Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chockablock Cookies

Chocokablock Cookies by Dorie Greenspan.  I made these cookies this morning.  What a fun concoction of ingredients.  In my rendition, I didn't use vegetable shortening in my cookies.  I don't like those pesky transfats, and I always have plenty of butter on hand~"butta is better" says Julia Child.  I think the molasses makes this cookie, they are the backbone of flavor, with the chocolate next.  All the add ins I used are: pecan pieces, mixed raisins and dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and unsweetened coconut. I declare these cookies delicious!  

Find the recipe on Mary's blog: Popsicles and Sandy Feet  or page 86 in Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lemon Birthday Cake for Bryce

I made a Lemon Cake for Bryce and Terri's birthday.  This is one of my new favorite flavors!  I found this delicious Lemon Cake recipe in The Cake Book, by Tish Bolye.  I also included a very similar recipe off her website just below, and a link to her blog if you are interested in checking it out.  She is my all time favorite cake author!  My cake is a four layer, nine inch cake.  It is layered with a lemon curd whipped cream filling, it has a lemon sugar syrup, and is topped with a lemon buttercream icing.  Then on top of the buttercream is a layer of fondant.  It's just a fun festive birthday cake!  

Pucker Up Lemon Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Lemon Curd:

8 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Lemon Cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed strained lemon juice
2/3 cup whole milk

Lemon Buttercream:
1 cup granulated sugar

5 large egg whites
3 tablespoons water
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon curd

Make the Lemon Curd:
1. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium, heavy, non-reactive saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 7 to 10 minutes (do not let the mixture boil, or it will curdle). The mixture should leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw your finger across it. Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula.
2. Set the bowl containing the lemon mixture in a large mixing bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the lemon mixture). Stir the lemon mixture frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 minutes. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

Make the cupcakes:
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
4. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed for 3 minutes, until well blended and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, reduce the speed to medium, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and mixing until blended. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the milk in two additions. Mix just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared cups and smooth the tops.
6. Bake the cakes for 20 to 22 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pans, set on wire racks, for 15 minutes.
7. Transfer the cupcakes to wire racks and cool completely.

Make the buttercream:
8. Pour enough water into a skillet so that it comes 1/2-inch up its sides. Bring the water to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.
9.. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, egg whites, and water. Place the bowl in the skillet of water and whisk gently until the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.
10. Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat at medium-high speed until the meringue is cool and forms stiff, shiny peaks, about 5 minutes.
11. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Beat at high speed until the buttercream is smooth, about 1 minute.
12. Add the lemon curd and beat until well blended.

Fill and frost the cupcakes:
13. Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped wedge out of the center of each cupcake (the diameter of the cone should be about 1/2 inch).
14. Fill the center of each cupcake with lemon curd.
15. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip (Ateco #5) with the buttercream. Pipe a generous swirl of buttercream on top of each filled cupcake. Serve the cupcakes immediately, or refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Amish Cinnamon Rolls

What could be more wholesome than homemade bread?  I remember homemade bread growing up, I would watch my mom kneading it in the kitchen.  We would chat as she worked.  She had a giant ceramic bowl that she aways used for her bread.  She would set it in the corner with a dish towel across it while it rose into goodness.  I think she got the bowl in Portugal, I'm not sure where it is today, but the memory remains.  Not until I was in my 20's did I start making my own bread, but I kneed my bread just like she does.  Funny what you pick up as you watch, learn, and absorb as a child.

My sister gave me some Amish starter a few months ago.  I quickly got tired of making Amish Friendship Bread, I did not like the box of pudding needed to make it.  The bread is delicious, but I want something all natural, to feed my precious family.  I found a web site dedicated to making all sorts of fun treats with the Amish starter.  I have tried Amish pancakes, and Amish biscuits, both of these are very good!  The plus?  No added box of anything, just pure natural ingredients.  My new endeavor- Amish Cinnamon Rolls.  I thought I'd share..

Above is my starter, mixed with flour and milk. It has to rise for 12 hours before I can make my rolls.  I have set it aside in a warm spot in my kitchen, with a dish towel across the top of the bowl.

12 hours later (and a little more) my dough has risen nicely.  As I moved it, it did fall just a tad, as you can tell in the picture.  But no worries, I was ready to mix more ingredients in, and make my rolls!

These are making me hungry, they are so yummy!  I made this particular batch for a friend that just had a baby.  I hope her family enjoys this sweet treat!  

If you want some starter, it's meant to be passed around.  So, just let me know (if your local) and I'll be happy to give you a cup.  Or want to make your own starter?  Look here for a recipe- Amish Friendship Bread Starter.  I use a large glass jar to keep my starter in, and I give it a stir with a wooden spoon.  No metal should touch it, as it can leach into the starter. That would be a bad thing.  I use organic sugar, organic flour, and organic milk in my starter.

Amish Cinnamon Rolls
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 cup Amish batter *
Combine and let set at room temperature overnight or 10-12 hours. Stir down.
3 t. sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Add into small bowl all at once to stir down. Pour dough out on well-floured board. Knead until no longer sticky. Roll out to 1/2" thickness in a rectangle shape. Brush dough with soft butter.
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBS cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed nuts
Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough. Beginning at wide side, roll up, and seal seam.
Cut 1" slices. Place on well-greased cookie sheet. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F 30-35 minutes.

* Note: This recipe requires the Amish basic batter. This is the batter that results after day 10 in the basic Amish Friendship Bread recipe  this recipe is found here: Amish Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Roll Glaze

1/4 cup butter
2 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter and cream cheese in saucepan on the stove.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and pour over warm rolls.
Thanks to Nina Pepin for her mother's frosting recipe found in More Please! my Shoreline (CA) MOPS cookbook.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swedish Visiting Cake

This a very easy and very tasty cake.  The simple flavors of lemon and almond meld into a delicious cake. I was surprised it did not have any baking powder or soda in the recipe.  I wondered about this, but went with it anyway, and I'm so glad I did! 

I loved that I could make it in my cast iron skillet.  Did you know that cooking in cast iron is good for you?  It's an easy way to add iron into your diet, and it's free from harmful toxins sometimes found in cookware.
Here is a tempting slice just for you!  I made this cake and brought it to Connect Group this past Friday.  It was the perfect way to break bread with friends.  

Sometimes the most simple things in life are the best.  Enjoy your week!

If you would like to try this cake you can find the recipe on Nancy's blog at The Dogs Eat The Crumbs or on page 197 in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Giant Cupcake "Happy Second Birthday!"

A Giant cupcake!  I loved making this cake.  It is a vanilla cake, with buttercream icing.  I made matching Billy Vanillie cupcakes to go with it.  This was the first time I've used the Giant Cupcake Pan by Wilton.  (I made the Easter Basket after this one!)

I made this to match her birthday party plates:

I made a candy shell for the bottom of the cake, then I covered it with stripes of fondant.  I placed the cake inside the candy shell.  Then I put the top half of the cake on.  I made the matching fondant circles for the top of the cake.

Next I made a cute little cherry for the top of the cake.  I made this out of gum drops.  I thought it looked just like a maraschino cherry!

Here is the Birthday Cupcake Cake with the matching cupcakes.

The cupcakes again!  

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend! 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Giant Easter Basket

I made a fun Easter Cake for my family.  They are arriving soon!  I found the eggs and the "rope" at the store and I used the bottom from the giant cupcake pan by Wilton.  This is a quick post!  I hope you enjoy the idea!  

Happy Easter!  blessings, Rachel