Friday, April 30, 2010

Good morning... Meyer Lemon Berry Pancakes!

Why hello there. So I apologize for being so MIA this month--it's been a long month with new friends and so many more dance performances. It's vaguely slowing down, but GREs and other things such as peoples' graduations and backpacking trips are right around the corner, so AAAH! Ridiculousness. So even though there has been a decent amount of baking and cooking, but not much photographing, and even less time around the computer. ...I think it's a good thing for me, though, hehehe.

So after another dance performance a week or two ago, I had two friends stay over since they're not from the area. They were able to stick around in the morning, so I figured... why not pancakes?? I don't really make fancy breakfast foods... boiled eggs, cereal, and oatmeal are just fine in my book. But I know everyone likes the occasional breakfast treat, so after browsing through a billion breakfast recipes... and also realizing that my refrigerator was actually pretty empty except lemons (I have a continuous supply of lemons!) left over from an order for lemon tarts and I actually had some leftover buttermilk from making the tiramisu cake (I NEVER have buttermilk!), so I decided on Meyer Lemon Raspberry Pancakes with Raspberry Maple Compote.

Admit it. It looks delicious. M... now you want pancakes. Click below for more pancakes and recipe! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tiramisu Birthday Cake (and dancing!)

Hi all. So although there has been lots of baking and cooking the past couple of weeks, there has also been lots of dancing and ridiculousness... my Chinese dance team held a showcase, and I was in 5 of the dances, organizing 4 of them, and whatnot, so I haven't been around the computer that much, and if I was, I was probably doing something related to dance, hehe. But it was amazing and awesome, and it was, in my opinion, a huge success. :)

Photograph courtesy of Eric Eakin.

Photograph courtesy of Eric Eakin.

Photograph courtesy of Eric Eakin.

Photograph courtesy of Eric Eakin.

So last weekend was also my good friend's (and dance buddy!) birthday. (That's her below!)

Photograph courtesy of Eric Eakin.

I was trying to figure out what to make. She likes chocolate and coffee-flavored things. I didn't feel like making a basic layered chocolate cake or just a bunch of cupcakes... it felt too boring for such an awesome occasion. So... what to do? Chocolate... coffee... tiramisu, of course! But with tiramisu, usually you don't just carry it around in a cake box, and it kind of stays in its baking dish until served, and I didn't feel like walking around the streets of San Francisco with a heavy Pyrex glass baking dish. That, and I didn't feel like making ladyfingers from scratch nor going out on a hunt for them (apparently they're annoying to try and find around here... and TJ's only has them seasonally? anyway.). I know, my life is so hard, right?

So, of course. Why not make a tiramisu but in cake format?

I think it turned out fairly wel. It had two cake layers soaked in an espresso syrup. In between, there was a layer of Kahlua-mascarpone-whipped cream with a nice layer of finely chopped dark chocolate, topped with an espresso-Kahlua-mascarpone-whipped cream frosting all over the cake. Ooh, and then I lined the sides with chocolate covered espresso beans.

Aside from the colossal mess of cocoa powder in the kitchen, I'd say it was a pretty big success. Cocoa powder was seriously everywhere. Lesson of the day? Sure, cocoa power levels out a little when you blow on it, but unfortunately, the cocoa powder goes elsewhere, i.e. on top of counter tops, toaster, sink, floor...

Yeah, everywhere.

Either way, the birthday girl had a bottomless mimosas brunch at Lime in San Francisco (it's a crazy place... it's like you're clubbing with food at 11:30 in the morning).

I'd say she was fairly happy with the cake. :)

Thanks for indulging me in my vomit of dance and photographs, and I promise to have some recipes up soon. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

So I still had part of a Costco-sized bag of lemons, and I didn't feel like making lemon tarts, lemon curd, or lemon bars... too many eggs and butter and different parts and meh, I was lazy and had been baking a lot. (I had been baking and coking a lot last week... including a whole wheat multi-grain bread, 2 of these lemon poppy seed loafs, vegetable stew, and hot cross buns!  And then a tiramisu cake!) Unfortunately, most lemon cookies or muffins or whatnot require the lemon zest, but not the lemon juice. So what better than a lemon quick bread that requires soaking it with a lemon syrup? ...And then top it off with a lemon glaze?? Not only does it then use lemon juice, but it is also lemon and buttery and delicious.

Okay, confession. I don't really like poppy seed. Maybe my parents bought one too many Noah's poppy seed bagels (By the way, I love Noah's bagels. Grab me a plain bagel, a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, and an asiago bagel and I will love you forever. Okay, for a moment, until my waist line disappears, then I will hate you. It's that whole love-hate thing, ya know?). Or maybe I really hate how they get stuck in your teeth. Or maybe the flavor's a little too strong. Either way, I don't like poppy seed. But my roommate likes things with poppy seeds. And so do other people. And I found out a couple weeks ago that the local market sells poppy seeds for not to bad a price. So I grab myself a bunch of poppy seeds, figuring that I'd use it for something. Then I remembered, of course. Lemon + poppy seed. Who hasn't heard of that combination?

It seemed to be very popular.

And the glaze. I love sugar. I wanted to lick my cookie sheet after all the excess lemon glaze dripped off of the bread. ...I might've scraped off a few spoonfulls of that delicious lemon-sugar combination. But enough about me, more about the bread behind the jump!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hot Cross Buns, one a penny, two a penny

Why hello and happy Good Friday and Happy Easter everybody! (To be fair, I started writing this on Friday...) I'm loving trying to bake something for various holidays and celebrations, because I end up learning about the history of the food and the culture/religion it's tied to.

Hot cross buns!  Hot cross buns! One-a-penny, Two-a-penny, Hot cross buns! So everyone's heard of hot cross buns, but it turns out that most people I know have never actually had them, nor do they know what they are. In fact, most people (including myself) only know the first two lines of the nursery rhyme, haha.

So what are hot cross buns? They're generally associated with Easter, and more specifically, Good Friday, with the cross symbolizing The Crucifixion. However, it seems that the hot cross bun actually predates Christianity! Their origins lie in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, celebrating the vernal equinox (Eostre), with the cross possibly representing the balance between light and darkness of the equinox, the four quarters of the moon, or the symmetry of the seasons. During early missionary efforts, the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the icing cross. In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rockcliffe began a tradition of giving Hot Cross Buns to the poor of St. Albans on Good Friday.

Now wasn't that an exciting history lesson?

Anyhow, simply put, hot cross buns is a sweet, spiced yeast bun with currants (or raisins) and often candied citrus peel, and has a cross of a sweet dough on top (though many people now just use an icing for the cross).

I adapted the recipe from Wild Yeast Blog, and oh my goodness is it delicious. I didn't have dried currants, or candied lemon/orange peel, so I just made it with raisins and added a little bit of lemon simple syrup I made while candying lemon slices (I'll write about it later, but it's negligible for the recipe). I saw dried currants at a local farmer's market, so I might get those some day and make these again! Click below for recipe.