Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter Sugar Cookies

UPDATE: Here's an awesome tutorial via Annie's Eats to show you how to decorate with royal icing!

Finally I get something posted BEFORE the holiday it pertains to! I'm such a procrastinator. I'm lucky if I get things posted ON the actual holiday, much less before it! For bloggers like me, it's particularly important to get special holiday posts up before the holiday. That way our readers can use the information we post as a guide for their holiday baking. So here are the sugar cookies I decorated for Easter. Feel free to use these designs on your own sugar cookies. I got my inspiration from Flickr user ktrammell.

For all cookies I used either a #1 or #2 round tip, depending on how thin the icing was and the precision of the detail I was trying to draw. For basic outlines with thick icing, I used a #2 tip. For precise details with thick icing, I used a #1 tip. For filling in outlines with thin icing, I used a #1 tip (when I tried using the #2 tip with thin icing, it would constantly drip out of the tip).

For the Hatching Chick: (my favorite!)
1) Using thick white royal icing (#2 tip), outline the shape of the eggshell. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
2) Using thick dark yellow royal icing (#2 tip), outline the shape of the chick. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
3) Using thin teal royal icing (#1 tip), fill in the shape of the eggshell. Drop sprinkles onto the wet icing. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
4) Using thin light yellow royal icing (#1 tip), fill in the shape of the chick. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
5) Using thick white, orange, and dark yellow royal icing (#1 tip), draw the details of the face. Let the finished cookie dry overnight.

For the "Hopping" Bunny:
1) Using thick white royal icing (#2 tip), outline the shape of the bunny. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
2) Using the same icing and tip, fill in a round bunny tail. Drop white nonpareils onto the wet icing. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
3) Using thin royal icing of any color (#1 tip), fill in the shape of the bunny. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
4) Using thick royal icing of any color (#1 tip), draw the details of the face. Let the finished cookie dry overnight.

For the Bunny Face:
1) Using thick pink royal icing (#2 tip), outline the shape of the bunny face. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
2) Using thin white royal icing (#1 tip), fill in the shape of the bunny face. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
3) Using thick pink, light pink, and light teal royal icing (#1 tip), draw the details of the face. Let the finished cookie dry overnight.

For the Flower:
1) Using thick royal icing of any color (#2 tip), outline the shape and center of the flower. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
2) Using thin yellow royal icing (#1 tip), fill in the center of the flower. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
3) Using thin royal icing in a darker or lighter shade than the outline (#1 tip), fill in the shape of the flower. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
4) Using thick royal icing of any color (#1 tip), draw a spiral or any detail in the center. Let the finished cookie dry overnight.

For the Tulip:
1) Using thick royal icing of any color (#2 tip), outline the shape of the tulip and draw the lines of the petals. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
2) Using thin royal icing in a darker or lighter shade (#1 tip), fill in the outlines. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
3) Using thick green royal icing (#1 tip), draw and fill in the stem. Let the finished cookie dry overnight.
As always, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (from Allrecipes.com) and the royal icing recipe from Confetti Cakes for Kids by Elisa Strauss.

"The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies" from Allrecipes.com (scaled down)
Makes 50-60 cookies 1/4"-thick cookies

2 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
(I always bump it up to 1 teaspoon)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (This time I had to substitute self-rising flour by omitting the baking powder and salt. It resulted in a puffier cookie, but still delicious!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least an hour (or overnight). (I split my dough in half, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. It takes mine about 3 hours before it's hard enough to roll out.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until barely golden around the edges. Cool on wire rack. (I've found that the kitchen stays organized if you do all the rolling and cutting before you start baking. Cut out the shapes and place them close together on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Make sure the pan is small enough to fit into your refrigerator or freezer. You can layer the cookies on sheets of wax paper and keep them all on the same pan in the fridge until you're ready to start baking. Then line the pans you're going to bake the cookies on with parchment paper. Place them 1 inch apart and bake according to the original directions. You might have to add 1 or 2 minutes to the baking time because the cookies are coming straight from the fridge or freezer. This process really makes things less hectic in the kitchen during baking!)

