Posts filed under: ‘Filling‘

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have a number of colleagues who are foodies and I spent a fair amount of my “water cooler” chat discussing sweets and baking endeavours.  Today I gave some tips about icing a cake, later on the security personelle and I discussed pies and puddings.  Lemon Meringue came up and I realized I’ve never made one!! Dare I admit?! A study of lemon merignue is soon to come.

In this conversation I found myself thinking of my grandmother who was a decorated pie maker, in fact when she passed away her banana cream pie was mentioned in her eulogy.  Her birthday is this month so a banana cream recipe is in our sweet future.

Around midnight as I left work and I popped into a grocery store that was open late I found myself shocked and elated to find rhubarb on display in the produce aisle.  I searched high and low for this red-celery-looking-tart veggie all summer with few results.  Some grocers even looked at me funny when I asked for it.  Its typically in season when strawberries are, in May and June (in New York).  The few times I found it in the blistering summer months my motivation to bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie did not last far past my trip home, and sadly the rhubarb usually spoiled before I got up the energy to heat up my kitchen in 90 degree weather.

This rare find of Rhubarb sealed the day for me. Lets talk pie!

As I mentioned my rhubarb went bad a time or two before I got around to cooking it.  Then of course it dawned upon me that perhaps a hot summer day isn’t always a pie baking day. But you don’t have to sacrifice your rhubarb.  Chop it up and freeze it! The last strawberry rhubarb I made was at Thanksgiving.

Yeah I know- no one is jonesing for reminders of cold weather or Turkey naps as its finally feeling like spring is here.  There were so many pies at Thanksgiving that my father joked that each of us could have one to ourselves.

Sure fresh fruit is always preferred, but using frozen fruit doesn’t change any of your preparations in making the pie. By the way I really like the freezer bags that ziplock makes– you can suck the air out of the bag and lengthen the life of your goods in the freezer–saving them from freezer burn.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Rhurbarb, sliced

Strawberries, hulled and sliced (hulled means de-stemmed)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients.  If you are working with frozen fruit allow the fruit to thaw or warm over low heat before adding sugar and cornstarch.  Simmer all ingredients over low heat until thickened.  With frozen fruit you will be dealing with higher water content, so thickening might take a little longer. Remove from heat and refridgerate until ready to use.


This crust recipe came from SmittenKitchen and I absolutely love the recipe. Click that link because the pictures and instructions are GREAT!

2 and 1/2 c flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) very cold unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized pieces

1 c ice water

Add cubes to water and set aside.  Combine Flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl– the extra room is important for the mixing process.  Add butter and blend with your pastry blender– you can get these anywhere and if you want a blue ribbon in pie– you need one!  (I got a great one at Target that also included a pie server, and pastry wheel.

A key to a wonderfully flaky pie crust, as suggested at smitten kitchen is visible chunks of butter. By using a pastry blender you are layering the butter between thin sheets of flour– key to allowing the steam production (butter melts and emits steam that puffs the flour) rendering a flaky crust. Once the butter and flour are combined and appear to be almost chunky– the size of peas add water.

Switch the pastry blender out for a spatula and start to pour the ice water over the dough. You may need some additional water, though I found that the 1 cup was adequate. Fold with the spatula, then knead with your hands for a minute, no more. Once combined wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies.  Its ideal to split the dough in two and wrap separately. Refridgerate for at least an hour prior to rolling out.  You can also freeze it if you are planning to use in the future.

Rolling the dough:  If you’d like to save on the mess factor feel free to lace two large sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and roll. I, however, don’t mind making a huge mess.  Flour your clean countertop.  Knead dough to warm slightly, making the dough easier to work with.

Shape into a circular mound.  Start by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough.  Work evenly out to the top and bottom of the dough, then side to side.

I typically just pick the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees.  (roll top to bottom, then rotate 90 degrees, and  repeat.) This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking– re flour if you need to, and its not as awkward with your arms.  The dough will receed slightly as you roll it but be patient.

To determine if the dough is big enough to cover your pie plate. Set the plate (face down) lightly in the center of the dough to measure– there should be 2-3 inches around the perimeter of your pie plate.  Some folks fold the rolled dough in quaters then unfold in the plate, or you can lightly flour the top surface of the dough, then roll the dough around your rolling pin, unroll across the plate.

Work dough into corners of plate. Cut excess crust at pie plates edge (save and reuse in the future).  Patch any holes that might have torn.

