Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Like fruits, vegetables, holidays and clothing, I think baked goods also have seasons. 

Bread-baking is definitely a winter and fall season activity. Kneading becomes a way to warm up rather than a vigorous, sweaty exercise, and the temperature is cool enough that the dough won't rise too rapidly, or turn sour and ferment (unless on purpose!). One of the most wonderful things during the colder months is turning on the oven knowing that you’ll soon have a fresh, piping hot loaf of bread. Pair it with a soup or stew and it's the perfect winter's night meal. 

Whereas I will rarely turn on my oven to bake bread in the summer, I will for pies. As you may have noticed around here, summer is for pies and all of the things in the pie family—galettes, cobblers, crisps, pandowdies etc... This does seem counterintuitive because you are turning on your oven and crusts and toppings are in danger of melting during preparation, but this is the season when summer produce is at its peak. What better way to use it up than in a baked full-to-the-brim with the best fruit. I will, of course, bake pies all year round, but tend to make them more in the summer. 

Read More

Pear & Caramel Pie

Pear & Caramel Pie

I've found a new pie that just *might* be my new favorite.

For a long, long time, I have loved Lemon Meringue Pie. And in most recent years, this yuzu variation, which is essentially the same thing but with a different citrus. It's the dessert I would make almost every time I would visit Popo. I would crave that pucker-y custard filling and fluffy meringue topping. I'm not sure what I did the last time I made it, or maybe it really is best eaten the same day it comes out of the oven but I have found that I am not really fond of leftover Lemon Meringue Pie anymore. Maybe I am not blind baking the crust enough or maybe I should try brushing the bottom with egg white? Has anyone tried this? But for whatever reason, the fact that the crust gets soggy/syrup-soaked in Lemon Meringue Pie no longer appeals to me. I dread it and in general I really love leftovers and have loved leftover Lemon Meringue Pie in the past. So, I have found that I don't gravitate towards Lemon Meringue Pie as much as I used to unless I know I will be sharing it with enough people to eat it all on the same day. 

Read More

Caramel Apple Scones

Caramel Apple Scones

For once, fall crept up on me this year.

It surprises me even more because I work in an industry where the mindset is always a few weeks ahead of the present. Oh remember that ad I designed two weeks ago with all of the fall produce? Well it came out today. Apples in the store already? Right, because it is now October.

Perhaps it's because summer always feels like it is never ending. Day after day is filled with sweltering heat and burning for several minutes in my car before the AC kicks in. There's the guilt whenever I bring my dog, Gus, in the car with me and I start to hear him panting. The trips to the grocery store where I berate myself for forgetting the cooler bag and hope my groceries survive the journey home. 

Or maybe it's because my August was already filled with an elaborate Thanksgiving photo shoot for work, my dad giving me an abundance of apples from his tree, and the leaves already beginning to change color and fall from the trees. Or that all hopes of September cooling down were crushed by days of 100 degree weather, followed by that one crisp, cool, rainy day and back to the 100 degree weather again. This is also the first year since I was 5 that I didn't anticipate going back to school and what a relief that was. I did have the urge to get brand new school supplies but really what for?

Read More

Caramel Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Caramel Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

This is for my little sister, Qiao, who turns 11 tomorrow.

In the last year or so, I've been tasked with teaching Qiao how to cook and bake.  My hope is that she'll get over her pickiness and be able to appreciate a wide array of foods other than fruit, rice, pasta with orange sauce, and sweets. If anything, I hope she has fun; even if she isn't all that enthused with the end result. On my part, I need to learn how to let her do more steps on her own and assume the role of actual instructor versus exasperated older sister who takes over halfway through.

My mom likes that she doesn't have to fight with Qiao about what to eat for a few days. I'd want a break from that too as it's slightly painful to watch her eat. First, she serves herself rather reluctantly; picking through the food and holding up the line. Then, she'll sit and eat for sometimes up to an hour. Often times, it's more sitting and moving food around than actual eating. I can't imagine what being a picky eater feels like. According to my family, I'd be the last one at the table because I was still eating more food. One of our many opposing traits. 

Read More