Buttercream, Roses and Maria

My love for buttercream began many years ago, long before I become a Wilton Method Instructor. It started with Maria.

I was looking, really more like desperately searching for something to fill my time.  My one and only son had enlisted in the USMC and was off to boot camp. I spent my time taking care of him up to now and now what…

One afternoon, instead of going straight home after work, I decided to stop at my local Michael’s store. I was not looking for anything in particular, just looking to kill time. As I entered the store,  I noticed a group of people gathered around a small table. Standing behind the table was a lady holding a cupcake. My interest was piqued as I have always been fond of cupcakes. Anyway, the lady, who I would later know and admire, was Maria.  Maria was the Wilton Method Cake Decorator and was demonstrating the art, yes I said art of decorating with buttercream. While Maria was explaining in great detail about the piping tip, angle of bag, blah, blah, the only thing I was aware was she was creating a beautiful red roses made for buttercream right before my eyes. How did she do that- is this something I could do – I was hooked – where do I sign up? 

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My Wilton Method Decorating Demo

I signed up and took every class. Maria was very kind and a very patient teacher and a genuinely nice person. After the other students left, Maria would stay with me –  patiently watching me make butercream roses. “Breathe,” she would say as I held my breath while piping each petal. “Relax, it’s your rose.” It’s funny, today when teaching I tell my students the same. Maria taught me patience and understanding and it really is “your rose.”  It was Maria who encouraged me to become a Wilton Method Instructor and my heart thanks her before every class.  I don’t know where Maria is today or if she is still teaching, but I hope so.  I hope she is still stands behind a small table demonstrating the art of making beautiful buttercream roses inspiring others to take her class and changing the lives of people who were just looking to kill time.

 

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Size Matters…Eggsactly

In a recipe, when eggs are called for the are usually hen eggs and mostly commonly large or extra-large in size.

The most common hen egg-shell colors are brown or white. There is no nutritional or flavor difference between white and brown eggs. The color comes from different breeds of hens . Hens with white feathers and white ear lobes lay white eggs while hens with red feathers and red lobes lay brown eggs. Of course chickens have ears! How else would they hear you calling, ” Here chicky, chicky”.

Average hen eggs weigh about 2 ounces;the white is 1 ounce and the yolk about 2/3 ounce and the shell is 1/6 ounce. Yes- I just did math!  If a recipe calls for a large egg, then you will be using a 2 ounce egg. X-large eggs weigh 2.25 ounces, medium eggs weigh 1.75 ounces and jumbo eggs weigh 2.50 ounces each. So, let’s think about this…that would mean that 1 large egg would be equivalent to 1 medium egg or 1 extra-large egg. That’s pretty easy to figure out but rarely do baking recipes call for only 1 egg.

Now we’ll see where size matters! 3 large eggs would be equivalent to 4 medium size eggs and 3 large eggs would be equivalent to 2 jumbo or 4 small eggs… see where I am going with this? If you use eggs of different sizes, adjust the number in the recipe accordingly.

So why am I giving you a lesson in egg size, because eggs are one of the two structural materials used in baking (flour is the other) that are indispensable in pastry. Eggs can be used in an endless list of wonderful creations. When combined with flour, eggs create the framework that support and traps air in cake batters; egg whites for meringues, to thicken custards and put the beautiful golden glaze on breads and pastries, and on and on.  There is a natural emulsifier in eggs that aid in making smoother batters and creams.

Proper storage of eggs is most important. Eggs will keep up to 4 weeks if stored at a temperature of below 40 degrees. While most baking recipes call for room temperature eggs, eggs will age more in one day left a room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator… so take only what you will need for the your days baking. Now having said that, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) leaves eggs out overnight for baking.  She says “when you beat eggs and sugar at room temperature it incorporates the ingredients better and makes a huge difference.”  On the other hand Julia Child said this about eggs, “It behooves us to choose eggs carefully and to treat them right. Because at room temperature they make a warm and comfortable home for evil bacteria, always buy refrigerated eggs, never buy cracked or dirty eggs, always bring your eggs home in a refrigerated container, and keep eggs chilled until the moment you are to use them.”

I do something in between Ina and Julia. I allow eggs to reach room temperature for the same amount of time it takes butter to reach room temperature. When the butter is soft, then the eggs are ready.  Remember safety first when using eggs, keep your surface and hands eggs free. No evil bacteria!  Now get Cracking!

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Eggs – a leavener in cakes and breads and add structure to other baked goods.

 

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat means Chocolate Bread. Yes, Chocolate Bread! This Pain au Chocolat is made with Quick Puff and pain au chocolate sticks also called chocolate batons. You can order them from  King Arthur Flour.  The recipe for Quick Puff was taught  in an online by Gesine-Bullock Prado at Craftsy.

The quick puff or rough puff is easy to make and comes together quickly. The recipe makes about 5 pounds and can be frozen for future use. Just let the dough thaw in the refrigerator before attempting to work it.

Quick puff can be used for pie dough, sweet treats or savory snacks. I also made mini croissants and dusted them with non-melting sugar, also from King Arthur Flour – I just love King Arthur Flour.

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If you have ever wanted to make puff pastry but thought it too difficult, try Quick Puff. Once you see have easy it is, how many uses there are for this flaky dough and taste the wonderful the buttery goodness you will agree it is worth the time. Next, I will move on the traditional Puff Pastry and you can too.