Fold and pinch edges around pie plate. Use your index finger to push dough in between the knuckles of your index and middle finger on your opposite hand.  Fill with filling.

Roll second part of dough.  Thickness for both dough layers should be about a 1/6- 1/8 of an inch. I have misplaced my pastry wheel so instead I used a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser. It can be a little cumbersome to put together, but it allows you to cut 2 ribbons at once that are even and uniformly measured.  In this case I used the 3/4 inch embossers, with the crimped edge cutter. Make sure you stack enough spacers so that the spacers stop just past the inside piece.  Tighten washer and end cap.  The cutter should roll easily though its tight enough that the cutters and spacers don’t waiver. Use your index finger to press on the washer to steady the ribbon cutter as you roll.

Attach ribbons at the edge and weave ribbon pieces over and under one another.  *You can vary your lattic top appearance by weaving the lattice tightly together, or loosely apart, and of course you can cut the ribbons thicker or thinner.

Paint, using a  pastry brush, with and egg yolk and a tsp or 2 of water.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.  The pie is done when the filling begins to bubble. Its always a good idea to place a cookie sheet beneath a pie with a fruit filling so that any bubbling fruit does not bubble over and set off your fire alarm.

Add a comment April 6, 2011

Chocolate Torte

I did some experimenting with some gum paste orchids– rather complicated for flowers but fun once you get the hang of it.  I’ll hopefully post a video in the future.  For now a recipe based on on of my latest cakes– Chocolate torte.  I realized only after doing this recipe that torte usually indicates that the cake contains ground nuts as opposed to flour…this recipe only has flour, but was a dense, rich chocolate cake all the same– not light and fluffly, but thats fine with me.


Chocolate Raspberry Torte


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine your dry ingredients: Sugar (yes this time its a dry ingredient), flour (sifted), cocoa (I used 1/3 dutch processed, 1/3 valrhona), cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix till combined and set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat milk– I only warmed it, don’t scald.  Melt butter– over the stove or via the microwave.

Lightly beat eggs. Add vanilla.

Slowly pour in warmed milk.

Add butter.

Add dry ingredients.

Mix until just combined. Bake (in 2 8″ pans-greased and floured) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finishing a chocolate torte can be simple– the cake is dense and sweet enough that fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit are perfect.  I went more on the choco-holic side of things.

To Finish:

Each layer will be about 2- 2 1/2″ tall.  I leveled both rendering four layers and iced with a raspberry butter cream (I added a teaspoon or 2 of raspberry extract and 2 tablespoon of raspberry jam.  Seedless is preferable– but I had trouble finding it, even in New York City.

**Careful when added jams or syrups to icings.  In my experience your frosting can get gummy and hard to deal with aka it starts oozing all over the place unpredictably. Between layers I spread raspberry jam.

A little trick to getting you icing super smooth.  With traditional buttercream (butter and powdered sugar) you’ll find that the icing “Crusts” or dries to the touch after about 10 minutes.  Sometimes it even crumbles a little. If you find that you have some spatula marks on your cake you can dip a metal spatula in warm water– don’t get the spatula too wet lightly swipe your spatula against the dry frosting and you’ll notice the marks melt away.  The finish of the frosting will be a little shiney — careful not to use too much water else the cake will look melted.

I finished the cake with Chocolate Ganache— which isnt too complicated to do, but I think is best described in a video…to come.

Chocolate Ganache

2 c semisweet chocolate

1 c-1  1/2c heacvy cream

Melt in a sauce pan over low heat stirring constantly.  Ganache should be cooled but still runny.  I also placed the cake in the freezer to settle and firm up a bit.  Place cake on a cooling wrack, on a large tray.

Pour ganache over the top of the cake letting it drip over the sides.  Push ganache over sides with spatula.  Give one or two passes around the sides of cake to smooth and make sure ganache has totally covered the whole cake.

The best thing about ganache is that if you allow it to cool a little longer its just like chocolate frosting– if you don’t want to pour it over your cake you and spread it like frosting or pipe it with a pastry bag. If it gets too cool warm it up in the microwave or roll the pastry bag filled with ganache between your hands until it softens enough to pipe again.

3 comments March 23, 2011

Ugly Duckling

Finally!! This recipe has been a year in the making…

About a year ago I headed into work feeling like a million bucks.  I had a sweet new hair cut : a new chocolate brown coif with smart bangs in the front…I felt like I loosely resembled Angelina Jolie in her last movie Salt, well my hair did anyway.


