Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tiramisu (TiramiSISTER)

I made this tiramisu, with the help of my sister, twice in one week. It was absolutely splendid, even for me, and I am a strict no-coffee person. It started out with a jelly roll, which was a sponge cake baked in a 10x15 pan. We let it cool and cut it into three strips, then brushed it with plain ol' coffee. We made the filling, but unfortunately had only bought one cup of cream at the store, half of what the recipe called for. To maximize the amount of filling we could make, we whipped the cream and folded it into two tubs of creamed marscapone cheese and sugar, instead of just pouring the cream in. We layered the filling with the cake and sprinkled cocoa over the top with a sifter, and TA-DA! A cake worthy of a bakery. Recipe from (seriously, do I have to say it?) King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.

It's great to bake with other people. Usually I end up turning baking into a very solitary activity, and I forget how nice it is to chat and divide up the jobs with somebody I love. I have trouble relinquishing total power in the kitchen, because I'm somewhat of a control freak- but I mean well, I really do. It's a nice reminder that I'm not the only person allowed to bake in the world; perhaps other people don't share my desire to bake constantly, but that doesn't mean that they can't make some cookies sometimes.

Today's good thing of the day is the Mumford & Sons album Sigh No More. I had the album from my father for a while, but only really started listening when a friend suggested it to me. I've rediscovered it with the help of that same friend, and I can't get enough. It's full of great lyrics and beautiful music and memories, and I know it'll join my list of favorite collections of music (along with my Big Chill soundtrack, which has been a perennial favorite since elementary school). Listening to M&S this summer has helped me realize how to genuinely approach music. I'm finally realizing that I don't need to worry about finding music nobody else has heard of. I don't need to be picky, and I don't need to prove myself by what songs I like to listen to, as I worried about this past half a year. I DO like cheesy country songs, folk music, oldies, pop, Indian tunes, Celtic music, and classical. I like songs that make me feel good and mean something to me. Maybe people will continue to scoff, and I guess that's okay- I'm not a music junkie, and I'm certainly not an expert. I deserve it if I pretend to know more than I do know, but it's all right for me to continue listening to the songs that I love.

Monday, August 8, 2011


This was by far the best loaf of bread I've made to date. I know I can expect something to go wrong every time I bake, but as I get more experienced the obligatory mistake generally gets less dramatic. The exception here is with bread. I mixed potato starch flour up with potato flour. I put it in a gigantic baking pan. I burned the bottom, I undercooked the inside. I couldn't get it to rise, I poured boiling water into the yeast. I failed to knead it enough (I almost always have too-sticky bread dough, but I'm scared to add too much flour). I forgot to cover it when it was rising. The list goes on and on.

Interestingly enough, this phenomenon also applies to travels to our local grocery store. Every time you go there, you will see somebody you know. Sometimes it's nice and even enjoyable, but generally if you are not necessarily looking your best, the more likely it is you'll see somebody you either want to impress or don't want to see.

Back to baking. Usually all the bread turns out to be delicious despite slight setbacks, but this challah was challah. It was fantastic. It had the perfectly sweet, billowy/chewy inside (that texture is difficult to describe). The dough wasn't sticky and it rose up spectacularly and braided like a dream. Plus, since it was a nice "little bubble" bread, I didn't have to do a sponge overnight, which I often never have time to do.

Today's good thing of the day is rainy days. We've had a couple so far this summer, and they are heavenly. I can sit on the screen porch and read and listen to the rain and dream. It's my favorite kind of weather.