Monday, October 3, 2011

TWD: Apple Nut Muffin Cake

Dorie had a kitchen emergency and turned her Apple Nut Muffins into cake. I did the reverse and turned Dorie's Apple Nut Muffin Cake into muffins!

Yum. Apples, nuts, raisins, nothing says Fall like apple desserts.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was made by Katrina of Baking and Boys.

Thanks, Katrina, for a winning selection!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TWD: Cocoa Salt and Pepper Shortbread

This week's Tuesday with Dorie selection was made by Tia of Buttercream Barbie. I was intrigued by the thought of salt & pepper in a sweet cookie so I quickly baked up a batch, but...

...I wasn't impressed. The salt & pepper that I sprinkled on top added a surprising kick when you took a bite, but the cookie itself was kinda dull. I ate a couple and thought, "These just aren't worth the calories."

Maybe they needed more sugar (they weren't sweet at all). Or maybe they needed more cocoa. Hard to pin-point the problem, but they were definitely not a "keeper".

Sorry Dorie. This is the first recipe from the book that I didn't care for...

Monday, September 12, 2011

TWD: Clasic Brownies

I tend to prefer cakelike brownies over fudgy brownies, but these fudgy little gems were pretty darn good. Dorie Greenspan in "Baking from My Home to Yours" describe them as "Fudgy but not gooey, intensely chocolaty, dry on top and melty in the middle." That about describes them perfectly.

Many thanks, Anne, of Anne Strawberry for making this week's TWD selection. Go to Anne's web page for the recipe and check out TWD - Tuesdays with Dorie for links to the other "Classic Brownies" renditions.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amanda's iPhone Cake

My 10 year old niece wanted an iPhone for her birthday. Her dad said “NO, absolutely positively NO”, so I made her an iPhone cake instead. She got a kick out of it, and her friends did too.

I can't believe it, but this is the first decorated cake that I’ve made in over a year and a half. It has been a rough, rough 18 months. To emotional and upsetting to think about decorating cakes, but I’m hoping and praying that things will get better.

Anyway the cake is half red velvet and half chocolate fudge. I made the app icons out of polymer clay and the rest of the decorations are made from Wilton’s fondant. Yuck!! I think that stuff tastes like flavorless wax, but a kid at the party actually loved the stuff. Weird kid.

Here are the app icons coming together. The assembly wasn't hard, but it was very time consuming. I think I spent about 8 hours making all the 17 app icons. My favorite is the "Map". It has little tiny roads, an interstate sign, and a red push pin. Too cute.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TWD: Golden Brioche Loaves

Dorie Greenspan's Golden Brioche Loaves have long been on my baking "to do" list, but it took Margie of Tea and Scones to push it to the top of my baking agenda. Margie selected the recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie's weekly baking assignment. Check out Margie's blog for the recipe and TWD for other version of this French classic.

So how did my first attempt at Brioche go??
Well not too bad, it baked up slightly darker than "golden", but it still had a great taste and light, pillowy texture.

So here it the life cycle of my Brioche (in pictures of course)...

Step 1: Yeast, water, milk, flour, and salt after a few quick pulses.

Step 2: Add the eggs.

Step 3: Add the butter, a little bit at a time. This step took FOREVER. Who would have thought it would take so long to incorporate the butter into the dough.

Step 4: All the butter incorporated into the dough. Beat for about 10 minutes till the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Step 5: Transfer to a bowl, and let the "rising" begin.

Step 6: A few hours later, let the "rising" end.

Step 7: Cut the dough into two (or four) equal pieces. (I didn't have two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans so I used four mini pans. ) Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces and roll into logs.

Step 8: Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Sticky, sticky dough.

Step 9: Leave the dough at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans. Oops, my loaves rose a little too much.

Step 10: Bake the loaves until golden brown. I cooked mine for about 25 minutes and they came out a bit too brown and a little dry. So next time I would stop at about 20 minutes.

So like I said, a little dry and a little too brown, but not half bad for my first loaf of Golden Brioche!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

TWD: Cream Scones

Light, moist and delicately crumbly. This simple scone has lovely taste and wonderful texture. I had one and then another, and when no one was looking, I had a third.

And apparently I wasn't the only one to think these scones were amazing, cause all 12 of these little beauties disappeared in just a few minutes.

Thanks Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu for an excellent Tuesdays with Dorie selection. It is now one of my favorites. Check out Lynn's site for the recipe or find in on page 17 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours.

PS: I did make a few minor modifications to the recipe. I used 7 tablespoons of butter instead of 5, I used 4 tablespoons of sugar instead of 2 (plus I sprinkled some additional sugar on top), and I added a teaspoon of almond extract. I baked them for 19 minutes (my oven runs hot) on a baking stone.

I hope yours turn out as amazing as mine :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I've been a bad blogger lately :(

I've been baking goodies once, twice and even thrice a week, but not blogging about any of them (bad, bad, blogger). What can I say: work, life, parties, holidays, watering my drought parched lawn, lots of things have gotten in the way.

But today on this sweltering July 4th afternoon, I made some mid-year resolutions...

