Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Sleazy Bake shop, so awesome it got it's own blog

So, you all seemed to love it so much that I have given it. It's own blog.  Separation of Church and State don't you know.  Anyway, either click on the link provided or the nifty little link to the right of your screen. The one that has the cupcake.  Just to be totally clear.

Thanks and see you over there.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Tarte Bourdaloue aka "The slutty exchange student meets Bruce Lee"

To be fair, I was not super excited about this next cupcake.  There didn't seem to be so much special going on.  Li was pumped about finally being able to use the "Rapey Oil", and poaching pears in wine (to be fair, she gets excited about anything to do with wine), but I want my cupcake to ooze sex appeal.  It just didn't look sexy enough for me.  Oh how wrong I was. (Shocker!)

This is apparently what a Tarte Bourdaloue looks like.  Li: "That shit is delicious."
Like a good mix tape, the Robicelli's started off with a corker with the Dom Deluise.  Tarte Bourdaloue seemed to take it down a notch.  Subtlety is not my strong suit, (or in fact any part of my character. Similies such as" brick through a window" are often bandied around when used to describe me) and this cupcake seemed just that.  Subtle. Not that this is a bad thing but......You get my drift. I shall now take my wrong self outside with my wrongness and be so very very wrong.

Li: "When I lived in Chicago I was referred to as "the tornado."  This seems an understatement to me

Moving on.  I was up at the crack of a sparrow's fart to go to the market.  Not a place I love, but I am cheap and shit is cheap there.  And fresh.  And cheap.  Did I mention cheap?  I spent an hour warring with myself at 8.30 am over the shitty weather/nice and warm in side vs cheap fresh groceries.  Cheap won. Granny trolley in hand I set off in the gale force winds.  On the plus side I took the car and not my bike as I am a lazy bitch.  Sorry Friedel.  Two types of fresh pears were purchased.  I have no clue what Anjou or Bosch pears are and frankly trying to describe them to any market trader in my crappy Dutch would be worse than a root canal with out anaesthetic.  (Boom another similie).  So I bought Conference and ("the fat ones") Doyenné du Comice They are French and hard.

After a bit of experimentation we went with the Conference.  (Take that Frenchy)  They were just under ripe and not too juicy.  We then trucked on with our mise-en-place.  Serious stuff this.

As you can see.  Serious face.
The great measurement debate then started as to who had the better cups.  As you can see, Li, beats me in the "other" cup way.

I am a convert to the whole "cup" system.  I am European and I love Metric.  When baking though, bloody hell its a damn sight easier to use cups.  (Note to you other European ignoramuses, this is not a "mug" or a dainty little china cup with saucer, this is an actual unit of measurement. Who thought it up?  Buggered if I know. "'Muhrica!" Thank you Li.  Anyway, it galls me to say it, but it really is easier.)
Li, sporting her silth like black, low and wide. (I could insert many puns, but she scares me)

Me with my, so pretty melamine from the local super market.
Can we also take a moment to notice that Li put on make-up.  I, on the other hand, have not even had a shower.  Keeping it real folks.

Li wanted to think of hers as the Bruce Lee of cups.  I was comfortable with my "Chuck Norris."

Li: "Why are there no jokes about Bruce Lee? Because Bruce Lee is no fucking joke."

It was at this point, (mid mise-en-place) that I needed to parent.

Tired?  Not at all.  This is Bluey.  It is the corner stone of her existence, and clearly the love needed to be spread.

What is the whole point of mise-en-place?  Well, it is to avoid incidents like finding out you have no frosting materials, doing and emergency run to the grocery store in gale force winds, returning and then finding out you don't have enough eggs.  This clearly happens to other people and not a part of this narrative in any way.

Our place is now mise'd so lets get this shit rolling.  Injuries were sustained (it would appear that New York cupcakes are as hostile as New Yorkers.  See what I endure for you people?)  I was stabbed in a random pear incident.  It was traumatic.

Li:  "These cupcakes should come with a safe word. I chose potato."

Li is obsessed with this mini grater.  It is super cute.

Li is so very proud of her salt.  I have no idea why, but I will give it to her.

Li: "I can't be the only one who goes on vacation and brings back salt."  Yes, yes you can.

Pears grated, strained, pressed (sort of) and toweled (with a surprising amount of delicious juice), we added the sugar and mixed that shit.

Surprisingly, it wasn't as juicy as we thought it would be. Next up, we added the "rapey" (giggidy) oil, then mixed in the twice-sieved (yeah, that's how we roll) flour and other gubbings. And finally, the wonderfully yellow-jumpsuited (with black stripes and no cameltoe) egg. We beat those like Bruce Lee beat Chuck Norris in "Way of the Dragon" and then added them to the batter.

Li: "See? No joke!"

We expected this to be sloppy, but no! It was perfection. Into the oven. We are quietly confident.

