April Bake – Easy Espresso Traybake

Happy May! Is it just me or did April seem to drag by? Though I look back on the blog and realized I only made two posts for the entire month. I can fill you in now, every weekend has consisted of a long bike ride and running. Training for a century ride and half marathon two weeks apart is slowly killing my body.

April’s bake was an “Easy” Espresso Traybake. I was pretty excited that it seemed to be an easy cake with chocolate frosting. Oh Great British Bake Off, you never fail to disappoint. The cake wasn’t too bad, with a little confusion regarding what pan size to use and how it should have been “prepared”, but it was the frosting that got me.

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Look how lovely and airy this frosting is.

The frosting was only 125g dark chocolate, 30g unsalted butter, and 1 tbsp of golden syrup. What is golden syrup? Great question, it’s something you can’t find in small town grocery stores. I tried to substitute with honey the first try, but the it turned out grainy and didn’t cover the entire cake. On the second try I substituted with simple syrup, but I cooked it too quickly, burnt the chocolate, and ended up separating the chocolate. I ended up with a gross, rubbery mess that ended up in the bin (one must use British terms when GBBO baking).

Third time was the “charm” when I finally realized I needed to use a double-broiler to melt everything together. It looks nothing like the picture, but it turned out pretty tasty. I feel like that’s a theme with all these bakes.

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This wasn’t my favorite thing I’ve baked so far, the cake may have been a little dry (I did bake it the night before it was eaten)? But at least it wasn’t as time consuming as previous bakes. I’d give this a try again, using more of a chocolate frosting than the one in this recipe though. This month is Victoria sponge with tropical fruits. I can only imagine how this will turn out…

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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March Bake – Nectarine and Amaretti Gateau

I pushed off March’s bake for as long as I could. I was intimidated by the spun sugar nest, 18cm sandwich tins, what are amaretti biscuits and can I easily find them, and where in the world was I going to get fresh nectarines? When I got invited to an Easter brunch, I knew this would be the perfect occasion to bring the cake, yes Easter was in April, but I started it in March, so that’s what counts?

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What the calendar shows it should look like.

I had frozen nectarines in the freezer so I took them out to thaw. For a week they sat in my fridge, first in a big clump, then on a cooling rack in a sheet pan to help get rid of all the water. I ended up making amaretti biscuits (though mine looked nothing like that picture) which got crushed up to make the batter for the cake.

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Amaretti biscuits…(???)

The recipe said to bake the batter in 18cm sandwich tins. WTF? I made some makeshift tins using a ruler and tin foil. It took a couple tries, and one tin was almost twice as deep as the other, but they seemed to work.

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Makeshift tins

Sunday morning after mass, I made the frosting and spun sugar. I haven’t actually done much sugar work, and if I had, I would have known I should have been dissolving the sugar while making frosting. The thought crossed my mind, but I forgot and started with the frosting.

The instructions said to whip the cream to “soft peaks” and then beat by hand with a wooden spoon, I tried doing that and the chantilly cream looked depressing and my arms got tired, so I cheated and continued to use my KitchenAid to get soft peaks. I also tried to “fry” sliced almonds and proceeded to burn them, so I lightly toasted them instead. I did all this while I should have been dissolving sugar.

After I layered the cake with cream, slightly-soggy nectarines, and decorated with semi-toasted almonds, I started on the sugar. Which took forever to dissolve. I was late for the brunch, so when 95% of the sugar had dissolved, I turned up the heat to turn the sugar “pale golden brown” and didn’t exactly wait until it hit 310 degrees F.

To make the “spun birds nest”, the directions said to oil a rolling pin, take two forks facing each other, dip the tines in the sugar, flick back and forth on the rolling pin, then move quickly to remove the sugar from the pin. What? I tried that, and it did nothing, and the sugar mixture was starting to harden. I made an executive decision and dipped the forks in the semi-hardened mixture and flicked the forks back and forth on some parchment paper to get strands. Did it look pretty? Not really. Did it work? Yes. The recipe said they were optional, but I needed something to cover my sad-looking nectarines.

