What a Daring Baker does with left overs!

With my Strawberry Mirror Cake complete, I was left with alot of slightly strained strawberries (I still had lots of juices left in mine after 10 minutes of straining), and lots of the syrup used for moistening the cake. I also had egg whites. Five egg whites, to be exact.

And that was exactly the right amount of egg whites needed to make a Pavlova!

And mixing the two left over parts of the strawberries gave me a sweet, summery topping for a Pavlova!

Personally, I took that as a sign, picked up some whipping cream and pulled out my friend Bob, the stand mixer.

For the recipe, I headed to Trish Boyle's Cake Book, which I had bought on the recommendation of many fellow Daring Baker's, but admit I haven't looked at much yet. (I'm still working on it but with Harry Potter coming to visit this week, I won't be tackling a cookbook just yet.)

I was pretty sure I knew what would go into a Pavlova, egg white, cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, and sugar, but I always like to make sure I know my proportions before I start something. (Then I can ignore them if I want to?)

Despite all the cake decorating I've been doing, and all the piping and tips, I decided to go with the blob method of laying my egg whites out on the parchment. That way I could be more creative and get my hands in there. Okay, I admit, I was also feeling too lazy to go down to the basement, pull out my cake kit from the pantry shelf, open it, take out a bag and a coupler and a tip. Blobbing was fun, and easy!

While I used the recipe for the meringue from The Cake Book, I didn't pay much attention to it for the rest of the pavlova. When I was ready, I whipped up some cream with some vanilla and sugar, blobbed it on top (yes, I like the word blob! Blob Blob Blob Blob! hehehehe) and poured on the strawberry syrup puree mixture. I got a bit carried away with how much strawberry I put on top. Oh well.

By now, my children were drooling down their shirts, waiting for some dessert. They didn't quite know what it was, but it had sugar and cream and strawberries, so that was okay with them!

And it was sweet! Sooo sweet! I did not finish my portion, though my husband went back for seconds, and my oldest child finished off his own, and his brothers. It was the strawberries that carried most of the sweetness, and since I had put a few too many on, they were the predominant flavor.

Wonder if next month's challenge is going to provide me with some good left over fodder?

Perfect Pavlova
From The Cake Book

Meringue Shell
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Whipped cream filling
1 1 /4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fruit topping of your choice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 225F. Using a cake pan or cardboard cake round as a guide, draw a 9-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the paper upside down and place it on a baking sheet.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, then increase the speed to high and beat the whites until stiff peaks form.
Scoop some of the meringue into the center of the circle and spread it over the circle with a small metal spatula. Spoon dollops of meringue around the edge, then spoon on another row of dollops.
Bake the meringue for 1 hour, or until it is lightly colored and dry to the touch. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for at least two hours.

Up to 2 hours before serving, make the filling, dollop the whipped cream into the center, then add the fruit on top.


The Daring Baker's go Fruity!

Hehehe Like we weren't a silly enough bunch already!

In this months continuing saga of the Daring Baker's, we turned to Peabody as our hostess for the month. It was her turn to choose what we would make this month. And then would get to sit back and see if we failed or succeeded, cursed or cheered her.

Her choice, a Strawberry Mirror Cake. A combination of thin sponge cake, bavarian cream, and a gelatin top, all flavored with strawberries. With strawberries in peak season right now, this was a great time to have this recipe as our challenge.

Peabody deserves an extra small accolade - she managed to get me to enter a liquor store! And buy something!

While Peabody allowed for people to omit the liquor from the recipe, I wanted to try the recipe as close as I could. Including a liquor in it.

Of course I didn't notice that only one portion of the recipe said kirsch or strawberry liquor, while the other item said kirsch. Oh well, I used the strawberry liquor in all portions of the recipe. My liquor came with little tiny wild strawberries floating in the bottle. What fun!

I didn't exactly have major problems with this cake, but a few minor things along the way.

The recipe called for the cake to be baked in a jelly roll pan and then cut out. I don't own a pan that would have worked for the cake, so tried making them in my cake pans. Knowing I should be getting two cakes, I divided the batter into two pans and baked.

