A Day in the Life of a Cookbook Shoot – “Little Everyday Cakes”

A day in the life of this particular cookbook photo shoot started out with many layers of cakes of all sizes and shapes baked and cooled and ready for their moment in front of the camera.

Before: Early morning Spice Cake getting “dressed”……
After: Spice Cake all  “dressed up and ready” for the camera.   Photo by Danielle Atkins Photography

Have you ever been on a food photo shoot? It’s probably not exactly what you might expect. Here are some images of behind-the-scenes from the shoot earlier this year for Candace Floyd’s “little everyday cakes” with photographer Danielle Atkins shot at Food Sheriff Studio here in Nashville.

Cookbook food shoots involve lots of schleping….not my favorite thing to do…but it’s a must. Props, props and more props. There are never, ever enough and it is a flow of “more” into the studio or location every day. I started with around 15 boxes and ended on wrap day with more than 20!  Not to mention my food styling kits armed with special items for making these cakes look casually pretty and delicious.

For this “one subject” cake cookbook we needed lots of cake stands of all sizes, scads of small plates and saucers,  tons of little bowls……..

…dessert forks, regular forks, cake servers…knives…..

…..spreaders,  spoons of all types, did I say hundreds of napkins of all colors?….blues, greys, whites and chalky colors, soft reds and pinks…vintage prints….all laid out on many fold up tables to choose from with all of us contributing.

A typical day for us started at sunrise with many cake layers, tubs of frosting, fresh fruits and sauces. A good strong cup of coffee or two as well.

There is nothing quite like “following the light” as you work during a day on set where all the images are to be shot with natural light.  You actually learn a lot about the sun and clouds, soft and hard light, which cake works best in a kitchen window or on a table a few feet away. It is a study in working with nature, not against.  It is capturing what is there at any given moment and using it to enhance. It is a lovely thing when done well.

Scenes from behind the finished photos….beautiful light through old studio kitchen window…

                         

…setting up for future images……

….photographer, Danielle Atkins and author, Candace Floyd.

Images from Dani’s screen as we adjust, shoot, adjust and shoot until it’s just the way we want it. Many days, lots of laughs and collaboration, lots of hard work, cakes to bake and every now and then a bite or two!

    

To see the finished images and get the recipes to make these little everyday cakes pick up a copy of “little everyday cakes” from your local bookstore, Amazon or Spring House Press.

For more information and a recipe from the book, “Mexican Chocolate Cake” see my last post here, “Look Honey I Shrank the Mexican Chocolate Cake”.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Look Honey….I shrank the “mexican chocolate cake”!

I may never make a full-size cake again after styling and receiving my first copy of Candace Floyd’s “Little Everyday Cakes”. I immediately went to page 94 and baked the above two layer, 6 inch cake for no special reason except that I just wanted a slice.  One slice. That’s all. This was the perfect cake…the perfect slice….very dark chocolate cake, not overly sweet, with a spicy cayenne bite, plenty of cinnamon and fluffy coffee liqueur-chocolate ganache frosting. Thanks Candace.

photo: Danielle Atkins Photography

This photo is the one from the book that I styled, shot by photographer extraordinaire, Danielle Atkins. I love this image. Just looking at it tells a story. Isn’t that what a good photograph should do? Of all the cakes in the book that are lovely and delicious, this photo inspired me to bake this particular cake.

The holiday season is just around the corner and you will no doubt be looking for just the right gift for the dessert lover on your list? This is it. A book full of “50+ perfectly proportioned confections to enjoy any day of the week” to eat and share. Ask for it at your favorite local bookstore, or purchase from the publisher Springhouse Press, or online at Amazon.

Cover photo: Danielle Atkins Photography “Chocolate Malt Cake”

There are one layer cakes, square cakes and round cakes, layered cakes and cakes you cut up to serve…cakes that only take one egg, loaf cakes, seasonal cakes and easy cakes that are for breakfast and brunch. All the kinds of cakes we love to eat and bake shrunk down to serve 4 to 8 people. Elegant cakes and simple old-fashioned cakes along with a whole section on glazes and sauces and frostings.

