Posts tagged butter
Posts tagged butter
The Pumpkin Cheesecake Debacle
Well, it finally happened. The dizziness got the best of me.
Back in June, on my sister Rosie’s birthday, I promised her a pumpkin cheesecake, but she was away all summer and we couldn’t work out the details of making it and getting it to her. She’s back in Manhattan for a few days before heading back to Oberlin, so we finally figured out the logistics and last night I got to work.
Since it’s a birthday present, it needed to be special and particularly indulgent. In search of a recipe, I went right to Paula Deen circa 2007, back when she was still all about the butter.
It started with the crust: graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
See that tiny hand in the bottom right corner? That’s Juliet’s. She helped.
This is Juliet, helping me with the melted butter. A whole stick of it.
I felt like I needed more butter to keep it all held together, but I figured that if Paula Deen said it was enough butter, it had to be enough. She’s not exactly known for holding back on the butter, especially back in 2007.
Juliet and I poured the mixture into a springform pan.
I used the bottom of a measuring cup to push the crumbs into place. Then Juliet went off to watch Thomas the Tank Engine, and I worked on the filling.
The recipe said to beat the cream cheese until smooth, which was a very strange instruction. Cream cheese is already smooth! I beat it anyway.
I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream. This is where things went completely wrong, although I didn’t know it yet. I added the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For good measure, I threw in some pumpkin pie spice too.Things got very messy, but I thought I still had them under control. (I was wrong.)
I got the mixer going, and things started to look better. (Looks can be deceiving.)
Then I added the flour (only a few tablespoons, and vanilla.
Once that was properly mixed, I retrieved the pan with the crust in it.
I poured the mixture in. I thought it smelled good. It probably did.
For some reason, I didn’t taste the batter. I wish I had. I usually do.
I put it in the oven and let it bake for an hour. I took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, then covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I was done! I texted Rosie to tell her.
Then I sat down to continue my Downton Abbey marathon. And started blogging. It was slow going, as the show is pretty engaging. I usually keep the page with the recipe open as a reference, and after I typed this part,
I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream.
I noticed something. Something terrible. The recipe said,
Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.
I read it again.
Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.
Notice anything? Probably not. But I did.
I don’t remember adding any sugar. I remember putting brown sugar in the crust, but white sugar? In the bowl? With the pumpkin?
I texted Rosie in shame. I told Dave what happened. I grieved for the poor cheesecake and all its wasted ingredients, and its lost potential. I watched more Downton Abbey, which, thematically, included the “salty pudding” episode. I ate some peanut butter in secret shame.
I’m so embarrassed.
Poor Rosie. She was gracious and lovely about it, of course, because she’s a wonderful person. She’s so wonderful she deserves a f-ing cheesecake! Sadly, she’s not getting one this time. I promised her one the next time she comes back from school for a visit.
I should probably give her two.
Should YOU wish to make a pumpkin cheesecake, don’t follow my instructions, but do head straight to Paula Deen.
And I will try not to take on more complex baking tasks until my doctor gets back to me about the dizziness.
Baking Scones at Mussers’ Bed & Breakfast
Every June, on or about the last day of school, we take the kids to Pennsylvania to ride the rails at Strasburg Railroad. We ride Thomas the Tank Engine, visit the train museums, buy jams in tiny jars, eat homemade ice cream and shoofly pie, and take a horse & buggy ride around Amish country. Best of all, we stay at Mussers’ Bed & Breakfast, our home away from home. Mussers’ has two special elements that we don’t have at our house: Barb, the owner, an extraordinary person we all adore, and Barb’s magnificent and magical breakfasts. Every morning is different. Eggs made to order, baked oatmeal, crisp bacon, fresh fruit, homemade waffles, all made from local ingredients combined to create the fantasy breakfasts of our dreams. Because Barb is creative and fun, it’s always decorative too. Who else would have such fun with red and green grapes?
I sent Barb the link to my baking blog, and when she asked if I wanted to have a baking adventure with her, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m still new at this and there are so many things I haven’t learned to bake yet, so she suggested scones. Perfect. There’s a technique to scones that I’ve never even tried.
Nathaniel decided to come along, so we headed downstairs once Juliet was in bed. Barb had already assembled the ingredients, putting what we’d need for the dough on the table and setting out a separate tray with the mix-ins.
She very thoughtfully included chocolate, knowing my (extremely negative) feelings about dried fruit in baked goods. The plan was to make three separate batches, and there were already three bowls ready & waiting.
