Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby Gingerbread Cakes

Gingerbread remains an elusive recipe for me.  Similar to brownies, I have tried multiple versions upon multiple occasions to find THE gingerbread recipe and have yet to do so.  This recipe, unfortunately, was no different.  Oh, I think it was a good gingerbread.  Dark, moist, complex, deep flavors.  But it was not the gingerbread I have been searching for.  Maybe had I made them in baby cake pans as instructed I would have found them more alluring.  But as I write, a half of a cake pan of gingerbread still remains in my house and no one is nibbling.  (My husband claims he liked it...)  

Regardless, it does need whipped cream or ice cream to balance its strong flavors.  My lemon curd was a bit overpowering.  Otherwise, just a hint of lemon would be nice.

Quinn helped me out again on this recipe.  We were not as tidy as we were on the last one; not at all.

Quinn "helping"

The mess. (Not too bad.)

Adding the molasses and ginger.
Adding the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar.

And we burnt one edge of the cake (used a 9inch instead of the recommended 10 inch pan), but it still turned out moist and perfectly done everywhere else.  We just trimmed the burnt edge off.  

I am looking forward to scouring the blogs of our baking group, to see if anyone has that gem of a gingerbread recipe.

And Rhiannon... she didn't like the gingerbread...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Best-Ever Brownies

Best-ever is a bold statement, especially when it comes to brownies.  

A few years ago, my husband and I lived in Telluride, Colorado, located at nearly 10,000 feet of elevation.  Due to this elevation, I figured I burned a few more calories everyday and therefore could justify eating brownies nearly everyday.  I went on a hunt for the perfect brownie recipe and made batch after batch.  Some years later I finally come upon a close-to- perfect recipe, but I still struggled with the chocolate to butter ratio.  

I have not made brownies recently, maybe because I know my recipe is flawed.   (Maybe because I now live at sea level.)  Why bother with imperfect brownies when I can make perfect cookies?  

So, when our baking group picked this as our next recipe I was certainly curious if they really were the "Best-Ever Brownies".  Luckily for me I am of the fudgey, chewy brownie camp for which this recipe was designed.  (Can't stand cake brownies.)  

The recipe is easy.  Not as easy as most brownie recipes, but then again, these are "Best-Ever" so some work is warranted.   Actually, the biggest challenge with this recipe is the bake time.   The recipe states 25-28 minutes but I swear mine took a good 15-20 minutes longer than that.  They did come out perfectly- not fully set, fudgey with a slightly crunchy top for contrast.  

"Best-ever"?  They were my best-ever. 

Best-ever recipe?  No.  The baking time needs to be more accurate (at least for my oven).  It may take a few more batches to get this recipe to be the best-ever.  Maybe I should move back to Telluride...

Rhiannon- 13 months.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

For this post, my blog should be named "Baking with Quinn", Rhiannon's older brother.  This simple recipe was one my son could almost do on his own.  Almost.  It did require him to wash his hands multiple times about which he was not too excited; he would have preferred to keep them eggy and buttery and sugary.  So here he is mixing the shortening with the flour and sugar, some of which would become the crumb topping.

And here he is beating the eggs.  He preferred using a spoon and a fork for this.

And fast forward a few steps (literally a few, as there weren't too many steps to this recipe) and here he is filling the muffin tins.

After 25 minutes in the oven, here they were ready to eat.  Simple, easy muffins.  Simple flavors, too.  Nothing extraordinary but solid.

He didn't even make a big mess:

We did this recipe while on a weekend away to Central Oregon with some friends.  My friend Mark volunteered to clean up some of the mess we did make.  And Rhiannon got some much needed time in the dry desert.

For the recipe check out Alisa's blog at easier than pie.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whole Wheat Loaves

This bread came out just fine.  A little bit of work, not too much.  A little bit of timing, not too much.   A little bit of flavor, not too much.  There are people in the baking group that make this every week and I understand why.  It's the all around good bread that goes with everything.  I would do this too if I had a mixer to make it a bit easier.   As it is by hand, it still takes some commitment, time-wise.  

This was a make up recipe from about a month ago.  To see the hosts' links for this recipe, click here or here.

The first rise.

Rolled out dough (too rolled out).

Ready to bake.


Monday, October 15, 2012


Fun!  This recipe was actually fun.  Not that the previous recipes weren't  (the fun part is usually the eating part); this just had an extra element of playfulness.  It had to be the part of forming the bagels- taking the dough balls and pinching them just so, poking holes in them and then making them into giant rings.  I had always thought bagels were formed by making long snake-like formations and scoring the ends together, like you would clay.  This was way more cool.  

