Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Victoria Sponge, ROUND TWO!

After my first attempt at a Victoria Sponge, I waited until it was my turn to bake desserts again…then I declared loudly and proudly, “PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL THIS TIME. I WILL MAKE A VICTORIOUS SPONGE!” And so began my second try at making Queen Victoria’s favorite cake.


The directions in Paul Hollywood’s book say that you should beat the dry ingredients (equal parts flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and 4 tsp of baking powder) just until they are evenly combined. I think that my first attempt I took that too literally and didn’t get them combined well enough, so I turned on the mixer and let it do its thing for a couple of minutes until the batter was smoother, though the butter wasn’t completely smoothed out. I paid a bit more attention to spreading it into the baking tins evenly, too. Then I put it in the oven and did some squats and deadlifts.


I checked on it about 20 minutes into the bake and it looked like it was rising evenly. 25 minutes later it wasn’t quite even any more, but rather it looked as if it was rising slightly quicker around the edge than in the middle. I let it stay in the oven for a full 30 minutes, then pulled it out (hehe) to let it cool.

So they weren’t perfect, but they weren’t quite VICTORIOUS either. I let them cool and then made the whipped cream. I added a little Elderflower Liqueur to make it just a little more posh and Northern Euro-Exotic. Once it was whipped I slathered on jam, and then kinda stacked the cream a little higher in the middle to fake out the shape of the cake.

I dusted her down with icing sugar, and took a look. It’s way way way better than the first attempt, but definitely not a clear victory. I think this is just a Victoria Sponge, not a VICTORIOUS Sponge. I shall overcome this challenge.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Bakewell Tart

When mommyPrimate and I were watching The Great British Baking Show we kept wondering what the hell a “Bakewell n” was. They referred to a few different baked goods as Bakewell or Bakewell Style and we were pretty curious. When my copy of Paul Hollywood’s British Baking came in, we found out that Bakewell is a city. Oh, so it’s a regional style thing. Duh. Like in Korea they have Daegu Makchang, Jeonju Bibimbap, and Busan Odeng. Ok. I can handle that.


According to a skin-deep Google Image search, Bakewell appears to be a delightful city. Anyhow, I’m on desserts this week, and I wanted to try to make a Bakewell Tart. This meant I had to make a pastry crust. This intimidated me a bit, but after careful measuring, and a slightly more refined understanding of how dough comes together, it went pretty easily. I even managed to roll it out to the 3mm thickness required for the crust with no trouble, and put it into my tart pan with no trouble. I covered it with a bag of beans and baked it in the blind (so it wouldn’t puff up) for 15 minutes. When I removed the beans and parchment…well…


The crust had inflated a bit, next time I’ll just use more beans. A quick poke with a fork deflated it, and bam! No problem. I added the ingredients for the frangipane filling to my mixer, and a few minutes later I was spreading jam over the bottom of the tart, artfully laying in sliced strawberries (classic is raspberry, but I like strawberries better), and smoothing the frangipane over the top. It went into the oven looking a bit like oatmeal, but came out looking like this:

I set it in the fridge to chill while we went to see The Force Awakens, and after dinner it sliced beautifully. This is a picture of the first slice. Literally the first slice. I didn’t doctor this up at all. It wasn’t impossible to get out of the pan!

It tastes as good as it looks. Maybe even better.


Considering my first go-round with tarts was a complete and total failure, I feel pretty friggin’ redeemed.


Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: A forgiving Brioche


My dough was in the mixer, it had just picked up all of the dry ingredients from the side of the bowl and begun to slap the sides. I had read the instructions ten times. This was the moment to add the butter. I dropped my carefully measured, perfectly soft butter into the bowl and it began to incorporate. Then I reread the instructions.

5z3mhbzjnijkeThe dough was supposed to be kneaded for 6-8 minutes before the butter was added. I screwed up. It was going to be terrible. I was certain it wouldn’t rise. Certain it wouldn’t take color. Certain it wouldn’t taste good.

But I pressed on. Let it finish in the mixer, refrigerated it overnight, and this morning when I woke up it had risen to the top of the bowl, the butter had hardened and it was easy to shape into little balls. I had planned to serve the brioche at breakfast, but alas, it needed to prove for 3 hours.


I had yogurt for breakfast, and mommyPrimate had oatmeal. We carried on like good soldiers fighting the good fight. She went for a run, I lifted, and whilst lifting I tossed my brioche in the oven, expecting a disaster. But a disaster never unfolded. It was like this:





For the last ten minutes I sat next to the oven, watching it, periodically poking it with a skewer to see if it was done, and after about 6 minutes longer than Mr. Hollywood said it would take, the skewer came out clean.

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Brioche! #bread #baking #food

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Brioche!!! #bread #baking #food #foodporn

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So after such struggles, it came together. I think the dough may have been a bit glossier if I had added the butter at the correct time, but it still turned out very nicely. It’s velvety smooth on the inside, very rich and buttery, and golden brown on the outside. It rose so much in the oven that I had to raise the rack above it.

If you’re new to baking, I might suggest a brioche. It will forgive you when you sin.

I’m looking forward to trying it again, but in a different shape, and filled with chocolate. And again, with brie. And again, with nutella.


