Posts filed under: ‘Breads and Pastry‘

Walt Disney and French Toast


On our belated honeymoon my husband and I went on a southern adventure. We drove down the coast, visited some friends in DC, North Carolina, and then on to Florida. I made a point of stopping at Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah because I adore their cookbook and now their establishment too. I highly recommend the Bourbon Bread pudding. Then we ventured on to Florida to hit up Harry Potter World and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
I’ve adored Disney as just about anyone does, from the time I was a kid, mostly because I thought I’d become an animator.
My infamous French toast recipe is now been included on Spoonful a Disney blog for crafting and cooking. It’s one of 15 crockpot recipes and I myself can’t wait to try the semi homemade Caramel buns!

It’s kind of funny as things work out as just last night I was recommending the documentary Walt and El Grupo to my brother, a film about how Walt Disney became an American diplomat in South America during World War II. I mentioned to my brother it would make an excellent Christmas gift should he ever need an idea of what to get for me… I’m shameless.

Follow me on Instagram for Pics from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Magic Kingdom.


Add a comment December 10, 2013

Sirius Black (Out) Cake

I’m a big Harry Potter Fan.  I didn’t start reading these books until recently.  I figured by the time the fifth movie came out that it was time to join the rest of the population. Little did I know what a guilty pleasure these books are.  The further I get in this series the more I’m aghast at just how huge J.K. Rowling’s imagination is.  

My favorite Character (I’m reading The Half Blood Prince currently) is Sirius Black.  I didn’t think it was possible to have a crush on a fictional story book character…it is.  (If you haven’t read the Potter books, stop reading this blog and go to the Library.  –Spoiler Alert) Sirius is a wrongly accused felon, escaped convict, member of the rebel organization Order of the Phoenix, general outlaw, and Harry’s Godfather.  Sirius is misunderstood, bruding, and the way Gary Oldman portrays him in the movies is just wonderful.

So here is a spin on a recipe straightout of my grandmother’s kitchen.  Black Out Cake was big in the 1950’s.  Traditionally this is a multi layered chocolate cake, covered in chocolate frosting with layers of chocolate pudding in between.  The signature mark of a Black Out Cake is the chocolate cake crumbs crushed against the sides of the cake.  I looked around, improvised and decided to just take license with the amount of chocolate in this recipe as I wanted this not to be just a Black out Cake, but a Sirius (seriously) blackout Cake.

Sirius Black (Out) Cake:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup of milk

2 1/4 flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c unsalted butter

1/4 shortening

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 bar bittersweet chocolate (ghiradelli is what I used.)

The bittersweet chocolate was not originally in this recipe.  Melt in a double boiler or like I did, place it in a oven safe bowl and pop it into your preheating oven (350 degrees).  It only takes a few minutes to start melting.  Take it out and stir and you’ll find you don’t have to have it completely melted in the oven, stirring it will finish the melting process. Remember its very easy to burn chocolate!!  Let the bitter sweet chocolate cool, but not harden.

Sift your dry ingredients: flour, soda, powder, salt.  Set aside.

Whisk together milk and cocoa.  The mixture will become a thick mousse like consistency.  Set aside.

Cocoa and Milk

Combine butter, shortening, and sugar until FLUFFY.  Trust me you’ll want to stop beating this at the crumbly stage, but mix until its legitamately FLUFFY.  Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg.  Now add dry ingredients and milk ingredients alternating.  

By the way this is the classic process in making homemade spongey cake:  

1. Beat butter and sugar till fluffy.

2. Add one egg at a time

3. Alternate flour mix and milk, starting and ending with flour.  

Alright we are almost done.  Fold in the bittersweet chocolate, remember it shouldn’t be hot and it should still be a liquid consistency. 

Grease with butter or shortening then dust with thin layer of flour

Pour batter into two 8″ or 9″ round pans.  (butter and flour the pans) And cook for apprx 30 minutes.  The addition of the bittersweet chocolate makes this cake more like a brownie and more likely to dry out so make sure not to overcook.


2/3 c white sugar

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 c milk (2%)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3 oz 100% cocoa ghiradelli chocolate. (Siriusly take license with the chocolate!)

Combine everything over low heat.  Increase heat  to medium, whisking constantly until pudding is boiling.  Remove from heat.  Place in a bowl with plastic wrap against surface of pudding so it doesn’t form a skin (eww pudding skin!).  Refridgerate until cool.

Make chocolate butter cream icing. (Ingredients: butter and /or shortening, vanilla extract, water, Unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered sugar.)There is a video with it if you forget how. Click Butter Cream on the side bar.

You’ll also want to make Ganache.  Ganache is semisweet chocolate and heavy cream.  I used 16oz. chocolate and 8oz. of cream, melted and whisked over low heat.  You can do a 1:1 ratio.  Ganache can be heated and used as a syrup, cooled slightly and piped, or spread like a frosting.  Its pretty awesome in terms of versatility.

