Sunday, December 14, 2008

Simul-blogging: rusks, cupcakes, popcorn

This weekend I made my way over to Victoria to visit friends. Zoe (of the wonderful Art Loves Craft) bakes, crafts and does web things, and I was looking for help with my nascent website (and by nascent I mean a grey page with a button on it. A pretty nice button, though.) and some quality family time with them and their baby, seeing as I am Unca Biff. I was also looking forward to baking and blogging with Zoe. Simul-blogging, if you will.

We put together a line-up of recipes to try: rusks, cupcakes and candy corn. Nothing fancy, though at one point I asked how difficult croissants would be. Time-consuming was the reply.

What are rusks, you say? Stale scones, is the answer. Dry, stale scones. Aka double-baked scones. Like biscotti are to coookies, rusks are to scones. And they're from South Africa.

Zoe and I got started, halving a recipe from Grate 1/2 lb. butter into 2 lb. self-raising flour (9 1/2 c.), then work in with your fingers. Add 1 tsp. salt and 1 c. sugar. Combine 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 med. eggs (1/2 of 3 large, doesn't really matter), roughly add to flour mixture. Work in about 3 c. buttermilk.

The recipes says to form into balls 1/3 smaller than tennis balls (an odd sizing, that). We tried that, but decided simple logs would work just as well, and it did; about 1 1/2 inches thick. Bake for 45-60 min. at 350, until golden brown-ish. We could have left them longer, I think, because they were still quite moist and not really crumbly like the recipe says.

Break them into chunks and dry out in your oven. (Overnight at 175 with the oven door open a tad. Seems a bit much. We're trying 225 with the door open and closed.)

Verdict: The rusks are busts. See Zoe's similar conclusion here. Partly it's my fault: I added too much salt. This wouldn't be too bad, except that there isn't any other flavour. Booooooring. If I made them again (though I wouldn't) I would double the sugar and add something with FLAVOUR.

Double-baked, and edible. That's a low bar to set. (Zoe's photo)

Right now Dan is making candy corn, with the simplest recipe imaginable: 1/3 c. Oil, popcorn... when it starts popping add (1/2 c?) sugar, then sprinkle with salt when done. Really, that's it. I'm skeptical, but luckily I only have a few minutes to wait....

Verdict: Crispy, salty-sweet popcorny goodness. Will definitely make this with Nina soon.

You can kind of see the cooked sugar.

And on to cupcakes: one-bowl chocolate cupcakes from Melt 1/2 c. butter and 4 oz. chocolate with 1 c. hot water; whisk in 2 c. sugar. Let cool; whisk in two eggs. Add 1/2 c. buttermilk, vanilla, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda, then 2 c. flour. Bake for 20 min. at 350.

Zoe made up a buttermilk icing recipe, and it's wonderful: 1/2 c. butter, 3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 c. buttermilk and 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a double-boiler. It's pretty wet right now, so we're going to have to add some sugar and cocoa I think, but it tastes divine. Could use some lemon zest (next time).

Verdict: A creamy chocolatey cakey good time. We added 1/4 c. cocoa to the icing, and it solidified nicely. I will be surprised if we eat dinner tonight after 4 cupcakes each... Edit: Dan made us fried-egg sandwiches. He's good for that.

Mmmm, chocolatey goodness. I didn't put sprinkles on mine. (Zoe's photo)

All-in-all, quite a wonderful weekend. Thanks, gang!

Rusk dough about to go into the oven: mine, Zoe's and the tennis balls -1/3.

Zoe whisking cupcake batter. Recipe online on the laptop. Sooooo po-mo. Or something.

Me whisking cupcake batter. Simul-baking. (Zoe's photo)

Small cupcakes out of the oven. I think you can tell; they were nice and cakey.

Zoe's better picture of the cupcakes. What nice composition. (Zoe's photo)

Simul-blogging: taking pictures for my blog of Zoe taking pictures for her blog. Blog-dorks. Blorks.


DiamondVVV1 said...

Those look sooooo good!

Brenton said...

Hmmmm, which item? It has to be the cupcakes. And they were.

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

We're so glad you liked the cupcakes! Come back and visit us again soon - we're adding new chefs and recipes all the time.

Editor in Chief

Brenton said...

Katie: Zoe and I agreed that the cupcakes could be a bit more chocolaty. I tried them with 6 oz. instead of 4, and they did improve.