Sunday, April 29, 2007

French Country Sourdough

This hearty sourdough loaf would be a perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of soup or stew. The large, thick slices have a nice chew and farely dense texture. I've enjoyed it with chunks of swiss cheese and tomato. A very sturdy, large loaf. Would be nice to make smaller boules and turn them into bread bowls.

I love how each time I work with my starter or make bread under slightly different conditions, the outcome varies. It's fun to enjoy the various "personalities" my starter can exhibit. With this loaf, the sourdough flavor was very pronounced and actually increased with time. Each day, the bread became more and more tangy/sour. It had a slight chew and I would have preferred it to be a bit less dense. But over all, a nice loaf. Continue for recipe.

French Country Sourdough

2 T King Arthur starter (refreshed the night before and left at room temp.)
60 mls lukewarm water
1/2 cup + 1-1/3 T all-purpose (KA)

Dissolve starter in water; add flour and beat until smooth; loosely cover.
Incubate at room temp: 9hrs.

In bowl of mixer, combine:
1/2 cup + 1-1/3 T whole wheat flour(KA)
2 T rye flour
4 cups bread flour (Gold Medal)

Add 330 mls warm water to levain; mix and add it to flour mixture.
Mix until just combined; cover; let rest 30 min.
Mix dough with hook on low for 5 min.
Slowly add 1-1/2 t salt; knead on low for 4 min. Place in lightly oiled bowl about 3x size of dough.
Ferment 30 min. at room temp; gently fold.
Ferment 30 min; fold.
Place in fridge overnight.
Remove dough and let rest at room temp. for 1 hour + 45 min.
Gently turn dough out onto floured counter (sticky); let sit 10 min.
Generously flour a bowl; form dough into a round boule and place in prepared bowl.
Proof 4 hrs. + 15 min.
Preheat oven and baking stone to 500 degrees.
Dump loaf onto semolina-coated parchment.
Place in oven, misting immediately with water. Turn oven down to 400 degrees.
Mist 4x in first 5 min.
Bake a total of 50 min.

**Adaptations more previous loaves: I changed the flour proportions and included some bread flour this time--cut back on this next time. Could have increased the whole wheat proportion a bit more. I also started my levain with about 2x as much starter and retarded the fermentation overnight in the fridge.


Gingerbread Biscotti

I love biscotti and I can never have too many good recipes for these tasty treats. They're great to have on hand to serve with coffee or for a mid-afternoon snack and they keep a long time. This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking. It's a different flavor than my normal almond, citrus, or anise scented biscotti and so it's nice for a change. Great for the holidays!

Molasses, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon combine for a gingerbread-like taste. I've substituted dried cranberries for part of the apricots and actually like them better. And added whole wheat flour. I love the spiciness and the slight orange flavor! Continue for recipe.

Gingerbread Biscotti
adapted from Fine Cooking #75, pp. 46

1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (1 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped, and lightly toasted
4 ounces (1/2 cup) dried cranberries, plumped in ~1/2 cup boiling water first
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from about 1 medium navel orange)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and baking soda until well combined. Stir in the pecans and cranberries.

In a small bowl, whisk together molasses, eggs and orange zest. Turn the mixer on to low and slowly drizzle in egg mixture. Let mix until the dough is blended and begins to clump together.

Scoop out dough and divide into two pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a 10" by 1 1/2" long roll. Sprinkle with flour if it begins to get sticky.

Place the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet about 4" apart. Bake until the tops are cracked and spring back slightly when lightly touched in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove and place the sheet on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.

Gently remove the biscotti from the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut them into 1/2 to 3/4" slices. Arrange them back onto the baking sheet.

Bake for roughly 15 minutes - this will leave them crunchy, but not rock hard. Adjust the time if you want them softer or crunchier - the may give when you press on them, but they will firm up as they cool.

Remove from the oven and place the biscotti on a wire rack to cool completely.

**Next time I might try only using 2T molasses and adding 2T of the water from soaking cranberries.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cranberry Walnut Whole Wheat Sourdough

Continue for recipe.

Cranberry Walnut Whole Wheat Sourdough
adapted from KA Whole Grain Baking

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (KA)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 T starter (KA, refreshed the night before and left at room temp overnight)

Mix flour, water, and starter. Cover.

Sit at room temp. for 8 hours.

