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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The daisies are a borrowed idea from Bakerella, made using the technique from The Whimsical Bakehouse. I love that book! I also made daisies with white borders that are even cuter, but they didn't "pop" on the cupcakes. I tried dying some purple frosting so they'd show up better, but the colors didn't match, so I went with these.

The cupcakes themselves are "Ice Water White Cake", posted by Chiqui on the Fine Cooking message board. It's a tender but firm cake, made with whipped egg whites.

The frosting is Mousseline Buttercream from The Cake Bible. Last night I gave Gary fair warning that I would be getting up early today, before it got too hot, and I'd be cranking the air conditioner way down. Otherwise, "room temperature" in Texas in June in a heatwave would not be "room temperature". The good news is that if you ever need a buttercream that is stiff and stable enough to pipe, this is it! I have plenty left over to freeze, so now I need an occasion to decorate a cake.

Here they are all boxed up to go. I'll have to be sure the car is cool before they go in, or this was a waste of time, butter, and eggs.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fresh Herb Biscuits

I grew up in Georgia, where biscuits are to bread what tortillas are to bread in Texas. My mother makes excellent biscuits, though I can't remember the last time I had one. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had a biscuit at all. Lately, herb biscuits have been calling my name. I have a leftover bunch of dill. I have perennial chives in my herb garden and my basil plant is looking quite healthy. For some reason - probably because it's HOT - my parsley is already trying to go to seed.

Interestingly, Fine Cooking has two recipes for herb biscuits. Since biscuits are bread, when you have your choice between Peter Reinhart and not Peter Reinhart, go with Peter Reinhart. His method is a little fussy, but I think a lot of his methods are fussy. Then again, there's a reason he's famous, so I'm not going to argue. You don't cut the butter into the flour; you slice the butter into very thin pats, and then fold the dough several times, like business letters. Similar to puff pastry, but not that fussy. Like puff pastry, as the butter melts, it gives off steam, making the dough rise in flaky layers.

Mine definitely qualified as "flaky, buttery biscuits" which is how the recipe describes them. A couple lost their shape as the butter melted (I ate those to conceal the evidence), but most of them rose into nice biscuit-shaped biscuits. I served them for brunch, with cheese omelet (overkill on the fat in that meal!) and sliced tomatoes, but they'd be lovely with dinner too.

Fresh Herb Biscuits, Fine Cooking #85, p. 50