Sometimes I am a better photographer than baker. This weekend was such a case. Well, it’s not that I was a bad baker, it’s more like poor planning. She requested to make a cake, so cake we made. It was her uncles birthday so we thought we would make a cake to celebrate. My brother was my best friend growing up. I admired him and looked up to him. I pestered him and idolized him. I have such fond memories of playing together as children. I think some of my favorite memories are from vacations we took as a family. I remember restaurant after restaurant he would order grapefruit juice to drink with his breakfast. They were always those little cans of juice, with a duck on them and I thought they tasted horrible. He on the other hand, loved them. Since then I’ve had it stuck in my head to make him grapefruit flavored things for his birthday. So a pound cake we made.This pound cakes flavor was spot on. It was sweet, and grapefruity. The glaze, well the glaze may have just been the best part. But here’s where it went wrong, it wasn’t completely done in the center. At first I thought it was just excess glaze that had seeped in. Then I realized, actually it just wasn’t cooked. Wah-wah. This is what happens when you tell your husband to take the cake out of the oven while you put the toddler down for a nap, and say oh no you don’t need to check it with a toothpick it will be done. Duh. Check the stupid cake with a toothpick people.And no, the kid didn’t shove her hands into the cake like it looks like she’s about to. I picked up some tequila ice cream (which is insanely good and not very heavily tequila flavored) from the Mexican ice cream shop that we love and the two went sooo well together. To be honest I liked the cake even better by itself with a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning. Also, in case you didn’t know, pound cake is ridiculously easy, provided you bake it long enough.Grapefruit Pound Cake
For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter softened
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 cup confectioners sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. And flour in four additions. Add eggs, mixing after each one. Add vanilla, grapefruit juice and zest. Beat until smooth. Pour into a progressed loaf pan or a 9×13 pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
2. Make the glaze: Whisk grapefruit juice with confectioners sugar. Drizzle over cake once cool.
It’s 11:22pm and my two year old is currently eating this “chocolate pie”. She napped until 6pm so I knew there was a good chance she would be up late tonight. She had quite an unhappy morning accompanied by a fever, so a second nap was necessary. Luckily her evening was much happier.This morning before the shit hit the fan, we made this tart together. Well, we started it, then she got super “cranky” and demanded a nap so I ended up finishing it alone after she was asleep. She was pretty excited to see me top it with berries and whipped cream when she woke up. Kids are crazy and scary and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. When something is wrong and you don’t know what, it’s almost painful. And for us there’s always that nagging fear in the back of our heads that it’s something more. Luckily this kid recovers quickly. Hopefully there’s no trace left tomorrow of whatever it was today, and she’s back to her happy sweet self. If not, we’ll just feed her “pie” for breakfast and all will be right in the world.Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart
Recipe adapted slightly from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg yolk, beaten
For the ganache:
8 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp, cut in half
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbs powdered sugar
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries, cut in half
To make the crust:
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter with fingers until well incorporated. Some butter chunks will be the size of small pebbles, others will resemble oatmeal flakes. Once incorporated, add the egg yolk and bring mixture together with a fork. Dump mixture into a 9 inch tart pan (or 9 inch spring form pan) and press the crust into the sides and bottom with your fingers. Place in freezer for about an hour.
To make ganache:
2. Place chopped up chocolate in a medium sized bowl. In a small saucepan over medium low heat to a very low simmer. Pour half of cream on top of chocolate and let stand for about a minute, then whisk together. Add in the rest of the milk and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Place in the fridge and stir every 10 minutes until it sets up a little bit.
3. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter a piece of foil and place butter side down on top of chilled tart. Bake for 20 minutes, then take foil off and bake for another 15, or until golden brown.
Allow tart to cool completely before filling with ganache.
To make topping:
3. In a medium bowl, whip together heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Spread chocolate ganache in tart, then top with whipped cream and berries. Serve immediately. (Can stay in fridge for 3 days)
I put together a little PSA of sorts for CHD Awareness Week. I’ve been working on a number of videos lately that I’m hoping to share soon!
These should be called disappearing Blueberry Pancake Muffins. We made them in the morning for breakfast and by bedtime I had to make another batch. They come out of the oven soft and tender inside and slightly crisp on top. Then you poke the holes and drizzle in maple syrup and it’s all over. My husband ate waayyyy too many of these this weekend.We spent part of our weekend at Comic Con, which for the first time ever, made its way to snowy Wisconsin. At first there was lots of waiting in line, which can be slightly intimidating with a two year old. Luckily she did awesome. Upon entering the venue she may have been a bit overwhelmed, as there were toys everywhere and she wanted one asap. Once we picked one out she was good to go. She loved the comics she got and spent a long time just sitting on the sidelines reading every one out loud. It was a super fun way to spend a Saturday, so much so we began mulling over the possibility of making a trip to Chicago some day for another one. Yes friends, we are total nerds and proud of it.She ate her muffins for breakfast the next day and immediately demanded to go play with all of her new toys and books from Comic Con. She also ate approximately 12 ounces of frozen blueberries in the baking process. And a few handfuls of sugar. I highly recommended make two batches of these, they go way to fast around here.