Heat 1 cup water to boiling; add 3/4 cup dried cranberries; cover and let sit until ready to use.

In mixer bowl, mix:
1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour

To levain, add 1 cup cooled water from the cranberries; let sit 10 min.
Add levain/water to flours and mix gently; cover; rest for 20 min.
Start mixer on low; add 1 T honey and 1 t salt, slowly.
Mix on low until incorporated; mix on speed 2 for 2 min; Cover.

Sit for 30 min.
Flatten dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured counter. Sprinkle cranberries on top; fold in thirds; flatten again and sprinkle 1/2 cup walnuts on top; fold in thirds.
Let sit 30 min; fold in thirds twice; place in lightly oiled bowl; cover.
Keep in fridge overnight.
Remove from fridge. Let sit 1 hour and 40 min.
Pour onto floured counter and rest for 5 min.
Flour a bowl; shape dough into a boule and place top-side down into bowl.
Rise 3 hours.

Heat oven to 450 degrees 30 min. before baking.
Dump dough onto semolina-dusted parchment.
Put into oven on baking stone; mist with water 4x in first 5 min.
Bake 15 min; turn oven down to 400; bake another 15 min.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Semolina Pizza Dough

This is a great pizza dough! Today I made half artichoke heart/red onion and half pepperoni for Robert. The crust is soft, dense, and just a bit chewy. I really like it. It's very sturdy and handles toppings well. It's also quick to make and only requires a one hour rising time. The high-protein semolina flour really gives it a nice texture. It's a nice combination of flours. Continue for recipe.

Semolina Pizza Crust

from Laila Pallai

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (KA)
1/2 cup semolina

1 T active dry yeast
1 T sugar
1 t salt
2-3 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix all ingredients together.
Knead on floured counter for about 3 min.
Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise 1 hour.
Preheat baking stone and oven to 400 degrees.

Divide dough into 4 portions. (keep covered)
On floured counter, roll out dough into 10 to 12-inch rounds.
Transfer to semolina-covered pizza peel.

Spray lightly with olive oil; Brush on sauce; top with toppings.
Slide pizza onto hot baking stone and bake 10-15 min.

* If you don't use all of your dough, you can put remaining dough into well oiled baggies and refrigerate for a day or freeze.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Chocolate Turnovers

Several times a week, my sweets-loving husband will ask for a dessert. It's fun to try new recipes or make old favorites, but when I just don't feel like baking, mixing, or dirtying up the kitchen, puff pastry is awesome. So simple yet wonderful--like comfort food. And you can fill it with anything on hand--jam, fruits, chocolate. These turnovers are filled with left-over chocolate ganache that's been camped out in the fridge and brushed with an egg wash. Puff pastry is even good without a filling. Make quick cut-out cookies and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Yum!! And leftovers are the perfect breakfast treat. I love puff pastry!!


Silver Dollar Sourdough Pancakes

I just received my King Arthur sourdough starter and this is my first recipe with it. Exciting! Sourdough pancakes are nice because you can mix up your starter the night before and have it ready to go in the morning. These small griddle cakes had a slight sourdough, yeasty flavor--nice. They were a bit chewy but good. I love the silver dollar size. I froze the leftovers and they were great reheated for a fast mid-week breakfast. Continue for recipe.

Silver Dollar Sourdough Pancakes

Put one cup of sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl preferably of glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Add 2 cups of warm water (up to 90-degrees F) and 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Mix thoroughly; cover and place it in a warm spot overnight.

In the morning remove one cup of the batter and reserve it for another use or put it back into your sourdough starter crock and refrigerate. You will be left with 4-1/2 cups of batter.

To the remaining batter add:

1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup instant dry milk

Beat thoroughly. Combine:

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar

Blend together until smooth, eliminating any lumps of soda. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter; fold in gently.

Allow batter to rest several minutes, then fry on a hot, lightly greased griddle. I generally use a tablespoon to ladle the batter onto the griddle.

