Posts tagged ‘Baking’

November 6, 2011

Easiest Chocolate Cake

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My internal dialogue was definitely discouraging, while making this cake. No egg, who bakes a cake without eggs – even brownies have eggs, this was certain to be a disaster. And now add lemon juice or vinegar! What was this going to taste like? And really!? I’m going to prepare this cake right in the baking pan! No mixing bowl? No creaming the butter, but melt it? Huh? Where am I!? What is going on? After all of that, the batter was thinner than pancake batter! We were surely headed for thin deflated cupcakes. Certainly, you are asking me why would I even consider this recipe after reading it? Well it comes from the Joy of Baking website, a place I trust and the photo was very enticing. New and different is what I like, new challenges!

Joy of Baking – Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder(not Dutch-processed), sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon lemon juice(or vinegar)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.

In an ungreased 8 inch square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. With a fork, mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

**NOTE: I made these into cupcakes rather than a cake. Fill the baking cups 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean.**

In the end, this is a very good simple recipe. It’s a heavier, moist cake. Not a light cake. The best description was somewhere between a brownie and cake. I’m more amazed by how well this cake came out and that it doesn’t have any eggs! (can’t get over that!).

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~Enjoy~

Amanda

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December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House 2010

This is our very first attempt at a homemade Gingerbread house. My daughter wanted to make people, but I wasn’t that ambitious this year – it being my first year and all. So while this house is NOT perfect with crooked windows, bent sides, and short pieces, I’d say this was a relatively successful house.  I definitely have some experience to apply for next year. My mistake was that I forgot to photo copy the template that was given to me, so I freehanded some of the cut outs (that is why we had some crooked and short parts…oops).

Mix the dough and roll it out (according to the recipe below).

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Lay out your templates and cut then pieces out of the dough. The recipe said to roll the dough out on cookie sheets, but I have a tapered rolling pin and it didn’t work well. So I rolled it out and transferred the pices to the sheet – not a great idea!  

Once you roll out your dough use a sharp knife to cut out the templates. We cut out windows and put some crushed life savers in the middle to make “stained glass” windows. It worked very well.

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Bake and cool completely.

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Stained glass windows…cute huh? (check out my uneven bottom – that is what serrated knives are for!)

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Now it’s time to decorate. Advice from my friend Linda (who is a seasoned gingerbread house maker, and the one who provided this recipe) says decorate all panels of your house including the roof and allow the decorations to dry completely so things do not start to slide off when you assemble the house. I think only an hour or so is necessary, the icing (if you use the recipe I will post below) dries pretty fast. We waited overnight, only because by the time we were done decorating it was dinner and bath time…

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After you decorate your house and let it set, comes the tough part. It is time to assemble your house. More advice from Linda – put up the 4 walls and allow those to dry overnight before assembling the roof. This way your structure is solid before adding the weight of the roof and all it’s decorations. You don’t want your house collapsing at this point because you’ve worked very hard up to this point to ruin anything…

 

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For your base I suggest using a piece of cardboard covered in foil. Then you can move your house around if you need. 

Just a note before I explain assembly, I put icing on the bottom of the house while I was assembling to add extra stability. So as you set up your house, add a little icing ot the bottom of each of the walls on the base.

Start assembling with the front or back panel, and one of the side panels. Add icing to the “inside” part of the front or back panel and press the side wall into the icing. Use containers to help hold up your panels as you work and as the icing dries. (see my photos above for holding up the roof…).

Once your 4 walls are up allow the icing to harden over night.

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Once your walls and the roof are assembled you can start creating your scenery…We used ice cream sugar cones for trees and put some icing on them to look like snow.

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At the end I added some powder sugar for “snow” effect. I also saw some fake (non-edible) snow at Pier One that would have been really cute, too.

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Now our happy little crooked Gingerbread house is complete for this year! I am happy with our first homemade house…

 

GINGERBREAD:

These recipes below came from Linda Marrone
6c. all purpose flour
2/3c. shortening
1 ¾c. sugar
1t. vanilla
1 8-oz container sour cream
2 eggs
1T cinnamon
1T ginger
2t. baking powder
1 ¼ t. salt
1t. baking soda

In a large bowl mix shortening sugar, sour cream, vanilla, eggs. With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed. Whisk together 3 ½ cups flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix into wet ingredients. With hands, knead in remaining 2 ½ cups of flour to make a soft dough. Divide dough and shape into a disk, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is not sticky and is of easy kneading consistency.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll dough on greased and floured cookie sheet. Cut out patterns.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 – 18 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

ORNAMENTAL ICING:

1 16oz. package confectioner’s sugar
½t. cream of tartar
3 egg whites at room temperature
½t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. With mixer, blend until smooth, then beat at high speed until very stiff.

