I'm breaking my rule against weekend posting, but it's for a good reason--the completion of my first Daring Bakers challenge. After a long debate, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join the Daring Bakers. I was a little hesitant about joining because I favor simple baked goods, and the group tends to do the opposite, taking on complex challenges in hopes of expanding participants' skills in the kitchen. I figured it wouldn't hurt to add some structure and motivation to my culinary homeschooling and to test myself once a month, so I signed up.

June's challenge, which was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking?, was a Danish Braid adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. The recipe wasn't too difficult, but as with all things involving yeast, it required a lot of time and waiting. The Danish dough is layered, so there was much folding to achieve this effect. Four instances of folding to be exact. In between each folding, the dough had to be chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and then rolled out into a large rectangle. Fortunately, it was the weekend, and I had nothing planned other than watching live Wimbledon coverage all day.

For the filling, I went for an apple filling for both braids. I like danishes and usually order cream cheese ones whenever I'm feeling indulgent, but I'm the only one the family that likes that flavor. With parents who don't like things that are overly sweet, I felt the apple filling would please everyone eating.

And it did. One Danish Braid was more than enough to feed my family for breakfast; by the time we finished our last bite, we were actually tired of the pastry. I could have done with more apple filling, and the pastry crust could have been crispier. I might have taken the braid out of the oven too soon because the dough inside was a tad soggy. The texture of the pastry was different than any other danish I have ever had; it was less flaky and was somewhere in between bread and puff pastry. I'm not sure if this is right or not, but it worked for my family. The braid didn't gain any big fans, but my family liked it. Plus, it sure looked pretty...

For the recipe, visit Kelly and/or Ben. Enjoy the last of the weekend!

No, this isn't a mixed berry cobbler, which is this week's official Tuesdays with Dorie selection as chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life. I had strawberries going to waste in my fridge last week and had heard rave reviews for La Palette's Strawberry Tart from other group members, so I opted to make the tart rather than the cobbler. It was as if the stars had aligned and was calling for me to try out this recipe.

The tart was very easy to put together. Once the crust came out of the oven, I spread on some strawberry preserves, topped it with fresh strawberries, and served it right away. It was simple to make, and it had a very simple yet refreshing taste. I made the tart for my dad for Father's Day, and both of my parents really appreciated that the tart wasn't sweet. They were slightly taken aback by how hard the crust was because they are accustomed to softer crusts for fruit tarts, but it seemed to grow on them.

I made mini-tarts, using brioche cups to bake them. Since the sweet tart dough recipe detailed in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours was enough to make a crust with a 9-inch diameter, I had quite a few mini-tarts left over from Father's Day. I also happened to have a surplus of chocolate pastry cream from the cream puff ring... I have to say that I liked the chocolate cream-strawberry combination much more than the strawberry jam-strawberry one originally described in the book. Using jam is much easier, but if you have some chocolate pastry cream just laying around, I highly recommend trying that in the tart.

La Palette's Strawberry Tart (from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons freezing-cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk, stirred
  • strawberry jam (OR chocolate pastry cream!)
  • fresh strawberries, quartered
  • white sugar
  • golden rum
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt a couple of times to combine. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut into the mix; it should resemble oatmeal flakes and some of the pieces should be the size of peas. Slowly add in the egg yolk, making sure to pulse it into the dough before adding the next bit of yolk. Once the egg yolk is incorporated, process the dough in long pulses (about 10 seconds each) until clumps and curds form. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead it until the all dry ingredients are fully mixed in.

Press the dough into a buttered tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure to evenly distribute it across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. A little piece of tart dough should be reserved to patch up any cracks that may develop during the baking process (I didn't encounter this problem when I made mini-tarts). Freeze the dough for
at least 30 minutes.

Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil and then press the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust right before putting it into an oven preheated to 375 degrees F. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust puffed up during the baking process, gently press it down with the back of a spoon.

Once the crust is cooled, spread on a layer of strawberry jam or chocolate pastry cream. Top with strawberry pieces that have been lightly tossed with some sugar and rum (to your own taste). Serve and enjoy!