I didn't trust myself when I saw how high the cakes came out. My instinct was to cut one in half, or at least reduce the height on both cakes. I didn't do it though, and instead went with the cakes as is. That left me with cakes that were very high, so high in fact that when I added the cream later, my cakes were so high that I could not cover them with enough of the cream to have a flat top. I had cream left over, so after a good nights chill in the fridge, I used the left over cream to try and create a border around the cake. I needed something to hold in my mirror!

As you can see from the pictures, I only partially succeeded with blocking in the gel. I might have had more luck with it if I had let my gel set longer. I had been afraid the gel would set before I could put it on, so slowly spooned some in, let it spread, spooned more, let it spread, rinse repeat..... When I was happy with what I had for a mirror, I left the rest of the gel out on the counter. Three hours later it still hadn't totally set. So I guess I would have had time to let it set more before I put it on the cake, which might have stopped it from flowing into the border.

Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

I made my cake much later in the month than I would have liked. I was on vacation and while I had access to a kitchen while I was gone, there were too many limitations to allow me to make this cake away from home. Otherwise I would have tried again. Instead I felt like I was rushed doing the cake, rushed presenting it, rushed taking photos of it.

Which is why I didn't notice my butter tray in the picture behind the slice I was taking a picture of. I had a friend over for some cake, and 4 children waiting for pieces, so let myself again be rushed into taking an awful picture.

Excuses, excuses! If I didn't have some things to work hard on, it wouldn't be a challenge, would it?

The strawberry flavor in this cake was good. I enjoyed that. The cream portion was a little too solid to feel like a cream or a mouse for me, but had good flavor, despite the odd texture. The cake was good, just larger than it should have been (and the only part of the cake that all 4 children liked - they inhaled the cake and left everything else on the plate. I should have taken a picture of the the cream, still held in shape, as well as the mirror on top, but all the cake eaten out of the slice!) The mirror, again, it tasted good, but had an odd texture.

This is my 7th Daring Baker's challenge. While I haven't necessarily liked the taste of all the recipes, I haven't regretted making any of them. I have learned from each of them, and I think I've gained major baking confidence from being part of a group of wonderful bakers and cooks!

Thanks so much for pushing me into something I might not have tried again Peabody! I'm sorry I did not do your recipe justice! (And if you want the recipe, I'm pretty sure that Peabody will be listing it on her site!)

Due to the size of our growing group of Baker's, it has been getting harder and harder each month to keep up with the list of Baker's who complete the challenge. A task that becomes more difficult with each challenge. So if you'd like to see what bloggers joined in and conquered this month's challenge, click through here, to the Daring Baker's Blogroll, and get comfy! You are in for a long, sweet read! Mirror cakes ahead!

Something I bought myself in Utah

I did a bit of shopping when I was in Utah, visiting our friends. My friend was a bit confused when I stopped to look at the spice section of Target, but I told her, we don't have the same spices!

One of the items I picked up was this spicy citrus blend of sea salt. It sounded interesting.

I didn't even notice the scoop portion written on the jar, so imagine my surprise to find this itty bitty little scoop inside my jar of salt! It was so cute!

And actually secondary to the fact that the salt was good! I used it the first time this week on a piece of talapia, which I seasoned on both sides with the salt, and sauted in a hot pan with olive oil and butter.

The salt did not make the fish salty, just flavorful. Nor did it dry it out. Instead the fish was moist and tender. I had made it for myself (being the only real fish eater in the house, canned salmon and tuna excepted) but had both children try it. Both enjoyed it. Which gives me some hope that I can make this again for the family dinner some day!

Having had success with the fish, I tried it again the next night on a roasted chicken. Sorry, no pictures of the chicken, we were too hungry to eat, and had 4 children to feed with it. Again, the flavor was mild but wonderful!

I've already warned my friend that I will be calling her at some point and asking her to hit Target for me, to send me more of this salt. I may also ask her to send me the other flavors and see if I can find another flavor to love!

I bet this would be great on steak!

Another Canadian Living Recipe (and my birthday present!)