Blueberry Pancake Muffins
Recipe from Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker
For the muffins:
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
For the maple glaze:
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2. For the muffins, in a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the butter and stir well.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir gently. Fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
4. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, for the maple glaze, in a small saucepan set over low heat, combine the maple syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick (thicker than maple syrup) syrup, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
6. When the muffins are out of the oven and cool enough to handle, poke a few holes in each muffin top with a toothpick and drizzle a few spoonfuls of the glaze over each muffin. The muffins will keep for up to 2 days on the counter.
Her requests for baking have been pretty similar. It’s clear she likes chocolate, chocolate and berries. So I thought I would make a little heart themed cake for my heart baby.February 7th is the start of Congenital Heart Defect awareness week and I was reminded how much a part of my life that is. Two people in a support group I am in for Ebsteins anomaly are fighting for their lives right now, one only 7 weeks old, the other an adult, who just had a baby of her own who also has Ebsteins. Logging in and seeing prayer requests for two people within minutes is a bit unnerving. In 2009 there were approximately 27,000 CHD related hospital stays totaling 1.5 billion dollars. I can only imagine what that number is today. Before insurance our daughters post birth stay cost roughly 1 million dollars. And she didn’t even have surgery. In the United States, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD. There is simply not enough money to do the research needed. People I’ve encountered seem to mistakenly believe heart defects are the result of negligence during pregnancy. The truth is in most cases there’s no know cause for CHD. We talk to her about her heart a lot, not necessarily about her defect (although she knows she has “epseen omoly” as she calls it). She listens to her heart with a stethoscope, takes her own pulse ox and knows that she takes Aspirin and Enalopril. She’s a health savvy two year old. CHD is an every day part of our lives, so much so that it seems normal, and we even forget about it.
She also knows that she likes cake. And cupcakes. And pie. She’s already picked a recipe for this weekend. And as long as she’s interested, we’ll keep baking together.
Adapted from Ina Garten
For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
For the frosting:
1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons milk
For the filling:
1/2 cup raspberry jam
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool. Peel off the parchment. Cut each cake horizontally so that you have four layers total.
4. Make the frosting: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. Slowly beat in the milk.
6. Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until pale and fluffy. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract.
7. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-half of the cream cheese frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Pipe chocolate frosting around the edge to make a rim. Fill center with raspberry jam. Top with next cake layer. Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over the layer. Top with the last cake layer. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.
I am so enamored with this child lately. She seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in a 24 hours span, learning new things, becoming more capable, more intelligent with every second, every hour. Spending time with her has become even more enjoyable than I thought possible. It makes me wonder, is it like this for all parents? Are they all this in love with being a parent? With this amazing child in their life? Somehow I think not, and that makes me sad. I feel like everyone should get to experience this magic that I feel, this love. Maybe it’s the hard road we traveled at the beginning (you can read more about that here, here and here). Maybe it’s knowing that she’s so special, and just a bit more fragile than others. Then again, she also happens to be, quite possibly the strongest woman I’ve ever met, and she’s only two.
Today she peeled her own orange. We were at playgroup (school as we call it), and I gave her an orange while I scooped out rice into her bowl. The next thing I knew, she had the entire thing peeled, no coaching, no hinting, and no directing. All on her own. And then all of the other kids were peeling their oranges too, with the help of their mothers.
She worked on a craft project, first at school, then at home for almost two hours. I couldn’t believe how she tried to color within the lines of the shapes I drew for her, and sat patiently using a glue stick gluing hearts and stars to paper over and over again.
Her vocabulary is exploding by the minute. She sings the lyrics to every song she likes (which could be questionable considering her favorite musician, without question, is Lady Gaga), she expresses her emotions “Mama, happy” or “Mama, cranky”. She tells me “Still love Rocky” every single time I grumble while cleaning up dog pee off of the floor. She can correctly name numerous different dog breeds. She reads her books to herself out loud, having memorized the stories or just making them up as she goes along. She demands to type daily. She sits down at the computer and correctly types mama, papa and her name. It’s insane people.
She amazes me. Every day. Even when she’s “cranky”.
This girl is finally started to embrace playing outside in the winter. For a while I could barely get her to set foot outside (the complete opposite of last year). I even got her to put on her snow suit and play in the measly dusting of snow we got today.I was hoping to take her sledding when I heard we were getting snow over the weekend. Sadly there was nowhere near enough snow to even pull a sled through. This is Wisconsin people, where is my blizzard?Enough about snow, let’s talk about pie. I made this pie for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit. I neglected to take any decent photos that day, and when she requested we make pie again I suggested chocolate pie and she agreed. She did far more tasting than helping this go around, but to be fair this pie is mostly made on the stove top so it was a littler harder to help. She promptly devoured a piece as soon as it was ready, and cried when I told her she couldn’t have a second piece for lunch. I highly recommend this pie for a beautiful and impressive dessert. It’s super rich and beyond tasty.