Sunday night was a busy night in the kitchen for me. I decided to bake two different sweets that night, including a cream puff ring, which is this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection as chosen by Caroline of A Consuming Passion.

Despite its fancy reputation, the choux pastry came together beautifully and easily; it was very exciting to watch it bake and puff up in the oven. I opted to make a chocolate cream filling rather than a peppermint cream filling because I was making the cream puff ring for an office party, and chocolate is usually more popular than peppermint. Plus, I didn't have any heavy cream sitting in the fridge for the peppermint cream. Making the chocolate cream was the only involved part of this recipe, but it wasn't too bad.

The part that did give me a lot of problems was piping the choux pastry in a ring shape. I used a modified ziploc bag instead of a proper pastry bag to do the piping, and the zip part of the apparatus couldn't withstand all of the pushing and squeezing. The choux pastry ended up oozing everywhere, but I was able to save enough of it to make the ring and three little cream puffs on the side.

Even though I had allowed the chocolate cream to chill in the refrigerator for two hours, the cream was still quite thin when I started assembling the cream puff ring. I didn't want the chocolate to drip all over my co-workers' clothes during the office party, so I cut back on the filling. The cream was too thin to pipe and I didn't fancy having another piping fiasco, so I just spooned half of the filling into the ring. The reduction in chocolate cream ended up being a waste because it set up nicely after being in the refrigerator overnight.

The cream puff ring was good, and everyone at work seemed to like it. The cream puff ring didn't look as perfect as the one pictured in the book, but I think its unevenness gives it a rustic charm (at least this is what I've been telling myself). I was really pleased with the choux pastry and will be experimenting with it more in the future. Below is the recipe for the chocolate cream, but the recipe for the choux pastry can be found at Caroline's blog. Don't forget to check out all of the TWD bloggers; you'll be in for a treat!

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Ingredients (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

  • 2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 ounces of semisweet and 80% cacao chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, room temperature
Boil the milk in a small saucepan. As this heats, whisk the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan. After everything is incorporated and thickened, slowly add 1/4 cup of the boiling milk while whisking vigorously. Add the rest of the milk in a continuous stream while whisking constantly. Once everything is mixed, place the pan over a medium heat and completely whisk the mixture (don't forget the edges!) without stopping. Bring to a boil and keep on whisking over a heat source for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, and whisk in the melted chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before whisking in the butter. Once the butter is incorporated, transfer the cream to a bowl. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, making sure to press the plastic to the surface of the cream. Place the bowl into the fridge and allow to chill for sometime (more than 2 hours, preferably overnight). After the cream is set, use as you please, such as filling your very own cream puff ring!

Happy Friday the 13th! Even though this date is synonymous with bad luck, I'm feeling lucky today because I am finally writing about one of my favorite restaurants in the area--Cafe Antigua. Serving authentic Guatemalan food, this little restaurant is a frequent haunt for my friends and me. It had been a while since I ate at Cafe Antigua, so I met up yesterday with a friend for lunch there.

I ordered the usual--Motulenos (above), which is two over-medium fried eggs served on a bed of tortilla and mashed black beans. Slices of fresh avocado and queso fresco top it all off, along with chirmol, a tomato-based sauce. A handful of tortilla chips completed the dish. My friend ordered his usual--Migas, which is a plate of eggs and black beans served with a side of fruit salad topped with mango sauce. Being high-rollers, we decided to treat ourselves and split a papaya smoothie.
The meal lived up to all expectations and definitely did not disappoint. My eggs were just right, the avocado slices were firm, and the tortilla chips had a great crunch. All of the simple tastes of my dish came together well to create a flavorful and fresh experience. I can't really describe my meal; I wouldn't come close to doing it justice. I felt like it was everything a meal should be--filling, fun, and delicious. The dish itself was already filling, but each order was served a starter soup. Then my friend and I drank a smoothie on top of that. I was completely stuffed when I finally put my fork down. The meal was so filling, that I seriously had problems staying awake when I reported back to work after lunch.

