hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

I have to think about this one for a second. Should I do this?

Yes, I think I should.

hazelnut cheesecake

Okay here it goes. I recently read an article somewhere which stated that food bloggers are multitalented…Not only do they possess knowledge about baking/cooking, but they are also adequate writers and photographers, at least that’s what is expected from them and those are the qualities they should possess in order to be successful in the field.

hazelnut cheesecake

Well, to me writing is the trickiest of the three qualities, and I’m not talking about proper grammar usage or correct verb conjugation. I’m talking about trying to transmit my thoughts fully and properly with words. I have never been a person of many words, especially spoken words. An introvert like me, would rather express herself in other ways. But as I read over some of my posts, I have to admit that I have frequently and conveniently mistaken this blog for a diary, where I’m permitted to ramble on and on and then shyly hit the “publish” button. That doesn’t mean I’m a great writer. That just means that I happened to find the correct words in that specific time and place to express a certain feeling or thought. And thank God I did.

hazelnut cheesecake

Well, today, as I think about these cheesecakes I made, a bundle of emotion is stirred up inside of me and I might have to “let it all come out” and come clean once again…through words.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

Here is the story. I made hazelnut cheesecakes today. I made one set for Periphery and one for me. Incase you didn’t know, Periphery is a progressive metal band that is doing really wonderful things in music.They just left for an Australian tour and I made them these treats before they left on their journey.

hazelnut cheesecake

About a year and half ago my other half, Mark, was offered the position of becoming one of Periphery’s full-time guitarists. He was offered the opportunity of a life time…of his life time. At the time, I was almost convinced that this opportunity, as rewarding as it may have been for him, did not match with what I had in mind for us. To keep things brief, after having been with Mark for many many years, I deeply believed that this sudden change of pace and life style in our lives would be a problem. I was stuck in the notion that the idea of the two (the band/touring and me) could not coexist. I was stubborn and pushed away. This would either make us or break us.

hazelnut cheesecake

Luckily we are still one, stronger than ever. It took some adjusting and getting used to, but after some compromise and care from both sides, we got over the unexpected bump on the road and swerved back to our path. After testing the waters and giving it a try, I realized that this situation is not that bad. I won’t bother listing the pros and cons. He is doing what he loves and that is very important.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

So today, I made two sets of cheesecakes: one for me and one for Periphery to take on their trip. Mine has chopped and toasted hazelnuts along with striped dark chocolate on the top. Theirs has the band’s logo on the surface of each individual piece. Mine is a larger and thicker piece (I know, I know), while theirs are smaller and thinner mini cheesecakes, to the point where they almost resemble cheesecake cookies…Cheesecake and cookies united as one?! Simply delicious.

hazelnut cheesecake

hazelnut cheesecake

They are both different, but still alike, since the same batter, method, and care, were taken to elaborate both. After all, we can all coexist peacefully.

hazelnut cheesecakes

And even better? The guys enjoyed their treats quite a bit and as you probably figure, few things in the world gratify me more than to bring happiness to others through sweets. I hope you find them to be just as tasty.

hazelnut cheesecake

• Yield: Six mini cheesecakes and one 6″ x 2″ medium-sized cheesecakes. However, the yield varies depending on what size pan you prefer to use. I’m sure you can probably get two 8″ cheesecakes out of this. Freeze for 3-4 weeks well wrapped. Keep in fridge for about 2 days.

• Note: I used tart pans for the mini cheesecakes. I know you may be thinking, “Tart pans are meant to be used to bake tarts, not cheesecakes! Duuuh!” And you are so right. However, that’s what I had in hand and I made it work just fine. Since the material of the cake pans is so thin, the baking time decreases significantly because the heat reaches the batter sooner and with more force. If using a spring form pan, be sure to wrap the bottom and sides of cake pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage. 

ingredients for hazelnut cookie crust:

4 oz butter

2 oz sugar

3.5 oz AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

2.5 oz hazelnuts

recipe for hazelnut cookie crust:

1. Place hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until hazelnuts are finely crushed. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar until butter is light and fluffy.

3. Mix AP flour, ground hazelnuts, and salt together.

4. Slowly add all dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together.

5. Drop spoonfuls of dough two inches apart onto a sheet tray that is covered with parchment paper. You will most likely need two baking sheets to bake off all the cookies. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes, until cookies become golden brown. Allow cookies to cool off.

ingredients for cheesecake:

hazelnut cookies

8 oz cream cheese

4 oz sugar

6 oz Nutella

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 oz mascarpone cheese

2 eggs

1 yolk

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 C hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

2 oz of dark chocolate

recipe for cheesecake:

1. Grind hazelnut cookies in a food processor until cookies are finely ground. The natural oils in the hazelnut will come out when this happens, so adding melted butter is not necessary to keep the crumbs together. 

2. Grease six 3″ x 1″ tart pans and one 6″ x 2″ round cake pan
 with vegetable spray. Cut out circles that have the same circumference as the base of the pans and place each circular piece of parchment paper on the base of each pan.

3. Press grounded hazelnut cookies into prepared pans. Bake at 350 F for about 10-12, until crust becomes golden brown. Allow crust to cool off completely.

4.  Preheat oven to 275 F. Cream cream cheese and sugar on medium speed for a couple of minutes until cream cheese is light, fluffly, and smooth. There should be no solid chunks of cream cheese at this point. Add Nutella and vanilla.

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5. Add mascarpone cheese and continue to mix just until mixture is creamy and well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and be sure that all ingredients are well integrated.

6.  Add yolks and eggs one at a time on low speed until batter is very smooth.

7. Strain batter into a large bowl. Ladle batter into prepared mini tart pans, until batter reaches almost to the top of each pan. Ladle remaining batter into 6″ x 2″ cake pan.