Royal Icing (from Confetti Cakes for Kids by Elisa Strauss)

1/3 cup (3 oz) pasteurized egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
4 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
(I use almond and vanilla extracts)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Set the mixer to medium-low speed and gradually add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Scrap thoroughly between additions. Add the lemon juice and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form and the icing is no longer shiny, 6-8 minutes (mine stays somewhat shiny). Use immediately or place in an airtight container. You can keep the icing in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before using it. (I always add about 2 teaspoons of water to this before I use it. To thin it out even more, add 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time until it's the constistency you want. It takes some practice, but you'll get used to figuring out what constistency you need.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

I wish I knew what it was that made certain things jump out of people's blogs and say "Make me! Make me now!" I'm not a big fan of chocolate ice cream. To use a Josh-style metaphor, if I was at a Chocolate Ice Cream concert, I might be tapping my toes, but I wouldn't be on my feet screaming. Yet when I saw the chocolate ice cream that Erin from Dinner & Dessert posted a few days ago, for some reason I knew I was gonna make it. I even left her a comment saying I thought it would be good with some frozen bananas mixed in. And what did I do?? 2 days later I made the ice cream and mixed in some frozen chopped up bananas. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Now, since I've already noted my bias about chocolate ice cream, I give this recipe a 3 out of 5, but let me explain why. It's not that it wasn't delicious. It was extremely good, and the pieces of banana added a refreshing taste, as well as an excuse to think you're eating "healthy." However, it was waayy too rich. I usually limit myself to one scoop of ice cream in a coffee cup (it looks bigger in a little cup, so I think I'm getting more). But I could barely finish my serving before I was feeling sick. I can't tell if it's just too sweet or too creamy. I compared this recipe to my favorite coffee ice cream. The dairy dontent is the same, but the sugar content is much higher in the chocolate ice cream. I might make it again and just reduce the amount of sugar. I also noticed that this ice cream froze hard as a rock, and the coffee ice cream stayed somewhat soft when frozen. I guess it's because the chocolate hardens... duh. But don't let my opinion discourage you from making it. If you can handle super rich, super chocolatey ice cream, then this is for you!

I'm really unhappy with these pictures. I planned on using the daylight, but when I took the ice cream out to soften so I could scoop it, I forgot about it and left it out for almost 2 hours! When it finally got hard enough to scoop again, the sun was on it's way down. I'll probably replace these pictures with better ones tomorrow. Until then, bear with me!

Chocolate Ice Cream (from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
Makes about 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar (If I made it again, I'd reduce this to 2/3 cup)
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 bananas, diced and frozen (optional)

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk unto the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (You want to get it nice and cold. Chilling it overnight would be best, but I chilled mine for about 4 hours), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin out).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

IronCupcake_008: "Beer & Peanuts" Cupcakes

Iron Cupcake:Earth_008
Theme: Nuts & Seeds
My 2nd entry: Beer & Peanuts Cupcakes
Voting begins: Sunday, March 29 at 8 pm Central @ http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/ and will be open through Friday, April 3 at 12 noon Central.

Wow, is this last minute or what!? The deadline is 12 central, which is 1pm eastern... Let's see if I click "Publish Post" before time runs out! The inspiration for these cupcakes came from a recipe in Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman. I didn't use her recipe, but ever since I saw "Beer and Peanuts Cupcakes" in her book, I've wanted to make my own variation of the idea. My cupcakes are chocolate beer cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. I used Nigella Lawson's recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake. I'm not sure exactly how it's written in her book, because when I googled the recipe it was a little different on every blog I looked at. This is the one I found on the Borders bookstore website. It's supposedly an exerpt from the book, so I bet it's right. I halved the recipe and got 14 cupcakes. For the frosting, I made up a recipe off the cuff, but I wish I'd gone back and used the recipe from Bake & Destroy that I love so much. Overall, I'm fairly pleased with these cupcakes. They are extremely moist (verging on gummy because of all the liquid in the recipe). They aren't incredibly chocolatey, but that's okay because I wasn't focusing on the chocolate anyway. I wish the beer flavor was a little more prominent. I blame myself for that, though. We didn't have any Guinness on hand so I used the darkest beer we had, wish was an Irish Red. Not dark enough for this recipe I guess. Here they are, my second Iron Cupcake entry for this month!

