Being Behind

Well, it’s official! I’m behind on my lovely blog and all other things that involve baking! That’s not to say I haven’t been baking lately, cause I definitely have. It’s the best stress relief out there and with college coming up, I’ve had to do a lot of it. But it’s all been spur-of-the-moment, “let’s see if this is good” sort of baking. Nothing very…how do you say…presentable?

I made creme brulee for the first time, with my lovely boyfriend (although we’re not so good with baking ye!t). We made cinnamon rolls, too! I was having too much fun and forgot to add the wet ingredients (how, I ask, do you just forget a thing like that?!). But then I made them on my own and they turned out great! Maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of cinnamon rolls. 

Today, I made a fantastic recipe by Celiac Teen: cornflake marshmallow lace cookies. And then I realized, because she is a daring baker, that I’ve completely forgotten to do the Daring Baker Challenge for months. Oops. Good thing they don’t kick anyone out, right?

So my new goal is to get some pictures and recipes up and complete every single one of those darn daring bakers challenges. We’ll see what happens.

Christmas Joy! (and a happy new year)

This Christmas may have been one of the best. Despite college apps, despite the complete and utter lack of snow, I took time to relax, and I hope all of you did too! I spent time with the people I care about, and I got a lot of lovely gifts. And perhaps the biggest gift of all is a shot at a whole new year, with new beginnings and a fantastic start.

As for baking…there was a lot of it!

There were scones

Pre-Christmas, I baked these fantastic scones from Joy the Baker. They are not for the faint of heart, or in other words, those who don’t like a strong ginger flavor.

I’d never used candied ginger before, and had to google where to find it in the supermarket, and at first I thought I hated it. But combined with the sweetness of the raw sugar, the buttery pastry and the tart cranberries, the ginger fit in perfectly. I can’t recommend these gems highly enough.

Perhaps the best recommendation is that these scones barely lasted long enough for me to take a picture of one of them! (and this one was gobbed up shortly after)

Fresh Cranberry Cream Scones with candied ginger

makes 6 scones

recipe adapted from joyofcooking.com

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar (you can also use brown sugar or granulated if you have that on hand)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 heaping cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

cream and sugar for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees R.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together  flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the cold butter and quickly work the butter into the flour mixture.  Break up the butter until well incorporated into the flour.  Some butter bits will be the size of peas, others will be as small as oat flakes.  Toss in the cranberries and ginger and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla extract, and heavy cream.  Add the cream mixture all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir quickly to ensure that all of the flour mixture is moistened by the cream mixture.  Dump the shaggy dough mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and work together, kneading lightly, into a 1 1/2-inch thick disk.

Cut the disk into 6 wedges.

Place 2-inches apart on baking sheet and brush with cream and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Scones are best served the day they are made, but these scones will last well wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days.

And there was cake.

Then, of course, there was this fantastic coffee cake. The most fantastic coffee cake in all the world, cut out of Cooking Light magazine who-knows-how-many-years ago. Because my mom’s trying to eat healthier lately, she requested that I substitute yogurt for the sour cream, and I’m very happy to report that it worked beautifully, and even made it more moist and delectable.

What is in this cake, you ask? It’s basically a fluffy pound cake with a swirl of cinnamon sugar, pecans, and butter through the middle. It is buttery, it is rich, and it is addictive.

See what I mean?

Christmas Coffee Cake

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 large egg white

1 1/4 cups sour cream OR plain fat-free yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups cake flour, or gluten-free flour mix

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling

1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free mix

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Coat a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with breadcrumbs

Place granulated sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl, with standing mixer beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg and egg white, 1 at a time, and beat to incorporate. Beat in sour cream/yogurt and vanilla.

Measure out and level cake flour, combine with ingredients through 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add cake flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

For the filling: combine all-purpose flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt, cut in 1 tablespoon butter with pasty cutter or knives, until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with pecan mixture (this layer will be pretty thick). Pour remaining half of batter over pecan mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then invert onto a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 14 servings.

Finally!

Well, for anyone who has been reading this….sorry I’ve been gone for so long! I’ve been busy with college apps, a job, etc. It all takes a lot of time, not to mention stress! But I just completed November’s Daring Bakers Challenge and the result was amazing (and gone in two days flat) and will post it as soon as we’re allowed to do the big “reveal”. But, this being Thanksgiving week, I’ve got lots of things planned. Most of the recipes I’m going to be making are from one of my all-time favorite blogs: the Pioneer Woman. For one:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/08/caramel-apple-sticky-buns/

I have got to make some cinnamon rolls! Yeast and I…we typically don’t get along. But these look so amazing, and I’ve wanted to conquer this challenge for awhile, and they would pretty much make the perfect post-Thanksgiving breakfast.

