Orange-cinnamon buttermilk pancakes.
Adapted from Martha Stewart via Smitten Kitchen, July 2008.

Never again will I wonder what to do with leftover buttermilk. These light, sweet pancakes come together quickly, keep warm on a 175° baking sheet, are delicious with the syrup I picked up at Soergel's orchard/market a few weekends ago. A half batch is plenty for two people, but I stuck with 2 tbsp sugar and haven't yet bothered to whip the egg whites separately for extra fluff.

Pumpkin cupcakes with bourbon-caramel cream cheese icing.
Cake adapted from David Leite via Smitten Kitchen, Nov. 2008;

I'm pretty fascist about the moistness of baked goods, and this pumpkin cake is plush. Spicy. Not a frosted muffin. Also loyal to various cream cheese icings, but this one - a new try - is pretty good; I did have some still-cold flecks of unmixed cream cheese in the end, and had to rewarm/beat, which is why it looks more like a glaze here. Were I to redo, I'd pipe the frosting into a little nest and spoon some of the super boozy bourbon caramel (more of a butterscotch) inside.

Peanut butter brownies with bittersweet ganache.

Blueberry scones. Adapted from Mom (on your right).

These are the insanely moist whipping cream scones my mom used to make (the classic is with craisins) and still makes, when I visit home, which is where I'll be for most of next week. Usually she bakes them off at five a.m. and leaves them warm in a bowl in the oven. This is why scones of the world disappoint.

Lemon-thyme cakes with blackberry buttercream.
Adapted from Roopa at Raspberry Eggplant, here and here.

Finally, I made this little army for the Pitt welcome (back) potluck back in August. I've posted this meringue buttercream a dozen times but it really is remarkable: silky, buttery but not saccharine, takes whatever flavoring -- in this case, a blackberry puree that does the work of food coloring and flavor both.


It's been a hard semester, hence a three-month blog silence. But I am here.



Rich chocolate versus puckering citrus: August birthday face-off.

Sour cream chocolate cake, german chocolate filling, cinnamon whipped cream. Coconut, bittersweet ganache.
Adapted from various recipes in Sky High.

Jenny requested german chocolate, which I'd never made. So I toasted coconut and pecans, made dulce de leche by slow-baking sweetened condensed milk, substituted my favorite fudgy-moist chocolate cake for the recipe's cola cake (which still interests me but is reviewed as more fluffy and dry), and opted for a whipped topping in hopes of offsetting the germanic filling. The cake was dreamy, the filling still cloying for my taste, and the whipped cream started to look curdled halfway through icing -- this, and my hasty ganache prep caused my chocolate to seize. But it piped okay. For translation, see entry title.

Then Brett came through town on his birthday eve, so I did the following from 12-2 a.m. :

Lime curd tart, blackberry sauce. 

I really love the simplicity and impact of a tart. Ina's recipe produces a creamy, bright curd, and her technique of grinding the zest with the sugar prior to cooking prevents the gray-green weirdness that sometimes afflicts lime desserts. Revisions: added an egg to the crust -- which, wow, tasted like a sugar cookie thanks probably to the addition of vanilla, and I did have to frankenstein it together in the pan but it baked perfectly. Might cut sugar in the curd (I like it very tangy) and slow-cook the sauce to reduce/thicken a bit but otherwise, the flavors were there. As was Frank.

Thank you for your visit(s).