Life can be complicated and hard. Some days you need to do something nice for yourself such as baking a cake just because you want a slice! Then pass it on.

mexican chocolate cake

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (150g)
  • 7 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (53g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I think I added 1/4 teaspoon!)
  • 2/3 cup water (156g)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temp (56g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (84g)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (106g)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (99g)
  • 2 eggs room temp

Ingredients for ganache frosting:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur such as Kahlua
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Directions for cake and frosting:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F (165C). Grease two 6 inch round cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper. Dust pans with flour. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.
  3. Combine water, milk and vanilla.
  4. Place butter in a mixing bowl. Using an electric stand or hand mixer on medium-high, beat until creamy.
  5. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk mixture a little at a time, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat just until smooth. Scrape batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  8. Bake cakes for 30-35 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Place pans on wire rack and let cakes cook 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and let cook, top sides up, completely.
  9. While cake is baking place the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl along with the coffee liqueur, ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
  10. Heat the cream in a saucepan just until bubbles begin to form around the edges.
  11. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let stand 10 minutes. Stir mixture until the chips are completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool completely. (Refrigerate to speed up cooling process if you like.)
  12. When mixture is cool, beat with an electric mixer on high-speed until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
  13. To frost the cake place one layer on cake stand or plate. Spread one-third of the frosting on top. Place second cake layer on top and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

(for my photo I added some sanding/decorative sugar just for the crunch.)

Recipe by: Candace Floyd for “Little Everyday Cakes” published by Springhouse Press 2018

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

 

 

Young Guns Hatch Chili Pie with Cheddar-Cornbread Topping

We all have our family, home-life traditions and stories.  One of our is the annual September green chili roasting. Each year Wouter returns from his summer working in Santa Fe with a load of New Mexico  Hatch Chillies straight from the source….this year the “source” was pretty funny indeed……see name on box below…..

….those of you who know Wouter well may be aware that he had a very, very, wee, small part in the movie “Young Guns 2” of which much silliness has ensued at his good-natured expense. Or maybe you do not know this nugget of information? This is just one of the many “random Wouter-isms” that continue to keep it all interesting.

What were the chances of a recent Dutch immigrant in 1990 to modern New Mexico to end up playing the role of a late 1800’s immigrant carpenter with an accent, in an American western movie soon after his arrival to America? The scene with Wouter is about 3-5 seconds long and his one line is “They’re bringing someone in” right before a big gunfight in the movie.  Only in America I guess!

The bounty of chillies this year were particularly colorful and plump, just right for roasting.

Wouter really does most of the work as I “assist”.

When the chillies are puffy and charred then it is time to steam and peel and cook up something fitting. We put most in bags and freeze them for later cool weather soups and stews. We give away bags to friends who love them as much as we do.

This recipe for cornbread topped chili pie is very easy and flexible. The chillies could be any of your favorites. You can use fresh or canned as long as they have their own unique flavor. The roasted Hatch chillies have a delicious smokey, rich aroma and flavor.

As the weather cools off, hopefully very soon, this is a good one to add to your “one pan” dinner list. Good with a salad or coleslaw, additional chillies and a cold beer.  Thanks Wouter and the Young Guns Hatch Chili Factory for the flavor and the memories.

Young Guns Hatch Chili Pie topped with Cheddar-Cornbread

Ingredients for filling:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves smashed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red chili powder
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.5 lean ground beef
  • 2 roasted hatch chili peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Ingredients for topping:

  • 1 cup self-rising yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For filling, saute onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent in a heavy 10 inch skillet. I use my cast iron for this. Season with salt & black pepper. Stir in chili powder and tomato paste. Mix well.
  3. Stir in ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks, until meat is well browned.
  4. Add roasted chili peppers, can of tomatoes and black beans. Stir gently to blend. Set aside off the heat.
  5. In a mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal and flour. Add the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and blend together. Add shredded cheddar.
  6. Spread cornbread mixture gently over the top of the chili-meat mixture in the skillet spreading to cover.
  7. Bake until cornbread topping is a light golden color and filling is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com           www.foodonfifth.com

 

 

A Galette of Cherry Plums with Vanilla Bean-Brown Sugar Crust

Racing through Costco recently I spied bags of a red fruit I did not immediately recognize…Cherry Plums….small, mottled red, looking like cherries on steroids or lilliputian plums.  I grabbed a bag for later investigation.

These ping-pong ball size stone fruit taste more like very spicy sweet plums than cherries. You, reader,  may know all about them, but once again I realize there are so many edibles in this world that I have not encountered…even in my part of the world….even at Costco!