Just when I’d believed I’d conquered all the awkward phases in life, I, by the afternoon, upon returning from the dentist, my teeth clad with braces, I was the spit and image of Ugly Betty…

My mom always said my (crooked) teeth gave me character, and over the next 11 months that followed I was miserable feeling all the bones in my jaw sway and shift. I ducked out of most pictures when someone said to say cheese, or just pursed my lips in what looked usually like a painful grimace.


I made this cake for my dentist to celebrate finally finishing my dental work!

Originally the estimate of time of how long I’d be feeling like a 5th grader was about 8 months though I secretly crossed my fingers that it might be as short as 6.  Not a terribly long time to suffer, though by August, then September, then Thanksgiving and Christmas there was no sign they were coming off even when my dentist seemed surprised at how quick my teeth were moving.  When you are 20 something and your jaw is fully formed, not to mention being an avid coffee drinker, not only does it hurt to have braces, but they stain and are just kind of embarassing.


Now a year later I COULDN’T WAIT to get them off!!!   My appointment was then pushed back due to the second, third or fourth heavy-duty NYC winter storm…but now FINALLY the braces are gone!! I think difficult experiences make us all a little better off, so FINALLY almost a year later 11 months and a week later I have a white very straight smile.

When you have braces you can’t indulge is candy, not that I am a huge candy person anyway, but i definetly learned my lesson with caramel over they year having pulled and tugged at the wires painfully when I forgot what was on the prohibited menu.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

3/4 c dutch processed cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 salt

2 large eggs

3/4 c butter milk ( I used 1 c soymilk with 1 tsp vinegar)

3 Tbsp vegetable  oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 warm water

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.  

Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water with an electric mixer on low until smooth.

Divide into cupcake cups and cook at 350 degrees.  Martha makes these as mini cupcakes, but I went full size.  Yields 18-24 regular size cupcakes.

By the way if you are saying chocolate and Salt?  Go to your local Starbuck’s and order a salted caramel hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm!!  They are sooo delicious!!  And these cupcakes are much the same.

To finish:

Salted Caramel Filling

2 1/2 c granulated sugar

2/3 c water

1 tbsp light corn syrup

3/4 c heavy cream

2 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine Sugar, cornsyrup and water in a sauce pan.  Stir and heat on high. Stir until the liquid becomes clear. Once sugar mixture has become clear stop stirring. Use a pastry brush to wash down sides of pan occasional.  Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan or if you have a larger candy thermometer, make sure to really cover the bottom of the thermometer in the sugar so to ensure an accurate reading and swirl occassionally.

When sugar reaches 360 degrees (be patient it can take a while) remove from heat.  The color will begin to caramelize.

Add cream slowly and stir.  Mixture will bubble and spatter is you are not careful.

Add salt.  If you don’t use caramel shortly after making you will need to re heat to soften.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

3 sticks unslated butter at room temperature

1/2 c confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 c + 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa

2/3 c boiling water

1 pound good quality semi sweet chocolate

I used callebut chocolate and semiesweet morsels. Melt in a double boiler, or carefully over low heat to melt. Set aside and allow to cool, but not harden.

Combine cocoa and boiling water. Whisk until dissolved. Cocoa will become like a thick mousse. Allow to cool.

Cream butter, confectioners sugar, and salt. Add melted chocolate and beat on low.  Add Cocoa mixture until frosting is smooth and combined.

To assemble Dig out a bit of the center of the chocolate cupcakes.

Pour a few teaspoons of caramel into the center. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

Pipe the chocolate frosting on top and devour!

2 comments February 10, 2011

Dulce De Leche Cake

I came across this blog as I was researching a recipe for Dulce De Leche Cake.  Spork or A great blog with all sort of entrees and desserts, breakfast and appetizers.  As I was cruising around the site I realize that me and this other fine foodie have a few things in common– both dog owners, we both studied theatre in College, and we both live in NYC and know all too intimately the trials and tribulations of living (and cooking) in the city that never sleeps.

The Empire State Building, from a Manhattan Roof Top

I sometimes wonder how many New York City foodie bloggers there are out there on the internet dealing with their tiny cramped kitchens as they document all their food loving experiements.  New York is a wonderful and tough place to live.  This all of course got me thinking about what my experience has been like living and coping, and coping with living in New York.  I still think after 6 years (where did time go?) that I’m not an expert enough to write any sort of  comprhensive guide to NYC but I have some of my insights.  I probably wouldn’t have made it through that first summer sublet if it weren’t for my first roommate and a copy of NFT Not for Tourist and An Actor Prepare’s… to Live in New York City I might still be upstate.

