Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trip to Reno

While in Reno it is entirely possible I ate the equivilant of my own body weight in food (or at the very least tried to).

Breakfast/lunch at Josephs Vienna Bakery

 Pain au Chocolate
Nutella Crepes
Dinner at the Nappa Bistro inside the Atlantis Casino - Filet with Roasted Vegetables
Strawberry Shortcake

The leaves were changing on all the trees, not something I get to experiece every day.

 Dinner at Scusa in South Lake Tahoe, I had an amazing fresh tomota angel hair pasta then
Cannoli and Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (I ate it before I remembered the camera)

Lunch at BJ's Brewhouse.   They make the most amazing "hand crafted" root beer at this resteraunt, luckily there are 2 in Tucson so I don't have to make airline reservations to enjoy it.

 Italian Sausage, Basil and Tomato Flat bread.  This is supposed to be an appetizer but I think next time I'm going to make it my meal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bread, Bread, Bread

It's time for menu changes yet again and this time it's not sweets that top the priority list.  We (and I use that term loosely) are working on lunch right now, that is to say Sam is working on lunch and I am making random things for them to play with.  Last week I made a killer southwest coleslaw.  This week it's bread.  First let me say the F&B Director picked a day when we had 216 guests for dinner to throw this at me..."I found a bread recipe I want you to try today".  So for our first contender....
Whole Wheat Quinoa Bread
The F & B Director has been trying to get Quinoa on the menu for a while.  Now that we are serving it at dinner he is pushing to get included in other areas.  This bread was FUNKY to put it nicely.  It turned out dense with a nice even crumb but it stayed very moist after baking. Alone it is slightly gummy and I could taste the toasted sesame seeds a bit too much but mostly it just tasted like soggy whole wheat.  I double toasted it and made it into a veggie sandwich and it was less offensive.  Overall not to my taste, but not technically a fail.

Project # 2                                                   Pan Telera
He was pretty proud of this as I didn't know what it was prior to last Tuesday.  One of my nicknames at work is Rebecca-pedia, but this I had not previously crossed paths with.  It is a Mexican style sandwich roll which they make tortas on.  Lean and made from all white flour it is soft with an even crumb, a very thin crust and a mild flavor.  The people at work who had heard of it all recognized it so I guess this one I got right.

Project #3 was an Olive Herb French bread.  I am not a fan of oil cured olives, I think they stink, taste bad and are slightly slimey.  I was grossed out making the dough but the finished product surprised me.  It was mildly salty and the olive flavor blended nicely with the bread.

Project #4 which is on the docket for Monday is Roasted Garlic Herb French Bread.  Same basic dough as the olive bread but a twist on flavors.

My funny for the week...
When I left work (more like staggered home to pass out) on Wednesday there was a 50# bag of bread flour and a 50# bag of AP flour on the shelf in dry storage.  When I went in on Thursday there was an empty bread bin in the bakeshop and only the bag of AP flour in dry storage.  The AM baker swears she didn't fill any bins.  I made my batch of olive bread from a recipe I am familiar with and ended up adding quite a bit of extra flour to it.  I made a second batch of Telera and it needed a lot more water than Tuesday's batch.  By this point I'm suspicious but I wasn't sure until I took the telera out of the oven.  The dough went in the oven at about an inch tall and roughly the size of my entire hand, it came out 2 1/2 inches tall and only the size of my palm.   DING, DING, DING we have a winner.  AM baker lied to me :)  She dumped the bread flour in the AP bin, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the bread.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Baby Shower Cake

I got a text from a friend a while back asking me if she could pass my name and number on to someone looking for a cake.  Of course I said yes!! 
A baby shower cake for a girl and the mom loves frogs.  The first comment on facebook was "how you".  This is the baby shower cake I want if I'm every lucky enough to have a shower :), but it was chosen entirely by the person I made the cake for.

