Apple Picking

The trees finally decided to catch up with the time of year, providing beautiful scenery in which to pick apples.

After quite a bit of scouring to find the best place to go, as there are many orchards to choose from, my mom and I concluded on Blue Jay Orchards, as it had come highly recommended by her colleagues.

Unlike the last time we had gone apple picking, there were many trees still full of fruit, and it didn’t look like a deserted grocery store right before a huge storm. There were many wasps hanging about the trees, though the fermented apples they had been eating were enough to keep them at bay.

After picking the apples, we headed to the farm store before going home. The apple juice was arguably some of the best I’ve ever had, and the apple fritter was certainly better than the ones from Starbucks.

As we are running out of the apples so quickly, it’s entirely possible we’ll have to go back and see what sort you can pick later in the year.

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Coffee Mousse Roll Cake

The same friend that requested the princess cake last year had her birthday this weekend. However, this year I was given less guidance as to what she wanted, the only hints I was given being “coffee and vanilla” and upon finding recipes that would fulfill this, I created something to match her request.

Opting to create a mousse roll cake, I found a suitable recipe for the mousse. Having a pretty bad track record with getting mousse to set, I was careful to find one carrying similarities to custard, something I have become comfortable with making.

First the eggs had to be separated and beaten until pale, a more exhausting task than I had anticipated.

Then the cooking came, to ensure the eggs weren’t raw and that the gelatin would dissolve.

Setting it on the side for an hour to cool while the cake was made caused me to be a bit apprehensive, as I was worried it wouldn’t set.

After cooling and combining with the whipped cream, the mousse luckily held its shape and wasn’t too runny for the cake’s filling.

A bit of yolk must have gotten into the whites while I was separating the eight eggs, so the whites didn’t quite whip right, but still gained enough air that it didn’t have to be redone.

Folding together the yolk and flour mixture with the whites proved to be quite the task, as too much force could have taken out the air and made the cake more dense.

There was an attempt at an abstract design to add a bit more color, but the cake was rolled up the wrong way, so it ended up on the inside. It was still a pretty cake none the less.

I was told it also tasted pretty good, though the amount of coffee did lead to my friend becoming even more hyper than usual. Luckily her mom let me take a picture of the cake before it was totally consumed.

Mousse recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/891874/espresso-mousse

Roll cake recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/351497/strawberry-torte

 

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Maker Faire New York 2017

This Sunday was the Maker Faire in New York. When I was still homeschooled, my family attended one of these in Austin and another in San Diego. Naturally, I was excited by the prospect of seeing how it has developed over the years and the differences that being in a different state makes.

Immediately upon arriving, and much to my delight, I managed to find some rockets.

The drone racing competitions were also very interesting to watch.

There were also lots of intriguing exhibits inside the main building, mixed with various things that were already a part of the museum that encompassed them.

The highlight was definitely the miniature car racing. The concept is that old kiddy cars that have been sold cheaply on eBay are re-made into racers. Although very cool to watch, my curiosity primarily lies in the designs of the cars.

Should the opportunity arise, I’d be thrilled to help build one of these, and even more so to race it.

As a whole, the Maker Faire was very exciting with a plethora of thought provoking pieces, along with many that simply served to amuse.

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Beef Wellington

Unsurprisingly, my first attempt at cooking meat did not go off without a hitch. Then again, perhaps one of the hardest dishes to accomplish wasn’t the best place to start.

It began well, after cooking the beef for the longest time the recipe suggested, it was browned on the outside and looked ready for me to continue onto the next section. As per the recipe, I set it inside the fridge to finish cooling after fifteen minutes outside the oven.

While it was cooling, I moved onto the mushrooms and quickly learned the importance of measuring oil. For things like pasta, eyeballing it is normally fine, though that was not the case for this. After the mushrooms had been cut (it doesn’t matter what the recipe says, a food processor will save at least twenty minutes of dicing) and softened the appropriate amount, I drained the excess oil. After adding the wine and waiting ten minutes, I drained the residual liquid that had still not been absorbed.

Finally, the time had come to wrap the meat in the prosciutto, and after staring at the instructions for some time, I decided to wing it.

I’d say it went rather well. What the recipe did not highlight, however, was that the puff pastry should be defrosted by this point, so once the wrapped beef had cooled, the pastry could be added. It was during this mild panic that I forgot my family had a microwave and stuffed the frozen dough into a ziplock and covered it in hot water. I would not advise using this method. Use a microwave.

Unfortunately, following the chaos of the pastry practically melting off while I was wrapping it, and the baking process taking an hour longer than the recipe called for (despite a smaller cut of beef being used) I forgot to document its final form. Which, oddly enough with the markings on the dough, looked like a pineapple. It did not taste like one in the slightest.

As a whole, while the dish tasted pretty good (the majority of the flavor being supplied by the mushrooms), it wasn’t particularly worth the time. However, I now have a much better idea of the process and time required to properly cook beef. Something that will no doubt come in handy in the future.

The recipe I used:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2538/beef-wellington

How I figured out how to cook the snow peas I paired the dish with (using the steaming method):  http://www.wikihow.com/Cook-Snow-Peas

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4 Layered Cake

This cake was not supposed to have four layers, though perhaps if I had read the instructions first, I would have known that. The plan had been simple, a layer of rose water  flavored cake, and a layer of orange blossom.

 

The batter was the same for each, just with different flavoring.  However, each sort of batter yielded two layers instead of one.

