Baked Sunday Mornings: Twice Baked

IMG_5474.JPG

I had decided to go rogue this time around so I could make the Wintermint Cake. I had already bought all the ingredients before and I really wanted to get rid of those candy canes while I still could. I decided to make Wintermint cupcakes to take to our friends’ house for New Year’s Eve.

I made them the same day and decided to skip the ganache because I didn’t have the time or the desire to both dip and frost my cupcakes, but next time I will make the recipe as a cake and will make the ganache too.

IMG_5506.JPG

It was fun to crush up my remaining candy canes to top the cupcakes with and even though I normally don’t like mint and chocolate together, I really liked the subtle fluffy buttercream paired with the delicate chocolate cake.

IMG_5512.JPG

I had no plans to make this week’s recipe, Hair of the Dog Cake. I just don’t dig alcohol with desserts and while this post contains two combos I usually don’t like–I’m really not that picky. There are not too many foods I don’t like: mint/chocolate, alcohol in desserts and mushrooms. That pretty much covers it.

But when one of my fellow bakers mentioned skipping the booze and making the cake as a vanilla cake I decided to give it a shot. I had most of the ingredients and I was curious about the boiled frosting. I didn’t want to run to the store to get the remaining ingredients so I tossed in some shortening a bit of sour cream to compensate for the egg and half a stick of butter I was missing and hoped for the best.

IMG_5511.JPG

The cake baked up beautifully, but I was still a bit confused by the boiled frosting. I pulled the cake when it turned bubbly, worried that I was going to overbroil and burn the cake, but I’m not quite sure I took it out at the right time.

The finished cake was delicious, though and we really enjoyed it. I loved the rich vanilla cake and the warm brown sugar/vanilla frosting and fluffy whipped cream. I’m glad I decided to make it as well.

image

Go here to see how everyone else liked it! (and if they all kept or ditched the rum)

Next up: Gingersnaps with Lemon Sugar!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate-Chip Orange Panettone

20131222-004902.jpg

Happy Almost-Christmas!! I just had a birthday (my twelfth twenty-fifth 😉 and I’ll write about that soon, but right now it’s the time of year when my boys are pacing the floors like madmen waiting impatiently for the morning they can rip open their presents. I’m feeling pretty much in the spirit–it’s our first Christmas in this house and for the first time in years we are staying home. Our presents are wrapped and ready to go and our beautiful tree (our biggest yet) is full to max capacity with all of our special ornaments.

20131222-005142.jpg

I felt a little weird/sad to not spend the holidays with our family like we normally do, so I was happy to hear that my in-laws were coming this weekend to drop off presents/hang out with us for Christmas. They are literally staying one day (not overnight) so I’m happy to be baking a special treat to share with them.

20131222-005451.jpg

I’ve never made panettone before, but I’ve eaten it store bought plenty of times. Whole Foods has a nice one that I used to get for the holidays pretty frequently. I had considered not making this since I waited so long to get the few ingredients I didn’t have on hand and I needed to clean the house, but when my husband came home this evening (at around 10pm) with paper molds and oranges and corn syrup (after my house was fully clean) I knew there was no turning back.

I was a little worried when I added the milk to the yeast/flour because I had a recipe (it’s been months but it still messed with my confidence…) that used yeast and didn’t rise properly so I’m still a little gun shy. The milk seemed a bit warmer than it was supposed to be and I was afraid I had killed my yeast.

I couldn’t remember what size it was before after I let it rise the first time so I’m not sure if it was doing it’s thing or not. It’s now 1am and I am waiting for my sugar to turn to syrup on the stove with my orange peels. My dough is in the mixer bowl and the chocolate chips are in the measuring cup on the counter, waiting patiently for their turn.

Once my peels are ready I am going to take a shower while they cool. After I get my dough in the paper mold I am hitting the hay and hoping that an overnight rise will be fine. (did I mention they will be here at 8am-ish?!)

I am minutes away from taking the peels off the heat, so I am going to leave you here. I will update in the morning after my panettone is baked (and we try a bit of it) and let you know what the verdict was.

Good Night!!!

Update:

20131222-112632.jpg

I woke up to perfectly risen panettone, much to my delight. I got the oven fired up and the panettone baking. My in-laws texted and let us know that they were going to be here a couple of hours later than we had originally thought so we made coffee and went back to bed. A few How I Met Your Mother episodes later and my panettone was complete.

20131222-112920.jpg

I meant to put foil on the top but I lost track of time. Luckily it seemed ok, not too dark.

20131222-113621.jpg

I set it out to cool and went back to bed. My in-laws are here now and the panettone was perfect for cutting. We just had a couple of sample slices and it was great. The orange-chocolate combo was perfect and the texture was great–lighter than bread but more chewy than cake. I definitely think this one was a winner!

**Note: I didn’t realize the recipe called for bread flour so I used A/P. I was worried, but it didn’t seem to hurt the texture. Also, my husband brought home milk chocolate chips so it a pretty mellow chocolate flavor as opposed to what it would have been with semi-sweet chips.

Go see what everyone else thought!

20131222-114145.jpg

20131222-114156.jpg

Next up: Lemon lime champagne granita!

Family Traditions

20131213-082539.jpg

I love December–it’s my birthday month and I do enjoy Christmas. (although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday)

I grew up with a mom who liked Christmas–her mom died the day before my 9th birthday and they played the Christmas song Winter Wonderland for her because she loved it so much. But my dad HATED Christmas. Hated it. He would miss family dinners and pretty much hide out until it was over, which wasn’t fun for my brothers and I.

