So I have not posted anything in the last week or so, and I am feeling really antsy. My lack of posting hasn't been due to low level of inspiration or time in the kitchen, but rather because I have practically been living in the kitchen in the last few days or traveling. I am building up a backlog of photos and recipes because have just not had a spare minute to post anything!
This weekend, I flew from San Diego back to my hometown, good old Cleveland, Ohio. I don't know about the rest of you, but it always seems that before a trip I get extra busy trying to organize everything, finish up last minute to-do items, and preparing for travel. This trip was much of the same, with the added work to plan for both a bridal shower and a bachelorette party; one of my dearest friends from college and my sorority big sister is getting married this summer. Soooo exciting! I absolutely cannot wait for the wedding, and after seeing her in her for her dress fitting this past Friday, I know she will be stunning and the wedding will be fantastic. I also adore our bridesmaid dresses (if you are feeling girly you can check them out here-no sash, sky blue color), and all the other lovely ladies in the wedding party are so much fun and sweet-as-pie.
We had a gorgeous, sunny Saturday afternoon bridal shower, and the mother of one of the other bridesmaids was generous enough to host it at her beautiful home in Shaker Heights. The whole thing was just amazing; everything went along without a hitch, all 20+ attendees had a great time, and (most importantly) our beautiful bride enjoyed it the most. I think it really could not have been more perfect, and I promise, I will post some photos soon!
When we were organizing everything for the bridal shower and bachelorette party, each of us bridesmaids pitched in something to help. Is it any surprise that I ended up making a lot of food? :) When I post about the whole bridal extravaganza later this week, I will divulge the entire delicious menu (just be patient, it is well worth the wait). For now, I want to quickly share a component of one of the dessert dishes that I made: Ladyfingers!
(Check out this crescent moon!)
I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about trying to make these at home, but I was pleasantly surprised to find they are much more simple to make than I had anticipated. I have used this recipe to make ladyfingers about three times now, and each time they turn out perfectly, and have a taste and texture that is incomparable to the store-bought version.
The recipe that I used is actually from the Daring Kitchen, so all you Daring Bakers have likely used it already to make a dish earlier this year. The recipe was shared by Aparna and Deeba for the February Daring Bakers Challenge, but they got the recipe from Le Cordon Bleu at Home. I basically followed their recipe verbatim, so for now I will just post the link to the Daring Kitchen website at the end of this post in lieu of writing out the whole recipe, and when I have time I will re-write in my own words with any tips I have.
On the Daring Kitchen website, Aparna and Deeba give loads of helpful suggestions for making the ladyfingers, and even extra links and recipes for a gluten-free version. From my end, I will give a few suggestions making Savoiardi:
-Be sure to fold everything (both egg yolks and especially flour) very delicately. You are depending on the batter not deflating.
-For the flour, I didn't have cake flour so I used the 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch as they suggested. Be sure to get your flour amounts very precise, because too much flour will make the batter gummy and it will lose all volume.
-I used a pastry bag sans tip to pipe out the batter and it worked like a charm.
-For baking, I put one rack in the middle of the oven, and the second rack on the rungs just above the first. I put two baking sheets in at once, and rotated them after 10 minutes as the recipe suggests.
-After baking and cooling, I kept them in an airtight container for about four days before I used them and they were still moist.
In these photos above, you can see the difference during baking: the top photo is after 10 minutes in the oven (just when you rotate the pans), and the bottom photo is after they are finished. They should have a smooth, golden brown top, and they should still be soft. Go for the golden brown color to check for doneness, but I would err on the side of lighter golden brown; if you overbake them, the ladyfingers will be dry and the sides will crumble when you touch them.
Just for a little fun, I am not going to tell you what dessert I used these ladyfingers for: I want you to guess! ;) I thought about giving a little prize to whomever gets it right... Maybe I can organize something, but I won't make any promises just yet. Leave me a comment with your guess, and if you are one of the lucky people that got to eat my dessert this past weekend, shhhhh, it is a secret for now so don't tell.
Next time you plan to make something that uses ladyfingers, be a little ambitious and make your own! I can assure you that they are easy to make, and you will definitely not be disappointed with the result.
Ladyfingers or Savoiardi
Get the recipe from the Daring Kitchen site (about halfway down the page), or from Le Cordon Blue at Home, it is perfect just the way it is written! :)