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I’m turning 29 for the second time.

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

Yep, it’s almost my second 29th birthday.  I can hardly bring myself to type it.  On June 1, I will enter a new life decade and I would be lying if I said I was not freaking out a bit.

To make it more palatable, I am thinking about things that would make great gifts for, ahem, someone, ahem, who might be about to re-celebrate their 29th birthday. Or things that I want to purchase for myself once my birthday has come and passed with no gifts because my family doesn’t do gifts.

In line with my previous wish list, these are lovely things that are not exactly practical, making it unlikely I will purchase them for myself because I have to buy the un-fun things like a new toilet seat and energy-efficient windows. They are fanciful and lovely, like the previous wish list as well.

Without further ado, some things I currently covet:

This chandelier. Yes, it was on the previous list, but I want it so bad. I have made progress on my dining room and I’m dying to update the light fixture.

Chandelier

A marble mortar and pestle. This isn’t even that frivolous – I would use it a lot, but I definitely want a marble one because it’s pretty. Maybe not this exact one, but you get the idea. I would crush garlic and whole spices so hard.

french-kitchen-mortar-and-pestle

A lovely cake server. Can you believe I don’t own one already? Neither can I. How did that happen? I make SO many cakes and have to serve them with a knife like some heathen. A scratch-cake-baking heathen. Oh, the horror!

Cake Server

These pretty salad plates. Can’t you just imagine eating a jicama-avocado-grapefruit salad off of these while sitting in my solarium? Your mouth is watering now isn’t it? Mine is.

Animal salad plates world market

One (or eight) sheepskins.  I know I would get so much use of out of it, but every time I go to Ikea I am already spending $300 on things that I need* so I always put the sheepskin back at the last minute. I have some ghost chairs and dining chairs that are just begging for a nice sheepskin. (*Need is a subjective term. Duh.)

Sheep Skin

Some snail place card holders. Or some other equally charming woodland creature in a gold finish place card holders. For labeling cheeses and the like at dinner parties. Nate Berkus for the win. For like the hundredth thousandth time.

Snail Placecard holdersNow, I am can feel my father rolling his eyes, saying that we don’t do gifts and who needs more “crap,” but oh well. It’s my second 29th birthday and I’ll desire lovely and slightly impractical things if I want to. (It kills me to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s what you get when you quote Leslie Gore.)

Love,

Rachel

Mini-Cakes!

Mini-Cakes!

I made mini-cakes! They are adorable and mini.
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Here’s what I did – it was pretty easy and a fun way to make personalized desserts.

I made one recipe of my fave carrot cake (https://suitsandaprons.wordpress.com/?s=carrot+cake), and baked it in a 9×13 pan. Once baked and cooled, I wrapped the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour or so.

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Then I used a biscuit cutter to make little cake rounds. I cut all the cake rounds into two pieces. Each cake was then made with 3 layers – 1.5 times the thickness of the cake as baked originally. It is easier to cut each round in half individually than to try and cut the whole cake in half (into two layers) at once. Trust me.

I frosted these with lots of cream cheese frosting, chilling as I went so that the outer layer would harden. I added some marmalade to the middle for yummy filling.

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I also rolled some in party sprinkles.

These were so yummy and pretty. Very easy, and very fun. I served them in cupcake wrappers, for ease of eating and mobility.

One note: While cream cheese frosting is clearly the most delicious frosting ever, it does not harden like a true buttercream, which can pose decorating challenges. For example, it is difficult to pipe designs with cream cheese frosting because the shapes begin to melt, while piped buttercream designs tend to hard and hold better. You may consider just using cream cheese frosting for the middle filling, and using buttercream for your decorations.

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Another note: You may be wondering why I made mini-cakes instead of making cupcakes. You may think cupcakes and mini-cakes are the same. You would be wrong. The frosting-to-cake ratio in a cupcake is way off, in a way that really bothers me. Also, cupcakes tend to be drier, in my experience, since they are basically all corners. By making mini-cakes, you reduce the amount of heat exposed edges, which makes for more delicious moister cakes. Finally, I think fully frosted mini-cakes are more adorable than cupcakes, plain and simple.

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Now go make some delicious and adorable mini-cakes.

Love,

Rachel

 

 

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I FREAKING love Turkey Day! Oh whatta day! A day devoted entirely to cooking, setting pretty tables, drinking wine and hanging with good friends. Good golly, Ms. Molly!

Here are three things that I have already made on the blog that you might want to consider adding to your Thanksgiving table:

Rustic Pear Tart. Make this. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. My boyfriend’s favorite dessert, and probably one of mine (choosing a favorite dessert is like choosing your favorite child – or at least what I imagine choosing a child would be like, if, you know, I had kids).

 

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

This thing was WAY more than a pound. It was probably closer to 4 lbs of delicious cake.

 This thing is so amazingly yummy. Fairly easy to make and very impressive.

 

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Nom nom nom nom!

Rachel

Well, this is embarrassing…

Posted on
Well, this is embarrassing…

I set out this summer to learn how to make yummy Austrian food. I bought an Austrian cookbook even.

First on my list to make: Linzer Torte. A sweet, nutty pastry crust, almost a shortbread, holds a layer of tangy current jam, covered by a criss-cross of more pastry, sprinkled with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Sounds good, no?

Though I have not actually tried one, I know what sounds yummy when I hear it, so I figured that I am decent enough baker to undertake this task.

