I ♥ Pastry Cream

Whenever given the option I always pick chocolate over vanilla. But when you get real good vanilla, the game changes. Pastry cream is flavored with vanilla, and when this is made with real vanilla, you can spread it on absolutely anything and it will be delicious, also... I really like making it, I just need something to put it on.

I decided to use the same bun recipe for Gombo bread to recreate a pastry from bakeri. This is a really cute bakery in Williamsburg and whenever my husband plays soccer over there, he comes back with a treat- he knows how to make me smile. The bun is covered with pastry cream and a layer of shredded coconut. I had already made the buns (from the gombo entry), the pastry cream (from the pastel de tres leches) and I had shredded coconut (from the healthy granola)... SWEET.

However- it worked better in mind than in real life... all those tips I wrote on the gombo recipe, I didn't follow... thinking I knew what I was doing. Clearly not- the yeast was not properly activated, hence an more biscuit-like texture than an airy bun that I hoped for. It still tasted good, as I said before, pastry cream on anything is good.

For making these (properly), follow the recipe for the bun part in the Gombo entry. They still looked pretty... For the pastry cream, I used the same recipe for the Pastel de tres Leches.

After spreading a layer of pastry cream, cover them with shredded coconut- and done! 

Using good vanilla is key on the pastry cream. After overpaying at the grocery store, I placed a bulk online order. Now I feel rich, vanilla rich.

Yes, my vanilla is better than yours. And yes, I'm talking pastry smack! ;)

To get the most out of your vanilla, use the back of the knife to flatten it, this make it easier to split it lengthwise, in half.

Then use the back of the knife again, to scrape all the goodness.

Lucky me, I was left with more pastry cream, so I had to make something else to put them on... pate a choux!
(I'm saving that one for the next entry)

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St. Patricks gold rush

Happy St Patrick's Day!!!

Have you seen Gold Rush Alaska? Thanks to my husband, I got hooked this season. The show is about gold miners in Alaska (duh!) - it is somewhat comparable to the Deadliest Catch which I ♥, but unlike the deadliest catch where you see them find some crab (and many times a crab load), these miners found very little to no gold.

So for this St Patrick's day, instead of making shamrock cake pops, I thought this pot of gold would be a little different and cute. The gold in this case are mini M&M's and yellow sprinkles.

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Gombo or Soboro bread

Once in a while I get a massive craving for an old fashioned doughnut, my favorite type. I know it's very plain, but that's the kind my mom used to make, and they were delicious. Doughnuts are hard to find (or so they were) in Argentina; there used to be one Dunkin Donuts location we knew about- right across the street from the American embassy, where else? During each visit for our American greencards, my parents used to buy us a box of doughnuts to keep us quiet and happy while we spent what seemed like days sitting in the watiting room of the American embassy. Later on, Dunkin Donuts went out of business and left Argentina, and my mom started making doughnuts at home once every while. That was the only pastry type thing she made.

Gombo bread is not too sweet, and it has a crumbly top. They remind me of my mom's donuts for the not-so-sweetness, and... it's my favorite Korean bun. However my mom was never a baker, and I really wanted to try and make Gombo bread specially since I never baked any Korean breads and it was the perfect timing to share them with my parents while they visited last week.

Also, it happens to be my dad's favorite Korean bread (thou he eats anything and it's hard to pin point something as his favorite). He had never tried a home made version, let alone a warm one right out of the oven. It was gone in seconds.

There are two parts of this bread, there is a crumble topping on top of a slightly sweet bun. First, you have to activate the yeast in a warm milk and warm water mix, along with the sugar for the bun.

The recipe did not call for activating the yeast separately, but patience is always rewarded, this time with an airy bread.

Mix the flour and salt and make a hole in the center. Place the yeast mixture (yeast, sugar, warm milk and warm water), a lightly beaten egg and mix with the hook. Once the dough is starting to pull together, add the melted butter.

Mix until you form a dough.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it sit in a warm place for an hour. I placed it inside the oven, the pilot keeps it warm.

Meanwhile, make the crumble top. Cream the butter with the sugar. I made this bread twice last week; the first time I used regular granulated sugar and the second time, brown sugar. Go with regular granulated sugar.

Add the yolk and syrup. Scrape the bowl and add the flour and baking powder. 

Mix it just until all the ingredients are incorporated, don't over-mix. Otherwise, it'll become like a cookie dough. If that happens, just break it apart with your fingers. Set aside.

