The Fabulous Baker Girl

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Busy Baking Weekend April 20, 2009

Filed under: biscotti,cookies,Screen Doors and Sweet Tea — amynb2008 @ 5:35 pm
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This weekend I was quite busy in the kitchen and I have to say that I loved it!  I had a Private Quarters party on

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

 

Saturday and made some really yummy things for my friends who came.  

 

 

One thing I made was Blue-Cheese Pecan Bread.  This recipe is from the cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.  I actually met Martha at Zingerman’s last year.  They had a special dinner consisting of dishes entirely from this book.  She was there as well.  The whole evening was so much fun and the food was amazing.  That’s where I first got a taste of this bread.  I’ve made it a few times and it’s always a hit.

I also made biscotti from a recipe I got in baking class.  I have to say, everyone loved them!  They were  very popular, both with and without coffee or tea.  I think everyone was impressed with the biscotti because they think it’s hard to make.  In reality, it isn’t — but let’s just keep that little secret to ourselves.

Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

Another recipe I made was for nut cookies.  This recipe came from my baking text book.  I made them in class a couple of weeks ago and wanted to make them again.  These are basically Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cakes.  I used ground hazelnuts and that just took ’em up a notch.  So good!

Lastly, I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  This recipe is out of the new Cooks’ Illustrated magazine.  It’s an interesting recipe that calls using melted butter rather than softened.  I have to confess that I did not follow the exact recipe.  For some reason, I read it wrong so I’m not sure they came out the way they should have.  They turned out really well regardless.  They had a different texture than the usually

Hazelnut Cookies

Hazelnut Cookies

 chocolate chip cookies I make and the butter and dark brown sugar really make a flavorful cookie.

Spring Biscotti

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 egg white

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 ounces white chocolate

1 1/4 cups pistachio nuts

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time beating well after each addition.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually blend into the butter mixture using a wooden spoon.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and chill for about a half an hour or until dough is not sticky.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide in half.  Form each half into a semi-flat log about 12 inches by 3 inches.  Put on making sheet about 3 inches apart.  

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow logs to cool on baking sheet until they are cool enough to handle.  On a cutting board, carefully cut each log with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick slices (I actually made mine a bit thinner).  Arrange back on the baking sheet.

Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!


 

Chocolate-Strawberry Inspired Birthday Cake April 13, 2009

Filed under: Cakes — amynb2008 @ 8:38 pm
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We had Easter dinner at our house this year.  I was actually quite proud of myself.  Usually when we have company I get all panic-y trying to make everything perfect which makes me all pissy and stressed out.  It’s really not very pleasant for those lovely people I call my family.  This year, however, I only had one minor moment of freaking out.  This occured when my husband’s aunt told me she was bringing cake.  Cake?  Cake!  To my house?

Okay, seriously?  That’s like telling Bobby Flay you’ll be over to grill.  

So, I told her I would be making the cake.  And as luck would have, it was also my sister-in-law’s birthday.  Now, not only did I have to make a really good cake.  I had to make a really good birthday cake.  Ah…what to do?

I asked my sister-in-law what kind of cake she wanted.  The crazy chick told me she didn’t want too much chocolate!  Is there really such a thing?  

Alright, so she’s not so crazy.  She said she didn’t want too much.  So figured she wouldn’t mind some.  Right?

Since she said she’d like a yellow cake, I figured that was a good medium to get a little creative.  My original plan was to make a jelly roll filled with whipped cream and strawberries, so I stuck with that filling.  Now all I needed was a frosting and some interesting touches to jazz is up a bit.

So…here’s all that jazz.

First, I brushed the cakes with strawberry perserves.  I added a layer of chocolate ganache and topped that with the whipped mixed with fresh strawberries.  I frosted it with a simple butter cream and garnished with shaved chocolate and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Viola!  Happy Birthday!

I am really proud of this cake.  It looked really beautiful and everyone told me it looked professional.  And…it was delicious as well.  I got lots of compliments.  I am really happy with how well this turned out.  Plus, it was nice to do something special for my sister-in-law — who deserves something special.

I hope that this teaches everyone to never even

Chocolate-Strawberry Inspired Cake

Chocolate-Strawberry Inspired Cake

 think about bringing a cake to my house.   Salad…maybe.  Cake…never!

A Look Inside

A Look Inside

 

Indian Fry Bread April 9, 2009

Filed under: Bread — amynb2008 @ 1:15 pm
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This week was Spring Break for my oldest daughter and I really wanted to do some baking with my girls.  It’s Thursday and we really haven’t done too much but we did manage to get in some Indian Fry Bread.  It’s not really a baked product.  It’s fried (hence the name, fry bread).  But really…who cares?cherry-pie-and-other-things-0541

I once had a recipe for fry bread that I used to use when I was teaching.  It fit nicely into my Michigan History unit.  Unfortunately, I don’t know where that is so I had to do a little searching.  I came across this recipe on recipe.suite.101.com.  I don’t know how authentic is it, but it’s easy to prepare and pretty darn good.   My girls loved it.  I believe one of their exact words were, “If I had to eat this every day, I would!!”  