Chocolate Beer Cupcakes (adapted from Nigella Lawson's "Chocolate Guinness Cake")
(I halved this and got 14 cupcakes)

1 cup Guinness (or any dark beer)
¾ cup sour cream
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups superfine sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter and line a 9 inch springform pan (or put 14 paper liners in a muffin pan). Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (14-16 minutes for cupcakes). Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting (my own recipe)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Blend butter and peanut butter until smooth. Sift in confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed. Add milk and increase speed to high. Beat for 1 minute.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 3

Prizes provided by Etsy artists:
A Bunnycake Easter Plushie by DOGBONEART
A whimsical piece by CAKEASAURUS
A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice!
SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY will be tossing in a collection of all new printed cupcake liners, 200 in all.
Corporate prize providers:
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Best Buttermilk Biscuits

"The Best" according to America's Test Kitchen. Not the best according to me. I think it's the flavor of the buttermilk powder I don't like, but these biscuits were not my what I am looking for when it comes to the perfect biscuit. They weren't quite fluffy enough. And the baking time was WAY too long. I took them out 2 minutes early, and they were still too brown for my liking. I think I'd like them a little better if I baked them with the sides touching. They'd be a lot softer, and maybe even fluffier. The photo of the biscuits in he America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book even looks like they baked their biscuits side-by-side, but the instructions say to space them apart. Hmm... I might try this again. But overall, I'm not pleased with the first recipe I chose to break in my brand new biscuit cutters! If you want to suggest your favorite biscuit recipe, I would gladly accept any and all advice! Thanks :D

The Best Buttermilk Biscuits (from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
(I got 9 when I halved it!)
“You can substitute 1¾ cups regular buttermilk or soured milk for the milk and powdered buttermilk; however, the biscuits will be less flavorful. Baking the biscuits upside down ensures a more even rise.”

3¾ cups (18¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1¼ cups whole milk

1.Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.Pulse the flour, buttermilk powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a food processor to combine, about 3 pulses.Scatter the butter and shortening evenly over the top, and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 pulses.
3.Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the milk with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out ontoa well-floured surface. Lightly flour your hands and the dough, and knead the dough gently until uniform, about 30 seconds. Roll the dough intoa 10-inch round, about 1 inch thick.
4.Using a floured 2½-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out 12 biscuits, gently patting the dough scraps back into a uniform, 1-inch-thick piece as needed.Arrange the biscuits upside down on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1½ inches apart.
5.Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and continue to bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (Mine were done at 10). Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 5 minutes, and serve warm.

To Make Ahead
The cut, unbaked biscuits can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; bake as directed. (They do not freeze well.)
“After lots of testing and tasting, we concluded that the best buttermilk biscuits are made with buttermilk powder. Not only does the buttermilk powder produce biscuits with a slightly finer, fluffier texture, but we can add as much of the powder as we want to the dough for maximum buttermilk tang with no textural side effects. When using liquid buttermilk, on the other hand, you can only add as much as the dough can handle; using too much liquid will turn the dough into a batter.” -THE AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN FAMILY BAKING BOOK

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dorie's French Yogurt Cake

I've seen a lot of this cake around the blogosphere lately, because the TWDers recently baked it. I had some yogurt in the fridge that needed to be used (since I ran out of granola, no more yogurt parfait for breakfast). This recipe looked perfect. However, after baking it I agree with a lot of the TWDers who thought this cake was kind of plain. It's not bad. It's not outstanding. It's just so so. I figured it would be when the recipe only called for 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. I did leave out the lemon zest (which probably accounted for most of the flavor), but I added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. It might have been better if I had topped it with the suggested lemon glaze, but I wasn't in the mood for lemon. I totally agree with Steph from Obsessed With Baking about it benefiting from a little butter! I also followed her advice about mixing the oil in with the sugar and eggs, instead of folding it in at the last step. I didn't have a problem with the texture of the cake, so I know this change isn't why I don't love the cake. It was pretty good with strawberries and lightly whipped cream, but I doubt I'll make it again.

French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze (from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (or, if you'd prefer, omit the almonds and use another 1/2 cup all-purpose flour) (I used flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I omitted this)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I also added 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract)
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such canola or safflower

For the Glaze: (I didn't make the glaze)
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained
1 teaspoon water

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you're using them, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and, with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisking vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You'll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (Mine was done around 45 minutes), or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold, and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To Make the Glaze:
Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or in a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of the water and heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.

