Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's the Details: Crown and Crumpet Review

It's the small details that make visiting Crown and Crumpet such an awesome experience.  I blogged about it earlier this week, and even linked you to pandippo's blog so you could check out my second visit there.  I raved about the lemon curd and the crumpets.  Oh the crumpets...

And now you get to see pictures from my first visit back in September!  An over abundance of pictures, at that.  You too will fall in love with it and want to go to San Francisco as soon as possible.  You'll want to bring your mom, sister, daughter, gay bff, mailman, husband, miniature schnauzer .  Because it is that adorable.

You'll also want to get dressed up in pretty dresses and take one million and one pictures.  Yes that many.

Crown and Crumpet Tea Salon is in the middle of Ghirardelli Square.  (Stop by Kara's for a cupcake, or get a sundae at Ghirardelli while you are there, trust.)  The minute you walk in you are hit with a wave of girly pink glee.  There are jeweled chandeliers,  floral table cloths, teapots and plates everywhere.

Their logo is a pink teapot in the shape of a teapot and it is plastered everywhere. Including the purse holder they provide for you upon request.  They sell these too and was so sad they were out of stock last time i went.

Of course, the main attraction is tea.  And tea we did have.  Three pots of it.

I recommend the Paris blend.  I had it both times, and everyone gave positive reviews.  But they have something like 5 pages full of tea options.  You seep it yourself.  And they have an adorable little teapot at the end of the chain.  See what i mean about the details???

You should definitely not forget to check underneath your tea cup, because the saucer is full of cute little sayings. And so is the back of your tea pot. 

"Gossip and scandal are the best sweeteners for tea" is the saucer that i ended up buying for myself as well.  But a close second  in the sweetener category would be the actual sugar.  Because they hide adorable little things in there for you as well.  Like a pretty pink crown.  

Seriously would could be better than spending an afternoon with the girls, gossiping and cheering to life with some tea?

Oh wait.  I just thought of something better.  All that PLUS food.

Did you just see that?  Three delightful little layers of small bites.  Light sandwiches in one, baked breakfast goods in the another, and sweet desserts in the last.  All three layers will be different each time you go, all are different from the table next to you. 

I saw my neighbors with cupcakes.  I was a little jealous.  I say only a little because i was too happy eating  discovering lemon curd to care THAT much.  They give you lemon curd, jam and butter. 

Just throw it on your warm out of the oven crumpet.  Eat it first.  Even before the sandwiches.  It's okay.  No one cares.  No one judges you.  It's expected.  It's encouraged.  It should be required.

Sorry to say, you will not be able to finish it all.  I know, sad.  And i mean for $26 bucks you want to finish it all.  But you will be able to hear the tea swishing about your belly as you walk anyways, so you will have bigger concerns.  (The bathroom's far and lines are crazy.  Pee before you sit down.)

But you can always just take some tea home.  Of course they sell it to you.  Why wouldn't they. HOW couldn't they?

Alas, if that's not in the cards for you perhaps you will be lucky and get a packet with your check instead?

You will save a buck.  Which means you can go to the gift shop and take pictures with a stuffed cupcake.

Or not.  That was probably just me...  I'm sure you will find something else to strike your fancy.   Like the teapots and saucers with the witty sayings.  Or mugs, or aprons... or cute little pink knick knacks you don't need at ALL... but HAVE to have.

Writing this blog post has REALLY got me craving a crumpet.  And a trip back!  I need to invent a reason to go back.  Soon.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lemon Curd Filled Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I have a lemon tree.

This is important for only two reasons.  The first and most important: Free lemons!  Big, yellow, juicy free lemons are the best.  The second is that I used them for cupcakes.

Blueberry cupcakes with Lemon cream cheese frosting and filled with lemon curd.  I made the lemon curd from scratch! I'm so proud of myself.  Chance for disaster was high.

I first had lemon curd last fall when I went to Crown and Crumpet in San Francisco, which is a English tea room that is so cute you can just puke out cotton candy. Want proof?  Go here to look at my friend's pictures from our December visit there.  LOOK AT ALL THE PINK CUTENESS.   (Actually,  I might just have to write up my own review on it one of these days.  They had cupcakes last time I was there, so it kind of fits with my blog's theme?)   Anyways, they bake fresh crumpets and serve them with Jam and Lemon curd.  If only i knew where to find warm crumpets locally i'd be set for life.

