to worry about it too much after this weekend.

I can't believe we're only four months away from our wedding day!  In the busyness of the lull (because let's face it, when one aspect of life quiets down some other busy finds it's way in) we missed our 18 monthiversary and I can hardly believe that we've been together that long already.  Five months of our engagement have flown by and I'm sure the next four will as well... so as much as I'm hoping the four months aren't as long in practice as they seem in theory, I'm also trying to make the most of every moment and savor this engagement period.  This will only happen once in my life... all of this... engagement, wedding, and newlywed-bliss... so I better make the most of it while I can!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Home Improvement

Believe it or not, the wedding planning is almost complete.  There are most certainly details that still need to be taken care of and arrangements to be made, but all of the things that I can do until the invitations go out and the wedding gets closer are pretty much taken care of.  My husband-to-be deserves two points for putting up with me through endless emails regarding photographers, videographers, florists, bakeries, and everything else wedding.  He is quite the trooper and most of my friends are impressed with his level of involvement in all things wedding.  But that's kind of how T is.  Wonderful.  Even though he is a high-level, big picture kinda guy he loves the details because he loves me.  Amazing.

Poor guy probably thought he was done with the incessant "what do you think about this?" and "do you like this one better, or this one?" emails when we checked the last vendor off our of list of wedding to-dos.  Little did he know that home planning would come with an even greater volume of ideas and sources of inspiration.

Right now I'm dreaming of my own little house of dreams (that's what I'm going to call it, one point for you if you know the reference)...

the idea of colored backsplashes in the kitchen...
(image from ApartmentTherapy)

and bamboo dry erase boards for the kitchen...

and lovely bookshelves with shelves that pop...
(image from Design*Sponge)

I'm finding everything I see incredibly inspiring and the lack of movement is mildly frustrating.  But when it comes time to let it all flow, believe me I will be a full sponge ready to release the ideas I've been storing in my mind...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seven Tips and Tricks For These Fantastic Cookies

 I posted the link to this recipe on Facebook a couple of weeks ago (if they ask for a login, it's free to sign up or you can go to the Ivory Hut) and apparently inspired EVERYBODY I know to make them.  No joke.  At least ten people have told me that in the time since they first saw this recipe they've made these cookies.  Why not?  I made them sound irresistible... and well, they are irresistible.

I've heard that some people did not have quite as fantastic a time with this recipe as I did.  Some have said that the cookies tasted good but looked weird.  Others have said that they didn't quite get the toffee flavor that comes with the nuttiness of the melted butter.  I'm hoping to address some of those concerns in this blog post.
Perhaps they were a little less meticulous.  Maybe the instructions were a little unclear for their taste.  I bake a lot (a LOT) and I very rarely do I actually tweak recipes... at least on the first go 'round.  I do, however, make mental notes about things I would change next time or ways I wish the instructions were clearer.  Part of why I am such a big fan of the Test Kitchen is they tend to be pretty explicit about the way to do things.  When they say to combine sugar and butter until fluffy, there's three pictures that show you what underwhipped, overwhipped, and perfectly whipped look like.  When they says sautee until the vegetables are soft, they tell you it'll take about three minutes.  This friends, is amazing.  Especially when you've never done some of this stuff before and you have no idea how soft is soft enough or how whipped is whipped enough.  I am always second guessing myself and wondering if I've done it right and it's so reassuring when there's pictures or some sort of way to know that I have.

I think that's where some have stumbled with this cookie recipe.  It's where I myself was second guessing myself because some things are just so unfamiliar.  How do you know when the butter is brown enough?  What exactly does nutty smell like?  Is it okay that some of the butter is burning and creating browned bits in my butter?  Do I really need to make them 3 tablespoons big because that sounds ginormous?
Here are the answers to your questions and some thoughts to questions you probably didn't think to ask.  To be quite frank, when I was making this recipe I was pretty sure after the butter part that I'd screwed it up because of the dark color of my butter and the little burned bits that had resulted from me trying to get the butter so brown.  But I found that the longer I let it brown, the nuttier it smelled and it wasn't creating a burnt smell, so I just let it go.  Then after I combined the brown sugar in the browned butter I tasted it to make sure it wasn't yucky, or I would've started over.  It tasted delicious and like toffee, so I decided to proceed.  Sometimes experimentation isn't such a bad thing.

