The joy (and art) of baking

Talk about all art or ask for advice.

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The joy (and art) of baking

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:59 am

For those of you wondering, here's the story:

At the cafe I work at part-time, we had a guy from New Zealand who, for the past several months, was our patissier. Sadly, his time here in Japan has come to an end and within the next few days will be returning to New Zealand. Since none of the other staff nor I knew how good of a cook the new staff member is, I've decided to take over the role of patissier.

Just one problem, however: I've never baked anything. Ever.

While cooking is not a problem (Well, for the most part, anyway. It's edible....usually....), most Japanese apartments have no ovens so it's pretty much impossible to get any practice making stuff in my free time. Despite this, I've decided to take on the challenge. Considering how inexperienced I am, I think I might be setting the bar a little high for myself on this, but I will give it my best and hope that what I make is good enough to make the customers happy.

Now, onto the point of this thread:

Since I will be making sweets every Saturday, I plan to post up what I've made (if possible, with pictures of the finished product), the recipe and any comments that I may have, such as what I've learned or any notes that I may have the following Sunday.

What I hope from you guys:

--> For those of you who are experienced at baking, I would love to hear feedback/suggestions on new things I can try or things I can add to make the recipe(s) better.
--> For those of you who are willing to try the recipes, I would love to see how things turned out on your end and know what you thought after trying it yourself.
--> Any suggestions on recipes or things that I should try making. I'm open to any suggestions you may have.


That said, let's get things underway! (^o^)/

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October's treats (failures?)

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:55 am

So, I decided that I would theme each month's recipes around one ingredient. For October, when I first started, I themed everything around pumpkin. Sadly, because I didn't think about uploading things here, things will be a little bit sloppy for this post. (I'll organize things a little better in the next one.)

Here's the order of what I made:

October 15: Pumpkin cookies
October 22: Pumpkin scones
October 29: Pumpkin bread

Before I get started, I wanted to note that each item made was done using 2-3 teaspoons of pumpkin spice rather than adding each spice individually. If you prefer to stick to the recipe exactly, then you don't need to make/buy pumpkin spice. If you wish to use pumpkin spice or find a recipe that requires it but, like me, are unable to buy it, here is how to make it:
Ingredients
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Onto the recipes!

=====Pumpkin Cookies=====

Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/iced-pumpk ... etail.aspx

Comments: I was a bit on the confused side when I saw the cookies fluff up like little balloons since I had thought the cookies would be flat. (Paid more attention to the recipe rather than the picture at the top.) While this wasn't much of a problem, my biggest regret from making these was that I didn't use any items to allow the cookies to come out a bit more on the pretty side. Since I just took the dough by the spoonful and put it on the baking sheet, when they fluffed up, they became spiky. I was thinking about hiding the spikiness using a pumpkin-flavored cream cheese frosting (*recipe below) rather than the frosting provided in the recipe since the cream cheese frosting is a little thicker but, to my dismay, we had completely run out of cream cheese. Quite surprising since we usually have plenty in-stock.

If I get the chance I will try this recipe again but will try a different approach to preparation. The taste was fine, but the presentation left much to be desired.


Cream cheese frosting recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/cream-chee ... etail.aspx

Note: To give the frosting the pumpkin flavor I wanted, I was going to just blend in pumpkin and a little of the pumpkin spice. Not sure how it would've turned out taste-wise, but I figured it'd be worth a shot. If you guys do try this recipe with the cream cheese frosting instead of the provided frosting, please let me know how it turned out and if it's worth trying later on. (For those of you who did this with the provided frosting, I would love to hear your feedback as well since I didn't get to try either.)


=====Pumpkin Scones=====

Recipe: http://joyofbaking.mobi/scones/PumpkinScones.html

Comments: I messed this recipe up and as a result the scones turned out a little drier than they should have. (At least, that's what I think.) Where I messed up is the kneading of the dough. Since it became one sticky mess, I continued to add more flour than what was listed in the recipe until it stopped sticking to my fingers. Bad idea. To make things worse, I thought that it would be a good idea to top off the freshly baked scones with a bit of pumpkin spice. The result: Not so good. I felt a little bad selling them for 150 yen, but the size was a little too big to sell at 100. If I get the chance I wish to try this recipe again and try to get things right this time around.

