Sunday, October 16, 2011

Butternut Squash Ale

There's nothing like brewing in the fall. The weather is perfect and the flavors typically used are some of the best we get all year. The air is crisp and you can probably find me huddling closer to the propane burner as the day goes on, but I like it that way (until I catch fire, which is bound to happen sometime soon. Stayed tuned for that post).

Pumpkin ale has made its way back on tap in the past few weeks, and I know that's something we all look forward to over here. We usually brew our own pumpkin ale this time of year as well. But we're over it. 

Well I wouldn't say we're over it, but it's been done...a lot. And I should probably just speak for myself, but after two years of doing the same thing this time of year, it's time for a change. So we did a little swap of the pumpkin for butternut squash. Butternut squash ale, doesn't that sound good? It's not revolutionary, but it's still festive and just enough change to keep things interesting. 

For the grain we used 8lbs of pale malt two row, 2lbs of Crystal 30-L, 1lb of Cara-Pils, and 1/4lb of Victory, and 4lbs of the butternut squash (I keep automatically writing "buttnut" instead, which personally, I think is a better name) went into the mash with it. 

Dinner, anyone?
We spiced the boil with ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon (and vanilla, but that didn't go in until the secondary fermenter). Then you add eggs, sugar, butter...kidding. We're not making pie.

We eventually added 1 oz of Mount Hood hops and 1 oz Liberty hops to the wort.

Looks like fall to me. 

We finally added some London Ale yeast, and it's off to ferment for a bit. I'll report back when it's drinkable. I suppose I never let ya'll know how the Lavender Pale Ale turned out. Well it was delicious. More of an amber ale when all was said and done, but still pretty awesome. The lavender didn't smack you in the face or anything, but it definitely had some herby-ness goin' on. 

Cousins of ours came up from Florida and Virginia and popped in to help brew. And maybe to spend some time with their family, but mostly for the beer. And you know what? This is not the beer we brewed with them. But it was pretty great having their company. 

In other news, has anyone else been plagued by fruit flies lately? It's like they divide and multiply mid-air, then fester in anything containing food (NOT just fruit, don't be fooled). So my family (mostly my father), being the leader in good ideas, has taken to keeping the vacuum within reach in the kitchen and making a sport of sucking up the little buggers, and may or may not be keeping score (Bothwell's: 187, Fruit Flies: I'll give you 1 point for frustration). It's almost a full-time job, being a professional fruit fly trapper. 

Go get 'em, Dad!

PS--Thanks, Ma, for taking the pics! Besides that winner at the end. That was all me. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Espresso Buttercream and New Endeavors

Happy October! Well, mid-October. Since my last post I've been busy making cakes for some dear friends (Happy Baby Shower, Christina! And Happy Birthday, Umran!), being a leaf-peeper in Vermont, playing jump-rope with the cable wire laying in our driveway (cough Comcast sucks cough) (Side note: do you understand how difficult jumping-rope is? From what I remember from my childhood, it shouldn't be very complicated. My boxing trainer has me jump rope EVERY WEEK and I still can't do it without tripping over myself. And that's super intimidating when you're getting ready to throw down.When did I become so uncoordinated? I digress.), and getting a new job!

If you remember correctly, I recently started a new job in August. But now I have a new new job! Where I get to replace my heels with sneakers! And be surrounded by baked goods all day! That's right, I'm gunna be doing pastry. Full time. And get paid for it. So that's definitely going to up my cred with all these recipes I'm giving you, so if I were you I'd write them down furiously. Just kidding, I have no cred. But I think this is a step in the right direction! I'm technically the "Pastry Finisher," which means when all the pastries are done, I get to eat them. Quality control of sorts. Are you jealous of my job yet?

Okay, that's not what I'll be doing at all. I'll be assembling all the pastries and decorating them and making them look nice. I think. I haven't started yet so I could be lying. Either way, I'll keep you all updated when I'm not working at the bakery or the restaurant, and if our Internet doesn't decide to take a nap in our driveway again.

I just have a simple recipe for you today. Simple but delicious. And chock-full of caffeine. I also have some pictures of the baby shower cake I made a few weeks ago. So by the time you're done, you'll have relived the last few weeks of my life. Minus the awkwardness that I tend to contribute. Enjoy!

Espresso Buttercream
Adapted from Sweetpolita

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, softened (I use salted so it's not overpoweringly sweet, but if that's what you like, use unsalted!)
1 1/2 Tbsp instant espresso powder mixed with 2 tsp water to make a thick, syrupy mixture (this amount makes it fairly strong--use more or less depending on how strong you'd like the final espresso flavor to be)
1 tsp vanilla

Over a double boiler that's simmering (not boiling), whisk egg whites and sugar until mixture is hot to the touch (around 140 degrees F), about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, and whip on high until egg whites are fluffy and glossy, and mixture is no longer warm to the touch (this takes me 10+ minutes. To help cool it off, I keep a damp towel in the freezer then wrap it around the mixing bowl as it whips). Switch to a paddle attachment and add butter one tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Add espresso mixture and vanilla and stir until combined.

Here's the baby shower cake pics-- pink and leopard cake for sweet little Aleeah! Can't wait to meet her!

                                                                   *thanks for getting the pic, Christina!