Uncategorized

Bannontashen

This past weekend I celebrated Purim, a Jewish holiday/carnival in memory of the time that we almost all died and then didn’t, again. We’re commanded to get drunk! Adults give children noisemakers on purpose! Sometimes the rabbi wears tights!

Here’s the story: King Ahasuerus of Persia kicks his wife to the curb because she doesn’t want to do a striptease in front of all his friends.

laws1

To find his next queen, he has a mandatory beauty contest for all the young women in his kingdom. After a lot of anointing and parading he chooses Esther, a young Jewish orphan in the care of her uncle Mordechai. She keeps her faith a secret and lives in all the bliss that comes with being forced out of her home to marry a royal manchild.

Ahasureus has an advisor named Haman, who really gets off on asserting his authority. Soon after the wedding, Haman decrees that everybody in Persia has to bow down to him. Jewish people aren’t really into genuflecting though. When Mordechai refuses to bow, Haman decides that the reasonable, proportionate response is murdering all the Jews.  Ahasureus not only okays this plan but gives Haman ten thousand silver talents to get it done.

dril.png

(more…)

Cappuccino Cupcakes And Contests And Also Gender, Sorry

I entered the National Capital Area Cake Show’s Cupcake Social a few weeks ago, and I’ve been walking around in a haze of butter, caffeine, and leftover adrenaline ever since. I rolled in from Vegas at midnight the day before the contest, did all my grocery shopping that morning, and cranked out exactly one half of the cupcakes that I intended to make before realizing that I was going to miss registration, holy shit, we have to go NOW.

I’m happy to say that I made it there in one piece, with one complete set of cupcakes in tow. I didn’t miss registration! I got set up in time!

win at cake

I also kind of won at cake? I placed in the top three for division and flavor. Which was a surprise and a pleasure, given the quality of the other bakers there.

Here’s what I learned before and during the contest:

  1. If you get business cards printed for your blog, you are going to leave them at home.
  2. Having a friend around during an all-day baking sprint is really useful. Two friends are even better. If possible, stagger their arrival so that one of them can bring you food when you start getting faint around hour 6.
  3. If you stand next to the person who wins the whole entire thing, you are going to spend a lot of energy being gracious even though everybody likes her cupcakes better than mine and everything is terrible why does she have tiny adorable starbucks wrappers for her cupcakes did she really make 110 of those really she’s a lovely person but seriously what the fuck
  4. Everything is going to take three times as long as you think it will. I had two recipes tested and ready to go; I came out with one kind cupcake. I just ran out of time. I could have saved myself a bunch of grief and also a shitton of butter money if I had been realistic about the timing from the start.

I had a lot of fun! And then something weird happened.

(more…)

A CONTEST

 

The National Capital Area Cake Show is holding a contest in my general vicinity. I might be a little excited.

IMG_5444

I’ll be on site with TWO HUNDRED mini cupcakes to feed to the public. If you, too, live in the DC area, come meet me! Eat my cake! Certainly do not slip the judges a twenty on my behalf! I will be the one working very hard not to swear in front of children (frowned upon), and giving them tiny caffeine/sugar bombs instead (apparently okay?).

Where is the thing? Does it cost dollars?

The cupcake social is at Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030. It starts at 6:00 PM on April 16. It does cost $15, but you can eat as much cake as you want! The website suggests buying tickets ahead of time if you plan on attending.

What cake are you making????

Two varieties! A mulled cider cupcake and a cappuccino cupcake.

What is your test baking process?

Make as large a mess as possible. Foist six kinds of cupcake on everyone I know. Write down the results. Repeat.

IMG_4181

Will you be creating the components of your stupidly complicated cupcakes ahead of time so you can have a nice, leisurely baking process on Saturday?

NOPE.

See you there!

On the Posting Schedule

AS EVER, THE ASSHOLE IS ME.Writing a giant-ass blog post every week is a little beyond me. So I’m shifting to an every other week schedule, which will help to avoid shame/avoidance spirals when I miss a week. Also, I am a monster who feeds on instant gratification, and thus incapable of waiting until Sunday to post things I’ve written. Let’s call Sunday the biweekly deadline.

beater dance

I DO WHAT I WANT AND WHAT I WANT TO DO IS APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE

Summer Cake

I am sick to fucking death of complaining about snow. Which is remarkable, because I love complaining. Let’s talk about this cake instead. It tastes like summer! It’s stuffed with fresh strawberries and orange zest and whipped cream. The strawberries are out in Florida, according to my parents, and so they’re three pounds for five dollars at the grocery store. With the power of my Safeway Club Card, I can eat this cake and pretend I’m hanging out on the beach. I can’t punch winter into submission, but I can sure as fuck ignore it.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I made two cakes that taste like summer. That was a mistake. One of the cakes was a disaster, but it would have been a mistake even if it had turned out perfectly. I hate baking multiple cakes at the same time. I neglected to keep this in mind and promised two separate sets of people dessert. I enjoyed being a person who bakes so much that I didn’t set myself up to actually enjoy baking. I ended up taking a bunch of breaks from the second cake to fling myself on various pieces of furniture and whine. I just wanted to finish the fucking cake and go to sleep. That’s no way to bake, and it’s no way to live. So I’m not blogging that second cake. Let it remain an untested ideal in our minds.

On the other hand, I actually really enjoyed playing with meringue, so I’ll be repeating that experiment sometime in the future. It’s a great way to use up the egg whites from pastry cream, or the bastardized genoise layers here.

(more…)

Boston Cream Lies

If you have never had a Boston cream pie, consider the donut of the same name. Except instead of a single sad squirt of vanilla-ish pudding in the middle, there is a half-inch-thick layer of pastry cream. Replace the donut with sponge cake. And imagine that, once you’re finished with the first helping, there will be so many more slices right there in front of you.

Some incredibly incorrect person decided to name this perfect dish  Boston cream pie. It is not a fucking pie. It is a cake. I have no clue who decided that a two-layer sponge cake with pastry cream and chocolate ganache was a pie, but they were wrong.

I bake Boston cream pies on New Year’s Eve. Since I’m 23 and I’ve done it two years in a row, I’ll call it a tradition. An essential part of this baking process is being in Canada, where my friends congregate once a year. Boston cream pie is universally delicious, but I think that an atmosphere of imminent frozen death really adds to the experience.

IMG_1739

Exciting baking opportunities now available on Hoth!

Last year, I had just begun my terrible spiral into fancy cake hell, so I used boxed yellow cake for the layers. This year, I decided to make the cake from scratch. I know that the Internet has a thousand good recipes for sponge cake, with helpful diagrams and beautiful pictures. But Lawrence, my best friend and our host, had an old version of the Joy of Cooking in the pantry.

I grew up with The Joy of Cooking. My family’s battered, annotated, stained copy lived above the stove and grew fat on recipe clippings stuck between the pages. I loved that book. I made my first brownies and ginger snaps and cookies out of that book. It was the arbiter of all food-related arguments in the house, and my guide to everything that tasted like home. I considered going to Miami in the dead of night in order to steal it from my parents. Unfortunately, that particular volume started to grow mold and had to be put out of its misery. Sometimes, unfortunately, good old things become toxic nightmares. And sanitation wins out over sentimentality, even in my crusty, grumpy, crying-over-cookbooks heart.

So when I saw Lawrence’s copy, I latched on immediately and flung myself, all trusting, into an abyss of sponge cakes.

(more…)