Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Perfect Summer Treat

The smell of lemon zest is incomparable to any other smell on this planet. On a sunny weekend this August, the light and tangy scent was captured in a tiny lemon bar. My sister served this crumbly and airy treat with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a small cup of mint tea. good.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Comfort Food

Nothing is as comforting as a grilled cheese sandwich-the melted cheese, the buttery goodness, and the satisfying crunch create the perfect lunch for a windy day. What makes this sandwich even more amazing? My sister's homemade Italian bread from the bible of all bread-making books: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. This bread is perfectly fluffy and has a gorgeous golden crust. Making the bread is a pretty intense process. I steer clear of the kitchen while my sister hovers over the oven with a harried look on her face. But in the end it’s all worth it when the perfect loaves come out of the oven looking warm and inviting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Beginning

Today marks the first day of our new cooking and baking blog. We are two sisters from Southern California. One is totally inept at baking and cooking, but loves to write. While the other is utterly passionate about baking and cooking, but has really horrible grammar. So, we decided to work together to create a blog with the best of both worlds. This afternoon we made Strawberry Shortcakes. After slobbering over a recipe found in Williams Sonoma's The Essentials of Baking, we decided to give it a try. They turned out really cute and delicious. The cakes were flaky and buttery, while the inside was divine, gushy, strawberry goodness. The key to this recipe is making your own whipped cream because the canned stuff just doesn't cut it.

Strawberry Shortcakes (from Williams Sonoma's The Essentials of Baking):

For the dough:
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
For the filling:
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Whipped Cream

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

Whip out a bowl and stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture makes large crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and the 1/3 cup cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface with flour on in t and knead gently a few times. Roll or pat out in to a round 3/4 inch thick. Take a cup with a rim of about 7.5-cm and press straight and lift straight. Place the shortcakes on the prepared pan, spacing the 1 in apart. Bather up the scraps, roll or pat out again, and cut out more shortcakes.

Brush the tops of the shortcakes with 1-2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with sugar, bake until lightly browned. While the shortcakes are baking away. start the berry filling. In a bowl, using a fork, crush 1 cup of the berries. Add the remaining berries and the granulates sugar, mix well and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes to macerate (or stew in its own juices).

Take out the shortcakes and let them cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream (here comes the tricky part).

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Medium peaks means that they look kind of like wispy Santa Claus hats. Don't take your eyes of the mixture (like the bakingly-challenged sister did) because the cream can end up looking like cottage cheese rather than wispy Santa Claus hats. But don't worry if you create a cottage cheese looking mixture because it still tastes like light and sweet.

To serve, split the warm shortcakes and place the bottom half of each on a plat. Spoon the berries on top. Top with the whipped. Cover the shortcake tops and your ready to go.