Pavlova - A Heavenly Cloud

A Pavlova Cake - yes, there is such a thing.   I decided I was going to conquer my hesitancy in making meringue.    So what do I choose - A berry meringue staked cake.  Yup.  Go big or go home.

I did do several days of research to figure out what exactly I wanted to do and to tweet recipes - of course.  I settled on a traditional meringue and a vanilla pastry cream - basics.   Topped it with fresh berries.

So the berries needed to be placed better - I just sort of piled them on at the end.  I have to say, the meringue was marshmallowy and yet the crust was crunchy.  The pastry cream was perfect, smooth and creamy and held up beautifully.

This is a keeper people.  

I will add the recipe later this week!


Milk Bar Birthday Cake - a keeper for sure

I had read countless bloggers posts and re-writes of The Milk Bar's Birthday Cake recipe.   Critiques run from being fabulous to overly complicated for the home cook.   But no one has questioned how cook the cake actually is.   I have been string at this recipe for well over a year and this weekend I decided to tackle it once and for all.

Here's my take.

It certainly is a complex recipe and if you want to have the cake turn out exactly as Christina Tosi meant for it to be, all ingredients are important and serve a very distinct purpose and all elements are essential components for the dessert experience.   I spent an entire week comparing various baker blogs attempts and their modified recipes to the original recipe as published in Tosi's cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar Life and on the Milk Bar website.   It is fascinating what someone will leave out or the order in which they will change the instructions.   My understanding is that most home cooks just wanted to simplify the instructions to make the recipe not seem complicated.   I get that idea.   I chose to follow Ms. Tosi's recipe as originally written and including all the so-called "specialty" ingredients required, like Grapeseed oil, glucose, and citric acid (just to name a few).  

The recipe appears to be complex because there are numerous recipes within a recipe needed.  Birthday Cake Crumb, Birthday Cake Sand, Cake milk and the Birthday Cake Truffles, in addition to making the cake and frosting.   I took my time to organize the process, prep my ingredients for each recipe and went about making the components first.

I baked the confetti laden cake and set it to cool.  I made the crumb and the Sand.   Set those to cool.  Made the Frosting.  Then set about to build the cake and decorate.

The cake is rather easy to assemble and with all your components completed and ready to go, its truly a "piece of cake".

So here are some tips:

1.  Organize your recipes and make a plan.
2.  Organize and prep all your ingredients.
3.  Use the ingredients as listed (and measurements given by weight and NOT volume).   It makes a big difference!
4.  Get yourself a 6 cake round cutter and some acetate strips.  They are definitely needed.
5.  Have fun and remember - the great thing about her cakes is that they are less about a perfect appearance and all about the flavors!  That is why each ingredient is so important! DO NOT substitute canola oil for the Grapeseed oil.  I found Grapeseed Oil at my local supermarket.  Michaels and/or Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's have glucose in the cake decorating aisle.  Citric Acid you can find there as well or at Williams-Sonoma or any other specialty kitchen store.  If not, Amazon.com has it and if you are a prime member - you can get it the next day.

Instead of posting the recipe here - I am just going to link you directly to her recipe on the Milk Bar website.   Be careful in deciding to use another bloggers recipe.  They have been modified, even slightly and I promise, it will affect the outcome, whether it is the taste or the texture or the appearance.   Christina Tosi has specifically crafted these recipes to be exactly as they are.

Christina Tosi's Milk Bar Birthday Cake and all it's components

I love this recipe.  Its worth the effort!


A Savory Scone from Wisconsin

Today was a savory bake day.   Recipe development is really fun, but actually exhausting.  We tweaked a savory scone recipe.   I wanted to represent Wisconsin in a savory bite.  Thus was born the Bacon, Cheddar, Onion Beer Scone.   The bacon is an applewood smoked bacon from Nuke's out of Wittenberg, Wisconsin.  The cheese is a Smoked Applewood Certified Wisconsin Cheddar from Red Apple and the Beer was Totally Naked from the New Glarus Brewing Company and even the butter was an Amish hand rolled butter from the Driftless region.  My goal is to find a locally milled flour, so for this recipe I used my tried and true King Arthur All-Purpose Flour.   I even made a maple butter out of Wisconsin Maple Syrup and local butter.

I tried both baking in a cast iron scone pan and on a baking sheet lined with a silicone pastry mat.  Both had their benefits, but I think what we decided was that the free-formed circle on the baking mat actually was the better technique and will deliver an almost perfect scone.

Taste testers loved the scone and I think we landed on a great recipe.  Now, we are going to practice, practice, practice.

Next week, Ill try a savory bake again - A smoked salmon and asparagus quiche and then well pick the best one to go with!


One Raspberry Tart and One Lemon Meringue Tart to go, please....

Today was a pretty successful day in the kitchen.  On the list to recipe test were an idea for a lemon meringue tart - based on Arlene's infamous lemon meringue pie and a Raspberry Frangipane Creme Tart.  

Raspberry Frangipane Cream Tart
I will start with the Raspberry Tart.   The result was pretty right on.  Need some tweaking - mainly in the pastry crust.  I think that needs to be tweaked all the way around as it was the same recipe I used for the Lemon Meringue Tart as well.   Will be playing with that over the next week.   The Vanilla  Creme Patisserie was just downright fabulous!   My first attempt at Frangipane was much more successful than I had anticipated.   It took me some searching to find just how fine I needed to grind the almonds, silly it seems.  Its always very difficult to tell if you have something right the first time you attempt a new skill and have no idea what the standard is.  Thank goodness for the internet and youtube, although you can't taste test a video!   I am on a mission in Madison to find a restaurant where I can sample a good frangipane and pavlova, so if you know of one - let me in on it!

So my self-critique on the Raspberry Tart -
Try a different Pastry Crust and make it thicker and travel up the sides further, so it doesn't shrink.
Frangipane need to be thinner.
Add a thin layer of Creme Patisserie onto the crust BEFORE the frangipane.
Cool the creme pat longer - as well as the entire tart.
Revamp the glaze for the berries.

However - I consider all of that minor.   The taste was spot on, so say the family at least.  There is still some left over - come over tomorrow and try some for yourself!

As for the Lemon Meringue Tart -  The lemon curd was perfect!   I will post a pic when I get the meringue perfect and change up the pastry crust!


Hello everyone!

It has been awhile since we have last posted.  We have not forgotten.  We have been so busy preparing to go live with the new website and are almost there.  Fortunately, we will link our blogspot blog directly to the new website (pluckyhousewives.com), so no need to worry about redirects or trying to find us!

We will be posting regularly starting next week.  There are some great things shaping up for Plucky and we want to share some of those special happenings with all of you, our faithful readers.

Look for posts on an almost daily basis.  We will be trying out and testing new recipes, asking for opinions and looking for you to share your ideas with us.  We will have questions and ask for input.  We want our readers to be a special component of the upcoming launch of Plucky!

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And away we go!