Saturday, April 26, 2008

Daring Baker Project #7 Cheesecake Pops

Joshua 24:15 
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, 
then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, 
whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, 
or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. 
But as for me and my household, 
we will serve the LORD."

This was my first Daring Baker project in which I felt disadvantaged. First off, I don't really like cheesecake. Secondly, I've never made a cheesecake. Lastly if it weren't for the challenge I would never make a dessert with 5 packages of cream cheese in it. But I've read many a blog in which the person was not at there best. People who don't like lemon for instance. Or people who are completely intimidated by yeast. Or those who have to make the item several times to get it right, like a cake. And anyway, a challenge is at its best if one is really stretched.

Well rounding up the ingredients wasn't too hard. I got the cream cheese for $2/pound. But rounding up the hardware was definitely more challenging. I absolutely couldn't come up with a 10 inch non-springform cake pan. And I have a very large collection of cake pans in the basement, but the best I could come up with was a 10 inch springform pan. I brought it up and put water in it. It leaked. Sur la Table didn't even have one. So I decided to go with area. The area of a 10 inch circle is 78.57, and the square root of that is 8.86. I decided that that was close enough to 9, and I had a great 9 inch pan with 2 inch sides. Then of course I realized I needed to get that pan into another one, and then that into my small Lacanche oven. Luckily, in my search for the 10 inch pan I had spotted a wonderful baking pan that I bought in Hong Kong at the Sincere Department Store to fit into my very small oven while holding a turkey. (The turkey always hung over the edge, but cooked wonderfully in my Kenwood oven). Everything fit! :)

So there I was starting to cook this cake at 10 o'clock on Saturday night, and I realized I only had extra large eggs. A large egg weighs 2 ounces, and an extra large egg weighs 2.25 ounces. So I decided that I would use 5 of my eggs and 1 egg yolk. After that was settled I decided to put parchment paper into my baking pan since the cake was going to be all scooped up in the end. It fit perfectly. And at that the whole cake was a breeze to make. And it filled the pan perfectly. But it did take 55 minutes to cook. At least that's when I decided to stop cooking it. I don't know how to tell when a cheese cake is done.

It was then 20 to 12. I didn't have time to sit around and let it cool down. I wanted to go to bed. But luckily the parchment stood up higher than the pan, so I rested a tea towel over the parchment, like a tent, and went to bed. It gets plenty cold in my house at night. Then this morning I got up early and put it in the refrigerator. Then before leaving for church I took the cheesecake out of the pan and decided I'd cut it into 48 pieces. I could not figure out how to easily cut it into 40 pieces. That's 6 x 8 versus 5 x 8. Not a bit difference. I made about 7 balls, and decided that it needed to be more chilled. Put the balls in the freezer and the rest in the cold part of the refrigerator.

For some reason Riley decided to make blueberry muffins. The last time he did that was the last time I did my Daring Baker project. I hope we don't have a pattern here. The muffins were done with just enough time to be acceptably late, but not enough time to eat them. We invited our family over for breakfast after church. I decided to make bacon. My daughter Annie had told me that she had a friend or somebody who told her that the way she cooks bacon was to boil it first, and then put it into the oven. So I decided to try that. So I don't know what kind of bacon her friend uses, but that turned out the most disgusting bacon imaginable. It was almost completely tasteless. So we all ate blueberry muffins and juice and coffee.

I had taken the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and put it into the freezer because Sarah and Zac were not staying too long and I wanted them to taste my cheesecake lollies. Then I asked if anyone wanted to go for a walk. Riley and I and Sarah and Zac headed out. I had underestimated how slow a pregnant woman can walk. First we walked a half mile to see the pig in his garden, then we walked a half mile in another direction to go have lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Then we s l o w l y walked home, which was a mile. While sitting in the living room, chatting with daughter number 3 (Corey), I suddenly remembered the cheesecake in the freezer. and that I wanted to finish up so Sarah and Zac could have some.

The cheesecake still didn't feel frozen enough. I put it into the refrigerator and got the eight I had made from the freezer and started melting the chocolate. I did get them made, but it really stresses me. I really admire those cooks who managed to make all kinds of really cute cheesecake lollies. I don't know where they get the patients and calm to do it. I got my 7 made and put them in the freezer while we made tea and coffee to go with them. They stuck to the plate, but Zac managed to dislodge them for me.

