Blissful Bread

I love The Great British Bake Off. And I love bread. So when I saw 100 Great Breads by Paul on the discount table at Barnes and Noble a few month back, I snapped it up.DSCN4794 I’ve made a few recipes from it now, and they’ve all turned out wonderfully.

But then I made Guinness and Treacle Bread and my taste buds were rocked!DSCN4721 Especially when I also taught myself to make my own butter and infused it with sea salt and rosemary!DSCN4722 I’m drooling all over again just looking at the pictures πŸ™‚

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I think the best part of the whole thing is that it only takes about half a bottle of Guinness, so I simply had to drink the rest while the bread was rising!

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Snowed-in baking!

So there was a pretty massive snow storm in my area this weekend. Like 30 inches of snow in under 48 hours massive.

My car is somewhere under this snow.031

I wasn’t going anywhere. So I uncorked a bottle of wine, had my fiance cue up some of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (new favorite show! Glorious 1920’s costuming, thrilling murder mysteries, and sassy strong women!), and did some baking!

The pictures aren’t great quality, ’cause there was very little light in the storm. But the first thing I made was a goat cheese tomato basil quiche. 002I found this recipe in the Joy of Cooking, and will probably make it again, except with more cheese. The recipe calls for four to six ounces, and I played it safe with just four. Next time, definitely adding all six!020

For dessert, I whipped up cream puffs. These treats are my new favorite; I had no idea how easy they are to make!008 They also paired very well with the red wine πŸ™‚012

The morning after the storm, the sun rose on a glorious frozen world, and I had left over quiche to fuel me through a lot of shoveling!035

How do you keep busy during bad weather?

 

 

Christmas Baking!

It’s only December 5th, but Christmas baking has already begun! And I took it to the next level with the help of royal icing!tinMy fiance was out of town, and my Dad was out of town, so my Mom and I met up for a weekend of festive baking! We also ran a 5K (my first ever!) to “justify” of the eating of said cookies πŸ™‚

I’d never used royal icing, and was always a bit intimidated by it. I mean, come on! It looks so glossy and professional! My sugar cookies were always decked with sprinkles and jimmies put on before baking. I figured it worked well enough, and was easy. But that was before royal icing. Now painstakingly placing individual sprinkles seems the daftest thing I’ve ever done. Because royal icing is fun, fast, and easy. And the results speak for themselves! I used a few different techniques, picked up from all over pintrest, and I’ll talk a bit about each below.

First up is piping! Super simple, super clean and chic, and super adaptable. traditionalI’ve done plenty of piping for other applications, so this was pretty familiar territory. Put the icing in a ziplock baggie, snip off a wee corner and decorate! I found it to be most striking on gingerbread, rather than on the paler sugar cookie dough.

I also used piping to create the edge of the “flooding” technique, where you pipe around the edges, and then flood the inside with a slightly runnier batch of royal icing. You can then pipe on more colors and swirl them around for all sorts of fun patterns.iced

The bell uses this flooding technique. I also tried just spreading icing on a heart cookie and doing the swirling with no border. It worked, but if you compare it to the bell, it looks a bit messier. So I mostly stuck with the piped outline.

The angel is a mix of piping (on the wings and the robe trim) and spreading (the hair and the body of the dress). Mom and I used lots of toothpicks, both for the swirling of different colors, and for applying small details, like the angel’s eye and mouth!

We had five colors going – red, blue, yellow, green, and white – plus a thinned “flooding” batch of white, piping bags, and sprinkles! Two batches of sugar cookies and a batch of gingerbread meant two days of decorating, and a delectable mess!

mess

Sorry for the poor quality; Snapped with my phone as we worked.

I also indulged in some fan-girl baking, with this Harry Potter/Ron Weasley mash-up.

yer a wizard

It’s a mash-up, cause it’s Harry’s green eyes and scar, but a ginger cookie πŸ™‚

And last but not least, a pair of ponies. Both used the same cutter, but for the one on left, I pulled the cut-out into a jumping shape. The one on the right spread out too much so it’s a very plump pony. I was inspired by Swedish Dala horses for the decorations.

We made way more cookies than I’m sharing here, but some were eaten right away πŸ™‚

Hopefully you get a chance to make some tasty treats of your own this holiday season!

Sunflower Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, for any of you in the US. 014

Happy Wednesday to the rest of you!