Cherry plums are noted for their sweet, spicy flavor and are most commonly used for jams and preserves as well as for baking and are grown most commonly in the Middle East.

Pitted, sliced and sugared before being baked in my vanilla, brown sugar crust. Some stone fruit can totally collapse when baked in a pie as you know, but these Cherry Plums kept their shape and did not become mushy, but softened to the just-right stage.

Cut fruit swaddled in the vanilla-sugared crust then baked until golden brown and slightly caramelized.

It’s been a hard news week, a sad news week, a dramatic news week. Make something good happen in your world…even if it’s your kitchen world. It can be simple or grand, fancy or plain. Just make something good.

A Galette of Cherry Plums in a Vanilla Bean-Brown Sugar Crust

Ingredients:

  • 15 to 18 Cherry Plums, pitted and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • For crust: 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
  • pinch of salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces
  • vanilla beans scraped from one vanilla bean
  • ice water as needed to mix crust dough
  • one egg mixed with a bit of water to brush on finished crust

Directions:

  1. Toss cherry plum slices in a bowl with cornstarch, granulated sugar and lemon zest until well mixed. Set aside.
  2. Put all-purpose flour in food processor bowl along with 2 tablespoon raw sugar, a pinch salt & vanilla beans. Pulse just to combine.
  3. Add cold butter pieces to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until flour is grainy looking.
  4. Slowly add ice water by tablespoons with processor running just until dough begins to come together to form a ball. Turn off processor and scrape dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour. Gather dough into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll chilled dough out to a circle (not a perfect circle) about 14″ in diameter. Fold in half and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and unfold.
  7. Pile cherry plum slices in the middle of the dough circle and fold edges up over the fruit leaving the middle open.
  8. Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons raw sugar.
  9. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly and just beginning to brown on the edges. Adjust time according to your oven. More or less.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:  This Galette can be made with apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches or any berries using the same recipe.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburn1@mac.com

 

 

Friends-with-Figs, Lemon Grass and Orange Marmalade

It’s great to have “friends-with-figs” I always say. Friends who go away on vacation leaving a tree laden with figs and share are even better. Having a friend who bakes great bread is “icing on the cake”.

Finishing a photo shoot and having lots of fresh oranges left over is another good thing.

 

Very ripe figs, juicy oranges and lemon grass paste cooked down with sugar and lemon juice makes a mighty tasty batch of marmalade.

Yes, it is hot work. The kitchen gets all steamy, as do I, but as I’m stirring I think of my Grandmother Kenny Mae, who canned all summer with hardly a window fan to cool her down and she managed without complaint. She loved the process more than the discomfort I suppose. Jars of jam and preserves made in the summer were all the more tasty during the winter months.

Random glass jars with new lids and rings gathered from my stash. Everything sterilized…jars filled…lids on. This marmalade can be refrigerated or even frozen. I can a few jars and give most away to friends who don’t have figs, some who do, some who just love marmalade like I do, and I save a few jars for later. This is such as easy recipe that I make it often throughout the year.

With so much citric acid I also oven-canned some jars. For a how-to on this method check out an earlier marmalade post here.

Friends-with-Figs, Lemon Grass and Orange Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 6 oranges, thinly sliced, cut into quarters, seeded
  • 2 tablespoon lemon grass paste
  • 24 small figs, or 12 larger ones – stemmed & cut in half
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a stainless steel or enamel stockpot. Place over medium low heat and stir to combine ingredients until sugar begins to melt. Turn heat to medium high, stirring every so often, cooking for about 30 minutes. You want the mixture to bubble and reduce and thicken, but not get scorched on the bottom.
  2. Turn heat to medium low while you get jars and lids ready. Again stir often.
  3. Wash jars and rims in hot soapy water, rinse well and let drain on a clean dish towel. Use new lids whenever you can so the rubbery rim seals well.
  4. Fill clean jars to within about 1/2 inch of the top edge. Wipe edges clean of any spills. Place new lids on top of each jar.  If giving away, or refrigerating, then tighten lids and leave to cool on a rack. This marmalade will keeps chilled for up to 2 months just fine.
  5. Oven canning method: Turn oven to 250 degrees. Spoon hot marmalade into sterilized glass jars leaving a 1/2 inch at top of each one unfilled. Wipe jar mouths clean and top with new lids.  Place filled jars, not touching, in a baking pan and put in oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven to cool on a wire rack. Listen for the “ping” or suction sound as the lids seal tightly to the jars. Lids will go from being a bit convex to concave. Store in a cool place for up to 12 months. If any jars do not seal, then you can refrigerate for up to 2 months.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Ginger-Peach No Churn Ice Cream E.A.T. #32

 

I have been away from Food on Fifth for a while. I have missed it. Life just gets in the way and there is not much you can do about it…especially if a food blog such as Food on Fifth is a labor of love and not work.