Remember it’s all about the Love of Baking!  Terri

Galette des Rois- King Cake

As a Louisiana native, I have eaten my share of king cakes, but I had never seen or eaten Galette de Rois, only heard about it.  It is King Cake season after all so  I decided I would make one. My first Galette des Rois!

Where to start? First to find a recipe… I have lots of cookbooks- baking  books to be exact. This would not only give me the list of ingredients needed, but also a picture of what I was about to make – talk about blind baking.  I went through volumes of books, but nothing. So I did the only things I knew to do next, I “Googled It”. . and there is was – Galette des Rois.  Photos of beautiful golden puff pastry rounds- with pretty scored designs and pastry accents. Hurray!

Now the recipe: I was surprised by how may similarly different ways to make this treat. As in recipes, the ingredients may be same but the approach will vary. The most common ingredient was puff pasty and while most recommended store bought I decided to make my own. I took a croissnat class from King Arthur Flour a couple of years ago so I knew about Puff Pastry. Also, on Craftsy, I watched and made the puff pastry and rough puff taugh by Gesine-Bullok Prada. She is a good teacher. Anyway, I rewatched Gesine reteach me how to make rough puff and that is the way I decided to go. Next to find a frangipane receipe… was easy to find- and was easy to make.  The recipe called for using a food processor and it turned out great!

Putting it all together: The size of a Galette des Rois seems to be more of a matter of personal preference. I am sure there is a standard size but one recipe said to cut 2 – pie plate size circles and while another said to cut “2 plate size shapes” – plate size- what size plate?  Anyway, I decided to cut 2 circles the size of my dinner plates.  They came out to be about 12 1/2 inches each, which turned out to be a nice size.  After filling the bottom layer with frangipane, I brushed some of the egg wash in a 1 inch border around the edge. I then brushed the top  with egg wash and scored it with a sharp paring knife. I also made some small slits all the way through the pastry to create steam vents. After placing the scored top layer over the filling, I pressed the edges together. (The egg wash on the edges acts like glue). To add an accent, I used a crown shaped cutter to make a crown for the top.

I baked the Galette des Rois at 475 degrees for 10 minutes then reduced the heat to 375 for 15 minutes. I removed the Galette from the oven, sprinkled the top with confectionery sugar and returned it to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. The confectionary sugar gave a little sweetness to the pastry but I don’t think I will use it for the next Galette.

Rough Puff or Quick Puff Pastry

Galette des Rois

The tasting- it was delicious!

The Rise and Fall of Cupcakes

Today at work, a coworker of mine said she had a question she needed to ask me – something that had been on her mind for some time. Her question was a common one- What’s the trick to baking cupcakes- why did her’s sometimes rise but mostly fall. 

Here’s what I said I told her and I hope it helps you as well…

  • Use only fresh ingredients and the best quality possible.
  • Check expiration dates on baking powder, etc. If expired don’t use it!
  • Before mixing your batter, have all the ingredients at room temperature. The cake will have better volume if the eggs are at room temperature. Eggs can stand at room temperature up to 30 minutes before using -though Ina Garten leaves eggs out of the refrigerator overnight. Butter at room temperature is easier to mix with other ingredients and disperses evenly through the batter.
  • Don’t over beat the batter. Mix until all of the ingredients are blended together.
  • Fill baking cups 2/3 full of batter. I use a trigger handle scoop- don’t overfill!
  •  If you have just one cupcake pan, cover and refrigerate remaining batter while baking the first batch of cupcakes. Room temperature batter can cause falling cupcakes.
  • Preheat oven and set timer. Opening the oven door to check on the progress can cause a draft and falling cupcakes.
  • If you have just one cupcake pan, cool pan before baking the rest of the cupcakes. Putting batter in a hot pan can cause falling cupcakes.

 

 

These cupcakes were made using the instructions above. I finished them off  with some tri-color butter cream frosting.

For the Love of Baking ~ Terri~

Happy Baking in the New Year!

 

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Before we know it, it will be 2017- where did 2016 go? The older I get the faster time goes by. In 2016 there were cupcake bouquets, fruit pizza, birthday cakes, lots of chocolate dipped treats, even more caramel apples and bundt cakes and pies. Having said this, I intend to make 2017 a baking year to remember! I am making new year’s challenges and not resolutions.

My 2017 New Year’s Challenges:

  1. Everyday – thank the Lord for everything.
  2. Everyday – tell someone that I love them.
  3. Everyday – tell someone I appreciate them.
  4. Everyday – bake someone happy.
  5. Bake bigger and better.

Happy Baking!

For the Love of Baking

Hello! I am Terri and I just love baking…

As a young girl, I was fascinated by the beautiful towering cakes made by my Great-aunt. It was like watching a magician as she pulled pans filled with dark delicious cake from the oven. She then would crack eggs and pour sugar and whip up the most beautiful white frosting that would be thinly spread upon perfectly divided chocolate layers of deliciousness. I was in Love! I spent hours going through my mother’s Southern Living Magazines only stopping to closely examine any articles about baking. I tore off every cover that had a showstopper creation gracing the cover.

Today, I watch the Great American Baking Show and the Great British Baking Show with great admiration for those who make the cut and for Mary Berry and “no soggy bottoms”. I now have my own subscription to Southern Living.

With this blog nearly set up- I will start on my baking challenges. There will be pictures!