In my head, the results would look like this:Image

Being that I am subletting an apartment for the summer, I forgot about all the loops that one must jump through when learning to bake in a foreign land. Do I have the correct pots? When can I buy ground almonds? How do I say ground almonds? What is the cooking temperature in Celcius? Is the oven I am using true to temperature, or is it off a little bit? Will the fact that I am making a pastry when it’s 90 degrees in my apartment with no air conditioning affect the outcome?

I pondered these all quickly and threw caution to the wind. I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s like a pie, and I have made about a million pies. No biggy.

Boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I couldn’t find ground almonds, so I figured I would hand chop mine until they were very fine. I got them pretty small, but never the same texture as buying ground.

I didn’t let the dough chill enough because my refrigerator here was actually pretty spotty on the day.

I swore that I had seen a 9 inch spring form pan in the apartment, but in reality, I had only seen the bottom portion of the spring form pan, but the sides were no where to be found. So I used an 11″ tart pan that had seen better days.

I converted the degrees on the Internet, but this oven is an electric convection oven that is warmer/faster than my oven at home.

I was sweating buckets (not into the dough, mind you). The dough wasn’t properly chilled. The pan was too big. The almonds were too course. This porridge is too hot! That porridge is too cold! Wait… wrong story.

Anyway, when the evening was over, this is what I had made:

NAILED IT!

At least she tasted good. I doubt she tasted how real linzer torte is supposed to taste, but still, the butter, nuts and jam, it’s hard to go wrong.

I know this picture is going to be all over Pinterest any minute now for being so lovely.

They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Well, let this be a lesson to those 4 people who read my blog: sometimes even bloggers make mistakes. Shocking, I know. I still haven’t bought the correct pan, but when I do, I will try again. Maybe it will be better next time. Maybe I will redeem myself. And maybe not. I guess that’s part of life’s journey.

Yum, right?

Like how I turned this into some greater life lesson even though in reality it was me failing abysmally in the kitchen and throwing a small tantrum?

Mit Liebe,

Rachel

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake

That amazing Julie over at Willow Bird Baking does it again. This time it was her Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake. Again, my pictures aren’t as good as hers, but I think the final product was just as tasty.

This thing was WAY more than a pound. It was probably closer to 4 lbs of delicious cake.

I was in charge of dessert for Christmas day. Since I spent with Christmas with a bunch of people who were all at least 30 years older than I am, I didn’t mind that I had to spend a fair bit of time in the kitchen assembling this thing. Actually, it didn’t take that long to do, and it was SO worth it. Plus, there is something so therapeutic about baking – it totally calms my nerves, nerves that can get a little frazzled around the holidays. Plus, with a nice glass of Syrah, it really calmed my nerves. Go figure.

Look at all that maple-y glaze and toasted pecan goodness...

This pound cake was a huge hit. People were raving, and rolling their eyes back in their heads as they licked their forks. Always a good sign. The pumpkin and pecan swirls made this pound cake so much more interesting than plain pound cake (which I also love). It didn’t hurt that it was served with some premium ice cream as well. Because we needed more fat and sugar on Christmas.

I mean... yeah...

Plus the maple-glaze was so interesting and awesome with all the other fall flavors.  And when sliced, there was beautiful marbling on the inside (which I neglected to photograph since I was pretty busy stuffing my face dantily eating a small slice).

Pound cake and wheat grass: a match made in heaven.

I am pretty tired from a long day of thrifting (cannot wait to share my finds with y’all), but just wanted to finally post this and to send mad kudos over to Julie for this awesome recipe. Besides, the words don’t do it justice – pictures say it much better.

Love,

Rachel

PS. I am not responsible for breaking anyone’s New Year’s Resolution by posting this recipe. Suits and Aprons is a limited liability corporation. (Not really, but wouldn’t that be cool if it was? Well, sorta… Sorry. Bad lawyer humor is taking over. Must stop writing because I say more really dorky law stuff. . . . Torts. . . . Rule Against Perpetuities . . . . Sigh. Too late.)

Guitar Cake

Guitar Cake

In addition to having awesome friends that I make cakes for, I have an awesome bf who likes cakes too.

He is a musician, so last year I made him a guitar cake for his birthday. For his birthday party, he played a small and awesome concert for his close friends. Thus, the guitar cake was extra fitting.

The pictures aren’t great, so forgive me. Also, I don’t have step-by-step instructions. I found a used guitar-shaped cake pan on ebay (unlike the dog cake, where I used square/rectangle pans and performed surgery to create the desired shape).

Read the rest of this entry

Bichon Frise for An Awesome Friend

So, I have this super amazing friend, Jamie. She is SO amazing that she just got an awesome job offer for after law school. Soooo proud.

And she is cute: This is us together on her last birthday (warning – silly, self-involved photos are about to follow):

Jamie used to have a Bichon Frise named Chip. Jamie got him as a little girl, and unfortunately, dogs don’t live as long as people, so Jamie had recently said good bye to sweet lil’ Chip. RIP. (Fortunately, all dogs go to heaven!)

So I made Jamie this cake for her birthday:

Here is another picture:

The cake was chocolate. The frosting was cream cheese (what other kind is there? Honestly?). The eyes and nose are made of one of those chocolate calcium chews that I rolled into flat discs. The tongue is actually a rose petal. I made the fur by doing lines of frosting for all tufts of fur. It was pretty simple technique to use, but took a while to complete the whole cake. I don’t have any pictures of the process, for which I apologize.

Anyway – this post is a shout out to Jamie and her awesomeness. And a shout-out to Amanda, who came up with the rose-petal-tongue idea. And to me, for making an awesome, tasty cake. Both Jamie and Amanda are awesome combos of suits and aprons, though they are maybe suit-ier than I am.