Monday, July 27, 2009


My sister is getting married next year...she asked me to make her wedding serve possibly 200+ people...Uhhh...


I said yes of course! She's my sister and I'll also be her Maid of Honor. But what am I getting myself into?! My cake decorating skills are horrible!! And all those people are going to see it!

Hmmm...maybe my sister will change her mind by then [crosses fingers and toes]. But then again it would be really special if I could make her wedding cake. I have no professional baking background or even wedding cake skills, so I need as many tips as I can. AHHHH!!! How am I supposed to even put a wedding cake together? I know I need dowels, but that's about it.

So I've been pretty busy lately helping my sister with wedding planning stuff. It's fun, but boy, it sure is time consuming! Looking at wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, shoes, wedding favors, invitations, ties for the groomsmen, flowers, and a million other things. So does anyone have any tips on making a wedding cake?

I guess I'll be sharing my fruit tarts with all of y'all today. I love fruit tarts. I made these for my graduation party last week. One of my favorite places to go is Porto's Bakery here in SoCal. I was pretty satisfied with my results, since I never made them before, and my sister's fiance said it tasted like a a fruit tart from Porto's. Awesome!

And I've got to hand it to Dorie, she knows what she's doing. I used the sweet tart dough and pastry cream recipe from her book that I got for six dollars! I made a few small ones, that were the same size as those lime tarts, and I made an eleven inch one. To decorate I used: peaches, strawberries, cherries (that I pitted myself using a straw), apricots, and nectarines. To make them shiny I heated up some peach jelly with a little bit of water. Enjoy!

Unglazed and then glazed.

Looks pretty professional to me :)

I've been snacking on these cute little Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes via Smitten Kitchen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lovely Luscious Lime Tart

Who doesn't love a citrus tart? Lemon. Lime. Lemon and Lime. They're all delicious. Sadly, I have to admit that the first lemon tart that I had was earlier this year. I bought it at the Davis Co-Op, which is a pretty interesting place to check out if you're in Davis. The tangy-ness of the tart surprised me at my first bite, but then I just couldn't stop. The curd was creamy, light, lemony, and the crust just complimented the tartness of the curd so well. I then bought a jar of lemon curd weeks after when I was making my lemon macarons. And then when I took my birthday trip to SF, I stopped by Miette's and got a lemon tart. Haha, I couldn't stop!! I even bought another one before I came home down south. So yes, I was hooked!

I started craving a citrus-y tart a while before I finally decided to make my Lime Tarts. But why did I choose lime over lemon (even though I never had a lime one before)? My parents have a lime tree, so I didn't have to go out and buy anything, we have A LOT of limes around the house! I also noticed that limes are definitely easier to squeeze the juice out of than lemons. So I had everything that I needed to make these really yummy yummy tarts! Of course I found about a dozen different recipes for lime curds and pastry doughs. But I settled on the lemon tart recipe by David Lebovitz and sweet tart crust from Smitten Kitchen that she adapted from Dorie Greenspan.

So I started by making the tart crust. The recipe is for a 9 inch tart but I have an11 inch tart pan and a bunch of smaller ones, about 4 inches. So I ended up with 5 small tarts and 3 baby ones, which you can see at the very bottom. I also don't have a large enough food processor to make the dough in, so I used a pastry cutter. And instead of chilling the dough and rolling it out, I pressed it into the tins. The tarts came out beautifully without shrinking! So just make sure your butter is cold and that you freeze the dough in the tin before you bake it. I kind of felt that my crust could have been more crumbly, I might have pushed in the dough too hard or something, but next time, I'm going to try replacing some of the flour with some ground almonds.

I'm not sure if my lime curd was too sour, I guess it depends on personal preferences, but I think it was a little too sour. I probably should have increased the amount of sugar in the recipe since the recipe was for lemons instead of limes. And I guess limes are more sour? Don't get me wrong though, they were still tasty! This was also my first time making a citrus curd, so I was really cautious about doing things right. The recipe is simple enough, my patience was just wearing thin since temperatures around here have been dancing around the 100's. I still can't believe I've been baking these past weeks since it's so hot! Long story short, I raised the heat a little over low, and probably cooked it too fast - so I kind of ended up with pieces of cooked egg. But I just strained them all out anyways, so my experience wasn't too bad...Thankfully :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Gettin' Hot in/over Here!!

Driving from NorCal to SoCal. Pictures in this post were taken by my dad and some by me with his waaaaaay better camera than mine.

#1 reason not to move to SoCal: The wildfires because it's too darn hot, dry, and windy here during the summers. Since I've been here I think I've seen about 3 fires on the news so far...And I've only been here a little over a week!

Anyways, during the school year I never have time to read for fun. I'm almost done reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, it's a very entertaining read! It really is fun to see someone take on a challenge that big without going nuts. I don't how I'd ever be able to do that...especially when Julie came across the chapter of making gelatine...eeeks! I can't wait for the movie to come out. I love Amy Adams. And Meryl Streep is always amazing. Mmm...the foodie movie of the year!! It might actually want to make me try cooking French food. If only it were as simple as the foods I learned about in my French classes.