Half-baked. Like our preparation. But looking amazeballs.
A brief pause, to write this hear blog post to this point and to let the dairy goodness come to a more civilised temperature. (Li, please note the correct use of the "s" in civilised, and not your colonial z, leave the English language alone)

Li:  "Y'all are still pissed we won the Revolution."  Nope, not so much.

Anxiety levels cranked up with the pressure of the frosting.  The cupcakes came out of the oven in all their fruity glory.  We needed to do them justice.  Last week's debacle is still fresh in our minds, and our confidence slightly shaken, we soldiered on with trepidation.

Are you excited?

Butter, marscapone, and cream all added to the bowl, and we beat the living shit out of it.  We beat it like the Americans just beat the Russians at Olympic hockey.  (Li's husband Rene: "Muhrica, pew pew pew" - he is not even American, it's adorable.) It was promising.

It was actually looking how it was supposed to.  1 cup of powdered sugar later..... (Yes we only did a half batch, the cowards that we are.)

"LET THERE BE FROSTING" *insert Händel Hallelujah from the Messiah here*

All hail the frosting bitches!

Creamy, fluffy, buttery goodness.
In the words of Dora the Explorer "We did it"  There was piping, there were roasted, salted, buttery, chopped almonds. There was sliced boozy pears.  It all came together like a dream.  A calorie laden,  love handle making, heart attack inducing, cholesterol bomb of sex.  Make no mistake, this is one slutty cupcake.  It looks like the innocent exchange student who enters your home, all full of promise and innocence.  It turns out to be a nymphomanical party animal and packs a bang like a screen door in a hurricane. This cupcake puts out like a sorority girl at a kegger!  It is a sure thing!  Delivers and then some.

Ours!  Mon dieu!  Ooh lala.  (Li was super surprised that the French actually say this)

The Robicelli's.  

Slightly different presentation, but I think we delivered.

The proof is in the tasting, or in our case, the inhaling.

"Mother of God!"

Li's face says it all.  Yeah, we did it.

I want to thank the Robicelli's for their advice and for also just being super cool.  Li had now peeled herself off the ceiling and is trying to "handle her shit".

It's a work in progress.

In summation;  Yes, this cupcake may look innocent.  You may be inclined to skip over it to the sexier recipes.  I am very glad that we are doing this in order and not cherry picking.  It has to be said that this was not my favourite to look at, but I so very much enjoyed it.  I would really love to tackle the French buttercream frosting but as nobody has yet come forward to sponsor us (I am looking at you KitchenAid,) it will have to wait.  Come on, we are investing the next year of our lives in this.  Yes 2014 is the Year of the Cupcake (and possibly the gym, and the back boob).

Anything you would like to add Li?

"Next week's cupcake is where it's at.  The Car Bomb."

Thank you for reading and see you next week.  Guinness, chocolate, whisky.  A match made in my belly.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Robicelli's meet the "The Sleazy Bakeshop" (yes that is my kitchen).

I have no words.  Well this is a lie as it would be a very short post if that were true, and this is going to take a while, so stay with me, it will be worth it.

There will also be many swears in the post, if the swears are a deal breaker for you, then our time together is done.  Sorry, it's not me it's you.  It got emotional and the swears were needed.

I can't tell you how much I love this film.
In the words of the great Julie Andrew, "let's start at the very beginning" *sings the rest of the sound of music internally*  So we did.  After spending all of Saturday evening reading the beginning of the book.  Learning about different types of salt, butter, sugar and oil.  *Fun fact, did you know that canola oil is not, in fact made from a mysterious plant called a canola?  I didn't.  It stands for Canadian oil, low acid.  There you go.  This is what happens when you read the beginning of cook books.  You learn shit.  It's made from rape seed (I still can't say this without cracking up now, you should have seen us in the super market).  I grew up in an area where they grew rape (giggidy) so I am aware of what it is.  Guess calling it Rape oil would give people the wrong idea, and no marketing executive in the world can make that shit work.*  I digress, (shockingly)
Seriously?  Is this not a pun just waiting to happen?  (yes I know I am going to hell)

I learned what Xanthan is, and what it does (I had never heard of it, have you?) and what leavening is. I have also learned,  that "Nature hates us and doesn't want us to have nice things".  A whole section on how humidity and barometric pressure can fuck up a perfectly well prepared frosting.  (This was learned the hard way.  More on the later)  Words like "hygroscopic" are bandied around and you don't feel like a total tit for not knowing what it means. (she explains everything).  I was mesmerized. This is a first for me it has to be said.  I hated Chemistry at school.  In fact I want the Robicelli's to write a book on baking chemistry.  Write it the way they wrote intro to their book, use simple words and pictures with stick men so that us mortals can understand.  It would make a lot of people very happy.  Fact.