Without further ado.  Here are some thoughts that will helpfully put your mind at ease as you hit milestones in the process of making this recipe.

1.  BRING your butter to room temperature or at least let it sit out for a little bit so it's not refrigerator cold or frozen.  This is a standard practice for cookie making, and even though the recipe doesn't say to and you end up melting the butter anyway, I wouldn't abandon it here.  I accidentally melted all of the butter (which didn't ruin the recipe, but next time I will pay closer attention to the instructions) so I didn't have this problem, but a friend mentioned that she was using frozen butter and it took a long time to melt in the hot butter and brought down the temperature of the melted butter so it didn't quite carmelize the sugars when they were added to it.  Because you do want the hot butter to break down the sugars, make sure your reserved 1/4 cup of butter is of an easily meltable temperature when you're adding it to the hot butter.

2.  DON'T be scared of the brownness of the butter or of the little burned bits in the brown butter.  The dark brown nutty goodness of the butter is what lends to the toffee flavor.  Believe me.  The little burned bits will get lost in the brown sugar mixture and your cookies won't look weird.  Mine didn't!

3.  BE GENTLE when you're combining the flour mixture with the liquid mixture.  When you're stirring and resting you want it to be rather vigorous because the process is partially getting the mixture to cool down so it doesn't cook the eggs, and partially getting the eggs and the butter to combine.  When you're combining the flour you want to be gentle in folding in the flour because the gentle touch will put air into the batter which will make your cookies fluffier and less flat/dense.  At least I think that's the purpose.  It's why you do it with cakes, I'm sure it's the same here :)

4.  DON'T skimp on the size of the cookies.  They give you a specific size for a reason.  Any smaller and they won't spread out as much or be as chewy on the inside.  The beauty of these cookies is the crunchy crust and chewy inside.  Don't rob them of that.  I actually bought a #24 size ice cream scoop for the purpose of cookie making and it makes it that much easier.  Seriously, scoop, plop, voila!

5.  DON'T be afraid of slightly underbaking your cookies.  If you cookies tear apart with no gooey in the middle when the come hot out of the oven, they're probably perfectly cooked and will be amazing that first day or two.  However, the gooey in the middle when they're hot is what makes the chewy in the middle hours later when the cookies are no longer warm.  All I'm saying is they'll continue to cook while they're cooling down, so they don't need to look perfect or be perfect when they come out of the oven.

6.  DON'T grease your pan.  It will increase the spreading.  Use the parchment paper to prevent stickage to your pans.  I didn't have parchment paper so I used tin foil.  Still worked like a charm.

7.  DO double the recipe.  So much work and love are put into these cookies and the result is only 16-18 cookies!  Doubling the recipe requires minimal extra work and leaves you with plenty of cookies to share!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So Good You Can't Have Just One

There are few things I feel this way about.  Pringles are one of them.  Cookies usually aren't another.  I love to bake, but I rarely consume more than one serving of whatever I bake.  Ironic, since I normally make large quantities of baked goods (for example, tonight I doubled a recipe)... but it's almost always to share.  I find that I find the most joy in the actual baking process and tasting is just to make sure I'm not giving away something that tastes gross.  This is especially true when it comes to cookies.  I can't resist a single hot-out-of-the-oven-gooey-goodness cookie, but I don't normally want more than just one.  More than that, I normally don't eat raw cookie dough.  It drives me CRAZY when others try to stick their spoons, or even worse, fingers (gross) into my cookie dough and try to eat it and I don't do it myself. 

