Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

After completing this month’s Daring Bakers challenge featuring Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for caramel cake, I hereby demote Cake Wrecks from hilarious to merely amusing and witty.

Making cakes is back-breaking work and I’ve learned to appreciate the time and effort involved with all things frosted, regardless of how uninspired, bizarre, or wrong it is. I hadn’t noticed an hour has passed and I still couldn’t get the icing applied evenly. I guess that explains the heavy dusting of almond meal.

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Crispy Apple Chips

Crispy Green Apple Chips - Granny Smith

Crispy apple chips were originally meant for garnishing desserts but it also makes for an addictive light snack. Paper-thin apple slices are soaked in a simple syrup and dried in a very low oven to keep the fresh apple flavor intact.

Granny Smith apples are perfect for this recipe — drying intensifies its tartness, but the syrup keeps the sweetness and sourness balanced.

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Yeast-Raised Cornbread with Brown Butter

Yeast Raised Cornbread Sliced

This loaf makes great toast because it’s not only crackly on the outside, but also has crunchy bits on the inside. In this yeast-raised cornbread recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman, fine cornmeal is added to a basic white wheat dough for texture and that freshly made tortilla smell.

I couldn’t help but think of popcorn so I replaced the extra virgin olive oil in the original recipe with brown butter (or beurre noisette for you Francophiles). The movie theater scent is faint, but toasting and serving with a side of the amber liquid makes it a bit more obvious.

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Chinese White Cut Chicken

Chinese White Cut Poached Chicken

White-cut chicken is a traditional Chinese preparation that calls for poaching, cutting on the bone, chilling, and serving with a flavorful dipping sauce. Chicken doesn’t have to be fried, crisp, or golden brown to be delicious. When it comes to Chinese dishes, “traditional” usually implies “old as hell” and “bajillions served,” so they must be eating something right. If you’re still not convinced after trying this recipe (highly unlikely), here’s another example of pale but tasty steamed chicken.

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Chinese Crab and Corn Soup

Chinese Crab and Corn Soup Bowl

Do you try and remember the first things you learned to cook? My memory is a bit hazy, but here’s my list so far:

And of course, this crab and corn soup. From a packet, mind you, in its full natural and artificial flavoring glory. In case you were wondering, the neon-red crab product highlighted on the packaging falls under the synthetic category. It could’ve been anything from fish-flavored bathmat bits to dessicated denture adhesive and I wouldn’t have cared. Stirring with a blackened wooden spoon in one hand and an egg in the other,  I felt like a rockstar grade-schooler while preparing instant soup.

I had almost forgotten about this soup so I was glad to find this recipe in my favorite Chinese cookbook. It eschews the cornstarch to keep it light, and more importantly, it’s all natural, as long as you stay away from krab.

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