The result being this monstrosity of poor decoration. Additionally, the majority of the flavor in the cakes stemmed from the flavored simple syrup, something I was unaware one could have too much of, which resulted in a very sweet cake. 

All in all, the flavors came through well and the fondant was sturdy enough to help the gargantuan thing hold its shape.

The Recipe: https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Rose-water-glitter-cake-334525?prm-v1

Marshmallow Fondant: http://www.wilton.com/rolled-marshmallow-fondant/WLRECIP-242.html

 

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Cannoli

I doubt I’ve ever come to despise a dessert more.

After following this recipe given to me by a friend: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/88849/cannoli/

I can say that I well and truly do not like cannoli.

Things started out fine.

The dough was simple enough to make, despite the rather terrible instructions. While it sat in the fridge for two hours, I contemplated how exactly, I was planning on frying it.

Once I began to roll the dough after a two hour wait I came to the realization that it was the sort to spring back to its original form, causing the flattening process to be far more involved than I would have hoped.

Then came the cooking. The original plan to fry the cannoli in boiling oil failed miserably and was quickly deemed extremely dangerous. Not to mention, the product was ridiculously unappealing.

A decision to try baking them also proved to be a failure.

So, knowing that they needed to be fried and that the maintenance of the rolled shape was the root of the issue, a move was made to fry them flat.

This quickly proved to be very successful, as the dough puffed up and became hollow in the center, providing a place for the filling to go.

Though I forgot to take a picture of the filling, it wasn’t very appetizing.

The final result was slightly lack-luster, and ended up being heavily modified cannoli.

In the end, the recipient was pleased with the outcome, and I came to know quite a bit more about how not to fry things.

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Birds Milk Cake (Ptichye Moloko)

If pure chaos existed in cake form, it would be this.

While the batter itself was simple to make, baking it was an ordeal.

It baked quickly, which was good, considering the first batch didn’t come out right.

Although therecipe said it would spread on its own, it definitely needed some help. Luckily, the next set worked out much better.

Then it was time to go onto the filling. Which was an odd combination of egg whites, butter, condensed milk, and gelatin.

There had been a few missteps, though the final product was mostly unharmed, the gelatin just needed a bit longer to set before the second cake could be placed on top.

Once the cakes had been layered and the gelatin mixture ceased its escape attempts, the cake was covered in chocolate and powdered sugar (though the sugar melted in the chocolate rapidly). And voila! A really complicated cake that dates back to the USSR.

Sadly, as this cake was for a friend of mine (a huge fan of Russian history) I never got to try it. However, I was later informed that it was confusing, but good.

The recipe: https://dontkillthesquirrels.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/birds-milk-cake-recipe-ptichye-moloko-2/

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Croquembouche

So after a total of 4 hours and questioning my love for cream puffs, I ended up with this:

After following the only recipe I could find that seemed to be of any decency I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, seeing as even Pinterest was bereft of its usual plethora of recipes.

The process was pretty simple, first, make some cream puffs with choux pastry and question your life choices.

Despite following the least amount of time given by the recipe, the puffs managed to burn a little bit on the bottom. Though the second batch was much more successful.

Then came the dreaded custard. Despite initially being comprised of bubbles it eventually came together.Having substituted the vanilla bean for ½ teaspoon of orange extract and ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract made the custard far more interesting and less expensive. Vanilla beans cost like 13 dollars. There was no way.

Finally, it came time to assemble the monstrosity, which only left me with one small sugar burn.  It doesn’t matter what the recipe says. Use tongs not your fingers for dipping the cream puffs. Spun sugar, apparently actually needs to be done in a circular motion, otherwise it just looks like little dots of caramel.

Getting the sugar onto the stack of cream puffs is best done while its still slightly warm, that way there’s something to adhere it. Which takes it from this:

To this:

In the end, was it worth the 4 hours?

No, not really, it doesn’t fit in the fridge.

Recipe: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/croquembouche.html?cm_src=RECIPESEARCH

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Princess Cake (prinsesstårta)

A friend of mine (whose parents are Swedish) recently lamented that she could not find a decent Princess Cake. So naturally, I decided to give it a try.

The first hurdle seemed to be the custard. As the recipe stated that using a metal implement to stir it could lead to a grey color, I opted to use the potato masher since it was the closest thing to a whisk that wasn’t made out of metal.

Evidently that was a flawed plan. So I tried again with an actual whisk.

Much less eggy. Likely far more palatable as well.

The most difficult part about the cakes was figuring out how to separate them evenly for layering, which was surprisingly less disastrous than expected.

Then came the assembly, which was also pleasantly successful.

Covering with the marzipan proved to be a bit of a challenge, though with a great deal of concern from the onlooking parties (who had gathered, no doubt to watch the moment of great peril) it was managed.

Though there is no documentation of it, the cake was split in half to showcase the many layers. Opting to keep a section for my family to try, the other half was later delivered to my friend, who decided, that it was worthy of the title, ‘Princess Cake’ and then attempted to convince me to make another one.

The recipe: https://semiswede.com/2011/09/21/princess-cake-demystified-prinsesstarta/

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Wire Dragon

For the final in Sculpture, we were pretty much allowed to make whatever we wanted, having been constricted by ridged projects the rest of the year. Naturally, I decided to make a dragon.

Although it didn’t exactly result as planned, and the sharp wire left a few too many marks on my hands, it turned out well enough to stand freely.

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