After an hour, punch out the dough and divide in 8 pieces.

Dip each bun in water and then place the crumble topping on top. The water will act as glue for the crumble topping.

Repeat with each one, flattening the bun.

The more crumble topping you put, the better. Use all the crumble topping you've made. Divide it equally among the buns.

Cover with a damp cloth, and let them sit for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven at 350F.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy! 

Gombo bread

For the bun:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of dry instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of warm milk
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter (melted and cooled)

For the Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (room temp)
  •  1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
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♥♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥♥

After a long day of walking in Granada during our honeymoon, we got caught between meals- it was too early for dinner and we didn't want to spoil our appetites with a large snack, but I was in serious need of food. We retraced our steps to this tiny bakery we had passed by earlier, and it was a great call.

I instantly fell in love with this place. It was in AlbaicĂ­ aka the Muslim quarter. This area is known for its narrow winding streets, so I couldn't stop thinking about how they bring all their fresh ingredients everyday into their shop, clearly cars don't fit... and I complain about my fifth floor walk up when I come from the grocery store- these people are amazing.

They had all sorts of baked goods, among many things we got a slice of torta de Santiago. This is a very traditional Spanish almond cake. I love all things almond, so this was the perfect snack for me.

I've been wanting to make this cake, so I've been reading up on it. I've learned that the traditional torta de Santiago, is a very simple, flour-less basic cake- PERFECT! The ingredients are super simple: eggs, and equal parts sugar and ground almonds (so use a scale if you have one). That's it! and a bit of cinnamon and salt to enhance flavors. This is more of a tea cake and what makes it "Santiago" is the traditional cross mold for the powdered sugar on top. Since it's Valentine's day. I made it for my marido with a heart instead.... awww

So here, make this (recipe follows).

In a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and slowly add the sugar.

When incorporated and airy, add the salt and the cinnamon

Fold in the ground almonds by hand. 

Once incorporated, pour batter into a 9" pan and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown at 325 degrees.

Let it cool in a rack and once cool...

Place a paper cut out (or in my case a cookie cutter) to use as a mold and dust with powdered sugar. If you want to make a traditional Torta de Santiago, you can print and cut out this traditional mold.

Enjoy, and Feliz dia de los enamorados! ♥

Torta de Santiago:
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 250 gr or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 250 gr or 1 1/4 cup of ground almonds
  • powdered sugar for dusting
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Healthy yummy granola break

For Christmas, I made some of this granola for my father in law, he's very health conscious so this was a yummy and healthy treat for him. It's also super easy to make, thou I burnt it the first time... oopsy poopsy.

It's so ridiculously easy that you can figure it out by looking at the pics.

The final product. Keep in air-tight container and enjoy!

Mix 4 cups of rolled oats, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

In a smaller bowl mix 1/3 cup of veggie oil, 1/3 cup of honey and 1/3 cup of apple juice. Once combined, pour over the oats and mix until everything is coated wet.

Use good honey. Let it Bee honey is delicious, local and it was a gift from my friend's boyfriend's family who own the company. Check out the natural benefits of eating local honey. Bye bye allergies.

Divide and spread in even layers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, and add the chopped nuts. Then bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown. Once you pulled it out of the oven, add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries.

  • 4 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup of chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cups of honey
  • 1/3 cup of veggie oil
  • 1/3 cup of apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
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Pastel de Tres Leches

According to wikipedia, the three milks in this cake are evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. I made it with three different milks: coconut milk, dulce de leche and good old cow's milk. This is one of the most complex recipes I have posted, but if you want to try something different, impress someone and have a recipe that will challenge you, make this. It's not hard to make, but it's time consuming and has several steps.

While working at the restaurant, one of my weekly duties was making a princess cake which is a sponge cake filled with diplomat cream, a thin layer of raspberry preserves, fresh raspberries, a thick domed layer of whipped cream covered with a green colored marzipan. This cake is delicious, and when I found a recipe for a tres leches cake with diplomat cream and dulce de leche, I was sold. Also- it happened to be my husband's birthday, so... perfect!

First, the sponge cake. This sponge cake was really easy to make. Make a dwell with sifted flour, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, baking powder, salt and the ground nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks, veggie oil, coconut milk (unsweetened) and water.