The frog is fondant over rice crispy treats, I spent about 30 minutes getting the figure down, let it cool and tried to cover it.  The arms kept coming out looking like boobs so I took them off an covered them separately.  The "water" fondant is just blue and green food color that is only partially kneaded into the fondant so it comes out swirly.  The water lily flowers are gumpaste and actually made from a daisy cutter. I got orders for 2 more cakes when I delivered this one.  *SQUEEE* 

Thursday, September 2, 2010


aka scary doll cake

 This is based on the Hans Christen Anderson fairy tale that was made into a movie in the 90's.  Total rookie mistake, I colored her mouth while she was still wet and it made it look bloody, hence the alternate name.  Super Baker Friend made the mouse and the mole, the rest I did. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pot of Gold Cake

I was asked to make a birthday cake that had a leperchaun, pot of gold  a rainbow and a grave stone.  Odd combo but here it is....minus the grave stone.  The grave stone is gumpaste and I didn't want it soaking up moisture from the fondant and melting so Super Baker Friend was adding it later.
We worked on fondant and gumpaste pieces for a good 3 hours last night.  Had a blast, it's so relaxing to just play, until you try making a 2" doll that was not so relaxing.  It's on a cake for tomorrow with animals and a flower.

Amazing Cookies

I've been looking for cookie recipes that are a bit unusual in hopes of finding inspiration for developing a signature cookie for work.  When you spend an hour at a time looking at dessert recipes they all start to look awfully good :-)  I picked a couple that I wanted to try and started baking.  First was a toasted coconut shortbread that was very tasty they aren't much to look at, I can forget all about that while I'm eating one.  The next one I tested is tasty and pretty:

Hazelnut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made my own hazelnut butter in the food processor.  These cookies are better than regular chocolate chip cookies by far...and I'm not changing the recipe at all.  Have I found my signature cookie - no, but these might find their way to a banquet menu.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Itty Bitty Little Cake

The wedding cake that I agreed to make for a guest.  White cake with Lemon Curd, strawberries and vanilla buttercream.
There were only 6 people invited to the wedding. The lunch reservation was for 8 people so this is a $52 cake.  I gave in and agreed to make it after originally telling the lady no.  The top of this cake was a pain in the patooty.  2" cakes are REALLY hard to decorate, still I built and iced this in less than an hour and a half.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cake, Cake!

Last night I made a 9" round cake, 4 layers with raspberry mousse and vanilla buttercream completely from scratch in 1 hr 50 minutes.  I started the cake at 4:15 and put it in the display case at 6:05.  It's gotta be a record of some sort.  The fact that I was very, very angry over raw cake rounds could be behind the speed at which I accomplished it.

This morning's cake was done in a much more leisurely fashion.  I made this for a co-worker.

It's tons of fun to stick fingers in cakes on purpose.  :-)  The 'water' on the board I made by spraying food coloring on foil wrap then putting plastic wrap over it while it was still wet. 

Just a FYI wilton foodwriters don't work on gumpaste until it's completely dry. 
KD drawing the stripes on Spongebob's tube socks with a sharpie marker.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dino Cake Day 2

I checked my fondant spikes first thing this morning and to my amazement they had melted!?!  I've had it not dry completely but the melting was a first.  So after an emergency run for gumpaste and a second set of spikes I got down to business.
The thing was sweating "like a hooker in church" so I gave him a little time in front of the fan.

Still sweaty but all ready to roll.
Side view

Lots of fun with very few swear words today.  I ended up needing to support the spikes with toothpicks because the pieces weren't completely dry.  On to Friday and Spongebob!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dino Cake Day 1

I started making a 3D dino cake today.  It doesn't look like much yet but I have progress none the less.

What the cake should look like when it's done.

Getting the basic shape down.  The tail and legs are separate pieces right now.  Note the piece of carsboard in the middle to support the head.

Prepping for the fondant.  I think it looked better before I iced it.  One of the guys at work thinks its a bison :)

The spikes for the spine.  They are really purple the lighting in the bakeshop is really bad.

Just for fun.  well... maybe to show off a little too.

