Archive | May, 2011

The King’s Peach!

29 May

The winner of our cookie flavor poll was: PEACH! The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

  • Ease of prep/baking-10
  • Texture-20
  • Flavor/taste -20
  • Ingredient ratios- 10
  • Ease of eating- 10
  • Peach flavor-20
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says -10

Krista here and let me start off by saying that peaches are not on my list of favorite things to eat (the actual list is fairly short- chocolate, cheese and moscato). With that said, I loved these cookies! I went with a recipe from, Theresa/Thunderbird’s take on Peach Cookies.

I will say I tweaked the recipe slightly. It was optional to add raisins but that sounded disgusting, so I added white chocolate chips- half a cup. I also substituted pumpkin pie spice for the cloves. Some of the reviews said the cookies were more “cake like” than chewy- completely true. These cookies are very fluffy and not overwhelming in peach flavor. My husband said they taste like peach pie. So- let’s get to the ratings!

  • Ease of prep/baking- 10/10 pts- super simple to prepare and easy to cook- I did cook them for 18:30 instead of 20 minutes. I also drained my peaches after cutting them- there was a lot of juice created while dicing.
  • Texture- 18/20 pts These cookies are cake-like and hold true to that. However, when spooning them to make the cookies they are difficult to get a “pretty” and clean shape.
  • Flavor/taste: 20/20 pts Delicious flavor with the peach and subtle spices. These would be good as double doozies (two cookies with icing in the middle) for sure.
  • Ingredient ratios- if extras are added (raisins, nuts, chocolate chips etc) are there enough, too many? do they get evenly distributed?- 8/10 pts Since peaches are not very sturdy they had to be folded into the recipe and some of the cookies ended up with less peach than others. If you are wanting the white choc chips to be a strong factor in the cookie you need to add more- there are maybe 3 per cookie in my batch having used a 1/2 cup.
  • Ease of eating- 10/10 pts the cookie holds together well since it is more of a cake-like cookie there is no breaking or a lot of crumbs.
  • Peach flavor-16/20 pts The cookies are what I would say mostly peach, however I’m not sure that someone would be able to discernibly tell these cookies were peach and not apricot- or another fruit like that.
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says –4/10 This recipe said it made 4 dozen cookies- it made 20. I either really stink at tea-spooning out the batter, or they just over exaggerate about the amount.

*drum roll* These cookies scored a total of 86 points!

Hello all, Andrea here. I was pumped for this duel because peaches are one of my absolute favorite fruits! One of my favorite places to get recipes is AllRecipes. I love the ingredient search feature and the recipe box. One problem, I find, however is often times the rating will be skewed by users who vote a recipe highly, but end up making lots of changes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the base recipe is good, or only edible after several changes. I decided to go with this recipe for this duel. Some users stated different changes they made to improve the recipe, but I stuck with the original and it was delicious.

  • Ease of prep/baking-10/10 – Just a simple, basic cookie recipe. Perfect for quick afternoon baking.
  • Texture- 17/20 – Chewy on the inside, but a little crispier on the outside than I prefer, especially for a sugar cookie.
  • Flavor/taste – 18/20 – The cookie itself was delicious, but not strong on the peach flavor.
  • Ingredient ratios- 9/10 – The walnuts got more evenly distributed than the peach chunks.
  • Ease of eating- 10/10 – Didn’t fall apart, not crumbly.
  • Peach flavor- 18/20 – The peach chunks were visible and flavorful, but not very “peachy”. Similar problem that Krista had above.
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says -10/10 – Says 4 dozen and made exactly 4 dozen.

Overall these cookies got 92/100 points. They were very good and I would make them again and play around with the flavorings. This is a great recipe for beginners or those short on time!

Sweet & Tart: Not us, the cakes!

21 May

For our first duel, we decided to make cakes incorporating the flavors of lemon and berry- perfect for the beginning of summer!

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

    • Moistness of cake – 10 points
    • Flavor of cake – 15 points
    • Flavor of icing – 15 points
    • Lemon flavor – 15 points
    • Berry flavor – 15 points
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
    • Ease of eating – 10 points
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 10 points

with each cake able to earn a maximum of 100 points.

Andrea here! I was so excited for this first duel because I love lemon and berries together! Sonic’s lemon-berry slush, anyone?? As soon as I found this recipe by Beantown Baker, I knew it was the one for me. This recipe is more involved than ones I typically make, but it looked SO good; I was up for the challenge!

First I made the raspberry curd. I used frozen berries and it couldn’t have been simpler to make. I love this stuff and want to slather it on everything! The consistency is very smooth. It is pourable and not really thick at all.

Next I made the cake and while it was baking, the icing! The cake recipe said to mix the lemon zest with the sugar, which I had never done before, but was fabulous. So fragrant and there’s not many things better than the smell of fresh lemons!

Finished cake!

