The other day I was sitting with a friend during her own food photo shoot for a international critically acclaimed newspaper, and she reminisced about the first food she tasted of mine over a decade ago. It was cheesecake which she loved. It got me to thinking I haven’t made one in a while. While I love to bake , I’m not a frantic baker as Certain Someone and I prefer the savory side . But every now and then I knock a dessert out of the park he loves, like my trifles or puddings. It’s no wonder he enjoyed this creation too. If you have some boxes of Girl Scout Samoas, obligatorily procured a few month ago from co-workers, some macadamias in the freezer, and cream cheese and eggs, this recipe is for you. Rather than use cream or sour cream in this cake I decided to add coconut to the theme by using Cream of Coconut, which is thicker and sweeter than coconut milk. Continue reading “Coconut Macadamia Girl Scout Samoas Cheesecake”
Above is a quick water color I did of some Bach sheet music my dear friend and todays subject Dr. Eugenia Cheng posted on her social media after her long awaited piano arrived from the UK. To see her joy reunited with it via Facebook was palpable.
I can imagine to be separated from it must feel like being separated from a loved one or even a limb. It’s a part of Eugenia. The piano was a part of her, that was across the ocean, as she settled into her new role here in Chicago at The Art Institute of Chicago.I met Dr. Eugenia Cheng a long time ago. I lost cost count of the years, it’s been over a decade. Eugenia was and is this brilliant mathematician, who loved to bake, listen to opera and classical music. We met when she became involved on an Opera board I was active in at Lyric Opera Chicago. One would normally feel intimidated by a Cambridge educated classically trained pianist and mathematician. But that’s the beauty of Eugenia, you don’t and that’s why book How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics is an international best seller.
I admire her dedication , passion and focus. You don’t see that passion exuded by anyone, as you will with Eugenia. She has weekly salon called Liederstube where other like minded souls can congregate and create more beauty through song.
Eugenia inspires you and makes terrifying subjects fun and interesting, whether it be baking or math. Did you catch her on Stephen Colbert breaking down Puff Pastry?
1) What food makes you happy?
Almost all food makes me happy! But especially chocolate, very dark chocolate that I make from unroasted ingredients. I eat it first thing in the morning every single day – that’s my only food rule.
2) What food makes you cringe?
Tripe. I’m shuddering even just typing the word. Tripe is a specialty of the region my father is from, and when I went to visit as a child everyone kept giving me tripe to eat as a “special treat”. I discovered that if I held my breath while eating it then I wouldn’t taste anything, but that didn’t stop me from feeling the texture on my tongue…
3) What music do you like to listen to or hum when you cook or bake?
I don’t usually listen to music when I cook as I find it distracting, but if I need to do something for a certain number of minutes sometimes I’ll sing a particular song that I know takes that number of minutes. I went through a phase of singing Strauss’s “Befreit” while whisking egg whites, for example. At Christmas when I’m roasting my goose I will put on Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. I’m liable to gesticulate to the music though, and this can scare my guests when I start gesticulating while wielding a cleaver.
4) Tell me about a culinary goal? A dish you want attempt, a book you want to write?
I still want to perfect the making of macarons! It is driving me slightly nutty that sometimes they come out perfectly and sometimes they don’t, know matter how carefully I control what I’m doing.
5) Where is your favorite place in the world to eat?
Paris. Paris is a magical place for me where I can eat whatever I want and not get fat. I think it’s because everything is so extremely delicious I don’t need to eat so much to be satisfied, and stuffing my face there would seem like a waste of that deliciousness.
Like I said , she’s an inspiration. I only wish I had a strong female influence like this in my life as I tackled the subject of math. Check out her You Tube Channel.
Thank you Eugenia,
Well a New Year, 2012 , is upon us! Life has been good,but at times trying this past year. All in all 2011 forced change for the good. I can say I’m a sweeter peaceful place than I was previous years. The money may be slightly less, but the happiness is there, and I no longer feel my creativity is being stifled.I’m with people that value my work, talent and contributions. I’m blossoming. It’s the best feeling to have clients call you and want to pay for your food ans services. As things like universal laws take hold , naturally there is always some wrench thrown at you to see if you will halt in progress and determination. As I type this I’m waiting for the glass repair people to come for the second time in two weeks to replace a busted window on my new car ( which I purchased for the new job and catering gigs). The pathetic hoodlums can try all they want.I will continue dust myself off and pick myself up. In the meantime their misdeeds allow me to share with you a recipe that’s full of happiness and sunshine, while I wait for the repair guys. See… making sunshine out of darkness.