The Cake Slice presents: Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake

I joined a group called The Cake Slice this month! It's a neat little group that bakes one recipe a month from a specific book. This year, we're baking our way through Sky High Irresistable Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. My first cake with the group is the Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake. I decorated mine with little pastel candies as a last resort because I didn't have anything yellow. It ended up looking like a perfect Easter cake! And it was DELICIOUS! The chiffon cake was sooo soft, and the tart lemon filling was just right! I usually don't like whipped cream as frosting, but this was pretty darn good! At first I was afraid about the chiffon part. When I attempted chiffon cupcakes à la Alton Brown, I got less than desirable results. However, these cake layers came out perfectly! I do think they could've used a little help flavorwise. Just a touch of vanilla would've been perfect. But my opinion on lemon desserts is often skewed, as they are not my favorite. Josh is the go-to man when I want an opinion regarding all things lemon. He's usually not a dessert guy, but he will totally scarf down anything lemon flavored. I'm pretty sure he was responsible for at least HALF of the cake getting eaten. One night I sent him home with THREE slices! I think it got his stamp of approval. ;D

Oh yeah... Did I mention... THERE'S A VIDEO!!?? Every time I post a video, I always get comments saying "You should make more videos!" So I made one of the cake making/baking process. Sorry, no video documentation of assembling the cake. My brother came home, and I feel like a total nerd recording myself while other people are around!

Ain't it pretty?? A layer cake I'm actually proud of! I guess the cake was too wide for the lid... :( You could imagine how the cake looked after this lide was remove and replaced a few more times!
The first slice!!
After Josh got a hold of it! :)
Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake (from Sky High Iresistable Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)
Makes a 9-inch 3-layer cake

For the cake:
8 eggs, separated
1/4 cup walnut oil**
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cake flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
[*1 cup cake flour is equal to 3/4 cup AP flour plus 2 tablespoons corn starch]
[**equal amount either almond oil, hazelnut oil, or canola oil]
(I used Canola)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch pans with parchment paper but do not butter or grease the pans.

In a med-large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until light and frothy. Slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Sift the flour, remaining sugar, baking soda , and salt into a large bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg yolk mixture and mix to create a smooth paste. Add one-fourth of the egg whites and fold in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites and divide the batter among the three pans.

Bake for about 16 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks to cool in the pans. Once cool run a knife around the cake to in order to un-mold the cakes. Carefully pull off the parchment paper from the bottoms of the cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand. Top with a heaping 1/4 cup of lemon curd and spread it evenly. Repeat with the remaining layers. Frost the top of the cake and the sides with the lemon cream frosting.

Rich Lemon Curd
Makes 1 cup

3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
grated zest of three lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.

Whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice , and lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Transfer to a small non-reactive saucepan. Gently heat the mixture, whisking until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. make sure not to boil the mixture. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and cover the curd with plastic making sure the plastic touches the curd. This should prevent a skin from forming on the curd. Refrigerate until cold. Then remove 3 tablespoons of curd and set it aside for the icing.

Lemon Cream Frosting
Makes 3 1/4 cups

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoon lemon curd

Whip the cream and sugar in a large chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold in the lemon curd, forming a stiff frosting.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes!

UPDATE: I realize I forgot to mention this at first, but this is by no means my new favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. My faves are still Martha's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cupcakes!

I know I promised you Irish Cream Cupcakes (winners of the poll) for St. Patrick's Day, but these are kinda, sorta, maybe just Devil's Food Cupcakes with Bailey's stirred into the batter... But SO WHAT! They're reallllllly good! I used the recipe for Devil's Food Cake in The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (which I just recently bought because I love their baking book so much! PS: the Spanish rice and the smothered pork chops are DE-LISH-US!). I removed a bit of the water (about 3 tablespoons) from the recipe and replaced it with a minibottle of Bailey's Mint Chocolate Irish Cream. You couldn't detect the mint flavor at all, but that was okay because I didn't want them to be minty anyway! I frosted them with vanilla SMBC (which I dyed green, because it's the easiest way to celebrate the holiday!). Then I drizzled them with some of that Wilton candy melt stuff and topped each one with a gold dragee.. Wow, Cassie, way to get festive! Thank you, thank you, I know!! :D :D I gave one to my dad, the taste-tester, and he said they were "killer." Although I believe you could pipe some SMBC onto a dog turd and my dad would love it... WHAT!? No... I didn't say that! Anyway, the cupcakes are good, you'll have to trust me. ;)
I love it when they all look perfect! And they taste GREAT!
Recipe for vanilla SMBC

DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE (halved from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Makes 12-14 cupcakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature (*original recipe calls for 3 eggs*)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the boiling water, choco­late, cocoa powder, and instant espresso together until smooth.