The lemon curd came out right the first time I made it, so that made me extra "Youre-So-Awesome-Self!".  It's the cupcake and frosting part that I had to make twice.  You won't be seeing the first batch, which I actually took to a party.  They were edible and everything... just not up to my ever increasing neurotic standards.  So I was being all emo and "You-are-NOT-awesome-self!" and  had some extra time on my hands... so I reworked it and they came out visually much more amazing.  :)   And about 25% more palette pleasing as well.  "Youre-So-Awesome-Self!" is back on.

The reason that the first batch came wasn't awesome was  1) I did not like the cake part, i forgot baking soda and i used too much sauce and they were purple not blue and fell in the middle 2) the frosting needed more powdered sugar and i didnt have time to run to the grocery store so it was soft and i also tried too hard at making double flavors and you couldnt even taste the difference anyways and 3) the colors were off!  i was doing it for a party and i was trying to keep in line with the colors which were teal and purple and so they just looked fake and not natural.  They sound like a mess huh?

Don't worry batch number two made up for it.   They looked divine, inside and out.

Lemon Curd
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1. Put a heat proof glass bowl over saucepan filled with 2 inches of water.
2. Whisk together zest, juice, sugar and eggs over low-medium heat.
3. Stir constantly with spoon for approximately 10 minutes.  It took mine almost 15 because I had the heat pretty low. Stop stirring when the mixture can coat the back of your spoon.
4. Remove from heat and mix in cubed butter until smooth.
5. Use a seive to remove pieces of zest and any cooked egg.
6. Cover with plastic wrap (directly over the mixture) and refrigerate.

The mixture will thicken up within a few hours.  You can make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

A week is a good enough time to find your self some warm scones nearby right? Cuz this sweet and tangy curd can be eaten by the spoonful, but i'd recommend some scones too.

Blueberry Sauce

1/2 a container of blue berries
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water

1. Take washed blueberries and place them in a saucepan with sugar and water over medium heat.
2.  Stir blueberries occasionally to prevent from sticking to bottom, but let the berries burst and become a sauce.   Should take about ten minutes or so.
3. Puree blueberries.
4. Strain to remove large pieces.
5. Try not to eat the rest of the container.  You still need them!

I'm so excited about how the cake part of these cupcakes came out!  Much better than any of the other berry cupcakes i have made.  (Can i go back and redo them all?).  I think it's because i used half cake flour in this recipe.

Blueberry Cupcakes
makes 12, bake at 375* for 18 minutes

3/4 c flour
3/4 c sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup blueberry sauce
1.5/4 c buttermilk
2/3 c fresh blueberries

1. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a stand mixer.
2. In a separate bowl combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a third bowl or cup combine sauce and buttermilk.
4. Add flour mixture and sauce mixture to the butter/eggs mixture in five additions, alternating between the two, starting and ending with flour.
5. Fold in blueberries and scoop into your muffin pan.

The batter on these is such a lovely shade of blue.  The first batch i made was purple, like the sauce.  But since I  used a lot less sauce the second go around, the yellow in the eggs brought it down a bit which worked perfect.

They baked up nice and fluffy, with the berries bursting out.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cream cheese brick
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy and smooth.
2. Add lemon zest.
3. Add 1/2 a tablespoon lemon juice.  Add 1/2 a cup powdered sugar.  Alternate the two until you get the desired consistency and flavor.

Now that all the parts are made it's time to put them together.

Core your cupcakes and pipe lemon curd into them. I made an assembly line out of them.  But i mean if it is just one girl is it really an assembly line?

Sexy, huh? Hopefully you didn't eat the centers.  Put them back on top! They taste better when you get all parts of the cupcake in your mouth at one time.

Pipe frosting ontop cupcakes.  Add blueberries for garnish.

Ta da!  Gorgeous Cupcakes.

You can even be a little crazy and add a ribbon like I did.  They wanted to be extra fancy to meet you.  ;) 

My favorite part about almost all cupcakes is below.  The money shot; sliced down the middle.

You see that?  The inside is blue AND purple.  And yellow.  And did i mention delicious?  Cuz the inside is delicious and my boss said some crumbs fell on her keyboard and she ate them anyways.  Yay/Ew? haha.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Taking on Martha: soft chocolate cake with orange creme anglaise

Sometimes my weekend plans includes things like Giants baseball games.  Or bars.  Eating, there is always lots of eating.  The movies.  A lovely  drag queen show is up for this week.  Many weekends I just stay in and bake all things things.  Last weekend was mostly that; baking.  Three times actually.  You'll see what else I made next week. This week you get to see what happens when my dear friend Rachelle and I have a baking date.