French Silk Pie
60 Vanilla wafers, finely crushed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for serving (optional)
1. For crust: In a food processor pulse vanilla wafers until they are fine crumbs. Add cinnamon and melted butter. Pulse unit well mixed.
2. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9” springform pan and press into the bottom and sides of the pan, in an even layer.
3. Bake crust for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
4. For the Filling: In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water, whisk together yolks, granulated sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in bittersweet chocolate until melted. Remove from heat. Let cool 10 minutes.
5. Beat 2 cups of cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Whisk one third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.
6. Beat remaining 1 cup cream with confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop onto pie, sprinkle with chocolate shavings, and serve.
Every week I ask her what she wants to make when we bake. I start asking at the beginning of the week and ask as couple of times over the next few days. So far she’s been pretty consistent. She tells me what she wants and sticks to it throughout the week. This week she alternated between raspberry cake and raspberry pie, finally settling on “baby raspberry pie”. I decided to go with hand pies, I knew she would like them because they’re easy to pick up and eat, plus she’s loves rolling out and cutting dough.When we got to the assembly part, I pulled up her high chair, gave her some filling and 2 pieces of dough. She watched thoughtfully while I showed and explained how to assemble one and then did it. She did it surprisingly well with little mess. Seriously I don’t think most 10 year olds can fashion hand pies like this kid. Sadly I let her eat it before I took a picture of it. I pulled the blackberries out of the fridge and let her stick a whole blackberry inside the pie she made. When I gave her the container of berries she excitedly exclaimed “woah mom, got about blackberries!” She’s been saying she “(for)got about” anything that gets set aside and come back to later on. I find it pretty hilarious. She could hardly wait to eat her pies when they came out of the oven, it took much convincing to give them time to cool. These little pies were the perfect baking project for her, I only wish we had made more!
Raspberry Hand Pies
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice cold water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For the Filling:
10 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
Seed from 1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 egg beaten plus 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Turbinado sugar for dusting
1. To make the crust, in the bowl of a mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, and slowly work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Stir together the ice cold water and vinegar. This process goes even better if you keep your flour in the freezer like I do. Add the water and vinegar. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. I noticed I had to add a bit more water this time than the last time I made this dough. The air is much drier here in January so add a few more tablespoons if it doesn’t feel moist. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. To make the filling combine raspberries, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds in a medium saucepan. Cook until berries just begin to break down. Add cornstarch and cook 2 more minutes simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. Using a large biscuit cutter cut out as many circles as you can from the dough. Repeat with other disk. Combine scraps and repeat until no dough remains. I got about 24 rounds plus one large piece left over for a certain two year old to make doggie pie.
4. To assemble, brush the edges of one circle with egg wash. Place 1-2 teaspoons of raspberry filling in the center. Place another round of dough on top and push down edges to close. Seal edges using a fork. Be careful not to overfill your pies or filling will leak out during the baking process. Once all pies are assembled, brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
5. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then turn down oven to 375 and bake for another 10 minutes. Pies are done with crust is golden brown.
It’s been strange for me not to take, edit and post a photo every day. I’ve still been taking the photos. I’ve decided I’m only going to post the images I’m really proud of. The ones I would put up on a wall for critique if I did that sort of thing.
I think it’s the editing I’m missing the most. It’s funny, I used to get really impatient in the darkroom. Maybe it was too many hours spent breathing in ilfochrome chemicals. When I hit college (I was wild and went later in life), I learned to love the editing process. Editing digitally was so much more natural for me. Sitting in those dark computer labs spending hours getting each image just right, fighting with the damn printer to get the stupid thing to just match the screen. It’s funny how much I miss that now. It makes me wish I had a functional printer. And calibration software. But then I remember how temperamental printers are, and how expensive and I rethink that desire.
This girl is my most willing and available subject so she’s been easy to photograph. I’ve always been better at people, and photographing those closest to me has always been my passion. I remember someone telling me in college they couldn’t wait until I had babies to see my photographs. My work has changed a lot since then, and softened. I don’t think my current images are what either of us would have expected all of those years ago. Sometimes I hesitate to share some of my best work, after all my kid is naked half of the time and its the internet and I’m just not that brave or naive which ever you prefer to call it. I recently discovered on Instagram of all places, a photographer and was inspired.Wyatt Neumann’s recent work, “I FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN”, is a gorgeous collection of photographs juxtaposed with the comments he received after posting the images online. I related to the images he shot. I envied them. I envied his balls to share them. They were a beautiful representation of what life with a toddler looks like. But the world we live in deemed him a pedophile, a terrible father, and on and on. I seem to remember people saying some of the same things about Sally Mann. How terribly we judge those brave enough to show us life as it truly is, and god forbid they include the human body.
If you’re interested in seeing more of my every day shots, look me up on Instagram (thenightbakery), where I will be posting some of what doesn’t make the cut here.