Li and I decided to start on the first recipe.  We thought this would ease us in nicely.  It did.  Sort of.  We intended to start cooking around oneish.  This was thwarted by the Monkey (my soon to be 2 year old daughter).  Who decided to pitch a shit fit and needed to burn off some energy.  One hour later, after splashing in puddles, schlepping to the park and back and enduring more toddler tantrums we made to the grocery store.  There was juvenile giggling in the oil section, and we were positively buoyant (it took me four trys to spell that. Damn you spell check) with enthusiasm. Armed with our goodies we set off back home to mise en place the shit out of these cupcakes.

Kitchen was cleaned, ish.  Well as much as it can be when you have a lethargic greyhound who moults like a SOB and a toddler that is secretly a teenager, leaving a trail of destruction and discarded half masticated food and miscellanea in her wake.

Let the preparation begin.

This is my baking drawer.  It is shameful I know.  I have a tenancy to just shove it all in there.  Occasionally the mood grabs me to organise it.  This will happen soon I promise.

The drawer of baking shame.

This is my baking cupboard.  Yes that is a "juice box" up there too.  This too will get
organised.  I promise.  At the moment it is all just rammed in there.

What do you do when you have limited counter space?  Why you use chopping boards on the stove
of course.  That, and get the Puerto Rican in to do the manual labour.

Mise en place'd the shit out of these cupcakes.
Yes this is what mise en place looks like.  We could have tried to fancy it up, but crappy plastic bowls are what you get when you have a toddler.  I am so happy we did this as there was nearly a butter incident through a misread quantity.  What I read as a "fuck load" of butter only needed to be a "shit load".  These are actual measurements.   I will hear no other word on the subject.

First up we had to put the sugar and pistachios into a food processor.  Food processor?  Oops crap.  Nope, I don't have one of those.  A quick rally and I remembered that I do have a hand held staff mixer with a wee pot thing that can go on the bottom. So we went all Ghetto food processor and did it in batches.  This is what it turned out like.

Lord have mercy!  The smell!  The colour! The taste.  I want this on everything from now on.  It is divine. The oils come out and infuse into the sugar.  I encourage everyone to do this.  Now, seriously right now.  Go on do it.  You will thank me.

Next up was beating of eggs and then slowly adding the melted (warm but not hot) butter.  Once again going all Ghetto on this, as I don't own a stand mixer, but I do have a hand mixer.  Li mixing, me pouring.  Go Team Sleazy Bakeshop!  I would have taken a picture but sadly all hands were needed. (I am so glad this is a team effort). Then the milk, vanilla and salt.  It looked wonderful.

Finally we added the dry ingredients.  I would have taken a photo but I was too busy licking cake batter. Seriously!  You have no frikkin idea how good this cake batter tastes.  We were uncontrollable.  Maybe our batter was a tad on the runny side, but I have no way of knowing what the viscosity should have been.  (Yeah, I used viscosity in a sentence.  Pretentious? Moi?).

Pretty huh?
This is actually the second batch.  The first batch were made in small cases.  They turned out wonderfully, but yes I forgot to photograph them too and they are now in my belly.

This is where the plot thickens.  Many high fives, jumping chest bumps, spiking of imaginary balls and a moon walk or two later, we were giddy on our success.  Cupcakes! Yeah!  We did that shit!

The frosting though, proved to be a trifle more tricksy.

Robicelli's, I love you.  We followed your recipe to the letter, I promise.  Experience has taught me that when making frosting, the butter (and other goods) have to be at room temperature, but unless I missed it (and I possibly did) you don't mention what temperature it has to be at.  Now I accept full responsibility for the first batch.  It was all a bit too cold I think.  But your (frankly) awesome cartoon say to;

"Throw everything that isn't sugar into the bowl" - Check.

""Beat the fuck out of that shit"- double check.

'When the shit's fluffy start adding your sugar" - Fluffy did not happen though.  How can this be?  We nailed the shit out of the cupcakes.  They are there sitting on the cooling rack looking magnificent.

Over confidence perhaps? To many jumping chest bumps? (You never want to witness that.)

Instead, this happened.  Booooo.  Luckily for us, I made the executive decision to only make a half  batch.  So we had one more shot at this

The next batch looked even worse.  Like soupy cottage cheese.  Shit!  I was not to be thwarted.

Now, I know this is due to humidity and other such nonsense, and that shit happens, but upon closer reading in the funky little comic, in box number 6 you say we have to;

"whip some cream in bit by bit to make it your bitch".  Wait what?  Didn't we already add the cream?  Is that not covered under the afore mentioned "throw everything that isn't sugar into the bowl" part?  Could this be the reason for my soupy frosting?

Time started to slip away.  Hungry families were (literally) calling, and bad parenting and an overdose of Dora was making for a cranky toddler.  Li, packed up some cupcakes and some sketchy frosting to take home to her family and I promised to find out what the hell happened.

