Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Abandonment Issues

Please don't think I have them. I haven't abandoned this blog. I just have run smackdab into 1) my new full-time job, 2) a hectic holiday schedule, 3) digging out from 18 inches of new snow (okay, okay... actually Mr. Doughboy does the digging out; I watch from the window), 4) Doughnut Hole #6's pending return tomorrow from a 20-day trip to Europe, and 5) Doughnut Hole #3's pending return on December 22nd from two years in New Zealand.

So... I'll get back to this when things calm down. I've got a killer new recipe for Blueberry Dumplings to share with you, not to mention my holiday baking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Packing on the Pounds

I have a favorite Snickerdoodle Cake. I love it. However, some complain that it is too dry for their taste. Since one of those complainers was coming to dinner the other night, I figured I better come up with something 'not so dry.' I decided to try a Pound Cake approach to Cinnamon Cake and see if that would be any better. I wouldn't say it was better (because I love my Snickerdoodle Cake recipe) -- but it was at least as good!

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon Pound Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8-oz. Philadelphia brand Whipped Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Spice Swirl cream cheese, room temperature
3 c. granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon Glaze

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly spray a 12-cup bundt pan with baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy.

Place butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, increase mixer to high speed, and beat for 5 minutes, until mixture is light and airy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and cinnamon, then flour and salt all at one time. Beat just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and even out the top. Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven to a cooling rack. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. Glaze with cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crackers and Crumbs

Specifically graham cracker crumb crusts. For pies and cheesecakes. Does everyone know how to make a basic graham cracker crust? I thought I did -- for years. It was super easy. You went to the grocery store straight to the baking aisle and you bought one from Keebler. And, while I've still been known to do that in a pinch, there are drawbacks. First, the tin they come in is so thin that when you slice the pie, you often slice right through to the countertop. Bummer.

So, I thought I'd give you some basic, starting off recipes for graham cracker and other assorted crumb crusts that you can make from scratch. They are simple and inexpensive.

All you need to do is combine the ingredients and then press them onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased pie tin. Also, depending on what type of dessert you are planning, you then either bake the crust for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees and let it cool before filling it, or you chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. NOTE: if you are making a cheesecake, you will need to increase the proportions accordingly, depending on if you are using an 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan.

To press the crust into the pie tin, I use the flat side of my measuring cups.

For a Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups (about 24 squares) graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C sugar
1/3 C butter, melted

For a Chocolate Wafer Crust:
1 1/4 C chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C butter, melted

For a Vanilla Wafer Crust:
1 1/2 cups (about 30 cookies) wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

For a Gingersnap Crust:
1 1/2 C gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

For an Oreo Cookie Crust:
1 1/2 C Oreos (about 15 cookies)
1/4 C butter, melted

This is just meant to be a starting off point for you. You can add other ingredients as well to vary the flavors. For example, when I make a gingersnap crust, I often reduce the amount of gingersnap crumbs by 1/4 C and add 1/4 C of finely chopped pecans. Also, when making a crust for cheesecake, I will add finely chopped almonds and reduce the amount of graham crackers crumbs accordingly.

For Sunday dinner this week, I made a Chocolate Mint Cream Pie with an Oreo Crumb Crust. It was a quickie pie. Didn't get a photo until I only had one slice left. The picture isn't great, but at least it gives you the idea of how it looked.

Chocolate Mint Cream Pie
1/2 C cold milk (I used whole)
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
2 3/4 C whipped topping, divided
1 pkg. (4.7 oz) Andes mint candies, chopped fine and divided
1/4 tsp mint extract
2 drops green food coloring
recipe for 1 Oreo crumb crust

Make the crumb crust and press into pie tin. Chill in refrigerator while you continue with the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let rest for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in 3/4 C whipped topping until well combined. Fold in 3/4 C mint candies.

In another bowl, combine extract and remaining whipped topping; add food coloring and stir well until no streaks of green remain. Spoon pudding mixture into prepared crust. Spreak whipped topping mixture over pudding layer; sprinkle top of pie with remaining mint candies. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'll Explain Later

What the concoction is between those two slices of bread. But right now, I want to talk about those two slices of bread.

You see, I go through phases. Phases where I madly bake desserts (all fattening). Phases where I bake breads from scratch. Phases where I bake breads using a breadmaker. Phases where I don't even set foot in the kitchen and everyone who lives in the Pastry Shoppe (otherwise known as my house) subsists on day after day of delivery pizza and cold cereal.

Well, for the past five weeks, I have been back at full-time work. It has seriously cramped my baking hours. So I flipped back into bread machine phase. I've been going through recipe after recipe looking for bread recipes that can thrive using the 'delay' function on my bread maker since I haven't been around to knead dough or watch it rise. (My goodness that makes my past life sound so very exciting, doesn't it?)

Anyway, I found this one on Tasty Kitchen and it turned out quite tasty indeed. It has a sweet maple flavor. I bet it would be delicious as French toast. The above sandwich was very good as well. I don't have a photo of the whole loaf because, well, it didn't last long.

Maple Cinnamon Oat Bread (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
1 1/4 C warm milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
3/4 C rolled oats
2 C bread flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp yeast

Add the ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer of your bread machine. Choose the basic/white bread cycle with light crust setting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Sweet Isn't Good Enough

Let's talk sugar. It's essential for good baking. I think one of the reasons I like freshly fallen snow is because it looks like the lawn is covered in sugar. That's a happy thought!

Flavored sugars can boost your baked goods to an even greater flavor. I decided, what with Christmas baking around the corner, I needed to replenish my stock of flavored sugars. So I made up three different flavors this morning: vanilla sugar, orange sugar and lemon sugar. (I had wanted to make up some lavendar sugar, but I think I delayed too long and my friendly neighborhood supply of lavendar has likely been buried in snow. Sigh.)

Vanilla sugar simply deepens the flavors of most baked sweets. I particularly like to use it when I make my favorite Honey Vanilla Challah bread.

I have a delightful recipe for Orange Berry Muffins. I like to use Orange sugar to increase the orange flavoring in those. I also have a recipe for a Chocolate Orange Bundt cake that tastes just like those Chocolate Oranges they sell at Christmastime. (You know the ones -- you bang them against the table before you unwrap them and the chocolate breaks apart in "slices" shaped just like orange slices.) Well, using Orange sugar instead of regular sugar in that recipe brings out the subtle orange flavor that is hiding just behind the chocolate.

Lemon sugar can be used in any baking recipe that calls for lemon zest. I particularly like to use it in when I make sugar cookie dough.

So, here are my flavored sugar recipes. Easy peasy. I snapped the photo above so you could wonder what kind of weird science experiments I was doing on my back porch. Said jars have now been shaken and set in the pantry. Six days from now, boy oh boy, we're gonna have some yummy sugary stuff goin' on here at the Pastry Shop.

Vanilla Sugar (muliply measurements as needed)
2 C granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half, split open and seeds scraped

Place the sugar in an airtight container. (Sometimes I use ziplock bags, other times I use canning jars.) Scrape the seeds directly into the sugar. Stir to combine well. Then place the pod halves in the sugar. Shake to combine. Let sit 5-6 days, shaking the container at least once each day.

Orange Sugar (ditto regarding measurement multiplication)
2 C granulated sugar
zest of 2 oranges (be careful not to include the white pithy stuff - yuck!)

Combine all together in an airtight container and shake well. Let sit 4-5 days, shaking container at least once a day. Using a sieve or sifter, pour sugar through sieve and into an airtight container. Discard orange zest caught in sieve.

Lemon Sugar (double ditto regarding measurement multiplication)
2 C granulated sugar
zest of 3 lemons (same advice regarding bitter, icky pithy stuff)

Combine all together in an airtight container and shake well. Let sit 4-5 days, shaking container at least once a day. Using a sieve or sifter, pour sugar through sieve and into an airtight container. Discard lemon zest caught in sieve.
***Disclaimer: There are a lot of ways to prepare citrus sugars. Some people actually prefer to put half the amount of sugar into a food processor along with the zest. Pulsing a bit combines the flavors and breaks the zest down into very small bits. They then put the sugar/zest combo into the airtight container and add the other half of the sugar and combine well before sealing it up. That works more than fine. In fact, the citrus flavor is even stronger in sugar prepared that way. I'm just lazy and don't want to have to clean my food processor so I don't do it like that.
If you roll the food processor route, you might want to either up the amount of sugar or lessen the amount of zest, depending on your preference for strength of citrus taste.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Football and Baking

(I wrote this on Saturday, but posted it today)
Yes. That's what I said. Football. and. Baking. They go together at my house. If there's a BYU football game, I'll be watching it -- either in the stadium or on TV. Well, today it's on TV.

While I watch, I bake. Yes, BAKE. The floorplan of my house allows me to watch TV from the kitchen with no problem at all. So, today the TV's on, the volume is up and my KitchenAid mixer is doing its thing. The oven is preheated and my experimental Buttermilk Cake is just minutes away from being taste-tested. I am a happy girl.

Buttermilk Cake with Berries in Ginger Syrup
For the Cake:
2 C cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 C buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a buttered 9x2 round cake pan with parchment paper. Spray PAM onto paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5-6 minutes). Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set mixer to low speed and beat in all of the buttermilk, just until combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing after each addition just until combined. Do not overbeat batter.

Spoon batter into cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edges of cake to loosen it from pan. Invert onto rack then invert back onto a cake plate.

For the syrup:
3/4 C ginger ale
3/4 C water
3/4 C sugar
2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 1/2 C raspberries
1 C blackberries or 1/2 C blueberries

Bring ale, water, sugar and ginger to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until mixture reduces to about 1 cup (about 15 minutes).
While syrup is simmering, place berries in a deep bowl. Pour hot syrup through a fine sieve onto the berries, then stir to combine them. Make sure the berries are covered in the syrup. Let berries stand at least 20 minutes, but no more than 2 hours before serving.

To assemble:When cake is cooled, lightly pierce the outside edge of the cake with fork tines. Drizzle just a bit of the gingered syrup along the outside edge of the cake. Next, place soaked berries in the center of the cake. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top of the berries.
Note: this cake can tend to be a little bit dry for my taste, so when I serve individual slices, I drizzle a bit more of the ginger syrup on the edge of the cake slice that doesn't have berries on it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Undeserved Labels

This dessert is called Oatmeal Yucks. That couldn't be further from the truth. These are delicious. Kids love them. Well, my kids do. I'm not sure exactly where they got their name, but rumor has it a small child saw a grown-up cutting and serving them up. The melted marshmallow was making long strings of white from the 9 x 13 pan to the serving plate. The kid looked at that and said, "Yuck!" And apparently it stuck.

So, all these years later, they are still called Oatmeal Yucks.
Oatmeal Yucks
1 C brown sugar
1 C vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 C oatmeal
2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 pkg chocolate chips
1/2 pkg miniature marshmallows
Cinnamon sugar

Combine together the sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Then, pour on the marshmallows. Spread them around so they cover any places where the dough is not covered with chocolate chips. Crumble the remaining half of the dough on top of the chocolate/marshmallow layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Let cool before slicing into bars.