31 July 2010

Banana Caramel Coffee Cake

My mother asked me to make something for a brunch. I had a freezer full of bananas, so I wanted to put those to use. Ya know, one can only have so many smoothies. I have been fixated over caramel lately, more specifically creme brulee. (Sinful but worth it.) That recent obsession brought me to the great combination of bananas and caramel.

My coffee cake was moist enough on its own, but I really wanted spots of gooey caramel. Halfway through baking, I pulled out the cake, poked a bunch of holes, and poured a rich, bold caramel sauce over the whole thing. I returned it to the oven until it was done. The end result had gooey caramel inside and chewy caramel on the outside. I drizzled icing on top to jazz it up a bit.

I am so glad I made an extra one, as are my kiddos. This recipe will be a regular, I'm sure. But I'll need to buy more bananas first...

29 July 2010

Ribbon Rose Wedding Cake

This was my first wedding cake that I took on for a friend. Her favorite color is periwinkle blue, and she wanted something very simple and traditional (i.e. three tiered, white, and round). She had been in catering for a time and was sick of what a typical bride may want. Fondant and Italian buttercream were strictly banned!

The original idea was to have periwinkle pansies from her garden. Unfortunately they were drowned by rain shortly before the wedding. In fact, most of middle Tennessee was flooded. We threw around some alternatives, but eventually she got frustrated and said just to use whatever flowers Home Depot had in stock. I wanted her to be thrilled with the result. I wasn't about to throw in the towel.

I found the answer from none other than Martha Stewart. I thought this cake was a good way to incorporate the color she wanted with the other factors that were important to her. The roses are baked meringues, sometimes called cloud cookies or divinity. Using meringues was a great way to show homage to their Southern roots. I used various shades and sizes to help keep the cake fluid and more interesting. The couple and their guests were very happy, even though we had to cut the cake while it drizzled.

28 July 2010

Take 1

Fuin is Gaelic for bake or knead. Our family has a double dose of Celtic blood (Irish on one side, Scottish on the other), so I think it fits. In addition, a Scottish bread first won my heart, and I was forever lost to baking.

Struan bread is not a rarity, but the story behind it is mysterious and intriguing. I first read of it in Brother Juniper's Bread Book. My husband bought it as a congratulatory gift when I landed my first baking gig at Merridee's Breadbasket in Franklin, Tennessee. The author's words were my own. His passion was so moving and familiar. His version entails the Feast of Saint Michael, a harvest celebration, and giving loaves to the poor in honor of past loved ones. Other accounts include the harvest festival, Lammas, which is very similar in practice. However, most of the information I have found is a retelling of Reinhart's tale.

It is hearty, earthy, and sweet. Really, just a wonderful bread. I was actually able to feature a variation of Reinhart's recipe at Merridee's, which was well-received. I wish to play around a bit and serve it at my own bakery one day. Until then, I will share it's recipe via a former employee of Brother Juniper's.