Here I am on a Saturday morning, writing the post for the Daring Bakers’ November challenge. It’s due today, but with all the chaos of construction in our house, and cooking for Thanksgiving, somehow there wasn’t time to write. Let me rethink that: I didn’t feel like writing until this morning. In fact, baking hasn’t been all that enjoyable since the space I normally work in is being shared with this Mac, a printer, and all sorts of other lovely things that usually have places somewhere upstairs, like bills, and catalogues, magazines I’ve got recipes tagged in, and things I don’t want to lose track of — like the check book we couldn’t find yesterday when we needed it for the contractor. It’s a complete dust covered disaster.
To complete the image, my son’s computer is set up on a card table directly behind mine, so it’s a tight squeeze with the two of us sitting back to back, clicking and pecking away.
Needless to say, my kitchen is always in some stage of being used and in a reduced space, I’m exhausted with trying to make it look reasonable, too. Good thing this month’s challenge was such a breeze — and a completely delicious one!
This month, we’ve had the opportunity to delve into Eggbeater author & chef Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. Additionally, we could choose to make Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, but I bowed out on this one to save for another time. Many thanks to this month’s hosts, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food, for such excellent choices. Natalie of Gluten a Go Go assisted with quantities and ingredients for alternative diets. Nice job, ladies!
Browned Butter and Caramel? Oh my. Absolutely perfect flavors for the season! Wait. Isn’t browned butter good in any season?
That’s what I thought. Now add some lovely hazelnuts and pear crisps and voila!
When I was growing up, we lived next door to a family that kept a small garden just on the other side of a small picket fence behind our house. I’m sure there was a variety of things growing in that garden, but I only remember one. Strawberries. I watched them grow from tiny green berries into large, red lusciousness warmed by the afternoon sun and oh so fragrant. There was no question that I’d inevitably pick a few whether invited to or not. I couldn’t help myself. Had my mother known, it would have been a problem because she’d say it was stealing. Then she’d tell my father and that wasn’t a pleasant thought. But somehow, when I leaned over that little fence and picked the first berry of the season, brushing off the damp soil before sinking my teeth into it, nothing else mattered. I loved strawberries that much.
Fortunately, strawberries are available year round here, and although their flavor will never compare to those I enjoyed as a kid, I still love them. So it was quite the coincidence when I was asked recently about a strawberry cake. Not strawberry short cake, or cake with strawberries nestled between its layers. A strawberry flavored cake.
Hmmm…what about cupcakes instead, topped with a swirl of strawberry buttercream. Or maybe a little bit of white cake, and a little bit of strawberry cake…the possibilities are endless. Regardless, it did give me the opportunity to use a new cookbook, The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. And since I had the entire day to myself, I decided to compare two recipes for strawberry puree: one would go in a buttercream frosting, and the other would flavor one of the cakes. The other would remain white. Why the comparison? Because surprisingly, Beranbaum suggests that frozen berries are much better to use than fresh berries, even when they’re at peak season. Who knew?
In the meantime, Mike’s Table is celebrating this favorite fruit of mine with quite the seductive strawberry fest, so this qualifies as my submission.