Never before have I read so much on saving butter cream frosting.  In the end, I decided to warm it up slowly and then whisk it while it cooled.  This seemed to work.  I popped it in the fridge with fingers crossed that it would still be homogeneous (boom! another big word) in the morning.  I got up this morning and it was.  Not as smooth as I would have liked, but I am putting that down to the Ricotta, so don't go bursting my bubble on that.  But it tastes like cannolli and that is good enough for me.

My first attempt. As you can see it is not super smooth.  

Some strategically placed props and gosh how pretty.  But you can see the size difference in the cases.
Who knew that they came in loads of sizes?  Well not us.  

I didn't have and candied lemon so I just used good old lemon zest.

So pretty.
 So we did it.  We made a cupcake.  Lots of drama for such a little thing.

On a side bar I will add the the Robicelli's now know we are undertaking this endeavour and posted it on their Facebook wall.  Li lost her shit and had to "calm her tits".  (One day I will so a whole post on Li-ism's.  They are staggering.)  I did wonder why I had so many hits on the last posting.  So thank you guys.  We will try not to go all creepy stalker on you.  Well I will, I make no promises about Li.  Next up Tarte Bourdaloue.

I hope we don't let you down and seriously why are we not best friends?  (Too much, too soon?)

Thanks for getting to the end of a spectacularly long and windy post.  You rock.  Now go make yourself some pistachio sugar, you earned it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Cupcakes, chemistry and cream cheese frosting.

It will not come as a shock to you that I love to cook.  Give me a great cook book and I will be lost for hours especially the ones that have lots of pictures.  I will even hold it to ransom and possibly refuse to give it back.  This is a fact.  I need photographic proof of what my end product should look like.  I will totally glaze over an otherwise delicious recipes because there are no pictures.

Sadly though, I have a bit of trouble following a recipe.  I do tend to freestyle a bit.  "Don't have this ingredient, meh lets try something else instead".  This philosophy has had mixed results.  I love to experiment with food, talk about food, post pictures of food, and look at other peoples pictures of food.  (This is why I am not skinny.)  I digress, nothing is better than walking into a house that smells delicious.  Food has a way of making you feel safe and happy.

Baking, takes this happiness one step further.  I can't tell you how happy baking makes me.  When I am stressed out and have ten thousand things to do, when my brain is about to explode from all the details crashing around in my ADD addled head, I bake.  It is predictable, and comforting.  It is how I meditate.  It also doesn't hurt that there is yummyness at the end.   But there are rules to baking.  Yes, rules.  This is edible chemisty.   There is no place for my freestyle, "fly by the seat of your pants" attitude.  I have learned this the hard way.  That is not to say that I don't try.

Now back to the point.  Cupcakes.  I have always been fairly ambivalent to cupcakes.  Now I love cake as much as the next person, but the cake part generally tastes the same no matter what.  I love cake batter though, Oh how I love cake batter, but generally it tastes better than the cake.  The frosting, on the other hand, is where it was at.  

I have recently been introduced by one of my very good friends and "Team Awesome (a FB foodie club)" compatriots to a book that has changed my life.  This book.

It has changed everything.

Generally I bake once a week.  Friday or Sunday.  The Sunday baking is usually in conjunction with the person responsible for introducing me to this book, my good friend Li.  This book is funny.  There are lots of swear words in here which appeals to the teenager in me.  There are little cartoons too.  They are trying to change the way people treat cupcakes, and after gazing lovingly at its glossy pages, I am inclined to agree. So Li and I have now decided to go all "Julie & Julia" on the Robicelli's.  

We are going to tackle this one recipe at a time.  We will not flinch at French butter cream frosting.  (This is a lie as it is shockingly complicated and requires fancy equipement, but we will work something out.)  I want to try to follow and actual recipe, and find out why certain things have to be at certain temperatures and what reactions they have.  Do things like mise en place.  This is a fancy was of saying get all your shit together and weighed out before you start cooking.  Something I never do.  Preparation!  

I will take show a picture of theirs and then show a picture of ours.  I may even try to take photos of the during too.  (The light in my kitchen is shitty so we will see how this works.)  I will make notes, and then tell you about it.  Well this is the plan.  Sounds fine doesn't it. Maybe I will draw something too.  Who knows?  

What I do know is that I am in love, enthusiastic and spectacularly full of good intentions.  Tomorrow we start.  Not sure what with, but we start.

In the mean time gaze upon this.  Seriously how delicious does this look?  I want to eat the shit out of it.

 I fear for my waist line, and will have to up my exercise routine, but I think you will agree, in the name of science that this has to happen.

Oh I also had a birthday where lots of pig was eaten.  This will for future reference be known as "pig gate".  Choices were made, lessons learned and sad reminders of my lack of gall bladder were made viciously clear.  Totally worth it.  And no there will be no photos.