Except tonight.  There was something irresistible about this cookie dough and the cookies themselves.  Perhaps it was the nutty aroma (how do you even know if it's "nutty"?  I think I know the smell but I'm never sure until someone states that it is) of browned butter (who knew that butter, when browned, would smell nutty).  Perhaps it was the tempting pictures that Ivory Hut posted earlier today.  Maybe it was simply that this recipe was so entirely different from any type of chocolate chip cookie that I've ever made that I just HAD to know what the raw cookie dough tasted like.  FOR SURE it was the sweet carmely taste that resulted from cups of sugar in that hot browned butter that made me eat not one, but two and a half cookies tonight.  And probably about four tomorrow.  Just a guess.  What is was is irrelevant.  What it is is important.  It is AMAZING.  Hands down the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had.  Better than the regular Test Kitchen recipe (which is saying something because I usually swear by TK recipes - although it must be said that this is one too), better than a Specialty's cookie, and not even close to the Tollhouse recipe on the back of the bag.

I wish I had pictures for you, but alas my brother was the one taking pictures and so they are therefore floating around on his computer.  It's okay, the amount of butter I melted this evening would probably deter you from making this recipe... and you NEED to make this recipe.

I don't see the point of typing the entire thing out when I can just link you to Ivory Hut's recipe, which is a wonderfully summarized version of what Cooks Illustrated put together.

Friends, your chocolate chip cookie cravings will never be the same after you've had these.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Registries, oh Registries

I was updating my registry at Crate&Barrel today and I noticed they have a contest going on.

I'm not usually much of a contest-enterer, but for whatever reason I couldn't resist this one.

Sooooo... I hate asking this because I feel slightly awkward and embarrassed doing so, but I would love it if you, dear reader, would vote for T and I so that we can win the Ultimate Wedding contest at Crate&Barrel.  You can vote here:

Thank you in advance :D

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons

... make lemonade.  Or so the saying goes.  But that's speaking of metaphorical lemons.  What happens when your aunt gives you lemons?  Lots and lots and lots of real, literal, bright yellow lemons from her tree that seems to produce them in abundance?  If you're Christine (me), you start furiously Googling lemon everything.  Lemon cake (Smitten Kitchen has a lemon poppyseed cake that looks divine), lemon cookies, lemon bars, lemon tarts.  You name it, I looked for it.  The only problem was I had tons of lemons and was trying to avoid going to the grocery store to buy supplies.  You see, I have a ton of stuff at home already.  Stuff a plenty for cookies, cakes, and everything in between.  So why is it then that lemony treats require so many extras.  Who has poppy seeds laying around their house?  Who has the time to create a glaze for these cookies?  Not me.  So, being the lazy baker that I sometimes I am, I eliminated recipe after recipe in the search for something delicious that could be made with ingredients I already have.

That, my friends, is how I found it.  A lemon pound cake recipe that will forever be my lemon pound cake recipe.  Are you that kind of person?  The kind of person who finds a recipe they love and then stops searching for others?  I've never been a "grass is greener" kind of girl, so I think I'll call it a day.  Unless you can find me something yummier and easier, this my friends, will be the lemon dessert that beckons me when those 234823 lemons get dropped off at my house by my aunt.

It goes a little something like this...

It's called Sour Cream and Lemon Pound Cake by Epicurious, except that title is deceiving because I didn't use sour cream at all.  So I'm just shortening the title to Lemon Pound Cake, lest I have to awkwardly call it Plain Whole Fat Yogurt and Lemon Pound Cake.

Start by zesting those lemons.  I normally do this first, because it takes the most work and I like to prep things before I get started, lest I get distracted and forget something.

I think it's kind of random that I chose to use a yellow bowl with the lemons, but it's what I had on hand.  Oh well.  Look at how selflessly those lemons gave me their zest.


Then you've got to cut and squeeze those lemons to get out all of their juicy goodness.  I'm telling you, my aunt produces some super lemons.  The zest is super lemony and fragrant and the lemons themselves are FULL of juice.  Next time I get a bunch, I'll share them with you so you can make this recipe too :)
As an aside, this is why I registered for a lemon squeezer.  Because juicing 12-13 lemons by hand = super tired sad hands.