Lazy Man’s Wonton Soup

It feels like a million years ago, a lifetime away, and like it was maybe in a different dimension or something, but one time mommyPrimate and I spent a week in Hong Kong. We wanted to go to China before we moved back from South Korea, but not China China…the cool China from Kung Fu movies and organized crime movies, and movies in general.


See? I’ve been to Hong Kong. I drank a milkshake thing that had to be chewed in Mongkok. I loved Hong Kong. I wanted to move there. I wanted to be a salaryman for a big crazy international financial company and commute to work on an escalator. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but today something happened that made me think of those few days we spent walking the streets of Hong Kong and slipping into some greasy but Michelin starred restaurant for a big bowl of delicious.

I totally made the laziest freaking bowl of wonton soup you can make. Here’s how I did it.

I put a tiny bit of oil in a heavy bottomed pot, then tossed in some minced garlic and ginger and sautéed it for a bit, then added in like 64 oz of chicken stock and a couple green onions, and a little splash of soy sauce. Then once it was tasting nice and garlic-ginger-soyish I tossed some super basic store-bought frozen “asian” dumplings in and let them cook until they were at the “hahaha yeah right try and pick these up with chopsticks and you’ll drop boiling soup broth on your crotch idiot” stage of texture.

It reminded me somewhat of something I ate at Food Republic in Kowloon, but made with chicken stock instead of fish stock and you know, not quite as awesome. So basically, I cooked something that vaguely reminded me of how awesome Hong Kong is and how I don’t live there. Wah.


daddyPrimate masters the art of French cooking: Fricassée de poulet à l’ancienne

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Today I become a master #food #cooking #french

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For Christmas, my sister gave me a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I’ve wanted a copy of this for years, as it’s the basic cookbook. Well, when we were doing our meal planning for this weekend and next week I said “let me pull a recipe” and started digging through the book. I had nearly settled on coq au vin when I saw fricassée de poulet a l’ancienne. A classic chicken fricassee. Then Julia’s description called it a traditional Sunday dinner and I was sold.

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Oignons glacés à blanc #food #foodporn #cooking

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But the thing with Julia Child is that she will have two or three subcomponents that need to be made either concurrently or before you start on the main dish. This one had two, oignons glacés au blanc, and stewed mushrooms. The onions involved making a little bouquet of  herbs and stewing the whole pearl onions in dry white wine and butter for like an hour. IT SMELLED AMAZING.


The aromas in the house just got better, though. After lightly browning the chicken in a mirepoix it was covered with boiling chicken stock and wine, left to stew and thicken with flour, then the broth was fortified with the juices from the onions and mushrooms, whipping cream, and egg yolks. EGG YOLKS.


Anyway, I served it, per Julia’s suggestion on white rice with buttered peas on the side. It was DELICIOUS.

When we finally got babyPrimate started on eating, mommyPrimate and I were all like:



Because that shit was good. We’ve packed it up for lunches tomorrow. And when the microwave in the break room dings, I’m going to be all like:


That said, the art of French cooking isn’t something you can do every day unless you’re going to buy bigger pants, so it might take this daddyPrimate a while to master the art of French cooking.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Plain white loaf

After a week of cakes, it’s back to bread. I thought I’d go kinda no-frills and do the plain white loaf for sandwiches type of bread. So I opened up How to Bake by Paul Hollywood, got out my bread flour, butter, salt, yeast, and some water, and got to mixing, by hand. Once the dough came together I kneaded and kneaded until it had a silky outer skin, then let it rise for about 3 hours. After reshaping it, taking out all of the air, and forming it into a sausage shape I let it prove for about an hour in its tin, and popped it in the oven with some water for steam.


I haven’t cut it open yet, but it has risen. RISEN I TELL YOU. And it’s big enough for sandwich slices. I’m excited. SO EXCITED. I have made bread! TO MY OWN SATISFACTION!

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Victoria Sponge, a lesson in failure

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to make something out of my new copy of Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, and it finally arrived at the beginning of the week. The book is great, the recipes are laid out exactly in the fashion that I like and measurements are given by weight instead of volume. Wonderful. Since I’m on a dessert week, I thought I’d start with a cake that is apparently the quintessential basic-baker cake of England; the Victoria Sponge.

The description of a Victoria Sponge made it seem like something really special, and when I just searched for the image above (hahaha, wait until you see what MINE looked like) I realized that a Victoria Sponge is a cake-sized Madeleine! How delightful (it also means I got the texture right-ish!)
This leads to the actual baking. He (my good friend Paul Hollywood) said to put all the ingredients in the mixer and mix on low speed until everything is mixed, but not too long or the batter would tighten up as it cooked and become tough. So how long  is  long enough and how long is too long?
I decided to err on the side of too short of a mix. I put it all in my stand mixer, turned it on, and waited until I could no longer see globs of butter, then I put the batter into the cake tins and into the oven. It needed to bake for 25-30 minutes. I watched. I watched as the batter started to rise. I worried as I realized that it wasn’t rising as fast in the middle. WTF was happening? Well. It never rose in the middle.
It doesn’t look too bad when photographed from this angle, but from straight on, holy hell.

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Victoria sponge #fail #bakingfail #cake #cakewreck #lol

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LOL. It’s the most depressing looking Victoria Sponge on the internet. That said, it tastes pretty good. I need to try again, and do all the cream and stuff that Paul Hollywood said wasn’t classic, but this was a good start. Next time it will be a VICTORIOUS SPONGE.