If I do get the chance to redo this recipe, I will definitely make sure that we have walnuts or pecans in stock. Like the cream cheese, we ran out and no one restocked.


The finished product (taken after the scones were made):

Image



=====Pumpkin Bread=====

Recipe: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pumpkin_bread/

Comments: The bread tins in the cafe were a lot bigger than I had expected, so the final product didn't quite turn out as I had hoped. In addition, my English level has been dropping pretty badly so couple that with a lack in sleep and you get a pretty sad outcome. Long story short, the bread turned out more like really thick cookies than bread. The taste was fine, for the most part, but it would've been nicer if there were more in the middle. For the tins, I think I need to double the recipe in order to get the amount I had desired.

If you're wondering, sorry, no pics for this one. Completely slipped my mind.
Last edited by Ceta on Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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November 5th

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:24 am

This month's theme: Chestnuts.

Chestnuts are a really big item this time of the year in Japan, so I've decided to theme this month's sweets around them.

=====Chestnut (and Black Sesame) Scones=====

Recipe: http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal/re ... ut-scones/

Comments: Up until yesterday, I don't think anyone has made food using black sesame, so we had none in stock when I made the first batch of scones. Since we ran low on ingredients from the first batch, I requested that some be picked up along with the ingredients we were running low on. In the second batch, I added the black sesame. Taste-wise, there's a subtle difference between the two but both tasted good. Taking what I had learned from making the pumpkin scones, I changed my method of preparation for these scones which really improved the presentation in my opinion.

What I had done before: I had used my hands to flatten the dough and then cut the dough into triangle-shaped pieces. Not very efficient, especially since it took a bit of time to do and each piece ended up different sizes once cooked.

What I did this time: I used a rolling pin to flatten the dough (not too much, mind you) and then used a circular cookie cutter to give each scone a uniform shape. The difference in size after cooking was very little.

One thing that confused me was the frosting. In the photos, it was quite thick-looking but mine was more on the watery-side. I think I messed up the preparation in the very beginning causing the syrup to be more watery than it was supposed to be. Thinking back on it, I probably could've solved that problem by adding more confectioner's sugar. Oh well. Not a problem, really. I brushed the [syrupy] frosting onto the scones coating each one about two to three times over giving it a very subtle sweetness.

Consensus: These turned out far better than the pumpkin scones in both taste and appearance. My only worry is how well they will sell since chestnuts are a hit-or-miss with many people.

The finished product (on the cooling rack):

Image

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Post by monkey » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:19 pm

mm i so would like to taste one of these chestnut scones :3
how about steamed bun, the sweet ones without a filling. you could mix green tea powder or any other flavor making it a two colored bun? or do you only plan on baking things?

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by Ceta » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:48 am

Since my reply was not saved, I'll post again.

The idea of making steamed buns is good, but if I make them, they will likely only be available for the day. To my knowledge, they don't store very well in the fridge over long periods of time. (I need the treats to last the week since I'm the only one making them right now.) While I could store extras in the freezer, how many of the staff members check the staff memo whenever they start work is hard to say. That said, if they don't check the memo whenever they start work, then they likely won't know about the buns or how to properly reheat them. If I do make them, it'll likely just be for an event since I won't have to worry about storage and whether or not they'll get sold.