I also started working on a dessert submission today for the Shamrock Farms Dairy Fresh Chef contest.  I wasn't going to enter but I am caving in to the peer pressure and going for it. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I do these things to myself, you know?

I had a phone message when I got to work today.  "Mrs Whatsit called to order a wedding cake to be served at lunch on Aug 6th for 8 people."  My first thought was "Wow they actually didn't just tell her yes?"

I left for the kitchen to call her back thinking no way. Apparently my will power is non-existent for more than just donuts lately...I agreed to do it.  The clincher; they really do want it to serve only 8 people but she would "just love me" if I still made it tiered.  GRRRR!   It doesn't make sense that little cakes are harder to ice than gargantuan cakes.

The donuts just keep making it to my face and I have nobody to blame for it but me.  In 7 days I made beignets, vanilla spice cake doughnuts, raised cinnamon sugar donuts and SPUDNUTS!!! I love beignets but I crazy mad LOVE, LOVE, LOVE potato donuts.  The biggest downfall to being the person making the donuts isn't time spent over the deep fryer it's proximity to the finished product.  Somehow I kept ending up close enough that the darn things were just jumping into my hand and, well, what sane person puts down a warm donut?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Horse Mad

We celebrated my  niece's 4th birthday last weekend while everyone was around for the family reunion.  She is horse crazy, has a pretty large collection of horses and  an imagination that won't quit.  Her favorite color as of the 3rd was purple so when I found a "Precious Pony" pan in my mom's living room I knew I had to make it. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Desserts

 I think my dream job is dreaming up desserts and testing new recipes.  It is the aspect of the current job that I enjoy the most.  This is where the creativity flows and I get to put my brain to work.  I enjoy my job on a day to day basis but most of the work I do is routine nearly to the point of mindless.  Babysitting is the part I enjoy the least :-P. 
Lychee Raspberry Mousse Cake with Anglaise, Raspberry Sauce 
and a white chocolate straw.  
Lychee is a tropical fruit native to the Orient.  I think it tastes like roses smell, one of the guys I work with says cherries and bananas, another banana and watermelon.  The red velvet texture on the outside is tinted cocoa butter that is sprayed on.

 Sampling of Fruit Bruschettas - left is Polenta Pound Cake with Basil Strawberries, middle is Lemon Ginger Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Glazed Peaches, right is Almond Cake with Mango, Pineapple, Kiwi and Mint it's served with lemon-lime sorbet.
This dessert was a lot of fun to put together.  Hopefully people "get it".  It will become the dessert for the prix fixe "feature menu" where people can order a predetermined 3 or 4 courses for a set price.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Latest Cake

Another cake in the success column but not without some back sliding first.  I started doing the overpiping on the cake and it was sweating so badly that the buttercream was sliding off.

 Drying off the cake tiers

I came home to get myself ready while the cakes dried & accidentally fell asleep so I was racing the clock to get the cake delivered and set up.  2 of the cakes slid together on the car ride, I fixed the one that was messed up in the front but left the back. 

Looks pretty darn good.

Brittney waiting to cut the cake.

All in all another successful cake done!   As always I learned a couple of things and there are one or two things I would do differently given another go at it.  The color of the buttercream did not exactly match the fondant, but I'm not really sure how to correct that.  Given more time I would have filled in around the branches with more scroll work but I think I still looks fine the way it is.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eating crow

Remember how I was saying just this month I couldn't wait to be bored?  Yep I said it.  I guess I've been working night and day for too long because I don't remember nothing to do being... well, this boring in the past.

I am working on changing about 1/2 of the dessert menu in early June.  We are having a blast with it.  It's amazing how time to tweak and redo makes the creative process more fun. I am playing with fruit bruschetta right now.  I want the final product to lean more towards a sampling of flavor combinations than just one bread and one topping.   At first I was thinking, chocolate, ginger, nut something and angel food as the bases with mixed berries, stone fruit, apples and tropical fruit salsa.  The longer I play the more I'm afraid the chocolate cake just doesn't fit.  I think it is going to get replaced with a polenta pound cake?