1) I will blog on everything I bake,
2) I will stop using my treadmill as laundry line and start exercising again, and
3) I will try to see the good in people and situations. Note to self: stop being so negative.

So here is my first blog in a while, TWD's Chocolate Chunk Muffins. So good, so chocolaty, so moist and delicious. Thanks, Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles, for a great selection.

Next week Cream Scones (yummm, my favorite).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TWD: Maple-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

Not much to look at, but mighty tasty nonetheless.

Many thanks Lindsey from A Little Something... Sweet! for selecting this week's TWD recipe: Maple-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits.

Think cornbread, think scone, then think of them merged together. Yes, that's it! That is what these little gems taste like. Crumbly and soft with just a hint of sweetness. Very good. Too good to eat just one.

Thanks, Lindsey, for a great selection.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TWD: Pecan Shortbread - Fiasco

I was in a mood for shortbread, so I decided to try out Dorie Greenspan's Pecan Shortbread.

Should I describe my attempt as a failure? A fiasco? An unmitigated flop?

I don't know what I did wrong, but whatever it was, my "wrongness" was major.

Too much butter?

Not enough flour?

I thought I measured everything correctly, but apparently NOT.

Instead of nice, sharp edged squares, everything spread into one thin sheet of butter, sugar, pecans, and flour. It tasted good (like pecan taffy), but it was definitely unappealing.

Oh well, file this one under "misadventures".

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TWD: Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection of Brown Sugar Bundt Cake was made by Peggy from Pantry Revisited. The recipe actually calls for pears and prunes (neither of which I'm found of), but the "Playing Around" options said to omit the pears and prunes and stir in chopped nuts. Yes. I loooove nuts. So here is my Brown Sugar-Nut Bundt Cake.

Very soft and tender texture, and extremely moist to boot.

Thanks, Peggy, for a great pick.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TDW: Basic Marbled Loaf Cake

My Pick!!!! My Turn !!!

After 1-1/2 years, it is finally my week to host TWD. I selected Marbled Load Cake because it just begs to be fiddled with. Dorie offered several "playing around" suggestions, and I went with the white and dark chocolate variation. Other suggestions included orange, peppermint, cardamon, coffee. I can't wait to see what amazing flavor combination the creative bakers at TDW come up with.

My Marbled Load Cake saga started out well. I didn't panic when my batter curdled, cause, Dorie, the baking goddess told me it might happen.

Marbling the batter was fun. (Although I ended up eating a lot batter before it made it to the pan. Hey I had to catch all the batter that dripped from the spoon.)

And the final swirls made it look so pretty.

But alas my oven is having serious problems, and is causing be no end of grief. I really think it is inhabited by demons or other such mischievous beings. The temperature goes up and down on its own, and sometimes even shuts itself off on occasion. I really believe the thing is toying with me. It is trying to destroying what little baking confidence I have/had.

Case in point: I only baked my marbled loaf for 55 minutes (and not the suggested 80-90 minutes), and still I ended up crispy edges.

But I didn't let a cruel oven and burnt edges stop ME! I just did a lot of edge trimming, slathered each slice with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, and ate Chocolate Marbled Load Cake until every last crumb was gone.

Everything is better with chocolate, even extra crispy cake.

Here is the recipe from page 230 of Dorie Greenspan's BAKING from My Home to Yours:

Basic Marbled Load Cake

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk )
Choice of flavorings

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two stacked regular baking sheets.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferable fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl,beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Don't be concerned if the batter curdles and stays curdle--it will be find.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, just until each addition is incorporated.

5. Divide the batter equally into two bowls. Add the flavorings of your choice to each bowl of batter.

6. Dollop spoonfuls of each batter randomly into the prepared pan. Plunge a table knife deep into the batter and zigzag the knife through the batter a few times. Be careful not to over mix the batter as you'll lose the marbled effect and end up with a muddy-looking loaf.

7. Bake the cake for an hour and then check on it. If it looks like it's getting too brown but needs more baking, cover the bread loosely with a tent of foil. The cake may need up to 30 minutes more to bake, depending on your oven, how dark your baking pan is and what additions you've made. The cake is done when a thin knife or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

8. Transfer the cake pan to a rack to cool for 15 minutes and then remove it from the pan and continue to cool it (right side up) on the rack until it's room temperature.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TWD: Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection of Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies (page 130 of Dorie Greenspan's: BAKING From My Home to Yours) was made by Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine.

Now I'm a BIG fan of thick, crumbly Scottish shortbread (think Walkers), so I was a little disappointed in these cookies. They were a little too thin and a little too sweet, so they just didn't "taste" like shortbread. And those little buggers spread like crazy. For the second batch I even pre-cut the squares and chilled the dough before baking, but I still got the same mis-shaped results. Yes, I know I'm whining.

If these cookies had been called sugar cornmeal cookies or sweet butter-cornmeal crisps, I would have raved about their taste and the surprisingly pleasant texture that the cornmeal adds, but I was fixated on the traditional and my mind couldn't cope with this different spin on shortbread. I know, I know, the problem is with me and not the cookies.

