Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My pet peeve with most frosting is that it's sickeningly sweet and/or you can feel the sugar grit in your teeth. So I was ecstatic to find this buttercream recipe from Baker's Royale.

If butter makes you nervous, this is not the recipe for you. There's a reason it's called buttercream, right? Needless to say, I could honestly eat this by the spoonful. And I have. More than once.

This is a cooked buttercream recipe that requires a candy thermometer, but apparently you can get by without it. That being said, don't let the process scare you either. This is actually more forgiving than it appears. I've only made it twice and it's been delicious both times!

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted only slightly from this recipe
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

5 large egg whites (save yolks for homemade ice cream*- poor you...yes, I have an ice cream maker. We'll get there. I promise)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean

*If you won't be using the egg yolks in the next few days, you can freeze them in a airtight container. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to prevent them from becoming gelatinous before placing in the freezer. Otherwise, place in the refrigerator.

Cut butter into approximately tablespoon sized pieces and put on a plate to come to room temperature.

Using a small knife, cut your vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the small black seeds from the inside and set aside.

Put egg whites and sugar in stand mixer bowl. Add about 2 inches of water to a small saucepan (mixer bowl should fit in it, but not be touching the water) and heat over high heat. Place the stand mixer bowl over the boiling water and clip your candy thermometer to the side so you can read the temperature of the mixture as you go.

Whisk continuously. To make sure all the sugar gets dissolved, run a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl to push the sugar down that's clinging to the sides of the bowl if necessary. My first batch had some granules in the finished product, but not after I did my little spatula trick the second time around. 

Heat mixture to 160 F and remove from heat. If you don't have a thermometer, cook until you can no longer feel granules of sugar when you rub the mixture between your fingers. Transfer the bowl to your stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed for about 10-12 minutes. The mixture must form stiff peaks, be smooth and glossy, and not warm enough to melt your butter when you add it. At this point, you have a beautiful meringue which can be used in many recipes, or continue on for your buttercream.

Lower the speed to low or 'stir' and add butter pieces one at a time.

What you don't want: runny, lumpy, or curdled-looking frosting. If these happen, just keep mixing, it should smooth out in a few minutes. If it doesn't, you can stick the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and mix again on low. 

Once you get a smooth, creamy texture, stir in the salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds. The vanilla extract will darken the frosting a bit to a creamy white. If you prefer bright white, use only the bean.

Use immediately (beautiful for piping) or refrigerate/freeze in airtight container for later use. Can be refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

When warming frozen or refrigerated buttercream, allow to come to room temperature on the counter. You may need to give it a quick spin in the mixer to smooth things out.

This is an awesome recipe for frosting cakes and cupcakes. It would pretty much work with any recipe you want. I'll be posting something soon that showcases this frosting since it's currently in my freezer. I just have to figure out exactly what...It will probably end up being chocolate cake since I adore chocolate cake with white frosting.

Anyone have a birthday they need a cake for? :)  


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mixed Berry Dutch Baby

In high school, I would have friends sleep over on Friday nights and almost without fail, we'd make something like this for breakfast the next morning. We called it Pannukakku, because we're Finnish...Our version didn't have any fruit, but I think baking the fruit, like in this recipe, adds so much!

This is the perfect breakfast to save for a weekend morning. It doesn't take long to put together, but you do have to get your ingredients to room temperature and let it bake for about 20 minutes.

You could leave out the lemon zest and your Dutch baby will still be delicious.

Mixed Berry Dutch Baby
Inspired by this recipe
Yield: 4 servings

2 cups total of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, plus a few reserved for serving
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup almond milk or whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
Maple syrup, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

On a cutting board, place the lemon zest and sugar in a pile. Using a knife, chop the zest and sugar together to make a lemony sugar mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and almond milk until combined. Add the flour, lemon sugar, and sea salt and stir to combine. Little lumps of flour are ok. Stir in the berries. This will be a very watery batter.

Place the butter in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven until melted. Swirl the skillet to coat the surface of the pan and then pour batter into the skillet.

Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve warm with fresh berries and some maple syrup.

This is good at any temperature, and I kept sneaking slivers out of the pan at room temp. That's how '4 servings' turns into 2 or 3 at our house!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Summer's Last Peach Blackberry Pie

Although I'm excited about the cooler weather and all of the Fall baking that comes with it, I couldn't ignore the ripe, juicy peaches that would be hard to come by in just a few months. The apples and pumpkins can wait a little bit longer.

Pairing this with a few blackberries really balances the sweet peaches. I adored this pie and couldn't stop eating it.

For me, an all-butter crust is essential. Although I've heard crusts using lard are delicious, it's a little harder to come by a quality lard source. I always replace the shortening with butter and have never found it to drastically affect the flakiness of my crust.

I used to make my crusts the old-fashioned way, but I tended to get hand cramps and then avoid making pie crust for too long...That's why I always use a food processor now. It may be less satisfying to work the dough, but I get pie faster! It's been a worthy investment in my eyes. Quick and dirty is the way to go.

The savory spices in this recipe are a bit unusual, but work fantastically with the fruit and the addition of vanilla!

Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Whirlpool and enter to win a new Whirlpool Range. (Valid until Nov. 19, 2012)

Peach Blackberry Pie
Filling adapted slightly from this recipe, and crust from Baking From My Home to Yours
Serves 8

Makes a 9-inch double crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, with 1 teaspoon removed
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
25 1/2 tablespoons butter (that would be just over 3 sticks...), cut into approximately tablespoon-sized pieces and frozen
About 1/2 cup water, refrigerated

Using a large food processor with a metal blade (mine has a 9-cup capacity and just barely handles this crust), add flour, sugar, and salt to bowl. Pulse twice to mix.

Add frozen butter all at once and pulse so the butter is just cut into the flour mixture. There should be some butter pieces that are pea-sized and smaller.

As you slowly continue to pulse, add about 6 tablespoons of the cold water. Make sure the water has been evenly distributed in your processor bowl by doing a few longer pulses. Continue to add small amounts of water until dough comes together when you pinch it, but is not sticky to the touch.

Dump the dough onto a clean work surface and divide in half using a sharp knife or bench scraper.

On a flour-covered surface, pat each half into a flattish disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

At this point, you can skip down to the filling instructions while your dough is resting in the fridge.

Butter a 9-inch pie pan.

Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. If large cracks form on the edges as you roll out the dough, let it warm up for 10-15 minutes at room temperature and try again.

Roll out dough to about 11 inches across, sprinkling with additional flour to prevent sticking, and place in buttered pan. Roll out top crust to approximately the same size and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 with an rack in the middle of the oven.

6 medium-large peaches
1/2 cup blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for sprinkling over crust

Wash and slice peaches into about 10-12 pieces and put into a large bowl. If you prefer, you can peel the peaches, but I like leaving mine on. Add the blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, flour, lemon juice and vanilla extract to the bowl, give it a gentle stir, and let rest in the refrigerator until your crust is ready.

Once you have your bottom crust in the pan, pour your filling in and cover with your top crust. This is where you can be as simple or as fancy as you want. I went with a lattice crust, which is pretty simple, but you can also leave it whole and cut 4 small holes in the crust for escaping steam.

Brush the top crust with your beaten egg (and yes, fingers work if you don't have a pastry brush, but it's a little messier) and sprinkle with your cinnamon sugar mixture.

Trim both the bottom and top crusts so they are about the same size and pinch together to seal. You can crimp the edges with your fingers, press with fork tines, or whatever sounds good in the moment!

Place the pie plate on another pan with edges in case your filling bubbles over and put in oven at 425 F for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Depending on your oven temperature, you may want to start checking after 25 minutes.

The pie is finished when your crust is a beautiful golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly.

Cool to room temperature before serving or it will be soupy.


If you want to enter a pie recipe for a chance to win a new Whirlpool Range, hop on over to TidyMom! (You don't have to be a blogger to enter, but contest ends 11.19.2012.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (A-mazing!)

So you may be a little skeptical of my description, especially if you've ever had sprouts that weren't cooked correctly (overcooked mush). But these, people, are another animal. Trust me. I even think kids would eat them! At least mine did. 

There is a such a beautiful crunch to some of them and when cooked long enough, some of them begin to caramelize. I cannot adequately describe it, but see below for my visual description! I'd urge even you veggie-haters out there to try this.

It's such a simple recipe to throw together last minute and it requires very few ingredients.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Inspired by Practical Paleo
Yield: 4 servings

4 cups Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
Sea salt
2 cloves garlic (3 if you're a lover)
Squirt of lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Rinse the sprouts and trim off the woody end that was attached to the stem. Remove the outer leaves and discard. They are darker and softer than the inner leaves and is usually 2 or 3 per sprout. Slice each sprout into 1/8-inch slices and add to a jelly-roll pan.

Drizzle olive oil over the sprouts, sprinkle on about 2 generous pinches of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Remove the papery skins from the garlic cloves, finely chop, and add to the sprouts. Now get your hands in there and stir everything together so each sprout is evenly coated with olive oil.

Spread the sprouts evenly out in the pan and toss in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir about halfway through.

You can also drizzle with a small amount of lemon juice if you want to perk up the flavor a little. I didn't this time.

Serve immediately.

The Brussels sprouts we've been getting from the farmer's market lately have been amazing, so rush out now and get some!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Welcome! And Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry

Welcome to my little blog and I hope you can bear with me as I try to figure things out (mainly my photography skills). I wasn't planning on posting a totally made-up recipe as this intro., but since it worked out fairly well, I figured I shouldn't waste it! I have to start somewhere, right? I'm so excited to learn how to make some new, exotic recipes and also perfect some classics! 

Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry
Serves 2 very hungry adults or 4 regular ones

1 pound of shrimp, thawed (any size, mine were tiny)
Clove of garlic, chopped
Olive oil
Juice from one lime
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle powder (omit or replace with chili powder if you don't want it too spicy)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
2-3 colored bell peppers, cut into spears
1 small bunch bok choy, ribs cut into spears (leaves saved for another use)

If your shrimp is frozen, place in a colander for about an hour to thaw. 

In a medium bowl, add thawed shrimp, garlic, a few glugs of olive oil (enough to coat shrimp), lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and let it marinate in the fridge for an hour.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat with coconut oil and add shrimp to pan. Don't add all of the liquid to the pan with the shrimp (yes, I know this from experience...), just enough to add some flavor to your fry. Cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on size of shrimp. Mine took about 3 minutes.

Add vegetables to pan with shrimp and stir until vegetables are slightly tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes.


This was a little too spicy for my little girl, but Nick and I handled it just fine. 

Shout-out to my awesome sisters that encouraged me to start this blog!