Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sound and Vision - Blakely and Lambchop

The Emptiness Left by a Denial of the Use for which it was Intended, Colin Blakely

I'm moving to Boise in late January, so I've been thinking about (i.e. dreading) this kind of weather a lot lately. This song by Lambchop (off their recently released Live at XX Merge album) makes me think of how warm and comforting I'd hope the inside of those houses are.

I Will Drive Slowly by Lambchop on Grooveshark

Monday, November 23, 2009

Molasses Spice Cookies, etc.

Somebody got me a beautiful new copy of Baking Illustrated for my birthday, and last week I was really in the mood for some kind of molasses-y, spice-y cookie. Lo and behold, I found a promising recipe for "Molasses Spice Cookies" on page 442. The Cook's Illustrated StoryTM that prefaces this recipe is hilarious. They explain how to get the "tooth-sinking" texture and just the right amount of cracking on the tops of the cookies, but when they go into how they perfected the flavors, they really get into it. I can't read this and not hear Will Ferrell reading it aloud.
A teaspoon of vanilla extract complemented generous amounts of sharp, spicy ground ginger and warm, soothing cinnamon. Cloves, rich and fragrant, and allspice, sweet and mysterious, were added, but in more judicious quantities. Nutmeg was pedestrian and had little to offer. Finely and freshly ground black pepper, however, added some intrigue -- a soupçon of heat against the deep, bittersweet flavor of the molasses.
Anyway, these are incredibly good cookies, and they're best served warm with some ginger ice cream. I have to admit, they were right about the black pepper.

Molasses Spice Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 oz) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/3 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 375.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  3. Beat the butter and brown/granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add the yolk and vanilla, and mix for 20 seconds. Add the molasses and mix for 20 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Scrape the bowl between each addition.
  4. Break off heaping Tbsp chunks of dough, roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, and roll in the raw sugar. Set on parchment paper-lined baking sheet with a couple inches to spare between the cookies.
  5. Bake until puffy and the edges have just begun to set, about 11 minutes, rotating the pan after 6 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

I also made a pig pickin' cake for my friend's birthday, and I used a good ol' fashioned 9x13 baking pan, not those fancy pants cake rounds. The ingredients speak for themselves. It was real good.

Y'all, today we're gonna make some peanut butter balls.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sound and Vision - Rousseau and XTC

Tropical Forest with Monkeys, Henri Rousseau

Rousseau spent his days off producing paintings like Tropical Forest with Monkeys without any formal training. To me, even an effortless, tossed-off XTC song like "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" seems as gorgeous and handmade as a Rousseau painting. It's from their 1984 album The Big Express, which was a return to their "big drum" sound after 1983's more understated Mummer (which has one of my favorite songs ever, Love on a Farmboy's Wages).

I Bought Myself a Liarbird by XTC on Grooveshark

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie with Crème Fraîche Topping

A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for chocolate pudding pie, and in the comments I found a much more complicated recipe from Bon Appétit. Guess which one I made?

This pie was exactly what I hoped it would be. It was cool and refreshing, especially with the tangy crème fraîche topping, and the cookie crumb/hardened chocolate crust was the perfect base. I adjusted the crust recipe a bit, since there wasn't quite enough of it as it was written. It also took way longer than 12 minutes to get the crust to that "dry" point, so keep an eye on it. As always, my preferred method of "finely chopping" bars of chocolate is to bash them with my rolling pin while they're still in the wrapper. When you distribute the chocolate over the crust, don't be as impatient as I was and wait a full two minutes before spreading the melted chocolate around.

