Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Spiced apple cake

I have this dream that someday I will post recipes in a timely fashion for various holidays.  In fact I had made this apple cake recipe a few times last summer, in anticipation of sharing it in time for Rosh Hashana 2016, and then somehow that holiday came and went.  However the good news is that means I had pictures and a recipe, ready to go for this year.  Even so, I still am only managing to post this the night before Rosh Hashana, but better than never!  So here is one of my favorite apple loaf/cakes, great to help celebrate a sweet new year, or any time you have some apples that need a new home.  During the year I often make it in two loaf cakes (you can freeze one!), but for the holidays I'll make it in a round bundt tin.

Wishing everyone a sweet and good new year! L'shana tova!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Things I baked: Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Red velvet cake is one of those things that is wildly popular, yet I've never really understood the draw.  I've always cared more about taste then looks, so the excessive red coloring seems strange to me.  It also claims to be chocolate flavored, yet allows only a scant amount of cocoa to make sure the red color shines through.  However I find myself making it every few years by request (often for birthdays).  This recipe was very popular last week, especially the cream cheese frosting.  It makes a nice light and fluffy, barely chocolate, flavored cake. For the frosting I go heavy on the cream cheese, giving a tangy frosting that is not too sweet.

A note about the blog: 
When I initially started this blog I aspired to have my own mini-version of the food blogs that had inspired me, like Smitten Kitchen or Orangette.  I aimed to only post recipes that I had adapted myself and that I had made at least 2 or 3 times in that format, to ensure they were high quality recipes accompanied by quality photos to lure you in.  However these goals along with my work schedule, meant that I found myself posting a new recipe every other month or so, even though I bake 2-3 times a week.  As coworkers recently kept asking me if a  recipe was on my blog for my most recent creation, I realized that maybe I should change my blogging habits.

So I am going to try out a new category of blog posts called "things I baked."  These will be recipes that I haven't had time to perfect and maybe only tried once.  They will likely be accompanied by photos from my phone/ipad, in whatever lighting is available as I pull them from the oven.  But it means I will hopefully post more frequently, allowing us to find out if sometimes quantity is better than quality :).

Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Mildly adapted from the NYT
makes 2 dozen cup cakes, or 2 round 9' layer cakes

Ingredients for cake:
1 cup milk
1 Tb vinegar
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Red food coloring (2 TB of liquid, or about 1 tsp gel)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cup flour

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:
8 ounces/225 grams cream cheese - room temperature
1/4 cup (56 grams)  - room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar - sifted

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350f / 165 c and line two muffin trays with cupcake liners

  1. Pour the milk into a small bowl or glass measuring cup, then add the vinegar.  Let this sit and curdle while you start making the batter.  (This is homemade buttermilk).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl (this takes about 3-5 minutes, even w/ soft butter, longer if it is not soft)
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well, followed by the cocoa.
  4. Dissolve your food coloring in a few tablespoons of your milk (prepared above), then add it into the batter.  Add more food coloring if needed to make the desired color.
  5. Sift together the baking soda, salt, and flour (you could probably skip this step without repercussions)
  6. Add half the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well, then 1/2 the buttermilk (milk/vinegar) and mix well, then repeat with the rest of the dry then wet ingredients.  It may look curdled during this process, but it then should come together.
  7. Fill cup cake tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently with your fingertip.  Cool on a wire rack.
Make the cream cheese frosting:
  1. Mix the cream cheese and butter well with an electric beater (or by hand), till soft and will mixed.  
  2. Slowly add in the sifted powdered sugar (NB: if you don't sift it, you will likely get a lumpy frosting!)
Once your cupcakes are cooled - frost them generously and enjoy.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mini Egg Cookies

 Another year is flying by and it is somehow already that time when the grocery stores are filled with delicious tempting easter chocolatey delights.  It used to the cream eggs that would lure me in, however one of my friends in vet school let me in on the Cadbury mini chocolate egg secret (I blame you Hannah!).  Last month I somehow convinced myself I should save money by buying a large bag instead of the smaller snack size bags.  Which shockingly led to me consuming way too many each night after work.  So in my usual logic, I figured I should bake them into cookies to limit my consumption.  While I'm grateful that decision led me to a new delightful cookie recipe, it also led to buying another bag of eggs (research and development!), which doesn't help in my laughable quest to eat healthy.