I’d call that a success!

Basic Fry Bread Recipe

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces warm water

4 ounces warm milk

Oil for frying

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add warm water and milk in small amounts and knead dough until soft but not sticky.  Adjust flour or water to achieve desired  consistency.  Divided into 8 equal pieces.  Flatten into thin rounds with your hands (I used a tortilla press).  Fill a cast iron skillet until it is about half full.  Fry dough until bubbles appear on the dough, turn over and fry on the other side unti golden.  This should take but a few minutes total.  Drain on a paper towel.  Serve hot.

I only filled the skillet  about 1/4 inch with oil.  I let it heat up until a small piece of bread turned golden brown when I put it in.  It only takes about a minute a side to cook.

 

Nigella is a Genius! April 6, 2009

Filed under: Chocolate,Dessert — amynb2008 @ 9:00 pm
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Chocohotopots

Chocohotopots

Nigella Lawson.  She’s my hero.  My husband always teases me that I have a girl-crush on her.  I think it’s true.  I mean, how can you not love a woman who eats like that, looks like that and makes no apologies for anything.  

 

I have most of her cookbooks and I have found some true gems in them but none more gem-y than the Chocohotopots.  Named by her son, these little pots of joy are beyond perfection.  The best way I can describe them is that they reminiscent of a half baked brownie — only better.  They are warm and gooey and…and…and…words escape me.  Really.

Not only am I lucky enough to have access to this recipe.  I have a husband who actually makes them for me.  Yes, I am the luckiest woman in the world.  Nigella really has nothing over me.  He usually makes it when I need a chocolate fix or have had a hard day or just wants some of my attention.  This is bound to get it my attention away from anything.  It just so happened that these particular Chocohotopots were made by me.  Hey, men like chocolate too!  

These are so easy to make and yet so impressive.  Perfect in their simplicity, they require no other accompaniment.  You just can’t go wrong with these, no matter what the occasion.  I highly recommend them.  They are good after a nice romantic meal.  They are good when you want to impress someone.  They are good for company.  You name it — these are the way to go!

Try this one.  If you do nothing else.  Try this.  These won’t let you down.

Nigella Lawson.  She’s a genius.  Genius, I tell you!

Words escape me...

Words escape me...

Chocohotopots

from Feast by Nigella Lawson

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60% cocoa solids, I use Ghiradelli)

2 eggs

3/4 cup superfine sugar (just use regular)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips or morsels (we usually just use regular chocolate chips)

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Butter four 2/3 cup ramekins.  Either microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate then set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour (you can use a whisk).  Beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture.  Fold in the white chocolate.  Divide batter between the four buttered ramekins.  Bake in the preheated oven on the preheated tray for about 20 minutes.  The tops will be cooked and cracked — like a macaroon — and they chocolate grungy and gooey underneath.

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve.  Be careful — they will be hot.

 

Bargain Bread

Filed under: Bread,Quick Breads — amynb2008 @ 7:05 pm
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I used to be a consultant for Tastefully Simple.  It was a lot of fun, but I was no good at it.  I’m just not much of a sales

Beer Bread

Beer Bread

 person.   Luckily, some of the products sold themselves and one of my favorite things was one of them.  Beer Bread.  Yum!  If you’ve never had beer bread, you’re really missing out.  If you don’t drink beer (like me) don’t worry.  You can’t taste it.  The beer just gives it a little bit of tang.  

 

You can use other carbonated liquids too.  Mountain Dew mixed in with a little bit of cinnamon chips and drizzled with a simple powdered sugar glaze is a really nice treat.  You can even use a cherry cola and make a cherry flavored glaze.   Use your imagination.  The original beer bread is fabulous with bread.  Leftovers, if you have any, aren’t good by itself, but they make a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich.  

Besides this recipe being pretty versatile, it is also inexpensive.  You don’t need expensive beer here.  Guiness in not required!  Use what you have or what’s on sale.   Besides the beer, all the other ingredients you’ll have on hand.  When I started out with Tastefully Simple, a package to make one loaf of beer bread was $4.99.  Today is is $5.49.  To me, that makes this bread not only versatile…but a bargain!

 

Beer Batter Bread

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1 12-ounce bottle of beer

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the beer all at once and mix as little as possible until just combined.  The batter will be lumpy.

Pour into a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing or it will just fall apart on you.

NOTE:  The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of butter.  That’s just way to much for me — but go ahead and give it a try if you must.  Long live Paula Deen!