As it turns out, you can easily make your own crème fraîche. Add a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream (both at room temperature), partially cover, and let stand at room temperature about 24 hours, or until thickened. Stir and refrigerate at least 24 hours before using. I made this at home, forgetting I had a carton of store-bought crème fraîche, but I tried both and they were pretty much indistinguishable. The cream will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup chilled crème fraîche*
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Bake until crust begins to set and no longer looks moist, pressing gently with back of fork if crust puffs, about 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over bottom of crust. Let stand until chocolate softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Using offset spatula or small rubber spatula, spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust to cover. Chill crust until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

For the filling: Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to blend in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using flat-bottom wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla. Pour hot pudding into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

For the topping: Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl just until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread topping decoratively over top of pie, swirling to create peaks, if desired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sound and Vision - De Chirico and Broadcast

Melancholy and Mystery of a Street, Giorgio De Chirico

For me, De Chirico's dreamlike paintings are much more evocative than the abstract still lifes of other surrealists like Tanguey or Dali, and more than just about any band I can think of, Broadcast can make music that sounds like a dream. This song, an homage to a Czech movie called Valerie a týden divu, is one of my favorites from their second album, Haha Sound.

Broadcast - Valerie

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blueberry Buckle

So I bought a bunch of blueberries thinking I was going to make another blueberry coffee cake, but I ended up making this one and I'm glad I did. After checking Cook's Illustrated I realized I'd never made (or heard of) a buckle, so I gave it a shot. A buckle is basically a coffee cake, and this was definitely the best buckle/coffee cake I've ever made. The blueberries, lemon zest and cinnamon go perfectly together.

The recipe only makes a little bit of dough, and I couldn't believe that a whole quart of blueberries could be folded into it, but somehow it worked out. It also took forever to bake -- more like 75 minutes than 55 -- and it could have gone longer, since the bottom was a bit gummy. I'd say give it another few minutes once a tester comes out clean.

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch table salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( 7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened but still cool
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries (about 20 ounces), picked over

  1. For the streusel: In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds. Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper round, and spray round; dust pan with flour and knock out excess.
  3. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl. Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Squeeze handful of streusel in hand to form large cohesive clump; break up clump with fingers and sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).
  5. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place upside-down plate (do not use plate or platter on which you plan to serve the cake) on top of cake pan; invert cake to remove from pan, lift off cake pan, then peel off and discard parchment. Re-invert cake onto serving platter. Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sound and Vision - Bouguereau and Scott Walker

Pieta, Adolphe-William Bouguereau

A few weeks ago I posted a Squarepusher track along with a Tchelitchew painting, and since then I've been thinking of other songs and paintings that go together. Bouguereau's "Pieta" is one of the most intense paintings I've ever seen in person. "Farmer in the City" is from Scott Walker's 1995 album, Tilt. The lyrics are from Pier Paolo Pasolini's poem, "Una tanti dialoghi" ("One of the many epilogues").

Farmer in the City by Scott Walker on Grooveshark

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shield Street

Shield Street

It's been a little under 4 months since I graduated, but despite the daily grind and almost total lack of job security, I'm still basking in the glow of not being in school any more. Every moment of freedom is like liquid heaven. These songs pretty much speak for themselves. They're about feeling stupidly happy and being free.

I love the guitar work in the Felt song and the end of Across the Shields and when Edwyn Collins quotes the guitar solo of the Buzzcocks' "Boredom" in "Rip It Up." "Bye Bye Pride" takes my breath away every time I listen to it. "Crew Filth" starts with almost everything I like, condensed into a minute, before it meanders into barely audible, nonsensical drivel. I like this image. After the big day, life goes on in its weird way.

I had a blast making this the past few months and am glad to get it out to my friends who still have some summer left to listen to it (i.e., nobody here in the bay area, where summer never begins or ends). Just unzip and drag the mp3 files into iTunes, and the album will organize itself as "Shield Street" under the "Mixes" genre.