If you are ever in the area, I highly, highly recommend eating at Cafe Antigua. It's a good place for breakfast (which is served all day) or lunch, and it has GREAT meatless options. Even though I'm not vegetarian, I rarely order a meat dish here. Don't get me wrong; the meat options are wonderful as well. No matter your food preferences, there's something for everyone at Cafe Antigua.

May no broken mirrors cross your path today!

Cafe Antigua
1903 N Classen
Oklahoma City, OK 73106

You know that time is flying by when you don't realize that it's been a while since you've last baked anything. I didn't notice that it had been over a week since I last tinkered with the oven until my dad brought it up on Tuesday night, asking if I was planning to bake something for dessert. I've been busy working, writing, crocheting, watching movies, and hanging out with friends; I hadn't given a thought to baking, so I went with something extremely easy to make--the yogurt cake.

I was first introduced to this dessert during my senior year of college when I was hanging out with the French exchange students from Clermont-Ferrand. One of the French girls had brought over a deliciously moist cake topped with pineapple for our weekly Desperate Housewives watch party. When I asked for the recipe, the girls told me that there wasn't really a recipe; it was all about proportions with the yogurt cake. After learning the ratios of the ingredients needed for this cake, I promptly went home and tried it out with different add-ins. The rest is history. The yogurt cake is my go-to recipe whenever I need a quick sugar fix; it's super tasty but incredibly simple to put together, so much so that this is apparently the first cake that French children learn to bake.

I decided to keep things simple, so I didn't add anything special to the batter like strawberries or chocolate chips. Instead, I just added a couple of splashes of vanilla and rum, and then I called it a day. The cake has a subtle taste, which is oddly attractive; it's not too sweet and it's not bland. This cake is the perfect, down-the-middle kind of dessert. If you have never made or tasted a yogurt cake, I highly recommend you run out to the market for some yogurt and get to work immediately!

Plain Yogurt Cake

  • One 8-ounce tub (use this as a measuring cup) of nonfat, plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tub white sugar
  • 1/3 tub vegetable oil
  • 2 hearty splashes of golden rum
  • 2 splashes of vanilla extract
  • 2 tubs all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
Mix together the yogurt, eggs, sugar, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Once smooth, stir in the rum and vanilla, adding them to taste.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture. Then mix the batter until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the dough, so stop mixing as soon as you see the last trace of flour begin to disappear.

Pour the batter into a 10-inch, ceramic tart pan sprayed with Baker's Joy baking spray. Place the cake into an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 25-30 minutes. As soon as a cake tester poked into the center of the cake comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. Allow it to cool to room temperature before cutting into it.


Happy Monday! After the first week of my internship, I enjoyed a much-needed fun and relaxing weekend. Included in this respite was an outing with a couple of friends that I hadn't seen a long time. We started out the evening at the Museum of Art to catch the newest Audrey Tautou film, Hors de prix (Priceless). If you are looking for a simple yet fun movie to watch, I recommend this one. The plot is pretty predictable, following the same theme as Breakfast at Tiffany's, but the two leads were charming. Audrey Tautou was absolutely GORGEOUS in all of the couture outfits, and Gad Elmaleh piqued my interest. Plus, any movie that takes place in the French Riviera is a good thing.

The movie ended during dinnertime, so we headed over to The Wedge and shared a pizza. We decided to create our own pizza and went with a pesto-goat cheese-tomato combination. The pizza could have benefited from more pesto, but the goat cheese and the slight smoky flavor from the brick oven more than made up for the deficit. The pizza was solid and made for a light and refreshing meal, great for outdoor eating in the summertime. I'll probably be a frequent visitor to this pizzeria; I hope to try a different combination with each visit. The possibilities are endless!

Here's to hoping for a good week!

