E’s Baking Day, Pandesal…

E has been baking up a storm – of loaves!

But this time around he wanted to learn how to make pandesal.  Of course I was more than willing to oblige.

Pandesal is bread that we grew up with.  Back then it seemed that all the neighborhoods had a panaderia that churned out freshly baked pandesal throughout the day.  In our neighborhood, it was about 3 blocks away.  It was open 24 hours everyday and during the school year, we would buy pandesal at 5 o’clock in the mornng.  But when school was out, we would take our dogs for a walk around the neighborhood at midnight and head to the bakery!  Aside from pandesal, I would buy Spanish bread and ensaymada!

Pandesal, literally, means salted bread.  It is ironic, though, because pandesal is actually a bit sweet.

I couldn’t find a no-knead recipe for pandesal so basically I used the basic no-knead recipe I’ve using but I added sugar!  I also substituted part of the water with an egg.

It was a success!  At least for my half of the dough… as pandesal I mean…

When E realized that making the pandesal was more complicated than he thought, he decided that his half of the dough would be baked as a boule!

 

 

 

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THE Brownies!

I was ten years old when I started baking.  My favorite?  Peanut Butter Cookies.  My siblings’ and mom’s favorite?  Brownies.  My mom liked a particular kind of brownies so much that we (although it really means just me) experimented for several years to get it the way we (she) liked it.

And this is IT.

A not-too-sweet, dense, fudge-y, deeply chocolate-y brownie, with a thin, crispy top layer.

Everybody liked it.  I even made tons of it (figuratively) to sell at Christmastime.  I had determined that my last baking day was the 22nd, but I kept getting orders all the way up to New Year’s!

We were always getting requests for the recipe.  My mom wouldn’t give it (even now she refuses to share her recipes!) except for very close relatives.

How is it relevant today?

Well, basically it is because my mother and I have a complicated relationship.  But we found a common ground in cooking/baking.  From there, we developed a workable relationship.  Even today, when we have misunderstandings and breaks in our relationship, we usually reconnect over matters involving cooking and baking.

So, these brownies…

(Sorry I don’t have permission to share the recipe)

it’s special because it was the beginning…

 

Irish Cream Flan Cake

It was delicious, everyone said.  But it did not look as I thought it would.

I’d always imagined it (as I’d seen other flan cakes) as a cake with a flan layer on top.  Mine came out with a thin layer on top and some flan on the sides.  I don’t know what happened.

At least it was fully cooked this time.

The first time I tried it, a good 5 or so years ago, I ended up with a big goopy mess!  All over the floor!

I followed the recipe and baked accordingly, or so I thought.  I turned the pan over into a plate and whoosh… like a wave and into the floor!

Long story short… this flan cake is (next to the ensaymada and my mom’s apple pie) my waterloo.  But I will keep trying!

Ube Bars

My brother tells me that ube bars are common in various neighborhood panaderia (bread bakery).  I felt insulted.  Not my kind of ube bars, I said.  Mine are special!

I set to work to prove him wrong.

My bars have a lovely thick bottom crust… and the ube filling is full of ube flavor – not from a flavoring agent but from the real thing!  And there is a thin, crackly crust on top too.

He sent me a pm a day later – he ate his words.  He said – Definitely not panaderia fare!

Whoooo hooooo!

(The little girl is likewise enamored with it!)

 

Homage to Tita Linda

My mother and I don’t have much in common, but one thing we share is our cooking/baking hobby and our love for kitchen gadgets and recipes!

But aside from my mother, there is Tita Linda.  She’s the mom of my college bud T.  From her I learned to make Snickerdoodles, which was my second-favorite cookie after Peanut Butter.  She shared not only recipes but life lessons and practical advice on how to live.  Oh, we all had mother issues but from her I learned that a good mother-daughter relationship is possible.

Sadly, she passed away sometime ago.  We miss her.

Today I pay homage to her, with this Tomato Salsa, the recipe of which (and its secret!) she unselfishly shared with me.

For you Tita!

Variations…

Variations of the same theme – black chocolate cake, strawberry frosting…

It all began when I had a lot of strawberry frosting left over.  I forgot that my recipe was for a 2-layer, 9-inch cake, and I had made a really small one for the little girl…

I stored the leftover frosting in the fridge.

The next day, early evening, hubby suddenly announces that we’re going somewhere later that evening and it would be nice if I brought something like something I baked.

