TND – True Confession

April 10, 2013

unbaked bread

True confession?  I don’t really like most frosting.  People always look first horrified, and then deeply pitying when I say this.

What I have kind of always wanted to do is a blind taste test of all variations on buttercream frosting to see which one, if any, I like, so that I’ll know for future reference.  I suspect I’ve had all the variations on buttercream at some point in time or another, but without knowing which one I was eating at any given time I have no way to know if there’s one I find (more) acceptable.

There’s the classic American Buttercream which is mostly just whipped butter and sugar, sometimes cut with a little milk or chocolate.  I really only like bastardized variations on this in which the milk/chocolate to butter ratio is more or less reversed.

There’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream in which egg whites and sugar are cooked together, and then beaten until fluffy, and then a lot of butter is gradually beaten in piece by piece.

There’s Italian Meringue Buttercream in which you whip egg whites until stiff and then slowly pour in hot sugar syrup to cook the meringue, and then beat in a lot of butter piece by gradual piece.

Then there’s French Buttercream which involves whisking hot sugar syrup into egg yolks, and then incorporating a lot of butter.

The common theme to all of those frostings is the incorporation of a lot of butter at some point in time.  Since the way that the butter fat slicks the inside of my mouth is the part of buttercream that I don’t like, it’s possible that I don’t like buttercream of any variation.

This might be deeply tragic, except for the existence of cream cheese frosting.  Let it be firmly stipulated that I have no issues with cream cheese frosting whatsoever.  Red Velvet Cake is, in my opinion, basically an excuse to eat cream cheese frosting.  Cream cheese frosting will get me to eat carrot cake – which generally I feel occupies a strange liminal space between vegetable and dessert without being either healthy enough to qualify as a vegetable, or decadent enough to justify the calories of a dessert.  However, if you slather enough cream cheese frosting on to it I’ll take a slice, if for no other reason than I can then surreptitiously eat the frosting, pick out the raisins, and leave the cake.  What?  It’s cream cheese frosting, stop judging me.

Last night for my birthday dessert I was gifted with the sine qua non of all cream cheese frostings.  This is to say, peanut butter cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between layers of cake so rich and dense it was basically fudge, and then topped with a thick layer of ganache.  Now my parents who are freaks of nature and don’t like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter – I have no idea how I am related to them at all – will not think this sounds appealing.  Everyone else can be deeply envious.  I shall bask in the benefits of having a friend who’s a pastry chef, and the remembered glow of so much sugar I’m now actually a little hung over from how much I ate.

Beef, Leek & Barley Soup
Beer/Cider Bread
Cheddar/Goat Cheese

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Beef Leek & Barley Soup
In my defense it was flipping cold when I planned this week’s Dinner menu.  The fact that it was 72 degrees outside on Tuesday, and my office building has apparently decided this means it’s okay to turn off the heat in the building – which means I am bundled in scarf and fingerless gloves and running my space heater – is just a sign that it’s a New England Spring, without rhyme or reason and as likely to snow as it is to be sunny and warm.

Recipe previously given:  This is the Week That Was

soup in progress

Beer/Cider Bread
After the Election Night Dinner back in November I found myself with a lot of leftover beer, and since we’re not particularly beer drinkers I had to find something creative to do with it.  The internet came to my rescue and provided this super simple, super tasty recipe for beer bread.


You can make it – and I have – with pretty much any kind of beer.  I think the darker the beer the better, and a super hoppy beer might make it a little bitter, but that’s a personal preference.  You can substitute a hard cider for the beer, although it will give you a sweeter bread.  It’s fantastic in the Fall with a pumpkin beer + a generous hand with cinnamon and cloves.  For Dinner this week I made one loaf with a doppelbock, and one loaf with a honey cider.

If you don’t have whole wheat flour on hand, you can make this with all white flour, although I like the way the whole wheat flour plays off the beer.

2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups white flour
4 tsp baking powder
(generous) 1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
(optional – ¼ – ½ tsp of a complimentary spice – see below for variations)
4 tsp molasses
19 oz beer (or 1 bottle beer + however much water you need to make 19 oz)
1 egg, beaten
Coarse Salt/Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Generously grease a 9×5 loaf pan (I add extra insurance in the form of a parchment sling).

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Stir in the molasses and beer.  Turn the dough into the prepared loaf pan (it will be a very thick and sticky batter).

Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt and cracked pepper.  You can also sprinkle the top decoratively with other garnishes – I used pumpkin seeds for the beer bread, and some crushed apple chips for the cider bread.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.  Slice and serve.

Dobbelbock Beer Bread
4 tsp molasses
(scant) ¼ tsp cloves
Orange zest
– garnished with salt/pepper/pumpkin seeds

Honey Cider Bread
4 tsp honey
(generous) 1 tsp cinnamon
(scant) ½ tsp ginger
– garnished with crumbled dried apple chips (these burned, dried apples might work better – or you could skip them altogether, I actually mostly just wanted a visual way to distinguish between the two loaves of bread)

Nobody is dying of scurvy on my watch.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Okay, so my birthday is in December, but my birthday dessert got a little sidetracked by things like Christmas, and vacations, and absences from Dinner due to an out of town spouse, and Passover, and who knows what else.  We got around to it last night, and it was absolutely and entirely worth the wait.

I was asked me if there was anything I was craving, and I thought about it but couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted other than a layer cake that answered to the sobriquets ooey and gooey.

I got Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

sk cake

(pretty pictures nabbed from her website because hers are gorgeous, and I forgot to take pictures in my eagerness to hack into the cake (see below) – although it did look pretty much exactly like this, which is what happens when trained pastry chefs make dessert for you).

It is exactly as lethal as it sounds.

chocolate - peanutbutter cake


One comment

  1. […] And then there was a detailed paragraph about how weird I am about buttercream frosting (which mostly boils down to, I don’t really like it). I got the world’s most insanely decadent fudgy chocolate cake held together with peanut butter cre…. […]

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