Thursday, October 27, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "Rustically homemade"

Photo by Nicola
She Bakes the Cake

Let's face it.  We're all much harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else, and baking is no exception to this rule.  Look at Nicola's cannoli, for example.  Aren't they lovely?  And what is the best thing she can say about them?  That at least they didn't come out of a packet (as did the cannoli that her grandmother always brought to family gatherings and that cemented her reputation as an ace baker).  The brandy snaps?  Nicola says they "look more akin to a crocheted afghan blanket, rather than anything approaching lace."  See?  Way too harsh.  On the other hand, "the creme patisserie was incredible."  Never one to do things by halves, Nicola cleverly doubled the recipe.  (I wish I'd thought of that).  Not only did she not have to divide an egg in half, she also had plenty of leftover pastry cream.

Rosa made some of the most gorgeous cannoli you'll ever see.  Of course, you might not recognize them as cannoli, because the ends are cut off, they're filled with white chocolate mousse, drizzled with melted dark chocolate, topped lavishly with all kinds of fresh fruit, and then lightly sprinkled with sugar pearl dust.  Take a look--they're exquisite desserts.  And what does Rosa see?  Her beautiful desserts?  No, she sees that the cookies were too thick.

Rachel took a look at the recipe and realized that "the combination of a fruity, creamy filling and a short shelf life didn't seem like a viable option for [her] family."  So she decided just to make the cookies.  Well, not "just."  She didn't stop at cookies.  She also tried rolling some of them up, just for fun.  (Um, maybe "fun" is not quite the right word).  And some of the cookies that she rolled into cannoli shapes, she filled with ice cream. And she discovered that, whether rolled or not, "they go well with vanilla ice cream."  Like Rosa's, ice-cream filled cannoli may not be traditional, but they do sound good.

Catherine was clearly thinking along the same lines as Rachel.  She knew that her brandy cookies weren't going to snap in humid Darwin (it was raining at Rachel's house too), so she gave up on the shaping and bought some vanilla ice cream.  Catherine's blog is quite instructive--not necessarily on the art of making cannoli, but it's certainly worth a look if you ever want to make a brandy snap wreath, which comes from spacing the snaps a wee bit too close.  But it's a lacy, golden wreath that can be snapped apart, and each interestingly-shaped portion can serve as a base (or a roof) for a big mound of ice cream.  

Yes, perhaps none of these versions is quite what Rose had in mind when she wrote this recipe, but that's what happens when your baking children go off on their own frolics.

Next week:  I'm pretty sure you'll frolic when you taste next week's Monkey Dunkey Bread.

The countdown:  We are getting very close to the end.  I've added all the recipes that are still on the list, so you can see what we'll make each week from now until the end.  You may be surprised to see that we end with the Kouign Amanns.  "But wait," you may say.  (Jim did).  "I thought we started with those."  True enough, but it's such a spectacular recipe that I wanted to make sure that everyone, especially those who weren't with us at the beginning, has a chance to make these pastries.  Not to mention the fact that even if you did make them before, you'll have a chance to eat them again.  (It was that fact that got Jim to stop worrying over the duplication).  And of course, if you want to end with Luxury Chocolate Buttercrunch Coffee, well, it won't bother me one bit.  I'll just sit and eat my improved Kouign Amann (because don't you think that two years of weekly baking has had some effect on our skill levels?) and feel that all's right with the world.  A feeling that's been eluding me lately.


  1. Great wrap up! Ice cream and brandy snaps is definitely a thing.

    I love that we are ending where we started. (Conveniently averting my attention from the year I missed...).

    Rose must be due a new cook book soon?

  2. "Rustically homemade" shall be my new motto! I have to admit when I saw the Kouign Amann there was a bit of panic but you do raise a good point-they should be easier after upping our skill level via Rose's Baking Bible or at the very least, reduced the intimidation factor.

  3. Nicola's brandy snaps do look particularly luscious.

    I can't wait for the Kouign Amann either; baking or eating. It is a bit of a test of the last two years. I certainly couldn't be as nervous as I was making them the first time!