Monthly Archives: November 2010

Chinese paper wrapped cake

One of my favorite things from Chinese bakeries is paper wrapped cake.  I like the lightness of the texture and the slight sweetness.  It seems similar to chiffon cake.  I found a recipe from someone’s blog for paper wrapped cake and attempted to bake it at home.  The problem was that I did not have the correct type of pan because usually, they are slightly wider in circumference than a cupcake and about double the height of a cupcake.  However, at Eastern Bakery in San Francisco, they bake them in cupcake size so I figure I could do that as well.

Unfortunately, my paper wrapped cakes did not turn out correctly.  Usually, the cake puffs up but mine did the opposite.  They were very flat and the middle actually sunk down.  The problem most likely comes from the beating of the egg whites.  I may have beat the egg whites too long or too short, I’m not quite sure.  The cake was also a little on the dry side.  However, the flavor was correct.  I will have to try making this again sometime.

My sad, sunken paper wrapped cake

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It’s not Thanksgiving without pie

Since it was Thanksgiving, I had to have some pie.  Instead of buying a pie this year, I made my very first pie!  For some reason, baking my own pie seemed like a very daunting task.  It feels like there are many things that could go wrong.  Fortunately, I didn’t run into too many problems.

I decided to make a Dutch apple pie, which is the kind that has the crumble topping.  The recipe, which I got from The New Best Recipe book, calls for Granny Smith and McIntosh apples.  I couldn’t find any McIntosh apples so I substituted it with Pink Lady apples.

The night before Thanksgiving, I mixed the dough for my crust and let it chill overnight in the refrigerator.  Then Thanksgiving day, I took the dough out and let it sit for an hour or so to become room temperature.  Making the pie crust was the part that I was worried about the most but it was not too difficult.  The book provides excellent directions for how to roll out dough and make a crust.  After I rolled out the dough into a big circle, I rolled the dough around my rolling pin and then unrolled it over the pie pan.  If the book had not told me this, I probably would have lots of tears in my dough trying to use my hands to get it into the pan.  I used a Pyrex pie pan because according to The New Best Recipe, having a glass pan is useful when doing a blind bake (when you bake a crust without filling) because you can see through the bottom of your pan to see if your dough is done.  Once I got the dough into the pan, I trimmed the edges of the dough.  Then I crimped the crust to make it more decorative.  I folded a large piece of aluminum foil in half and then set it onto the crust.  Then I put my pie weights into the pan on top of the foil and baked the crust for about 12 minutes.

Crimped pie crust

For the apple filling, I cut up the apples and mixed in sugar and cinnamon.  In a large pot (they recommend a Dutch oven), I brought some butter to a boil and then added the apple mixture.  Then I added some golden raisins.  After the apples had cooked to where they were soft, but not mushy, I strained the mixture over a large bowl.  With the juice that came out, I mixed that with cream and cooked it over the stove.  This is the part of the recipe that I thought was weird because it doesn’t seem like there is normally cream in apple pie.  I put the apple mixture into the crust and then poured the cream and juice mixture over the apples.  I think that either I was supposed to be able to strain out more juice or cook the cream more because the cream to juice ratio seemed disproportionate.

Apples with sugar and cinnamon

The crumble topping is a combination of melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, and cornmeal.  I thought the cornmeal was an odd addition and I may actually omit this in the future.  After mixing those ingredients together, I baked them in an even layer on a baking pan.  Then I scattered the mixture over the top of the apples and baked the whole pie for an additional 5 minutes.

In the future, I need to do some altering with the recipe because I would prefer to have a softer crumble topping and I may have to do some altering with the apple mixture and cream.  Overall though, the pie turned out pretty well and was not so scary to make after all.

Dutch apple pie

Slice of pie

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Iced applesauce cookies

When I made the iced pumpkin cookies, I imagined how much better the cookies would taste if I used applesauce instead of pumpkin since I like apples far more than pumpkin.  So I did just that.  I used the exact same recipe for the iced pumpkin cookies, except that I replaced the cup of pumpkin puree with one cup of applesauce.  I also reduced the amount of ground cloves and nutmeg to ¼ teaspoon each.  For one of the batches, I incorporated some raisins to add some more variation.

After the cookies finished baking, I noticed one big difference.  The applesauce cookies turned out flatter than the nice, plump pumpkin cookies.   Even though they were more flat, they were still soft and fairly moist.  It seems pumpkin fluffs up more when baked.  In terms of taste, the apple flavor does not come through very strong.  Rather, I mostly taste the nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, which is confusing because it tastes like pumpkin pie, minus the pumpkin.  I’m also undecided on the addition of the raisins.  I realize that if I want more apple flavor, I should not have used applesauce since it is not pure apple.  I guess I would have to puree some apples in order to get a stronger apple flavor in the cookies.

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Sam’s sundae

In trying to keep with my goal of trying all 50 desserts on 7×7’s Big Sweet list, I stopped by Bi-Rite the other night after eating at Little Star Pizza, which by the way, has incredible deep dish pizza.  Even though I was already stuffed, I ordered Sam’s Sundae.  The sundae is made up of two scoops of chocolate ice cream, bergamot olive oil, sea salt, and a giant dollop of whipped cream.  It sounds bizarre and I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical before taking my first bite.  However, it is quite delicious.  Besides the fact that their chocolate ice cream is fantastic, the bergamot olive oil is amazing.  I would like to drizzle some of that bergamot olive oil on everything.  It has a very familiar taste and after doing a little research, I found out that bergamot is in earl grey tea.  I could have done with a little less sea salt, but it definitely adds to the flavor.  The whipped cream has a stiff consistency, which I like, and it definitely tames the flavor of the rest of the sundae.  I can’t wait until my next trip to Bi-Rite.

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Iced pumpkin cookies

Since it’s November, I wanted to make something that contains pumpkin, even though I’m not a very big fan of pumpkin.  After some searching, I found a recipe for iced pumpkin cookies, which sounded fairly appetizing.  It’s a very simple recipe.  Mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, and then mix them all together.   What I really like about the cookies is that they are almost cake-like in their texture.  The outside has a slight crunch but the inside is very soft.   Not only does the icing sweeten the flavor, it adds some nice embellishment to an otherwise plain looking cookie.  Even though I don’t really like pumpkin, the cookie tastes pretty good.


I’m now inspired to do a twist on this recipe.  Instead of using pureed pumpkin, I am going to use applesauce.  They both have a similar texture and amount of moisture.  And since I love apples, I’m bound to like those cookies even more.  We’ll see what happens.

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