RLB The Chocolate FloRo Elegance with White Chocolate (Caramel) Buttercream

Elegant is exactly how this cake looks in The Baking Bible. The flavors are elegant, too. Chocolate and white chocolate and homemade caramel, crowned with a dark chocolate glaze. The recipe was daunting at first look. The cake had lots of ingredients that had to be put together in groups before being combined into a batter, there was a three-part frosting, and a glaze besides! Then I noticed that the glaze is optional. I decide I could handle a multi-part cake and multi-step frosting if I could stop when I was done with them.

The cake wasn’t difficult, it just required lots of small bowls. I measured and mixed everything, then went out for a nice relaxing lunch with my 17-year-old(17! Yikes, how did that happen??!! but I digress). When I returned, mixing pouring and baking went smoothly.

Next I tackled the frosting. Noticing that the directions were all about the double boiler, a tool I haven’t had since I lost track of my ex-mother-in-law’s beautiful copper one, I decided to try a metal mixing bowl held up by a Staybowlizer.

butter and chips melting
It worked well enough that I may buy a bigger bowl for future endeavors.

 

custard in double boilerall melted white chocolate custard

Here’s the custard looking pretty, thanks to the gentle heat of my improvised double boiler.

I also made caramel. I love homemade caramel. It comes together quickly, and homemade is so, so much better than the caramels from a bag and so much cheaper than the fancy ones. The thought of white chocolate caramel frosting was enticing.

sugar in pan for caramelizing caramelizing sugar very early boil caramelizing sugar boiling later stage caramelizing sugar brown

Here’s the sugar mixture boiling and starting to caramelize.

P1040670 caramel in measuring cup

I pulled the mixture off the heat when my thermometer said it was a couple of degrees shy of target temperature. I did that because the last few times I’ve made sugar syrup it’s been overcooked, and I wanted to be safe. Above is the caramel mixture with butter melting in, and the completed sauce cooling in a measuring cup.

So. It wasn’t actually sauce, come to find out. The good news is I ordered a new thermometer. The bad news…. well, see below.

caramel horizontal caramel closeup blob caramel bottom view squiggled caramel on spoon

I considered mixing this into my custard, and decided it was a very bad idea. Rose mentions that lemon curd can be mixed into the frosting, and I happened to have some lemon curd left over from my daughter’s birthday cheesecake

lemon curd for frosting

Shhh, don’t tell her I didn’t make it from scratch. 🙂

butter in bowl

Into the mixer went the butter, the lemon curd and the white chocolate custard.

cake closeup mehcake slice removed

True to my baking aesthetic the result is homey-looking rather than elegant, but oh my, the texture of that frosting is smooth, silky and elegant despite the lumps.

closeup FloRo

And bonus, we have homemade caramels.

RLB Babka

I looked through the upcoming recipes a few weeks ago to be sure I had everything I needed. I bought almond paste so I could make the almond schmear babka filling. Then I made pecan sandies and reprised lemon almond cheesecake for my daughter’s birthday, and needed something less nutty. The chocolate almond schmear looked good, but almonds! and where would I get cake crumbs. I wasn’t about to bake a cake in order to fill a babka, and buying was just not okay with me. So apricot cream cheese it was.

I made a liquidy pre-dough, then a floury dough that was sprinkled over the pre-dough like a heavy winter coat. When the pre-dough started to crack and bubble through the flour, it was time to mix everything together along with eggs, butter, water and vanilla.

dough

dough in tub

Then I scraped it into a bucket to rise, and waited until it reached the level of the painters tape, as you see above.

The risen dough made a lovely ball to return to the rising bucket:

dough ball

where it sat patiently overnight in the fridge until I found the patience to deal with it next day.

apricots and juice in pan

Meanwhile I cooked apricots and sugar in orange and lemon juice until the apricots were nice and soft. The recipe says to chop them up in a mini food processor. I was trying to decide if I should use my coffee grinder (too small and I was worried that the sticky apricots would be hard to scrape off the non-removable coffee grinder insides) or my regular food processor, which would do the job but is too large for a job this size, when I remembered a funky hand-crank chopper I bought on a whim:

chopper with apricotschopped apricots

As you can see, it did the job nicely. The apricots I left out until morning, the cream cheese filling waited in the refrigerator next to the dough.

