Thursday, October 29, 2009
I'm a proud, proud momma. It may have taken me 5 hours but this evening, I successfully baked and decorated a lovely little cake. Not just any cake, but a fancy-schmancy fondant cake!
This was a task I have been scared to re-attempt after a troubling incident with homemade marshmallow fondant. But second time around... welp, it didn't get any easier. Rolling fondant is hard work and coloring fondant proved to be even more of a challenge (looking down at my purple colored fingers). I made this cake for my parents who are celebrating 26 years of marriage today!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My addiction caused the onset of anonymous phone calls from my apartment asking if there were any scones left. Shamefully this occurred just about every Saturday and Sunday morning throughout my college career. As my downward spiral of addiction continued I developed feelings of dislike for a nice Lincoln Park pregnant woman. Let me explain... an inside source told us there was a pregnant lady who came to snatch all the scones every Sunday morning at the crack of dawn. And obviously my roommates and I were exhausted from all the umm... studying we had done the night before that we never made it before preggers and her unborn scone hording baby.
But, now I can now make my own scones and I have happily moved past this dark period. I opted to make blueberry scones mainly because my grandpa (potchie) hates chocolate and he claimed he had never tried a "schone" before. These were really, really delicious. I've tried another recipe that used buttermilk but this one tasted the most like the coveted SMB's scone.
Don't think I'm a freak, I just really enjoy breakfast pastries.
adapted from The Kitchen Magpie Blog
-1 cup sour cream
-1 tsp baking soda
-4 cups all purpose flour
-1 cup white sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
- 1 cup blueberries
-1 cup butter or margarine
-1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl add baking soda to sour cream and mix together, allow the baking soda to react. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture (this will take a while to break up all the butter and to create and flaky dough). Once the flour/butter mixture is ready add in the sour cream and the egg. Mix well and then fold in the fruit. Divide the dough into three circles and then cut into six pieces. Bake the scones until the bottoms are golden brown.
My dough was a little dry so I added a touch of cream to make it more compact for circle forming. I also sprinkled sparkling sugar on top before I baked them.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I'm a regular Nancy Drew. It all started out so innocently, a mother and a daughter baking and bonding. The spice cake itself was very "rustic" due to my increasingly fajangled oven, which burns the edges and doesn't cook the middle. We made a nice argument out of how much of the burnt edges to trim off, and the cake turned out a little lopsided, only accentuated by the drippy frosting which wouldn't stick to the cake. Never fear though, a nice coating of walnuts cleared all that right up. Below I provide a tried and true recipe for cream cheese frosting because I didn't really like the one that I used for this cake. Regardless of its "rustic" appearance, the cake turned out to be delicious...very moist.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 (9-inch) parchment paper rounds and line the pan bottoms. Grease and flour the parchment rounds.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter. With the mixer running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium-size mixing bowl. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well. With the electric mixer, in another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the cake batter. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake until the center springs back when touched, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks. After the cakes have cooled, invert them onto sheets of parchment paper. Slice the top off one cake evenly, and set aside.
Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners' sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. (Optional step - you can stir in the walnuts now, or frost the cake first, then sprinkle walnuts on top and sides of cake).
Spread a layer of the frosting over the bottom layer of the cake (the one that you evened off). Place the other layer of the cake on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Slice the cake into individual servings.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Not only am I messy but I may also be the most awkward baker ever. I manage to screw up whenever someone is watching, I look stupid, make bad decisions and I almost always choose the absolute worst time to bake something. For example, my aunt and uncle were over tonight and I decided to bake this lovely cake once they arrived. I ran out of powdered sugar and decided instead of going to buy some I would make my own. I had to leave the blender on for about 15 minutes- if the loud blaring noise wasn't bad enough the room started to smell like a burning motor as the blender was obviously being overworked. Woops. Awkwardness is my gift.
Anyway, this cake was a bit out of the ordinary, but the recipe came from the Baked cookbook which I feel can do no wrong. The root beer bundt cake uses dark chocolate cocoa and lots of root beer to make this cake super moist and rich. Collectively we decided that the root beer flavor was not very strong, in fact we barely tasted it at all - instead it tasted like a fabulously decadent chocolate cake.
Try not to drop the whisk of hot melted butter and chocolate onto your clothing or interrupt casual conversation with the obnoxious noise of a blender.