OKAY.  So when your cake is cool slice each layer in half (horizontally).  Now you will have a 4 layer cake.  You could go as far as 3 times if your cake is thick enough. Pipe a ring of frosting around the bottom layer and fill in with pudding.  Stack the next layer and repeat.  Now frost the cake with butter cream and refrigerate.  Once the cake has “crusted” meaning you can touch the icing with your hand and it doesn’t stick, instead it is smooth and hard–has a layer of crust– you are ready to cover with ganache.

Its best to assemble this cake on a cardboard cake circle that is the exact same size– so an 8″ circle for an 8″ cake.  This will allow you to move the cake around, pour Ganache over it without messing up the board or plate you will ultimately display the cake on.  If by this point your ganache has hardened, reheat in the microwave, or over low heat or by placing in a bath of warm water.  Mix to assure that all the ganache is melted and smooth.

Place a tall sturdy cup on a large cookie sheet.  Place cake on top of cup.   You can now pour the ganache over the cake– be generous and just DUMP it!  push ganache toward the side with a long metal spatula.  Excess will drip onto cookie sheet, and you can reuse this extra on other cakes later.  Once cake is covered make one smooth pulling motion across the top of the cake to assure that the layer of ganache is even– this will also give you a smooth top.

Like I said Ganache can also be piped.  I added some black food coloring to my leftover ganache and placed in a piping bag and just swirled it all over the cake.  I was trying to imitate all the cool prison tattoos Sirius has.  I thought this was a bit cooler than crumbing the side.

4 comments November 20, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I’d hoped to post this a week ago, but making Croissants is about as difficult as putting together a great Halloween costume in under 24 hours, which is another challenge I seek out every year.

Holly Golightly

So this Halloween as in most previous Halloweens I waited till the last minute to figure out a costume.  I have some rather ridged rules about how I get a costume.  I prefer to put it together and/ or sew it rather than just buy it.  With that said I hate haphazard -can-barely-figure-it-out-only-if-I-explain it to you costumes.  I know thats picky, but evermore is the challenge to put together my costume in one whole day. Last year I managed to sew a whole jumpsuit and got a friend to sew me in hair extensions all within a day. I’m sure you’ve seen the Opps I did it again Britney on


With that said, even if I think my costume is spot on (as in I watched the movie over and over while I put it together just to make sure everything was right) sometimes still…Not everybody gets it.

Its not totally obvious in this photo–and thankfully there was another Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) in the room because I had my eye glasses on most of the night, out of necessity, which caused at least half the room to think I was…Sarah Palin. Election day was just around the corner, even if Mrs. Palin has stepped out of politics.  All that effort chasing around costume jewelry and opera length gloves, not to mention a dress, when I could have just wore a pants suit  from my closet.   That second Audrey helped set the record straight a little. Alaaaaskaaaa.

So Breakfast at Tiffany‘s begins with an interesting “walk of shame” if you will.  That somewhat awkward walk home early in the morning still wearing lasts nights party dress…Ms. Golightly stops in front a famous jewelry store sipping her coffee and snacking on a breakfast treat.  So les croissants is what I set my mind to. If you didn’t have respect for those hard working pastry arts students before, try this recipe and see how you feel.  This is why people study the culinary arts.  Try this for your next Sunday brunch, just make sure you stay home on Saturday night.

I first attempted what seemed to be an easy recipe, but figured out quickly, when my dough didn’t rise, that the recipe was lacking and I was lacking– lots of information.  Then I did some serious research comparing recipes and videos on Pastry making.  The recipe below comes from


The most important thing to know about Crosissants is that they are time and temperature sensitve.   Prepare the dough the night before you want to have them. Also plan to stay close by as you will need to roll, refridgerate, roll and refridgerate several times in your preparation.


1 1/2c whole milk heated to warm 105-110 degrres F (I Used 2%)

1/4 c package light brown sugar

1 Tb + 1/4 tsp dry active yeast.  (this is about one standard packet.)

3 3/4- 4 1/2 c unbleached all purpose flour

1 Tb Kosher Salt

3 sticks cold unsalted butter

Tools: rolling pin, counter top mixer with dough hook, pastry cutting wheel (or a pizza cutter), garbage bags, parchment paper, pastry brush, spray bottle, large plastic resealable bag, tall drinking glass

Combine milk, sugar and yeast into the bowl of an counter top electric mixer.  You will use your dough hook attachment to mix.  If you don’t have one you can stir and then use your hands to kneed this.

Its important your milk is warm, as this allows the yeast to foam.  Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.  If your yeast doesn’t foam, its no good and you’ll need to start over.


Add Flour and salt and mix on low speed till a stick dough forms (7 minutes).  Now hand knead on a clean floured surface for about two minutes.  Form into a ball shape or thick square shape and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refridgerate for an hour.