I’ve already done most of my baking for Thanksgiving, and thought I’d share a quick recipe of one of the pies. I call it a sunflower pie because of the decorating, rather than the ingredients. It is in fact a chocolate peanut butter pie, but looks like this:006

But here’s the recipe and decorating directions.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • premature graham cracker crust or
  • 1.5 c crushed graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Chocolate layer:

  • four ounces chocolate – I use German baking chocolate, but you can use dark, milk, semi-sweet. Whatever floats your boat
  • 5 Tbsp light cream, divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 standard tub whipped topping (8 oz by weight)

Peanut layer:

  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 standard tub whipped topping (4 oz by weight)

Pretty bit:

  • handful of peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • ziplock bag or pastry bag if you’re fancy πŸ™‚

015Directions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened.
  3. Press into a pie plate and bake for 8-10 minutes.

To make the chocolate layer:

  1. Melt the chocolate with 2 Tbsp cream. Stir frequently.
  2. Whisk in remaining milk and cream cheese.
  3. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes and then fold in whipped topping.
  4. Spread in cooled pie crust and place in freezer. This will start to set the chocolate layer and make it easier to add the peanut layer.

Make the peanut layer:

  1. Melt the peanut butter. You want it to be soft and runny, but not piping hot. I find about 30 seconds on high in the microwave does it.
  2. Use a whisk to combine peanut butter and whipped topping.
  3. Spread on the chocolate layer. Use a rubber spatula and pull from the center outward to make a petal design.

003You could stop here, and it will be delicious. Just pop it in the freezer for at least four hours before cutting. Or you could read on and take it to the next level.

Make the pretty bit!008

  1. Arrange your peanut butter chips in the center of the pie, like the seeds of a sunflower.
  2. Put the peanut butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe dish and zap on high for about 20 seconds. Remove and stir, and then microwave for another 25 seconds.
  3. Stir very thoroughly. The chocolate chips will need to melt a bit more, so stir up. Maybe even mash stubborn chips with your spoon.
  4. Carefully pour/scrape this mix into your baggie. With a pair of sharp scissors, cut off the teeny-tiniest corner of the bag.
  5. Gently squeeze the bag and trace the outline of the ‘petals’ you made with your spatula. Once all the ‘petals’ are outlined, draw a line about 3/4 of the way up the middle of each.
  6. As a final touch, squeeze a criss-cross lattice over the peanut butter chip center. Just make a bunch of lines in one direction, rotate the pie 90 degrees and make a bunch of lines in the other direction.006

Freeze the whole shebang for at least four hours, and then let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. And then bask in admiration all evening.

I don’t have any pictures of the sliced pie yet, because it’s for Thanksgiving, but I’ll add them once I cut in. Trust me, thought, that it looks nice with the layers πŸ™‚

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So go forth and enjoy Thanksgiving and do lots of tasty baking, no matter what time of year it is!

Frankly Fall

Autumn is here. I can no longer pretend it’s not. I’ve been wearing two sweaters outside, and broken out the moccasins indoors. October is also the first full month of teaching – not a single day off. The days have taken a decided turn into night, and I’ve got my first cold. When I get a cold, they always start with a sore throat. However, that sometimes turns into strep, so I’m always relieved if a stuffy nose makes an appearance. And then I realize that being sick in any form is still bleh and go right back to being miserable.DSCN3013

And yet, despite my many to-do lists for school, and my head cold, I’ve been able to do some fun crafty things. So here’s a round of up of what Fall has brought so far.

DSCN3017I made some candycorn bunting for my classroom door. I’m supposed to be teaching about healthy eating and whole grains right now. Corn is a grain, right?

DSCN3032And speaking of healthy eating, I baked some chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I was very pleased with these, as I made up my own recipe for them, and they are delicious πŸ™‚

DSCN3021Ah, here we go! Pumpkins are totally a vegetable! My fiance and I went out to a local farm stand where they have “pick” your own pumpkins. I put “pick” in quotes because it turns out they strew around pumpkins in a field and you walk around choosing one. No actual picking from the vines. But it was still fun! I’m not sure how I’ll carve it yet, but I have time!

And finally, I attended my first costume event of the Halloween season. My local swing dance scene has live bands once a month, and do their costume dance at October’s live band, rather than on Halloween. I threw together a hasty costume, that nontheless I am very proud of:DSCN3027It’s not the greatest picture; I got Frank to snap it when we got home from the dance, but I’m a cat, stuck in a tree!

So that’s October so far. Hopefully this cold clears up quickly, cause I have big plans for my actual Halloween costume, but I need to feel a little better before tackling it…

How about you? Any crafty signs of Fall in your life?

And speaking of puddings…

You know how my last post talked about pudding? It was glorious and all, but only used two of the nine (NINE!) yolks I had left after making an angel food cake. So I thought I’d do a quick share about the rest of the eggs.

Obviously, the nine whites went into this beauty:DSCN2998DSCN3000I made a chocolate glaze to go on the cake, which, while delicious, did not use up any of my leftover yolks.