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8. Place mini tart pans onto a baking sheet tray. Place sheet tray into preheated oven and pour water into sheet tray, until water reaches about halfway the sides of each pan. Place 6″ x 2″ cake pan onto a separate baking pan with sides. Pour water into baking pan so that water reaches about halfway the sides of cake pan. Bake mini cheesecakes for about 20-30 minutes and larger cake for about 1 hr 20 min, until cakes jiggle in the center when tapped.

9. Cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature. Place cakes in freezer for about 1-2 hours. 

10. Turn frozen cheesecakes upside down over a flat surface that is covered with parchment paper. Torch the sides and bottom of each cake and tap firmly until cheesecakes are released. Turn cheesecakes over.

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11. Time decorate your cakes…sprinkle a handful of toasted/chopped hazelnuts over the surface of each cheese cake. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Place melted dark chocolate into a pre-made paper cone. Cut the paper cone’s tip and and move swiftly and quickly back and forth over the cake to create thin lines of chocolate on its surface. If you don’t have a paper cone and don’t feel comfortable making one, you could try dipping the tip of a fork or a spoon in the melted chocolate and moving it back and forth over the cake so that chocolate drizzles over it.

hazelnut cheesecake

You can then play around some more with the chocolate…It’s fun to do so and you may have trouble containing yourself.

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You can also draw the logo of a progressive metal band with the chocolate, that’s just one idea for instance…

hazelnut cheesecake

Now comes the best part. Move the cheesecake onto a serving dish or platter with an offset spatula. Cut yourself a small piece or various pieces and enjoyyyyy! Be ware though, this dessert is super decadent and rich. A small piece goes a long way.

hazelnut cheesecake

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almond & chocolate mini cake rolls

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

I have a quick story to tell. It’s quite simple.

By the way….Merry Christmas!! Just so you know though, this post has nothing to do with Christmas and I’m sorry if you were looking forward to a Christmas-related recipe or story.

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

But here it goes. I made almond and chocolate pastries the other day because I’ve been currently obsessed with almonds for some reason: toasted almonds, almond extract, almond butter, almond cake, almond smoothie, almond everything….And chocolate…well, I’ve been infatuated with chocolate ever since I can remember. Nothing new there.

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

So just imagine the moment I combined my very two healthy obsessions, almond + chocolate. Colorful fireworks went off all over the place. My palette was joyous with triumph. And when my palette is happy, I am happy.

Well, then I happened to take these almond and chocolate pastries to a little get-together and share them with people, hoping that others would find these creations to be as tasty as I did. And they did! They seemed to enjoy them quite a bit and nothing in the world makes me happier than witnessing others enjoy sweets I poured my heart and soul into, especially when those people are friends and family.

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

“What are you going to name these sweet almond delights? They deserve an exotic name that goes with their strong character,” a nice lady whom I met that night asked me. “Oh, and before I forget…here, can you write the name of your blog down for me?” she asked as she handed me a black pen she had retrieved from her purse. I don’t think I had much of a choice.

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So I shyly wrote down the name of this blog and prayed that she found nothing of the content to be too out there. Now that more people are finding out about sweet-lab, I worry that my narratives may be too much at times. You know, because sometimes I swear that I mistake this blog for a diary and just ramble on and on about stuff…Kind of like I’m doing now…

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

So anyways, I wrote the name of the this blog down for her on a piece of paper, but I still have not thought of a unique name for these pastries. Almond & Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls….maybe? That’s all I’ve got so far. I also like the name Sweet Almond Delights, but I think I have already used the name “delight” for a dessert name, so I think I’ll stick with Almond & Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls. I know, the name does not sound exotic at all, but I think that their powerful flavor will make up for their weak name.

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

These pastries are made up of a thin and spongy almond cake. Ganache is then spread over the cake and rolled to create cylindrical pastries. Smooth and velvety almond Italian butter cream covers each pastry. Toasted almonds surround each pastry, adding more almondy flavor as well as crunchy texture. I truly believe you may also be seeing fireworks if you get around to tasting these sweet almond delights…I mean, almond & chocolate mini cake rolls.

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

Yield: 18 mini cake rolls.

Store baked 1 day at room temperature. Wrap tightly and freeze for a couple of weeks-1 month in freezer.

Note: The thin layer of cake is called a joconde. The recipe for this thin cake was given to me by L’Academie de Cuisine. Give credit where credit is due! The quantities of the ingredients are very precise for this recipe and were given to me in grams precisely because of that.

Ingredients for Joconde:

93 g almond flour

43 g sugar

23 g AP flour

3 eggs

63 g egg whites

50 g sugar

Recipe/Procedure for Joconde:

1. Beat almond flour, sugar, AP flour, and eggs on low speed with a paddle attachment for first 15-30 seconds and changing to high speed for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make a soft to medium peak French meringue: 

  • Whip egg whites at high speed for approximately 30 seconds. Bring down speed to medium after 30 seconds. At this point, meringue should begin to look thicker and the yellow color of the egg whites should disappear.
  • Begin adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites while they continue to whip. Start to add sugar more continuously and in larger quantities when meringue gets shinier and it becomes stiffer.
  • Turn mixer off and test stableness of meringue by whipping it by hand. Meringue should stand on a straight peak when it’s ready.

3. Fold French meringue into batter in two parts.

4. Spread batter onto a 10″ x 15″ sheet tray that has been covered with a sil pat. Bake at 400 F – 425 F for about 10 min. until cake bounces back in center when it’s touched.

5. Remove joconde from sheet tray and allow it to cool completely before attempting to remove it from sil pat. Set aside for later use.