The other day at work I came across a doughnut pan by accident.It was fate. I had seen them but never put it on my list. Now that we will moving soon to a bigger place with tons of pantry space, I justified the purchase and got it. Certain Someone is moving us to the North Side. The next few months will be busy. Anyway I played around cake doughnuts recipes, but really wanted a yeast recipe that could be baked. I was led here and decided to use this , but baked. In hind site I see this idea of baked pineapple upside down doughnut would probably be amazing in a cake doughnut version. But for now ,we are going with the yeast version. I love this concoction because it’s not really overly sweet. The pineapple is finished with a torch for optimal caramelizing. With the yeast doughnut, the pineapple sits more atop the fully doughnut, whereas with the cake version, I believe the pineapple would have sank in more and imbedded itself.
Have you entered my giveaway for a Artisan Basket from Creminelli? What are you waiting for?
- For Topping
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 1½ cups light brown sugar
- 24 pineapple rings
- For dough
- 1½ cups milk
- ⅓ cup of shortening or butter
- 3 tablespoons of SAF instant yeast
- ⅓ cup warm water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2¾ cups all purpose flour ( may need to add a tad more if dough is really sticky).Should not exceed 3 cups.
- Warm milk in a sauce pan . Add the shortening and warm until melted.Set aside and let cool.
- In a stand mixer, add warm water and sprinkle yeast over it. Let stand for several minutes until yeast is dissolved.
- When milk shortening mixture is cool enough add to stand mixer, along with salt, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, and half the amount of flour initially.
- Mix completely with a paddle attachment until all is incorporated. Scrape sides down to aid in mixing. Mix for a few minutes.
- Add the rest of flour to wet mixture and continue to beat with paddle.
- Change attachment to the dough hook and mix until all comes together and pulls away from side of bowl. Knead for a few minutes until smooth.
- Finish kneading by hand .
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
- Preheat oven to 475.
- Prep your doughnut pan with a generous drizzle of melted butter to coat bottom of each well .
- Sprinkle some brown sugar on top of the melted butter. The brown sugar should get absorbed by the butter.
- Place a pineapple ring on top of butter and sugar.
- Roll out pieces of dough to about a ½ inch thickness.
- Take a drinking glass and cut out a circle.
- Take a shot glass and cut out the center.
- Reincorporate scraps bake into dough and continue.
- Cut out 6 doughnuts in total for first round of baking and placed atop the pineapple, butter and brown sugar.
- Refrigerate unused dough until the next round to slow the rising.
- Cover the doughnuts for about 20 minuted and let rise again.
- Place in oven and lower heat to 450.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden and risen in size. Dough should spring back when touched.
- Carefully turn over onto a sheet pan .
- Take a blow torch and caramelize the pineapple tops. The sugar syrup will reabsorb back into the doughnut.
- Repeat process with rest of dough. No need to clean up the baking pan , just continue to add the butter, brown sugar , pineapple and repeat.
Racism is a word a lot people want to avoid or deny. Most racism is insidious and just kind up creeps up and pops into place where you hardly imagine. As I walk in a Black woman’s shoes, my perceptions of incidents are my own and not always shared by my friends of other races. It could be for various reasons, they don’t believe it , or don’t want to believe it.
For example, a few years ago I was at a dinner party consisting of a crowd of those in the medical profession, scholars and attorneys. A normal crowd for me and one in which I grew up in. Anyway I was having a discussion with a so called liberal woman ( the type who find you find in Evanston or Hyde Park near the universities) as she grilled me with the usual questions:
- How I knew the couple? (What you went to school with them?)
- Where my accent came from (because I don’t have one.)
- Who my people where (smile)
- Where I work, what do I do
…and a whole bunch more of the kind of questions you get when a so called liberal can’t figure you out because you don’t fit their perceived stereotypes.We were talking about Opera ,and she assumed my association with it was that I was a singer, not a patron of the arts or leader of a junior board. At the end of our conversation she said…brace yourself… “You’ll go far Blackbird”. I was shocked and appalled because she just threw it in like a Molotov Cocktail in a genteel club. Out of no where and totally from left field. The polite private school, educated in Europe woman,I am didn’t go off on the woman but excused myself and immediately told my host and friends, who did not believe me and were dismissive. One even said she was trying to make a compliment.That incident was jarring and revealed a lot to me about my so called friends at the time and society. See I grew up sheltered in a predominantly white society and my Mommy always warned me, but I was to naive to see some things. Nor did I want to.Because who wants to actively search for the ugly aspects of life?
So it doesn’t surprise me, yet I’m still surprised ,that the Duncan Hines Incident barely made a ripple on the internet. I have seen more outrage and commotion over a top bloggers mistreatment or slight, a medieval pie recipe being plagiarized with snark retorts, a poor lunch served at a major conference, or a shortage of canned pumpkin in the Fall. When my journalist friend sent me the link to this insulting video on Twitter, I was appalled. I forwarded it to others and posted it to my fan page. Barely a murmur. The only ones indignant where my friends Bren, Chrystal, and my journalist friend who showed me. The one thing we all have in common besides writing, love for food, is that we are educated influential Black women.