So four went into a not-so-key lime pie. I couldn’t find any key limes, so the pie is made with regular limes. Not quite as zesty, but still good.DSCN3003Side note: If you need to transport and pie and an angel food cake and don’t have the right sort of keepers, a laundry basket and a number of dish cloths will work just fine πŸ™‚

Cake to be glazed on site

Cake to be glazed on site

And two went into the chocolate pudding.

The remainder? Well, I’m going to try to adapt the awesome chocolate pudding recipe into a yummy butterscotch πŸ™‚

PUDDING!

So, pudding. I love it. EvenΒ  from the giant can like we used to get at sleep-away camp. By the way, is industrial-sized canned pudding just something I remember? It was so amazing to me, that you could have that much pudding and I fantasized about getting my own massive can and eating it all by myself… But I digress. Canned pudding aside, when I get a chance, from scratch is the way to go.DSCN3009This weekend I made an angel food cake for my dad’s birthday, which left me with a surplus of egg yolks. When I make pudding, I usually make butterscotch, but yesterday I was feeling something, well, darker.

So I found this recipe by Faith Durand and switched out the bittersweet chocolate for unsweetened. And I have to say, it was the best batch of pudding I have ever enjoyed!DSCN3006It might have actually been too bitter, except that my fiance whipped up the left-over heavy cream with a touch of sugar to put on the pudding. DSCN3012The photos don’t do this dessert justice. You’ll just have to take my word that it was amazing! It was also pretty easy to make and thickened up like a dream.

So this recipe is going off the internet and into my recipe box. If you try it too, let me know what you think!

August Round-up

Happy almost-end-of-summer, everyone!Bring the sunshine indoors!Actually, I’m not sure that should be “happy”, but I am enjoying the lingering warmth, and looking forward to all the changes September brings. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been busy with moving, but I’ve also been busy with crafting. I’ve not, however, been organized about it. So rather than a few short posts, I’m just gonna combine a few of the things I’ve been seeing, making, and baking into one round-up!

First up is a dress I altered.Picture1 I made this, and blogged about it here and here, a while ago, but I wasn’t in love with the fit, or the sash. So I seam ripped the whole bodice and redid it, adding darts, taking in the back and lowering the back neckline. I also redid the zipper. Spot the differences: Super Easy edition!The changes are subtle, but I’m much happier with it now!

Then for the apartment, I needle felted some kooky coasters to add some color and protect the table:026I’ve also been cooking, especially after I discovered a farm stand not five minutes from my new digs. I picked up fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts and roasted them with carrots and garlic, all tossed in garlic oil and rosemary. Delicious!018You may notice there’s some bread on that plate. That’s ’cause I baked some, and it turned out wonderfully:007 011The 1953 cookbook prevails again!

One last little thing. When putting together my closet, I had one set of nice hangers, and then a whole bunch of mismatched wire hangers. They were ugly and my clothes kept slipping off, so I paired them off and crocheted over them.029So much better!

Wow! Looking at all these things, I feel very productive! Here’s to hoping you all can make the most of what left of summer too!

Baked Brie Bites

Hello everyone!

I’m in the middle of a move right now, which is super exciting, but also a bit time consuming. I didn’t even break out the camera for these pictures, as I wasn’t sure where it was. So today’s just a quick post, with phone pics, about some yummy I made to make the first night at the new apartment special.

I used brie, a golden delicious apple, and crescent rolls to make delicious little brie bites. I didn’t follow any one recipe, but looked at a bunch of different ideas on pinterest. 086What I ended up doing was sandwiching a thin wedge of brie between two thinner, peeled slices of apple and then wrapping that sandwich in a triangle of crescent roll dough. I popped them in the oven and baked them for the regular crescent roll temp and time and they turned out perfectly!cutting things up!Yummy and warm and cheesy and a great way to break in the oven!089PS. The pan I used, round with 2″ sides and handles, is great. It was left behind the the previous renters and I love it!

Coordinated Festivities!

So this past weekend was the fourth of July: Independence day!

And I like themes and color schemes far more than I care to admit. But I guess I just have to admit it, because here’s a short recap of all the red-white-and blue that crept into my life this weekend:015First, I painted my nails! I rarely ever paint them because it never lasts (they’re chipping further as I type this…) but went for it anyway.002Then, I made brunch, with color coordinated place settings and flower arrangement.003I even put red and blue sprinkles in the pancakes!see my sneaky painted toes?I also wore red, white, and blue. I’ll share more about the making of this dress next week!009

To cap it all off, I baked a flag cake! It’s the third time I’ve made it, and there are still some things that need improving (taking the time to even off all the layers, for one), but it was delicious! 012 011

Also, this weekend can’t be wrapped out without a shout-out to the US Women’s World Cup team! You go, ladies!

I hope everyone else’s weekend, whether you celebrated or not, was lovely!