The butter was still in the fridge, as it needed to stay cold, so I measured out the flour and Nathaniel took on the task of getting it into the bowls. We added sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Barb got the butter out, and cut it into small cubes.
We asked Nathaniel to whisk the dry ingredients together. He needed a little guidance on the basic procedure & principles of whisking, and I was happy to provide it. I love whisking. I even just love the word. Wonderful whisking.
Once the butter was cut up, it went into the flour mixtures. We started with two of the bowls, saving the third for later. Barb taught me to mix the cubes in with the flour, but then squeeze each cube, flattening it with my fingers with the flour to make the mixture flaky. Since we were both knuckle-deep in flour & butter, Nathaniel took on the picture taking. I think he did a pretty good job.
He is, after all, still an eight-year-old boy with a camera. Ha!
In went the chocolate (or in Barb’s bowl, the dried cherries).
In went a cup of heavy cream.
Oh wait. Did I mention there were mojitos?
A perfect host as always, Barb introduced me to a whole new concept: cocktails and baking. I will have to remember this one.
Nathaniel surprised us both at this point by announcing that it was his bedtime. He was right, it was just past 9:00, but I was going to let him stay up for a while. I wasn’t, however, going to argue with such perfect behavior, so I hugged & kissed him and off he went. Dave told me later that he arrived back upstairs in our suite and brushed his teeth, then went to bed immediately. What a kid! I can only assume it was the influence of Barb and Pennsylvania, because Juliet put herself to bed that night too, with no negotiations or shenanigans whatsoever. The magic of Mussers’.
Once the heavy cream was added, the dough got pretty sticky…so sticky, in fact, that the next step — rolling it out, shaping it, and cutting it — just didn’t seem to be an option. Undaunted, Barb just suggested dropping the dough in large spoonfuls and making cute round biscuit-like scones vs. the more traditional, triangular ones.
We baked them. We took them out and smelled the glorious smells of the scones. We baked them a little longer. And then we had scones.
Now we still had one bowl of ingredients to work with, and Barb thought that using less of the cream would make the dough less sticky. She proposed about half as much, with the option to add more as needed. Turns out half was exactly right.
Barb had a pastry cloth that she’s had for decades, and she floured that up and started rolling out the dough on it. Now I want a pastry cloth too, and I want to have it for decades, and teach other people to bake on it. It does seem to be ideally suited to the task.
She rolled it to about three quarters of an inch thick, then shaped it into a large rectangle. She cut it into small rectangles with much more precision than I am usually able to muster up, especially after a mojito.
After that, we cut the rectangles in half to form triangles. I got to do some of that, taking care to be as precise as possible. Once they were all cut we loaded them into a big round pan that looked like a pizza pan, and put them in the freezer instead of baking them.
I don’t have a photo of the finished triangle ones, as they didn’t get baked until the morning, but they were a big hit with Nathaniel & Dave. (The dried blueberries ruled out my further involvement, but I was thrilled that they enjoyed them so much.) And they were fresh baked, with all the work having been done the night before.
Of course, Barb actually has room in her freezer for a giant tray with scones on it. Ours is jammed tight with frozen waffles & vegetables, random items from Trader Joe’s, things we can’t identify anymore, and leftovers that threaten to come flying out every time we open the door. But Barb has TWO kitchens, and is just generally a lot more organized and focused than we are. (She also has a business to run!)
We cut open one of the finished chocolate chip scones and had a look, then a taste. All the butter I normally avoid, yes, but worth every bite. SO flaky and light and buttery and wonderful.
What a great evening. We are so lucky to have found Mussers’ B&B, and Barb, and to be able to go on this special vacation once a year and do all this stuff for the kids. They do seem to love it.
Mussers’ Bed and Breakfast Flaky Scones
Baking temp: 400 degrees Time: 12-15 minutes—until golden brown
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 cups + 2 T. of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
1 liquid cup of heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 currants or other dried fruit of choice or chocolate chips
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter mixing by hand making it like flakes. Pinch butter cubes between thumb and fingers until there are no longer any hard lumps but flakes. It should not be grainy.
Add dried fruit or chocolate and mix.
Wet dough in bowl with cream but don’t over mix and don’t knead.
On a lightly floured surface shape the dough rolling it into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle, handling the dough as little as possible. Cut the rectangle into long strips and then cut more smaller rectangles, lastly cutting the rectangles into triangles.