The possibility of just making it for myself (or friends, if any of them ever come over...) is much higher since I have the necessary cooking ware in my apartment. That said, I might give it a shot during the next vacation period. We'll see. If I do, I'll be sure to post the results. ^_^

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November 12th - Caramel Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins

Post by Ceta » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:04 am

I was planning on making Apple Chestnut muffins this week, but found a much more interesting recipe that I wanted to try out. Will go back to the chestnut theme next week. In the meantime, here is last Saturday's treat:


=====Caramel Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins=====

Recipe: http://creationsofajerseygirl.blogspot. ... ffins.html

Comments: For the most part, the muffins turned out perfect. I messed up the bread crumb topping a bit by accidentally using confectioner's sugar instead of white sugar, but was able to remedy it (well, for the most part) by applying melted butter to the problem areas. If I get the chance to do this recipe again, I'll be sure to be more careful with what I'm using. (Of course, I'll be doing that from now on as well since next week's recipe might be quite the challenge.)

What I think really helped with the recipe is the fact that I used homemade caramel rather than having used a store-bought caramel. What was really surprising was how easy it is to make.

===Homemade caramel===
---------------------------
Ingredients:
1 cup (210 g) of brown sugar
6 Tbsp (85 g) butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
---------------------------
'How to' video: http://touch.dailymotion.com/#/video/xg ... _lifestyle
According to a different video I watched, you can add a 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of vanilla extract, but I think it's optional. The caramel tasted pretty good in my opinion.


Final product:
Image


Notes for next time:
--> Use a more sturdy bag when applying the frosting. Sadly, the plastic kitchen bags are not the same and, thus, the opening cut into the corner will open up quite a bit while applying. (Biggest caramel mess ever, to put it simply.)
--> Cool the caramel longer to ensure that it's not warm enough to melt the icing. While the taste will still be the same, it will look much prettier in the end.
--> Double-check the ingredients in hand to ensure it's the right one. Using the wrong ingredients will cause unexpected (and quite often unwanted) outcomes.

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by monkey » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:21 pm

since xmas is almost here, would you like to try this cookie recipe which especially fits for xmas time. it is a cookie with jam inbetween. the cookies can be kept for a long time and they actually taste better the longer you wait. if you like i can look up the recipe for you since i want to bake them some time soon when i have time. think i will try the chestnut with black sesame recipe along the way, it sounds and looks delicious =3

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by Zephio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:55 am

Ceta these look awesome.
For a first time baker? Shit man! lol
You gotta give me some of the recipes and maybe I'll share some of mine with you, as I am a totally hardcore baker lol.

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by Ceta » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:01 pm

monkey wrote:since xmas is almost here, would you like to try this cookie recipe which especially fits for xmas time. it is a cookie with jam inbetween. the cookies can be kept for a long time and they actually taste better the longer you wait. if you like i can look up the recipe for you since i want to bake them some time soon when i have time.
That would be great. My coworkers love cookies, so I think they'd enjoy that. I don't have many cookie recipes at the moment (I do plan on looking up more when I get the chance, though) so the more the better. ^_^
think i will try the chestnut with black sesame recipe along the way, it sounds and looks delicious =3
Yes, you should. =D
Zephio wrote:Ceta these look awesome.
For a first time baker? Shit man! lol
Thanks. Still got a long way to go before I can get the presentation part down, but I'm learning as I go. While I do wish I had an oven in my apartment so that I could do these things on my own, that would probably be a very bad thing. (I live by myself so I'd likely be the one having to eat it all. That said, with how sad my love life is right now, I'd probably end up being like -- not to mention looking like -- the "Forever Alone" meme character.)
You gotta give me some of the recipes and maybe I'll share some of mine with you, as I am a totally hardcore baker lol.
I made sure to provide the links to all the recipes that I used so feel free to give them a shot and let me know how it turned out (also, links to pictures would be great). As for recipe suggestions/sharing, yes, please. My only request is that the recipes be for non-chocolate desserts. My allergy to it is so strong that the smell alone is enough to make me sick, so baking chocolate goods is impossible for me. (It's a good thing I have no desire/aspirations to become a patissier. D: )

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November 19th - Chestnut Pie

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:46 am

Yesterday's recipe was my first attempt at making pie. Quite interesting, to say the least. On to the treat:

=====Chestnut Pie like PIERRE HERMÉ=====

Recipe: http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?Displa ... ution=high

Comments: Taste-wise, this is the best of the chestnut desserts I've made. What was really nice is that the recipe has a lot of step-by-step images (compared to other recipe sites which usually do not) so that made things fairly easy. There were a few things that caught me off guard, though. For instance, the amount of salt to use in the making of the crust. Because it didn't say anywhere in the recipe how much to use, I decided to put in one teaspoon worth.