Ingredients for Ganache:

4 oz chopped semi sweet chocolate

4 oz cream

Recipe/Procedure for Ganache:

1. Heat heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
2. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour simmered heavy cream over chocolate. Allow cream and chocolate to rest for about a minute so that chocolate softens and melts.
3. Stir mixture gently from the center until everything is well combined.
4. Set chocolate-heavy cream mixture aside and allow it to cool completely at room temperature.

Ingredients for Almond Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Note: There will be plenty of buttercream left over if making a 1x recipe, but I just like to work with a large batch when making Italian Meringue Buttercream because a small amount of egg whites won’t whip well in my mixer. If you rather not end up with as much left over buttercream, you may adjust the times of the recipe (1/4x, 1/2x, 1x, etc.) so that it fits your needs best).

16 oz sugar

About 4 oz water

2 T honey

6 oz strained egg whites

18 oz butter, cubed

2 oz almond butter

1/4 tsp almond extract

Recipe/Procedure for Almond Italian Meringue Buttercream: 

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.

2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage). Add honey when sugar and water mixture looses yellow color and it becomes clear.

3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, dipping finger in sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.

4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.

5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while they continue to whip and meringue is soft and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl and whip for about 20-25 minutes until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.

6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close being formed. Do not wait for butter to become dissolved into the mixture before adding more of it. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.

7. Add almond butter and almond extract to buttercream. Mix well until ingredients are fully incorporated into buttercream.

Time to finally put it all together!!!

Ingredients for Almond and Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls:

1/2 C sliced almonds

joconde cake

ganache

almond italian meringue buttercream

Recipe/Procedure for Almond and Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls:

1. Toast almonds at 325 F so that they become toasted all through the center.

2. Place almonds into a food processor and press button a few times until almonds become finely chopped, but not to the point where they are too ground. Place almonds into a plate and set aside for later use.

3. On a flat working surface, trim off all four edges of joconde cake with a serrated knife.

4. Spread ganache over joconde with an offset spatula so that ganache covers every edge and corner of the cake.

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5. Make 1.5″ marks on the top and bottom of cake and cut vertical strips, connecting the top and bottom marks to end up with nine strips of cake.

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6. Carefully start rolling each strip halfway and cut the strip when it has been rolled half way up. Place rolled pastry into a sheet tray. Carefully start rolling the other half of the strip and place rolled pastry into a sheet tray. Continue to rolling  until all strips have been rolled. You should end up with 18 rolled pastries.

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7. Recondition buttercream if necessary by re-whipping it so that it is smooth and fluffy. Apply almond buttercream to each rolled pastry with a small offset spatula. Turn the pastry around with your hand as putting buttercream on the sides of each pastry. This is kind of a messy process. Be ready to wash/wipe your hands after applying buttercream to each pastry.

8. Sprinkle chopped toasted almonds around the sides of each pastry.

9. Place almond buttercream into a piping bag that has a #15 star tip and pipe a swirl or another decorative design onto the surface of each pastry.

Enjoy!

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

pear upside down cake • room for improvement

sweet-lab

Is Thanksgiving over yet?

I tend to live in my own little world and sometimes become oblivious to things happening around me. But yeah, the cut pieces of aluminum foil covering numerous trays of leftovers in the fridge and the crumbs of pie crust scattered on the kitchen counter are enough to remind me that this day of complete and utter gluttony has passed, as is the occasional tendency to burst out of my jeans.

sweet-lab

Last Thanksgiving I made a pear upside down cake. I got the recipe from some well-known gourmet food magazine that I don’t remember the name of. Okay, that last part is not true. Of course I remember the name of the magazine. I only read it like every day of my life. The cake was okay…but okay is simply not good enough.

sweet-lab

“Okay” means that there is room for improvement. You know…like when you got that B+ on a spelling test in third grade. Didn’t that just make you want to strive for an A+ ? Or maybe you were such a perfect speller that this is a weak argument because it simply does not apply to you. Well, hopefully you get my point anyways.

sweet-lab

Improvement through repetition is a good thing and so I decided to try things a little different and come up with a recipe for a pear upside down cake of my own. I changed the recipe of the actual cake. This one also uses a clear caramel along with streusel that is layered in the batter to make it all even a little better…because you know, there is always room for improvement.

**Yields one 8″ cake. Store baked at room temperature for 1 day well-wrapped. Store fully baked and frozen for 30 days.**

Ingredients for Streusel:

3 oz brown sugar

1/2 C walnuts, chopped

1 T cinnamon

1/4 C pears, finely diced

Recipe/Procedure for Streusel:

1. Peel, half, and core pears. Place halved pear flat on a work surface and cut across three times horizontally, leaving 1/4″ distance from each slit. Make vertical cuts across the surface of the pear, leaving 1/4″ distance from each vertical cut. Begin cutting perpendicular to the slices made in the previous step to end up with small dices of pear.

2. Mix brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon together by hand until all ingredients are well combined.

3. Toss pears into mixture and combine well. Set aside for later use.

Ingredients for Pear Upside Down Cake:

5 oz cake flour

3 oz AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

6 oz granulated sugar

4 oz brown sugar

4 oz butter

4 oz eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz milk

4 oz buttermilk

2 medium bosc pears

Recipe/Procedure for Pear Upside Down Cake:

1. Combine cake flour, AP flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and sift them into a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until mixture is cohesive, light, and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl once eggs have been incorporated. Add vanilla and continue mixing.

4. Switch speed on mixer to low. Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients into butter/sugar/egg mixture until batter takes the dry ingredients.

5. Combine milk and buttermilk together and add until it begins to incorporate. Repeat additions of dry and wet until all ingredients are fully incorporated into batter, being sure to end with an addition of dry ingredients. Set aside for later use.