**Keep the size of the pancakes to about 1-1/2" - 2".

©1997 Gary Fisher


Friday, April 13, 2007

Marshmallow Fondant

Marshmallow Fondant
Baking 911

16 oz white mini-marshmallows
2 tablespoons water
1 t lemon juice (optional, but will cut down a bit on the sweetness)
1 to 2 teaspoons corn syrup (optional--helps prevent cracking)
2 pounds confectioners' sugar (approx. 8 cups), sifted, or more, as needed
½ cup Crisco shortening or more, as needed

In a large microwave proof bowl, pack in marshmallows and add the water and lemon juice, if using. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, just long enough for the marshmallows to soften and puff up. Stir with a greased (use Crisco) rubber spatula or greased wooden spoon, until it is well combined.
Stir in the corn syrup.
Sift powdered sugar over the melted marshmallows, one or two cups at a time. Fold until all is incorporated and it is no longer sticky. You may not need all of the sugar. Take mixture out of the bowl when it gets to the point where most of the sugar is incorporated.
Grease your hands and the countertop with Crisco -- use a LIGHT coating; a little goes a long way; if you use too much, the MMF will become sticky. Scrape the marshmallow/sugar mixture onto the countertop, in the middle of the greased spot. Continue to sift the powdered sugar, 1 or two cups at a time, and knead after each addition.
Re-grease your hands as necessary. The mixture will become quite stiff. Add enough powdered sugar until the mixture becomes pliable and firm, smooth and elastic. This takes roughly about 5 - 7 minutes by hand. Form into a ball. Preferably, let rest overnight in an airtight container before using.

TO ROLL: Roll about 1/8-inch thick. Use a dusting of cornstarch or a thin coating of Crisco to roll out on.

TO COVER A CAKE: Ice cake with a light coating of buttercream, jam or jelly. Do not use whipped cream or an icing that needs refrigeration as Marshmallow Fondant does not hold-up well under refrigeration as it is essentially sugar.

When trimming MMF, it will shrink. Trim it right below the cake board so when it shrinks, it will be the perfect length.

TO FIX: If the mixture tears easily, it is too dry. Form fondant into a flat, rectangular shape, sprinkle a few drops of water at a time and, then fold over on itself. Knead well before deciding to add more. The more liquid you add to this will make it stickier to work with, so be careful how much you add.

If the fondant is too sticky, let it sit out and "air dry" for about 10 minutes. If it is still too sticky, shape fondant into a rough, flat rectangle, and sift 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar over its surface. Fold over itself and knead until fully incorporated before deciding to add more. Avoid adding extra powdered sugar because if you add to much, the fondant will have a tendency to crack.

To fix cracks on a cake, rub with Crisco shortening.

If the fondant is gritty, the more you knead, the smoother it becomes.

STORAGE: Coat fondant ball with a thin layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in a plastic wrap and then put it in a re-sealable bag or container. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Store at room temperature in a cool, dark place. To soften, microwave for five to ten seconds (start off with 5) on high, at a time.

TINTING / FLAVORING: The best way to color is to add paste food color right after melting the marshmallows, while they are still liquid, before you stir everything together. Flavor with candy oil.

Add to recipe ingredients, above:

1 ounce melted semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Stir melted chocolate into the melted marshmallows. Sift cocoa powder over one cup powdered sugar and combine.
2. Sift cocoa powder/powdered sugar over the melted marshmallows and knead until incorporated.

White Chocolate Variation:
Substitute 2 ounces of white chocolate for the semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder. You may need more powdered sugar in the recipe.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs! Fun! If only my sisters lived nearby and could come over for an evening of wine and egg decorating! :( For these speckled-tie-die looking eggs, I added a small amount of oil to the cup of color and rolled the eggs in. I think I could eat hard-boiled eggs everyday!


One-Bowl Carrot Cake

What a great cake! I love spice cakes and carrot in particular is a favorite. My mom actually made this cake over the Easter weekend from a post from Baking Bites, a fabulous food blog.

This One-Bowl Carrot Cake with orange cream cheese frosting is so easy to put together and really flavorful. It is moist and full without being too dense, as many carrot cakes are. Allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon combine nicely to give it a nice amount of spice and the flavor/texture actually improves on the second and third days.

I appreciate that the recipe makes an 8x8 cake--the perfect size for a spice cake. Double and triple layer carrot cakes are just too much. But the best part about it is the ORANGE! Both and icing and the cake have orange juice and zest. Orange, carrots, and spice---Yum!! Continue for recipe.

One-Bowl Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (from 2-3 large carrots), patted dry

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until smooth. Beat in melted butter, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, spices and salt.
When combined, sift in the flour and baking soda and gently stir it into the batter until no streaks remain.
Stir in shredded carrot, then scrape into prepared pan.
Bake for 36-42 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Carrot Frosting
Nicole Weston from

4 tbsp butter, softened
4-oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
red, yellow and green food coloring (if you want to pipe little carrots on top of cake)

Beat together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl.
Add in confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and zest and beat until smooth.

Spread this in a single layer on the cake, or make frosting carrots to top the cake. For the carrots, divide frosting into two bowls. Dye one orange (yellow and red) and one green (green and yellow). Scrape into two piping bags and use a plain tip for the body of the carrot and a slanting tip for the carrot top. Practice on a plate until you get the shape down.


Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert ("Salad")


2 ½ cups crushed pretzels
3 T sugar
½ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients and spread in a 9 x 13 pan.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.


8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
8 oz. cool whip

Blend all topping ingredients.
Spread on top of baked crust.

Jello Topping:

1 (6 oz) pkg. strawberry jello
2 cups water
1 (16 oz) pkg. frozen strawberries

Boil water and mix with strawberry jello.
Add frozen strawberries.
Let jello cool slightly and begin to gel.
Pour strawberry mixture on top of cream cheese mixture.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes--mashed, roasted, boiled, grilled, in soups, chilis, and chowders--they're such a wholesome and versatile vegetable. This simple recipe came from Cook Illustrated's "The New Best Recipe" and is yields a perfect mashed sweet potato. They are simmered in a little cream, butter, salt, and sugar and then mashed in the same pot. Great side dish! Continue for recipe.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Cook Illustrated's The New Best Recipe

Serves 4

2-4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 T heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
Pinch of ground black pepper.

Combine all ingredients, except the pepper, in a 3 qt. saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, 35-45 minutes.
Off the heat, mash the potatoes and stir in the pepper.
Serve immediately.


Braided Easter Egg Bread

I was so excited to make this bread for Easter this year--I'd been waiting several months since discovering this recipe from King Arthur Flour. And it was lovely and delicious! A stunning centerpiece for a festive Easter table. Pre-dyed, uncooked eggs are placed in the dough after shaping and baked along with the bread. What a great idea! The bread itself has a nice flavor and great texture. It is only slightly sweet with a light cinnamon taste. I loved it warmed, spread with butter. And of course it is a perfect pairing with the accompanying hard-boiled egg! Continue for recipe.

King Arthur's Egg Braid

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 stick butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) cinnamon
7 to 9 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
12 dyed uncooked eggs
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt to help liquefy the egg)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the sugar and add 1/2 cup flour. Let this sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going. Add the milk, eggs, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 cups of the flour. Add more flour, until the dough starts to form a shaggy mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth and satiny ball. The dough will be a little tacky, but it shouldn't be sticky.

Put the dough into a clean bowl and coat it with a little melted butter. This will help prevent the formation of a skin on the dough due to exposure to the air. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it's quite swollen and puffy-looking. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it gently to expel any air bubbles. You don't need to actively knead the dough at this point; that will excite the gluten in the dough and make it harder to braid the bread.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces and set one aside. Divide the first piece into 3 even pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is 1-inch in diameter. Braid the set of ropes and shape the braid into a large circle. Place the circle on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Cover the loaves with damp towels and let the wreaths rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the eggs on the wreaths and gently press them into the dough. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Bake the loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, until nicely browned. Occasionally, an egg will split in the oven. Use a sharp knife to remove it from the wreath and substitute a dyed hard-boiled egg. Cool the wreaths on a rack and ice when fully cool. Makes 2 wreaths, each yielding 12 large slices.

Optional Icing Glaze

    1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
    3 tablespoons orange liqueur
Beat the sugar and the liqueur together. The icing should be the consistency of a thick salad dressing. Use a fork to drizzle the icing on the wreaths.


Italian Easter Pie

According to the King Arthur Flour's website, this savory pie is traditionally made on Good Friday and eaten on the day before Easter, celebrating the end of Lent. But it's a great recipe to make throughout the year as well. The double-crusted pie/pizza is filled with a salad-like mixture of ham, hard-boiled eggs, eggs, ricotta, and parmesan. The crust dough has a nice sweetness that complements the stuffing. It is brushed with an egg/sugar wash that lends an additional touch of sweetness that is nice with the saltiness of the ham. I love it!

A different version of this pie, Italian Easter Meat Pie, doesn't use hard-boiled eggs and the meat, prosciutto, ham, pepperoni, and salami, is left in cubes instead being chopped finely in the food processor. This richer recipe uses more ricotta, parmesan, and mozzerella, resembling a stuffed shell filling. Sounds good! I'll try it in calzone-form!

These pies are great to have around for overnight guests or as an addition to a brunch. The recipe makes 2 large pies so it feeds a lot. Leftovers are great cold, at room temperature, or, as my husband prefers, heated. I like grabbing a slice to-go for weekday morning breakfasts. This is a favorite recipe! Continue for recipe.

Italian Easter Pie

**I usually make my pies free-form, but you can also bake in a deep-dish pie plate. This dough would be nice to use for calzones too. Total prep/baking time for these pies is about 3 hours--a little longer if you make them in a pie plate. I like kneading this dough by-hand as opposed to the mixer.

**It's really important to use nice ham for this recipe, as it is the major ingredient in the filling. I like brown-sugar ham--of course, it's sweet--but any good quality ham is fine. Another note, don't add more ricotta than is called for. It makes the filling too watery.

5 cups Mellow Pastry Blend OR 4 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver (optional, but very helpful)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

1 dozen large eggs
1 pound good-quality, tasty ham
about 6 ounces ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt, pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons sugar

Dough: Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients--by hand, in a mixer, or in a bread machine--till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, till it’s doubled in bulk.

Filling: Hard-boil and then peel 6 of the eggs. Finely chop and combine the boiled eggs and ham; a food processor works well here. The ham and eggs should be very finely chopped, though you don’t want them turned to mush.

Combine the ham and boiled eggs with the raw eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan. Add as much parsley as you want, and season to taste with salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

Assembly and Baking: Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll two of the dough pieces into rounds about 13 inches in diameter, and place them on lightly greased 12-inch pizza pans, cookie sheets, or into two 9-inch pie plates (for a thicker pie). Spread the filling evenly onto the two bottom crusts, covering the crusts to within an inch of their edges. Roll out the other two pieces of dough, and place them atop the filled crusts, gently stretching them, if necessary, till the filling is completely covered. Seal the crust edges together firmly.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1-inch hole in the very center of the top crust. Make the topping by whisking together the egg yolk and sugar till the sugar has dissolved. Paint each crust with some of the topping, using a pastry brush or your fingers to spread it around as evenly as possible. Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. Bake the pies for about 25 minutes (55 to 60 minutes, for a 9-inch deep-dish pie), until they’re a deep, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and place them on a rack. Allow the pies to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers. Yield: Two 12-inch-or-so pies.

Nutrition per serving (1/8th of a pie, 143g): 280 cal, 10g fat, 15g protein, 32g total carbohydrate, 5g sugar, 0g dietary fiber, 190mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium.


Light & Fluffy Pancakes

These Light & Fluffy Pancakes are from Pam Anderson's "The Perfect Recipe." I really enjoy Anderson's cookbooks and her style of writing which is easy to follow and fun to read. She simplifies basic recipes, giving wonderful explanations in a Cook's Illustrated-style. Her recipes include good, everyday food, easily made with ingredients on-hand in the pantry.

Like their name, these buttermilk pancakes are wonderfully light and fluffy. Just a perfect texture for my favorite type of pancake. They would also be great with a little lemon zest added. We topped them with berries for a wonderful afternoon meal. Breakfast is welcomed at any time of the day at my house! Continue for recipe.

Light and Fluffy Pancakes
The Perfect Recipe, Pam Anderson

Makes about 8, 3-inch Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk, plus 1 T more if necessary
1 large egg, separated
2 T unsalted butter, melted

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Pour buttermilk and 1/4 cup milk into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Whisk in egg white.
Mix yolk with butter, then add to milk.
Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed.
Heat a griddle over strong medium heat. Brush with oil.
Pour batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto griddle.
When bottoms are brown and top surfaces start to buble, 2-3 minutes, flip pancakes and cook until browned.
Serve hot.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal and Raisin Muffins

I love these muffins! They are so nice! Delicious bran muffin! I found this recipe on Baking Bites--a wonderful blog--and knew that I needed to try them. They contain wheat bran, whole wheat flour, and buttermilk but they aren't heavy or too dense like a lot of bran muffins. They are just right. The sweetness is perfect also. And the really cool thing about them is that you can make up the batter, let it rest for 15 min, then refrigerate it and keep it for up to a week before baking. So you can bake them as you need them! Great recipe! Probably my favorite bran muffin to make! Continue for recipe.

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal and Raisin Muffins
(from Baking in America)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruits)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, slightly chopped (or quick cooking oats)
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin tin, or line with baking cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, wheat bran, sugars, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in dried fruit and oats. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla and water.
Add buttermilk mixture to oat mixture and stir until just combined. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. You may refrigerate the batter, covered, for about a week at this point.
Spoon batter into prepared tins by heaping 1/4 cups (about 1/3 cup).
Bake for 20 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed. Add 5 minutes baking time if batter is cold.

Makes 12 large muffins


Stuffed Peppers with Meat Sauce and Rice


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Orange Berry Muffins

These muffins are great! They have a nice butter flavor which gives them a subtle richness. I like the orange zest, a nice change from the expected lemon, pairing with the blueberries. This is another recipe from "Baking, From My Home to Your's" and it's a keeper. Ok, I promise I'll move on to another cookbook for April! Continue for recipe.

Orange Berry Muffins
Baking, From My Home to Yours

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
about 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3 T honey
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
decorating sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare pan for 12 regular sized muffins
Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup.
Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
in a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Whisk in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and, with the whisk or spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.
Stir in the blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.;
Bake for 22-25 min. Sprinkle on the optional sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 min.
When done, transfer the pan to a rack and cool 5 min. before removing each muffin from its mold.


White Chocolate Whisper Cake

This is another cake from "The Cake Bible." It is a light, white cake made with white chocolate. It's frosted with lemon buttercream, also from this cookbook. Very nice flavor and texture, although it turned out just a bit dry for me.


Old-Fashioned Birthday Cake

This cake, Classic White Layer Cake with Butter Frosting and Berry-Almond Filling, appears in "Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen." I really like this series of cookbooks. Ingredients, methods, and equipment are analyzed and compared and then the best outcome is given. The authors do a great job with their explanations and I can almost always count on the recipes to be very solid. This cake is wonderful. The authors hope to achieve "layers of white cake with an exceptionally fine crumb, accented by a not-too-sweet fruit jam filling and old-fashioned butter frosting" and they succeed. The cake is almond flavored which pairs nicely with the berry and toasted almond filling. I used blueberry-cherry preserves. Chocolate buttercream would be good too.

This was my first experience using fondant and it was a lot more mangeable than I was expecting. Unfortunately, the taste was not good. I used Wilton's and would never recommend it to anyone interested in flavor. I just made an awesome marshmallow fondant that I'll be experimenting with and will post on it later. Continue for recipe.

Classic White Cake
America's Test Kitchen, 2006

2 1/4 cups cake flour (9oz)
1 cup milk, room temperature
6 egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract (or other flavoring), decrease a little and use good quality extract (use about 1 1/2 t)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 oz)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Butter Frosting
16 tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
4 cups confectioner's sugar (1 pound)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
pinch salt

optional filling: jam (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cookings spray and line with parchment. Spray the paper rounds, dust with flour. Alternatively, spray with baking spray with flour.

2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and mix with a flork until blended.

3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and slat in the bowl of mixer and turn on low speed.

4. Add butter; continue beating at low speed wuntil the mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

5. Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 min.

6. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture and beat 30 sec. more. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides. Return the mixer to medium high speed and beat 20 sec. longer.

7. Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans; spread the batter with rubber spatula. Place the pands 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart.

8. Bake 23-25 min.

9. Let the cakes rest in the pans for 3 min. Loosen and invert onto wire racks. Cool completely, and 1 1/2 hours.

10. For frosting: Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt at low speed until sugar is moistened. Increase the speed to medium-hi; beat, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until creamy and fluffy, about 1 1/2 min. Avoid overbeating.

11. Optional Filling: Spread a layer of frosting over first layer. Spread a layer of jam on top of this. (Can add toasted, sliced almonds to this layer if wanted.)

**Very nice cake--moist and delicious. Experiment with flavorings or keep it as vanilla. Princess cake flavor or Fiori di Siscilia are really nice! Yum! If desired, finish the sides of the cake with a cup of thinly sliced almonds pressed into the frosting. Top with berries.

I've not made this, but an orange or lemon cake would be great with this recipe. Use orange/lemon extract and grated rind (rub with fingers into sugar). Vary frosting flavoring.


Perfect Party Cake

Another fabulous cake, and yes, another recipe from "Baking: From My Home to Your's." This has definately been my baking cookbook of choice for the month. The Perfect Party Cake is a tender, white, lemon cake with lemon buttercream and raspberry filling, finished with coconut flakes. The cake is really good. It has a perfect, soft texture. I absolutely love it! I am not that fond of raspberry though, and next time will fill with strawberry or blueberry jam. HEB carries a blueberry-cherry More Fruit preserves that would be wonderful. In her "playing around" comments, Greenspan suggests using fresh fruit along with the buttercream and preserves between the layers and adding berries on top. Yum! I LOVE IT!! The yellow roses were made with stiff consistency buttercream.


Coconut Cake

This Coconut Cake is from the "Barefoot Contessa at Home" cookbook by Ina Garten. It is a wonderful, thick cake with cream cheese frosting. I made the flowers with royal icing--violets, pansies, roses, and mums. Continue for recipe.

Coconut Cake and Frosting
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened coconut flakes

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound confectioner's sugar
6 ounces sweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9 inch pans for baking.

2. Using paddle attachement on mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium high for 3-5 min., until light yellow and fluffy.

3. Crack eggs into small bowl. With mixer on medium, add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl once.

4. Add vanilla and almond extracts; mix well.

5. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients.

6. With mixer on low, alternate adding dry ingredients then milk in 3 parts, begining and ending with dry.

7. Mix until just combined--don't overmix.

8. Fold in coconut.

9. Bake 45-55 min. Cool 30 min.

10. Frosting: Mix cream cheese, butter, and extracts on low. Add sugar slowly (don't whip). Frosting cake. Sprinkle tops/sides with coconut.


Corniest Corn Muffins

These are my new favorite corn muffins! Another hit from "Baking: From My Home to Your's." Buttermilk, cornmeal, and whole corn kernels combine to give a great flavor and nice texture. The perfect sweetness for a corn bread. Nice accompaniment to chili, soups, or even just for breakfast. Yum! Continue for recipe.

Corniest Corn Muffins
Baking: From My Home to Your's

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 T sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 T corn oil
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup core if you'd like): fresh, frozen, or canned--drained and patted dry

Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare muffin pan for 12 regular size muffins.
Place pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, butter, oil, egg, and yolk until well blended.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently but quickly stir to blend.
Stir in the corn.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 15-18 min. or until the tops are golden. Transfer to a rack and cool for 5 min. before removing each muffin from its mold.


All-American Chocolate Butter Cake

This is the Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible." It is a chocolaty, fudgy cake. I filled it with chocolate buttercream, also from this book, and iced it with a Fluffy White Icing. This cake would be good with coffee buttercream. Another clown practice :)


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for one of my husband's co-workers. They were fun to decorate but even better to eat! This recipe, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, from "Test Kitchen Favorites," is a winner. Very intense chocolate flavor and the perfect texture. Sour cream, dutch-processed coca, and bittersweet chocolate combine to create a moist and delicious cake. I love this recipe! Continue for recipe.

These clowns are cute for birthdays!
Experimenting with piping...

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
America's Test Kitchen: Test Kitchen Favorites, 2007
12 cupcakes or Two 6-inch cakes

8 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups OR prepare two 6-inch cake pans.
Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; heat mixture until melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. (Alternatively, heat slowly in microwave on 50% power until melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and powder in small bowl to combine.
Whisk eggs in another bowl; add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated.
Add chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
Sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
Whisk in the sour cream, then sift the remaining flour mixture over the batter and whisk until homogenous and thick.
Dived batter among the muffin tin cups.
Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes for cupcakes and 25 minutes for cakes.

**This recipe doesn't double well--cupcakes don't rise as much with a doubled batch.


Edible Flowers

I bought a lovely bag of spring mix from a local farmer's market that contained edible flowers. Aren't these beautiful? What a nice addition to a special luncheon!