1. If you want a decent sized apartment for you dollar– go to the North Bronx.  I’ve got a gigantic (especially by NYC standards) apartment.  2 bedroom and the price aint terrible.  Amenities: public transport to NYC and Westchester, the Bronx River, which has tons of bike paths and is quite beautiful, subways  and the metro north can get you to midtown in 30 minutes at peak hours.  Of course when your living in the North Bronx you might as well live in Albany in terms of feeling like the city.   Riverdale, Norwood and City Island are all great spots, but you can also find some good deals in Brooklyn and Queens, with a similar commute and more of a view.

2.Parking and Street Cleaning.  If you have car in the city make sure its a compact car else you will lose precious hours of your life to seaching for parking.  You’ll also need to get a grip in the street cleaning dates and times.  Most neighborhoods you are permitted to double park for the hour, hour and a half of street cleaning, but DON”T Oversleep or forget to move you car back else you will find a ticket whihc cost about the same as a surf and turf dinner.   Should you get a ticket, pay it as soon as possible else (and i know from experience) they will find you and tow away your ride.  Call 311 if you have questions about street fairs, street cleaning, subway closures.  They don’t always have an answer but ca at least point you in the right direction.

3. Make a point to do the Touristy New York City things, preferably when you first get here.  Statue of Liberty, at least one broadway play, The Met –museum or Opera, Yankee Stadium, and dare I say Magnolia.  After you’ve done the “Sex and the City” bus tour, and are feed up with hanging out in Midtown, Make your own adventure to find what will soon become your Big Apple Favorites.  I once played what I called “whatever bus comes next.”  After spending some time at the Cloisters I decided to take “what ever bus comes next.”   I was in Inwood (northern most Neighborhood in Manhattan) and decided I would use my metro card fun pass (unlimited subway/bus pass) and let the City take me where it would.  I decided I wouldn’t request a stop but rather decided to get off randomly, when someone else requested it.  I ended up walking the last leg of the New York City Marathon– Spectators route on the runners all day long from their windows, even stop to clap on the streets– what amazing support.  Then I purused through the Conservatory at Central Park, before meeting up with some friends for Indian food at a great restaurant on 108th– The Indian Cafe.  Other times I’ve snuck into the Natural History Museum, or climbed up the Shakespeare castel in Central Park, or randomly run into in Robert DeNiro in Little Italy.  The best times I’ve had were typically unplanned so, get a fun pass and go get lost.

My best friends on a downtown Manhattan rooftop

4. New York City like anything in life is all about who you know.  So make friends.  I’ve been to Broadway premiers and Penthouse rooftops all from having made friends with some really cool people. It can be hard to break through that tough New York exterior that just about everyone has, but your sure to find good connections that will lead you to your next job or opportunity or at least a good party.

5. Keep your head up, because New York will kick your butt!!!  Whether you’ve got crazy weird roomates (I had one who stole my security deposit, and then turn around and try to sue me later–seriously!) shady cheap landlord who turns off your heat to save himself money, or totally unfair parking tickets– this is all part of the rhythym of the city.  If you really want to be here you’ll find a way to cope with the lack of space, abundance of noise and learn to love it, and if not you’ll have some good stories to bring back home withyou.

So how about that cake.  I made this for a coworker who originates from Ecuador.  As far as neighborhoods go I live in a predominantly spanish area and I love comparing recipes and learning new aways to approach cake, or Bizcocho.

The cake is a version of a white cake, without as many eggs.  It cooks up light and fluffy and evenly for the most part.  You’ll notice you won’t spend alot of time leveling this puppy.

The filling is dulce de Leche, cooked the easiest way– by boiling sweetencondensed milk (see my previous post)

And the Frosting.  I originally went with what SporkorFoon suggested: a caramel frosting from Paula Dean, but I found generally that it was too sweet and pretty runny, so I oppted to take all that gooey caramel and add it (slowly) to some Swiss Merignue I had already made.  It  kicked up the flavor just enough without killing the consistency.  I drizzled what was left of the caramel over the cake, and add some melted chocolate in a way Jackson Pollock would appreciate– I was inspired by this photo of Dulce De Leche cake on Technicolor Kitchen.  I love food photos!