But one thing I simply loved about this recipe was the awesome tip about rolling out the dough in a zip-lock bag. No mess, no fuss, and best of all no clean-up.

Simply genius. Thanks Dorie.

And thank you, Valerie. Your selection really was tasty.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TWD: A Tourtely Apple Tart

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection of A Tourtely Apple Tart (page 306 & 307 of Dorie Greenspans' Baking From My Home to Yours) was made by Jeanette of The Whimsical Cupcake.

I halved the recipe and made four mini tarts. Isn't he cute?

I had a little trouble adjusting the baking time and temperature for my mini portions, but even with their crispy brown edges the tarts tasted great. They could have been a little sweeter and a little juicer, but not too bad for my first attempt at Dorie's Tourtely Apple Tart.

Thanks Jeanette

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TWD: Pecan Powder Puffs

Pecan Powder Puffs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Pecan Sandie... This cookie is called many different things, but regardless of the name it is delicious. Tender, melt in your mouth cookie speckled with ground pecans, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yummmm... You can't eat just one.

Mixing these cookies was quick and easy, especially since I took Dorie' suggestion and mixed the dough in a food processor.

But I did have a little trouble with the baking. I chilled the dough for about 3 hours, but I guess my hot little hands softened the butter as I formed the balls. The cookies spread like crazy. Poor little Pecan Powder Pancakes.

For the second batch I rolled the dough into the little balls first and then chilled them for a few hours. This time they baked up perfectly round little domes of puffy pecan delights.

I baked these gems for my Mom's 77th Birthday on March 20th. She got a laugh from the 77 candles I had on her cake. She had no trouble blowing them all out, and no, the smoke alarm did not go off.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Steve's Pecan Parline Bars

This last week has been a nightmare. On Monday, March 21st my younger brother, Steve, went in for a colonoscopy and they found a mass the size of a baseball on his colon. The doctor said it have been growing there for 10 years. On Wednesday (his birthday) he had a CT scan that found spots on his liver. The whole family is numb with shock and disbelief, he is only 44 and has three kids.

On Saturday we had his birthday party, and I made him his favorite dessert: Pecan Pralines Bars. Here is the recipe I used, but I subbed half the white sugar for brown sugar.

Here is my brother, always happy, always smiling. He is having surgery on Wednesday, March 30 to remove a part of his colon. He will start chemo right after that...

If you are over the age of 40, please, please go and get a colonoscopy. Even if you don't have any symptoms. Most doctors say you don't need it until you are 50, but don't risk it. You are playing Russian Roulette with you life.

I scheduled my appointment (I'm scared to death about what they might find), now you schedule YOURS!!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

TWD: Corniest Corn Muffins

I always seem to be running late these days: no time exercise, to time to garden, and worst of all no time to BAKE. (I also don't have time to clean the house, but in my mind that is a good thing.) So here I am 4 days late with my Tuesday with Dorie post. Sorry fellow TWDers.

This week's selection of Corniest Corn Muffins (page 4 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours) was made by Jill of My Next Life.

Over my life time I have baked a lot of Corn Bread and tried a lot of different recipes but I've always gone back to Martha White's Sweet Yellow Corn Bread (yes a box mix). Everyone in the family loves it and it is always the first thing to go at gatherings.

But I have to say Dorie's Corniest Corn Muffins recipe may have Martha's box mix beat. The CCM's texture was great, it was full of fluffy air pockets and crunchy corn. It was moist and slightly sweet, and almost perfect. Next time I'll add more corn, maybe a little more sugar, and bake it a little less. I baked for 17 minutes and mine came out a little too brown.

So thanks Jill for making a great selection. I have a new favorite Corn Bread recipe!

On a different subject take a look at the roses I found at Walmart of all places. You can't really tell in the picture, but they have a greenish-yellow color. Very unusual and beautiful. And only 8 bucks for a dozen. What a bargain.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TWD: Toasted Almond Scones

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
I love your Toasted Almonds
I love your Ground Almonds
I love your Chopped Almonds and Almond Extract too...

Sigh, Almond Scones are one of my favorite things so I was so excited when Mike of Living Out West selected them for Tuesdays with Dorie's weekly baking assignment.

The ingredients were typical scone stuff and came together beautifully, but as Dorie warned in her book the dough was very, very sticky. What a mess!!!

But I just floured my hand extra well, and voila, nice pretty wedges.

Oops, I forgot to separate the wedges before baking (I'm getting so forgetful in my old age), but they still came out looking pretty nice (or at least I thought so). Plus they puffed up like a Puffer Fish on steroids. Truly amazing. I guess it was all that baking powder in the mix :)

So how did they taste?

Well honestly I was just a little disappointed.

I have a horrendous sweet tooth and these scones had just a hint of sweetness. I guess I could have slathered it with jam, but I didn't have anything suitable (scone worthy) in the frig.

But I didn't despair. I had mixed a full batch and froze half the dough, so I'll bake up the second half and have another taste test this weekend. Yea, more scones. This time I'm gonna drench those little babies in Blackcurrant jam and Jersey Cream. I'll let you know how they taste.