Sunday, March 29, 2009

Warm Fantans and My Other Weaknesses

Don't you just love taking a leisurely Sunday breakfast on a beautiful clear day? Paper in hand and coffee freshly brewed, a basket of warm fantans with some butter and jam completes the picture.

Now I'm not really the "up-before-dawn-making-bread" type. I'd rather buy bread these days than make them. I get mine frozen from Elsie's owned by the family of my longtime friend Elise Torrejon.

Thawed and heated in a warm oven, I love the crunchy top and soft center of this pleat-like roll. Steam comes out between the leaves as you take a fantan apart. A pat of butter melting on each piece is a sight to behold. And the taste; makes you utter, "This is the life!"

Ever the sugar pushover, I finish each roll with a sweet sweep of jam and my day is made. Now it's no secret anymore how the pounds creep in.

I just wish there were more days in the week like this and an unending supply of fantans.

Hint. Hint. *wink*

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pink Apron On Martha Stewart Weddings

Okay, so this might border on shameless self-promotion but I just gotta tell you. My wedding cookies and miniature cheesecakes were recently featured on the spring/summer issue (March-August) of Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines!

Yey! So happy for this wonderful development in my baking career. Many thanks to Chiqui Lloren-Obcemea of Delight Styling and Photography for this exposure. More to come I hope.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Decorating cookies with marshmallow fondant

If you're in a hurry, decorating butter cookies with marshmallow fondant is a great time-saver. Drying time is a few hours, weather permitting, compared to a few days if you're using royal icing.

You also use one cutter for both cookie and fondant. Just attach the fondant with a little water or light corn syrup and you're set.

For additional embellishments, you can decorate some more with royal icing, dragees or petal dust.

For the butter cookie and royal icing recipes, look here.

You can make marshmallow fondant by following the recipe here.

There's one caveat though. Cookies decorated with fondant do not keep very long. The colors fade easily with light. So if you're planning to use fondant for cookies, make sure not to decorate cookies too much in advance. A couple of days lead time should be fine.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tips on Food Photography

I know I've said this before, I started this blog to inspire myself to bake more often and take better pictures. I have a passionate affair with beautiful photographs of food. The styling, lighting, and composition just fascinates me to bits.

In the almost one year since I've purchased my first Nikon dSLR I've learned a thing or two about food photography through trial and error.

If there are a few things I can share that I think you'll find valuable, these are:

1. Before you start taking pictures of your creation, clean up the mess you made. Clear the counter and put away unused ingredients and utensils. Nothing spoils a photo more than dirty dishes and pots in the background.

2. If you can avoid it, turn off your camera's flash. Using it produces harsh shadows and washed out pictures of food. It is often best to take pictures of food by a window that lets in a lot of light, and

3. You can dress up your composition a bit by using a nice white or cream colored napkin or placemat. Food also looks good on a clean white plate or a fairly new chopping board. Try to avoid plates and tablecloths with lots of patterns and colors.

But no worries, that's about the extent of my ramblings. I will stop pretending to be knowledgeable enough to write an article about my findings and leave the teaching to the pros.

If you are seriously considering starting your own blog or simply want to chronicle the fruits of your labor, might I suggest a few articles from some professional photographers and food bloggers that I found quite informative and packed with helpful tips for amateurs like myself.

A couple of articles I found very informative is this one by Michael Ray which can be found here and here.

Another article that proved very useful for me is this one by Lolo of the famous blog vegan yum.yum found here.

For more inspiration, there's always Flickr for tons of food shots with helpful discussions on styling and lighting techniques. Just take care that you don't spend more time browsing than actually baking and taking photos of your work as I am sometimes inclined to do. ;-)

Good luck with your photography adventures. And one last thing, take more pictures than you think you'll need; vary the angles and perspective. And do it as often as you can because the more you practice, the better you become.

Happy snapping!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Version of Magnolia Bakery's Famous Banana Pudding

My friend Mia lived in NYC for two years and while there fell in love with Magnolia Bakery's Famous Banana Pudding. She would describe this dessert as melt-in-your-mouth creaminess and sheer heaven.

But banana pudding is not available in any Manila bakery we know. So she challenged me to make her my own version. Not having tasted Magnolia's version, I searched the net for the recipe and found one from recipelink which you can find here.

I made some substitutions to the above recipe. Since Nilla wafers are not available here I used pasencia, our local vanilla wafer cookies. And instead of 3 cups of whipping cream, I used 2 cups to make the pudding richer.

I'd say this is another recipe to whip out of the box for when it's too hot to turn the oven on. Not bad as a potluck dessert too. Really fast and easy. I'm glad to have found another recipe to add to my list of standbys.


A few days later, I made another batch; this time using fresh ripe mangoes which are in season. It was another hit. In fact, they like the mango version better than the banana. Oh, well.