Dulce De Cake from Spork or

2 1/4 cup cake flour ( I used all purpose)

1 c whole milk

6 large egg whites at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 c grandulate sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened

Combine milk, egg whites and vanilla in a small bowl.  mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer on low speed.  Add butter and mix until crumbly.  Add 1/2 of egg-milk mixture into flour mixture. Mix at medium speed for 90 seconds.  Add last of egg-milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds.  Scrape bowl and mix for 20 more seconds.  Don’t over beat.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 8″ or 9″ pans and cook for 25 minutes.

Paula Dean’s caramel frosting can be found here or

Melt 1 stick of butter, 1 c brown sugar (dark is called for but I only had light– to each their own), and 1/3 heavy cream in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Move to a heat proof bowl add 1 lb (2 cups) powdered sugar.  Add more sugar for a stiffer consistency.  I allowed the frosting to cool then slowly stirred it into some fluffy swiss meringue I had made previously.

Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely.  Level you cakes. Be sure to pipe a dam around the edge so you dulce won’t leak threw. Fill with Dulce de Leche, stack and Frost. Decorate as you’d like!

Add a comment November 16, 2010

Love’s Labour’s Leche

Today is the last day to vote for my friend Chrissy!! So go to this site and clickity click! VOTE!!!

Speaking of races the New York City Marathon was this weekend…Did I mention Chrissy is a Marathoner? Just another reason to VOTE!!! Anyway I have yet to even complete a 5K.  Marathons are grueling from what I can tell and you must be just about nuts to participate. With the time it takes to train, not to mention the lack of refined sugar you can consume… for me at least it’s not in my immediate goals.

So I start thinking about what I could accomplish in say 3 hours.  For an elite athlete, you could get from Staten Island through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, to the finish line in Manhattan.  I decided instead to have a little race of my own, at the stove.   Dulce de Leche a gooey delicious caramely filling/ frosting.  Its sooo GOOD!!!  But if you choose to actually make it– you should plan to set aside a marathon’s worth of time…standing at the stove.

So this afternoon I attempted to simultaneously make Dulce de Leche the traditional way and the easy way.  I figured it would be good to contrast and compare.  I was pretty dissappointed with the traditional way of boiling milk and sugar.  Three hours after continuously stirring milk and sugar over the stove I’m pretty sure I burned it…BUT I was truly impressed with the easy way to achieve this finiky filling.

I found all sort of ways to make Dulce de Leche on a fellow foodie’s blog. What’s for Lunch, Honey? Five ways to make Dulce de Leche?!– I’m impressed!!  So if you are like me and want to try the traditional way and challenge yourself try the first recipe.  I can’t say I recommend spending all that time, considering my result came out craptastic! but for all I know I skipped a step, having lost my focus continuously, mind-numbingly stirring.   I do know that next time I need this sweet South American filling I will opt for the second recipe.

From What’s for Lunch, Honey?

Dulce de Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Small sauce pan with simmering water

Peel label from can.  Pop holes into the lid using either a can opener or bottle opener.  It is imparitive that you place holes in the lid, else the can will explode!! You can remove the lid completely, but be very careful not to spill the milk or get water inside the can.


The first pan is the traditional method, the second the easy way.

Place the can in a sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Keep the heat on Low/Medium heat.  If you’ve kept the lid intact, save for the holes, you’ll notice that some of the condensed milk will bubble up.  This will stop after about 15 minutes and shouldn’t spill over.

The water level should remain at about 1 -2cm from the top of the can.  Don’t let it boil over of course, again just a gentle simmer.   As the water boils it evaporate of course.  Continue to maintain the water level by adding water to the pan as it boils down.  Simmer for 3 hours to achieve a thick gooey Dulce de Leche.


Remove from water with tongs or a pot holder. Open the can and you will have a thin layer of thin milky cream, just beneath a thick gooey Dulce de Leche. Mix until smooth. Though its a long time, you aren’t chained to the stove, like you would be if you were going for the traditional version.This can be used a filling, or even a frosting if you choose.

UP NEXT: A cake to compliment this finger licking good sweet, a give away– should Chrissy make the top 20, and a cupcake recipe by the weekend!

Also if you have any thoughts to add about making Dulce de Leche, share them in the comments!  What’s your favorite method to make it?– Any time savers so as not to stand at the stove stirring for hours? Share! share! VOTE!!!