Root Beer Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
For the Cake:
2 cups root beer (regular, no diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
Root Beer Fudge Frosting:
2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray inside of bundt pan with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, heat root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter should be slightly lumpy, be careful not overmix as it may cause the cake to be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cake for 35-40 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack before removing from the pan.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short beats until the frosting in shiny and smooth. *I used a kitchen aid mixer, it worked fine.
Use a spatula to spread the frosting onto the crown of the bundt cake in a thick layer. The book suggests that this cake be served with ice cream to give it a root beer float taste.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In the end I smashed pieces of my failed pie dough into a pan forming the crust I was unable to achieve by rolling. I didn't have enough dough left over for the top, so I decided to make a crumble - nothing like my Grandma's recipe. Up until this point I've been doing really well with my baking endeavors. When I attempt something, most of the time it has worked. After this pie fiasco I am feeling very discouraged - I would appreciate any and all help from the pie makers in the family.
On the upside, I know I can still make good cookies. Here is a recipe for cocoa cookies with white chocolate chips. They remind me of the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies I used to enjoy at lunch EVERYDAY in high school.
White Chocolate Cocoa Cookies
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 package of PC White Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Cream softened butter and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla mixing until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Drop cookies onto a silpat or parchment paper and flatten with hand before baking. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet before removing.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
It was a wake and bake morning here in Chicago. Enjoying some intelligentsia coffee we needed something warm to go with it. I just got some new muffin cups and have been dying to make something with them. I would've liked to make blueberry muffins but I didn't have any and I was definitely not interested in going out in the cool morning air.
The muffins turned out great, full of flavor with a wonderfully crunchy top. I should have cooked them a little longer to give them more crumbliness, noted for next time.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday! Enjoy.
Banana Crumb Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine sugar and melted butter. Add the egg and mashed bananas and mix until combined. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fill muffin cups.
To make the crumb topping add all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Cut the cold butter into the mixture until a crumbly consistency forms. Sprinkle on top of the muffins and bake for 18-25 minutes.
I added a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon in my flour mixture, I would have added vanilla extract but ran out yesterday making cake and buttercream frosting.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Yellow Butter Cake and Buttercream.
Everyone has to have their favorite go-to recipes. I've searched to find a cake recipe that is moist and fluffy without being too dense. There were two recipes I tried, each one claiming to be "the one". After making both recipes I found that neither gave me the perfect cake I was looking for. So, I decided to play around with the two recipes and see what happened... in the end the cake was buttery, fluffy and moist - it was a success. This will be my go-to recipe for now until I find one that's even better.
I almost forgot to mention the buttercream. This is my favorite buttercream recipe, it takes time but its sooo worth it.
Yellow Butter Cake
4 cups sifted Cake Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1/2 tsp butter flavoring,
Preheat to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition. Be sure there that each egg is fully incorporated. Add the buttermilk on low speed just until combined. The batter should have a curdled appearance at this point. Add the flour mixture in three parts. Mix just until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour batter into greased and floured pans (2 - 9x9 inch round pans) or lined cupcake tins (makes about 24).
Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes. Cupcakes will bake for 20-30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (*I don't like a lot of shortening but you could swap 1/4 cup of shortening in for butter, if you are looking for a stiffer frosting)
a pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
2-5 tbsp heavy whipping cream
Beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and 2 tbsp of heavy whipping cream. Sift the sugar and then add cup by cup until you have reached the desired sweetness. Beat the frosting 15-20 minutes. The amount of time you spend beating the mixture truly makes a difference in consistency and fluffiness. Add more cream as needed.
These measurements are always exact, I usually go by taste and texture, adjusting for sweetness, creaminess and consistency. This is a good base recipe, adjust for your own taste.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I spent this past weekend in Atlanta with Nikki and we decided we would bake something together to post. We emailed ideas like Boston cream pie, a thirteen layer cake or possibly an apple pie. I arrived Friday morning and we had breakfast at a restaurant called The Flying Biscuit where we ate the BEST homemade southern biscuits, grits and pancakes with peach compote. The peach pancakes were amazing and gave us the idea to make something using the delicious Georgia peach.
After breakfast we ventured to a store called Cake Art which turned out to be a mecca for baking and decorating supplies. It was overwhelmingly wonderful, Nikki and I perused every aisle and bought things we needed (tart pans and cookie cutters) and things we definitely didn't need (rolled fondant).
With our newly purchased tart pans we decided to make a Peach tart. To make a long story short... we bought peaches, peeled and sliced them, made the tart, baked the tart and... woops it came out horrible. It was not set in the middle, burnt to a crisp on the outside and the peaches turned a very strange purple color. Sadly our joint baking effort was a disaster! Although, I think in its early stages it looked pretty good..
Oh well. You can't win them all.
Nikki- please upload a picture of the final disaster if you have it!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Blustery fall days call for... APPLE DELIGHT! I am not usually an apple dessert fan; I don't love apple pie or apple crisp but yesterday I was inspired by the changing leaves, cool breeze and my mom's homemade apple sauce. This recipe caught my eye not only because of the fall flavors but because it also used dulce de leche.
I've been wanting to try to make dulce de leche for a while but never found a recipe that called for it. I will never make it again for fear that I may eat the whole bowl before being able to use it for anything..... it's that good.
Anyway, this cake was fabulous! Tons of apple-cinnamon flavor, creaminess from the dulce de leche, not to mention the brown butter icing it's topped with. I will admit, it didn't come out the most visually appealing, but once you tasted it that didn't matter.
One last thing... I bought Nixon a Halloween costume. I thought it would be funny and ironic to make him the animal he hates most... a squirrel. Boy, is he handsome and he sure LOVES to wear it! If that's not the face of a happy dog then I don't know what is!?
Dulce de Leche Apple Cake with Browned Butter Icing
Adapted from recipegirl.com
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups chopped, peeled apples
- ½ cup dulce de leche*
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ to 2 tbsp half and half cream**
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round baking pan. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture, just until combined. Carefully stir in apples (sprinkled the apples with a little cinnamon sugar before incorporating them into the cake mix). Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop dulce de leche by heaping tablespoons over batter. Drag a butter knife through dulce de leche to swirl through the batter. Drop remaining batter over dulce de leche. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and firm to touch. Let cool completely.
Prepare icing: In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Add to a bowl with powdered sugar, vanilla and half/half. Beat on high speed with electric mixer until creamy. Drizzle and spread over bars, and chill until icing is set
*Find the recipe I used to make dulce de leche here.
** I used heavy whipping cream for the the icing because I didn't have half/half. The icing was too thick and didn't glaze the way I wanted. I will definitely use half/half next time.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I keep trying to improve my dough skills, working with yeast and trying to figure out the right way to prepare and knead a successful dough. This time I tried Pretzels. The recipe was simple and quick to mix together. However, there were a couple problems...
1. I was severely challenged when it came to rolling out even ropes of dough. My first pretzel looked massively over-sized and deformed. Luckily my mom came to the rescue with her fantastic rolling skills.
2. The "pretzels" tasted great, however they tasted more like a roll then a pretzel. I still haven't figured out where I went wrong with that.
All in all, I am impressed with the appearance of my first batch of pretzels, we ate them with my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup. Delicious.
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Makes about 12 pretzels
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/8 tsp active yeast
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup bread flour
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 2-4 tbsp butter, melted
Sprinkle yeast into warm water and stir to dissolve. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let dough rise for at least 30 minutes.
While dough rises prepare a water bath, whisking the baking soda into 2 cups warm water. Be sure to stir often.
After dough has risen, pinch off bits of the dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/2 inch thick or less) and then shape. Dip pretzel into soda water solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Allow the pretzels to rise once more. Bake on 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Anybody who has spoken with me since I returned from Europe would already know that. My heart was stolen by the narrow winding streets, rattling cable cars, sunny views of the coast, friendly locals and the pastry... the amazing, life-changing Portuguese pastry. It seemed that on every street corner there was a pastelaria displaying the perfectly crafted variations of puff pastry, custard, almond and egg fillings and flaky crusts.
Feeling ambitious on this beautifully brisk Sunday morning in Chicago I decided to give these pastries a try. I think it was more an attempt to relive the moments of pure happiness as I laid in a park, eating Pasteis de Belem, savoring the days of travel.
Anyway, they tasted good, a little heavy, NOTHING compared to the original but I would say a successful first effort. Check out the recipe I used and read more about the history of the Portuguese custard pastry here.