One other thing that I wasn't too sure about was with the first step where you cook the chestnuts in butter and sugar. While the cooking part came out just fine, I really wasn't sure what to do with the butter and sugar in the pan. (I thought that much of it would stick to the chestnuts, but I guess not). While it was still warm, I molded it into a big clump out of fun but what really surprised me was how it tasted after it cooled. The taste was between butterscotch and candy corn, so it would've been a waste to throw away. That said, I cut it up and gave a piece to each of my coworkers.

The biggest thing that caught me by surprise was the amount of time needed to cook. In the recipe, it states that you need to cook the pie for 20 minutes, but what I didn't realize is that the springform pan the person who made the recipe used was quite large in size. The pan I used was smaller and much deeper so, of course, it took much longer to cook. In order to make sure the pie baked fully, after the initial 20 minutes of baking, I took the pie out and covered it with aluminum foil, poked holes into the top with a fork and put it back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.

The finished pie:
Image

In hindsight, I could have made two smaller pies instead of the massive pie that you see here. Oh well. I'll keep that in mind the next time I decide to make a pie.

Another picture (now with whipped cream):
Image

Since pre-made whipped cream is hard to get, I had to make my own:
Whipped cream recipe:
-- 1 cup heavy cream
-- 1/4 cup sugar
-- 1tsp vanilla

Whip cream until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. (If the cream isn't holding peaks that well, place the cream in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to cool then try again.)
Anyway, while I decided that this month would be full of chestnut-themed desserts, I was requested by a coworker to make something else, so I've decided to go with that for next week's dessert. Since it's not chestnut, this will be the last chestnut dessert for this month. (Maybe.)

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by monkey » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:29 pm

so here is the recipe of the cookie (it s called linzer cookie):

- 200g butter (cut into small pieces)
- 300g flour
- 100g confectionerys sugar
- 100g grounded almond
- 1 package vanillapowder
- 1 egg
- a pinch cinnamon

- jam for the filling

1) mix and knead all the ingredients to a smooth dough, wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for 1 hour

2) roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm, take a cookie cutter to cut out cookies, now comes the fun part =D take half the amount of the cookies and cut three little holes into each.. well you could also just cut one hole or none at all
preheat the oven to 200°C and bake the cookies for around 10min, they should be lightly brown when finished

3) put the jam on the cookies without the holes, dust confectionery sugar on the cookies with the holes and then put them on top

if you wait 1-2 weeks, the cookies should taste even better =3
Ceta wrote:My only request is that the recipes be for non-chocolate desserts. My allergy to it is so strong that the smell alone is enough to make me sick, so baking chocolate goods is impossible for me. (It's a good thing I have no desire/aspirations to become a patissier. D: )
thats too bad, i wanted to suggest one xD its an easy recipe which doesnt need baking and which also fits nicely for xmas.. maybe i can think of another one but i dont know that many

@zephio: if you have some nice cookie recipe, i would also love to try them =)

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:03 am

Just wondering, how many grams/ounces are in a package of vanilla powder? Not sure if I can get that here so, if not, I'll need to find a way to make my own or substitute.

Also, what kind of jam do you recommend for the filling? The cafe only has three kinds -- strawberry, blueberry and orange marmalade -- so I may need to buy some if you think a different flavor would suit the cookies best.

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Re: The joy (and art) of baking

Post by a random ninja » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:30 am

make some cheesecake. everyone likes cheesecake :-)

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November 26 - Vanilla bean (?) cheesecake

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:44 am

a random ninja wrote:make some cheesecake. everyone likes cheesecake :-)
It's funny you should mention that....