I spend quite a bit of time on any given day looking at recipes - on the web, in cookbooks & in trade magazines.  I have a couple of fav sites but epicurious (from the editors of bon appetit & gourmet mags) has a broad range of professionally tested recipes that always capture my interest.  When I came across the recipe for lemon ginger pound cake a while back I just sorta filed it away in the back of my mind for later.  Later has arrived!! The first batch was good but that is just never enough for me...we played with it and now it is FABULOUS!
Lemon Ginger Pound Cake  Rebecca's way

  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger  
  • 1 3/4 cups  granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt    
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla       
  • 2 sticks  unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons zested       
  • 4 large eggs                                                      
  • 2oz fresh lemon juice  
1 - 9" X 5" loaf pan, sprayed with pan spray and lined with parchment if you have it.


Preheat oven to 325°F.
Finely grind together fresh ginger and 3/4 cup sugar in a food processor or blender (mixture will be wet).
Whisk together or sift flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt.
Beat together butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in ginger sugar until just combined, then lemon juice and vanilla extract. Add the flour in 2 batches, mixing until just combined.
Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until golden brown on top and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan 10 mins then carefully tip out and allow to finish cooling on a rack or flat surface.

If you want to pretty it up you can add glaze (powdered sugar and lemon juice) but the cake really doesn't need the extra sugar.

Serve with fruit, barely sweetened whip cream or ice cream.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Time for cake

U of A graduation time!

We had a rather large stack of unusual cake orders this week.  

Chocolate Cake with White Frosting.  I made white chocolate mousse just cuz I could.  U of A colors, done.  It took me a full half hour to get the stinking frosting this dark of blue.  & yeah I probably should have done the deco & then wrote on it but Congratulations takes up a lot of space.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting?  Seems odd to me why not chocolate cake with chocolate frosting?  Normally cakes with chocolate frosting don't come with instructions for decorating either.  The brown messes with the color scheme a bit but it did look pretty cool matched up to the previous cake which was for the same party.

A carrot cake for your daughter Deena who is graduating?  Sure no problem...
But this is what the cake order we got had printed on it.  Luckily it's easy to lift the chocolate right off and just smooth it out a little.  Hopefully there was only one person at that table who graduated so it was obvious who the "congrats" was for  ;-D.

We don't make flan very often at the Inn & I'm very thankful for that.  When you make them this big they take FOREVER to bake.  Of course, when I don't forget about them and get them in the oven before 8 pm it helps. Still they turned out pretty good.
Vanilla Bean
Orange (in case it wasn't immediately obvious)

The real laugh is that none of these touch the oddest cake I've made at this job.  Chef calls me to the office to listen to a voice mail about a cake order last summer.  
                "Hi this is Janet.  I'd like to order a cake for my child's 21st birthday.  If possible I would like most of the cake covered in blue and orange icing flowers.  It needs to say "Happy Birthday Phillip'. Thanks"
HUH??  Icing flowers and it's for phillip.  But wouldn't this "philip" be a son?  I call the person back thinking to myself I misunderstood the message.  Nope I understood the message perfectly, I'm just still baffled.

Poor kid.  Flowers for his 21st birthday cake.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Buffet

Last big event of the season! :)  I am so looking forward to being bored all summer.  Just have to get through the chaos of 3 graduation weekends in a row first.

The Buffet Menu
     Lemon Cupcakes
     Milk Chocolate Mousse
     Strawberry Shortcake
     Lime Cheesecake
     Fruit Tarts
     Chocolate Mousse Petit Fours
     Coconut Petit Fours

 The entire buffet

Lemon Cupcakes  
the purple frosting is at Sam's request

Milk Chocolate Mousse

Strawberry Shortcake

Lime Cheesecake

Fruit Tart on butter cake

The Main Dining Room Menu
     Creme Brulee 
     Black & White Cake
     Passionfruit Panna Cotta
     Lychee Mousse Cake
     Strawberry Shortcake
Lychee Mousse on Raspberry Soaked butter cake 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is it possible to have eyestrain from the color of something??

