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Love(ly) Mini Cakes

This week, two of our close friends got married. It was a beautiful ceremony, the reception was so much fun, and it was special to see two people we love making such an important promise to each other.  On Wednesday night I brought some treats over for the bride, Megan. I made a handful of little cakes and we drank pomegranate martinis, chatted, and squee-ed over the wedding details.  It was a lovely way to spend some time with Megan before the wedding weekend whirlwind was in full force.

I made eight “cakes” total, four red velvet and four vanilla. Essentially I made a sheet cake of each flavor and then used cookie cutters to create little miniature layers.  They were so cute, personal stacked layer cakes. Perfect for those that love a lot of icing. And because Aaron and Megan got married the same week as Valentine’s Day (and because weddings are full of, you know, love) I wanted to decorate the cakes with pretty red and pink details.  When I couldn’t find red sprinkles a friend recommended crushed hard candies, which were excellent! They were both the right color AND delicious.  So, a total win.

Congratulations Aaron and Megan! We love you!

Love(ly) Mini Cakes

white cake:

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 flour

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

red velvet cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

3 tbsp red food coloring

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp white vinegar

whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

chocolate frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup milk 

Pink and red hard candies for decoration

Instructions: 

Start with your white cake. In your mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla, and then slowly add in flour, mixing all the while.  Finally, add in milk.  Oil and flour a baking sheet.  Pour batter into your pan and bake in a 350 oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to rack and let cool.

Next, cook your red velvet cake. Sift together dry ingredients.  In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix together wet ingredients.  Beat until combined with paddle attachment.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Oil and lightly powder your pans. Pour cake batter evenly between three cake pans.  Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through, rotating halfway. Transfer to racks and let cool.

For the red velvet cake, I made a whipped cream frosting.  To make this, simply whip heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. For the white cake I made a chocolate frosting. To make this, beat butter until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, one at a time, beating until smooth.

To make the cakes, use cookie cutters to cut out different shapes. I made four 2 layer circular cakes and four one layer heart shaped cakes. Ice between the layers of any cakes and coat the outside with icing. Then, using something hard, crush your hard candies and sprinkle them on top.

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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 5

Okay, so after our last super exciting installment I’m back with another boring me-sanding-in-my-living-room-watching-Criminal Minds post. After setting the pan on fire (on purpose), I had two things left to accomplish- I needed to make sure the last of the rust/carbon residue was scrubbed out, and I needed to clean the rust off the bottom of the pan (an area I’d mostly been ignoring). So I sat down with my sanding paper (coarse first, then fine) and set to work.

After about an hour of admiring Dr. Spencer Reed’s new haircut (circa Season 4), the pan was looking pretty incredible.  By this point all of the visible rust was gone and it looked like a raw but useable piece of cast iron equipment. It took me a few minutes to accept it, seeing as how I’ve been cracking at this beast for weeks I didn’t think I’d ever get to the point where I’d be ready to fry an egg in it.

And fry an egg I will, after a few additional steps. I rinsed out what had been sanded off and took to the pan with very hot water and a lot of soap. I know I always preach that soap and your cast iron are mortal enemies, and that is VERY TRUE, with one exception. Right before you reseason a pan a gentle soap can be a great help in ensuring that your pan is ready to use with food. I took a good long crack at the pan in the sink, scrubbing it until the cloth wiped clean.  The next step is to season it gently, which will be our next (and final) installment. And then the bacon, naturally.

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

 

p.s., It’s weird that I didn’t get a lecture from anyone about using the wrong amount of oil in the last post. I get nasty emails about so much less (coughgrammarcough). You guys have gotten soft.

p.p.s. That wasn’t an invitation to send me a lecture, thankskbye.

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Mojito Pie

Here’s my problem with National Pie Month falling during the month of February- there isn’t any good fruit in season. National Pie Month should fall during a month when EVERYTHING is in season and ready to be pied. September, perhaps.  Any month when what is seasonally appropriate includes more than storage apples and nuts.  A month celebrating pie should allow for BERRIES and STONE FRUIT and everything that is FRESH. Not a month where in most of the nation is in deep frost.  It’s just silly.

Early in the week I was thinking that I would make a winter banana pudding. I thought, I haven’t made that one yet, it’ll be a good one for pie month.  Until I remembered that I have made a winter banana pudding for the blog and it was perfect for pie month. Last year. And then I thought about all the pies I made last year and all the pies I could possibly make and then I felt hopeless because they are only so many mousses and chesses and fruit-less pies out there.  I fell into a pit of despair… until the mail came.

Sometime last year Epicurean Charlotte asked if they could use my Chocolate Chess pie and story in their magazine.  I gave them permission and then totally forgot about it, until a friend from Durham saw a copy and offered to mail it to me.  When it came in the mail yesterday I was so excited.  I pored over the two page spread until it finally struck me that they hadn’t used my photo of chocolate chess pie.  In fact, they hadn’t used a photo of chocolate chess at all.  It was a traditional white chess (vanilla/vinegar/lemon/lime/something).  And then I started thinking about lime chess.  And then I decided to make a lime chess pie with a rum crust and mint whipped cream- a mojito pie.

As it turns out, mojito pie is pretty delicious. It’s tangy and fresh, not unlike it’s cocktail namesake.  It’s not quite the blueberry peach pie I’m craving, but for February it’s pretty damn good.  And don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for fruit pies later this summer.

Mojito Pie

pie dough

2 1/4 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 1/2 sticks butter

1/2 cup cold rum

Ice cold water

chess

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

juice of 5 limes

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

whipped cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Fresh mint

Spearmint extract

Begin by making your pie dough.  Mix together dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in the shortening.  Cube the butter and cut that in, until the dough has the consistency of cornmeal. Pour in the rum.  Stir.  Add ice water, as needed, until the dough clings. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To make the chess combine your dry ingredients.  Using an electric mixer, beat them together.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the butter, melted.  Add in vanilla and lime juice.

Heat your oven to 325. Roll out your pie dough and press into pie dish.  Pour filling into the dish.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is brown and mostly set.  If the center is still a bit wobbly, that’s fine.  Let cool.

While your pie is cooling, mash up the mint and soak it in the cream.  If, after 45 minutes or so, the cream is not as minty as you’d like, add a bit of extract.  A VERY small amount. You want the flavor to be subtle.  Remove the mint leaves and whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks.  Spread over pie top and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

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