Saturday, November 19, 2005

Gobbling Cupcakes!

I won the dessert competition at work with these! Pumpkin Cupcakes with Ginger Cream filling and Chocolate frosting...The recipe is from Martha Stewart and the decorations are from the Cupcake Calendar 2005. I stressed out way too much for this competition, messed up the frosting twice and threw away 2 bags of chocolate...sad:((( The hardest part was to find the right sized candy corns, next year, I will be stocking them at Halloween:)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Ginger Cream and Chocolate Frosting

30 regular cupcakes or 12 regular and 24 mini cupcakes/ 350 degree oven

2 cups flour, all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
15 ounces pumpkin puree, I used canned

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin purée.
4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. I find piping the batter easiest way to do this part.
5. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotate pans once in 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.

Ginger Whipped Cream

2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flavored simple syrup

1. First make the simple syrup. Heat 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and a 2" chunk of ginger that has been peeled and julienned until boiling and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool and strain before using.
2. In a small metal bowl, soak plain gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes.
3. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream until soft.
5. Slowly drizzle in the simple syrup and vanilla, continuing to whip as you do.
6. Add the gelatin all at once and continue whipping until soft peaks form.
7. Finish beating with whisk to adjust consistency.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, I used Ghiradelli 60% semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Put chocolates into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add butter to the chocolate (make sure its soft and at room temp) and stir until combined.
5. Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined.
6. Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture, then stir until combined and smooth.
7. Let sit at room temperature until thickened.
8. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Assemble, follow the below instructions for both the mini and regular size cupcakes.

1. Using the back of a pastry tip, scoop out the middle part of the cupcakes and set aside.
2. Pipe ginger cream into the cavity.
3. Frost the cupcakes with chocolate frosting.
4. Pour chocolate sprinkles on a large plate and roll the large cupcakes twice on the sides to get the feathers. Roll the mini cupcakes only on one size to make hair.
5. Pipe white frosting for eyes and tap with black food coloring for the pupils. You can also use mini M&Ms.
6. Use candy corn for the beaks
7. Place the mini cupcakes on top of the regular sized ones
8. To make the feathers, attach candy corn to cookies using royal icing. I used the ultra thin swedish cookies shaped as a flower.
9. Secure the feathers to the cupcakes with a marshmallow.

That's all! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My New Banner!

It is time to reveal the secret talent behind the new Baking Fairy banner! Belmin did this super cute character for me last week. I am simply speechless.

I was nagging Cenk for help, he works for his own ad agency, however he was putting me off saying they were way too busy. Desperately thinking about backup plans and trying to identify professional illustrators, he called me to say he found someone!

Apparently, Belmin has been working on fairies for a while and she agreed to do something for the Baking Fairy! All it took was a few words to describe what I want, no creative memos or endless conversations on Pantone numbers:) I guess this is what they call creativity and she is so talented!

She doesn't have a website yet, but it won't be long. Don't you think?

Thank you again Belmin'cim! You are the best!

Persimmon Date Coffee Cake

I posted in Turkish earlier today for the 4th Food Blogging event organized by Melda. The theme of the month was "dates" and I was determined to bake something, despite a choppy start:)

First, I bought persimmons! Don't laugh. Those of you who are not fluent in Turkish yet (!), persimmons and dates are called the same thing in Turkish; luckily I found this recipe that has both dates and persimmons so problem solved!

Second, my plan was to bake on Sunday and take photos during daylight. However, chit chatting with Ozlem was fun and we stayed up pretty late. I had to squeeze baking to Monday night and obviously I missed the daylight. Call me a food photo snob, but, I hate taking food pictures at night. They just don't look nice. So, I had to take pictures right after the bootcamp this morning, upload them on Flickr and barely made the deadline, but I had to skip my coffee stop-ughghghhgh!

I brought some of it to work and my former Atkin's friendly team liked them a lot! Here is the recipe, I got it from David Lebovitz.