Whew, what a crazy weekend.  I need to sleep for a solid week to make up for it, but nope, it's work for me all week.
Brad  & Amanda's cake can be added to the success column.  I managed to get it made, transported and set-up with only a couple of snafu's.  There was an incident of epic fail but it related to somebody else's actions hours after I left and despite my best advice. 

The figurine to the right was the cake topper.  My mom added it closer to show time.
& the eyestrain you ask?  That would be from the icing color.  I HATE PINK!!!  Of course anyone who knows me at all knows this.  My stance has actually relaxed a little in the last 5 years since there was a time when I would have refused to make a cake this color. 
I did take some creative liscence with the cake design that she sent me.  Originally the cake was supposed to be covered in fondant which travels a million times better than buttercream.  The tiers are a good inch shorter than planned so they would fit in boxes to protect the frosting and that left me with less room for piping. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

June Wedding

My first cousin is getting married in June and his fiancee asked me to make the wedding cake. After talking to her about it the first time I started collecting pictures and she starting looking too.  The actual cake is going to be things she liked off of several different cakes so there is no picture of it.   I saved all the pictures she liked and wrote myself a bunch of little notes but I still like to have a picture of sorts to get it all straight in my head.

 I'm no artist unless I have a piping bag in my hand.  I can't seem to make the idea of perspective translate onto paper and while I can make flowers out of gumpaste that are realistic I can't draw them. My cousin finds this funny for some reason. :) Anyway, I still have to try for myself so dont' say I didn't warn you, alright?
The cake is white, square, stacked a little offset with stargazer lilies, teal ribbon, a little greenery, dark chocolate "branch" piping and white allover scroll piping.   Now didn't you get all that from this picture? ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate covered strawberries

Most of you are looking at this and drooling  :)  Personally I don't understand the appeal.  Don't get me wrong..berries and chocolate are always a hit with my tastebuds.  Maybe it's the food snob in me but I want berries and chocolate mousse or berries and chocolate fondue or fudge stuffed strawberries or berries over chocolate ice cream or.....  well, you get it by now. 

We do these mostly for weddings at work so some weekends we spend a good deal of time on them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Brunch

I have obviously survived another holiday.  We are going to change up the schedule for mothers day so that maybe I won't have to work 37 hours in 3 days to pull it off.  We are only able to cross utilize some of our desserts still we try to keep the menus sorta similar to cut prep times. 

Main Dining Room Desserts
Creme Brulee
Black & White Cake
Carrot Cake
Coconut Mousse
Strawberry Panna Cotta (which I made in a dome mold and had to listen to "boob" jokes all day long)

Unfortunately things happened out of my control and we were a little slow getting the plates done for the dining room, in the chaos I forgot to take pictures.  Bad Becca!

Luckily this was my domain and I finished prepping it nearly an hour early.   Plenty of time to fiddle, arrange and take pictures
Carrot cake and chocolate cake petit fours and orange cheesecake

Lemon cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, coconut cream tarts

Strawberry Panna Cotta with fresh stawberries and orange rosemary cookies

Hand Decorated Cookies

The entire buffet

I think the hand decorated cookies are a thing of the past unfortunately.  I was told that it's a waste of time, but somehow making cupcakes isn't.  I am totally anti-cupcake.  They are little dried out pieces of cake, no filling and always too much frosting.  BLECH!!!!  Plus it takes me longer to make 80 little bitty cupcakes than it does to make rounds that would serve the same amount of people and TASTE BETTER.  phew, think I'm done now.

Oh BTW, I got the last laugh with the pink "boobs"  by 5 o'clock I was so sick of hearing about it the I put 2 of them on a plate, stuck a single blueberry on top of each and hand delivered it to the F&B director.  He was speechless for nearly a minute.  BWHAAAAAHAHAHAHA