Saturday, May 29, 2010

Buttery Brioche

I've always liked the flavor and look of brioche and love brioche french toast. I even just like the word and "brioche" is just such fun to say. It's said to be one of the most difficult breads to make and while it takes a while for the dough to rise and it's more work to shape the different loaves, it's not too difficult. I happened to have some of the pretty fluted molds that I've never used, so along with a guide from Fine Cooking magazine and a little time on my hands, I tackled brioche.

It is a very buttery bread with a 1/2 pound of butter. What seemed like a greasy mess while I was mixing it turned out to be a beautiful smooth and elastic dough.

After mixing all the ingredients together in the mixer, you had to knead and fold it a few times before forming it into a perfect ball to prepare it for rising.

First I let it rise at room temperature in a bowl for about an hour.

Then, I put it in the refrigerator to rise overnight, which the guide indicated would provide the best flavor.

While I let the dough come to room temperature the next day, I buttered the pretty brioche molds.
When the dough was warm, I cut the dough into sixteen (almost) equal pieces and weighed them out to try to get them as consistent in size as possible.
I first formed the dough for the small brioche tins to make brioche rolls, but I only had three of these molds. They weren't perfect, but I thought they looked quite pretty for my first try.

I then rolled out the other pieces for the large brioche mold.

I still had some dough, so I made a few little loaves as well.

Now that they were all together, it was time for them to rise again for about an hour.

After they had their final rising, I brushed on an egg wash and they were ready to bake. They only needed to bake for about 20 minutes and turned out a lovely golden brown.
We enjoyed the rolls for breakfast with jam and Audrey was calling them "cupcakes."

The loaves turned out nice as well and I made french toast for breakfast another morning. I think I'll use the large brioche mold for dinner parties for a pretty arrangement of dinner rolls that people can pluck off. This was well worth the time and has multiple uses. It would be great in a bread pudding or to use for stuffing as well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Victoria Sponge

Victoria sponge is one of my favorite teatime sweets. I've had it several times at tea rooms in England and wanted to make one myself for my mum and I to enjoy with tea on a sunny afternoon. We remembered our favorite Victoria sponge that we enjoyed at a cute cottage tea room outside Polegate, where my mum grew up. Another reason I decided to make it now was that Victoria day was just this past weekend. While it's not an American holiday, it does honor Queen Victoria's birthday. Victoria sponge cake was named after the long reigning Queen Victoria who started hosting tea parties to get back into society after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Sponge cakes were served at her tea parties that became known as "Victoria sponges." Traditional Victoria sponge cake consists of two sponge cakes sandwiched with a layer of jam (typically strawberry) and cream, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Victoria sandwich cake. The top is typically not iced, but simply sprinkled with fine sugar or confectioners' sugar.

The sponge cake batter was easy to make, but this was my second attempt. The first one was a flop. Well, not so much of a flop as it did taste good, but didn't rise whatsoever. Part way through the baking process, I realized that the recipe didn't call for baking powder. However, it did call for self rising flour...oops. It did taste good, but it was really more of a pound cake than a light sponge cake.

The cakes baked nicely and while they didn't rise all that much, they were a perfect buttery and airy sponge cake.

I then made my cream filling while the cakes cooled. It was just butter, confectioners' sugar and a little milk, much like traditional buttercream.

To assemble the cake, it was a layer of strawberry jam (my last jar of homemade jam) and a layer of cream.

The second layer of sponge cake went on top. It just doesn't look complete like this, does it?

I used a little sifter to evenly sprinkle confectioners' sugar on top and added some fresh strawberries. Much better!

It was the perfect combination of buttery sponge cake, fresh flavorful jam and cream that paired well with a cup of cream tea we enjoyed sitting out on the deck.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blueberry Popsicles

It has been a hot week and I decided to make a cold treat for Audrey. While this has nothing to do with baking, these blueberry popsicles were fun to make and look and taste delicious.

They were simply a mixture of greek yogurt, blueberry juice (which I've never seen before) and a few fresh blueberries in each mold. I whisked together the yogurt and juice in a pourable bowl, poured the mixture in each mold and dropped in a few fresh blueberries.

After a few hours in the freezer, she thoroughly enjoyed her treat that she thought was "ice cream," but was really a yummy healthy treat. They remind me of the creamy jello pops that my parents used to get us when we were little.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Featured in Sweet Bites!

My very own spring cupcakes with marzipan tulips were featured in the Sweet Bites newsletter by Bake It Pretty - my favorite online destination for inspiration and fun baking supplies. However random a happening it was that my cupcake photo was chosen along with only other two for the newsletter, I don't care. It was in there and it was directly under the cover of Jamie Oliver's new cookbook! Now that my eyes are healing, I'm planning to bake a few things this week. I think I'll try making Victoria sponge cake since my mum is visiting and will also try tackling homemade brioche.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweets in Cincy

On my recent visit to Cincinnati to visit my sister, I had the time to take a side trip to O'Bryonville to the Bonbonerie Bakery. This is where I had my sister's bridal shower and I don't know that I had been back there since then. They have since added a cafe and I was interested in checking them out again.

The old tearoom was closed since they have the new cafe and we spent most of our time perusing the bakery cases and all the pretty treats.
Audrey had fun looking at all the pretty cookies and cupcakes and gravitated towards the brightly colored frosted sugar cookies.
Their displays are so pretty!

They had a lot of sample cake designs. They do gorgeous (and very delicious wedding cakes) and this is actually where my sister got her wedding cake.
They had a pretty outdoor seating area, so we ordered a sampling of pastries, got a latte and enjoyed our treats. We also got a loaf of brioche to go and made amazing brioche french toast the next morning!
The real reason we were visiting for the weekend was my niece's 2nd birthday. My sister also loves to bake and made some vanilla cupcakes for the birthday girl. She had some chocolate buttercream to use and made some vanilla buttercream, so we had some fun piping together. I had some Dora decorations to put on a few since she loves Dora. The others we piped with swirls and topped with a purple flower (although the purple was darker than I had originally intended). We used the same flower tip to pipe the chocolate buttercream and it turned out nicely.
Here are the ones with the pretty bright white buttercream and purple flowers.
The chocolate buttercream was made with real chocolate (not just cocoa) and was SO good (Audrey coco approved!). It was the first time I've tried the big flower tip and it was quite easy.