P.S. Having a deadline totally makes things more exciting and there is a dessert contest at work this Friday! Wish me luck:)

Cift Hurmali Kek

Bizim evde taze hurmayi babam cok sever, sonbahar aylarinda mutlaka mutfakta pembe tabak icinde uc bes tane turuncu hurma buludururdu. Arada sirada da anneannem ve ben ona yardim ederdik, yoksa hurmalar annemin gazabina ugrar ve copu boylardi:) Annemin hurmayla arasi yoktur, genelde daha egzotik meyvalar sever, hindistancevizi haric.
Bloglar Arasi Yemek'te bu ayin konusu hurma olunca, ben de burda eve hurma aldim. Kaliforniya'da taze hurma bulmak hic zor degil, ama en iyi hurmalar Japon marketlerinde; hem ucuz hem de daha taze oluyor... Bu arada ufak bir detayi atlamisim, megersem bu ayin konusu ramazanda yenen kuru hurmaymis, taze hurmalar da cope gitmesin diye cift hurmali bir kek tarifi denemeye karar verdim:) Degisik bir cay keki oldu. Tavsiye ederim, deneyiniz.
Bu arada merak ediyorum, bizim sirkette bu cuma bir yemek yarismasi var ve burda arkadaslarimla konusuyorduk, acaba Turkiye'de yemek yarismalari oluyor mu diye, bilgisi olan varsa lutfen yazsin. Illaki Mutfak dergisinde calismak gerekmiyor ki, yemek yarismasi duzenlemek icin...Neyse, cifte hurmali kekin tarifi asagida...

Cift Hurmali Kek

Eger benim gibi calisiyorsaniz, malzemelerinizi bir gun onceden hazirlarsaniz isiniz bayagi kolaylasir. Tabii ki sadece kuru malzemeleri (un, seker, tuz, gibi). Ben genelde kaselere ya da buz dolabi posetlerine koyuyorum. Keki yapacagim gun de televizyon programlarindaki gibi hersey hazir olmus oluyor! Yani usenmeyiniz sevgili arkadaslarim, onluklerinizin tozunu aliniz:) Haydi mutfaga!
3½ bardak elenmis un (790 gr)
1½ cay kasigi tuz (7.5ml)
2 cay kasigi kabartma tozu (baking powder) (10ml)
1 cay kasigi nutmeg (5ml)
2 bardak esmer seker (452 gr)
1 bardak eritilmis yag, oda sicakliginda (226gr)
4 yumurta, oda sicakliginda, hafifce cirpilmis
1/3 bardak rum (80 ml)
4 taze hurmanin puresi, yaklasik 2 bardak
2 bardak kavrulmus ceviz, iri parcalara kesilmis
2 bardak kuru hurma , 4'e bolunmus

Ocagi 350F'da (175C) isitin. Ben genelde eve gelir gelmez firini aciyorum, malzemeleri karistirken firin isiniyor ve en fazla yarim saatte kekler firina girmis oluyor.
Kek kalibini iyice yaglayip, un ile kaplayin, bunu da bir gun onceden yapabilirsiniz.
Un, tuz, kabartma tozu, nutmeg ve sekeri elekten gecirerek karistirin ve ortasinda bir kuyu acin.
Erimis tereyagi, yumurta, likor ve taze hurma puresini sira ile karistirin, cevizleri ve kuru hurmalari ilave edin. Spatula ile un gorunmeyinceye kadar karistirin.
Yaklasik bir saat pisirin. Kekin oldugunu anlamak icin ortasina bir kurdan batirin, kurdan eger temiz cikiyorsa olmus demektir. Kek soguduktan sonra uzerine pudra sekeri serpin, ben bir de sekerden yaptigim yapraklari koydum, ama vaktiniz yoksa bir iki tarcin cubugu da cok yakisir.

Orjinal tarif David LeBovitz'den....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Baking Fairy Cupcakes for Sale!

I had the best time ever this Saturday at the Dance in the Sprit. My good friends Marc and Christine were working on this project for months and it was a huge success with amazing DJs and Christian music that I haven't really listened to much before.

I just made plans to check out the music and the venue (it was this movie set in Building 3 at Treasure Island)but a miracle happened -no worries, I am not converting to any other religion again:) Christine told me that I could sell stuff as a vendor! It was huge! My first ever bake sale!