And now for the judging!

  • Moistness of cake – 9/10 points
  • Flavor of cake – 15/15 points – Perfect amount of lemon flavor.
  • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points – Classic buttercream, delicious.
  • Lemon flavor – 15/15 points – PERFECT, I say!
  • Berry flavor – 12/15 points – The curd alone was fantastic, but the cake needed more.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – I had at least a cup of icing left over.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – Cut nicely, didn’t fall apart at all.
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 4/10 points – This recipe wasn’t hard, but there were a lot of steps.

Total points for this recipe: 87. This cake was delicious and very well received!

It also doubled as a birthday cake 🙂

Let’s see how Krista’s recipe fared!

Hey there! Krista here and I have *finally* finished my cake! I used this recipe from Sweetapolita. My hubs is a big lime fan and one of his favorite things I have made to date is a lime blueberry cheesecake. All week these blueberries have been mocking him and in turn, he’s been harassing me that maybe I should just do the lime blue berry cheesecake and call it a day…. men.

I made the curd two days prior and it was fairly simple (see here). Martha Stewart is crazy, amazing- but crazy. I stuck the eggs in a strainer like the recipe called for and guess what… they were still there, whites and all, when I came back to it several minutes later. 😐 So I stuck the eggs back in their shells and sorted them that way. After the straining failure everything else went smoothly and was actually pretty simple. First experience with curd and I can’t complain. Sweetapolita doubled the curd for her filling but I just did one batch- I also forgot to put it in the cake but I’ll get to that in a minute. It is fairly thick but still pourable- more chunks than a free flowing liquid.

Cake prep/baking- the recipe could not be simpler and the baking time is fairly quick. The cake does not rise very much. I have 4″ deep pans and the recipe called for 3 pans so I had issues dividing the batter- hence why we have the puny layer in the middle here.

As I stated I forgot the curd at home, we had went to visit my dad so decided to serve the cake there. Icing was used for filling as a stand in. When we made the icing we had no mixer so it is doable to make with a fork. The icing crusted well and I was pretty pleased with the stability/spreadability. HOWEVER, the taste was far-far-far too sweet. Icing that’s too sweet? True story. Mixed with the lemon/berry it made the lemon flavor of the cake very weak (and I shorted the blue berries by 3/4 cup so that should tell you something). Overall the cake was fairly dense but also moist and held up to stacking well. I probably wont pair this icing with this cake again, they fought for flavor and the icing attacked full-force.

Here is the finished cake:

It was pretty cute and I loved the pops of color. Here is the rating:

  • Moistness of cake – 8/10 points  The density did it no favors in this line.
  • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points – I cut the blue berries by 3/4 cup and they still were a stronger part than the lemon.
  • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points –  10 seems harsh but the only real positive points I found would be that smoothed and spread easily. The taste is too lemony and it is too sweet. It over powers the cake instead of complimenting it.
  • Lemon flavor – 14/15 points – All together- loads of lemon- but it doesn’t allow any other flavors to exist.
  • Berry flavor – 10/15 points – The cake by itself was great, even though the berries were whole they still integrated themselves into the recipe quite well. In hindsight I wish I had went with a berry curd… but then I would have forgot it anyway and it wouldn’t have mattered until I got home to slather it on.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – Since I used the icing for the filling I had no icing left over- had I used the curd it would have been a cup or so too much.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – cut cleanly and was easy to serve…
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 9/10 points – This is nearly the easiest recipe I’ve ever made as far as cakes go, the curd was simple after I gave up hopes of straining eggs (someone enlighten me on this) and the icing was made with a fork so that is pretty easy.
Total points= 83. The cake was okay, the curd was good but the icing was too much. I would rather pair this with a simple cream cheese butter cream.
The cake also doubles as Pacman! 🙂 -Krista

What is your favorite lemon and berry combination?

Cookie Duel!

14 May

Our first duel will feature cakes involving lemon & berries, for our next duel we’d like your help! We are going to feature a local flavor cookie duel and being from the South what better flavors than Peach, Pecan and Apple? Vote on what you’d like us to feature in the poll below!

Look for our “Sweet and Tart: Not us, the cakes!”  duel on Friday afternoon!

I’ve always been your biggest flan!

12 May

This is a story about two girls testing out various baking recipes to weed through the good, the bad and the ugly. In one corner we have Krista (amateur cake artisan!) and in the other corner, Andrea (future grad student!).

We will be working our way through recipes and rating them based on our baking guidelines (see “Guideline” page at the top for our generic grading criteria). Two recipes of our choosing will be tested and featured once a week (occasionally we may go into overachiever mode and do more than one… don’t hold your breath!). We will post the recipe and any changes, tips or tricks we find along the way. Whichever recipe gets the most points from the baking guidelines wins! No fancy prizes or even gold stickers, just a simple winning recipe.