At the request of a friend, yesterday's treat was a cheesecake.

=====Vanilla Bean (?) Cheesecake=====

Recipe 1: http://www.food.com/recipe/vanilla-bean ... ake-123647
Recipe 2: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... pping.html

Comments: If you're wondering why there are two recipes, I decided to take parts of both recipes for the crust. The one problem that came up afterward, however, was that the crust was very delicate and since the knives aren't very sharp anymore (I really need to get a knife sharpener sometime) the crust on the sides broke apart like crazy when cut.

If I use this recipe again (or decide to make another cheesecake) I'll be sure to use more butter to get the crust on the sides to hold together better. I probably should have toasted the graham cracker/oat mix as well as per the dailymail.co.uk recipe, but oh well.

In the recipes posted, there are no mentions of this, but here's something that I read elsewhere:

---------------------------
Sugar preparation:


In a container, put sugar and 1 to 1 1/2tsp of vanilla essence (if possible, though, seeds from one vanilla pod). Mix well then let sit overnight. This will allow the sugar to absorb the vanilla flavoring.
---------------------------

Final result:
Image

Because I had batter and crust mix left over, mini-cheesecakes!
Image


Mistakes: Despite having researched the recipe from various sources, I made a lot of mistakes during the making of this cheesecake.

--> The dailymail.co.uk recipe called for orange and lemon zest to be used in the filling as well. For whatever reason, it also said to use the juice of the lemon. How much to use, however, was not stated so I'm guessing all of it. I really should have just used the zest and avoided using the juice entirely. The little bit that I used (I used a couple tablespoons worth) was enough to change the flavor from vanilla bean to a very subtle lemon flavor.

-->The time stated in the recipe for the baking was a lot less than what was actually needed. I completely forgot the that the oven tends to cook things much faster than one would expect. Needless to say, the end result wasn't what it was supposed to be.


Final remarks: Despite the fact that the flavor was a total failure in terms of vanilla bean, it was delicious nonetheless. The mini-cheesecakes sold out within a few minutes and the big cheesecake was missing a few slices by the end of the night. (Due to how long the cheesecake needed to cool in the fridge, it wasn't served until just after 5pm.)

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November 26 - Baked apple doughnuts

Post by Ceta » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:35 am

Double recipe day!

Since I knew the cheesecakes would take a long time to cool, I decided to make doughnuts for the customers in the meantime. I had picked up a doughnut mold from the store the other day and decided to give it a run.

=====Baked apple doughnuts=====

Recipe 1: http://www.preventionrd.com/baked-apple ... ekly-menu/
Recipe 2: http://www.grouprecipes.com/7837/baked- ... hnuts.html


Comments: Since I've never made baked doughnuts before, I had no idea what these were supposed to turn out like. Looking back at the recipes I used, I am pretty sure I messed up on the amount of flour that was needed since the doughnuts didn't turn out like the ones in the preventionrd.com recipe.

If you're wondering why the double recipe like the cheesecake, it's for the amount of spices (I wanted to increase the flavor a little bit) as well as the amount of diced apple needed since I was unable to get 12oz. of unsweetened applesauce.


Final result:
Image

Mistakes: In my rush to get these made, I'm pretty sure that I messed things up in terms of how much flour was needed and put in much less than what I was supposed to. In addition, I didn't do any substitution for the wheat flour so I think the doughnuts would have expanded more had I done things properly. (It's hard to see, but the bottoms are pretty flat.) I'm sure I'll be making more baked doughnuts in the future so I'll be sure to keep this in mind.

Final result: The texture for these was definitely not what I was expecting. I had thought that they would be a bit closer to fried doughnuts but I was wrong. It was kind of like eating baked apple mochi. In addition, I had wanted to add the cinnamon and sugar topping but I ran out of time. I'm sure they would've tasted even better with it. (Not to say that it didn't taste good without it, mind you.)


*Bonus picture:
Image

Had a bit of cheesecake batter left over so I made doughnut-shaped cheesecakes....haha.

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