Keep the icing covered as it dries quickly. (3 cups).

 

DECORATIONS (ideas create your own)

You can use a variety of items for decorating the house.

For the roof you can use vanilla wafers, necco wafers. Life savers for wreaths. Ice cream sugar cones for trees. Cinnamon candies, peppermint candies, candy canes, gum drops, M&Ms, rock candy, runts, and any other creative ideas you come up with. You can also opt to get the gingerbread house candy assortment from Wilton or King Arthur Flour or from a craft store.

 

 

December 6, 2010

Skiba Kolachi

Kolachi w/Nut Filling

 

When I think about food this time of year my mind immediately thinks of baked goods. Thanksgiving it’s about the savory foods, but this time of year is about treats and baking. Which if you know me, you would know I am fairly new to baking, but I’m beginning to really like it more than I ever thought I would.  My favorite is baking homemade breads. Breads can be challenging, but there is nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating warm fresh bread right out of the oven, that you worked on with your own two hands.  Baking with yeast can be intimidating and can be somewhat of a process, waiting around for dough to rise, then rest, then sequences of folding or kneading, and then another rise and finally baking. Then hopefully it turns out! Right?

Last year I was on a mission to learn how to make homemade bread. My dad knew this so for Christmas he gave me a really cool oven bread stone and several bread books he uses (my Dad likes to cook and bake as much as myself). One of the books was by Peter Reinhart, called Artisan Breads Every Day. That January, Peter Reinhart ended up in Reno teaching a bread class. Failing horribly at his Babka recipe, I decided to jump on the opportunity to attend his class to learn a little more. Before taking this class the whole concept of baking and having to abide by the rules was intimidating, see I cook to my own rules and make up and alter recipes comfortably – except when it comes to baking! So a few things I learned from that class were 1) baking is not as strict as I once believed it to be, and 2) even Peter Reinhart deviates from his own recipe directions. As for the Babka Peter ended up having to lower the oven temperature to cook the bread through without burning the outside (my Aha! moment, this is where I went wrong). There was a lot I learned from this class I could share with you, but this article would run on for days so for now I give you this recipe for Kolachi. It is one of the simplest yeast doughs I have made.  Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned baker you will enjoy how simple it is to make Kolachi dough.  I even made this recipe all by hand – no stand mixer (which is rare for me). 

Kolachi is of Slovak origin and this particular recipe has been passed down through my family (from Croatia). Two of my fondest holiday treat memories are ones that my Grandma Skiba made, Kolachi and clothespin cookies.  These two treats are tastes that remind me of Christmas and have become staples to my holidays just like the Christmas tree.  Grandma Skiba was a seamstress so in addition to Kolachi and clothespin cookies I remember all the hand made gifts she made for me. My favorite is a stocking that is completely hand embroidered from top to bottom with my name on it. I hang it up each year to remember her by. Several years ago my Aunt in Kansas began making Kolachi and clothespin cookies and sends a package to me, which I selfishly hide away and eat when my daughter is not looking. The first time my Aunt sent me the package I had not tasted either of these treats in years, but once I tasted them you know how some things just trigger wonderful memories from your childhood – yea, a nostalgic experience! Since Kolachi is not a very well known recipe and because I enjoy it so much I wanted to share this with you.  I hope you enjoy – from my family to yours!

SKIBA KOLACHI

Dough
1 cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large cake yeast (fresh!), soften in warm milk (or 3 pkgs of dry yeast)
3 eggs, beaten
5 cups flour

  1. Heat the milk to a near boil stirring constantly, remove the milk from the heat and stir in the butter, sugar and salt stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Cool to warm (80-90°F). (Remember anything over 140°F will kill the active yeast).
  2. Whisk in the yeast, then let sit while you get the flour ready and beat the eggs.

 3.   Add eggs and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon.

 

4.   Knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.

5.   Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it doubled in size (about an hour). 

6.   Punch down (isn’t yeast dough therapeutic) and divide in 7 or 8 balls about 6oz each.

7.   Roll into rectangles.

8.   Spread nut filling or date nut mixture and roll up jelly roll style crimping the ends and slightly tucking them under to keep the filling from oozing out.  (3 rolls to a pan).  Your rolls will be about 3 inches wide and 7-10 inches long

9.   Prick with fork 2” apart.  Let rise for 30min – 1 hour.  Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until brown. 

  Recipe Notes: If dough is too soft, knead in a little flour. 
You can use this dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or bread. (I have not yet tried either of these uses).

