Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

You've probably heard the nursery rhyme reference to Hot Cross Buns. What you may not have known, is that they're associated with Good Friday. Which is why I made them this weekend, of all weekends in the year. And why I'll probably wait for my 2nd attempt (necessary, read on) until next year at this time.

They're actually easy to make (if you don't get cocky) and delicious. I used a recipe of Martha's. Except, I thought, instead of using the "Bun Crossing Paste" I'd cut a cross in the buns, like you do with, say, soda bread. Bad idea. My thinking went like this: the frosting cross is kind of a cop out. And gross. But, Martha's Bun Crossing Paste is not frosting, it's just flour and vegetable oil, and I should have trusted her. Because things started out well:

Before rise

After rise

Little round buns

And then quickly went south:

Had been risen--then crossed and deflated

They don't look quite so bad after baking (although I may have done that for just a titch too long).

But, they weren't what they were supposed to be. It's a tasty recipe, though. I just have to leave out the raisins for the sake of my children next time. Honestly.

TGIP Rating--Hot Cross Buns--KEEPER. Next time I'll actually follow the recipe as written and not think that I know better than Martha Stewart, of all people! And I'll leave out the raisins.

Next up: mr. has a birthday in a week! So, I'm making him a Devil's Food Cake with Coffee Buttercream.

P.S. I made the Honeyed Brown Butter from this smitten kitchen post to spread on the buns. It's delicious, but not right for these buns. Would be perfect on Whole Wheat Toast. Which reminds me, I still need to work out a recipe for Brown Butter Shortbread.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

English Muffins

So, it turns out English Muffins are incredibly easy to make. They require some planning (sitting in the fridge overnight)

and some patience (rising for an hour before baking).

But other than that, a breeze. And delicious. I used a recipe of Alton Brown's, which is part of his Eggs Benedict recipe. But he also has this version, which doesn't require the overnight refrigerating, or quite as long of a rising time. I'll have to try that one next time.

Because. There must be a next time. We have a long family association with Eggs Benedict. It's what my parents used to make for breakfast on Christmas morning when we were kids (and still do, but I'm not usually there). Took a long time. And then we had to clean up the breakfast dishes. BEFORE opening presents. I know. My point is, I should know how to make hollandaise, right? I don't. I've never made it. *shame* I tried Alton's recipe. I've watched the episode where he makes it a couple of times. Still, utter failure. Broken sauce. I have an electric stove that comes on and off as it sees fit, and I don't have a laser thermometer so that I can take quick temperatures like he can. I think there must be an easier way. Pie Queen? (and by easier, I don't mean using a Knorr package)

Anyway, with the failed hollandaise, we regrouped and decided to make homemade Egg McMuffins.

Yummy. The English Muffins were perfect. Not quite as nook-and-crannyish as Thomas', but I didn't expect them to be. Just very delicious and homemade-ish.

TGIP Rating--English Muffins--KEEPER. Next time though, I'll probably try Alton's other recipe. And I'll also toast one and slather it with butter to see how the muffins are in their "pure" form.

Next up: I think I'm making Hot Cross Buns for Easter breakfast. Am I?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zucchini Treats

I know you all know what it's like to have too much zucchini on your hands. Granted, there are people who will actually eat it outside of a baked good (I'm one of them, if it's not overcooked). But it's pretty common to find yourself at the end of summer with a gigantic zucchini on your kitchen counter and a houseful of people who want nothing to do with it. SO, I give you two options. Both delicious.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Found the recipe here. And then tried to get fancy by baking it in a bundt pan (for 60 minutes). However, I had run out of my usual cooking spray, so I used generic cooking spray...and whether it was because of that or other factors, some of the cake stayed in the pan.

Which, honestly, has never happened to me with a bundt cake. I tried valiantly to salvage it by cutting off more of the top to make it sort of a short, flat-topped tube cake.

Then poured this over it:


Stir together 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, 3/8 c. whipping cream, 3 T unsalted butter in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is smooth.

Thing is, with the top (crust) of the cake removed, the ganache sort of soaked into the cake.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It made it really fudgy and moist and delicious.

I think the cake would be perfectly delicious had it worked out as expected, with the ganache poured over it, but I don't really know. Chances are we'll see a lot more zucchini in our kitchen over the next few months, so I'll have more opportunities to experiment.

Different Zucchini Bread. I don't know where this recipe comes from. My sister gave it to me a few years ago, but I don't think she made it up (Quilter, correct me if I'm wrong). Anyway, regular zucchini bread is fine, but this goes one step further. The ginger and lime give it a fresh and bright taste that I really love.

Different Zucchini Bread
*click here for printable version*

¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
zest and juice from one lime
¼ c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 c. grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and coat with plain bread crumbs.

Combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, ginger, salt, and lime zest in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Whisk together lime juice, oil and eggs and stir into dry ingredients. Fold in zucchini and stir until combined, but do not overmix. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

It's a short (ish) loaf, but so much more interesting than any zucchini bread you've had (or made) before. In both recipes I used the grate, then process technique that I used in the carrot cake. I like NOT discovering long strings of veggies in my baked goods.

And P.S. Toasted zucchini bread with butter or cream cheese is delightful.

TGIP Rating--Chocolate Zucchini Cake--KEEPER
Different Zucchini Bread--also a KEEPER

Next up: This Saturday is National Eggs Benedict Day. I'm going to try my hand at homemade English Muffins.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Grasshopper Pie

Meh. No really. Meh. Taste=strange. Texture=strange. Visuals=nothing special. I have enjoyed Grasshopper Pie when I've had it before. But this. I don't know. The recipe is from the same book as the Irish Cream Pie I made a while back. Same use of gelatin. Which I'm just not sure of. I don't think I like the texture it produces. Is it because I'm using powdered gelatin? Does anyone have any experience using gelatin sheets? I did like the crust made from Thin Mint cookies, but that was pretty much the only part that is a keeper at all. I would say that I'd try to come up with my own version without the gelatin, but I don't know that I like Grasshopper Pie THAT much. And I have other recipes to Onward and upward.

TGIP Rating--Grasshopper Pie--LOSER. Just really not worth the time/effort/calories.

Next up: I have a passel of zucchini and no household members who like it (except in bread and cake). So that's what I'm doing. Chocolate Zucchini Cake. And probably also some kind of Zucchini Bread. If you have a killer recipe, send it!