3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

4. Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Beat in half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining chocolate mixture, and finally the remaining flour mixture.

5. Give the batter a final stir using a rubber spatula to make sure it's thoroughly combined. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

6. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 4
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Crinkle Sugar Cookies

I had 2 egg yolks leftover from some cupcakes I made today, so I did a little internet searching and found a recipe for sugar cookies that calls for only the yolks... HURRAY! :D I dyed the batter green and rolled them in green sugar in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I think they look pretty festive, don't you? And they taste GREAT! Crunchy around the edges, yet soft and chewy in the center. I use really good (and equally expensive!) vanilla extract, so they taste just like a vanilla bean. These last minute cookies were a sinch to throw together, and they're yummy!

Cracked Sugar Cookies (adapted from AllRecipes.com)
Makes 16 3 1/2-inch cookies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
Add egg yolks and vanilla, and beat for 2 more minutes.
With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture a little at a time.
Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and roll it in some sugar. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until tops are cracked and the edges are just brown (the centers will still be very soft). Cool on wire racks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Breton Apple Pie for "Pi" Day!

Pi Day is held on March 14 to celebrate the mathematical constant π (pi) (because pi is roughly equal to 3.14... get it?). Anyway, I know pi and pie are two different things, but I'll accept any excuse to bake! Gala apples were REALLY cheap a few days ago, and I bought a few pounds. I didn't want to make a plain 'ole apple pie, so I looked in a cookbook I've had since Christmas but never used, The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. I found a recipe for Breton Apple Pie. I was intrigued by it because he describes it as more of a cake-like crust with a cooked apple filling. And it was like a sign from up above that the recipe called for 4 egg yolks, and magically I happened to have 4 egg yolks sitting in the fridge! It was destiny!

How'd it taste?? The pie was... different. On the first day, I didn't like it too much because the crust was crunchier than I expected. However, when I ate a microwaved slice the next day, the crust reminded me of a scone. Mind you I've never eaten a scone, but I've heard that they're like a sweet version of a biscuit. That's what the crust reminded me of. Much better reheated the second day with a scoop of ice cream and some caramel sauce!

He says the apple filling will be like a chunky applesauce. I was glad mine didn't turn out that way. My apples stayed in tact while I cooked them, probably because I used Gala instead of Golden Delicious. Gotta love a press-in pie crust!
I couldn't get the lattice pattern on my top crust before baking because the fork was just pulling up the dough, so mine looked like this when it was baked...
And it came out a little shorter than Mr. Malgieri's! Oops...?
Breton Apple Pie (from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri)
Makes one 10-inch pie, about 12 servings

For the filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious (or Gala) apples, peeled, cut in half and cored; cut each half into 6 wedges
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the dough
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the cake pan
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks, plus an egg wash of 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)

For the filling: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan that has a tight-fitting cover, such as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Add the apples and sprinkle them with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, checking them and stirring occasionally, until they are swimming in liquid. Uncover and cook for about 10 minutes, so the liquid evaporates; stir occasionally to keep the apples from sticking or scorching. (Most of the apples will disintegrate while the filling is cooking, making it like a chunky applesauce.) Remove from the heat and let cool while you make the dough.

For the dough: Set an oven rack on the lowest level of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease a 10-inch round cake pan. Cut a round of parchment or wax paper to fit in the bottom, then butter the paper. Have ready two 10-inch cardboard rounds or tart bottoms.

Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture is very light and aerated. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to incorporate the flour.

Place half of the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan. Use your fingertips to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Spread the cooled filling over the dough (My filling was still very warm, but it didn't make a difference).

Flour the remaining dough lightly on both sides and press it into a 10-inch disk (use a cardboard or tart pan bottom as a guide). Run a long-bladed knife or spatula under the dough to keep it from sticking. Invert the dough onto a separate floured cardboard and slide it onto the filling.

Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Use the tines of a fork to trace a lattice pattern on the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the dough is nicely colored and baked through. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then invert, unmold and turn right side up again (it's good to use one of the cardboard disks or tart bottom for this). Let cool completely.

To serve, slide the Breton pie onto a platter and cut it into wedges at the table. (I need to get a cute cake stand!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

IronCupcake_008: Spumoni Cupcakes

Iron Cupcake:Earth_008
Theme: Nuts & Seeds
My 1st entry: Spumoni Cupcakes
Voting begins: Sunday, March 29 at 8 pm Central @ http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/ and will be open through Friday, April 3 at 12 noon Central.

