Monday, July 6, 2020

July 4th and Birthday Bakes

Last weekend we did more garage clean out, starting with all the electronics boxes that for some reason we'd kept for years. I was so happy to get rid of this pile!

This weekend, we're hoping to give away this bike.

Ryan got it from a friend 5 years ago, but it needs a little work and then he stopped riding. He is wanting to start riding again, so tested it out and realized it is too small for him. Hopefully someone in the neighborhood will be able to use it. If we had tons of storage space, we could consider keeping it for Gareth, but we don't.

We returned to baking Friday night, trying our hand at florentines. Or "Quarantine Florentines", as the kids like to call them. Turns out they're pretty easy. The GBBO recipe is available, but Brits seem to like to add dried fruit to everything, and that wasn't really what we wanted. We started with our almonds, flour, orange peel and then mixed it in with our hot sugar/butter mixture. We let that cool while we put dinner together:

Then we rolled them into small balls and placed them on the cookie sheets:

We thought we'd provided plenty of room for them to spread, but apparently not. After the first tray, we stuck to 9 cookies per tray.

We even heated the chocolate over water. But decided not to really attempt tempering, and didn't pay attention to temperature while melting it.

The kids and Ryan had lots of fun making various designs in the chocolate. Because we didn't truly temper the chocolate, it got more dull as they cooled.

Mal got to have the first taste and deemed them good.

We'll definitely be making these again. And maybe next time we'll actually make an effort on the tempering.

For my birthday, we decided we'd try Nadiya's lemon drizzle cake with fondant. We'd decided we wanted to try a cake with marshmallow fondant (Ryan thought it looked fun to knead and work with) and this one seemed a good place to start.

We started the day by realizing the batteries in our kitchen scale were dying/dead. So I had to look up weight to cup conversions for all the dry ingredients. Then I realized the recipe was for an 8-inch pan and all of my pans are 9-inch, so I added 25% to all my calculations. It also calls for self-raising flour, which of course the stores don't have, so I needed to figure in how much baking powder to add to the all-purpose flour.

After a few laughable mistakes while trying to do all of the above too quickly, we got it mixed up and ready to go in the oven.

Rose quite a bit. Then I had a sickening realization. Almost as bad as when Toby realized he'd put salt instead of sugar into his technical challenge cake.

The recipe called for 8 oz of butter (so I needed 10). I'd put in 10 tablespoons of butter, half of what I needed. So, we set about to re-make the cake.

While waiting for the low-butter cake to finish, we got going on the lemon curd filling.

And learned that we should probably always start with a nice low heat. At least we're guessing that heating it too quickly is why we ended up with egg white chunks and needing to sieve our curd. Tasted delicious once the egg whites were gone!

Second cake out of the oven.

Cut in half, with buttercream and lemon curd filling. The curd seemed well-set, but I wasn't sure how to keep it from oozing out the sides. I'm sure there's some trick to it, or maybe I just should've got the curd even more set?

With the crumb coat on, trying to hold that curd filling in place.

The marshmallow fondant was weird to work with. Very sticky, unsurprisingly. Lovely and smooth to knead for a few strokes, but then it would just stick everywhere again. Maybe we needed even more powdered sugar? But it really didn't seem to matter how much we added. It rolled out beautifully, but then stuck to the counter in a couple spots right at the end and to get it off the counter caused some wrinkles. I was nervous that if I pushed down on it to try to smooth it too much, it would just smush all the filling out. Gareth made a braid and Ryan made a flower out of some of the excess fondant. Ryan thought the flower was hideous, but the kids insisted we put them on top of the cake.

Sure enough, after a bit, some curd started to ooze out.

But the leak stayed fairly small, so it survived to get candles on it.  Never having made a drizzle cake before, we weren't sure if we were really supposed to use all of the drizzle sauce on the cake. We've decided we probably were (or at least a lot more than we did). We were nervous it would become a soggy, collapsed mess if we put too much on, but turned out it didn't get very far down the crumb.

So, lots of lessons learned! And, despite all the mishaps, it was a fun way to spend the day. And the cake still tastes good, even if it was far from perfect.

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