A hot shot Chicago ( don’t get me started on Chicago’s racial divides) director named Josh Binder, no stranger to controversial ads ,conceived this Black face parody for Duncan Hines of Hip Hop cupcakes dancing to what is most definitely NOT Hip Hop music. Harmless, fun with baking ?An ode to modern culture? I think not. The derogatory signs are blaring.
Why bring Hip Hop into the equation? There is nothing Hip Hop about it.
Can’t chocolate glaze be shown another way?
Why not show the lone Vanilla cupcake dancing too?
Why is the lone vanilla cupcake singing off key?What it’s not Hip Hop enough?
Why are the eyes and lips pronounced like the most stereotypical derogatory offensive images of Blacks that have plagued us since slavery?
As someone in sales management , I ask what marketing and leadership teams teams allowed this minstrel show to pass through the endless meetings and planning stages? Where there no self respecting African Americans or other minorities on the Duncan Hines or advertising teams or were they just to intimidated to speak up? Duncan Hines has pulled the Amazing Glazes Video from You Tube but you can still see it on various sites. Finally their management saw Amazing Glazes Chocolate Cupcakes going Hip Hop wasn’t so wise .They realized African Americans have huge buying power and don’t want a negative fiscal impact, especially with the peak holiday baking . A few sites such as Huffington Post and others who have the clip ,carry comments and polls showing most people don’t feel the ad was racist. This country is so politically and racially divided that some of the comments I saw left a nasty after taste in my mouth.
What do you think? In my opinion Duncan Hines and Pinnacle Foods can take it’s minstrel show and Kiss My Brownie. Ironically Pinnacle Foods Group also owns Aunt Jemima , who has been transformed from the most demeaning do ragged Mammy type image, into a modern day homemaker with relaxed hair.No matter how you dress her, the hurtful insensitivity still lingers.
So that’s my two cents. I have a lot of things to post about right now that are more in keeping with the Holiday Spirit, but I felt compelled to write this. Agree or disagree, but this is how I see it as a Black woman. It’s shameful and sad because while I have far evolved in my baking from the box mixes, I remember learning how to bake with Duncan Hines products.Please check out my other fellow Brown Bloggers opinion on this matter. We feel as bloggers of color we needed to say something, even if the rest of the food blogging community chooses to ignore or dismiss it as harmless cupcake fun.
Thanks for all the great responses.Most of it has been pretty positive and a few negative comments. The purpose of this post was to create a dialogue about cultural sensitivity in corporate America and the media, and that we have. As a result some other Bloggers from all walks of life and cultures have also posted their views .
I love success stories such as Kathleen King’s from Tate’s Bake Shop in South Hampton. Her fans are legion from Gwyneth, Rachel Ray and Ina Garten, who wrote the forward for the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook. From tasting the cookies,reading about her and Tate’s, I see Kathleen King is a perfectionist. Her baked goods are Americana, simply. For all the macarons, financiers, and elaborate tortes, there is a simple perfection in American Pastry that cant be rivaled. Tate’s cookies are crisp and buttery , and taste like something I would bake myself. And that’s what won me over.
Thumbing through Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook with a foreword from Ina Garten, I knew I had to make the Hummingbird Cake. I have heard of this cake only recently and was intrigued. A Southern favorite similar to carrot cake , but composed of bananas, pineapple,pecans, and in this particular recipe coconut. It’s a simple,wholesome cake that any banana fan,will love. I took extra liberty and added some rum to the cream cheese frosting , as these ingredients screamed for it in my opinion.
According to Kathleen…
“All the recipes in this book should take less time to make than it would to go to a store to buy a commercially prepared baked good…”
I am offering a giveaway for one lucky reader in the United States.Please leave a comment to be eligible.I will chose one winner from a random drawing by Saturday December 4, 2010.
You will have an extra chance of winning if you become a fan of Tate’s on Facebook. Please let me know on your comment here if you did join their Fan Page .
You will receive a gift box of Tate’s Cookies and The Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook.
All of my readers can use this discount code “cookie” until December 31 for 15% off any tatesbakeshop.com purchase.
Tate’s Bake Shop Hummingbird Cake
adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups of very ripe mashed bananas
- 1 8z can crushed pineapple drained
- 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (Angel Flake can be used if other item is unavailable)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
* I decorated my cake with ground pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Grease two 9×2 inch cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment.
- In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon , and salt.
- In another large mixing bowl , beat together oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
- Scrape down the sides.
- Add the mashed bananas, pineapple, coconut, and pecans, and vanilla.
- Mix well.
- Add the flour mixture, and scrape down sides to ensure all is mixed well.
- Divide the mixture evenly between both cake pans. Fill until almost full, as this cake batter does not rise too much.
- Bake cake for 40-45 minuted or until a cake tester or toothpick stuck int eh center comes out clean.
- Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes.
- Turn them out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Ice with cream cheese frosting or whipped cream.