We all decided that they were messy to eat and VERY rich. Zac was the only one who ate two of them. One was really all I could manage. Did I mention that I don't like cheesecake? We all pondered what I should do with the remaining 41 balls worth. Sarah suggested that I use it as a filling for a cake. Not a bad idea. I thought maybe a carrot cake. People are always crazy about carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. My mother loves it, so the only time I ever make it is for an occasion for my mother. Or here's another idea - I could make cupcakes and put a dob of the cheesecake in the middle of the batter. It could be chocolate, or carrot, or banana. I like that one.

Later on our friends Ken and Marilyn came over to watch baseball, play scrabble, eat supper, and of course to taste this month's Daring Baker project. I gave them the two remaining cheesecake lollie pops. We all thought that the rest of the cheesecake would be nice if it was just plain, with a big dollop of whipped cream flavored with orange brandy and a bit of the chocolate flavored with brandy. I put some brandy into the remaining chocolate and it seized up. Then, at Ken's suggestion, I add some butter. This was tasty, but the chocolate was still more like a truffle. So I got out small plates, put a square of cheesecake on each one, put on a big dollop of whipped cream, and spooned on a nice dab of chocolate. It was really quite tasty.

"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lunch with Gramma and Grampa

Ephesians 6:1-3 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
"Honor your father and mother"
—which is the first commandment with a promise—
 "that it may go well with you
 and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

My Mom called me the other day saying she hadn't heard from me for a while. Well I'll admit I hadn't seen her since Easter. But that's not that long ago. Really, she was trying to clean out a storage closet. So I said I would take the stuff and give to Goodwill what I didn't want. Interestingly enough she didn't want her stuff to go to Goodwill. So I said I would come out for lunch with Emily.

So today I called and said we be there for lunch. I decided that I would make a banana cake to bring out to my Dad, because my Mom is a vegan and she doesn't cook anymore anyway. I chose a cake from Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" that was recently used by the Daring Bakers. She called it a classic banana cake. I modified it just a bit, and only made half the recipe. The cake was supposed to be in a 10-12 cup bundt pan. I put it into two 5 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch cake pans. They work a perfect match for the amount of batter. The cake rose right to the top of the pan.

Banana Tea Cakes

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbls rum or whiskey
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 egg
7 ounces flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used sultanas, currents, and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and paper two 5 1/5 inch x 2 inch cake pans.
Combine the flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Mash the bananas, stir in the egg, sour cream or plain yogurt or buttermilk, and extracts and alcohol.
Add bananas mixture to butter and sugar and stir well.
Stir in the flour mixture.
Stir in the nuts and dried fruit.
Pour into the pans and bake until done, this was maybe 50 minutes.

I was in a hurry to get out to my parents place so I didn't take a picture. And when I got back home only 2/3 of the second cake was remaining.

As soon as I could handle the cakes I removed them from the pans to cool a bit. Then I located a cooky tin the right size, put tin foil in the tin and then the cake. I collected all I needed, like diaper, wipes, baba, baby (doll), book, and Emily, and headed out. We made a quick stop at Starbucks drive thru, and headed out of town. The coffee at the retirement home my parents live at is not really acceptable. It was 12:10 when we arrived, not bad really, but my parents eat lunch at a little past eleven. We all headed straight down to lunch and I felt like we were a parade and everyone was watching and waving and grinning. It was all about Emily. She didn't really seem to notice all this attention, which is good. It was a bit unnerving seeing all the old men who wanted to touch her. My parents were very nice about the fact that I took a bunch of food, cut it up into little pieces, and set it all in a large bowl that I found on the table. Apparently the bowl is used for garbage, so maybe my Dad was worried the waiter might take Emily's food. Emily was a very good girl. I was very proud of her.

After our lunch, we were again a parade as we walked out of the dining hall. It really seemed like Emily was the height of the day for many people in the retirement home. We continued to be an attraction as we worked our way to the area where they have an art gallery, which my mother seems to have something to do with. She used to be a docent at the Portland Art Museum. The new exhibit for the month was sports. Every month of so they change the exhibits, which are provided by the people in the community, and this month's was sports. Last months was vintage clothing, and I would have really liked to see that one, but my mother doesn't realize that I'm interested in vintage clothing, so she never told me about it. But the sports exhibit was interesting, especially pictures of the old people when they were young doing pretty amazing things. I think that people need to remember that old people were young once. There were two pairs of boots from my Dad's shoe factory with pictures of the owners wearing them in a sports related activity. I have a pair of Danner Boots that my Dad made specially for me because I wanted the top of my boot to be a little higher than normal and I wanted a little more padding at the top of the boot. I've owned these boots for at least 40 years. Three of my daughters have also worn these boots at one time or another. My Dad made very good boots.

"For myself I am an optimist - 
it does not seem to be much use being anything else." 
Sir Winston Churchill, 1954