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What happens when the sugar cools too quickly…

I took the cake to brunch, and after everyone marveled over how pretty it looked, I cut into it, and it completely squished down and turned into mush. Delicious mush, but mush nonetheless. Pro tip for next time, cut the cake before adding the spun sugar.

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I mean, they’re almost the same thing??? Kind of? Not really?

Would I make this cake again? For sure. It had a wow factor and the cake was pretty simple to make (as long as you have amaretti biscuits). It was fun playing with sugar for the first time and I look forward to trying to make more spun sugar or caramel.

This month is an Easy Espresso Traybake. We’ll see how “easy” this is….

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Weekend Review

This weekend was filled with more of the regular — biking and running. After spending Friday night making Thug Kitchen’s Chickpea and Green Chile Soup and finishing up season 1 of Game of Thrones, Saturday was much more social with a 52-mile bike ride with friends, a baking party, then dinner with friends. Sunday was Easter brunch and an 8-mile ride.

The 52-mile bike ride really kicked my butt. My friends and I signed up for STOKR and I’m doing the Saturday, 98-mile ride. It goes over a pass so I need to get my legs ready for a 17-mile hill climb. I’ve been told the food stops on the ride are amazing, but is it really worth 98-miles? I’ll let you know.

After gorging myself on french fries and a veggie burger after our ride, a couple friends came over to help me with my March bake. Making amaretti biscuits for the cake batter was a one person job, so we stood in my kitchen and snacked on dessert bars one friend brought over while I made the biscuits. After the biscuits baked and were crushed down, I made the cake batter, one friend left, and the other friend’s husband came over for dinner.

A couple of months ago I borrowed a some Rick Bayless books from the library and we made the most amazing pork tacos. I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere online or remember which book it was from, so I borrowed both books again to find it: Tacos de Picadillo Oaxaqueno from Mexican Kitchen. It uses pork shoulder and has a tomato and chile adobo sauce that the pork cooks in and is topped with toasted almonds. It’s time-consuming, but worth it.

On Sunday I woke up early for Easter mass, then came home and assembled my cake. I went over to my friend’s to prep pancakes while the group was out bike riding (my legs said no) and we celebrated with a big brunch that included homemade bagels, my cake, and of course, mimosas. I fought my instinct for an afternoon nap, and instead went grocery shopping, cleaned the yard, and went on an 8-mile run with a friend. Suffice to say my legs are completely dead today.

I’ll get a nice exercise break next weekend when we go to Seattle. I have a six month scan and a check-up with my Gyn Onc. Dan’s dad’s side is meeting us up there so we’ll have a weekend filled with good food and fun times!

Have a great week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Weekend Review

The picture above is a good summary of the weather this weekend: Sunny and stormy, all at once.

We kept pretty busy this weekend, starting with watching the Quebec folk group Des Temps Antan at our local performing arts center, then went to an after-party with friends and the group, staying up way too late.

Saturday we went with friends on a 35-mile bike ride down to Bandit Brewery to take mine and Dan’s new Kona cyclocross bikes out for a spin. It was my first time biking on a dirt road and I loved it. It was much easier to talk to friends on a road less traveled and fun going over bumps my road bike couldn’t. While the bike ride was beautiful, we fought a head wind and some grapple. At least the precipitation was dry so we weren’t soaking wet. And it was like getting in an extra workout fighting the wind.

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After the bike ride, I needed to bake a dessert for a BBQ we were going to that night. In my quest to continue using my cookbooks, I looked up the dessert section in Ina Garten’s Foolproof and decided to make the Raspberry Crumble Bar, using strawberry jam since it’s what we had. I imagine Ina saying, “store-bought, strawberry jam is fine.”

The BBQ was fun and we spent the evening hanging out by a fire pit, but it was still so cold. I’m looking forward to summer where we don’t have to bundle up to be outside!

Sunday was meal prep day. Well, not really since we don’t meal prep. Sunday was spent cooking, and I forced myself to do a 3 mile run.

Ever since the cruise, Dan and I have been trying to lose the cruise weight (plus the couple pounds I’ve put on since I’ve been back…) and get back on our budgeting track. We have about $20 left in our budget before the month ends, so I looked through our cookbooks and tried to find what would last for the rest of the week.