This summer has been very hot and dry and busy in my world of food styling. More so than ever. I have worked, and am working, on quite a few cookbook projects, as well as various other editorial magazine shoots and with my commercial clients. Blogging has not been easy, but I am trying to get back to it as it is one of  my relaxing pleasures. It is a solitary endeavour and I enjoy that. The kitchen is my haven to be alone and play with food and try to make yummy things to share.

I cannot say much about the cookbooks in particular, but I just finished styling a peach cookbook and with peaches on the brain I thought an easy, no frills, no churn peach ice cream would be a delicious and cooling thing to share.  So it is….with a bit of ginger and buttermilk to cut the sweetness. Give it a try. It will cool you down I promise!  It is as easy as this.

Very scoopable and so cooling on this 90+ degree day.

I picked these little peaches from two trees in my neighborhood. You can’t get more local than that.

Peeled, pitted and pureed,  mixed with heavy cream, whole milk and buttermilk, just a bit of refrigerated ginger paste, sugar and salt.

Frozen in an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan….stirred to mix the frozen part with the not frozen part a couple of times…that’s all you have to do. Easier than a trip to the grocery!

Ginger-Peach No-Churn Ice Cream

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pureed fresh peaches – peeled, pitted
  • 2 tablespoon ginger paste, the refrigerated kind in a tube
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the peach puree, ginger paste and sugar until the sugar begins to melt.
  2. Whisk together in another bowl the cream, milk and butter milk and salt.
  3. Whisk pureed peach mixture into the cream mixture until well blended.
  4. Pour into a metal 8 x 4 inch or 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Freeze for 2 hours.
  5. Remove pan from freezer and using a fork, stir frozen mixture around the edges of the pan and from the bottom into the center. Repeat process in another 1.5 hours, smoothing out the mixture using a spoon. Freeze another 2 hours or until ready to serve. You can freeze overnight as well.
  6. Scoop and serve. This ice cream stays nice and scoopable for days if it lasts that long.

Teresa Blackburn   www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Brown Sugar, Butter and Cardamom Skillet Roasted Peaches E.A.T. #31

Ingredients? 4. Time? 15 minutes. Results? Ripe South Carolina Peaches Caramelized with Raw Sugar, Cardamom and Kerrygold Butter to make the easiest, most delicious, screaming Summer dessert ever! No joke….it is as easy-as-this.

Select firm, juicy ripe sweet peaches. No peeling necessary.

Arranged in an iron skillet cut side up with a dab of butter, a sprinkling of cardamom and crunchy raw sugar and that’s all.

Roasted at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until sugar caramelizes and peaches begin to blister.  Turn on the broiler if you like them a bit burnt like I do. You can also do this on a grill if you prefer. Serve with a quick cold, sour cream-brown sugar sauce and more sugar for crunch. How very summer is that?

Brown Sugar, Butter and Cardamom Skillet Roasted Peaches

Ingredients:

  • 4 firm, ripe peaches, unpeeled, cut in half with pits removed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temp, Kerrygold is what I use
  • ground Cardamom powder, to taste
  • 1 cup raw sugar, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Arrange peach halves, cut side up, in an iron skillet.
  2. Place a bit of butter in middle of each peach half. Sprinkle with cardamom to taste.
  3. Top with 1/2 cup raw sugar sprinkled over each peach half.
  4. Roast in hot oven for 10-12 minutes. If you like your peaches more blistered like I do, then turn broiler on for a minute or two.
  5. While peaches are roasting mix together sour cream or yogurt and 1/4 cup raw sugar and lemon juice until blended. Chill until ready to use.
  6. To serve place one or two peach halves on a plate and add a dollop of sweetened sour cream and another sprinkling of raw sugar. A wonderful, simple summer dessert.

Note: You can also place iron skillet on a pre-heated outdoor grill to roast. A scoop of ice cream is really good with theses peaches as well.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com