Sunday, June 20, 2010


I must confess, ever since the weather has changed from constant rain to constant sunshine, I've been lazier and unmotivated to bake. And I've also been a little lazy in blogging, even though I've baked quite a few things lately.

I'd still like to post one of my latest baking adventure: eclairs! I love choux pastry whether they be my mom's homemade ones, Beard Papa's cream puffs, or the frozen mini cream puffs they sell at Costco by the tub. Choux puffs aren't hard to make, but they usually involve piping the dough, and being the lazy baker that I am, most of the time I steer clear of recipes that involve a lot of extra work! But when La Fuji Mama made cream puffs by spooning the dough instead of piping it, I was inspired to follow her footsteps.

The cream puffs turned out excellent; they tasted just like the way my mom makes them. :) Unfortunately the same can't be said for the shapes, but I didn't expect much, since I chose to skip the hassle of piping the dough. Now, for the pastry cream, I had a few different recipes to choose from, but I ended up going with this one. It was okay; I didn't find it sweet enough, and I didn't quite like the texture. I think next time I would go with another recipe for the sake of experimenting.

And eclairs would not be complete without the chocolate glaze on top, right? At this point, I was too lazy to make anything fancier than melting some chocolate chunks (it was a very hot day, and I didn't want to linger in the already warm kitchen for too long), so I did just that, haha. They were still fabulously chocolatey, so that's okay!
Choux Pastry
recipe from La Fuji Mama

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick/114 g)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare the baking sheet by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

Whisk the salt and flour together in a bowl.

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Then add the butter, and after it has melted, add the flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously, and cook until it forms a ball that doesn't separate.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly (~1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

On the prepared baking sheet, pipe or spoon the dough in your desired size with about 2 inches of space in between. Bake until the puffs are golden brown and puffy (anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on the size). Remove from the oven and cool on a metal rack.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lobsters and Chocolate Pudding

This is neither baking nor something made by me, but recently lobsters have been relatively inexpensive in Vancouver due to the Icelandic volcano resulting in delays in lobster shipment to Europe. So my boyfriend promised that this past weekend we would have lobsters for dinner, and I just wanted to share his creation. It was his first time preparing lobsters (and possibly the last...), and he followed Julia Child's recipe of pan-roasted lobster (video here) with a chervil butter sauce. We couldn't find chervil at the grocery store though, so parsley was used instead, which we don't think worked so well because it made the sauce bitter. But other than that, it was a very lovely meal. :)

For dessert, I made chocolate pudding. I have no pictures (it doesn't look particularly pretty), but the recipe I use has become my go-to recipe for chocolate pudding whenever I need to use up leftover milk. The original recipe is from here but I have tweaked it to my taste.
Easy Chocolate Pudding
adapted from

3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups milk
2 tbsp margarine or butter
a splash of vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, sift cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Mix well to prevent lumps from forming later. Add milk.

Stir mixture constantly on medium heat, making sure there are no lumps. The mixture will start to get thicker. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (around the time when the mixture starts to boil), turn off the heat. Add vanilla extract and margarine/butter, and stir to combine.

Optional step: strain the pudding to further remove any lumps.

Let the pudding cool, and chill in the refrigerator or enjoy as is.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

Over the long Victoria Day weekend, I went on a trip and stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast. The trip was to explore the city of Victoria, BC, but a big part of me was excited to be staying at a B&B instead of a typical hotel like I'm used to. Obviously I was mostly excited about the gourmet breakfast; I seriously love breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, pastries and other baked goods, yummmm!) and I always abuse the breakfast buffets at hotels whenever I go on vacation. Anyway, at the particular B&B we went to, their specialty was eggs Benedict, and they also serve freshly baked muffins for the guests while they wait for the gourmet breakfast to be cooked. I had expected all of these after reading reviews online prior to my trip, but what caught me off guard was a very delicious apple coffee cake that they served!

I actually never really had coffee cake before, and this one was so simple but delicious. What I liked the most was the apple filling it had. Unfortunately, I neglected to ask for the recipe or even the name of the cake, so I had to scour for recipes myself. I googled "apple coffee cake" and this cake is one of the first few results, so I decided to try it.

This cake is moist and even more delicious after the next day, but I find it a little on the sweet side. Brown sugar is the major ingredient here; it shows up in the cake, the streusel, and the glaze. If I were to make this again, I think I would just skip the glaze, and maybe reduce the streusel proportions, since it yielded quite a lot. (BTW, I know the picture below looks far from appetizing, but it tasted MUCH better than it looked!)

By the way, this turned out very different from the cake I had at the B&B, because after asking around at Bake Bake Bake, I found out that what I was looking for is really the Apple Pie Coffee Cake. D'oh! That's okay, it'll be the next coffee cake I make!

Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze
recipe from Emeril Lagasse
yields 1 9x13-inch cake

Cake ingredients:
1 stick + 2 tsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)

Streusel ingredients:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp unsalted butter, softened

Glaze ingredients:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter.

In a large bowl, cream together the remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl or on a piece of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.

To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Serve warm.