Yesterday, I also bought Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours, for $6!! I love finding bargains :) This will sound surprising, but, well, I never heard of her until I plunged into the world of food blogs. I can't decide which recipe to try first, there are SOOO many!! Have you seen how thick that book is? And I need to find people to eat what I make too!! My boyfriend isn't around to polish off the sweets and I need to lose some weight from my baking binge that happened at the end of the school year.

And to go completely off topic, I just wanted to share some pictures from my trip to Santa Cruz and a Farmers Market we came across.

Me and my dad had some delicious baked goods at this stand, too bad we didn't try buying some of that mighty tasty looking bread.

My dad's choice.

And mine...



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Home Smells Like Cinnamon Rolls

Yeah, that's right, you know you want some ;)

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July, I'm a few days late, but I've been pretty busy since my last post. On the 4th I moved all my stuff from NorCal to SoCal, it was my first time driving down California - I had my dad by my side - and it all went smoothly. So you're probably thinking it's not big of a deal right? Haha, oh boy, it was for me though! I tend to tense up when I'm driving somewhere new, so indeed, I was tense from about 9am that day til 6pm. My arms and eyes were so SORE!! Whatever though, I made it out alive with no scratches on my car. We made a stop in Santa Cruz (because I've never been) to check out the boardwalk, farmers market, lighthouse, and the beach of course. Got some beautifully fragrant and sweet organic strawberries from the market along with a lemon tart. Yum yum yum. I was also bringing down some Miette (in San Francisco) macarons, fleur de sel caramels, and a lemon tart for my sister. (Obsession with lemon tarts will be addressed in another post :] ).

I've also been looking for some kind of art/museum related job/internship and housing for grad school...yikes!! First day is August 31st, it's comin' up soon!

Okay, so when I got home to SoCal, it didn't actually smell like cinnamon rolls. But when I got the carpet cleaned for the house I was moving out of in NorCal, it smelled!! I mean it smelled clean, don't get me wrong. But it was just so overpowering once I stepped into the house. Ugh! I started sneezing uncontrollably while opening the screen doors and the windows while trying to figure out what to do about the smell. I had a fantastic idea. Cinnamon Rolls.

Make sure the dough rises! Don't be impatient...or if it the house isn't warm enough, just stick the covered bowl in front of a toaster oven on "bake" to the lowest setting :)

Since the kitchen was attached to the living room (which smelled the strongest) I knew this was going to work out perfectly. I also had a bunch of flour, brown sugar, and butter I wanted to use up because I knew they weren't going to be in the car ride with me. So I went to the Cinnamon Roll recipe I tried over and over again...yes, I mentioned it a while ago...Molly Wizenberg's Cinnamon Rolls. I came across these on Smitten Kitchen . And she got it from the Bon Appetit March 2008 recipe that you can see here. Trust me, they are amazing!!!

** The only change to the recipe that I made was substituting soy milk for whole milk since I usually have that on hand. And as I said before, I think my rolls came out fluffier when I used soy milk. Just to make sure this substitution wouldn't be too drastic, I did a little research on vegan cinnamon rolls - and indeed they use soy milk. Check out VeganYumYum's version. I also didn't have a rolling pin, so I didn't really get to roll out the dough, I just shaped it with my hands - I really don't think it matters much though.**

Filled, sliced with floss, and ready for the second rise.

And I think I can say that these rolls have taken out my fear of making bread. You see, the first time I made bread before my discovery of food blogging was probably more than four years ago. The first time I made bread, they came out beautifully!! They looked like rustic rounds, they had a wonderful texture. But when it came down to tasting it, OH MY FREAKING GOD!!! It was so SALTY!! I have no idea how I must have messed up the recipe, probably replacing the salt for the sugar. Anyways, we ended up throwing the bread away. It was inedible :(

Ready to bake after the second rise!

So the second time I made bread, I told myself I was going to do it right! I tried out Molly's recipe. Everything was going fine until I finished kneading the dough. I remembered I forgot something. I was so angry with myself. I was asking myself how I could forget to put the egg in the dough. Then I was thinking that maybe I could try to knead it into the dough. Hah! Yea right!! I stared at my dough for a while, crossed my arms as if I would magically remember that I DID put the egg in there, but I DID FORGET the egg, so I let it rise. While it was rising I just thought to mself, what's the worse that could happen?

Baked and ready for some luscious creamy glaze.

So my second attempt at bread didn't come out as perfect as I wanted. I only know this from doing this recipe multiple times. In comparison to my third batch, in which I remembered to incorporate all the ingredients, the egg really does matter...along with the dough rising in a warm spot. My second attempt rolls weren't really big and fluffy, they still tasted good nonetheless. But the third time I made these, they were AMAZING!! Soft, big, fluffy, sweet, cinnamony, gorgeous rolls. I was completely satisfied, despite the fact that I had no cream cheese to make the frosting. While I ate my rolls naked my boyfriend opted for some one month past expiration Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting. And boy did he seem to enjoy them! And yes, he didn't end up sick or anything, so it was all good :)

Yep, you know you want to go make these right now!!

So on the fateful day of the carpet cleaner, these cinnamon rolls saved my nose from the "too clean chemical/sterile" smell. And I'm proud to say that ever since I made cinnamon rolls, I've also tried my hand at pizza, focaccia, and soft pretzels...awesome. I think I've finally been redeemed of my "salty bread."

P.S. Have you guys ever heard of Macarons de Nancy/Nancy Macarons/Nancy Macaroons?