6. Butter an 8″ diameter round cake pan and line bottom with parchment-paper round.

7. Peel, halve, and core pears. Cut pears lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Set aside for later use while making clear caramel.

Ingredients for Clear Caramel:

4 oz granulated sugar

2 oz water

Recipe/Procedure for Clear Caramel:

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Remove lumps in sugar with fingers.

2. Bring water and sugar to caramel stage (sugar must reach a uniform golden brown (dark amber color). Remove from pan.

Assemble and Bake:

1. Pour clear caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl pan to coat round of parchment.

2. Layer slices of pear over caramel, overlapping them all around.

3. Place one-third of the batter on the bottom of pan. Sprinkle streusel mix over batter. Repeat layering of streusel and batter until both are used.

4. Bake at 350 F for about 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick that has been inserted in the center comes out clean.

chocolate orange mini pastries

sweet-lab.com

I have a deep appreciation for the fusion of chocolate and orange. Yes, I have written recipes that showcase these two ingredients before…and I know that I will probably do so again…and again and again, since there are always new ways of exploring flavor combinations that I love.

sweet-lab.com

But I already told you…I am kind of in love. Or no, wait. I told you that I am obsessed.

Well, I am probably both: in love and obsessed with the kind, yet powerful union of chocolate and orange. Those two ingredients in unison can compose a symphony of flavors in my palate. The bitterness of the chocolate along with the tartness and sweetness of the orange. Yes, I know I am repeating myself so I will stop right there.

sweet-lab.com

I think the idea for this recipe began with a simple yet delicious dessert I made for my family while visiting Spain.

sweet-lab.com

I could describe the recipe for you, but if you take a look at the photocollage below, you may understand the procedure fairly quickly. First, simply dip orange segments in melted tempered chocolate and finish each segment with premade candied citrus peel and chocolate sprinkles. Suuuuuper easy. Suuuuuuuuper attractive, pleasing, seductive, and delicious.

I never posted the recipe for the chocolate-covered orange segments for solely one reason. Would you care to know why? Well, if you notice in the picture, the chocolate that covers the orange segments is not tempered (Aaaaahh!!!) and untempered chocolate is a big no no, at least to me and many other pastry cooks, chefs, or…pastry nerds..Tempered chocolate has a beautiful shine, a smooth finish, and a satisfying snap. I’m completely addicted to it.

While being in my hometown in Spain, I unfortunately couldn’t find couveture chocolate that is used for tempering. So I simply melted regular bittersweet chocolate and dipped the orange segments in the chocolate, knowing that I would have to remake the recipe once more with the real thing…tempered chocolate. Tempering chocolate can be an intimidating process, but I promise to offer the best and most thorough explanation I am able to provide when I post the recipe for chocolate-covered orange segments…as soon as I get my hands on some couveture chocolate.

sweet-lab.com

Anyways…where was I? Oh yes, of course. Those chocolate-covered oranges inspired me to try other ways of uniting chocolate and orange. Thus, these chocolate and orange mini pastries were born. Layers of lightly flavored orange cake and orange Italian meringue buttercream are layered and glazed with ganache. Then they are finished with candied orange peel and chocolate sprinkles…Enjoy!

sweet-lab.com

sweet-lab.com

**Yields approximately 15 mini pastries. Freeze 4-6 weeks without ganache. Keep at room temperature for 3-4 days.**

Note: The Italian buttercream along with the cake and candied citrus peel can be done days in advanced. The cake and the Italian buttercream can be frozen until you’re ready to assemble the mini pastries. I deeply discourage you from doing all four recipes on the same day. That might just drive you insane. 

Ingredients for Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream: (I like to have leftover buttercream every time I make it and freeze it for later use. If that’s not the case for you, you can cut the recipe in half).

12 oz sugar

3 oz water

2T honey

4.5 oz strained egg whites

15 oz butter, cubed

4 tsp orange juice (I didn’t get my hands on orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, but I believe that replacing orange juice for Grand Marnier would make a great contribution. I suggest adding it a little bit at a time and tasting the flavor until you reach the desired orange flavor).

2 T orange zest

Procedure/Recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Please read all steps first before proceeding in order for the technique to be completely clear from start to finish).

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.

2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage) and add corn syrup to water/sugar mixture as soon it looses yellow color and it becomes clear. Be sure to watch it closely and attentively.

3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, quickly dipping finger in hot water/sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger right back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into a ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.If you would rather avoid using this procedure, you can also use a candied thermometer and test the sugar until it reaches 238 F.


4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.

5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while egg whites continue to whip, meringue is soft, and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl so that it doesn’t go flying everywhere. Whip meringue/238 F sugar until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.

6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close to being formed. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.

Store in freezer for 6-8 months. Recondition buttercream before use by warming it up over a double boiler and whipping it until fluffy.

Ingredients for Orange Cake:

3 oz cake flour

5 oz AP flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

6 oz sugar

4.5 milk

3.5 orange juice

4 oz egg

4 oz vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 tsp orange zest

Recipe/Procedure for Orange Cake:

1. Sift cake flour, AP flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl.

2. Add sugar to dry ingredients and mix well to combine.

3. In a different bowl, whisk milk, orange juice, eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla together.

4. Combine the wet and dry mixtures together, just enough so that all ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.

5. Add orange zest to batter. Allow batter to rest 20-40 minutes in fridge.

6. Spray a rectangular 13″ x 9″ x 2″ cake pan with vegetable oil and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. Pour cake batter into pan. Bake at 350 F for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick that is inserted in the center tests clean. Allow to cool in cake pan.

7. Place a large cutting board over cake pan. Flip cake over onto cutting board and remove parchment paper. Flip cake over once more onto another cutting board so that the top of the cake is on the top. Set aside for later use.

