Tuesday, June 30, 2009

new hardware

I kept my smaller KA 4.5 qt (300 watts) mixer for small, quick mixes. But, there's new hardware on the kitchen counter for the really big mixes!

I have not yet had the opportunity to take this machine for it's maden whip, but I hope to make a big batch of something this weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2009

dissecting the 'parts'

Sweet and Simple Bakes chose Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake (recipe here) as the July 1 post recipe. As I read the recipe, the PARTS jumped off the page! Yes, I've been reading Michael Ruhlman's "Ratio," and I now find myself mathmatically analyzing recipes. (Couldn't I just leave the math and excel spreadsheets at work!!)

It's so simple to bake using parts. I've baked the 'Old Fashioned Pound Cake' from "Ratio" page 61. The cake was delicious, had a great texture, and was moist. This orange pound cake follows the same formula.

1 part sugar (this recipe uses 6 oz)
1 part butter
1 part eggs
1 part flour

Add a few extras, and you have Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake.

I don't bake with self rising flour (I forgot that the salt was included) very often, and I added 1/4 teaspoon salt with the butter sugar mixture. I also added 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring, because I think everything needs a little vanilla. I believe these two additions enhanced the cake flavor.

I had some candied orange peel tossed in sugar in the pantry; I used this with the orange juice to make the glaze, and then strained the mixture.

There was enough batter to make 3 small cakes (pans are 4" x 2"). I punched holes in the little cakes, and drizzled the glaze over the tops. It seeped inside the cakes to add flavor and moisture.

This recipe yields a delicious orange, orange, orange cake. I'm not fond of chocolate and orange, so I dusted my little cakes with powdered sugar.

This recipe was quick to mix and bake, yet the flavor is intense and would make one think the recipe was much more complicated.

Since this recipe can be dissected into it's component parts, it can be scaled up or down, as the need arises.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

biscotti - ebony and ivory

I never liked the biscotti for sale packaged in retail stores. But, given the opportunity to bake and taste fresh biscotti, I was an instant convert.

September 2008 I attended a Baking Bootcamp at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY (a dream week for anyone who loves to bake!). We mixed, baked, sliced, and baked again Hazelnut Biscotti (images 66-72, 78-81, 86, 87, & 107 in slideshow). Given my past experience with biscotti, my expectations related to this recipe were quite low. Why did I ever doubt Chef's recipe? They were delicious! For the past year, I've searched for biscotti recipes. My latest find, which I have not yet tested, I found here - Cannoli Biscotti. My brother continually asks me to make cannoli; maybe this will be the TN substitute for the real thing he experienced in Italy.

I converted King Arthur Flour's Vanilla Biscotti (recipe found here) to Triple Vanilla Biscotti by using vanilla sugar and adding the seeds from one vanilla bean. This is a pure and simple, crumbly, slightly crunchy biscotti. It's delicious!

Chocolate Lover's Biscotti is just that. The recipe (found here) is just a link click away, in Sydney, Australia. My only deviation from the printed recipe was the use of 100g Green & Black 70% cocoa, since that's what was in the pantry. Using really good cocoa gives this biscotti a rich, chocolate goodness. I used Pernigotti Cocoa Powder, found at Williams-Sonoma.

The aroma of rich brownies drifted through the house while the biscotti baked. I did bake them 5 extra minutes on the first bake. The longer they cool, the easier they are to slice for the second bake. I laid them on a cooling rack inside a sheet pan, and baked 20 additional minutes on each side (look closely and you can see the line marks in the photo above). Maybe next time I'll stand them on the cooling rack, or maybe not. The lines give them 'character' or portion control marks if restraint is in your vocabulary.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

almost a vanilla wafer - but not

Do you see the sunlight, flowing through the cookie?

My uncle gave me the rolling pin years ago; he said it belonged to my grandmother, who was born in 1891.

A Betty Crocker recipe from the 1940's - "Caramel Refrigerator Cookies." (Original recipe from “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”.) I found the recipe here, from Laura in Idaho.

As I mixed the dough, the ingredients reminded me of chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips. But the flavor of the baked cookies is not that of chocolate chip cookies sans chocolate chips.

Sliced 1/8 inch thick, they are crunchy; sliced 1/4 inch thick, they are chewy. I have decided to describe them as caramelized brown sugar. There's something about the cookies that makes you want 'just one more.'

Simple...a connection with the past...

foodgawker post #28732

posted again!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I've completed another "Ratio" baking adventure.  These lemon pound cakes follow the parts as listed on page 61 - 62 of M. Ruhlman's "Ratio;" however, I added the zest, juice, and PULP of 2 large lemons to the batter. 

