Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mountain.

I recently realized how much I love baking big cakes.  They’re a personal challenge, like climbing a mountain or running a marathon, only you’ve gained weight by the end instead of having lost it.  This one, courtesy of Sky High Cakes, was my Kilimanjaro; it's do-able for the average being, but still quite a hike.

A few months ago, I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and said something along the lines of  “Peanut butter and chocolate cake tower?  OH YES I WILL BE MAKING THAT.”  With my roommate Janine’s birthday on the way, I finally had my excuse.

I purchased an offset spatula for the job, which may now be my most prized possession.

I also purchased chocolate, cream, peanut butter, butter, cream cheese, icing sugar, sour cream, flour, and then a gym pass.

For dinner we had raclette, which is communal eating at its absolute finest.

Steak, shrimp, salmon, sablefish, potatoes, mushrooms, balsamic onions, cornichon, and bread were just some of the delectables we passed around and ate under melted slices of swiss cheese.  Once we'd grilled and broiled to our hearts' content, we took a break.  Then it was cake time!

Deb of Smitten Kitchen described this chocolate cake as “INTENSE.  Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.”  I nearly ignored these instructions, believing myself to be above thin slices of cake.  I like wedges, something sturdy.  Her advice turned out to be an understatement, however, as this cake was beyond intense.  It was so awesomely rich and fudgey that even I had to stop after my reasonably allotted portion.  You simply CANNOT wedge this one, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Happy Birthday, Janine.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oh Sunny Day.

Today was sunny in Vancouver, and I appreciated it.

So did the orchid in our kitchen,

my coffee-drinking neighbours,

this patch of sidewalk,

and these lonely shoes.

But most of all, these yeasty biscuits appreciated it, as it gave them a deliciously warm kitchen to rise in.  Now my belly's appreciating these biscuits, so we've come full circle.  Thanks, sun.

Flaky Freezer Biscuits (a tree-planting camp favourite, from the Best of Bridge)
Yields approximately 20 biscuits. 
1 Tb yeast (1 package)
2 Tb sugar
¼ cup warm water
5 cups flour
3 Tb sugar
1 Tb baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter 
2 cup buttermilk (or milk mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar)

In small bowl combine yeast and sugar in water.  Set aside for 10 min.  In large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in butter to form crumbly mixture.  Stir in yeast mix and buttermilk.  Mix just enough to hold together.  Roll ¾ inch thick on floured surface.  Cut out biscuits with cutter.  Prick tops with fork.  Freeze separately on cookie sheet.  After frozen, stack and wrap well.  Before baking, thaw and let rise until puffed slightly (about 30  min).  Bake at 425 for 15 min on lightly greased cookie sheet.   

Or just bake them up and eat right away!  As per today.   

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gingercabin 2012.

I’m writing about old buildings again, but this time they’re edible.

 If we’re together around the holidays, my friend Megan and I make a gingerbread house.  It always possesses a theme, though they’re not always wholesome.  If you’re thinking  “Santa’s Workshop” or “Victorian Christmas” you’d be off.  Way off.  This year’s theme was “Derelict Northern B.C. Log Cabin.” 

Megan is an excellent gingerbread house-making partner for two reasons: she has a dark sense of humour and an extremely steady hand.  Our masterpiece had ivy growing up its side, mould on the roof, an outhouse in the yard, and a gummy bear carcass in the snow (dead of natural causes, I assure you).  We included a pile of rotting logs stacked in the yard, because any self-respecting northerner would know that’s a necessary feature.  Gorgeous!

I also have a Christmas tradition with my friend Stephanie.  We put on Sorel boots and “Go Trudging,” usually along the snowy trail that circles our childhood neighbourhood.  This year I requested that instead of our usual route, we head up to the old trappers’ cabin near the university.  Why?  Because it was the inspiration for the gingerbread house.  

The cabin was easy to find, though it’s in rougher shape than when I last I saw it.  It resembled its edible counterpart not when we first baked and built it, but at its final, almost entirely-eaten stage.  All that remains are the cabin’s lower walls, mossy old logs stacked ten high, which within a few decades will have returned to the earth completely.   

With its life beginning at the grocery store and ending in the bellies of two hungry 20-somethings, the gingerbread cabin’s fate was far less romantic.  But it was appreciated nonetheless, and held up well.

Happy 2012.  May your year be as lovely as these cinnamon-spiced walls were to eat.