Pour the wet mixture and whip by hand for about a minute until smooth and lumps free.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of the cream of tartar, or 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice and add the rest of the sugar (1/4 cup) after the whites are frothy. If you don't have an electric mixer, this will replace your daily work out, so get whipping. Once you've formed peaks, fold them into the wet mixture. For this recipe, you'll have 4 left over yolks. I saved them and made home made ice cream, which was a great addition for the cake.

Place them in two parchment lined 9" spring forms. I lined the edges as well, so I wouldn't have to clean the oven in case they rose too much. 

Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool completely on cooling racks and unmold them after cooled.

I wrapped the cakes with plastic wrap and placed them in the fridge overnight. It's a lot easier to cut them into layers when cold.

Second, is the syrup. The tres leches cake is known for being soaked, so this will the syrup that will do that for you. The syrup is super easy, just place coconut milk,sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan and bring it just to a boil, remove from heat after that.

Cut the cake into layers and have them waiting in the fridge while you work on the diplomat cream.

Third is the diplomat cream, the diplomat cream is pastry cream with whipped cream and unflavored gelatin to stabilize it. The pastry cream is where the second milk comes in.

I used vanilla extract but if you can get a vanilla bean, this will be well worth it. Cut the vanilla bean length wise and scrape the beans with the back of the knife and place them in a saucepan with the milk and salt. While the milk is warming, beat the eggs with the cornstarch and sugar.

Bring the milk right below boiling point and pour or ladle it over the egg mixture.

Whisk constantly while pouring the milk so that you don't end up with scrambled eggs. This method is called tempering; you're pretty much introducing the hot ingredient to the eggs slowly, so the heat doesn't cook the eggs right away. This is done for most custards and ice creams. Pour the egg mixture now with the milk back to the saucepan, whisking again.

Whisk constantly over medium heat. The cornstarch will start cooking and the mixture thickening. Once the mixture comes to a boil, keep whisking for another minute over the stove, and remove from heat. It is very important you don't stop whisking, so even after removing from the heat, don't stop.

Add the butter, and incorporate it. Don't stop whisking, this will melt the butter. After the butter is melted, pour the pastry cream onto a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the plastic wrap is in contact with the pastry cream, otherwise, the pastry cream will create skin, and nobody likes that.

Now you have the pastry cream ready. Mine is not as pretty as it could be, when you use the vanilla bean, the black spots will make it a lot more attractive.

To make it into a diplomat cream, you have to dissolve the gelatin on it and add the whipped cream. This is the trickiest part of it, I have learned the hard way. I messed this up twice in a day, and after I got it right, it became the favorite thing to make at the restaurant.

For the gelatin, you always have to first activate it which is to put it on a cold liquid and it becomes like a gel. After that, you have to dissolve it. It needs to get hot, otherwise it doesn't dissolve.For this gelatin part, while the pastry cream is hot, activate the unflavored gelatin with two tablespoons of cold water, mix with a fork and after it has gelled, whisk and melt into the pastry cream, and cover again.

Now, we have to add the whipped cream. If the pastry cream is too hot, it will curdle the whipped cream, and look disgusting- trust me. If the pastry cream is too cold, the gelatin will start solidifying and you'll find little gelled pieces, and that's not good either, it should be smooth. So, after you whip the heavy cream; you should only fold it into the pastry cream when is slightly warm to the touch. If you have a kitchen thermometer, it should read 35 Celsius or 95 Fahrenheit. If the pastry cream got too cold while whipping the heavy cream, put it over a water bath to warm, no microwave shenanigans.

The third milk, I just used store bought dulce de leche.

Now the assembly part. Line the spring form with plastic wrap over the edges, so that after the cake is assembled, you can cover it.

Place one cake layer and brush it evenly with a quarter of the syrup. Don't worry if you think it's too much, as a matter of fact this is where i made the mistake and didn't put enough of the syrup.

Spread an even layer of the dulce de leche

Spread an even layer of the diplomat cream. Use about a quarter of it.

Repeat until you use all cake layers. On the top one, soak it with the syrup, cover and refrigerate.

While it's cooling, whip the heavy cream with the sugar, and then cover the cake, using an offset knife, or a butter knife... and you're done. What better than rewarding yourself with a big slice of cake? Enjoy!

Pastel de Tres Leches

Sponge cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of veggie oil
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (i bought a can and it was the perfect amount for this cake)
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
 Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Make into diplomat:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of dulce de leche
  • 1 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 4 teaspoons of sugar for covering the cake
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