This recipe should be called "heart attack with lemon" cake.  This is the two sticks of butter with three cups of sugar.  This is before the six eggs.

I decided to alter the recipe and make little bundts since they are what I had on hand.  Look at my mom's cute little bundt pan, buttered and floured and ready to go.

There is my brother with his Harry Potter glasses, pretending to help.

Filled and ready to jump into a warm oven...

I know you're not supposed to open a hot oven while something's baking (because you easily lose heat in the oven when you open the door, which could mar your baked good), but I saw these through the window and couln't resist.  They rose much more than I thought they would.

All the rising meant the little holes at the bottom were covered.  Oh well, they turned out gorgeously, don't you think?

Perfect for sharing.  Not for eating all by yourself.

And here is the recipe:

Lemon Pound Cake, adapted from

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used a little more, just because I wanted to be sure that the lemon flavor came through)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup full fat plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease mini bundt pan. Dust pan with cake flour; tap out excess flour - I used PAM baking spray with flour.  Worked like a charm and is so much easier and less messy than using butter/shortening and flour.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat 5 minutes (it seems like a long time, but it takes this long for the softened butter and sugar to really come together).

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition (with so many eggs and such a great potential for shells, I cracked all six eggs into a bowl and then slid them into the mixer one by one, yolk with some white by yolk with some white.  It's not an exact science, but it sure beats trying to dig egg shell out of your batter).

Beat in lemon juice and peel. Using rubber spatula, mix in dry ingredients. Mix in yogurt.  Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Carefully turn cake right side up on rack and cool completely.  (If you're using a full-size bundt pan, the baking time will be considerably longer - more in the range of 1 hour and 30 minutes, like the original recipe says.  Because I was making smaller cakes I cut the baking time to 25 minutes and then checked the cakes every 3 minutes to see how they were coming along.  I found that 30-35 minutes gave a perfectly golden crust and deliciously moist cake).


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

They Say You'll Just Know

When you've fallen in love... When the timing is right...  When you've found "the dress."  Is it so wrong to then also believe that I'll just know when I've tasted it - my wedding cake?  I know that in the grand scheme of life it's one of the smaller priorities.  People remember how touching your ceremony was, how the best man made them both laugh and cringe, and the people they saw at your wedding.  They'll even remember how beautiful the bride was when she entered through the church's doors or how misty eyed her groom was when he caught his first glimpse of her.  People rarely remember the food (unless it's bad), much less the cake.  So then, why has it become such an important thing to us?

Because we've built our relationship on cake... or more generally dessert.  On embracing the small sweet moments together over something as simple and delicious as a slice of cake.  I love to bake, and our first non-camp encounter involved us collaborating on dessert - I brought brownies and he brought ice cream.  Our first date found us having dessert not once, but twice.  Cupcakes at Ghirardelli Square and gelato in the Sunset district.  On our second date he promised me cake and when he told the waiter we'd pass on dessert, the "what?!" that slipped out of my mouth was unmistakable.  It's silly but true, our hearts were won through our stomachs.  Well, among other things.

So then, it is important to both of us that the cake that we present to our guests at our wedding is one that we enjoy.  I'm coming to realize that as much as they say the day is about the bride, really it is not.  If it was, she wouldn't be the one planning it.  Certainly I will be the center of attention on my wedding day (whether I like it or not).  All eyes will be on me as I walk down the aisle.  People will ooh and ahh over my dress and I'll feel every bit the bride in it.  But at the end of the day, I am (along with my fiance and our parents) throwing a party for 300+ people.  I want them to enjoy themselves.  To not feel as if they've intruded on one of the most intimate moments of my life, but rather that they've been invited to celebrate in it.  It's every bit about them as it is about me.  They are the ones who have helped us become who we are and encouraged us on the journey to this place.  They will be there to celebrate us, and we will be there to show them our love, affection, and thanks for the years they've walked this road with us... and then to invite them along as we start a new path together.

