Apple Cake and Roasted Chicken

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IMG_20141018_130956492 This weekend we indulged ourselves in a long, leisurely lunch with family. For most of September and part of October, I’ve been finishing up my hours to become a Master Gardener volunteer (yay!). And while it’s been a whole lot of fun, it sure feels good to slow down a bit.

This type of get-together is one of my favorite things about autumn. Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping and it’s time enjoy the fruits of the harvest.

For our luncheon, we had sauteed green beans, couscous, parsnips and roasted chicken. We also had the apple cake from Deb Perelman’s cookbook. And yes, it really is as good as she says (and easy to make too!). So much fruitiness in one delicious pound-cake-like confection.

We were also pretty happy with how the roast chicken turned out. It’s one of our favorite dishes, and we’ve accumulated lots of tips from various sources over the years….

Super Moist Roast Chicken

For starters, we’ve learned to dry it thoroughly before putting it in the roasting dish, breast-side down. This helps with the moisture. We also pour off the juices about halfway through to make it a dry roast. We like to lightly salt it on the outside and on the inside. We prefer the flavor and it still comes out just as moist as when it’s more heavily salted. We roast it for about an hour on high heat and then turn it down before taking off the lid for the final brown. We also use a ceramic roasting pan, which really keeps a consistent heat.

Any other roast chicken fans out there? Got some tips for us? We are always trying to improve this dish, like I said, it’s one of our favorites!

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Oh the apple cake! Really, you should make this like today. Happy Monday folks!

The Fondant Trials Part 2: Go Go Godzilla

So I’ve been meaning to get this post up for awhile. But then May happened. If you’re in the nursery industry, this is basically Garm-ah-geddon. (Props to my ex co-worker Jose for coining that term) Although it’s almost a week into June, I’m still reeling from all the fun and all the madness of the busiest month in my year.

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But I’m so excited, so excited to share this cake with you guys. You’ll know from my previous entry about fondant that I had a lot of concerns about working with this substance, despite many years of baking experimentation.

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I was so happy with how this cake turned out. Both the final product, and also how much fun the process was for my eight year old niece and my six year old nephew (the birthday boy).

They are both artistic, like their parents, and they were so excited to help with the cake. I really enjoy projects like this that kids can participate in and feel ownership of and pride in their handiwork.

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They cut out blue skyscrapers and flames (with supervision) and painted the windows and doors themselves.

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Because I didn’t have my Kitchen-Aid mixer with me, I had to knead the fondant by hand. (Rather than cheating with my dough hook). This was fine. I just Crisco-ed up my hands really good. It took a bit longer, and it definitely took some muscle but the consistency was as good as the first batch.

I had a little trouble when I went to drape the first layer of white over the cake, but I think this was because I was excited and rushed it a bit. I had taken my time before, and it was fine. You just have to go slow and be careful of how the fondant drapes. Luckily for me, we were applying skyscrapers to the outside, so the less than perfect seams didn’t show in the end.

CakewithCandles

 

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