**Keep well wrapped at room temperature for 3-4 days. Freeze for 6-8 weeks**

Ingredients for Candied Citrus Peel:

1 orange

2 oz sugar

2 oz water

Recipe/Procedure for Candied Citrus Peel:

1. Scrub oranges in hot water and pat them dry.

2. Cut off pieces of orange peel and cut orange peel into thin strips. Be sure to exclude as much of the white part as possible to decrease extra bitterness.

3. Throw orange peel strips into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds. Strain citrus peel.

4. Fill same pot with new water and bring it to a boil. Throw citrus peel into pot and cook for about 30 seconds and strain. Repeat blanching process once more.

5. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water into a pot and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has completely dissolved to create a simple syrup.

6. Bring simple syrup to a boil and cook blanched orange peel in a gentle simmer in the simple syrup until peel is translucent and tender. You must taste the peel to know if it’s fully cooked. Strain citrus peel.

7. Roll citrus peel in granulated sugar.

Ingredients for Ganache:

12 oz heavy cream

12 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Recipe/Procedure for Ganache: (this recipe should be done right when the rest of the cake has been assembled to prevent ganache from thickening so much it will can not be used to glaze mini pastries). 

1. Heat heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

2. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour simmered heavy cream over chocolate. Allow cream and chocolate to rest for about a minute so that chocolate softens and melts.

3. Stir/whisk mixture gently from the center and whisking outwards until everything is well emulsified.

**Store at room temperature for 2-4 days**

Thank Goodness! The time has come to put it all together…

Ingredients:

orange cake

orange Italian meringue buttercream

ganache

candied citrus peel

chocolate sprinkles

Procedure:

1. Build and assemble your cake:

a) Place the cake on a stable surface to work on comfortably. A large cutting board works well for this type of assembly.

b) Trim off all four edges of cake and then cut cake in half with a serrated knife to end up with two thin layers of cake.

c) Cut cake in half down the center vertically to end up with four thin layers of cake.

d) Recondition buttercream to begin cake assembling.

e) Place a layer of cake layer on a cutting board. Spread orange buttercream filling on the surface of the cake layer so that it reaches every corner.

f) Place second cake layer over orange buttercream.

g) Spread orange buttercream filling on the surface of the second cake layer so that it reaches every corner and smoothen it out evenly. Repeat the spreading of buttercream and the layering of cake layers until all the 4th cake layer is on top and cake is about 1.5″ tall.

h) Make sure layers look flat and straight. If they don’t look flat, gently push down on the cake.

j) Put a big dollop of orange buttercream in center of cake and work icing with spatula in order to cover entire surface of cake until it reaches the edges. Cover edges of cake as well.

k) Smoothen top of cake by starting at the edge and coming straight across with spatula at a flat angle until surface is as smooth as possible.  Place cake in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes before

l) Hot knife the cake: Bring water to a boil and pour it into a tall cup/beaker. Dip spatula into hot water. Dry spatula and pass it over sides of cake and then over top as well to create smoother and cleaner surface all around. Be sure to dip spatula into hot water after every pass to remove excess icing. Dry spatula and continue passing it gently over the surface of cake to smoothen it even more.

2. Cut cake.

a) Take flat cutting board w/ parchment paper and put even pressure and press down so that surface of cake is completely flat. Leave board over it and refrigerate.

b) Make 1.5” marks on top/bottom and sides of cake layers. Cut strips horizontally and vertically to end up with 1.5” squares.

3. Glaze cake.

(Use room temperature ganache that is at liquid state. Hot ganache will melt buttercream on cake. Ganache that drips onto plastic wrap after glazing cakes can be collected and used again for reglazing or for other purposes. If used for glazing, be sure to act quickly before it cools and the consistency becomes too thick).

a) Place iced cakes over a rectangular cooling rack that is covered completely with plastic  wrap.

b) Pour ganache at one edge of cake and move bowl of ganache to opposite end in order to cover entire cake. Repeat same procedure with all cakes.

c) Allow chocolate to set at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles over the surface of cakes and finish by placing a strip of candied citrus peel in the center.

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raspberry lemon curd cake • better late than never

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It’s better late than never. At least that’s what they say.

It’s better to wait one year before visiting home, than to never be visiting home at all.  It’s preferred to wait months, days and days, and prolonged hours without seeing your other half, than to never be seeing him/her at all.

I would rather go the entire summer without stepping into the cool ocean water and go to the beach for the first time in late September, than to not enjoy such bliss at all.

And if you’re running late, it’s better to catch the next train, instead of catching no train at all.

As for this recipe, it’s been on hold for more than one month. In one month many things can happen. I suppose that life can happen: moving to a new apartment, work, work, work, a trip to Austin, mom visiting from Spain, going up to New York City, sleeping in a tour bus, etc.

But here it is now. You know…because it’s better late than never.

Overview: This is a three layer cake that has many independent components that are all combined in the end. The upper and lower layers are filled with a raspberry Italian meringue buttercream that is flavored with a raspberry coulis. The middle layer is filled with lemon curd. The whole cake is iced with lemon Italian buttercream that is flavored with lemon curd. Finally, the lemon curd recipe as well as the Italian buttercream recipe are not my own recipes. I acquired them from when I was a student at L’Academie de Cuisine. They’re delicious, so why reinvent the wheel?

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In addition, every component of this recipe can be done in advance. It is actually recommended to do the lemon curd, raspberry coulis, and Italian meringue buttercream beforehand, because if all the recipes for all the different components are done in the same day, the entire procedure of creating this cake will seem like an overwhelming task. Frustration may take over and we don’t want that. You can also bake the cake one day in advance if you wish, but be sure to wrap it and store it properly before assembling and icing the cake so that it doesn’t dry out.