This recipe is a mild adaptation of my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  (I seem to switch up my recipe each year...).  The recipe is a winner because it has a higher ratio of chocolate chips to batter, and provides a nice thick chewy cookie.  I also added in a dollop of peanut butter - which adds a complexity to the flavor of the cookie without overpowering it.  While you can taste its presence, it is mild enough that even the Europeans at work approved (they tend not to like peanut butter).  Of course it is the baked mini eggs on top that make this cookie amazing and so popular.  I suspect this would be a good cookie base for other candies as well (peanut butter M&Ms sound delicious!), but I doubt I will try that till after the easter season has passed.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Double Chocolate Banana Bread - Gluten Free!

The original version of the recipe, from smitten kitchen, is one of those recipes that instantly becomes a classic.  You take one bite, then just want more and more.  It is a perfect combination of chocolate (in two forms) with the moist banana that makes you addicted.  And before you know it, you end up buying 3 extra bananas each week, let them brown, and make it again, week after week.  I think I made this 4 times the first month I discovered this recipe.

Occasionally one will stumble upon a chocolatey recipe that is so perfect, that even the addition of peanut butter does not improve it (for example slutty brownies).  Well, this is one of those recipes (pictured below with pb).  I predict it will soon become your new standard for pot lucks, book clubs, or anything other event.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Spider peanut butter blossoms

We had a halloween bake sale at work this week, which inspired me to create a spider version of the classic hershey's peanut blossom cookies.  Taste is usually one of my biggest focuses when baking, however with halloween this weekend, I wanted something to fit the theme as well.  When I first googled for halloween baked goods, I found that many of the recipes didn't look very tasty, and seemed like they took way too much effort decoration wise (like complicated iced sugar cookies!).  Then luckily I stumbled upon some pictures of similar peanut butter spider cookies, and knew I had found a winner.

The base recipe for these - the classic hershey's peanut blossom - is delicious, and should be a staple in your recipe book.  I used nerds for eyes (I do not have the time to fashion my own candy eyes!), and just piped on melted chocolate for legs.  The decorating aspect of it only added about 10 minutes to the whole process.  So if you have a halloween party coming up this weekend, get baking!  Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Italian Plum Cake, aka summer fruit cake

The last day of official summer has sadly come and gone this week, but here in Vancouver we are still clinging to it.  The sun is fighting valiantly to stay out for another few days (or weeks??), and I am still baking with late summer fruits, trying stave off winter.  Growing up we spent most of our long summer days outside at the barn, which had two large Italian plum trees heavy with fruit at the end of the summer.  I would bring home giant brown paper bags of plums, and once I'd eaten my fill, I of course needed to bake with the rest.  I remember using a classic simple delicious cake recipe, that I have lost over the years.  However when I saw italian plums popping up this summer it made me want to recreate that cake.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Funfetti cookies (nutella stuffed!)

I did not have (or want) a lot of sprinkles in my life growing up, but every once in a while a colorful sprinkle coated sugar cookie will tempt me in a bakery.  Most of the time I get sucked into buying one, I find them disappointingly crunchy, bland, and dissapointing.   Then recently Smitten Kitchen shared a new recipe for these, describing the home made version as tender and buttery, (and so colorful!), and I was sucked into trying them once again.  Fortunately these homemade cookies taste just as fun and delicious as they look.  Especially if you are like me, and go one step further by stuffing half of them with Nutella.   (Oops!)

The smitten kitchen version is delicious, but I ended up finding another version that I loved even more and was a little easier to make.   These cookies are super soft and buttery in the center, and the sprinkles give a delightful crunch.  And the color makes them seem so festive!  If you are feeling indulgent (and patient) you can stuff the cookie with balls of nutella, then roll each one in the spinkles.  If you are in more of a rush to get cookies into your mouth, just mix the sprinkles into the batter, and bake away.

Note: I recommend buying and using vanilla bean paste in these cookies if you have it.  It is not too hard or expensive to find these days, and makes it taste like you used fresh vanilla beans!

Spiced apple cake

I have this dream that someday I will post recipes in a timely fashion for various holidays.  In fact I had made this apple cake recipe...