At this point you can bake the scones or freeze them unbaked on a cookie sheet and when frozen transfer into freezer bags or containers to bake as needed. The frozen scones do not need to be thawed but baked frozen.
THANK YOU BARB!!! We can’t wait to come back and see you again next summer.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
According to Pinterest, I first noticed this recipe 20 weeks ago, which means it’s been waiting for me since January. Maybe it was the three sticks of butter that dissuaded me from trying it sooner, but a visit from our glorious friend Jenny was a good excuse to try something new, and she said she didn’t mind if it was crazily decadent. Score!
There are no healthy ingredients in this cake other than the eggs.
I started by putting three sticks of butter and an 8-ounce package of reduced fat cream cheese into the stand mixer.
Then we added a cup of sugar.
Then we added two MORE cups of sugar.
So where are we? Oh yeah, three sticks of butter and three cups of sugar.
Then it was time for the six eggs. Yes, I said six eggs. No, I didn’t say six egg whites or two eggs. Six. Six eggs.
The recipe suggested cracking them into a separate bowl first to prevent shells from getting into the batter, which seemed like a wise precaution, so I got out a nice big glass bowl and Jenny & I cracked away.
It was only after we did that that I looked back a sentence or two and read, “Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until combined.” Oops. So I did my best to add them one at a time. See? Here I am halfway through.
Once the eggs were in and blended, it was time to address the dry ingredients. I didn’t do whole wheat white for this one, as I didn’t want to add even a bit of heaviness to the cake. Using the sifter for three cups seemed like a time-consuming and tedious task, so I cheated and used the colander.
I added the salt and then started blending the dry ingredients into the batter, a little at a time. The bowl filled up quickly.
The last ingredient to go in was the vanilla. I stirred that in by hand and Jenny helped me get the batter from the bowl into the bundt pan. I was so sure I was going to spill it all into the hole in the middle and therefore all over the counter, but with her help, everything made it into the pan.
I set the timer for an hour and forty minutes, and resisted the urge to open the oven every ten minutes to see what was going on in there. I’ve never used my bundt pan before, and I’ve never made a pound cake, so I was a little nervous.
While it was baking, Nathaniel came home from a birthday party where they played capture the flag (and had the time of their lives).
With eight minutes left to go on the timer, I did the toothpick test and the pound cake passed with flying colors. Out it went.
The next test came fifteen minutes later, when I flipped over the pan and hoped for the best. I was afraid to look, so I watched Dave’s face while he watched the cake come out of the pan, which is also how I used to watch 24 when it got icky. Dave’s face registered nothing but joy, however, and I took a look for myself.
Wow! It took all the restraint I had not to cut it open and peek inside until after dinner.
But wait…we must speak of dinner. Dave grilled some chicken on the barbecue, which was utterly delicious, but for a side dish he brought back a Pinterest favorite of ours: Waffle Iron Fries. Have you tried these? It’s like a latke, or hash browns, but instead of being fried in oil, it cooks in the waffle iron. Jenny practically swooned. Dave opened up the waffle iron so I could grab a quick shot of one being cooked.
We sat down to a tasty treat of a dinner, and then I took the plunge and cut the cake. What joy! The outside is almost crisp, with a candy-like crunch, but it’s whisper-thin and is just the perfect introduction to the moist, delicious, dense but fluffy wonder on the inside. O M G. Honestly, I can think of no better expression to explain it than that. O M G.
Juliet liked it so much she posed with it, although she made sure she looked dramatic enough to draw the eye away from the cake.
Nathaniel had his (second) piece with a few strawberries, and couldn’t stop laughing at the monster strawberry he found in the container.
And that was the most decadent thing I have made since my birthday, and it’s delicious, and I feel proud of it. I will continue to feel proud if I don’t eat any more until at least tomorrow. If there’s any left by Monday, my co-workers are going to love me and curse me at the same time.
On a final note, I wanted to make something special for Jenny to take home that wouldn’t inspire foodguilt, so I made some chocolate yogurt muffins. I told her I’d put five chips in the middle of each one, any kind of chip she wanted, and when she couldn’t decide, I went all in and made three of each kind: white chocolate, peanut butter, cinnamon, and butterscotch.
We were sad when Jenny left, but we loaded her up with chicken, turkey chili, pound cake, and muffins. Now the kids are up in bed, and Dave & I are alone with what’s left of the cake. Please send help.