I've been wanting to make cupcakes with pistachios for a long time, and when I saw that this month's Iron Cupcake theme is "Nuts & Seeds" I knew it was the perfect excuse! It only took a few minutes to come up with a delicious flavor combination. My inspiration comes from a popular Italian ice cream flavor called spumoni. The main flavors are chocolate, pistachio, and a fruit flavor which is usually cherry. For the cupcake version I made a two-tone chocolate and cherry cupcake with pistachio Swiss meringue buttercream. Formulating a recipe for the pistachio buttercream was harder than I thought. I googled for a recipe, but I couldn't find one. Surely, I'm not the first person to think of pistachio buttercream! I found a few articles that talked about using store-bought pistachio paste to flavor cakes, but I have never seen pistachio paste anywhere. I decided to make my own and blend it into a batch of my SMBC. It worked perfectly! You could definitely taste the pistachio flavor in the buttercream, and it went very nicely with the chocolate and cherry cupcake. Josh loves pistachios but isn't a huge fan of chocolate, and he LOVED these cupcakes! He texted me from work this morning just to make sure there would be another one here waiting for him when he comes over tonight. :D

Two-tone cupcakes cooling... The pistachio paste looks... unappetizing... =/ May I introduce Mr. Spumoni Cupcake! And his insides...He might have a drinking problem...Meet the family too!

Spumoni Cupcakes
MY NOTES: Measure out the ingredients for both batters first. This way you don't have the first batter sitting out for a long time while you make the second one. My cupcakes were done at 16 minutes.

Two-Tone Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes
Prepare both cherry and chocolate batters (directions below); fill muffin cups with 3 tablespoons of each, side by side. Makes 24.

(If you make one cherry batter and one chocolate batter, you'll have enough for 24 cupcakes; If you split this recipe and make 1/2 cherry batter and 1/2 chocolate batter, you'll get 12 cupcakes. It sounds like common sense, but it was confusing at first.)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cherry (or raspberry) flavoring
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chopped cherries (canned or frozen/thawed)

For Chocolate Cupcakes
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Reduce flour to 1 1/4 cups, and add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Whisk into dry ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin pan, or use paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add cherry flavoring and mix until combined. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture, followed by milk; end with remaining flour mixture and chopped cherries. Mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).
Fill muffin cups with 3 tablespoons of each batter, side by side (I used a #30 disher with a scant scoop of batter for each half). Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes (Check them at 16 minutes). Cool cupcakes in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sweetened Pistachio Paste
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup pistachios, skins removed (if pistachios are salted, rinse them well)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot water

In a food processor, grind pistachios and sugar until it becomes a fine meal. With the processor still running, Slowly add hot water, one tablespoon at a time scraping the bowl often, until a thick but spreadable paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Cool to room temperature.

Pistachio Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes about 4 cups

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into tablespoons
Sweetened pistachio paste, to taste
Green food coloring (optional)

Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees).
Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add 1/4 cup pistachio paste and mix until incorporated. Add more if a stronger flavor is desired (I used about 1/2 cup).

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Prizes provided by Etsy artists:
A Bunnycake Easter Plushie by DOGBONEART
A whimsical piece by CAKEASAURUS
A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice!
SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY will be tossing in a collection of all new printed cupcake liners, 200 in all.
Corporate prize providers:
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins

UPDATE: I noticed a lot of you commented and said you're going to bookmark this recipe until blueberries are in season. America's Test Kitchen actually recommends frozen wild blueberries. Wild blueberries are packed with flavor, and they are teeny tiny which makes them perfect for muffins. Also, they're frozen at the peak of freshness, so they're a fabulous substitute for fresh berries! It would be torture to wait for berry season!