After going through our cupboards and seeing what we already had, I settled on making NYTimes Cooking Curried Split Pea Soup (we pay for a NY Times subscription and the app comes with it, like a cookbook…ish) and Thug Kitchen’s Curried Hand Pies from their Party Grub cookbook. The Curried Hand Pies was also a great way to use up coconut cream from a dessert disaster that happened earlier this week. Both turned out pretty good, but I would add more curry powder to each.

Both recipes also included ginger, which I had been avoiding since the “Great Ginger Drowning of 2017”, aka what I am calling my mom force-feeding me ginger drinks during chemo. I peeled and grated the ginger without gagging, so I think I’ve finally conquered one of my chemo battles! Though now the weight is slowly coming back, so maybe chemo will win the war.

I’m planning to make Thug Kitchen’s Chickpea and Green Chile soup from their Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook later this week. Fingers crossed we got everything we needed today, because we can’t grocery shop until Sunday!

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This weekend’s baking/cooking: Top: Ina Garten’s Raspberry Crumble Bottom Left: Prep for NYTimes Cooking Curried Split Pea Soup Bottom Right: Thug Kitchen’s Curry Hand Pies

Speaking of the cruise, I’m still working on posts about the trip, there’s so much to tell though! It’ll show up someday, I promise.

Have a great week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Happy Pi Day!

Chocolate Silk Pie

This past weekend my friend hosted a pie party where each person represented a different country. I was representing South Korea and Dan wanted me to make a meat pie with using a rice crust and bulgogi filling. I was intrigued by that idea, but I have so many cookbooks that get no love, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to use one. After thumbing through The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Newlywed Kitchen, I decided to go with a recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Since it’s the end of winter and produce isn’t exactly bountiful, her chocolate silk pie recipe sounded like a winner.

I asked Dan to pick chocolate wafer cookies, but after going to the store, he couldn’t find any. We settled with Oreos. Who doesn’t love an Oreo crust, right? He also wasn’t able to unsweetened chocolate, so we substituted with bittersweet. I finished the pie by adding the Korean chili powder gochugaru to the filling and the whipped cream. I thought it might give the filling a slightly smoky flavor, but it only added a little spice at the end, which is why I also put it in the whipped cream.

I ended up messing with the Smitten Kitchen recipe a bit since I ended up using a larger pie pan, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I didn’t end up bringing home gold for South Korea, but at least I got some great compliments on how the pie turned out! It seemed that people enjoyed the spice that showed up at the end.

Korean Chocolate Spiced Silk Pie

Yields one 12-inch pie

Oreo Crust

Ingredients:

  • 30 Oreos or similar sandwich cookie
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

Turn your oven on to 350 degrees.

Using a food processor, finely crush the cookies so they resemble crumbs, pick out any leftover full cookies and eat (or you know, just keep processing until they become crumbs). You can also put the cookies into a bag and smash them using a rolling pin or slamming them onto the counter if you’re looking to get some stress out.

Stir the crumbs and butter together in your pie dish. When fully combined, press the crumbs into the bottom of and up the side of the pan.

Put the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes for a crunchy crust, then cool completely. I let my crust cool in the fridge overnight by covering it with saran wrap.

While the crust is cooling, you can get started on your filling.

Chocolate Silk Filling

Ingredients:

  • 13 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 100 grams bittersweet chocolate, melted, and cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of gochugaru (or chili powder if you can’t find this)

Whip the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer. Be sure to scrape down the bowl when needed. Once the mixture is pale and fluffy, drizzle in the chocolate while the mixer is running on medium speed. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating for five minutes at medium speed each time. Also important to scrape down the bowl here as well! Add in the vanilla.

Once everything has been mixed together, add a small pinch of gochugaru and mix. Taste the filling to see if the spice is there, it should show up at the very end. If the filling is lacking, throw in a little more, but a small amount! Gochugaru is very potent. If you do end up adding too much, I would make a small batch of the butter, sugar, chocolate mix and add it to the original mixture.

Once the filling is perfect, put it in the chilled crust. I tried to get it spread as evenly as I could and to smooth out the top. It wasn’t perfect, and it’s fine, it’s going to be covered with whipped cream anyways. Let the pie chill in the fridge completely, at least six hours.