I just got way ahead of myself....  so here is the dough coming together, much like any basic yeasted dough.

This recipe does better with a high-gluten flour so I used Bob's Red Mill Bread flour (not sure of the percentage but it seemed to work well). And I did use shortening like the recipe specifies, but I got some non-hydrogenated stuff that I feel a whole lot better about (just pressed palm oil).

It had to rest in the fridge at least 4 hours or overnight (just like the last recipe, Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves).   I chose overnight.  After the night in the fridge it was huge and gorgeous (forgot to take a picture).

Then it was divide and conquer.

The dough made 10 bagels total, 5 in the first batch and 5 in the second.  Here is the fun part of shaping the dough and making the rings.

After that it is a sugar/ baking soda bath, a brush with egg whites and a sprinkling of toppings.  I chose salt, plain and cinnamon/ sugar.  For the salt I chose to use some fancy Alea Volcanic Salt from our local salt shop.  It was red in color and only darkened in the oven.  The cinnamon and sugar did not work out at all and of course plain was just fine.

The baking required some steaming provided by ice cubes and water thrown into the oven underneath the bagels.  Crazy.  My oven is still making some odd "adjustment" noises from this maneuver.

They turned out ok.  The crusts of my first batch were quite hard and crispy.   The insides were delicious.

The second batch was a little better as I turned my oven down a bit (I think my oven cooks a bit hot).  I even limited the water bath time to 1 minute each side (as some of my fellow bakers had suggested) but I still got a harder crust than expected.  Not sure exactly how to change that.  Maybe even less water-bath time?  A quick dunk?  Less sugar in the water?  I will try it again at some point since it was so much fun to make (a bit less fun to eat).

Check out the full recipe and our host, Heather's, site.

And here is Rhiannon on her 1st birthday!  Or rather, us trying to take her picture on her 1st birthday...


Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Walnut Bread

After missing last month's Whole Wheat Loaves, I made an extra special point to make time this past weekend to make this next recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie/ Baking With Julia group.  I knew the recipe was going to take two days to make, so I penciled in a bit of time on Saturday and then a tiny bit of time on Sunday. This recipe involved a lot of waiting and timing, somewhat reminiscent of the Pecan Sticky Buns a few months back.

So on Saturday I set about making the dough.  My son and husband are about to leave on an adventure, and Rhiannon is taking a nice nap.   I read through the ingredient list again and realize the cranberries need to be thawed.  Out come the frozen cranberries from the freezer onto the sunny table to thaw.  And the walnuts need to be toasted.  Into the oven go the walnuts.   And the butter needs to be room temperature.  All butter frozen, deeply.  No microwave, just a sunny table.   Out comes the phone.  Call my parents (they live a mile away).  Load up Rhiannon.  Nuke my butter.  Back to my house, ready.  Sift the dry ingredients, start the yeast, cream the sugar and butter.   Ready to add the room temperature egg....     Go to fridge, no eggs.   Run over to neighbor's house, no eggs.  Neighbor bikes over to store for 6 eggs (he gets one of these mini-loaves).  Get egg.  Make dough.   No mixer.  Ask friend for mixer.  Miss her text.  Knead by hand (sticky!!!).   Cover, let rise.  Fold over.  Let rise in fridge. Sleep.

Sunday goes much better.  I remember to set out the dough in the morning.  I shape the loaves around noon.  Let them rise a bit longer than 2 hours.  Put them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Let them rest for 5 minutes and cool the rest of the time on the rack.

And today we ate them.  And they were worth it.

Check out Rebecca's post for the recipe, complete with all the ingredient specifications should you choose to read them ahead of time.

And here is Rhiannon, trying to walk...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake

Food is always better when shared, right?  I was able to bake and share this cake with some dear, dear, family friends that were in town this past weekend.  (Too bad I undercooked it- and they were too nice to say so.)   Attempting this cake after my previous flop with the French Strawberry Cake was a bit nerve wracking but I made none of those mistakes and instead just cooked it 5-10 minutes too few, as mentioned above.  Other than that, the recipe was a success.  And it did taste good, gooey mess and all, maybe that's why no one complained.

Here are the basic steps:

Make and bake the streusel filling.

Prep the pan with melted butter, sugar, and nectarines.

 Make the batter by mixing dry with most of the wet ingredients, save the egg whites which are whipped and folded in separately.

Bake and wait.  (Here is where it fell in and collapsed a bit due to being undercooked; good thing we had to flip it.)

Enjoy with friends.

For the full recipe see our hosts' Marlise's and Susan's pages.

And here is Rhiannon in my tupperware drawer keeping busy while we baked.