Baking with Julia – Strawberry Bourbon Upside-Down Cake

IMG_0272Again, just like yesterday – so late. Supposed to have this baked and blogged by Tuesday but whatever. It is what it is. I made this last night and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Not only is this late, but it’s actually supposed to be several small little cakes and they’re supposed to be made with rhubarb, not strawberries. Obviously I took a slight detour. I’m all about working with what I’ve got these days.

We had a long winter here in WI and unfortunately rhubarb is not readily available yet. When I went to the grocery store I used my points (does anyone actually believe this saves $$? Obviously things are more expensive all the time to make up for these random freebies right?) to get some free strawberries and thought they might make an apt substitute. I’ll take any excuse to use my cast iron skillet so that’s what happened.

IMG_0254Sliced strawberries nestled in bourbon-laced caramel? Yes, please! The butter cake came together with no issues although I did have to substitute Greek yogurt in for the creme fraiche since I didn’t have that or sour cream. But really, there’s not a whole lot to say about this little cake. You can really use any fruit you have on hand (clearly) and as long as you don’t burn it or really mess up on turning it out onto a cake plate, you’re golden man.

IMG_0275Topped with a little homemade whipped cream and fresh mint from the garden, this simple cake is dessert perfection. The simplicity was especially nice for me since I’m coming off a weird stomach bug and haven’t eaten much of anything in the last week. Somehow I did manage to eat a small piece last night and another one for breakfast today. When you’re sick you can do things like eat cake for breakfast. It’s a thing. If you want to try your hand at this one, visit Erin’s blog for the recipe.

A final note: bourbon helps cure what ails you.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Financiers

IMG_2896Tonight my friend Susan taught a Fancy French Desserts class at the store so I thought it was a perfect day to make this week’s recipe and share it with the students. Bonus: I only ate 3 instead of the 12 I probably would have eaten had I made these at home! Fancy they are not, but they’re definitely French so I thought they fit. I mixed the batter up at home and after about 4 hours in the fridge, I pulled it out and finished them off at work. I don’t have a special financer pan so I used a mini muffin pan at work and I think they turned out pretty cute. When Susan and I were talking to the class about them she described what they’re really supposed to look like (little gold bars) which would also be adorable.

IMG_2888I buttered and sugared the pan and crossed my fingers that they would come out alright.

IMG_2889I know I’ve said this before but cookie scoops are seriously a godsend. I used a small Oxo cookie scoop to fill these little wells and it was perfect. Keep an eye on the one in the middle though – I may have slightly overfilled it…

IMG_2892Other than the monster in the middle that overflowed a lot, these popped out of the pan super easy after running a thin knife around the sides. The sugary coating on the outside was delicious and made them a little bit crunchy and the inside was really dense and moist. Like I said before – nothing fancy but definitely delicious.

IMG_2893To make some of these little teacakes for yourself, get the recipe here on Dorie’s blog.

Baking with Julia – Lemon Loaf Cake

This week’s Lemon Loaf Cake was our “easy” recipe for the month and I don’t think anyone could argue that this wasn’t super simple. I actually had all the ingredients on hand to make it last Tuesday on my day off so I didn’t even have to take a shower or change out of my yoga pants to go to the store. That’s always a bonus. My husband is one of those people who can’t not get cleaned up for the day but this trait has not rubbed off on me in the ten years we’ve been together. Maybe this makes me disgusting but if I’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone, I have no problem with being dressed in my grubbies while I clean and cook and do all that kind of stuff. Am I in the minority here?

The recipe itself is even super short so I felt like I had to dress it up with my neat little line of farm fresh eggs. I never buy white eggs anymore. I’m sure there’s not a flavor difference really, but the brown eggs just look so sophisticated, don’t they? Instead of buttering and flouring the pan, I buttered and sugared the pan to sweeten this baby up just a little more. I’m nothing if not a sweet tooth.

My friend Susan had told me that you can make this substitution in any recipe that calls for buttering and flouring your pan and I hadn’t tried it yet so I just thought, what the hell? I think this is the first recipe that I haven’t had to fire up my trusty Kitchenaid for and it was kind of strange! Instead everything just got whisked in a big bowl until it was just mixed. Check out all this zest!

I had thought that this amount of zest would make for a REALLY lemony cake but the finished product just had a bare hint of lemon. I should have taken the juice of those suckers and made a glaze of some sort to make the lemon flavor really pop but I just decided to keep it simple and follow the recipe. I did make some whipped cream to dollop on the top though and instead of putting in vanilla like I usually do, I added some lemon extract. It gave the whipped cream a nice zing.

Just so others can learn from my mistakes, I once added a little lemon extract to a vodka tonic because we were out of lemons and I thought it would be an apt replacement….IT’S NOT! My lips were numb for like an hour after I drank it. It was really weird. This week’s hosts are Truc of Treats and Michelle from The Beauty of Life. Head over to one of their sites for the recipe if you want to have a little lemon loaf cake of your very own. Oh and I promised a friend I would include a link for the easiest and tastiest chicken breasts I have ever made! They were so good and so super simple! Try it! If you don’t like it, you did it wrong.