I doubled the recipe, and I probably should have added more lemon juice/pulp/zest, but the amount I used gave a nice subtle twang of lemon to the cakes.  And, the pulp baked into little brown flecks on the edge of the cakes. 

I don't own 9" loaf pans; I used 2 - 8 1/2" loaf pans, 2 - 3" round cake pans, and the remaining small portion of batter I baked in a sugar coated ramakin, which became my personal, hot-out-of-the-oven 'test cake' as my grandmother called them years ago.  I highly recommend the 'test cake' in all baking routines.

I didn't glaze the pound cakes while they were hot and fresh out of the oven.  Even without the glaze they are not dry.  I think the glaze would be an added plus to the taste, and will probably glaze the next pound cakes I bake.

Here's a quick list of parts, but I highly recommend you read the book.  The possibilities are endless.

1 part butter  (I used 16 oz)
1 part sugar
1 part eggs*
1 part flour 
2 t. salt 
2 t. vanilla
lemon zest, pulp, and juice

*Here's a note about the eggs from my market.  Large eggs are weighing under 2 oz and extra large eggs are weighing 2 oz.  That's about .25 oz less than what I have read is a standard.

Use the scale to weigh the ingredients.  You should be very pleased with the results.   

natural light

Here's a peak at one corner of my kitchen.  Late in the afternoon, wonderful natural light flows through 4 large windows into this corner.  It's my own 'lightbox.'  

Saturday, June 13, 2009

foodgawker post #28441

I'm honored to have another entry accepted for posting on one of the 'foodie' sites.  Here's the link to foodgawker's sight.  If you are looking for anything to cook, check out their site.  The pictures are so inspiring, and you are immediately linked to the blog post.

Be inspired today!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Val's Summertime Sweet Tea

This recipe rests through the winter months on the inside flap of my KitchenAid Mixer cookbook; but, when summertime arrives, out comes the recipe.

My friend, Valerie, gave me this recipe years ago.  It provides just the right 'quench' to that summertime heat - dry, hot, thirst we all have here in the South.

This is a Southern, pass it along, kind of recipe.  So, there will not be precise measurements.  I'm writing this blog post the way I hear her instructing me in my head.

In a gallon jug (glass is prettier, but all I have is plastic - it works just fine), mix 3 quarts of cool tap water and 7 regular size Lipton tea bags.  Sit the jug out in the sun all day and let the tea steep.

Bring the jug inside, and remove the tea bags, squeezing to extract all the tea's essence. (As hot as it gets here in the South, most of that essence was extracted hours ago.)

To this water/tea steeped mixture, add 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (the original recipe uses 2 cups granulated sugar here.  The South loves their sweet tea, but that's just a little too much sweet for me!)  Stir well to dissolve the sugar.

Add 1 cup white grape juice
Add 1 package Kool Aid Lemonade mix.
Stir well to combine all ingredients.
Place in refrigerator to get really cold.

I like this served in a tall glass with very little ice (glass above is from Grandmother Pearl, who was born in 1891).  The ice dilutes the Summertime Sweet Tea too much, in my opinion.


Thanks, Valerie. 
Here's a glass of tea to you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

let's compare some 'sandy' sables

(the little coffee cup is 2" tall)

What is a sable?

My CIA notebook has a recipe for Pecan Sables as follows:
cake flour
no egg
3 parts butter
1 part sugar
1 part cream
1.2 parts flour
refrigerate, slice and bake 
(these were very good)
Baking and Pastry from CIA has a recipe for Sand Cookies:
all purpose flour
no egg
2.7 parts butter
1 part powdered sugar
3.8 parts flour
refrigerate, slice and bake
Viking "Around the World Cookie Swap" lists French Sables Korova:
all purpose flour
no egg
.8 part flour
1 part butter
1 part sugar
refrigerate, slice and bake
(I remember these cookies melting/dissolving in my mouth upon the first bite.)
Joy of Baking lists sable ingredients as:
all purpose flour
1 parts butter
.7 part sugar
1 egg
2 parts flour
refrigerate, slice and bake
Then there is the recipe I followed:
bread flour
1 part butter
.4 part powdered sugar
.2 part egg white
1.1 part flour
pipe with large star tip and bake

I chose this recipe ( "Butter cookies-sables a la poche-sand in your pocket" found at Baked By Me) because the pictures of the sables on the I Bake What I Like blog were beautiful and quite inspiring.  I didn't compare ingredient parts (I've been reading "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman and now I'm converting everything to ...parts!) ;  I just assumed a sable was a sable.  Bread flour is used in this recipe to help the cookies hold their shape when piped with a large star tip.  The cookies did pipe beautifully, and held their shape after baking.  But, the cookies did not dissolve in my mouth as other sables have.  And, the next time I bake these, I would add much more vanilla, or another flavoring. 