FILLINGS

Nut mixture (Pictured)
2 lbs shelled nuts ground. (nuts to be ground finely or they will poke through the dough).
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups milk (add a little at a time)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla.

  1. Grind nuts until coarsely ground, add the sugar and grind until the mixture is finely ground.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and milk, adding the milk a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  3. Cook on low heat to combine, then cool before spreading on dough.

Date & Nut Mixture
Small package of dates
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup hot water
2tsp. vanilla
1 lb. ground nuts

  1. Mix dates, sugar, flour, and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla
  3. Mash the dates with a potato masher.
  4. Add 1 pound ground nuts, cool before spreading on dough.

Notes: If mixture is too thick, add a little water.

Slice into 1” pieces and serve. You can wrap the loaves in press ‘n seal or plastic wrap to keep. Keep stored at room temperature.

Makes 7-8 loaves.

November 14, 2010

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from Epicurious.com I did not alter the recipe except I used a different pie crust recipe. Today I have been working on Thanksgiving and deciding what desserts I will be making. There is another (but very time consuming) recipe on my “to try list,”  it is a three layered pumpkin custard, whipped cream and mousse pie. Should it turn out I will post that pie as well. As for this caramel pumpkin pie, it came out fantastic! Caramel adds a kick to this pie, if you make this pie and did not tell anyone it is caramel pumpkin everyone would probably just think you make the best tasting pumpkin pie. Just tell them you used a “secret” ingredient!

I had some left over filling because my pie crust shrunk more than I anticipated so I put the rest of the filling into custard dishes and cooked them for 30-35 minutes. You could make the whole recipe into custard dishes rather than a pie. Caramel Pumpkin Custard.

1c. sugar
1/3 c. water
2 c. heavy cream
15oz can 100% pure pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 ¼ tsp. ginger
1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-pie crust (precooked)

Preheat oven to 375°

Make Caramel:
Stir sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Over medium heat bring the sugar to a simmer, and cook until the sugar turns to a golden brown color. (do not burn the sugar it will become bitter!) Do not stir during this part just swirl the pan a little and wipe down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water if the sugar sticks to the sides of the pan. Stir in 1 cup of heavy cream and stir the mixture until the caramel is dissolved, it will boil vigourously. Stir in remaining cup of cream and bring the mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat.

Filling:
Whisk together the pumpkin and spices in a large bowl. Whisk in the hot cream mixture, then whisk in the eggs stirring until well combined.

Pour filling into cooled pie crust and cook for 55-60 minutes. The center will look slightly wet but the edges will be puffed and cooked. Allow to cool on a rack for 2 hours, during this time the pie will continue to set.

Apparently pumpkin pie is a “soft crust” pie which means you don’t pre-cook the crust, instead pour the filling into the uncooked crust and bake the pie all at once. While that is ok, I have found I really like the texture and flavor of a pre-cooked pie crust – in pumpkin pie or not.  Apparently the people over at Gourmet feel the same as me as their recipe calls for a pre-cooked crust. BUT if you prefer soft crust then by all means, you do not have to pre-cook the crust in this recipe.

Praline Topping
1/2 stick cold butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2T flour
1/2 cup coarsley chopped pecans

Mix the flour and brown sugar, then with a pastry blender or fork cut in the butter. Stir in the coarsely chopped pecans and sprinkle the mixture over the pumpkin pie before baking.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Streusel

October 19, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Delish devil’s food cake, creamy chocolate ganache filling, topped with white chocolate buttercream frosting.

I seriously don’t think that I could say anymore that would entice you enough to want to try these cupcakes. This was the birthday flavor of the month. A definite must make again recipe (as if any of the recipes I post I wouldn’t make again). The ganache turns into this thick creamy center in the cupcake kind of like a chocolate truffle. It’s sinfully delicious and makes you want another one! Luckily all of these were pretty much designated to be given to people, otherwise I would not have let one of these tastey cakes go to waste!

Cupcake Recipe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 package of instant devils food pudding (only the powder)
1 ½ c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
1t. almond extract
1/2 c. room temperature butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt.  Separately mix milk with vanilla and almond extracts, and set aside.

With an electric or stand mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes.

Bake for 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting Recipe   

1/2 cup shortening (Crisco has sticks and they are so much easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract
1 c. melted white chocolate

I used Wilton’s Candy Melts for the white chocolate because the Candy Melts, melt nice and smoothly too. Melt according to the package directions. (or use almond bark or your favorite white chocolate chips or bars).

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the cooled melted chocolate and beat at low speed 1-2 on a KitchenAid stand mixer.  Now, incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the milk 1 T. at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 3T for a medium consistency.

Cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

Filling Recipe – Ganache

1 ½ c. heavy cream
15oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a saucepan heat the cream to just before it reaches a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow the chocolate to melt and the mixture is smooth.

Now you need to completely cool the ganache either in the freezer for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator covered.

Once completely cooled whip the ganache with a whisk or using a hand or stand mixer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembly

Using a cupcake filling tip on a decorating bag, fill the bag with filling then inject the cupcakes with the filling. (or use this method).

To decorate use the coupler only (without a decorating tip) and pipe the frosting in a circular motion. I sprinkled some black sugar flake I found at Michael’s Art and Craft store.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

March 7, 2010

Artisan Breads Every Day w/Peter Reinhart @ Nothing To It!

(Please forgive the photo quality – they were taken on my phone) 

On Saturday I took a class at Nothing To It! (which is a great place to take cooking classes this was my second class with them). My dad gave me the book Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day (you have probably seen it in my list of cookbooks I use/read and I mentioned it in my Ciabatta post).  Several weeks ago I saw that he was actually teaching a class at Nothing To It, what coincidence! So I signed up right away! Lucky I did because looking at his schedule, his other classes on the West Coast have filled up and there were several out-of-towners in our class. There were 60 people in the class and that’s pretty significant for the small cooking school in small town Reno. 

The class was great. I learned a lot and just watching an expert make bread is a great experience. To watch Peter mix, shape and bake the bread is a lesson on it’s own. But he also shared tips and knowledge he picked up during his years of experiences being a baker – owning a bakery, writing cookbooks and now teaching.   As well as sharing the science of bread. In fact I could probably use a few classes of this information!- he teaches at Johnson and Wales. 

A Couple of the many things I took away from this class: 

Oil instead of butter! Peter mentioned that he started using oil and has found the dough is more supple. So I will be trying this out.

High altitude baking – water boils at a lower temp, which means you can reduce the oven temps.  We (those of us here in Carson) are only at 4500 ft so it’s not a huge difference and we probably don’t need to do this. However, since our climate is drier – and higher altitude environments are generally drier – it may require us to use more water in some recipes. AH HA moment! hence my Babka recipe blunder! I thought the dough was too dry but didn’t think I could add more water without compromising the dough. I was prepared to ask him if he would add more water to some of the recipes since we have a drier environment, but that was the first question that came up in the class! Guess I wasn’t the only one with that problem!!! My biggest babka problem was that it was not cooked through. I thought I used too much chocolate which resulted in it being undercooked, well this was the bread that Peter had to keep checking in class and it went back in the oven several times! While it seems to brown fast it didn’t burn like I thought it would so I should have just kept baking it – now I know. 

Babka

Babka and Challa baking

Next Peter demonstrated how to do a 6 braid Challa (pronounced hall-a, which makes me think of that Gwen Stefani song…holla back girl! LOL)! Instructions for braiding are pretty intimidating, but much easier to absorb when you get to see it done first hand!

Challa Braiding

Taste

While the enriched doughs (Challa, brioche) and sweat breads are super good, my favorites are definitely the lean doughs.  The nutty, crusty breads have always been my favorite, well before I got started making bread.  So my favorites are ciabattas, batards, boules and the like. However, the sticky buns are fantastic. Peter made three different stucky buns and my favorite was the cranberry pecan – those of you who eat my food will be having this sometime soon!  There was much more I learned that will help me in my bread making adventures! I feel more confident that while bread recipes are so scientific, I have more room to play around with than I thought.  So I’m going to be BRAVE in my bread making now! LOL I tell my daughter to “be brave” whenever she is scared…

This is the worst photo of me but I’m going to post it anyway because it’s all I have. It was a great class and I can’t wait to start making more bread! 

Me and Peter

December 6, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is the BEST cheesecake I have ever made. I combined both my own and Gram K’s recipe for plain cheesecake and then added the mixture of pumpkin and spices to it for a beautiful yummy moist cheesecake!

CRUST
1 ½ c ground cookie crumbs (Vanilla wafers)
2T. brown sugar (or granulated)
5T. melted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

MIX all together and press into the bottom of a spring form pan or a deep pie dish. Bake @ 375 degrees for 7 minutes or so.

FILLING
3- 8oz. pkgs cream cheese (softened)
3/4c granulated sugar
1T van illa
5 eggs
1/8 cup heavy whipping cream
1tsp lemon zest (optional)

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and make sure incorporated. Beat in whipping cream and zest.

Pumpkin Mixture
15 oz can pumpkin puree
¼ t. ground ginger
1 ½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. ground cloves
1/8 c. sour cream

Whisk the pumpkin mixture together, then fold into cheesecake filling.

BAKE cheesecake at 300-degrees for 1 hour and 5 min (or until middle set).