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Ingredients for Lemon Curd:

4 lemons, zest and juice

8 oz unsalted butter

12 oz sugar

4 large eggs

Procedure/Recipe for Lemon Curd:

1. Zest lemons directly into a small saucepan.

2. Strain lemons as you juice them over the same saucepan with a reamer. Push pulp down to get extra juice into saucepan.

3. Add butter to pan and bring mixture to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, crack eggs in a separate bowl. Add sugar to the eggs and whisk.

5. Temper eggs with hot lemon/butter mixture slowly.

6. Put mixture back in pot and bring to a boil while whisking continuously. Whisk for 5 minutes after mixture is brought to a boil.

7. Sieve curd into a bowl when the five minutes have passed.

8. Place bowl on top of a bowl full of ice to cool curd down.

Store in fridge for about a month, well wrapped. Store in freezer for 6-8 months.

Ingredients for Raspberry Coulis:

1 C frozen raspberries

1/8 C sugar

1 T lemon juice

Procedure/Recipe for Raspberry Coulis:

1. Place raspberries and sugar in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until mixture is brought to a simmer and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

2. Add lemon juice and stir.

3. Place raspberry/sugar/lemon mixture in a blender and puree.

Freezes perfectly for several months

Ingredients for Italian Meringue Buttercream:

8 oz sugar

2 oz water

1T-2T honey (the original recipe uses corn syrup. I don’t like to use such ingredient and found that honey works just as well).

3 oz strained egg whites

10 oz butter, cubed

Procedure/Recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Please read all steps first before proceeding in order for the technique to be completely clear from start to finish).

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.

2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage) and add corn syrup to water/sugar mixture as soon it looses yellow color and it becomes clear. Be sure to watch it closely and attentively.

3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, quickly dipping finger in hot water/sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger right back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into a ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.

If you would rather avoid using this procedure, you can also use a candied thermometer and test the sugar until it reaches 238 F.

4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.

5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while egg whites continue to whip, meringue is soft, and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl so that it doesn’t go flying everywhere. Whip meringue/238 F sugar for about 20-25 minutes until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.

6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close to being formed. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.

Store in freezer for 6-8 months.

Ingredients for Cake:

4 oz butter

5 oz sugar

1 tsp vanilla

4 oz eggs

7 oz plain yogurt

1 oz lemon juice

8 oz cake flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 oz fresh raspberries

2 T AP flour

Procedure/Recipe for Cake:

1. Grease two 6” x 2” cake pans, base and sides.

2. Place a circular-shaped piece of parchment paper on the bottom of each cake pan.

3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4. Reduce speed to medium and incorporate eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition.

5. Sift all dry ingredients (cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).

6. Reduce speed to low. Beat in dry mixture in 2 batches, alternating with yogurt and scraping bowl as needed.

7. Add lemon juice and continue to mix just until all ingredients are well incorporated.

8. In a small mixing bowl, mix fresh raspberries and 2 tablespoons of flour gently with your hands. Fold raspberries into cake batter.

9. Pour batter into prepared pans. Each pan should hold about 14 oz of batter. Bake at 350 F for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick that is inserted into center comes out clean.

10. Let cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen. Unmold cakes, and let cool, right side up, on rack.

Putting it all together……

1. Mix 3/4 of Italian meringue buttercream with 4.5 oz of lemon curd. Set lemon buttercream aside.

2. Mix remaining 1/4 Italian buttercream with about 1 oz of raspberry coulis. Add 1/2 C of finely chopped raspberries to buttercream. Set raspberry buttercream aside.

3. Build and assemble your cake:

a) Place the cake on a stable surface to work on comfortably. A cake turntable is recommended for icing cakes.

b) Hold serrated knife at the same level as the top part of the cake and place other hand over the top of the cake.

c) Trim dome of cake by cutting back and forth and then turning cake after each time. Continue passing knife back and forth and turning cake until the top is completely cut off.

d) Cut cake into two even layers by proceeding with same cutting procedure that was followed when trimming top and bottom off cakes. This time cut through the center of the cake to end up with 2 even cake layers.

e) Fill a pastry bag that has a #5 plain tip with lemon curd buttercream. Pipe the lemon curd buttercream into round along the edge of the cake to create a dome. This will prevent the colorful filling to leak out. Spread raspberry buttercream on the surface of first bottom layer with spatula and spread with spatula just until that filling reaches the piped lemon buttercream boarder.

f) Place second cake layer over the raspberry filling. Pipe another lemon buttercream round along the cake edge to create another dome. This will prevent the lemon curd to leak out. Spread lemon curd on the surface of second cake layer with spatula just so that filling reaches the piped  boarder.

g) Place third cake layer over lemon curd filling. Pipe a third round of lemon curd buttercream along the edge of the cake to create a third dome. Spread raspberry buttercream filling on the surface of the third cake layer just so that the filling reaches the piped boarder.

h) Place fourth cake layer over raspberry buttercream.

i) Make sure layers look flat and straight. If they don’t look flat, gently  push down on the cake or trim sides and/or top with serrated knife to even it out.

j) Apply crumb coat: Put a big dollop of lemon buttercream in center of cake and work icing with spatula in order to cover entire surface of cake until it reaches the edges.

k) Clean spatula and both sides. Spatula should be completely straight while spreading the icing on the sides. Turn table around while icing and get more icing when you run out.

l) Clean sides first by running spatula around cake as turning it to smoothen sides.

m) Smoothen top of cake by starting at the edge and coming straight across with spatula at a flat angle until surface is as smooth as possible.

n) Place cake in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes before next coating. Cake should have at least 3-4 coats, including crumb layer, with a resting period of 10-15 minutes in fridge after each coat. Repeat same procedure from steps j-n until icing has been applied 3-4 times

o) Hot knife the cake: Bring water to a boil and pour it into a tall cup/beaker. Dip spatula into hot water. Dry spatula and pass it over sides of cake and then over top as well to create smoother and cleaner surface all around. Be sure to dip spatula into hot water after every pass to remove excess icing. Dry spatula and continue passing it gently over the surface of cake to smoothen it even more. Chill cake until it becomes firm.

p) Place lemon curd buttercream into piping bag that has a #5 star tip, being sure not to overload pastry bag. Pipe rosettes along the boarder of the cake and one in the center. Place fresh raspberries on top of each rosette.