Last weekend I was craving something other than my usual granola parfait for breakfast. I've been extremely lax on watching what I eat lately, so I wanted to make something a little on the lighter side. I looked in the Light Baking section of one of my favorite books, The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, and found a recipe for blueberry muffins. What a great recipe! The muffins are chockful of blueberries. They're so moist and light. You'd never guess they are low-fat! I especially love them because they aren't so sweet that you think you're eating cake. They were sooo good when they were warm from the oven, and the next day they tasted like a whole other muffin. I love a recipe that does that! This is going to be my go-to recipe for blueberry muffins from now on. How many low-fat recipes are good enough to be go-to's?? Bravo, America's Test Kitchen! You definitely deserve a pat on the back for this one!
They're so pretty...
Mmmmm, can it get any better???
LIGHT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
MAKES 12 (I got 8 when I halved the recipe)

Vegetable oil spray
2 cups (10 oz) plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 oz) cake flour
1 cup (7 oz) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
(I used coarse sugar for sprinkling)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons fresh lemon Juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt (Use low-fat yogurt here; nonfat yogurt will make dry, tasteless muffins)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (ATK prefers frozen wild blueberries)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray.

2. Whisk 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, cake flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup more sugar and butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture and half of the yogurt. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining yogurt. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

4. Toss the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of all-purpose flour, then gently fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup sprayed with vegetable oil spray, portion the batter into each muffin cup, then portion any remaining batter evenly among the cups using a small spoon (My cups were almost completely full). Sprinkle the tops with the remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

5. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

(I halved the recipe expecting to get 6, but I got 8. Therefore, the nutrition facts are a little higher than what my muffins would actually be.)
PER MUFFIN: Cal 250; Fat 5 g; Sat fat 3 g; Chol 45 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 6 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 270 mg

"We wanted to drastically reduce the amount of butter in our muffins down to just 3 or 4 tablespoons-but we didn't want them to be dry and dense. The solution turned out to be twofold. First, we creamed a portion of the sugar with the butter, which made the muffins light and airy. Second, we substituted cake flour for some of the all-purpose flour to give the muffins a fine-textured, delicate crumb." -THE AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN FAMILY BAKING BOOK

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Break For Shoofly Pie

UPDATE: I've had a few people mention to me that Shoofly Pie is a very sweet pie. The recipe I used wasn't too sweet at all! I'd say it's not much sweeter than a slice of cake or a brownie. But it does have a strong molasses flavor, which is normal, but it's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing!

You guys chose Tres Leches Cupcakes this week, but when I went to the fridge to take out the ingredients, I noticed there was no heavy cream. It's FREEZING outside, and I was in no mood to go to the store. I was browsing through some books for a second choice, and Shoofly Pie jumped out at me! How cool is Pennsylvania's official bumper sticker?? (But umm, shouldn't it be b-r-a-k-e?) If you're like me you're wondering, "What exactly is Shoofly Pie?" In Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible, she describes it as an eggless gingerbread cake inside a pie crust. And it's really neat because it forms a dark, gooey bottom layer while baking. I figured if it's worthy of an OFFICIAL bumper sticker, I needed to try it! I was so excited about this post I even got out my tripod to take pictures! Ladies and gentlemen... This is how to make Shoofly Pie!

First, measure the flour... Stir the instant coffee into the hot water...
Make the crumb mixture...
Mix until it looks like a coarse meal...
Mix together the baking soda, warm coffee, and molasses...
Pour molasses mixture into the pie shell...
Top with the crumb mixture...
Place it on a hot baking sheet in a preheated oven...
Cool it on a wire rack...
Then eat it!!!
Shoofly Pie (from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Serves up to 12

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder* (I used instant coffee granules)
3/4 cup (6.25 oz/177g) boiling water
1 1/4 cups (5.5 oz/155g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3.5 oz/100g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 oz/113g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and chilled
1/2 teaspoon (2.5g) baking soda
3/4 cup (8.5 oz/241g) dark unsulfured molasses, preferably “Grandma’s”

*Or use 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee instead of the water and espresso powder

Preheat the oven to 425°F at least 20 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.

In a liquid measure or small bowl, place the espresso powder and stir in the boiling water until it has dissolved. Set it aside to cool to warm.
In a food processor with the metal blade, process the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt for a few seconds to mix well. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and, using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, rub together until the mixture resembles coarse meal.)
In a medium bowl, place the baking soda. If necessary, warm the coffee but do add it hot. Stir in the coffee until the baking soda has dissolved. Stir in the molasses.
Pour the molasses mixture into the pastry-lined pan. Evenly sprinkle the flour mixture over it. At first it will sink in, but gradually a fine layer of crumbs will accumulate on the surface.
Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F, protect the edges from overbrowning with a foil ring, and continue baking for 30 minutes until the top springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
Cool the pie on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.