Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A New Baking Group - Heavenly Cake Bakers

ButterYumToday begins a new blogger baking group designed to bake through the highly anticipated and newly released book Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum, famed author of The Cake Bible.

I can truly say Rose's recipes are among the best of the best! Not only is Rose a wonderfully generous person and spectacularly skilled teacher, she has been absolutely instrumental in my own journey, starting as a mom making birthday cakes for my family 20 years ago, to a wedding cake maker - something I'd always dreamed of doing, but never thought would happen. I've expressed my gratitude to Rose on several occasions, and she's always responded in the most lovely and encouraging way. She's truly a gem and a national baking treasure! (Psst... keep posted for an upcoming blog interview with Rose)

Whether your new to the world of baking, or are a seasoned professional, feel free to head on over to Marie's blog and become one of Rose's
Heavenly Cake Bakers.

Upcoming Selections

October 5: Hungarian Jancsi Torta
October 12: Barcelona Brownie Bars
October 19: Apple Upside-Down Cake
October 26: Almond Shamah Chiffon
November 2: Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Buttercream

  • You must own, or have easy access to, a copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
  • You must have a blog.
  • At the beginning of each month Marie will post the recipes that will be featured for that month. Marie will bake one per week, but you only have to agree to bake two of the selections. Of course you can bake more often if you like.
  • Blog posts should be made within 24 hours of the date given.
  • If you run out of steam or feel you can’t keep baking, let Marie know so she can remove you from the list of Heavenly Cake Bakers - that way, readers will know that only active bakers are on the list of bloggers.
  • Recipes will not be posted on your blogs since everyone will have a copy of the book and we want to encourage sales of Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
  • And lastly, have fun!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Triple Chocolate Whammy Cupcakes

ButterYum cupcakesOh dear... I really don't need these, but today is a very special day.

ButterYum cupcakesToday is my youngest daughter's birthday. She's a true chocolate lover, so these triple chocolate whammy cupcakes were right up her alley!

ButterYum chocolate batterHere's the first part of the Triple Chocolate Whammy - the German Chocolate cupcake batter recipe is from Rose's Heavenly Cakes (man are they good).

ButterYum ganache glazePart 2 - I used a squirt bottle to fill the cupcakes with chocolate ganache syrup...

ButterYum ganache syrup...lots of ganache syrup.

ButterYum chocolate buttercreamBut that wasn't quite enough chocolate... so I used an Ateco 808 tip and piped on a kid friendly dose of Chocolate-Egg White Buttercream, also from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Let's just say these were a huge hit in the classroom.

A couple helpful observations...
ButterYum cupcake linersNext time I'll use only the paper liners, or only the foil liners, but using both as the recipe suggested results in a kind of slippery accident waiting to happen when placed inside a cupcake carrier.

ButterYum cupcakesAlso, the recipe suggested spraying the paper liners with Baker's Joy, but that seemed far too messy, fussy, and prone to oil blobs on the paper liners so I skipped the step entirely and I'm happy to report the paper liners pulled way from the cupcakes just fine.

ButterYumHappy Fall to everyone in Blogland.

And Happy Birthday Little One.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Making Strawberry Jam - How To....

homemade strawberry jamI can't believe I waited so long to finally try my hand at making Jam, but now that I know how easy it is, I'll definitely be making it again. Honestly, start to finish took less than an hour. Also, I was surprised how well it turned out considering the fact that I broke a couple of official jam making "rules".

The first rule - Use fresh fruit.

Well, I didn't have any fresh strawberries, but I had a lot of frozen ones so I thought what the heck. I'm happy to report the frozen berries worked perfectly fine.

using frozen fruit to make jamThe second rule (and I quote exactly as printed in the directions) - "DO NOT PUREE... Jam should have bits of fruit".

Hmmm... that suspiciously sounded like the preference of the direction's author to me. Why not puree the fruit? What if I don't like chunks of fruit in my jam??? As it turns out, I really DON'T like chunks of fruit in my jam, so I threw caution to the wind and pureed my thawed berries in a blender. Again, I'm happy to report the pureed berries worked perfectly fine!

using frozen strawberries to make jamBut hey, if you're the kind of person who prefers chunks of fruit, by all means, smash your berries by hand.