Rach suggested a Martha Stewart recipe she saw in the February issue of Martha that looked really fancy pants,  soft chocolate cake with orange creme anglaise.  Yeap, because we were that sure of ourselves and our abilities.  It's a super soft cake, almost like pudding that is served warm with cold a cold orange cream.  Sounded good to me!

So I went over to her lovely Oakland apartment with lots of windows and sunshine and cat named Don that likes to sit on your chest and give you love nips. On your face.

Orange Creme Anglaise
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

Truth time.  We had to do the creme twice because the first time was a disaster.  DISASTER.  So my directions will be a bit modified. What's up Martha, when something is HARD to do give us a little more direction!

1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk,salt, sugar and orange zest.

Now, Martha says to bring it to a simmer.  We did barely a simmer.  Just enough for it to be hot and warm so that when you cover it it traps the heat.

2. Once covered, let sit for an hour.  Go find something to do.  We had tea with some left over orange zest inside our cups.

3. Separate your eggs in a separate bowl.  I let Rachelle do this because i suck at it.  Whisk them.

4.  Take your milk mixture which should look a but like this:

 and warm it up.  This is super important.  WARM IT UP DO NOT LET SIMMER OR YOU WILL COOK THE EGGS.

5. Whisk the two together and then return them to the saucepan.

6. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about six to ten minutes.  Absolutely do not let them come to a boil or even a simmer.  I repeat, be SUPER careful.  Low heat is better.

(This is where we messed up the first time and had to run out and buy more eggs and oranges. Cuz it looked like scrambled eggs. lol.   But we also bought pizza while we were out, so it was okay.)

7. Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat and strain immediately to take out the pieces of zest and any pieces of cooked eggs.  The creme should be smooth, not lumpy.

8. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  (Or a day or two if you are making this in advance.)

This is the point on our date where we watched DC Cupcakes on Netflix.  Make sure you do that too.  Or Cupcake Wars.  Or just anything on the Food Network to keep you in the cooking mood while you painfully wait for it to cool enough for you to start baking the cake.

Once you eventually get to that point, or can wait no longer and are willing to risk eating warm cream, get your ingredients for the cake out.

Soft Chocolate Cake
1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
Vegetable oil cooking spray OR butter to grease your pan(s)

1.  Make a double broiler by putting a heat proof glass bowl over a sauce pan filled with 2 inches of water. Add your cubed butter, pinch of salt and chopped chocolate to the bowl.

Don't eat the chocolate.  No matter how good it looks.

2. Whisk to combine over heat.  Extra awesomeness if you have a pretty heart apron you buy on clearance the day after Valentines Day. I bought two, one for Rachelle and one for me.

That in itself tastes good.  Not that i'd know of course... Time for the rest of the cake!

3. Beat eggs, egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until light and frothy.

4. Add chocolate mixture.   See the matchy apron?

5. Add flour. Whisk all until combined.

The cake part is actually easy peasy, huh?  Now that it's all done you just need to put it into a cake pan.  (6 1/2 by 9 inch will do.)  Or you can put it into several cute little pans like I did.

I saw these at Ross last week and fell in love with the dots.  I didn't buy them because i was like what would i use them for?  But when i asked Rach if i needed to bring anything, she asked if i had anything cute for the cake.  I said that i did not.. but that I COULD... lol.  So I ran out and bought them.  Adorable, huh?

 I think these are like 12 or 14 oz, and had enough batter for four.

6. Once in the pan(s), bake in oven for about 8-10 minutes - until the edges are set but the middle is still soft.

Now you can take your (chilled) orange creme anglaise out of the fridge. You can even adda  little bit of extra zest for garnish.  It thickens a bit in the fridge, and is a nice pale orangey yellow.  If you noticed, there is very little sugar in this recipe so it is really light in sweetness.

This is good because the cake is chocoaltey.  Way chocoaltey goodness.  Like Martha says, you don't know if you are eating a cake or pudding.  Or both.  Some rich wonderful hybrid. It honestly looks barely cooked.  But it is.

Then just like Captain Planet, you take the two and combine their powers.

And you end up with this.  Warm and cold mixed together.  Chocolate and cream with a hint of orange.

There's only one thing left to do.  Only one thing you CAN do.  Put a spoon in it and shove it down your throat. Repeat until gone.

Best date ever?  I think so.