Second, for Thanksgiving itself….

TADA! I made it last year just out of curiosity and it was delicious, the best combination of sweet, almondy cake and tart cherries.

So, that’s it for now…more to come. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

 

It seems like at some point in the summer, everyone (or everyone who has a garden) ends up with a bunch of zucchini that they need to turn into something delicious. At this point, all my favorite blogs are full of delicious-looking pictures of zucchini cake, muffins, and cookies. This year, a recipe from Two Peas and their Pod caught my eye…mainly because of the beautiful  smattering of green sprinkles on top.

I’m a sucker for sprinkles and pretty decoration.

Of course, I didn’t have nearly enough zucchini to actually make the recipe. The good news is, we used all of our surplus zucchini. And despite the fact that the cake was a little on the dry side, it still tasted amazing and it disappeared off the kitchen table within three days. I used my own recipe for the butter cream frosting, because I love testing it out and making sure it has the perfect taste and consistency. It’s one of the few flexible things in baking, where you can fudge the amounts of ingredients.

I’ve noticed that this is a pretty busy time of year, what with school starting, college apps, and work. I’ve been having a hard time keeping my head above water, but luckily for me baking something never fails to help. So take some time off, relax, and make this declicious cake if you’ve got any zucchini left. If you’ve got mad wicked skills, you could even omit the zucchini and add something else for moisture. Just make sure to put lots of cheery green sprinkles on top and make some fabulous butter cream and you can’t go wrong.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

from Two Peas and their Pod

Yield: 20 standard cupcakes (or one cake)

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dutch processed cocoa, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract, buttermilk, zucchini, and chocolate chips.

3. In a separate large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into large muffin pans, filling them about 3/4 the way full. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack, while you make the frosting.

Basic Butter Cream Frosting:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar, more to taste

2/3 cups cocoa powder

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Sift the 3 cups powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add the softened butter (make sure it isn’t completely melted, as this will give the frosting the wrong consistency), and mix it together with a hand mixer. Blend in cocoa powder and vanilla, then the milk. Now the frosting’s an experiment; depending on your taste you can add more sugar or cocoa powder to it. If you add more of anything, you might need to add milk to make sure the frosting isn’t too thick. I like to use a lot of cocoa powder and not as much powdered sugar, because I’m a dark chocolate fan, but feel free to make it as sweet or bitter as you like!

And don’t let your puppy eat it. No matter how many cute faces he makes!

 

Baking: Gluten-free Style


Gluten-free pie crust that tastes like the real-deal…who knew?

So as I sit here, curled up on the sofa and watching reruns of Ghost Whisperer, I’m going to the world on in a little secret. This, my friends, is the magical recipe for gluten-free flour. The possibilities are endless. Muffins. Cupcakes. Cookies. And yes, even croissants and pastry! So. Much. Goodness. And while I do a lot of tweaking, the basic recipe is always the same. Of course, you’ll need to add some xanthan gum, 1/2-1 tsp. per cup. (If you’re new to this, you can get this in most health stores)

I’ve been baking gluten-free for over a year now. It seems like there’s this big misconception about going gluten-free: people think it’s just a fad. In fact, I was shocked to hear the owner of the bakery I work at talking about how annoying it is to hear customers request gluten-free bread. Yes, eating no gluten can be a choice…but in most cases, it’s not! I’ve been baking my stuff gluten-free ever since my mom and my cousin got diagnosed with Celiac disease. It’s a serious auto-immune issue that can cause other problems. Plus, even if you catch it early, it’s a good bet that the good bacteria in your intestines will already be destroyed. So for most people out there, this isn’t a fad. It’s a serious health issue. And if it’s not that serious, it at least is a major pain-in-the-butt to deal with in a world where gluten-free products are hard to find and very expensive.

Luckily for us, my mom is fine. She’s just trying to figure out what she can and can’t eat, and it’s hard to go out to restaurants. But just because she’s gluten-free doesn’t mean she should miss out on delicious baked goods!

So here it is! Easy as pie.

Oh, which isn’t easy when you try to make it gluten-free at first. You’ve just got to use a lot of xanthan gum to make it roll out nicely. :)

Combine:

1 cup sweet white rice flour
1 cup superfine brown rice flour
2/3 cups potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
+ 1/2-1 tsp. xantham gum per each cup of mixture

Use in place of normal flour in any recipe. Experiment! And. most of all, have fun.

Ridiculous cupcakes

 

So I decided it was time to post my very first recipe. It’s not really mine; it’s from one of my all-time FAVORITE blogs Joy the Baker. It is absolutely delish and you must try it ASAP.

Here’s what’s in these amazing cupcakes: peanut butter cookie dough. Lots of chocolate. And then, of course, they’re topped off with toasted marshmallow frosting.





I’ve always wanted to make something with marshmallow frosting. There’s this amazing bakery (cupcakery?) in Seattle Washington, Trophy Cupcakes, and they make s’mores cupcakes with the same kind of frosting on top. It’s seriously good: gooey, sticky, just the right amount of toasty due to a trip into the broiler.

Plus, if you don’t eat all the cookie dough…

 

…you get to stick itty-bitty balls of cookie dough into the already-delicious chocolate cupcakes.

Which makes these some of the most delicious cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. Plus, if you don’t want a whole 24 cupcakes sitting around the house, you can just freeze them! They still taste amazing.

Here’s the recipe! (from Joy the Baker) It looks a little long and daunting, but don’t worry. It’s easy as pie.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

cupcakes from Organic and Chic

meringue from Take a Megabite

Cupcakes:

2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour

2 cups cane sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

2/3 cup organic canola oil

2 teaspoons organic white vinegar

2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix.  The mixture will be quite wet, but that’s ok.

Pour the batter until the cups are two thirds full and place in the oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before topping with cookie dough ball.

Cookie Dough Balls:

1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (i know we’re not baking them, it’s for flavor)

3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (if you have a nut allergy, 2 tablespoons of yogurt will work as a binder as well)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (or with a large bowl and a wooden spoon) cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes in the machine.  Beat in peanut butter (or yogurt if using) along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon a scant tablespoons size amount of dough in your hand.  Roll into a ball and place on a cookie sheet.  Make 24 little cookie dough balls, and refrigerate until ready to top the cupcakes. (Mine were too big, I just cut them in half with a sharp knife)

 Meringue (AKA marshmallow frosting):

4 large egg whites

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

large pinch of salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large pot, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer.

In a large, heat-proof bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  The mixture will be grainy, because of the sugar.

Place bowl over simmering water and whisk as it heats.  The sugar will dissolve after about 5 minutes.  Keep and eye on the mixture, it shouldn’t get warm enough to cook the eggs.

Transfer the egg white and sugar mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  With a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, on high, until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes)  The mixture will be fluffy and glossy and look like melted marshmallows.  It’ll be sticky too.  Beat in the vanilla extract last.   Cover, and set aside until ready to frost cupcakes.

To Assemble Cupcakes:

Use a small paring knife to cut a 3/4-inch whole out of the top/center of the cupcakes.  Don’t cut the whole center of the cupcake out… just make a little hole for the dough ball to rest without rolling off. (I ended up kind of pushing the dough ball into the cupcake to make it fit)

Place dough balls on top of cupcakes.

Place meringue frosting in a pastry bag (or large Ziplock bag) fitted with a medium-large tip.  Use your instincts for the size of the tip.  Any size (star or round) medium tip will do for frosting these cupcakes.  Pipe frosting around the edges of the cupcake and over the dough ball in a circular motion.  Frost all cupcakes.

Turn on oven broiler.  (eep!)

Place 12 cupcakes on a baking sheet.  Place cupcakes under the broiler for about 1 minute.  Don’t even close the broiler door.  Keep an eye on them as they toast.  You may need to remove the cupcakes and rotate the pan to ensure that they cook evenly.  Once toasted, remove cupcakes, and toast the remaining 12 in the same fashion.

Cupcakes will last, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

The Beginning

Hey! I’m Sam, and this is the official beginning of my food blog. *drumroll here!*

It’s only taken me about three years of being in love with baking to decided I wanted to actually create a blog. A few days ago, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I didn’t know what platform to use, whether my pictures were good enough, etc. Luckily, my friends convinced me to just get myself a darn blog already! (I’m pretty sure they just wanted to sample all the food I’m going to bake) Also, my friends are very awesome and supportive.

So here’s what I learned from the experience: if you want a blog, just go for it!

I wanted to jump in headfirst and post pics of the delicious zucchini cake I made (via Two Peas and Their Pod, with a few alterations on my part). However, I don’t have the pictures downloaded yet. And I’m not sure I want to just leap into this, maybe I should savor this moment. Get used to the water, so to speak.

The summer’s almost ending. The school year is getting into gear again. I’m determined to have a life outside of school, and this food blog is going to be a big part of it. I love baking (I usually bake around three times a week!) and I can’t wait to share my pictures and recipes with everyone!

It’s going to be a good time.

Have fun!

The Baking Genius

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