Pheeeew! Finally! Yes, we’re finally done! That took a little while, huh?

But what did I already tell you? Better late than never.

mini pineapple upside down cakes • welcome little one

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Today I’m happy. Today I’m joyous! Today I’m ecstatic!

And why is that, you may be asking…or maybe not.

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Well, I have a healthy and beautiful niece that was born two days ago. She is adorable and will become my little piece of life (if she hasn’t done so already). She is sneaky and subtle in her dominion and occupation of my heart. She is already taking over it. Just like that.

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Unfortunately she is in Austin right now and I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet. Fortunately I will be hopping on a plane this coming Monday morning and will be holding her in my arms on that very same day. I can wait, I can wait, I can wait. Yes, I can do this and hold it together until then.

Before she was even born I day dreamed of the moments she and I would share: bed time stories, sweets, picnics in the yard, homework time, movie nights, smiles, laughter, cries, and of course….quality baking time. In my mind, quality baking time consists of creating a basic recipe together, following it, and to simply chit chat and share a few smiles. That simple. That great.

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I dedicate this recipe I have literally just jotted down on my recipe book to my niece Isabel Annette and to all those precious moments I am patiently waiting to embrace and enjoy with her. I’ll consider myself a winner if I’m able to offer her even an ounce of happiness, inspiration and guidance with my new “auntie skills”.

Welcome little one!

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**Yields about 14 mini cakes**

Note: For these mini cakes, I used the basic ratio for pound cake= 1 flour: 1 butter : 1 eggs: 1 sugar and modified/experimented with it.

Ingredients for Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes:

4 oz butter, softened

8 oz granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz eggs

2 oz sour cream

2 oz pineapple juice

8 oz AP flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 crushed pineapple, drained

dark brown sugar–> I didn’t have any in stock so I used natural cane sugar instead. However, I recommend using dark brown sugar instead if you have it.

About 9-10 canned pineapple slices

Procedure/Recipe for Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes:

1. Cream butter and sugar in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment at medium speed until butter becomes light and fluffy.

2. Add vanilla and add eggs one at a time so that they are gradually beaten into the batter.

3. Combine sour cream and pineapple juice in a small bowl. Set them aside.

4. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add half of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Add half of the sour cream/pineapple juice mixture and keep alternating between additions of dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with dry ingredients.

5. Fold in drained pineapple to batter. Set batter aside.

6. Cut 6-7 pineapple slices in half to end up with 12-14 thin pineapple rounds. Set aside.

7. Cut the remaining pineapple slices in half as well. Cut each layer into small pieces at are about1/4″-1/2″ wide. Set aside.

8. Grease the whole area of the cupcake tins and line the bottom of each one with a piece of foil or parchment paper. I simply cut the round part of some baking cups and discarded the rest. You can also cut rounds out of parchment paper and place them on the bottom.

9. Sprinkle a generous pinch of dark brown sugar onto the base of each cupcake tin and place 3-4 small pieces of pineapple over the sugar.

10. Scoop batter into cupcake tins until shy of the top and place a halved pineapple round over the batter.

11. Bake at 375 F for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick that is inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in tins, about 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool down completely.

Ingredients for Light Pineapple Cream:

1 1/2 C mascarpone cheese

1 C 10x sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 C crushed pineapple, drained

1 1/2 C heavy cream

Procedure/Recipe Light Pineapple Cream:

1. Combine and mix mascarpone cheese, 10x sugar, and vanilla with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until all ingredients are fully combined.

2. Add crushed pineapple and continue mixing until pineapple is well incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl if necessary.

3. Change to a whisk attachment and slowly stream in the heavy cream. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Putting it all together…. Drop a dollop of the light pineapple cream onto a plate and place the mini cake right on top or….drop a spoonful of the light pineapple cream over a mini cake and spread it with the back of a spoon. Enjoy!

Observations: 

– the cake almost resembles a moist and tender corn bread cake in that it has a slight savory flavor.

– the creamy, light, and sweet pineapple topping compliments the faint savoriness of the actual cake really well.

– the pineapple flavor stands out prominently.

– the base of the mini cake is sweet because of the pineapple layer. The surface of the mini cake is also sweet due to the sprinkled sugar and the additional pineapple layer. These two sweet layers compliment the cake that is sandwiched in between which was less sweeter. Therefore, a good balance of sweetness, savoriness, and tartness is created.

– the top of the cake did not achieve the brownish color I had hoped for because I didn’t use dark brown sugar. I used natural cane sugar instead because I didn’t have any dark brown sugar.

– since I used less butter as part of the original pound cake ratio and replaced it with sour cream and pineapple juice instead, the cake didn’t end up resembling the richness and texture of a pound cake after all. This one came out to be lighter but still delicious.

Conclusion:

These mini pineapple upside down cakes will be on my niece’s and my “to bake list” when she is old enough to do mix ingredients with a spatula or whisk (…and if she enjoys sweets as much as I do.  I really hope she does!).