The Wedge Pizzeria
4709 N Western Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73118

Ever since I finished my finals two weeks ago, I have been sleeping until 9:30 or 10 a.m. everyday. However, I had to get up a wee bit earlier yesterday for the first day of my internship, and boy, was it brutal. The morning wasn't too bad, but I had to take a nap at my desk during my lunch break so that I could survive the rest of the work day. The afternoon felt soooo long, and I shot out of the office as soon as the clock struck 5 p.m.

This is my first regular office job, so I was thankful that I didn't have to give even a thought to work after 5 p.m., which is much different than going to school. After taking a guiltless nap, I went to town in the kitchen and whipped up this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection--French Chocolate Brownies--as chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook. The brownies easily came together, which was nice since I needed something simple to do to unwind after work. The only part that gave me problems was flambéing the raisins.

I have long had a fear of fires. I've never been burned by an open flame, so I'm not sure why I become this meek and lame coward whenever I have to work with one. It took me a long time to relax around a Bunsen burner in Chemistry lab, and I am still a bit uneasy each time I turn one on. So it was natural that I approached this recipe with some apprehension. To make matters worse, I didn't have any long matches and had to use a long-tipped lighter. I worried that the flames would grow wild and ignite the entire lighter, so much so that I set aside a glass of water just in case a real fire started and decreased the amount of rum by 1/2 tablespoon to make it more manageable. However, all of my worrying was for nothing because everything went smoothly. The blue flames just did their thing and then peaced out. It was actually kind of pretty, and I was smug as hell that I had done the deed.

Ingredients (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

  • 6 ounces of chocolate (combination of bittersweet and semisweet), chopped
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon golden rum
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Gently melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler, being careful not to overheat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the butter until its melted. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the raisins and water until the water is almost completely evaporated. Remove from heat and add the rum. Carefully ignite the rum with a match or lighter, and flambe the raisins. Once the flame dies down, set aside the raisins.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until a pale and thick mixture is formed, which will take about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the chocolate-butter combo, mixing just until the chocolate and butter are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 30 seconds. Finish incorporating the dry ingredients by folding by hand. Finally fold in the raisins and whatever liquid is left in the pot with them.

Pour the batter into an 8x8-inch baking pan lined with foil and lightly greased with butter. Bake the brownies for 35 minutes at 300 degrees F until the top becomes dry and cracked and a cake tester comes out clean.

These brownies proved that my oven must run warmer than Dorie Greenspan's. In the book, she had instructed to bake the brownies for 50 to 60 minutes. However, I decided to check on the brownies at the 35-minute mark, and they were ready to come out of the oven. Luckily, I noticed the cracked top in time because the brownies were just right in terms of their moisture content. These brownies were pretty much perfect; they were moist, chocolately, and not too sweet. The brownies weren't fudge-like, but they weren't cake-like either; they were somewhere in the middle and fluffy in texture. The cracked top looked elegant in my opinion, and I liked the taste of it. They weren't like traditional brownies, but I still loved them. I definitely will be making these again in the future. The only change I would make is maybe add more raisins since my dad requested more.

I highly recommend trying this recipe in your own kitchen if you have the funds to make this decadent dessert (the price of butter and chocolate has gone up so much!). It's easy, comes together quickly, and produces a super yummy dessert.

Last bite!

Happy June! I can't believe it's June already; I know it's a cliche, but time really passes so quickly as you age. I seriously feel like I celebrated New Year's the other day, but that was six months ago!

Today I start my summer internship, and I'm a bit apprehensive about it. I have no idea what I'll be doing and only hope that it won't be too overwhelming. I am on my last summer break ever...

Since I am on summer vacation and have a bit more free time now that I don't have anything to study, I've decided to give this blog a makeover. When I started this blog three months ago, I was so excited about jumping into the world of food blogging and sharing my experiences in the kitchen right away that I didn't give any thought as to the direction that I wanted this blog to take. I threw together a header and started blogging.

Now I'm not so satisfied with how my blog looks, so I'm slowly yet surely working on a new layout. I hope to have it finished in the next couple of weeks, and I think it'll be a better reflection of my culinary adventures.

Have a great Monday!