I could not me more unprepared though! I am so upset with myself, you don't need an MBA to figure out the basics; like change, those dollar bills are sooo valuable (!), table cloth, lights, BUSINESS CARDS!!!...and I do have an MBA, sorry Dad!

Luckily, I have friends who live on the island and got a table and a table cloth from Ozlem and Ahmet, thanks guys! I had to write my contact information on napkins....Oh well, I so will laugh at this post, in a couple years when my business picks up...:)

I made these chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. Check out the pictures on Flickr, I love the one with Matthew digging right on to the frosting...Whew, the ultimate taste test! He liked it and even got a second one!

I know you are curious, I did make money! I could have made more if listened to Eric and Natalie:) Leftovers went to church, for good karma:)

Now, I have some cash to spend on my business cards! I'm loving this!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Holiday Cookie Baking is ON!

I've officially started my holiday cookie baking. Yay! That part is easy, the hard part is to decide which of the 150 cookies in the latest Martha Stewart Cookie Magazine is going to make it into the cookie boxes. And before I could even try any of the recipes from Martha, I had to do these biscotti's that I saw on Heidi's site, slightly revised.

Why biscotti? My mom is a big fan of biscottis and she is very particular about them" too soft, too almondy, too crunchy, too thin, too thick..." But, no complains, I like playing around with the recipes, trying to perfect them. So, here is the first batch hot of the oven!

Super Healthy Pistachio-Chocolate Biscottis

Biscottis are baked twice with a considerable amount of prep work. A rainy day or a fresh cup of cofeee in the afternoon are great reasons to spend time in the kitchen!

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temparature
zest of one orange
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup shelled pistachios
3/4 good quality semisweet chocolate chips chopped fine

Preheat your oven to 325 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Sift the whole wheat pastry flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy for two minutes (Kitchen Aid @ 6).

Add the eggs, zest, and almond extract. Mix until well combined, scaping down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get a good mix.

Add the dry ingredients to mixer and continue mixing with slow speed (Kitchen Aid @ 3) until the dough comes together. Stir in the shelled and roughly cut pistachios and chocolate chips.
Shaping the biscotti:

Wax paper comes handy for this task as the dough is pretty stiff and sticky. Get the dough on the wax paper and using a ruler as a guide, don't laugh, I like to be precise as much as I can, flatten the dough into a log shape about 4-inches wide by 12-inches long.

First Baking:

Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment and into the oven for 30-35 minutes. It will get its shape in this round and and brown a little. Take the log out from the oven on a cooling rack and reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

Let the biscotti log cool for about 10 to 15 mins so you will be able to slice it with little damage.

Use a serated knife to cut the log into 3/4-inch biscottis. I think mom likes them diagonal, so I always cut them this way but you can also do smaller straight cuts.

Second Baking:

Arrange the slices cut side up on the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. They might be slightly soft coming out of the oven, but will firm right up as they cool off on the counter.

For step by step instructions, check out the pictures on Flickr.

Ok, now back to cupcakes:)

Afiyet Olsun!
*Turkish for Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Matcha Buttercream

I am addicted to green tea in my sweets, ice cream to soft caramel candies. It goes back to 1997, Japan where I had at least one package of these green tea candies daily, thanks to a young monk who was a regular at the temple I was staying. My Japanese wasn't good enough to say anything close to "Please don't spoil me this much, we don't have these back home!", instead I kept saying "Arigato gozaitmasu (thank you very much)". As expected, years gone by without them. After coming to San Francisco, I re-discovered the same flavor with the green tea mochi ice creams from Trader's Joes. I even found the candies on Clement Street, at that amazing Crepe place across the street from the infamous Burma Super Star.

Note to self and the v-ball crew: We should eat there pretty soon and I need to get some more of those candies and post pictures:)

So, all this green tea background was actually the warm-up for the real deal among the pastry world: Matcha. It is the green tea leaves in powder form. A couple weeks ago, Cenk, my ex-roommame* who is back in Istanbul now, saw this amazing cake from Keiko and asked me to send some matcha for him. Of course I had to buy one for myself, too!

I started playing with it this weekend and came up with something simple but very tasty. Matcha Buttercream … Just mix a teaspoon of matcha with a cup of vanilla buttercream and there you have it….It blends wonderful with dark chocolate and luckily, I had some leftover chocolate cupcakes from the Plaid Party!