Meanwhile, place 3 sticks of butter in large zipperlocking bag next to each other. Leave the bag unsealed so it doesn’t pop.  Now whale on them with any aggression or stress you may be holding in using a rolling pin.  haha! Once you give them a few thwacks, you can actually roll the butter out like dough.  a 5×8 rectangle is suggested as the ideal size.  Place in refridgerator.  Its import your butter be cold, otherwise it will be impossible to work with.

DSCN0873After your dough is chilled roll it out to a 16×10 rectangle.  Place butter inside so the the longside of the butter is parallel with the short side of the dough.

DSCN0880Fold like a letter: the top third on to the butter the bottom third on top of the dough.  Now roll into a 15x 10 square.  Fold into thirds again roll again.  Fold for hte third time and roll.  Wrap in plastic and refridgerate for an hour.  You can expedite the process by using the freezer to chill the dough.  Only 20 minutes needed to chill.  You will repeat this process 3 times.

DSCN0889So by folding you are distributing layers of butter between the dough.  When it cooks the butter melts, creating steam which causes little bubbles to form in the dough.  It puffs creating a thin flaky layers of pastry.

After completing the last fold wrap dough again and place in the refridgerator for at least 8 hours, but no more than 18 hours.  (Are you sick of this yet?)  Roll out into two large cirlces (dough should be about 1/4 of an inch thick) slice into wedges– the way you’d cut a pizza.  Roll starting with the wide end of the dough.


Now you can, if you want to get fancy add chocolate and go for a pain au chocolat pastry.  Most people recommend bittersweet, but semisweet, or milk chocolate work well too.  Add chips a few morsels to the wide end of the cut, and roll.

Place all croissants on parchment lined baking sheets.  make sure the pointed end of the croissant is underneath the pastry else the dough will unwind in the oven.  Place baking sheets in garbage bags.  Use a tall drinking glass to prop plastic , and keep it from touching the croissants.  Tuck bag’s ends under tray.  Croissant will rise.  Let stand for 2- 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425. Spray inside of the oven, now remove croissants from bags and place in the oven.  Spray again. Close door.  Reduce heat to 400 and bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate racks and reduce heat to 375.  Croissants are done when they are a golden brown.

WOW thats a lot of work!!!  Here are some links if you want to take on this project:

Croissant Dough
Chocolate Croissants
How to Make Croissants Video This is great for learning how to fold the dough

Add a comment November 11, 2009

Hot Date…Bread

Having had a few close friends get hitched recently and it being Saturday night this post is dedicated to that one hot date.  You know a great first date, theres that spark, witty banter, maybe a little bit of tension– will their be a kiss good night?

So heres a recipe that I think has it all…Date Bread. Ahem HOT Date Bread.  This aint your grandmother’s recipe.  Its dense, rich, has a complex blend of spices and its got a little something in it that gives it some heat.  I originally found this recipe after trying to figure out what to do with the dates and chocolate my neighbor gave me as a little present.

After returning from Santa Fe just a few months previous I started experimenting with this original recipe adding chocolate and chili powder as they are a popular combination in New Mexico.  And finally the Cayenne Pepper in such a small amount adds the perfect amount of heat–not spice.  It helps the other spices turn up the volume a bit.


“HOT” Date Bread

2 1/2 c chopped Dates. (don’t buy them pre-chopped else they come with all sorts of preservatives)

1 1/2 c boiling water*

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Chopped Dates and place in a bowl with baking soda sprinkled over.  Added boiling water and allow the dates to reconstitute.  *Below you will notice that one of the spices I add is ground cardamon.  This is a pretty expensive spice and can sometimes be hard to find SO if you don’t have it, can’t find it, or are on a budget, add 2-3 chai tea bags to your bowl of dates.

Cardamon seeds are found in all sorts of indian, and morrocan dishes– it goes great with chicken and pork, yet actually lends itself to sweet flavors and its what make chai tea taste like chai tea….

Combine the following dry ingredients and set aside:

1 3/4 c Flour

1/4 tsp ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamon, chile powder,  cayenne pepper…hmmm.  

Now if you’re wary of the heat take the cayenne down to 1/8 of a teaspoon to test drive it a bit. 

Wet Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter 

1 1/4 c sugar

1 egg 

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 c chopped pecans

3/4 semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped.

Beat the butter and sugar together until crumbly, add egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and date mixture alternating.  Stir in pecans and chocolate.

Pour batter into a greased and floured  9″ bread pan.  Bake at 350 for 65-75 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes minimum before removing from the pan.


Have right out of the oven plain or, with a schmear of cream cheese, or freeze it for the holidays. This bread is great for dessert, an afternoon snack, a night cap…haha. I tend to find its one of those treats thats gets whittled away at till its gone .


1 comment October 25, 2009

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Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets