picture of cinnamon popovers

Light and crispy brown butter cinnamon popovers.

I love popovers, that crisp and crunchy outer shell and that soft hollow center. When I was growing up Christmas would not be complete with out prime rib and Yorkshire pudding popovers. Recently I was looking over my enormous stack of holiday magazines  trying to see what recipe needed a bit of a change a new look for the every day cook. There was my answer on one page was a beautiful image of a golden brown mile high popover and on the opposite page was an image of cinnamon donuts- perfect! Sweet popovers, there is my twist.

Not only is this recipe easy to make, it tastes so good! The brown butter and cinnamon are so comforting,  I hope you enjoy this recipe it is very simple to make and can be done in about 40 minutes, happy baking.

Brown Butter & Cinnamon Popovers

Batter

1 cup whole milk

½ cup half and half

2 whole eggs

2 Tablespoons brown butter, cooled

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

pinch of Kosher salt

canola oil

Sugar Coating

¼ cup browned butter, warm

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Tools; blender, immersion blender or whisk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place your muffin pan in the oven at this time to heat thoroughly.

Add the milk, eggs and cooled brown butter together and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds. If using a whisk mix for 1 minute. Now add the flour, cinnamon and salt. Blend for 1 minute on medium high speed or mix by hand for 3 minutes.

When your oven has come to temperature, CAREFULLY remove the hot muffin pan and add ½ Tablespoon of canola oil to each muffin well. If you have a pastry brush, CAREFULLY brush the sides of the muffin well with the oil. Now quickly mix the batter again with your whisk or blender for just a few seconds. CAREFULLY pour batter into the hot muffin pan, only filling each well ½ way full. Place the muffing pan back in the oven and set your timer for 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN DOOR DURING THIS COOKING TIME! After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and set your timer for 12 minutes. Once the popovers are a rich golden brown, they are finished. Remove the pan and turn out the popovers onto a cooling rack, you may have to use a knife to release them from the pan, now pierce the bottom of the popover to release the steam and set on a cooling rack.

After the popovers have cooled to where you can handle them, brush the tops with the brown and press into the cinnamon sugar.

If you would like a filling I have included my Masala Chai Applesauce recipe. Please enjoy them immediately.

Chai Spiced Apple Sauce

8 assorted apples (granny smith, honey crisp and pacific rose are my favorite)

1 cup spiced apple cider

1 Tablespoon honey, local is best

1 teaspoon vanilla, vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean scraped of seeds

1- 1” piece of ginger grated or ¼ teaspoon dried ground ginger

1 teaspoon Masala Chai powder

 

Peel, core and rough chop the apples, set aside. In a large pot, add the cider and honey, reduce by half. Then add the apples, vanilla and masala chai powder, stir well place lid on the pot and lower heat to medium low. After 30 minutes stir well, turn off heat and mash apples with a potato masher to a chunky consistency. Let cool and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Pesto and a Memorial

 

pesto pasta

In my family, I have a countless numbers of cousins (over 500) some are older and some are younger, but I love giving the title of Aunt or Uncle to the cousins that have touched my heart, my Uncle Dusty was one of those very special people. Born Harvey Rhodes in 1918 he became the one and only love of my Aunt Patricia. My Aunt Pat is on my Mother’s side of the family tree, my Grandfather  (moms dad) was my Aunt Pat’s Uncle. My Mom and Aunt Pat grew up as “sisters” so it was only natural for my sister, Elizabeth and I to call her  “Aunt”. Good lord I hope that made sense.

My Aunt pat and Uncle Dusty

My Aunt Pat and Uncle Dusty, photo courtesy of family records.

Every summer when my sister and I were growing up our Mom would pack our bags and the car up for the long 7-hour drive from Ventura to Sonora, California. There, on Old Phoenix Lake my Aunt and Uncle had a 5 acre piece of land with a beautiful home, garden, boat dock, geese, ducks, swans, deer, squirrels and freedom. I could be so free up there in that red clay dirt and that tulle lined bank. There was not a summer that went by with out the fishing tournament or the canoe floating book reading parties but the best part to me was the cooking. My Uncle being Italian had many, many recipes but my favorite one was basic and simple pesto pasta. My Aunt Pat was the Chef of the family, she took his directions/recipes and gave every dish her personal touch and love.

1990 Sonora visit and the garden.

1990 Sonora visit and the garden.

Their garden was massive in size it had to be 100 feet long by 20 feet wide with this 12’ tall protective deer fence. Inside the fence grew basil plants as high as your waist 10-20 of those graceful and peppery fragrant plants grew. Next to those were the rows of good sweet summer white corn, on the far right side were the most beautiful rose bushes (over 25), my Uncle planted all of those for my Aunt and they were stunning. Through the middle section was the prize of the garden, the tomatoes: cherry, Roma, beefsteak and some wonderful heirloom variety. The job my sister and I were tasked with after breakfast while we were visiting was to get our garden pails and go harvest the tomatoes. As we were walking out of the house I would swipe the saltshaker and tuck it into my pocket. Through the gate into that garden we would go, we harvested tomatoes until our pails were full and when the heat of the morning finally got to us we would dump one of those tomato filled pails into our outstretched shirts. That empty pail was filled with water from the garden hose, there we would sit down in the middle of the basil plants and secretly eat the tomatoes and watch the garden snakes slither by. The procedure was this; wash the tomato in the water, sprinkle the salt on the tomato, wrap it in a fresh washed basil leaf and repeat about 100 times. Then re-pick some tomatoes and take them into the house. There was something about those fresh picked sun warmed tomatoes, the juicy and bursting sweet like sugar taste and that smell, the unmistakeable woodsy, sweet, fresh tomato scent. I can truly say a fresh picked tomato from the garden is one of my favorite flavors and scents.

basil leaves

Meanwhile in the kitchen, my Aunt would have the big oversized pasta pot on the stove bubbling away with a good handful of salt and long glug (her measurement) of olive oil in it. She would then add the cut angel hair or small egg noodle pasta to the boiling water. While it was cooking away the food processor was brought out and handfuls of freshly picked and washed basil leaves would go into the bowl. Warm toasted pine nuts sat in their bowl along with fresh crushed garlic, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. The blades started to spin and in went the ingredients- to this day there was never a recipe card it was all done by memory. The pasta was drained and cooled, then a bit of olive oil added with that a light toss or two with the pasta forks. Then the magic started to happen which always seemed to coincide with a  S.F. Giants baseball game being on the radio or TV. Small scoopfuls of that fresh made pesto were added to the cooled pasta and the big wooden pasta forks were used to toss it around. Next, a handful of forks were placed out on the counter, one for each of us. Throughout the day we were allowed to take a taste and add a little of this and a little of that, it was a family made dish. My addition was always more olive oil, my sister was more cheese, and my Uncle was salt and more pesto. After a few hours it was perfect and into the fridge it went. We ate that pasta for the next 3 days weather with breakfast; lunch or dinner it was a staple and something I always looked forward to.

The boat dock and lake view, sunset 1990.

The boat dock and lake view, sunset 1990.

My Uncle Dusty gave me one of the most precious gifts and that was his time. My parent’s divorce truly crippled me, I was 7 when it started and I was 13 by the time it was over. Just getting away and escaping to a place where freedom was the everyday norm healed and rebuilt my soul. On the lake at sunrise with my Uncle I learned the art of tying on a hook. I learned to trust and quiet my breath, I listened to the water, birds and that special sound an early morning crisp breeze makes through the long and bending tulle reeds. I also learned how to throw up over the side of the boat the first time I had to clean my own fish; hey I was 7 years old, forgive me. I was taught to fish only what was gong to be eaten and to return the prize winning bass back into the water because if they had lived that long and gotten that big they were important to the lake and not our dinner plate. My uncle shared the lessons of classic music with the great like Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Louis Armstrong. I think if there was ever one music genre I could not live with out hearing it’s the Big Band Era music and I owe that all to my Uncle. I learned how to keep score while listening to his beloved New York turned San Francisco Giants baseball games. You want to know something amazing? In his storage are binders and binders of hand written score cards for every game ever played, his father started it and he continued it- I’m not kidding every game.

1992, just in after a morning of fishing.

1992, just in after a morning of fishing.

Dusty gave big enveloping hugs and lifted you off the ground with them, that honestly meant more to me than anything, I was loved and safe that’s all that really matters, right? Nightly slide shows were shown, I traveled from China to Brazil to Kuala Lumpur to Italy to England to Hawaii to Alaska to Argentina the Bahamas and then to the Mediterranean- I loved those nights! I was lucky, I went to his Lion Club meetings and learned the art of making good Cioppino. It was all about the fresh clams, muscles, shrimp and white fish, wine, small wooden boat oars to stir the giant pots and all the tall tale stories that went with it, those were absolutely priceless moments in my life.

Every evening 5 o’clock was cocktail time out on the deck of the house overlooking the lake there I was schooled on the proper amount of bourbon or scotch to be poured over crushed ice and then the fun part!  My job was to insert the gas cartridge to the seltzer water bottle, bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles flowed in the water. For us kids we had our cocktails too- apple fizzy water. A cocktail glass filled with crushed ice, apple juice and seltzer water. I would prop my feet up on the deck to mimic my mom and sip my drink and watch the sun set on that lake along with all the days fun.

Pesto ingredients

This is a post I could let go on and but that’s where my Uncle will always be with me, in my heart, my food, my stories and somewhere on a lake quietly fishing the day away. Thank you for your love, compassion and lessons Uncle Dusty and above all thank you for always welcoming me into your home every summer when I was growing up, you just let me be a kid and play the summers away. I love you and I will miss you very much.

Cheers to a full and wonderfully lived 96 years of life Uncle Dusty!

Pesto Pasta

3 big handfuls of Basil leaves, washed and leaves plucked from the stems

4 Garlic cloves

¼- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, fine graded

Salt and pepper- to taste

½ cup Toasted pine nuts

½- 1 cup Olive oil

Set your food processor up using the chopping blade. Place half the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil into the container. Pulse this a few times, about 30 seconds, the pesto will be chunky, not smooth yet. Add the rest of your basil leaves and then pulse for an additional 30 seconds. Look at your texture if it is too chunky or grainy pulse a few more times and if needed, add a bit more olive oil.  Add in the grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. You can add a bit of lemon juice if you would like. Continue to pulse until desired consistency is achieved. Use right away or store in the fridge in a container with a tight seal. You can also freeze pest for up to 6 months.

Post Note

In a few weeks I will be traveling back up to Sonora with my Mother, sister and my two youngest children for a visit to Old Phoenix Lake. I will be taking many, many pictures and posting them here on my blog and my Facebook page. You will see my favorite candy store in Columbia, the little stores in Jamestown then the small and quiet town of Sonora, the college where my Uncle was the first President. The quaint museum that my Aunt and Uncle donated thousands of hours to, the small pottery stores, the unique mountain book shop- everywhere I grew up you will see. I feel its the best way I can honor him, its the best way to heal a very sad heart.

Pico De Gallo

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Living in Southern California there is one condiment I crave, I especially crave it during the summer when the tomatoes are fresh and plentiful. That treat is Pico De Gallo or Salsa Fresca, the fresh chopped tomatoes, crisp chopped white onions, jalapeño chili’s, fresh squeezed lime juice, a good handful of chopped cilantro and a touch of salt and pepper. Bring on the margaritas and a big bowl of fresh made tortilla chips, this has to be my favorite summer meal. Yes, a big bowl of pico de gallo some chips a margarita and a book will happily satisfy me.

When I make my homemade salsa I always try to choose my home grown beefsteak tomatoes. Their thick and dense flesh can hold up to the other layers of ingredients with out breaking down into a mushy pulp. From time to time I do experiment and so far the other tomato varieties I have tried are: Brandy Boy, Celebrity, Super tasty, Sweet Seedless and my second favorite next to Beefsteak is Early Girl. That tomato is a touch on the sweet side and when you are using a good amount of Chili in your salsa that sweet can help cut the heat.

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I remember watching an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats TV show that was all about the Scoville scale and how it is used to measure heat in chili peppers or spicy food. Sit back and be amazed; a sweet bell pepper is measured in at 0, jalapeño at 8,000 and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion registers at 2,000,000. YES!!! 2,000,000 you read that correctly. However, according to The Guinness Book of World Records in 2012 the Carolina Reaper measured in at 2,200,000. Back to Alton Brown, he tested all sorts of cool your mouth down aids such as;  water, chips, bread, corn and beer- ALL FAILED! The two that did not fail were a glass of milk and a glass of sugar water, now the next time you want to tempt your taste buds into a fiery rage or put your body into a bit of gastronomical hell ask for a glass of water and add 3 sugar packets to it and give it a good stir, then ask for a glass of milk too, you will need it. But there is a secret when you drink the milk DONT SWALLOW, just spit the milk out. The fat in the milk will carry a good portion of the oil from the chili thats now imbedded in your tongue away.  The sugar water, drink after the milk it will help the residual burn.

Here is a word of caution about fresh made salsas I am sorry to say, but between 1998 and 2008 the reports of food born illness rocketed and unfortunately, fresh made salsa was to blame. You need to keep this condiment cold so what ever bowl you are serving it in have another bowl under it with some ice and always throw out any that has been left in the bowl, its contaminated, throw it away please. Remember the potato salad sitting in the sun food sick story? Guess what it was not necessarily the mayonnaise- it was the onions and potatoes sitting there with their sponge like broken cell walls collecting air born bacteria and happily growing it in the mayonnaise because that salad was not kept on ice to stay in the safe food temperature zone. Lesson one and always #1 keep onions covered and cold all times once you have sliced them. Don’t believe me ask Mr. Google about the medicinal qualities of onions and how they have been used over the centuries to pull bacteria from wounds.

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Ok science side done back to the flavors of salsa fresca. In the past I was nothing but a purest; tomato, pepper, onion, cilantro, lime juice, S&P. However with age, time and creativity I have added ingredients such as; mangos, avocados, peaches, cucumbers, roasted corn, zucchini, mint leaves, basil leaves, shrimp, blueberries and the list goes on and on. This salsa is exactly what you add to your guacamole recipe, or grill up a batch of tequila-lime chicken then top this salsa over it and garnish with cilantro. Add it to a pot of fresh made white rice; add it to your Mexican lasagna or keep it traditional with a bowl of good quality tortilla chips. However you choose to enjoy fresh homemade pico de gallo salsa remember to keep it cold and if you can grow a few salsa tomatoes in your garden this season please let me know what you used your tomatoes for. I’m off to make a batch of salsa I’ve gotten very hungry all of a sudden and I just picked a few lovely bright red tomatoes from my garden this morning, take care.

Cheers!

Pico De Gallo

3-4 pounds tomatoes, large or small heirloom or not, use what you like

1/2 of a small red or white onion, chopped into very small pieces

1 small jalapeño pepper chopped, or more depending on heat preference

1 large handful of chopped cilantro

1/2 of a lemon juiced or ½ a lime juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Roughly chop tomatoes, onions, and jalapeño peppers.
  2. Add all ingredients to the food processor.
  3. Pulse until desired consistency.

Keep the bowl with the salsa in it on ice, serve with fresh corn or flour tortilla chips, enjoy.

Soft Style German Pretzels

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I remember making soft pretzels for the first time in my 8th grade home economics class. In my small cubical kitchen with the electric stove that took hours for water to boil, I honestly fell into another world of pure contentment every time I walked through that classroom door when I attended Anacapa Middle School. I learned to make muffins, cookies, breads, sauces, chicken cordon bleu, pasta dishes and my teachers family recipe for German soft pretzels. That class was such an escape for me, I liked school don’t get me wrong it was just that my time in that particular class was truly a foundation builder for me, I effortless earned my A+, my teacher had my full attention and dedication every day during those extraordinary 90 minutes. I learned that baking recipes should be measures in grams because 1 cup of whole-wheat flour weighs differently than 1 cup of all purpose flour or 1 cup of cake flour, I suggest you all get a digital scale and see just how different the weights are. I also learned that when making pretzels, fresh baking soda was key as well as doubling the amount called for. My teacher said it added an extra chewiness to the outer skin of the pretzel and helped to develop the deep golden color along with the egg wash.

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This past weekend I asked my family if they wanted to help me make a batch pretzels, my daughter, Paige, jumped up and excitedly did the “I’m going to help mommy in the kitchen dance.” Lots of butt wiggling, some jumping spin tricks too. Her brother, Andrew, took a pass he just received a new lego set and that was his center of attention for the day. My husband was thrilled; he’s a really good pretzel maker it has to be because of his German heritage. I believe soft pretzels have to be my husband favorite snack food; he loves them more than salt and pepper potato chips. His all time #1 nostalgic type pretzel are the ones served at Disneyland, they are in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Ok, I cannot lie I like them too.

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My Daughter also has taken to making pretzels like her father, so I am even more convinced it’s in her blood. She was rolling the dough out with her hands, stretching and lengthening it with every pass. Paige carefully took the snake like dough ropes and made the shape of the letter U to start then she crossed the ends over the required two times and then secured the twist to the big loop. Time after time she got a little bit better, she was in a fierce competition with her Father to see who could make the most pretzels- I’m giving the win to her, she’s adorable and she throws better fits than her father. I did overhear her at one point saying “daddy, I love helping mommy cook it’s so much fun” to which my husband replied “well, Paige now you can be mommies Sous chef, her all time helper.” She replied “ I like that and it means I get to be her taster too.” I’m blessed what can I say I have a mini-me.

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Here are a few tricks I learned from my teacher and I am glad to share them with you.

  1. Use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, the bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, which helps the gluten bonds develop. When you want a chewy or elastic texture this is your go to flour.
  2. Always double the amount of baking soda in any soft pretzel recipe. The average recipe calls for 2/3 cup in 10 cups of water, add 1 1/3 cup baking soda, it helps the dough swell quicker in the boiling water. It also dries the outside a bit so the dough browns better with the egg wash in the oven.
  3. Oven should be set to 425F (the extra baking soda is going to make it brown faster) and use the convection setting if your oven has it.
  4. Use Kosher or sea salt.

 There you go, secrets to an amazing soft and chewy German style pretzel.

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This time I changed the seasonings up a bit, on half of the batch I did the traditional egg wash with Kosher salt but the other half I used the egg wash and sprinkled my everyday seasoning on it. Talk about a different flavor but a truly wonderful one at that. Salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and parsley. That addition along with the baking soda’s acidic wash was unbelievable, I hope that you try it some time. I included my every day seasoning too along with my pretzel recipe. Grab some deli style mustard or make a smooth and creamy cheese sauce and enjoy the fresh flavors and surprising fun you will have making fresh German style pretzels.

Cheers!

Soft Style German Pretzels

DOUGH
  1. 1½ cups warm water (105-110)
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. 2 tsp Kosher salt
  4. 2½ tsp or (1 pkg) yeast
  5. 4 cups bread flour
  6. 4 oz melted unsalted butter
WATER BATH
  1. 10 cups water
  2. 1 1/3 cups baking soda ( do not double this amount, it already has been for this recipe)
EGG WASH
  1. 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
TOPPING
  1. Kosher salt or sea salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the salt, sugar, melted butter and warm water. Mix with a whisk until sugar and salt dissolve. Sprinkle yeast in water and give it a quick mix with the whisk, let set for 5 minutes. Add all the flour to the yeast mixture and with a dough hook, mix on low speed until combined, then raise the speed to medium and let mix for 8 minutes.
  2. Take dough out of the bowl and set it on a clean dishtowel. Oil your mixing bowl lightly and return the dough to the bowl, turning once to make sure the dough has an even coat of oil. I like to use grape seed oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place the dish towel over it, let it rest in a warm place in your kitchen for about an hour. It should be doubled in size.
  3. During the rise time, line 2-4 baking sheets pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Pre heat over to 425 F.
  4. When the dough has risen, lightly oil your work surface, turn out the dough and divide into 8 pieces. For large pretzels, roll out each piece of dough into a 2 foot rope. Make a U shape and flip ends of the rope across each other two times to make a rope twist and press onto the bottom of the U to create the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the baking sheets.
  5. To make mini pretzels take the 8 pieces of dough and roll each ball out a few times until you get a t 4” log shape, divide that into 3 pieces, roll each dough piece into a rope shape, make the U shape and flip ends of the rope across each other two times to make a rope twist and press onto the bottom of the U to create the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the baking sheets.
  6. Very carefully place the pretzels into the boiling water, two at a time, for 30 seconds; I lightly flip them over at the 15-second mark. Remove with a slotted spoon and place back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg & water wash then sprinkle the pretzel with your salt.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes for the large pretzels 12-14 minutes for the small pretzels or until golden brown. Watch carefully a golden brown pretzel can burn very quickly.
  8. Place on a cooling rack.

Everyday Seasoning

Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Kosher salt
  2. 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  3. 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Instructions

  1. mix well and store in a jar or zip top bag.
Notes
  1. A few other ingredients you can add to change up the flavors are: dried rosemary, mustard powder, cumin, dried basil or chili powder.

Pink Champagne Cake

The Madonna Inn's famous Pink Champagne Cake

The Madonna Inn’s famous Pink Champagne Cake

If you have ever driven US Route 101 in California near San Luis Obispo there is a kitschy land mark that has welcomed cattlemen, cowboys, cowgirls, brides, honeymooners and road travelers since 1958. Ladies and Gentlemen I am referring to  The Madonna Inn, I cannot remember my first time there but I can tell you I was little, maybe four or five. The pink walls, pink patterned carpets, oversized floral bouquets, huge crystal goblets, Swiss milkmaid waitress uniforms, pink sugar for ice tea or coffee, copper toped tables, copper salt and pepper shakers and then the Copper Café’s famous Bakery. With over eight types of cakes and the same number of pies this bakery has grown tremendously not only in kitsch but in the hearts of many who have eaten sweets from this step back in time bakery. Some of the newest additions are chocolates, cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats.

My daughter enjoying every second.

The famous copper top tables, salt and pepper shakers and pink sugar. My daughter enjoys every second of it.

However, there is one cake the Madonna Inn is famous for creating  and that is, the Madonna Inn Pink Champagne Cake. Three-lovely and feather light white cake layers all snuggled in-between a whipped almond flavored Bavarian cream and fresh made whip cream. The outside of the cake is iced with a  whip cream icing and tiny hot-pink colored white chocolate crumbles are pressed into that amazing whip cream. Then the ultimate cake topper or crown is stacked mile high, curls and curls of that same hot-pink colored white chocolate then those thick ribbon like curls have  a soft dusting of powder sugar on top. The finished cake resembles a beautifully decorated French hat box with billowing satin pink bow.

The famous hot-pink white chocolate curls.

The famous hot-pink white chocolate curls.

I could eat this cake all the time, yes it is rich, yes it is sweet and yes it is full of sugar, fat, cream and chocolate! It is worth every extra pound I have put on my body by eating it over my 39 years on this planet. I love this cake, I cannot express it any other way than just that, its a little girls dream cake always has been to me and it will always remain that way. When you take your road trip to the famous Madonna Inn spend time there, do not rush your visit. Go have a bite to eat at the Copper Café or sit down at Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House and enjoy a cattleman’s dinner among the 1960’s style pink tucked leather booths. Billowing all around you are the pink silk flowers, twinkle lights, Tiffany style chandeliers and if you can find her there is the little doll perched high over your head swinging away in her tree swing, the soft sounds of music floating in from the Silver Bar Cocktail & Lounge and maybe on a good night you will see Lady Madonna herself, Mrs. Phyllis Madonna. Ask her to come over and tell you her story about why her loving husband Alex Madonna built this Americana landmark.

Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steak House

Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House

I was just there a few days ago picking up my lovely 8” round cake (for a steal at $35.00) and I asked the young lady helping me, “is that fresh whip cream that’s used on the out side of the cake and in-between the layers?” Her response “Yes, on the outside and only one of the layers the rest are whipped almond flavored Bavarian cream.” Then I asked, “do you color the chocolate here, is it a powder color or a liquid?” She replied “I’m sorry I can not tell you.” Can you tell me if you make the curls and crumbles here?” “Yes, we do. “ “Can you tell me if it’s an egg white cake like a chiffon?” With a pause and a slight head turn she stated- “quite possibly”. That was it, I had the basic information now to drive home and get this sorted out.

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To date I believe I have introduced well over 150 people to this cake, my husband and my three children have been the best sports whenever we hit the road to travel north. They know that the car is going to pull over so I can have a walk back in time with my memories and create new ones with them. My daughter flutters in all the pink and glitter, my sons they like the downstairs men’s room. Why? The men’s bathroom is famous; maybe a bit more than the cake, it has a motion-censored waterfall instead of a urinal and when my youngest son was about three-year-old that was the best experience he could ever have at using the big boy potty. On average I loose my youngest son to that waterfall at least four times during our meal. I can promise you stopping at the Madonna Inn will brighten your day, you will have the biggest smile on your face and a good giggle too. Go get some cake, go look around, count how many colors of goblets there are, walk the gardens, sneak a peek at the waterfall and please tell Phyllis hello from me.

Cheers!

Champagne Cake

Light and tender white cake with a hint of champagne and almond.

Ingredients

1.    ¾ stick of softened unsalted butter
2.    1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3.    3 cups sifted cake flour (swans)
4.    1 teaspoon vanilla
5.    1 teaspoon champagne extract or almond extract
6.    1 tablespoon baking powder
7.    ½ teaspoon salt
8.    1 cup room temperature whole milk
9.    6 egg whites at room temperature

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and parchment line 2-9 inch cake pans. With an electric mixer or stand mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla, champagne extract or almond extract. In a separate bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with milk until all combined. In a clean, dry bowl beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. With a rubber spatula, add a scoop of the egg whites to the cake batter and slowly fold in, add a little more egg white and fold in, continue until all the egg white is incorporated into the batter. Divide batter between pans. Tap on the counter to level.
2.    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test with toothpick for doneness, only tiny amounts of crumb should hold to the toothpick. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes then turn over onto rack for 10 minutes. Remove pans and allow to cool completely.

Notes

Assembling the Champagne Cake
1. Take one cooled cake round and place it on a serving plate or cake board, spread a ½ inch layer of the Bavarian cream all over the cake but keep the cream a ¼ inch from the edge of the cake.
2. Split the second cake layer in half horizontally and place the first layer on top of the Bavarian cream, center your cake. Add a ½ inch layer of your stabilized whip cream keeping a ¼ inch from the edge of the cake.
3. Place the second cut layer on top of the whip cream and now spread a ½ inch layer of the Bavarian cram. Making sure to keep it a ¼ inch from the cake edge.
4. Place you last cake layer on top of the Bavarian cream, push the cake layers down slightly to level then smooth a good layer of the whip cream all over the cake and press the hot-pink chocolate crumbles into the sides and top of the cake.
5. For other decoration, you can add the Bavarian cream to a pastry bag with a star tip nozzle and decorate the top and bottom of the cake base. Keep cake refrigerated.

Whip Cream Icing

This is a stabilized whip cream icing. It is necessary so the whip cream does not slide off your cake.

Ingredients

1.    2 cups very cold whipping cream
2.    3 tablespoons sifted powder sugar
3.    1 teaspoon clear vanilla or almond extract
4.    1 teaspoon gelatin
5.    1 ½ tablespoons cold water
6.    1 ½ tablespoons boiling water

Instructions

1.    To prepare the gelatin, get a small bowl and add the cold water to it, sprinkle the powder gelatin over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the boiling water to the gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
2.    Whip Cream; place your cold whip cream, powder sugar and flavor in a mixing bowl use a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium high speed for 1 minute, slowly add the liquid gelatin to the cream and then mix until stiff peaks form- be careful, if you mix it too long you will have butter. Keep in fridge until ready to ice cake.

Notes

1.    If you choose to color your whip cream, make sure to add your coloring to the cold whipping cream before you start to mix it.

Bavarian Cream

Ingredients

1.    6 large room temperature eggs
2.    1/2 cup granulated sugar
3.    2 cups room temperature whipping cream
4.    1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
5.    1 ½ cup whipping cream
6.    1 teaspoon good quality (2 fold if you can find it) vanilla extract
7.    1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Instructions

1.    In a mixing bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick, about 3 minutes. You can use a hand mixer, stand mixer or whisk, keep it on medium speed. Stop and set to the side.
2.    Pour 2 cups of whipping cream into medium size saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over cream let stand for 5 minutes. Heat the cream and gelatin over medium low heat, make sure to consistently stir the mixture while heating to just below the boiling point, turn off heat and set aside.
3.    Back to your sugar and egg mixture, begin to slowly mix the eggs and sugar mixture, pour a little bit of the hot cream into it, ¼ cup should do, mix well. Slowly add a little more of the hot cream to the eggs, you want the egg mixture to temper or warm so the eggs will not curdle. Continue to gradually add all the hot cream to the egg. Once all incorporated, set aside.
4.    In a separate bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup of whip cream until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and the almond extract to the whipped cream. Gently fold whipped cream into egg mixture a little at a time until all is incorporated. Place cling wrap over bowl and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours and even overnight when possible. This will be thick, but remember this is a cake filling.

Notes

You can also fill puff pastry shells with this cream or pipe it into a small dessert bowl and top with fresh fruit.

Pink Chocolate Crumbles & Curls

Ingredients

1.    2 bags white chocolate chips
2.    hot pink food color
3.    whisk
4.    double boiler
5.    parchment paper
6.    spatula
7.    OR USE
8.    Wilton Candy Melts in hot-pink, follow the directions on the back of the package on how to melt the chocolates. When you have a smooth consistency spread the melted chocolate in an even layer on parchment paper and allow it time to cool 15-20 minutes. Once cooled break up into small pieces and keep covered until ready to use.

Instructions

1.    Double Boiler Method
2.    Heat water in the bottom portion of your double boiler, bring to a boil then turn the heat to low so the water is simmering, in the second bowl add the white chocolate chips and place that bowl over the simmering water, wait 5 minutes then slowly start stirring chocolate. When only a few lumps remain take the bowl off the hot water and continue to stir placing the bowl on a folded towel it will help keep the chocolate warm and the bowl will not slip. When the melted chocolate is smooth add a few drops of food color and mix well. Then spread out your chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool for 15-20 then break it up into pieces.

Notes

This is the youtube link to the video that shows you how to make chocolate curls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UA0opJ_coE

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