A quick tip: Do not try piping with ziploc or this happens and you will have to start over again...these metal tips work best with a pastry bag!

So, try it…I know green tea is not everyone's favorite and that's ok but seriously, it really looks very pretty and it tastes so good, you might even like the flavor!

Oh, before I forget, here is an extra tip: You can also use matcha powder in place of green food coloring and also dust sugar decorations; think leaves, trees or grapes....

Next up are Matcha Chocolate Pudding from 101 Cookbooks and the famous Green Tea Opera Cake from Keiko.

*Update: not only my ex-roommate but he is also my best friend in the whole world even though he left me all alone here and has no plans coming back any time soon:( Better?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Plaid Party and Plaid Cupcakes

Mac and Melissa had their 7th, (Mac's 2nd), annual Plaid Party this weekend. Plaid is "ekose", my Turkish friends, don't go crazy trying to figure out what the hell plaid is...
Over the last couple of weeks, maybe months, there must have been some serious plaid shopping going around the stores on Haight and the Mission. People were serious about this party, there were even out-of-towners:)

Napoleon Dynaplaid and Deb were my favorites, though Mac won the "Plaidest of all" medallion, his wife was the judge, hello!!! My outfit was rather plain, a headband and a wrap plaid skirt...Oh well, I already started thinking about next year:) Check out the plaid craze yourself! Pictures!

The Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes:

Decorating the cupcakes for the party was as hard as finding stuff to wear...I had to do some serious pattern search to understand what exactly counts as plaid.

I knew checkers wouldn't qualify, but had no idea there was also argyle?!! A seriously dressed up couple actually disqualified from the contest because of that, so heart breaking:(( Anyways, here is what I did for dessert; Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream from Collette's book.

This was by far the easiest cake I have ever done. Even if you don't like coconut, try this moist cake, you can simply omit the coconuts. It is also a no-mess recipe, all you need are two bowls and some basic pantry items. All mixing is done by hand, so you can give your Kitchen-Aid a break. If omitting coconut, try adding orange zest for a citrusy twist or ground coffee for a mochalicious treat!

* Makes 24 cupcakes or 2-8 inch round cakes

I suggest measuring the dry ingredients a day in advance. It makes the whole process much more simple and relaxing.

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups of sugar

1 3/4 cups strong coffee (hot)
1/4 cup Kahula (original recipe called for Bourbon, but I had none)
5 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small bites for even melting
2 sticks of butter (113*2, 226 gr)

2 eggs at room temperature (very important)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

On the day you plan to bake the cake or the cupcakes, heat the oven to 275F. Note the low temperature.

1) Make the hot coffee, I just boiled water used instant coffee, you can use drip coffee as well. Add butter cubes, chopped chocolate and coffee liquor (or bourbon) and let it melt in 15-20 minutes. Cover the bowl with a plate upside down. Add the sugar, whisk well (10 strokes) and let it cool for another 10-15 minutes.

2) Add the flour mixture in two batches and add eggs and vanilla and then the coconut. That's all.

3) Fill the muffin pans lined with cupcake liners, or the 8 inch cake pans lined with parchment paper. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, (45 minutes for the larger cakes) and let them cool in the pan. Once cooled you can start decorating as you wish...

No more plaid for me for a while...Enjoy!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Breakfast from Sicily

Originally uploaded by ozdema2.
This morning, I had a cannolo for breakfast from Pasticceria Minotauro-hand delivered!

Eric just got back from Sicily yesterday and he was able to sneak in one of these, (was really surprised and literally jumped of bed). Of course, I tasted it immediately and left some for breakfast. It was great after this morning's bootcamp. Oh, yes, I am doing this crazy bootcamp every morning.

Oh, now the bets
are on for the best cannoli in town:) I already have the metal tubes to make the shells, all I need is good ricotta cheese, maybe this recipe from Heidi would do...

Cannoli adventures are coming up soon, but I still suggest we all go and eat the original where it all started! I am sure Eric will post pictures from his trip soon, so come back for more, I will update the post then!

P.S. Jack, you need to plan a visit for tasting:)