The painting on the cover is "Support" by Sarah McKenzie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Peach Cobbler

My landlords got a big box of peaches from the farm this week and unloaded a bunch on me, so naturally I signed into Cook's Illustrated and searched for "peaches". They started with one of their archetypal problem statements:
"Bad peaches, soggy biscuits, and syrupy filling were just three of the problems we had to solve in resurrecting this simple summer dessert."
My peaches were a bit overripe, so I blanched them to speed up the peeling step, then I drew out some moisture by soaking them in sugar for half an hour. Combining a portion of the peach juice with some cornstarch or arrowroot and lemon juice thickens the syrup and brightens the flavor of the peaches. I made some very simple biscuits and placed them on the peaches after they had baked for about 10 minutes. I'm not the biggest fruit dessert fan, but I loved this cobbler. It's easy and flexible. (I had to use Greek yogurt, because I didn't have any whole-milk yogurt on hand, and it worked fine.) Next time I'll have some vanilla ice cream.

  • 2 1/2 pounds peaches , ripe but firm (6 to 7 medium)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • pinch table salt

    Biscuit Topping
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Cube the butter and hold in the freezer while preparing the peaches and biscuits.
  2. For the filling: Peel peaches, then halve and pit each. Using small spoon, scoop out and discard dark flesh from pit area. Cut each half into wedges. Gently toss peaches and sugar together in large bowl; let stand for 30 minutes, tossing several times. Drain peaches in colander set over large bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup of drained juice (discard extra), cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt together in small bowl. Toss peach juice mixture with peach slices and transfer to 8-inch-square glass baking dish. Bake until peaches begin to bubble around edges, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the topping: While peaches are baking, in food processor, pulse flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Scatter butter over and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl; add yogurt and toss with rubber spatula until cohesive dough is formed. (Don't overmix dough or biscuits will be tough.) Break dough into 6 evenly sized but roughly shaped mounds and set aside.
  4. To assemble and bake: After peaches have baked 10 minutes, remove peaches from oven and place dough mounds on top, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound with portion of remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool cobbler on wire rack until warm, about 20 minutes; serve.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sound and Vision - Tchelitchew and Squarepusher

Interior Landscape, Pavel Tchelitchew

"Dreaded Pestilence" is a song from a long-out-of-print album by Squarepusher (in this case, "Chaos A.D.") called Buzz Caner. As a collection of leftover tracks and sketches, it reminds me of Ovuca's first release, but with a lot more phase shifting and white noise. This brutal track is my favorite. You can download the whole album here.
Dreaded Pestilence by Chaos A.D. on Grooveshark

Friday, July 10, 2009



I've been wanting to make this compilation for about 8 months and working on it on and off since February. My friend in NC just had his birthday and passed his prelims, so I finally had a good reason to put some extra work into it. It's basically the opposite of the post-doc compilation I'll be putting up soon. If you don't like ascetic minimal house, you will probably hate this, but what can I say? I love it, and this sort of music constitutes most of the the "new" stuff I listen to nowadays. The little chime in "Catchy DAAD" sends chills up my spine. All the mp3s are tagged, and if you drag them into iTunes, they'll organize themselves under the "Mixes" genre as "Minimal".

The photo of laser-cut steel is courtesy of Elijah Porter (Yale School of Architecture) and BLDGBLOG.

An Antiquity of Imagination

The New York Times has posted a gorgeous slideshow of Venetian Renaissance sculpture currently on display at the National Gallery of Art. Articles like this are why I'd gladly pay $5 to access

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The State I Am In

Oh love of mine, would you condescend to help me
'Cause I'm stupid and blind...
I'm very close to finishing my post-graduation compilation (4 months now?) but was so struck by this that I had to share. I was a big Belle & Sebastian fan in high school (I know, I should have been listening to Bad Brains), and I haven't listened to them much since, but after hearing this song today I was reminded of how great they were and are.

Belle & Sebastian - The State I Am In

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's hard to believe, but I'm actually finally done with school. I did some therapeutic baking over the past few weeks (nothing makes you feel in control like weighing out flour and chopped chocolate) and the results were very good.