2 comments November 11, 2010

A year in Review…

Wow its been awhile since I’ve posted!  I guess it doesn’t help to mention I had a great piping techinque to show for Mother’s Day (the basketweave) or that I wanted to pay tribute to my dad with his favorite cake for Fathers Day (yellow cake with chocolate frosting)  or that I had about 100 great things to say about strawberries, and had plans to do a whole piece about canning (May and June is starwberry picking season).  Well if you want to see some of the projects that have kept me from posting look in the galleries, as I’ve finally been able to update with some recent photos.

As August comes to an end and my thoughts instinctually turn to sharpened pencils and cozy fall clothes and new starts I realize that this blog is just about 1 year old, give or take a couple of days.  And I got to thinking about what I’ve accomplished, learned, and experienced in the last 365 and 1  quater days…

So here are some highlights: after starting this blog I …

1. Got this blog a spiffy new look. Which was not easy in terms of going back and forth with a designer.  But that designer turned into a good friend, who turned into a fabulous boyfriend, and the web design aint so shabby either.

2. Visited Florida, California, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont , some places I’ve been before, some not, all the same some good R and R.

3. Went to a couple of great live hockey games, including a Ranger Game on Valentines Day –I had great seats, even got to sneak some friends down from the bleeders to sit right in front of us. Saw Sean Avery get a great penalty shot, and me and my crew were on the Jumbo Tron.  This was all topped off by the rangers winning the game!!

4. I paid off my car…then I totalled my car, then I got a new car. Paid off the last of my credit cards! And put some cash in savings!

5. Taught over 500 people the fundamentals of cake decorating.  I’ve opened a second store as a Wilton Instructor.  Did some great private work working with large and small groups.  And I have some future demonstrations up my sleeve.

6. I’ve gotten over 20, 000 views on my Youtube channel and yes I will reshoot that annoying video where I say “uhm” apprx 65 times according to one veiwer.  In fact I plan to reshoot “how to make buttercream”, as well as add a video on “how to make italian meringue buttercream”, complete with better angles.

7. I  turned down a couple of jobs decorating including one position at a very famous bakery…with none other than the Cake Boss…sometimes opportunities just aren’t a fit. Began work in a new local bakery close by with lots of great people who allow me to experiment and let my imagination take me where ever it will!

8. Beefed up my portfolio.

9. Saw the yeah yeah yeahs in concert, began learning to sew, Hosted Thanksgiving, got braces 😦 , had a yard sale,  threw a dance party, began collaborating on an illustration project, finally finished all the Harry Potter books, learned some songs on the piano, and Began doing some research for a host of other cake eccentric projects I’ve got cooking (pun intended)…

10. And finally I adopted an adorable german shepard pup named Billie. (like Billie Holiday– shes a girl. See above.)

In the last couple of months my schedule has been bogged down with weddings, summer get-togethers, birthday parties and bridal showers and lots and lots of work. Balancing 3 jobs, private cake projects, and a new dog aint a piece of cake.  But right now I’m looking forward to the things I plan to fill my fall schedule with:

Sewing projects– some I plan to debut here on the Cake Eccentric

Some Continuing Ed classes at a local college– possibly including American Sign Language II– I love ASL

More Teaching!! I took off the month of August after limiting the amount I was teaching this summer.  I’ll be back starting this September with Flowers and Cake Design as well as 2 project classes: Tall Cakes– this is a one time 3 hours class for adults who have completed all the Wilton courses and are hoping for a little additonal training in tiered cakes.  I’m also hoping to add a fun kids class with a back to school theme. Click Current Class Schedule for the official dates and times.

So for a recipe…August is prime picking season for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  Hit up those farmers market stands before it gets too cool.  My favorite farm stand is locate smack dab on the border for New York and Vermont. The smell of fresh, fruits and vegetables is absolutely intoxicating as you walk through the open air shopping.  I’m also a total sucker for the fresh baked pies.  Though kind of pricey they are totally delicious. Fruit of the Forest is my favorite light and mildly sweet, and traditional and hearty. The perfect dessert to usher us from Summer to Fall.

This recipe is from Desserts: A Collection of over 100 Essential Recipes by Parragon Publishing.


1 1/2 c blueberries

1 1/2c raspberries

1 1/2c blackberries

2/3 c sugar

Combine and simmer in a sauce pan over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.


