Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Will Bake for Food 2011

I was lucky enough to take part in Will Bake for Food again this year thanks to the invite from Jenny and got to learn about the Emergency Feeding Program. From what I’ve heard we raised almost 3k and filled several big barrels of canned goods with the bake sale. I love the idea of food bloggers getting together and helping out the community. It’s weird to think a creamsicle marshmallow or a jar of chorizo caramel confit can help keep someone from starving but it was great to see so many people taking part this year.

I opted to make something a little fun so I brought some homemade pop-tarts. It was a good excuse to open up one of my freshly canned jars of Caramel Apple Butter ūüôā

Recipes for the pop-tarts are linked below:

Apple Butter Pop-tarts (also includes the recipe for the apple butter)

Spinach & Goat Cheese Pop-Tarts

I mixed up a batch of Citrus shortbread at the last minute but haven’t written up the recipe yet. One day.

Now that WBFF2011 has passed I might need to start thinking about what I’d like to do for next year if I get to join in with the fun.


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April Daring Bakers

April’s Challenge is a Maple Mousse in an edible container.

This month’s challenge was hosted by Evelyne and while I was sorely tempted to try out her example of a bacon cup filled with mousse I opted to go for something less meaty this time. Maybe because Spring is so slow in arriving this year I’ve been fixated on summery treats and what is more summery than ice cream sandwiches?

I chose to make a half batch of maple mousse since I wasn’t sure how it would hold up as a frozen mousse filling for my sandwiches. When it came time to decide on the cookie portion of my sandwich I toyed with the idea of a nut cookie but the idea of using cake was appealing too.

I settled on thin slices of the Browned Butter Pound Cake from the August 2010 DB challenge. Each slice was toasted so they could hold up to the mousse and give a little crunch to the whole dessert.

Sweet and delicious. I’m now ready for summer so all I’m waiting for is the weather to cooperate.

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March Daring Bakers

March Challenge was Yeasted Coffeecake with Meringue.

I have to admit I’d never heard of filling a coffeecake with meringue before seeing the DB challenge for March. Even after making the thing I’m still not 100% what the purpose of the meringue is since it doesn’t add flavor besides a little extra sweetness and in my finished coffeecake it didn’t even add any gooey filling.

Rather than making a ring as shown in the original recipe I opted for a braid to keep things simple and with time running out and a lack of inspiration I took a shortcut and filled mine with the last of the Nutella in the house.

In the spirit of full disclosure I should own up to now being more than 2 months into a weight loss program that is changing the way I eat (for the better of course). I’ve just finished up 10 weeks on the program and am down almost 20lbs (a number I really didn’t think was attainable so quickly) so pulling out the baking pans when I’m on such a roll was something I was resisting. I wanted to participate but the last 2+ months have been about reworking some of my own recipes to variations that are more WW friendly. Baking up a giant rich and sweet coffeecake was not in my plans.

Perhaps because of my worry about the challenge derailing my progress I found it hard to like the coffeecake. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination and I know normally I would have happily cut up and warmed up a slice to eat with my morning English Breakfast tea. However since starting WW I’ve been shifting my culinary treats to things I truly enjoy and while the coffeecake was good it wasn’t great. To be honest I felt the meringue was pointless, mine weeped while the coffeecake was proofing and baked up into a burnt sugar crust under the Silpat that took serious elbow grease to clean up, the remaining meringue dissolved into the dough leaving only the nutella as filling. I was hoping the meringue would leave a soft gooey center but sadly it did not.

It was an interesting variation on a typical yeasted coffeecake and perhaps other DB folks had better luck with theirs but mine turned out to be a treat that failed to tempt me.

If you want to try out the Yeasted Coffeecake with Meringue for yourself and prove me wrong the recipe can be found here.

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December Bread

I apologize for not keeping up on my Year of Bread posts lately. I will post an update of all the ones I’ve made that I forgot to talk about.

As for December, Jenny and I decided on Babka. Jenny’s time in NYC gave her the chance to sample some great babka so she was at a bit of an advantage on this challenge since I’ve never had any before. I had no idea if what I was going to make would be good.

I realized after choosing my recipe that I had picked one from the part of the Cooks Illustrated recipe archive that requires an annual membership so I won’t be able to post it here. However it is also published in their Best International Recipe cookbook so if you have access to that I highly recommend it. What intrigued me was that it called for sour cream in the dough.

The recipe was enough to make 2 9″ loaves so I filled one with the cinnamon butter and pecans (recipe called for walnuts). While the other loaf I filled with chocolate chips.

The bread is similar to a brioche, rich with butter and eggs. There was a slight tang from the sour cream that I actually liked a lot. It kept the bread from being overly sweet.

Each loaf was made by dividing the dough into quarters, rolled out into rectangles, filling was spread evenly and then rolled up into logs. Two logs were then loosely twisted together and placed in the loaf pan to rise.

I love how the twisted shape creates swirls of filling throughout the bread.

While the chocolate was tasty the cinnamon and pecan filling was by far my favorite. Once the breads started to go stale I tried them out as french toast (rich and definitely doesn’t need any syrup) and the rest was cubed and toasted for bread pudding at a later date.

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Will Bake for Food Nov 20th

Several months ago Jenny of Purple House Dirt asked me if I wanted to take part in a bake sale/food drive. My answer was of course “Yes!” even before I knew it would be for NW Harvest. Fast forward a couple months and when she reminded me of the event I had to start planning what I was going to bake. I wanted something simple that was easy to package up and might also appeal to almost anyone. I also knew my baked treats were going to be sharing space with some serious local food bloggers so I didn’t even want to attempt to compete in terms of creativity.

I settled on cookies.

First I pulled out a cookie recipe I made up during my bakery days. In those days it never had a name and only came into existence due to an error in our chocolate order when we received white chocolate chips that held their shape and couldn’t be used in our frosting. Add in a little cocoa powder and some dried cranberries and the Holiday Cookie was born. I fully admit I’ve only been told the cookie is tasty because I have a serious aversion to white chocolate AND dried fruit.

Next up was a cookie I baked up for the first time in September before I headed down to Portland and Canby for a craft-filled weekend. I paid for my stay in a friend’s guest room with those cookies and they were a huge hit. Sweet & Salty Caramel Pecan Cookies. Need I say more?

Lastly was a new cookie I only tried out this week, it’s adapted from The English Kitchen and I can’t believe how simple they are. Malted Caramel Cookies. The original version are topped with the salted caramel but I opted to make mine as sandwiches.

I hope to see you at the Will Bake for Food and if you want to try any of the cookies I made the printable recipes can be found below. Come support a wonderful cause and try an abundance of delicious treats at the same time.


Holiday Cookies

Sweet & Salty Caramel Pecan Cookies

Malted Caramel Cookies





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August Bread

Oops. Somehow September came and went and I never mentioned the August bread I made.

For August Jenny and I decided on crumpets, she had just made english muffins but had never tried crumpets. I think I tried them about 8 years ago and since the memory of that is foggy at best I’m going to assume it was a horrible failure.

This time I armed myself with 2 recipes. I found one on deliaonline.com that seems to be the modern go-to website for British cooking while I dug up another version from the Helen Watson on the britannia.org website. One of these days I might even look up who this Helen Watson is since she seems to be an excellent source for British cooking. I remember back in the mid 90’s she used to host her recipes on her own website.

First up was Helen’s recipe. It was a vigorous bubbling batter, much thicker than the other and had a little baking soda in it. Over email Jenny and I both decided that the texture of crumpet batter can best be described as pancake snot. It looks thick and creamy but it’s oddly sticky, gummy and viscous. If your recipe yields pancake snot you are on the right track.

The first few crumpets were thick and dense. I couldn’t get the bubbles to pop before the top of the crumpet formed a skin from the heat. A little water thinned down the batter and I was back in business.

The deliaonline recipe was much simpler and less thick. It also was much slower to rise, I made both at the same time and by the time I was done cooking the HW batch the delia batch was ready. The appearance of those crumpets looked wonderful. I had lots of well formed holes popping up all over the place, the bottoms browned nicely and everything looked good. Plus the batch size was much more manageable. Don’t know about you but I really don’t need 24 crumpets at a time, not only do I have just 4 rings but 24 crumpets are a lot to eat before they go stale.

When it came to taste though….the deliaonline recipe was oddly dense and wet compared to HW’s. Neither was exactly what I was looking for but the HW offers the most promise. There will be tweaking in my future.

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August Daring Bakers

Baked Alaska or Ice Cream Petit Fours.

Ok I’ll be honest my first reaction when I read the challenge for August was “But I just made a cake and ice cream dessert in July!”. Then I got over it. While the challenges are similar at the basic level there were additional elements for August that still made it interesting.

Unlike July the ice cream in August’s challenge had to be homemade and rather than sticking with my preferred yolk based recipe I decided to try out the Philadelphia style version from The Perfect Scoop. I just needed to decide on flavors.

Then there was the cake, a browned butter pound cake. Let’s just say I’m a sucker for pound cake. I may spend my entire life searching for that perfect recipe that gives you all the richness of all that butter and eggs without the¬†heaviness that the makes a pound cake a doorstop. After making just one loaf I’m in love. The browned butter and brown sugar in the recipe added a certain depth to the cake, it was slightly nutty and caramelly¬†and not that sweet. Definitely a cake I’ll make again.

The challenge was to just make one of the two dessert options (or both if ambitious) and I automatically gravitated to the Baked Alaska, not only have I made several before but I kind of like any dessert where I get pull out the torch.

I don’t use a dinky little kitchen torch, a friend bought me a propane torch from HD several years ago as a birthday gift (they know me so well) and let me tell you….you can brulee the crap out of anything in a fraction of the time a kitchen torch can for less than half the price of those specialty ones. Plus I’m ready for whenever I need to do a bit of welding around the house.

Rather than make one large Baked Alaska I wanted to downsize and inspiration hit almost immediately. Beehive shaped Baked Alaskas!

I substituted the sugar in my ice cream recipe with honey almost 1:1. I would suggest using a strong flavored honey since mine was subtle with my combination of orange blossom and clover honey (it’s what I had left in the cupboard). I baked some of the pound cake in muffin cups, topped them with a scoop of ice cream and piped a beehive of meringue on each one. A few seconds with the torch was all they needed before they were ready to eat.

Here is a link to the original challenge. I highly recommend the browned butter pound cake recipe. Make it. You won’t regret it.

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