In the morning I combined everything

dough apricot cc dotsP1040645

rolled it up and put it in my bundt pan

unbaked roll in pan

A little uneven but it will taste good anyway!

whole babka seam

It even looks good. Ah, the way a grooved bundt pan makes everything look better!

slice of babka

Even prettier when you cut into it. We’re set for breakfast this week.

 

RLB The Dutch Pecan Sandies

This post is a little late because I’m in the middle of birthday season. My husband and both children have birthdays between late February and mid-March. Since I’ve been baking from The Baking Bible, and they each have their favorite items, my BB baking has shot up in recent weeks, and I’m a little backlogged.

Anyway, this week was about a cookie. A pecan sandie, which is a shortbread cookie studded with pecans. In my childhood there were plenty of Keebler brand pecan sandies around, because my father loved them. They’re still around (I just checked) but I haven’t eaten one since I was oh, maybe 10 so my memory is a little hazy, but I’m pretty sure these blow the Keebler version out of the water are better.

First, pecan halves.

P1040598

I love pecans. They’re rich and sweet, and complement the brown sugar cinnamon flavors going on in these cookies just perfectly.

butter browning

Also butter, browned butter complementing the brown sugar, and the brown pecans. I wonder if the color of pecan skin has anything to do with their taste afffinity for brown sugar and browned butter. Hmmmmmm…

creaming 1 dry ingredients in mixer creaming

After the butter was browned and cooled there was mixing, and chopping, and more mixing and chilling until

rolled out dough

cookie dough! Sweet and salty and rich and nutty, the darn dough kept breaking off at the edges, and I had no choice but to eat the bits that were too tiny to press back into the main piece.

I persevered through this setback, cut the dough into rounds, rolled it in cinnamon sugar, and baked it.

Cookie closeup

Most excellent cookies, if I do say so myself.

RLB Coconut Cupcakes

I’ve been in the mood for an old-fashoned layer cake with coconut frosting, so when I saw these cupcakes in the lineup, I was excited. I chose to make the plain coconut frosting rather than the chocolate ganache, because it fit my mood better. And they are good cupcakes. In fact, my biggest complaint is that they didn’t photograph well, but yk I suspect that was my fault more than anything the cupcakes did.

batter in bowl

The batter was straightforward and like most Rose Levy Beranbaum cakes, with coconut milk substituting for much of the liquid.

P1040534

They came out of the oven looking all toasty and coconutty.

I made the creme anglaise for the frosting, and put it in the fridge while the cupcakes cooled and I did other things. Then I came back for the adventure of making Italian meringue and making the final coconut frosting. I was nervous about this frosting because the recipe again called for using the mixer whisk for one job, in this case beating the butter and the rest of the ingredients to make a final batter, while beating egg whites with another beater. Having decorated the furniture with flying egg white last week, I was really hoping to keep things under control this time.

egg whites cream of tartar in pyrex

For my second attempt, I chose a 2 quart Pyrex measuring cup. Here are the whites with some cream of tartar.

foamy egg whites

Here are the egg whites beating up nicely while remaining in the cup. I think I found a way to do this!

P1040548

It’s hard to see, but there’s sugar water in that pan, cooking to just the right temperature, after which I poured it into the egg whites.

toasted coconut bowl

Toasted coconut. This was round 2 of coconut toasting. I removed the cupcakes from the oven, and put the coconut in the oven to toast right as a friend called. We chatted, and talked, and when I hung up I pulled blackened coconut out of the oven. Luckily I had more, and this batch reached just the right temperature.

plate of cupcakes
finished cupcakes