To that end, I want the very best for my guests.  I've only gone to two tastings so far, but I think T and I have found "the cake(s)."  It's hard to believe, but our first cake tasting was love at first bite.  Make no mistake, we're still going on other cake tasting endeavors (who passes up their one opportunity to try lots of free cake?), but I think we've found "it."  I wont spoil the surprise (even though I'm so in love with these cakes I've already told everybody who's asked about how the tastings went about them), but I will show you the pictures from our first two tastings.

The first one was with Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale.  DEEEELISHous.  Moist, dense, perfectly crumby, flavorful cake.  Just the way I like it.  I don't like my cake too heavy, but I certainly don't like it too light either.  This cake was just right.  Some of the flavors were the kind of flavors that make you think "who in the world gets a wedding cake of that flavor (e.g. banana walnut?!)?" and some made T and I wish there were more than just the small sampling they gave us.  This was hands down my favorite (of the two bakeries) because it was my kind of cake.  And to top it off, they had a sample cake out that was exactly what I want my decorated cake to look like.  Hmm... I think it won't be long before we book with them :)

The second was Satura Cakes in Palo Alto.  The cake tasting experience was less enjoyable for a couple of reasons.  First, I felt really rushed.  We had an appointment and I felt like she sped us through the cakes and asked us a couple of questions without letting us really discuss it amongst ourselves.  Sugar Butter Flour was not that way at all.  The baker let us keep sampling and gave us the chance to dialogue through what we were thinking and what we liked/disliked about certain cakes.  Second, it just wasn't my kind of cake.  Satura is an Asian bakery, so it's Asian cake.  Fresh cream (which is much less sweet than buttercream) and fluffy cake.  Yummy in it's own right, but not my favorite type of cake, much less my dream wedding cake.  Unless T was holding back after our cake tasting, I think it's safe to say that this is probably a dessert place we'll hit for a snack but not for our wedding cake.  Their mango passionfruit cake is just too yummy to not try again :)

Their cake may not have been my favorite, but I was still one happy girl taking home leftovers :)

Sorry this post was kind of spazzy and a mesh of serious with cake.  It seems weird, but that's pretty much my relationship with my fiance in a nutshell.  Spazzy + Serious + Cake

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Going to the Chapel...

I'm getting married!  (Okay, so that's kind of old news, it's been just over two months now... but I'm a slow blogger)

More importantly, I'm going cake tasting this weekend!  (Okay, just kidding about the "more importantly."  I do indeed believe getting married is the more important of the two!)

In all seriousness, I'm very excited to go taste cake.  Woohoo!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cookies Turned Cake

Snickerdoodles are probably among my favorite type of cookies.  They're light, fluffy in the middle with crisp edges, sweet with a slight tang, and cinammony goodness.  It's no wonder they're among the cookies I find myself making most often.  I crave them more often than I do chocolate chip, and that's saying something.  I'm probably a cookie person just as much as I am a cupcake person, so it was a happy day in my heart when I came across the Snickerdoodle cupcake recipe.  Hello merging of two things I love.

These cupcakes don't have the same bite that a snickerdoodle cookie does (I wonder if it's because the chemical reaction of cream and tartar and baking powder would cause my cake to not rise?), but it does have that same delicious cinnamon sugar light cookie flavor.  I baked these for Kim's birthday but sadly she missed our gathering.  Hopefully the ones I sent her way got there and she enjoyed them!

 It's sad.  I always forget to take pictures of half of the process.  Either I take pictures while making the cake and forget to take pictures of the finished product or I forget to take pictures of the process and only have pictures of the finished product.  Either way, go make these scrumptious little cupcakes as a new year's treat :D

Oh well... I topped these bad boys with a little bit of whipped cream.  Frosting just seemed too heavy for their light cinnamon flavor.

Make these.  You'll love them.