Problem?  I had an hour to make something!

Solution?  Something that would mix in a flash, bake in a hurry, and cool almost instantly… mini cupcakes.  And I didn’t have to worry about the frosting since I already had the strawberry frosting in the fridge!

The batter mixed in 5 minutes.  The mini cupcakes were done in another 10 minutes.  I shoved them in the fridge to cool them.

Meanwhile I started re-whipping the frosting.  Except that I ended up with a curdled mess.  Then I started panicking.

Of course I went to trusty ol’ google, and there were lots of suggestions but I had no time!  Then, I decided to get in touch with an old cooking/baking “buddy”, crossing my fingers that she was online.

She was and she had a solution.  But I had to be content  with transforming my strawberry frosting into strawberry buttercream…

She had me pour hot water into a bowl that could fit a plate of butter cubes about 75 grams.  Throw the hot water out and wipe the damp inside of the bowl – cover the plate of butter cubes.  Trick worked!  Butter was soft in less than a minute!

Beat the butter until light and fluffy and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Beat some more.  Then gradually add the broken frosting – a tablespoon at a time… Voila!  Strawberry Buttercream!  A tad sweet than I preferred but it still works so –

And I still had a little strawberry buttercream left over!

The day after, hubby told me that it was the birthday of a friend and he requested a small cake to celebrate.

I baked another small chocolate cake – frosted it with truffle frosting and garnished it with what was left of the strawberry buttercream..

Until next year, when the little girl will surely ask for her favorite cake!

My next baking experiment?  Prune Chiffon Cake Roll (half roll, I mean).

B’s Special Cake

When we ask the little girl what cake she wants, she always gives the same answer –

BLACK CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FROSTING

She is very particular too, she wants REAL strawberry frosting!

So, even if my right arm will hurt like *#&& the day after, I willingly suffer because it is what she wants on her special day.

The recipe for the black chocolate cake is a family secret – as it took me several months to get it just right!

The strawberry frosting is made with 450 grams of strawberries!!!  I experimented with the recipe for a long time, playing with the proportions until the little girl was satisfied.  She has a discriminating taste!

This year though I decided to make a few improvements…

Firstly, I made a smaller cake, a 7-inch, 3-layer round cake instead of the usual 9-inch, 2-layer round cake.  Then I added a special filling – dark choco-caramel filling.  Lastly, the finishing touch – the “My Little Pony” theme!

The finished cake was declared BEE-YOO-TEE-FOOOOL by the little girl.  And I am happy even if my arm is still and achy!

And the taste?  Whooooohooooo!  Everyone says it is sinfully delicious!

(happy, happy, happy me!)

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Liqueur

A couple of years ago, someone gave me Cacao Liqueur as a Christmas gift.  It was so delicious that I wanted to learn to make it.

Fast forward to the present and I think I have the liqueur that I adoringly love!  I’d been experimenting and, in fact, last Christmas, I made a batch and gave them away as gifts.  The liqueur was made with cocoa powder and they were delicious (as the recipients attest) but it was not (yet) perfect for me.

I wanted a rich, dark, deep chocolate-y flavor and a thick, creamy texture.

This time I think I got it after a few experiments.

My secret?  No cocoa, but bittersweet chocolate, thinned with milk!

(I re-used the nice decorative bottle of the Cacao Liqueur.)

Lucille’s Apple Pie Spice

Where I live, there is no apple pie spice to be found in the supermarket, not even in specialty stores.  My mom used to ask relatives who lived abroad to buy for her, specifically the McCormick brand.

But in our corner of the world, there is NONE.  So what to do? What to do>  Make your own, of course!

The ingredient list in the McCormick spice bottle lists cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  Meanwhile, there are numerous recipes online for apple pie spice, all them are largely cinnamon-based, always with nutmeg and allspice and a couple other spices, one or two strange sounding spices that are, yep, likewise unavailable locally. Sigh.

Still going by the ingredient list in the McCormick spice bottle, someone suggested recreating it using 4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts nutmeg and 1 part allspice.  Not bad, I suppose.  In any case you can’t go wrong.

But, I decided on this version, which suits my desire for added “drama” while maintaining the essence of the spice blend.  Sadly, I cannot share the recipe. But it is one that I have been using for roughly 7 years now and everyone says it is very good!

Now, I shall attempt (once again) my mother’s recipe for Apple Pie!

 

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!