Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Year in Review

Well, another year has passed. A year of experimenting in the kitchen, pretending I know something about cooking science, and generally playing with my food. I didn't do as much baking as I had hoped. I don't even know what that means. Is it possible to EVER do as much baking as you really want to? Unless you're a full-time, professional baker? At any rate, it's probably for the best. My expanding waistline needs to be halted. (And no, I'm not going to start baking "light" desserts, I just don't see the point. I'd rather have something real once a month than something light twice a week. Truly.) I did have some great successes and some equally great failures this year. Here are my favorites:





I don't have any idea how I neglected to photograph Hillman's Challah.


Most epic failure:

Shout-outs/thanks for sharing/inspiring me:
  • The BAKED boys--always and forever. I'm going to tattoo your buttercream recipe on my arm. I love your style. I love your commitment to bringing back classic American desserts that have been lost and/or forgotten/forsaken. I'm looking forward to baking EVERY RECIPE in Explorations.
  • Priestess/Hillman--when I'm senile and arthritic will you come take over my kitchen?
  • Smitten Kitchen--if I'd cooked like you do when I had a young one...I'd be a superhero like you.
  • Mir--your food snobbery truly does inspire me. :) And you share awesome recipes.
  • The folks at allrecipes, King Arthur Flour, Epicurious, and Food Network--simply because you exist.
  • Romina at Les Madeleines--not only a great teacher and sharer of recipes, but a reliable source for amazing baked goods when I'm not in the mood to bake them myself.
  • My little chefs, Prima and Seconda--for helping me to remember to slow down in the kitchen and let them help. The rewards are well worth the extra time.
  • Frankie Pistlekahk--for sharing your baby starter. I am trying to tend to it appropriately.

Looking back at everything I've baked this year, I realize I've gotten a little more bold. I've been adapting more recipes, and forayed into making up my own recipes. It's hard work, but it's so rewarding to be able to say it's mine. And double bonus when it tastes delicious.

2011? Wow. Lots I want to do:
  • Figure out how to make bread. I mean really figure it out. The way I focused on figuring out pies. That's a big goal. It's a lot more difficult than people make it look. I don't know if I'm plagued by altitude issues or climate issues or both, but the unpredictability is getting to me. In addition, a good amount of my bread baking will need to be whole wheat because I accidentally bought a 25-lb. bag of whole wheat when I thought I was buying all-purpose flour. So, now I have 50 lbs. of whole wheat flour. That's a lot of bread!
  • Take a cake decorating class. For real this year. And now that I've found this place, you'll always know where to find me.
  • Start in on my ever-growing list of ideas of baked goods to try, not to mention my library of cookbooks that I have only begun to crack.
  • Do more baking with friends. If nothing else, I can send goodies home with them so I won't have to eat them all. I might even film some of these events and start my own youtube cooking show. MIGHT.
So, in short, there's lots more to come.

First up: You're in for a glut of goods from the new BAKED cookbook.

I bought the book when it first came out in October, but thisandthat have kept me from trying any of the recipes. Until now. mr. makes homemade doughnuts for breakfast every Christmas morning, and this year he's decided to try their recipe for Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts. And then, on New Year's morning, I'll be trying the Monkey Bubble Bread recipe. Can't wait!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Bakemas!

Every year on Christmas Eve, since I was a little kid, we've had a family gathering with a talent show followed by a feast of desserts. A feast, people. And it seems to get bigger every year. There were new things this year, and all of it was delicious. I come by my penchant for baking quite honestly, you see.

I hope whatever holidays you celebrate, they are filled with loads of yummy baked goods!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cupcake #2 Attempt #1

So, I've done away with the idea of doing three cupcakes recipes for the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest. My plate is full of holiday baking. And my stomach will be soon. HA!

2 cupcake recipes will have to do. Especially because #2 was super yummy, and if the judges don't decide to bake it and eat it themselves...they'll be missing out.

I call this one a Coffee Shop Cupcake. It's a chocolate cupcake, filled with rich milk chocolate pudding, frosted with coffee buttercream and topped off with a small pie crust cookie. I wanted to recreate the flavors of a chocolate pie and cup of coffee, like you would have in a coffee shop. And, in one try, it's right. I did a lot of tweaking and research to figure out the problem with the chocolate cupcake of #1, and improved on it greatly. 2 minutes less baking time would make it perfect. I'm still working on getting enough filling into the cupcakes using my new Bismarck pastry tip, but I'm getting there. And the coffee buttercream. When I post the recipe you'll see--it's beyond delicious. Great texture, great taste. The coffee flavor is good, but not too strong (both my kids gobbled the entire cupcake down). And even with the combination of coffee and chocolate, I managed to avoid the whole thing tasting like a mocha, which was the goal. I wanted the two flavors to GO together, but not BLEND together. It's a pretty rich cupcake, all told, but who wants something light in the middle of winter anyway?!

I submitted my recipes on Monday. Now I wait...until February 27 (or thereabouts) to find out my cupcake fate. I won't win the contest, so after that date, I'll post the recipe here. And you can tell me how much you love it.

TGIP Rating--Coffee Shop Cupcakes--DELICIOUS. Could be a contest winner. Provided the judges have some good sense and good taste. :)

Next up: 2010 Year in Review.

2/27/13 update: Just realized I never linked the recipe. It's there now, just click on the link up there ^.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Midweek Ruminations: The Most Dangerous Gift

This is the most perfectly delicious substance on planet earth.

Perfect for dessert, for breakfast, for lunch. You get the idea. Which is why...

THIS is a very dangerous idea.

If making pie becomes too easy, EVERYONE will do it ALL THE TIME. And people will eat nothing but pie. Egads! Or is it just me that would eat pie 3 meals a day if I had one of these? Because I would.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cupcake #1 Attempts #1 & #2

It's no secret that I'm working on at least 2 (probably 3) cupcake recipes for this contest. The recipes themselves ARE secret. Top secret.

Not really.

#1 is a Meyer Lemon Truffle Cupcake. I wanted to mimic the flavor of See's lemon truffle.

So, it's a dark chocolate cupcake, filled with a Meyer lemon pastry cream, dipped in dark chocolate ganache.

Lemon and chocolate are an odd combination. I like the combination in the See's truffle, so I figured I could make them work together for this contest. It's complicated to try to balance the flavors--the tart and the sweet, the acidic and the creamy. What I've produced thus far is not perfect, not by a long shot. In fact, Attempt #1 was an epic failure on all fronts. But with Attempt #2 I got closer to the final product, and I will use at least one of the elements in my Cupcake #2, so I should be able to get all the parts working together by the time I need to send in the recipe.

Once I find out that I have not won the contest (which I'm confident will be the case), I'll post the recipe here. And you can tell me what you think of it. And how it can be improved.

TGIP Rating--Meyer Lemon Truffle Cupcakes--stay tuned.

Next up: Cupcake #2. It involves Sumatra coffee beans. And pie crust. And I have great faith in the idea.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Ruminations: Creating and Choosing

1. Creating recipes from scratch is hard work. Obviously, I don't have enough training to TRULY do it from scratch. So, I'm referencing some recipes that work well for me, making some changes, adjusting for high altitude, etc. It's scientific and mathematical makes my brain hurt. But it's also fun or I wouldn't do it. Instead of baking I should start calling it testing hypotheses. And this is what my lab looks like:

2. I have no less than 100 cookie recipes I would like to try. I have to choose 3 to make for Christmas this year. This will also be hard work. The choosing part, that is. The eating of the final product will be delightful.