1 1/2c flour

generous 1/4 ground hazelnuts also called hazelnut meal

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter cut into pieces plus more for greasing the pie dish

2/3 c sugar

4 tb milk

finely grated rind of one lemon

1 egg yolk beaten

Sift flour, then add hazelnuts.  Crumble butter in with your fingers or pastry mixer until mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add sugar and mix.  Then add 3 tb milk, egg yolk, grated lemon rind.  Once dough is uniform knead briefly on a lightly floured surface.  Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll 2/3 dough and drape over grease 8″ pie dish.  Trim extra dough over edges.  Fill with berry mixture. Lightly dampen dough edge with water.  Roll remaining dough and place over pie pinching edge.  Make 2 slits in center of pie.  optional: use any ramaining dough to decorate pie top.  Roll and use decorative cookie cutter to create design.  Brush with remaining tablespoon of milk and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or my favorite ice cream.

**The Fruit of the Forest at Patties Patch contain peaches and strawberries as well so feel free to go nuts.

1 comment September 1, 2010

Miracle on Ice

Lake Placid Olympic Arena

I spent this past weekend in Lake Placid, New York.  Famed for both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.   Lake Placid, population 2,800 would be a sleepy town if it weren’t for the Olympic training facilities, and Hockey Tournaments.  The mile high sky jumps can be seen towering over the winding highway as you make your way to the downtown strip of Mirror Lake (sister lake to Lake Placid).  There are tons of cute shops, restaurants and even if you aren’t a Hockey Fan you have to take a quick stroll through the famed “Miracle on Ice” hockey rink, otherwise known as the Herb Brooks Arena.

I find it funny that more than a few of my posts have to with sports because truth be told, I’m not athletic and I’m not someone you’ll tuned in to ESPN or any other sports channel for the most part, that is of course until it comes to hockey.

Love of hockey goes way back in my family to when my grandfather was a dashing young student in New York city.  He regularly went to see Rangers’ games at the Garden, for 25 cents, as he often bragged.  Whether or not you are a die hard sports fan, an occasional observer, or totally hate the fact that I’m tying yet another recipe to sports, everyone LOVES a good underdog story.

Herb Brooks Arena

Lake Placid was just the setting in 1980, when a young scrappy team of college hockey players took on the elite Soviet club on home ice.  If you haven’t seen the movie Miracle, I strongly suggest you Netflix it.  Its the perfect feel good flick.  Which brings me to the New York Rangers.  The big-hearted blue shirts, the team I love,  and for many seasons the underdogs…without the happy ending as of yet.  There were 54 long years between the last 2 Stanley Cups (1940, and 1994).  They have 4 total, which is embarassingly low for a talented team that is member of the Original Six.  (The Rangers, Blackhawks, Maple Leaves, Red Wings, Canadiens, and Bruins are the original 6 teams that started the NHL in 1926.)

The New York Rangers are currently in a tight race to make the playoffs.  As the weather outside gets warmer, the race on the rink, namely between the Boston Bruins and the Rangers gets hotter too.  One point could make the difference in who actually gets to contend for Lord Stanley’s Cup.  The Rangers and Bruins won’t actually face each other again, as the season ends, but none the less the competition is fierce. I will state here and now that should the Rangers pull it out and knock Boston out of contention, AND go on to win the cup or even just make it through the second round of the playoffs, I will make a replica Stanley Cup cake.

So in the spirit of high hopes and miracles, heres a cup cake recipe.  CREAM BOSTON! cupcakes, I mean Boston Cream  Pie Cupcakes, courtesy of Martha Stewart, because I’m hoping the Rangers cream Boston.

No paper liners needed for Boston Cream Cupcakes!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes:

1 1/2 c Flour (plus more for pans)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c whole milk

6 TB unsalted butter softened (plus more for pans)

3 large eggs

1 c sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

(Filled with Vanilla Cream, and topped with Chocolate Ganache)

Butter and Flour your cupcake tins like you would for a cake.  You won’t be using capcake papers to bake with.  Combine Dry ingredients (flour, powder, and salt). Set aside.

Combine milk and butter in a sauce pan over low heat.

Beat  eggs and sugar for about five minutes.  Mixture should look pale and thick.  Add dry ingredients.  Bring milk and butter to a boil, then combine with batter using mixer on low. Add vanilla.

Fill baking tins half way ( I usually use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to keep my cupcakes uniform looking).  Bake for 15 minutes or until a golden.  Cool for 10 minutes, then slice in half horizontally.  Fill with Vanilla Cream.

