Best July 4th Recipes

Delicious cake made of fruit!

As I always procrastinate on holiday preparations (and well, everything),so  here are some last-minute delicious-looking July 4th recipes! Happy Independence Day! Healthiest Option: Fruit “Cake” Best for July 4th Parties: Mini Berry Pies (makes 6!) Most Delicious and Patriotic: Red … Continue reading

America’s Test Kitchen

My Daily Pastry - America's Test Kitchen ImageThis weekend I re-discovered America’s Test Kitchen, which is much more amazing than I realized. Although you unfortunately need to pay for recipes (you can though, sign up for a free 14 day trial), there are tons of amazing videos of previous TV episodes. The TV episodes range in all kinds of cuisine, from baking, to “sunday brunch”, and “ultimate grilled turkey burgers”.

Also in each episode, they have a section of the episode that talks about various baking/cooking gadgets. I’ve found this to be very useful! You can hear expert opinions, why they think a certain gadget is a great choice, and of course, choose between different products among various price ranges.

I also really enjoy watching the bakers do their thing. You can pick up on tips and tricks on baking technique, and try out how they create their magnificent baking pieces, and choose what works best for you. Such a great resource – I definitely suggest you check it out!

There is, of course, a huge bank of recipes of all kinds. You can try it out for 2 weeks, and download as many as you want! There’s a Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie recipe that looked mouthwatering. I also am dying to try this Carrot Layer Cake recipe.

Their website: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

My Daily Pastry - Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

My finished product – sliced Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Welcome to my first post! I’ve been baking a lot the past few months, and finally decided to start a blog. Today’s Daily Pastry is actually a very large one, but hey this is America, so the more the better, right?

This evening, I baked a Vanilla Bean Pound Cake – with modifications, which I somehow can never avoid! It comes from my mother, who always used to halve the butter and sugar, since recipes seemed to always call for too much butter and sugar. So…I cut the sugar and butter in 1/2, substituted in 1/2 cup wheat flour, and added 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, since wheat flour in general does not rise as much. We’ll see what happens!

Note also that I used 1 vanilla bean, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 vanilla bean (with paste scooped out), and since I only had 1 vanilla bean, I filled in the rest with vanilla extract.

Fun fact: You can use the rest of the vanilla bean (the skin), soak in any unflavored alcohol, and you’ve got home-made vanilla extract! Too bad I don’t have any vodka in my pantry…

Ingredients I used: (note that I modified the original recipe)

  • 1 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1/2 cup of wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

How I made my Vanilla Bean Pound Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter and flour, tapping out the excess flour; set aside.
  2. Combine the measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
  3. Place the measured butter in the bowl and beat until creamy and smooth. I don’t have an electric mixer (Chow.com calls for one), so I used (take a wild guess), a fork! It seemed to work just fine, and I got a great arm work-out as an added bonus.
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and continue beating until light and fluffy. Stop and periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing each until just incorporated. Slowly mix in so that the dry mix does not fluff into your face! Also, do not overmix or your cake will be tough. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. I had to shake it a little so that it spread, I think this is because I had less butter, so it didn’t just spread out by itself.
  6. Bake until the top of the cake is puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter, invert the cake to remove it from the pan, and let it cool completely before serving.
My Daily Pastry - Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

The lovely Vanilla Bean Pound Cake image from Chow.com – in theory, mine should look similar to this upon completion!

Link to the original recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11348-vanilla-bean-pound-cake

Take precautions before visiting their site – I wasted about 45 minutes of my life browsing and drooling! I very much want to try their Soft Pretzels recipe, and have wanted to make pizza for a bajillion years, and discovered their Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough recipe. My “To Bake” list is steadily growing longer and longer…