My birthday was spend in my van, driving home from Hamilton. Not exactly luxurious, but I did get to sleep in my own bed that night, for the first time in almost 3 full weeks.

As nice as that was, it was not exactly a birthday gift.

However because we were traveling, my husband did not have a chance to do any shopping for me. At least not any that I wouldn't be there for, or that we wouldn't have to lug around on our travels.

I wasn't upset about this - he had offered before hand to get me something I had been wanting for awhile: stacking "glass" bowls. You know the kind you see every tv chef use for everything. They hold their mise en place, they act as double boilers, they are good to freeze sorbets in, and you can bake a cake in one. I had been holding off on getting any, mostly because I couldn't decide which place I wanted to order them from.

So nice surprise for me to come home to a new Ashton Green catalogue, and to find the bowl set I want on sale! Yippee!

I ordered two sets, plus the 4 1/2 qt bowl extra. (I need to go back soon and buy 4-5 more of that sized bowl though, it is so handy!)

That's 19 new bowls!

Happy as can be, kid in a candy store, what else could I do the day I picked up my bowls but make a new recipe and try and use as many of them as possible?

Okay, I had actually planned in advance to make this recipe, mole turkey wings, found on page 142 of the August Canadian Living Magazine. Again, like the blueberry bars, the recipe is not yet online, but have some patience and it will show up next month!

I ended up making chicken wings, simply because I could not find 3 pounds of turkey wings. I will be keeping an eye out for turkey wings, however, and stocking up on them if I can. Not only will I be making this recipe again, there were several other wing recipe in the magazine that I would like to try.

Mole sauce was a bit risky to try with the children. I tweeked their interest by letting them know that the sauce had almond butter and chocolate in it. That was enough to get them to at least try it, though in one case, not enough to get him to eat the entire small piece of chicken he had. The other inhaled his though, asked for another wing, and more sauce put on his rice.

The rice I made to accompany these wings was steamed jasmine rice (about the only kind I make), tossed with green onions. Normally I don't put anything into rice, letting whatever sauce is part of the meal flavor them. My husband and I agreed, however, that the onion slices made a nice addition to the rice, so I will likely be doing add-ins for rice more often.

The sauce, btw, for these wings, was very good and very plentiful. Not only were the wings very generously coated, but there was alot of sauce left over for the rice. And some!

Now, what excuse do you think I can use to get someone to buy me more of the big bowl?

Can I remember where I keep all my ingredients?

Back in my own home, my own kitchen. Trying to remember where I put things!

Fortunately, it's not that big a kitchen, and I managed to find everything in time to make some blueberry oatmeal squares so that my husband could put some in his lunch today. Except I think I forgot to tell him he could, and he didn't.

Oh well, the kids enjoyed having a piece as a snack in the park this morning instead. And I brought wipes with me, just in case.

This recipe comes from the August issue of Canadian Living magazine. It is the cover recipe, so has not yet made their online recipe list, but I'm sure it will. (If you aren't in Canada and want the recipe, email me and I'll jot it down for you.)

This was a messy square. Messy to cut and messy to eat. Tasty though, and fairly healthy, despite the sugar, as it involved 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal and 3 cups of blueberries. Yes, there was butter, white flour, and sugar, but it still had all those blueberries!

I'm glad the children liked it, as I have made the decision not to keep prepackaged granola bars around anymore. They don't often get them in their school lunches or snacks, as I prefer to send items in that don't involve garbage, but I usually have a few boxes around for their Dad's lunches and for back up. Now their Dad can keep a few boxes at his desk, for his own back up, which means he can keep nut based ones for his own needs, and in his lunch box, just like the children, he can take along a homemade bar or square.

So now I am on the lookout for square and bar recipes that I would be willing to let my children put in their school lunches. Lots of testing ahead!

I'm back from holidays!

No food pictures for anyone today. I did some cooking in Utah, not much, but nothing new, just old standards.

I did manage to try Korean food for the first time, which I enjoyed but my husband did not.

Going to try out a new recipe today, so hopefully tomorrow I will have a food related post.

For now, here is a picture of my little family, enjoying Niagara Falls, before we headed down to Utah for a great vacation!