Smack Dab In The Middle: The Midterm

Well guys, it seems we are smack dab in the middle. In the middle of a slushy, sleety New York City snowstorm, on a day that marked the midway point in my pastry program at FCI. And you know what that means, don't you?


The midterm for the pastry program at FCI is much different than the midterm for the classic culinary program - mostly because instead of turning out dishes of sautéed skate and roast chicken, pastry students have to make cake. Doesn't that sound hard? Doesn't it sound like a test you would just hate to take?

I know.

Actually, to be fair, today's midterm wasn't just about cake. It was about whole egg foam cake and separated egg foam cake and chiffon cake. And buttercream and Bavarian cream and fruit mousse and chocolate glaze and fondant and even (in some soon-to-be-revealed cases) rice krispie treats.

The assignment was to create a "celebration cake" and, using the medium assigned (I pulled Genoise cake, buttercream and fondant from the exam designation hat) decorate your cake to fit your theme. My class turned out some absolute stunners - birthday cakes and Mother's Day cakes, cakes for baby showers and bridal showers and valentines:

Kelsey's 4th of July cake

Jessica's Birthday cake

Zoe's Spring Celebration

Sarah's Sweet Anniversary Cake

Chelsea's Birthday cake

Audra's Baby Girl cake

Mai's Bridal Shower Beauty

Kristyn's Mamma's Day cake

Lawpo's Sweetheart cake

And me? I chose the Olympics. Specifically, the popular ("popular?") phenomenon known as curling. You know, curling? The Olympic sport ("sport?") where the guys (or gals, or 6-month pregnant gals) wear a slippery shoe and throw a teapot down an alley of ice so that the other guys (or gals, etc.) with the Swiffers can yell and try to get the teapot to... to do something, anyway. It's fascinating. Or, at least, it's mildly entertaining.

And in some matches (curling matches? games? rounds? I don't pretend to know), I hear it can sometimes get a bit delicious:

A curling cake! A cake designed to look like a curling stone! Happy Winter Olympics!

View from the top

View from the back

Aaaand from the side.

Info: this cake is a vanilla genoise, soaked with amaretto simple syrup, filled with coffee buttercream, and covered in rolled fondant. I molded the curling stone handle out of rice krispie treats and covered it with fondant before affixing it to the cake with toothpicks.

Amaretto-soaked vanilla genoise and coffee buttercream filling


Won't You?


Barbara's eyes are blue as azure
But she's in love with Freddy,
Karen's sweet but Harry has her,
Gentle Jane is going steady.
Carol hates me, so does May,
Abigail will not be mine,
Nancy lives too far away...
Won't you be my Valentine?

-Shel Silverstein


V-Day Bites

I'm a single gal... obviously. I mean, it's always been just the one of me. At any rate, I'm also a single single girl. Which some people might say is my cue to be a Valentine's Day hater, but I'm not biting. Yes, the commercialization of the holiday is rampant and gross, but I can't help but appreciate a holiday so closely involved with chocolate. And sugar. And things that are cute and pink.

Take these, for example.

White chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. So cute!

These little Valentines are moist and cakey. And they're sweet but not too sweet, as the best Valentines always are. Make them for your significant other or, if you're single, for your significant others (hi Ems, Case, Mom, Katies, Jenny, Co, Rads, Carly, Kath, Meredith, Tina and Jeannie! Love you, txt me, cutie pies.)

Happy Valentine's Day!

White Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


For cupcakes:
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ounces white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli white chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
For frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 ounce white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons milk or cream
  • 2-3 cups confectioners sugar
  • Conversation hearts, for decorating

For cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line 24 cupcake molds with paper liners. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals, or over a pot of simmering water.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the white chocolate and vanilla extract. Next, add the dry ingredients and the milk in alternating additions, starting and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the paper-lined cupcake molds, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cakes spring back to the touch and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes before frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla, zest and milk, and then add 2 cups of confectioners sugar. Beat to combine. If you want thicker frosting, add more confectioners sugar (just be aware that this will make the frosting sweeter, obviously).

Once the cakes are thoroughly cooled, spread or pipe the frosting on top. Decorate with conversation hearts.

Makes 24 standard-sized cupcakes.


In Defense Of Eggs

Lest this become a blog dedicated entirely to baking (because wouldn't that just be awful? Horrors.), I'd like to tell you about eggs. Did you know that the French only eat one egg at a time? It's true. Just ask them, and they'll tell you that one egg is un oeuf. Un Oeuf... enough...get it? Do ya get it? Y'know, because an egg, in French, is pronounced like enough... so, um, it's funny because... because...


So, eggs. Despite being an integral part of most baked goods and breakfasts (and even some lucky lunches and dinners) worldwide, it's not easy to be an egg. Not a day goes by without an egg getting cracked, whipped, scrambled, beaten, or fried, and sometimes even (!) separated. The poor little dears - it's just not right, all that egg-related violence, and I think something should be done about it.

That's why I like to bake my eggs. Gently. I like to tuck them gingerly into little ramekins, nestled sweetly against a soft bed of Sriracha-glazed scallions, and tenderly bake them until they're pleasantly set and ready to be served with buttered toast. The whole process takes minutes, and is really a very humane way of preparing a simple and delicious brunch.

If you bake your eggs on a pile of Sriracha-glazed scallions, which I highly recommend that you do (not only to support the institution of brunch but also to spread the message of intolerance for crimes against egg-manity), you'll probably want to eat more than just one. Which I can assure you is perfectly alright. When faced with piping hot ramekins filled with sweet and spicy scallions and lovely, runny yolks, I think at least two or three eggs will be more than un oeuf.


Baked Eggs with Sesame and Sriracha-Glazed Scallions

  • 2 eggs
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • extra chopped scallions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Throw in the chopped scallions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the scallions start to become soft. Stir in the Sriracha, and cook for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with the rice wine vinegar, stirring the scallions for a minute, until they look shiny and glazed. Turn the heat down and season the scallions with salt and pepper. Off the heat, stir in the sesame seeds.

Spoon the scallions into the bottom of two small ramekins (or one larger ramekin, big enough to hold 2 eggs) placed on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Crack the eggs into a bowl, and gently pour one egg into each ramekin, on top of the scallions. Be careful not to break the yolks.

Lightly season the top of the eggs with salt and pepper, and place the ramekins into the oven. Bake the eggs for 10-15 minutes, or until the whites have set and the yolk is still a bit runny.

Serve immediately, with an extra sprinkling of scallions and a slice of buttered toast (or maybe even a flaky croissant).

Serves 1.