Vanilla Cream, (If you have Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, she uses Pastry Cream to fill these cupcakes.  Its the same recipe roughly.  The Pastry Cream recipe  yields more.  You could just as easily make instant vanilla pudding, or really cheat and use pudding cups.  I suggest skipping the short cut at least once)

2 large egg yolks

1/4 c sugar

2 TB cornstach + 1/2 tsp

pinch of salt

1 c whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk yolks till smooth.  Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add milk in a slow steady stream and stir continually until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. (apprx 5 minutes)

Pour 1/3 of the milk into yolks mixing constantly and rapidly– this will temper the eggs without allowing them to coagulate– You don’t want the eggs to scramble in your pudding.  Stir in the remaining milk and return custard to saucepan cooking 2-4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in vanilla.

Martha suggests pouring the cream through a sieve– this will remove any coagulated eggs. Cover with plastic wrap across surface of pudding and refridgerate until chilled.

The cupcakes are topped with Chocolate Ganache.

Melt 1 c semi sweet chocolate , and 1/2 c- 3/4 c heavy cream in microwave or double boiler.  Allow to cool slightly so that frosting is spreadable, but not runny.

Eat to your hearts content!  Here’s to Miracles on Ice!

Chocolate Ganache Frosting!

1 comment April 8, 2010

The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Between hosting Thanksgiving and starting a new round of decorating classes this almost 2 weeks have gone by without a post!!  Speaking of classes the January schedule is out.

I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine last year.  Since then I haven’t quite been able to locate it on her site so all the more reason to post.  It is I’ve been told my many who’ve eaten it…the best Pumpkin Pie EVER!!

Why?  Well this Pumpkin Pie recipe features one big difference, no pie crust.  Instead the crust is made from Baklava!!  And its soooo good.

One of the reasons its taken me so long to post this is that I’ve been working on an amendment to this recipe– Making miniture pumpkin bakalava pies, though I suppose that would render them tarts.  Its still a work in progress.  I was hoping for beginners luck on Thanksgiving.  They came out well enough, except that they wouldn’t come out of the baking sheet…too much sugar.  It did not, however, stop anyone on of my guest from picking up a spoon and scooping them out.

Caught red handed Itzy!

Heres the regular sized recipe

Walnut Oatmeal Streusel

3/4 c old fashioned oats

3 oz  finely chopped walnuts

7 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp packed light brown sugar

3 tbsp unslated butter

2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine oats, walnuts, flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Melt butter in a sauce pan and whisk in honey.  Pour in oat mixture.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread streusel onto sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping occasionally.  Streusel will be golden brown. Let cool on a wrack.  Streusel stays good wrapped for up to 3 days.

Baklava Crust

1 c granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

17 sheets of phyllo

1 1/2 sticks butter melted,

Walnut Streusel

Working with phyllo dough can be a little difficult t.  Try to work fast so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, but don’t make the mistake (like I did) by getting it wet with water…it just gets gummy. Covering what you aren’t using with a dry dish cloth can keep it from drying out.  Unroll phyllo from packaging.  Martha says to trim to the measurements of 8.5″x 13.5 ” I simply sliced off a column of phyllo about 4 inches wide and 10 inches tall.   A pastry cutter, or a pizza cutter works.

Combine sugar and cinnamon.  Brush phyllo with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Add streusel to top half of phyllo.  Fold phyllo over top.  Brush with butter.  Place in pie dish.  Martha suggests folding corners beneath phyllo packet and scrunching to form a petal shape.  I simply placed mine against the edge, the ends standing a little taller than the dish.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  The phyllo packets won’t reach the center of the dish and then out to the edge, so make sure to fill this center space with phyllo packets as well.  Martha says to weigh down the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and dried beans.  Then to cook for 10 minutes till crust is golden brown. Truth be told I totally skip this part when I make it.  But I wanted to stay true to the recipe, so you all at least have the option to skip it.

Pumpkin Filling

1 can ( 15 oz) solid packed pumpkin

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1/4 honey

3 large eggs

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg ( freshly grated if you’ve got it)

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

ground cloves

Combine all ingredients…That was easy! and pour over crust.  Bake at 350 for an hour.  Its suggested to tent the edges of crust with foil as the phyllo will brown quickly.  Let cool and serve with left over streusel and honey.

1 comment December 11, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

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