Okay, now that we have all that sorted out, let's continue.

sterilize canning jarsBe sure you have all your sterilized canning jars, screw bands, tools, etc ready to go. The dishwasher works great for most of the items...

boil lids...but the flat lids were too small for my dishwasher rack, so I boiled them on the stove top. Keep the lids in the hot water until you're ready to use them.

tips for making jamYou'll also need to have a large stockpot full of boiling water ready and waiting.

And don't forget about the sugar. This particular recipe calls for 7 cups, or 1400 grams. For those of you who are trying to do the math right now, that's roughly 7/8 cup of sugar per jar... so uh, just forget I said anything.

make jamOkay, let's begin. Start by combining the fruit and pectin; stir to dissolve pectin. Add 1/2 tsp butter (this is optional, but it reduces foaming). Stirring constantly over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil, one that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred.

making jamImmediately add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute; stirring constantly.

(note: I could tell there wasn't going to be enough room in the small saucepan after I added the sugar, so I transferred my fruit/pectin mixture to a larger pan)

After boiling for one full minute, remove the pan from the heat and skim the froth from the surface. The froth isn't very pretty so you don't want to put it in your jars, but it's perfectly delicious and quite edible. Cook's treat :)

filling jarsNow it's time to fill the jars. This recipe yields a little more than 8 8oz jars. That nifty funnel helped make filling the jars pretty mess free, but I still managed to get a few drops of jam on my jar rims. Easily remedied with a warm paper towel.

canning magnet toolTime to top the jars with the lids. Check out this neat magnetic tool - allows you to place the lids on the jars without touching them - keeps everything nice and sterile. After the lids are in place, add the screw bands and screw them on "hand tight". That means don't over tighten them. Be careful, the jars are extremely hot!

processing jamTime to "process" the jars. I don't have a special canning basket, so I just put the jars in a large stock pot. The water level should be 1-2 inches above the jars. This jar lifter thingy keeps your fingers out of the hot water.

processing jamCover the stock pot and bring the water to a gentle boil; boil for 10 minutes*.
(*high altitude, follow the special instruction included with the pectin)

lids poppingAfter 10 minutes, remove the jars from the boiling water and let them rest on a towel until you hear them POP (mine started popping almost immediately). That popping sound is good. Very, very good! When the jars are cool, check the seals by pressing the middle of the lid with your finger. If the lid springs back, the jar isn't sealed properly and you'll need to store that jar in the refrigerator. For the record, all of my jars sealed up just fine.

That's about all there is to it!
I should mention that there are complete directions in the pectin package (I used SureJell).

A special thanks to my cake buddy Gia for sending me such great tips and directions.

Strawberry Jam
makes 8 8-ounce jars, plus a little bit more

5 cups crushed strawberries (frozen berries work wonderfully)
7 cups granulated sugar
1 package SureJell Premium Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter, optional

Directions: Follow the step-by-step instructions above (or refer to the printed directions from the Pectin's package insert).

*High Altitude - Processing times vary for high altitude locations. See pectin package directions for details.

Now you can sit back and enjoy a sense of accomplishment as you admire your handy work...

...and have fun pretending you're a photographer (unless you really are a photographer - I am not).

strawberry jamDon't forget to share!

home made strawberry jamEnjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

ButterYum Crock Pot Beef StewThe leaves are beginning to change, I see pumpkins and apples everywhere I turn, and there's a definite chill in the evening air - Autumn in Virginia is just around the corner.

ButterYum Slow Cooker Beef StewSchool is back in session now which means my afternoons and evenings are often filled with school activities. I usually make my beef stew on the stove top, browning batch after batch of meat and veggies, but this simple recipe doesn't require any browning, and it's such a cinch to throw together! Busy days call for easy meals, and this one comes together with hardly any effort, plus it's super yummy and very satisfying. What could be better than that?

ButterYum Easy Beef Stew Super Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
serves 6-8 (fits a 4-qt crock pot)

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used chuck)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced (waxy potatoes are best - red, white, Yukon gold)
4 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped

Place cubed beef in crock pot (no need to brown it first). Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika; pour over beef and stir to coat. Add garlic and bay leaf. Now add the carrots, celery, and potatoes. Lastly, combine the Worcestershire, onions, beef broth; pour over the veggies. Don't be alarmed that the liquid is only a couple of inches deep (don't add additional liquid - there will be plenty when the dish is done). Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice or buttered noodles.