As I said, I baked these because they were - pretty.  I have lemon curd in the freezer.  These cookies would be quite tasty sandwiched together with lemon curd. 

(the mini cupcake holder is about 2" wide)

I still don't know what a sable should be...but these cookies are so cute!

Friday, June 5, 2009

1-2-3 essence from "Ratio" page 38

A cookbook with math formulas!  What more could an accountant / baker want?

I have to admit, the first time I baked the 1-2-3 Cookie Dough, I used white wheat flour, added orange oil, and threw in chopped Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate.  I should have added more sugar!  The mixture was very crumbly.  Lesson learned:  "If it's crumbly going in, it will probably be crumbley coming out."  The cookies were bad..just bad.  But, the fault was not that of Mr. Ruhlman's ratio in his latest book, "Ratio The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking."  

For my second attempt with the ratio, I followed the directions (almost) exactly as the author suggested.  My only deviation was the addition of the seeds from one vanilla bean (don't! throw that bean away; bury it in a jar of granulated sugar).  The dark, tiny flecks throughout the shortbread cookies added to their charm and simplicity, and taste.  I could have dressed the cookies with drizzles of chocolate, but I let them stand on their own.  They were delicious.  They were not crumbly.  They cut beautifully.  Like the author says, "...you can understand what a cookie is."

I like to bake shortbread in my 14" x 4" tart pan.  It's easy to remove the cookie, and its easy to cut even slices.

Add this percentage to your book, Mr. Ruhlman -  The cookies get a 100% rating!  I just need more room in the margin for notes!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

my new favorite number


Finally!!!!  My first TasteSpotting post!!!  Whooo  Hoooo!

My first two submissions did not make the cut, but my third submission was chosen to be posted on TasteSpotting!  

This is one of my favorite web sites.  I admire the beautiful photography and I plan to bake everything I see (which is not possible).   This web site is also a great link to bakers all over the world.

This is quoted from the "About" section of the TasteSpotting web site:

"Founded on the idea that we eat first with our eyes, TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side. Think of TasteSpotting as a highly visual potluck of recipes, references, experiences, stories, articles, products, and anything else that inspires exquisite taste.

We don’t use the term “potluck” for the hell of it. Everyone brings something to the party here: the user community submits images/links from around the web and the editorial team reviews the submissions. What finally gets served up on the site is a beautifully refined set of the community’s contributions.

The site was launched in January 2007 and is run by Sarah of The Delicious Life and a small group who just likes to be called "The Team." "

Here's the link to TasteSpotting.  Do take a moment and find #45802!

Monday, June 1, 2009

never underestimate Self Rising Flour

Today, Sweet and Simple bakers are posting their Lemon Curd Muffins.  I've joined this group and look forward to future baking delights.

I read the recipe; the ingredient list was so simple, I (very prematurely) decided these muffins would be nothing out of the ordinary, especially made with self rising flour.  After all, ‘real’ bakers bake with all-purpose flour…don’t they?

I have read lemon curd recipes for several months; this baking challenge encouraged me to attempt the lemon curd.  It was so easy and so very delicious.  Here’s my blog link detailing the steps in making lemon curd.  I wanted to eat the lemon curd out of the bowl, but knew I had to reserve enough to make the lemon curd muffins, which was the original purpose, wasn’t it?

I mixed the muffin batter, making a few adjustments based on the ingredients in my pantry.  Caster sugar I interpreted as very fine sugar, so I put my granulated sugar through the food processor – it smoked – or made sugar dust.

I used extra large eggs, corn oil, heavy whipping cream, and I doubled the vanilla.

These lemon curd muffins passed my appearance and taste test with flying colors.  I took them to work, for the real test.  These tart, simple little muffins received unbelievable praise at work.  I believe the word I kept hearing was ‘awesome!!’

Rather than melting the lemon curd to spread on the top of the muffins, I simply smeared on a dollop of the curd while the muffins were hot.  It melted slightly, yet held its shape on top of the muffins.  I then sprinkled the muffin tops with decorative sugar to add a little eye appeal.

What a great recipe to have in my files.  Thank you, Sweet and Simple Bakes, for sharing this one!

Here's the link to the recipe:  Lemon Curd Muffins