Monday, May 25, 2015

Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake

When I was a little girl we lived in a big rambling house in a small coastal town in Nova Scotia. Lilacs made a hedge down one side of the yard and to a small girl they seemed almost as tall as the house. There was a big weeping willow tree. There was a garden in the back corner where my Mom grew vegetables, and there were raspberry bushes and a great big rhubarb patch. I am not sure if my Mom planted the rhubarb patch when we moved in or if the house came with the rhubarb patch we just left it there because my Dad adored rhubarb so it would be unthinkable to cut it down. 

I on the other hand did not like rhubarb. It was bitter, it stained your clothes, and it look suspiciously like celery. So in all the years that we lived in the house with a rhubarb bush in the backyard I never touched the stuff. 

But I am all grown up and I can see that I was wrong, plain old wrong. I had spent my youth bad-mouthing, defaming, muckracking rhubarb and I am here to say I am sorry...I was rhubarb. Do you hear that Dad...YOU WERE RIGHT AND I WAS WRONG because I now know just how awesome rhubarb is.

I think the problem is that often rhubarb does not have enough sugar mixed in with it leaving it super tart or it was too much sugar in it leaving it sickeningly sweet. But this cake hits just the right spot right in the middle of tart and sweet. 

And I am really glad that I did not wait for it too cool before I sliced a little piece off because it is amazing warm.

And because we had to marinate the rhubarb in sugar and then strain off the juice I now have a little container of beautifully pink syrup waiting to be added to a cocktail!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nutella Buttons

It is a fact (and if it is not a fact then it should be made a fact) that tiny things are better.

Itty bitty dogs = adorableness
Little cars = fun
Tiny houses = more to love
Petite little top hats perch on fluffy white kittens = cuteness that literally hurts

It is also a fact (and this one is indeed a fact) that I have an unhealthy obsession with tiny baked goods. Wee little cupcakes, miniature brownies, petite loafs pans. I (heart) them all. But sadly because I live in an oh so tiny house I have had to limit my kitchen toys gadgets tools and thus I have never owned a pan to make wee cupcakes.

Until now!

After all if Dorie Greenspan says to use a mini cupcake pan then darn it I am using a mini cupcake pan. And if Dorie Greenspan says to make wee vanilla cupcakes filled with Nutella then darn it I am making wee little vanilla cupcakes filled with Nutella.

Sadly I wish I could say that the reason I immediately ate 3 of these tiny little buttons of goodness a few minutes after they came out of the oven was because Dorie Greenspan said for me to...but alas that is not true it is simply because I am weak when it comes to tiny little cupcakes (especially when filled with Nutella).

Small print: Nutella Buttons, Baking Chez Moi, page 188 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Coconut Tapioca

Procrastination is an evil friend. A friend that I spend way too much time with. A friend that causes me untold stress, forces me to stay up late into the night to complete something before it is too late, causes people to shake their heads at me in despair. But sometimes...just sometimes procrastination works on my side, helps me out (or is really that having procrastination appear to "help" you is just part of her evil plan to keep you coming back for more of her evil ways). 

Either way this week my complete and utter devotion to procrastination helped me make delicious, creamy, coconutty tapioca since I was able to read through the other bakers' posts and learn from their experience. From what I learned I decided to use pearl tapioca (and not the large ones), I used the seeds from a vanilla bean to give it more flavor (instead of using vanilla extract) and to keep it from being too soupy I decreased the amount of liquid. I also decided to add an egg yolk since this is traditionally used in tapioca pudding so in the name of richness and thickness I added one.

A number of bloggers noted that tapioca reminded them of elementary school lunches. If only I was so lucky! I want to know where they went to elementary school so I can go there and eat at that lunch room.  I am not sure I would have ever left elementary school if I was able to have tapioca pudding every day for lunch. They would have had to eventually force me into middle school because with tapioca on the menu I would not have left elementary school willingly. I adore the stuff. I have even been known (in my darker moments) to eat the premade stuff that is found in the dairy section straight from the tub it comes in. But now that I have had a taste of the good stuff, a taste of slightly warm, creamy, homemade goodness life will never be the same. I am addicted. A tapioca junkie. And since neither my husband nor my shortie like tapioca or coconut (because they are wrong and slightly crazy) it is mine...all mine!

On a more personal note you may not know but the Bawlmer in "Baking in Bawlmer" is how Baltimorians pronounce Baltimore, and even though I left Baltimore 9 months ago my heart is breaking for the state that my beloved city is in. The city needs prayers and love so if you have any of either to spare please send them that way.

Now the small print:
Coconut Tapioca, Baking Chez Moi, page 382