20131213-084101.jpg

Of course, I grew up and married someone who hates Christmas. So the boys stay with me for Christmas each year and spend Thanksgiving with their dad. But my sweet husband likes celebrating. He also prefers Thanksgiving but loves doing fun things together and loves making my birthday special and loves seeing the boys’ faces on Christmas morning.

20131213-084321.jpg

For years we’ve gone to his parents’ house, but its five hours away. We have a great time and it’s good to get some Grandparent time in, but this is our first winter in this house and we love it here. We want to create special memories here and start to find out special traditions that work for our little family. So this year we are staying home.

20131213-084501.jpg

Last night was my big boy’s Winter music program and baby G and I went to cheer them on. In other years they were shy but not this year. They sang and danced and Peachy played the bell (Monkey was on bell duty last year) They were adorable and so proud of themselves.

20131213-084623.jpg

Afterwards I offered to take them to dinner. It’s been a while and they love dinners out. They couldn’t decide where they wanted to go and each one vetoed every idea the other had. I was driving in the general direction of home when I saw an option: IHOP.

20131213-084742.jpg

I am kind of a food snob and usually would NOT consider IHOP a viable option, but the boys have never been and what kid doesn’t like pancakes for dinner?! So we went and of course they LOVED it. We all had pancakes and bacon and eggs and hashbrowns and hot cocoa and it was a blast.

On the way home we blasted the AC/DC Pandora station and were enjoying it so much we drove around our neighborhood and the one next to ours and checked out all the cool Christmas lights. Some houses really went all out! When we got home we kept the party going and turned off all the lights and turned on the Christmas tree lights and danced around our living room to an old Iron Maiden record. As I spun around under the twinkly rainbow lights with my 3 sweet boys dancing beside me I was the happiest Mama ever.

Our lives are so hurried–rush to school, rush to finish homework and get in bed…it’s nice to just stop for a minute and enjoy each others’ company and do something different just for fun.

We still plan on baking Christmas cookies–both for us and for the children’s shelter nearby. We plan on making ornaments to add to our already-full tree. (I love unpacking each ornament from the years before) We plan on have a big Christmas Eve dinner–and we can each open one small present and a huge Christmas Day brunch and gift extravaganza.

I’m so grateful for the chance to give my babies experiences they will always remember. I still to this day dancing around under our tree with my mom and two brothers. It was Wham! and not Iron Maiden, but the feeling is the same and I know these moments are fleeting.

What traditions have YOU created with your special people?

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

20131207-180808.jpg

20131207-180826.jpg

20131207-180845.jpg

20131207-180931.jpg

20131207-180948.jpg Beulah Pearl Tanner

This year for Thanksgiving we went to my in-law’s house in Southeast Texas. I volunteered to make the pies and this year I chose a Chocolate Ginger Chess Pie, a Roasted Pumpkin Pie and a classic Pecan Pie. The pecan pie was right off of the Karo syrup label my Grandmother’s secret recipe. She was well-known for that pie and this is the first holiday she is not with us, so I decided to use that recipe in honor of my sweet Grandma, Beulah Pearl.

I thought they all turned out well (despite my pumpkin pie cracking on top) AND I was finally able to figure out how to prevent my pie crusts from slipping. (hint: it’s all about the crimping)

This year we are spending our Christmas at home. (for the very first time!) We are looking forward to building our family traditions and just hanging out: cooking, eating, etc. I can’t wait!

What are YOU doing for Christmas?

Share the Scoby Love

20131112-213452.jpg

With every batch of kombucha that is made, the scoby starts to get a bit thicker. Translucent gummy goodness is a sign that the scoby is having a baby. I hadn’t separated my fused mama/baby scoby until this last batch. I realized that as the holidays approach maybe a little starter kit with a scoby (swimming in the brew it was born in) directions and helpful hints (handwritten for a personal touch) and a bottle of my latest batch may be a fun gift for one of the kombucha lovers in my life.

20131112-214354.jpg

I know so many people who enjoy a bottle of store bought kombucha, and most probably don’t enjoy the $4 price tag. Just like anything else, it’s so cheap to make and I achieved success with my very first batch with zero experience or knowledge prior to giving it a shot. I have read a lot of blogs and websites discussing methods and equipment and was able to get a pretty solid working technique down quickly. (although I did use a spicy tea last time without realizing the essential oils may be harmful to my scoby, I guess we’ll see if it is ok by how my current batch pans out)

20131112-214919.jpg

Williams-Sonoma sells this kit online for $70 and even though the glass jar is cool, I think it’s a total scam. I don’t think I’ve spent $20 on supplies and I’m on my 5th batch.

I think I have a recipient in mind for my first little kit, if I get a good response I may continue to spread the scoby love around.

What are your favorite DIY gifts to give this time of year?

Pumpkinpalooza Continues: Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

20131029-161337.jpg

I knew my first pie pumpkin would go fast. I made pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cinnamon rolls and used up the last of it last night making vegan pumpkin ice cream. It was super quick and easy and very, very yummy.

I had a second pie pumpkin on deck ready to go, and I roasted it a few days ago, in anticipation of using up the first one. But the weirdest thing happened. After hours (4 or 5) of roasting, it remained hard as a rock. AND it turned really brown/charred. I tossed it, I guess I got a bum pumpkin? But now, sadly I am pumpkin-less. (until I buy a new one)

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream:

2 cans chilled coconut milk (canned, full fat)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
Pie spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves to taste

Mix everything up, then freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions. I have the kitchenaid ice cream attachment, so I just pop the chilled bowl on there and churn for about 15 minutes. We ate a bit, then I froze the rest. Initially the consistency is like soft-serve, but freezing it turns it a bit harder like traditional ice cream.

What is YOUR favorite pumpkin recipe? I think I need to make cookies and maybe a bundt cake next.