The first of two Cook's Illustrated cakes I made was a vegan chocolate cake. I'm not vegan, but I think vegan baking makes for a fun challenge. I've had some great experiences with vegan chocolate cakes in the past, and there is a glint of satisfaction from giving someone a slice of vegan cake that doesn't taste like Play-Doh. So I was excited to find out that Cook's Illustrated spent two months making over 100 cakes and 23 batches of icing to come up with something they could stand behind. As always, the most important things you can do when making a cake are to get some parchment paper, baking spray, and an oven thermometer and to pay attention to temperatures!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

For the cake:
  • 1 and 2/3 cups natural large-crystal cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/3 cup natural cocoa
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup vegan butter substitute

For the frosting:
  • Two 10-ounce packages vegan or other semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 4 ounces silken tofu

Cake directions:
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Process sugar in a food processor to a fine powder, 30 to 40 seconds. Sift sugar, flours, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, then whisk to combine.
  3. Combine cocoas and chocolate in a large bowl and cover with hot coffee; whisk until smooth.
  4. Combine coconut milk, vinegar and vanilla in large measuring cup. Place vegan butter substitute in a medium bowl. Add coconut milk mixture in two additions, whisking until smooth after each.
  5. Add vegan butter-coconut milk mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine, then add this mixture to dry ingredients and fold gently with rubber spatula until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
  6. Divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, switching position of and rotating pans after 12 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Frosting directions:
  1. Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Pour hot coffee and boiling water over chips, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in coconut milk until incorporated.
  2. Process chocolate mixture and tofu in food processor until smooth and combined, 10 to 15 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool and texture resembles firm cream cheese, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (If mixture has chilled for longer and is very stiff, let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.)
  4. Transfer cooled chocolate mixture to the bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip mixture at high speed until fluffy, mousse-like, and the mixture forms medium stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. To assemble, invert cakes from their pans. Spread a dab of frosting in center of a cardboard round cut slightly larger than a cake. Place one cake, centered, on the cardboard round. The frosting helps hold it in place. Using an icing spatula, spread about 1 cup frosting evenly onto the top of the first cake. Place the second cake on top of frosted bottom layer and spread about 1 cup frosting on top. Cover sides of cake with remaining frosting.
I made this for my belated housewarming party that ended up being incredibly fun, despite two of my best friends' (whose turnkey social groups have been invaluable) being unable to come. It was super dense and at least as good as any chocolate cake I've made, least of all the Grit's chocolate vegan death cake. A little labor intensive, but worth it, if only to put a dent in the Play Doh vegan cake hegemony. This is one of those cakes that's especially good chilled.

The second cake I made was for my friend's birthday party. Once I found out she wanted yellow cake with chocolate icing I couldn't wait to get to it. I've been wanting to make Cook's Illustrated's version for months.

Fluffy Yellow Cake

For the cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 c buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 20 Tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (60 to 65 degrees)
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar (4 ounces)
  • 3/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa
  • pinch table salt
  • 3/4 c light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Cake directions:
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.
  2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.
  3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.
  4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
  5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Frosting directions:

  1. In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds.
  2. The frosting can be made 3 hours in advance. For longer storage, refrigerate the frosting, covered, and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

There was another cake at the party that was almost exactly identical to this one, but I have to give it to CI - this really did taste like the best cake mix cake ever, and totally homemade. Here's a quick snapshot of the slightly mangled results.

So yeah, hi from San Francisco! We're having a cake auction next month at the office, and if I'm in town I'll probably be making something overly complicated.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Time enough at last...

In about a week I'll start cooking for myself, exercising, and doing other normal things that normal people do, because I'll be done with 23 years of school.

I did manage to make a cake a couple weeks ago for a new friend's birthday, and I'll try to put that up here sooner rather than later.

Friday, January 9, 2009


"Loss is nothing but change, and change is nature's delight."
Marcus Aurelius

This week I said goodbye to Durham to start a new job in the Bay area. Goodbyes have always been hard for me, and, as it is with everything else, music has been an important means for me to understand and express how much I'll miss everybody. I spent the past few months making a mixtape, and here it is.


If you download the zip file, open it up, and drag the files into iTunes, the songs will organize themselves under the "Mixes" genre as the album "Contrails".