Saturday, June 18, 2011

Baking EXTRAVAGANZA with special guest star Adam

 What do these three recipes have in common (besides being utterly delicious)?

Country Blueberry Coffee Cake

Chocolate Babka

Cocoa Frosted Coconut Cake

Answer: all three of them were made in the last 24 hours by Adam and I.
Yes, that's right. Three marvelous confections in a day!

But let me explain.  You see, Adam is a good friend of mine.  Some of you readers already know him. And I think you'd agree with me when I say he doesn't do anything halfway. When we want to be responsible citizens, most of us just vote and pay our taxes. But not Adam. He joins the Army and goes to the United States Military Academy for four years.  When he feels the need to exercise, he does a half marathon. So when he wants to bake, he won't stop until every last egg is gone and the whole house is under a fine dust of flour and sugar.

Whew. It is exhausting just being his friend.

I was not the least bit surprised when I showed up at his house yesterday with my mom's KitchenAid mixer and he already had a big stock of ingredients, a stack of recipes, and a fresh blueberry coffee cake waiting on the table.  Because that's just Adam.

But oh lands, what a coffee cake it was. Definitely the kind of pastry to get you in the mood for baking.

I took a photo of the coffee cake recipe. It's a Paula Deen creation, hence the quantity of butter. This is as American as recipes get, so my international friends will frown at the requirement for canned biscuit dough. I know better, I do, but it's so delicious and easy!

The next creation, perhaps the most delicious, was the most time-consuming: Chocolate Babka. This is a Middle Eastern sweet yeast pastry. A basic bread dough filled with a chocolate/cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture, twisted and twirled within an inch of its life, and topped with a flour/powdered sugar/butter streusel. We got this recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (also found online here). It's great because even though it's involved, it yields three loaves and the dough can be frozen fully prepared for up to a month, should you want to bake at a later time.

I won't go through the whole process, as the recipe is quite thorough with directions. Including lunch (and dance breaks), it took us hours upon hours and I in no way stopped to photograph every stage. But here are a few shots anyway:

And the finished products (the third loaf went into the freezer) :

A cut inside:

Good grief. Who needs alcohol? I'm intoxicated from baked goods. This is literally the most otherworldly creation I have ever made/eaten. 

After that, we only put our feet up for a quick minute before moving on to tasty bit #3: cake.  Since today is Adam's mother's birthday, we took a favored family recipe and added a twist.  Three layer coconut cake but with a heavenly cocoa frosting instead of the traditional vanilla.

Adam's mom is definitely a Paula Deen fan, so the cake is another one of her inventions. We used her cake and filling recipes and Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting recipe.

Again, not going to go through the whole process, since the cake recipe can be found here, but just a few photos:

It looks quite flat for a three-layer cake, but the lesson we learned here was this: self-rising flour. Which we definitely did not have. While a little disappointing in the presentation category, I have it on good authority that it is still quite delicious.

And so the day drew to a close. I am not a taste-while-cooking kind of person, but I still managed to be just a bit slap-happy from inhaling all the butter and sugar particles floating in the air. And I learned a few things about baking with another person. You have to keep a tight rein in the kitchen.

At the beginning of the day, Adam was behaving himself nicely.

But then he was getting a little handsy with the dough. Tsk tsk.

I wasn't afraid to keep him in line. That's right, Adam, you were streusel-slapped. Don't you touch that again.

As a less violent method of discipline, I made him wash the dishes. There's a good little helper. (Jillian, take note. He has kitchen potential as your future husband.)

 All in all, a very good day. But I need at least the weekend before I even look at the mixer again.
If you try any of these recipes, let me know how it turns out! Happy Baking!

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