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spiced tea & lemon bread • a friendly delight

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Spiced tea and lemon bread or like my good buddy Megan calls it, “spiced tea and lemon delight”. It sounds better. So much better. I just really wanted you to know that this is a type of bread (such as banana bread, pumpkin bread, ginger bread, etc.) and thus feel compelled and obliged to include the name “bread” in the title. But you know what it is. Still, I insist. This is a spiced tea and lemon bread.

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And just like any quick bread that requires baking time, there is a good 40-50 minutes of waiting time. When I’m home alone, I usually find important things to do during that magical downtime when the ingredients and the oven are working harmoniously to create the glorious final product. You know, important things such as licking bowls, sweeping off crumbs, looking for a toothpick, putting my sore feet over my boy’s lap and then tapping him with my toes (oh, he’s been politely programmed to rub my feet as soon as he feels that gentle tap. It’s kind of an automatic reaction by now).

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Well, today I spent that time doing even more essential things because one of my best friends was with me. You know how it goes…when two good friends get together…really important things take place: baking, facebook stalking, slicing cucumbers, applying a facial mask onto face, placing sliced cucumbers onto eyelids, listening to Enya during this “spa time”, chatting about irrelevant/vital topics, relaxing, and of course taking silly pictures of each other with that junk of a facial mask (best known as a homemade concoction of smashed bananas, yogurt, and honey) on our faces. Yes, all of that and more can take place during those special minutes when a quick bread is in the oven…

Oh yeah. It suuuuure can.

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* For this recipe I will use the quick bread ratio 2 (flour) : 2 (liquid) : 1 (eggs) : 1 (butter) and play with a few additions and flavor options.

* Yields one 9″ loaf pan * 

Hypothesis:

– The tea will add bitterness while the lemon in the quick bread and in the glaze will add sourness. Sugar (sweet) + Early Grey (bitter) + Lemon juice/Lemon zest (sour) + salt = 4 tastes that will satisfy your palette to the fullest.

– Infusing the milk with tea, cinnamon, and vanilla will add a much more interesting dimension and depth to this recipe as opposed to adding plain milk.

Materials/Ingredients for Quick Bread:

scale

4 oz butter, softened

6 oz sugar

4 oz eggs

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 T lemon zest

8 oz milk

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla bean

About 1/8 C – 1/4 C of earl grey or black tea, loose leaf and wrapped in a coffee filter

1 lemon

(1.5 – 2 tsp finely ground black tea)–> parentheses signifies that this ingredient is optional. However, I believe that after tasting the bread without it, incorporating this ingredient will boost the tea flavor. I shall try it next time! It was still delicious without this ingredient though.

Procedure/Recipe for Quick Bread:

1. Bring milk to a gentle simmer and remove from heat. Infuse milk with cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and tea for 20-30 minutes. Cover pot with lid during infusion time.

2. Meanwhile, get your mise en place in order.

3. Strain infused milk and reweigh it. Be sure that the liquid still measure 8 oz. (Since infusion causes some of the liquid to be absorbed by the solids, some of the liquid is “gone” and it is important to make up for it by adding more liquid to end up with the original amount of 8 oz). Place liquid in a cup/bowl and onto a scale. Figure out how many ounces has been lost and add half of that portion with freshly squeezed lemon juice and the other half with water that has been infused with the same type of tea. For example, if your liquid now weighs 5 oz, you will add 3 oz to end up with the original amount of 8 oz. So add 1.5 oz of lemon juice and 1.5 oz of brewed tea to the infused milk. (Note: The infusion time should be much less when brewing the small amount of water, about 4 minutes and the same tea that was used to infuse the milk can be used again).

4. Split the vanilla bean in half with a pairing knife and scrape off the seeds. Add vanilla seeds to liquid.

5. Cream butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes until mixture is soft and fluffy.

6. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until they are fully incorporated into the batter.

7. Add vanilla extract.

8. Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder) and add lemon zest to sifted ingredients. Stir to combine.

9. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Incorporate dry ingredients and infused milk to mixture, alternating between the two and starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

10. Pour batter into a 9″ loaf pan 3/4 full and bake at 350 F for about 45-50 minutes, until a tooth pick that has been inserted in the center comes out clean.

11. Allow bread to rest for about 5 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a rack to finish cooling.

12. Pour lemon glaze all over spiced tea & lemon bread with a tray placed underneath to catch the drips. You may recollect the glaze at the bottom and re-pour it over bread…Extra yumminess if you ask me.

Materials/Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:

3/4 C 10x sugar

4 T lemon juice

2 T water

1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Procedure/Recipe for Lemon Glaze:

1. Combine the lemon juice, water, and sugar in a bowl. Stir well to combine.

2. Stir in lemon zest.

3. Taste glaze to check the sweet-sour balance and consistency. Adjust as necessary.

Observations:

– All four tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salt) came out very distinctively.

– The bread was very tender and it looked pretty with the tiny black specks of vanilla.

– The bitterness of the tea definitely came through, but it was not overpowering. The bitterness was well-balanced by the other flavors. (The degree of bitterness that is achieved depends on the amount of infusion time. The longer the tea is infused into the milk, the more bitter it will be. If yours comes out too bitter, decrease the infusion time. This involves experimentation and a bit of trial and error).

– On that note, I wish that the flavor of tea was actually more prominent. I think next time I will finely grind the dried tea leaves in a spice grinder and add it to the batter. I need to actually get a spice grinder before that can happen….Oh! But I do have a mortar and pestle that I can use for grinding!

– The lemon glaze complemented the tea-flavored bread very nicely while creating  a sharp, sweet, and citrusy bang!

Results/Conclusion: This is one of those recipes that I will make countless times, not only because of its simplicity and attainability, but also because of how delicious it is!!

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