When you’re ready to serve the pie, make the whipped cream.

Korean-style Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • A pinch of gochugaru

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream with the sugar until peaks slightly start to form. You don’t want to over beat it as the soft consistency of the cream mixes well with the filling. If you would like to add a little spice to the whipped cream, add a little gochugaru, if not, leave it out. It does add a little fun color to the whipped cream.

Take the pie out and spread the whipped over the pie, and top of chocolate shavings if you would like.

I found a bar of dark chocolate and shaved on as much as I could in an “artful” way. The final product is below. Artful enough? I wish I had an Instagram worthy picture of a slice sitting nicely next to a drink, but alas, I was too busy eating it. Next time!

Korean Chocolate Silk Pie

February Bake – Ombre Ruffle Cake

We head out for vacation this weekend and won’t be back until the 28th, which left me this past weekend to do my February Great British Bake Off challenge. At first I thought I was going to bring the cake to a Super Bowl party, and then figured I would bring it to a King Cake party held at our wine bar, then last minute, my friend came through with movie night that we hosted so there was no transporting this cake anywhere!

I made the chocolate cake Friday night. It was easy enough,  minus trying to portion out the three layers. I only had one pan, and thought I did enough math to get the proper ratios for equal cakes, but definitely didn’t. My first layer was huge, the second layer was a flat disk, and the third layer was a perfect combination of the two.

On Saturday I started on the icing. Four sticks of butter and 8 cups of confectioner’s sugar. I ended up with so much, there was no way I thought I was going to use it all. I was super wrong though and ran out of icing and couldn’t complete piping all the layers. I was able to do some nice ombre color though. Unfortunately, my piping skills need work.

Would I make this cake again? Definitely. The cake was so delicious and not too sweet. Next time, I’ll only ice between the layers of the cake and do the crumb layer going for that “naked” effect to cut down on all the sugar and sweetness. And maybe next time I’ll use the correct icing tips and get flowers to properly decorate!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

January Bake – Mallorcas

As I mentioned in my New Year post, my friend gave me the Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and my New Year’s Resolution is to bake the monthly recipe. This month was mallorcas.

Mallorcas, as seen in the calendar picture above, are delicious, fluffy, spiraled breakfast buns that are topped with confectioners sugar and amazing with jam. The friend who gave me the calendar actually made these for my birthday brunch and they looked exactly like the photo and were divine.

My mallorcas on the other hand, came out looking like hockey pucks and a little bit denser than what they should have been. The taste was still there though.

What do I think went wrong with my bake? My instructions said I could use the dough hook attachment on a slow speed, but my friend had done everything by hand. I think I relied too much on my Kitchenaid and should have used my hands. I ended up finding chunks of butter the next morning when I went to roll out the dough. My dough was also very sticky and I don’t think it rised like it was supposed to.

It was still quite delicious, and I’m definitely going to try these again. At least there was no soggy bottom?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Happy 4th!

AKA the last day I have to take my Lovenox shot! That in itself deserves some fireworks. We’re heading to a bbq at a friend’s tonight after a long day hiking, fishing (just Dan), and attempting to make sourdough bread. We are trying a sourdough starter — Wish us luck. The hike was 6 miles round trip and the most exercise I’ve done since… Probably February. I feel good though so hopefully this means I’m recovering quickly!

Fisherman Dan
Fisherman Dan.

It’s been a busy weekend with one of my best friend’s visiting me from Omaha and bringing out one of her friends, her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, and her 120lb wooly mammoth. Ok, maybe a German Shephard-Malamute mix, but really a wooly mammoth (as seen above). I haven’t seen her since my wedding and I was so excited to hangout with her.

Chemo and radiation start next Wednesday, so I’m trying to relax as much as I can before then. Minus the fact that Dan will be running the Missoula marathon on Sunday and then we’re hopping on a plane to Seattle right after for my follow-up appointment on Monday. Then flying back that night. And then my MIL is coming on Tuesday. So yes, trying to relax until then.

Hope you have a safe and happy 4th!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl