Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Bakery

I grew up with Saturday mornings being one of baked goods. Muffins, pancakes, waffles, and cinnamon rolls. True at this young age it was either from a canister or a box that these things were made, but it was still a treat.
Now after being out of the house for three years, I still like making a special breakfast some Saturday mornings, especially now that I have a boyfriend. And it still keeps in theme from when I was younger.
When I read this month's Daring Bakers recipe, I jumped up and down and giggled. Cinnamon Rolls. One of the recipes, I've been dying to try. My mouth was zipped, when my friends and boyfriend asked what is was.

Cinnamon rolls not only have special meaning with my younger self, but also, with my trips to Crested Butte. We first started going when I was 6 or 7, and before hikes, fishing, and rafting, we often visited The Bakery. And it had the hugest and best cinnamon rolls. They were almost as big as my head. I could finish them then, I'm not so sure that I could now.
So when I started baking that morning, I was hoping to make them as good as I had then. I started with the dough. Actually running to the store for yeast, while the shortening and sugar was creaming. I made 2 batches, the first batch was not as sticky as the second.
It didn't really rise during the 2 hour rest period. I began to worry, but went with it. Rolled out the dough, spread cinnamon sugar with raisins and walnuts, before wrapping tightly up. I then did one patch sticky buns and one batch regularn rolls. The rolls when into my pyrex lasagna pan into the refridgerator as I worked on the sticky buns.
I went back and forth from the fridge. Then the next thing I now I hear shattering, I look into the fridge and what do I see?
I see my lasagna pan shattered on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Glass everywhere, and I'm cussing. Two recipes in a row where things aren'tin my favor. I move the rolls to anor pan making sure there is no glass in them, then clean up the fridge. Of course, I cut myself.
Thankfully, nothing else breaks. In the morning the rolls rise in the oven beforre baking. My friends come over complaining about the time. Its only 8:00 am, but that's college students for you. It stops the moments there tongues taste the rolls.
I think this may come a monthly tradition. Cheers ladies!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cake Therapy

Bad days come down to three therapies- running, yoga, and baking.
After a weird dream, getting attacked by a bat, seeing a nude bicyclist, running into a raccoon, losing my ID, and other events. I decided to bake. I had already ran for the day and I needed to destroy and create something.
I searched for recipes, finding nothing I liked. I could make a Upsidedown Butterscotch Apple Cake, a spice cake, or a carrot cake.
Recently I had visited an Austin restaurant called Chez-Zee. They are known for their excellent desserts and they are remarkable. Often my boyfriend reminds me of it and repeats that we must go back. I guess he doesn't trust my baking skills, but that's a side note. When I looked at the menu, I was shocked to find that they didn't have carrot cake. One of my favorite cakes and the one I requested for my birthday.
So yesterday, I looked in my fridge and found cream cheese and what did pop in my head but carrot cake. Not just any carrot cake, but the one Ruth Reichl swears by.
I told my boyfriend I was going to destroy my kitchen, before running to the grocery store to pick up supplies. I told the cashier my goal, and she asked me if I had carrots. I looked at my groceries, cussing. I had almost forgot the most important ingredient. Carrots.
Of course, I went back and got them, coming home to work on the destruction of my kitchen. The batter of course was addicting and it was hard to keep my fingers out. The layers didn't come out even, and they never do. But in front of me was finally my birthday cake. After 8 months, I finally had my birthday cake.
And yes I had a birthday cake in January, but it was a dry, store-bought carrot cake. It didn't suffice and I've craved a carrot cake ever since. Then my friend promised me one, but it has been a month and a girl can only wait so long. So in all its glory was a lopsided carrot cake.
So what did I do with my birthday cake? I shared it with girlfriends, and then my boyfriend got to it with a fork. With his fork attack, I decided to spare people his germs and just allow him to keep it. He's also, the reason, why I have no pictures of the cake. What are you going to do?
Make another of course.

Carrot cake

(taking from Ulterior Epicurean , who used Gourmet's recipe. )

The Cake:
About 3/4 pound carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup raisins (optional)

For Frosting:
2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Special Equipment: two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans

Make the Cake: Put a rack in middle of oven and prheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
1. Shred enough carrots on smallest teardrop holes of box grater or with fine shredding disk ina food processor to measure 2 cups.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts and raisins (if using).
3. Divide batter between cake pans and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool layers in pans on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of each pan and invert layers onto rack to cool completely.

*Note in my oven I actually cooked it for 50 minutes. And I got 2 layers and 6 cupcakes, so I'm sure it could have made 3 layers.

Make the Frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until frosting is smooth.
Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on a cake plate and spread with some of frosting. Place remaining cake layer right side up on top and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

*Note if you want thick icing, double the recipe. If your not into icing, hell you don't even need it.

Decortations: Pecans, frosting, walnuts, and coconut

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daring Bakers become known

I love Gormet, I love Bon Appetit. I read them religiously, I salivate with each issue. The editors give me sooooo many ideas. And today they recognized me!
In class today, I was on the internet during Print Design, surfing the web (Sorry Mom and Dad). Since, my parents are coming into town, I thought I’d make a cake. Where to go to get it?
Why of course!
So, I enter it into Firefox. And see the epi-log had something on Daring Bakers. So immediately, I had to read. (For those of you who don’t know the Daring Bakers is an online baking club, where ladies and gentlemen, get one recipe a month that one other member has deemed difficult or always wanted to try. He or she posts it. Last month was Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart.)
I start reading. Then I saw Food and Photo, my mouth dropped! I wanted to scream, jump up and down, dance in my seat. Here I am 21, and one of the most embarrassing baking experiences I’ve had is now posted on I should be blushing, but I’m honored.
I’m a humble person. I don’t like celebrating my successes, but everything has been going so well for me lately. Then this happens! Makes me want to skip the next 3 months of my graduating semester and bake and cook and be daring!
Thank you to Ivonne, and Lis to allow me to have the experience. Thanks to all the other daring bakers, you all deserve to be posted on their as well. Actually it should be ya’ll and not me.
In celebration tonight, I’ve made dinner for my boyfriend and I. I’ve also done dessert. Nothing fancy really. I’ll save that for when I have more time.
So thank you to all of you. Every reader. Every person who has ever touched me. Friends. Family. I hope I’ve touched you in the same way you’ve touched me.

Strawberry Shortcake Sandwhich
1 cup flour
½ sugar
1 stick butter
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 pint strawberries
whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients with your hand or pastry cutter. It will be done when all the butter is combined with the other dry ingredients and when it clumps together. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until done.

Mix strawberries and sugar.

Place one cookie on bottom, cover with strawberries and whipped cream, and top with another cookie. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Soft Goey Goodness

Favorite cookie?
Chocolate chip, soft
Well that was specific. I mean not just chocolate chip, but soft. Personally I like crunchy, crisp. I like the snap, the crunch of the cookie breaking. The sound! But not this time, no, soft cookies were in order because I'm that type of girl.
The moment the IM came through my Mac, Alton Brown came to mind because he did a whole episode on different types of chocolate chip cookies. I started to search for the recipe. However, I found none for Alton Brown, but thank god for Google because it found it right away.
I looked at it, remembering the episode and how he switched to each variety. Of course I rarely ever deviate from the Tollhouse version so this was new and exciting.
I could defiantly tell the difference between the batters. This was a lot fluffier or maybe its because I creamed the butter before adding the sugar, who knows.
Of course, I deviated from Alton's recipe. Adding dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chuncks, and pecans because just chips did not sound like a good cookie. It at least needs nuts (specifically pecans) to be American.
He calls for 14 minutes of baking time. I found that, that time lended itself to burnt crunchy cookies. Not what I was going for right?
I tried 10 mins. Not burned seemed a little softer, but hardened during cooling.
I tried 8 mins. Now they weren't completely soft. No. They were soft when warm, and slightly soft when cooled, but it was the closest I was going to get. So that was the designated time alloted.
Now will the person enjoy these cookies? Defiantly, but was it what they wanted? Was it soft to there liking? I don't know. I guess I'll find out soon enough.
Oh and my favorite...... Oatmeal Raisin preferably with dark chocolate chips.

PA Chocolate Chip
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 milk chocolate chunks or something to your liking

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Cream butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 4 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Beginning of the End

The past week, I've been busy. School has started. I've entered into some great new relationships. And I've have slept less than ever. So baking and cooking has been on the back burner. Looking at my schedule over the past 4 months that may continue to be the case.
And it's my last semester. 15 hours and on December 8th I'll graduate. I'll be a girl with a diploma and nothing more. I have no clue where I'll be, who I'll be with, hell I don't know if I'll even be alive. But this semester will be the best with everything that I have started.
And with the knowledge of all of this, Monday, I made ribs, grilled asparagus and portobellos, and ice cream. It took all day and thankfully nothing was burned or cut this time. I started at noon, realizing I had forgotten materials and had to go back to the grocery store.
This time I successfully managed ice cream and bar-b-que sauce at the same time. I just splattered the counters with both, of which I think they are still splattered with.
As usual the ribs cooked quickly and the veggies were quickly thrown on the grill pan to cook. 3 people turned into 5. And the table was full of chatter, of laughter, of smiles, and of friendship.
It is something I hope will continue because I don't think they know the impact they've had on me. And how much I value their friendship.
So I raise a glass to them, "Thanks guys for the memories!"

Grilled Asparagus

1 lb asparagus
Olive oil

Heat up gril pan or start the grill. Rub the asparagus with oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Cook in grill until bright green and slightly charred or to your liking.