Cooking

MMMMMM Science

I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.

–Marcel Proust

B is for Bundt, that's good enough for me.

B is for Bundt, that's good enough for me.

One of my hobbies is baking elaborate cakes. Cakes that take upwards of 3 hours to make, destroy the kitchen (anger the wife), and have at least a pound and a half of butter in them.

Our friend Kristin was asking me some general pointers. I came up with:

  • Always measure ingredients by weight, not volume.
  • Use a modest-amount less flour then recommended, and add just a little bit of potato or corn starch.
  • Don’t use cake flour. Just general purpose white.
  • Always sift.
  • Cream the butter and sugar as slowly as possible.
  • It’s done when a tooth-pick comes out clean.
  • Don’t refrigerate your cake.
  • Don’t do low-fat.
  • Ice with buttercream.

I feel like I get how a good cake comes together, and I know what different stages are supposed to look like, smell like; if the ingredients are playing nice like they should at a given point. I know how, and I know what.

But I’ve never really known why.

Here’s why: The science of cake


when I was young I would always ask for coconut cake for my birthday. that only slightly explains why I have included this song in my post…

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Dinner With Friends

James and I had our small group over for a dinner party last night. James is an amazing cook and whipped up one of his (many) delicious specialties. Thanks, friends for coming over last night. We had a blast!

Brie and baguette paired with an olive mix plus plenty of red wine
Dinner: Gnocchi with classic mornay sauce, blanched asparagus, sautéed onions and garlic, plus niçoise olives
Salad: Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocados with a raspberry vinaigrette

Dessert: Amazing ABC chocolate bombs and cookies with champagne!

Y U M.

A shallot is NOT a scallion

Or, The Other Alliums

Shallots look like oval-shape, copper onions; the flesh is white and purple, but with a milder and sweeter flavor with a hint of garlic. There are usually 2 ‘cloves’ to a bulb. A staple of French cooking. A substitute for a shallot might be a combination of sweetish onion and garlic, approximately 2/3 onion and 1/3 garlic. A scallion is not acceptable when the recipe says shallot.

A Shallot
Scallions and green onions generally refer to exactly the same vegetable. They’re also sometimes called spring onions (Technically, there is a difference between the three, but this relates merely the size of the bulb). These are onions that have small bulbs and long green stalks; just a immature yellow onions actually. They’re much milder in flavor than ordinary onions, but a bit stronger than shallots. The greens are often used to add a sharp-sweet flavor and color to a dish. Popular in Asian cooking. If you need to substitute for the white bulb part, use a regular onion. For the greens, use chives.

A Green Onion

Futhermore:

Chives are the smaller, more grass-like versions which are snipped finely and have a sharper taste than green onions. Don’t cook chives.

Leeks look like large green onions, and they have a more complex onion flavor. Much, much milder though. Must be washed thoroughly, as there is almost always dirt and sand between the layers.

Onion Sisters