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Archive for the ‘Baked Goods’ Category

Honey Frosting

There are some things that you eat…

and the table goes silent.

There’s nothing really to say.

It’s just that good.

oranges Batter

This cake? Yes, its one of those things.

Saveur did an article all about olive oil in edition # 129. The writer, Nancy Jenkins, takes you on a tale around the world and shares the role that olive oil has in its place.

I know that olive oil is healthier for you than most oils, but there are two things I didnt know about cooking with it.

Fun fact: Studies show that people who consume two table-spoons of olive oil daily lower their risk of heart disease

1) Chefs and home cooks in the Mediterranean wouldnt dream of sautéing, braising, or even deep frying in anything else. In a place where we have 20 different kinds of oils that are all separately supposedly better for finishing off dishes, or sautéing, or deep frying – it’s interesting to learn that extensive regions dont use anything but olive oil. I wonder how they deal with the smoking point? My poor kitchen cant handle cooking with olive oil.

Fun fact: Spain is the worlds largest olive oil producer, with about 200 million gallons per year

2) You can make a fantastic cake with it!

After the success of this, I’m going to be on the lookout for more cake recipes with olive oil. I’m all about butter (yes, I have to admit I love Paula Deen) in my food, but I absolutely love this for a nice after dinner dessert. It’s not too sweet, has a slight olive oil favor that marinates the fresh orange. And the honey and sea salt finish… it’s the bright red bow that ties flavor and presentation together.

I honestly think this is the best cake I’ve ever made.

Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake
inspired by Saveur via The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark.

2 oranges
1 1/3 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c honey
sea salt, for garnish

1. Trim about 1/2″ off the top and bottom of the oranges; cut into quarters.
2. Bring 6 – 8 cups of water to a boil and add oranges; bring back to a boil, then drain. Repeat 2 more times.
3. Put oranges, 1 cup of sugar, and 4 cups of water into the pot. Allow simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the rind is easily pierced with a fork – approximately 30-40 minutes.
4. Remove oranges from pan and allow to cool. Set aside.

5. Heat oven to 350*. Lightly oil a 9″ pan and line pan bottom with parchment paper.
6. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
7. Once the oranges are cooled, remove them from the syrup and puree in a blender or with a stick blender.
8. Add remaining sugar, flour mixture, vanilla, and eggs to the orange puree. Process until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
9. Add olive oil and process until combined.
10. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to slightly cool.
11. Once the cake is slightly cooled, pour honey onto the top center of the cake. Spread honey to edges and allow to drip down. Set aside.
12. After the cake is completely cooled, sprinkle sea salt over the top of the cake.

slice and serve.

Cake Gone

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Dough

I have been searching for a good blueberry muffin recipe for about 3 months. I have tried 4 or 5 different recipes, all of which seemed to be lacking something – flavor, moisture, crumb, originality; I’m not quite sure. We have a cafe on the bottom floor of our office building – Au Bon Pain – that has these incredible blueberry muffins. Each time I buy one I make an attempt to figure out what their secret ingredient is. Maybe there is coconut oil? or vanilla? or yogurt? or maybe sour cream? a different spice? I wish I knew.

Muffin in tin

Even as much as I love breakfast and breakfast foods, I refuse to get up early enough to eat it at home. I often will opt to stop at ABP on my way up to work, or go down the street to Flour [and if you live in the Boston area and you havent been there, you should. trust me – their sticky buns are famous. Bobby Flay did a “throw down” with them a while back, I’m not sure who won – I think Flour, or at least I hope so] But again, I’m spending too much money. My goal right now is to make a baked good and bring it into the office on Monday to last me through the week. I need to stop spending $3 on a muffin every day.

This recipe isn’t what I was looking for; however, it was quite the pleasant surprise. I underestimated how much the cinnamon flavor would shine through – I thought maybe it would be a secondary flavor, but its definitely not. The blueberries are the secondary flavor in these muffins. If you like cinnamon and you like blueberries, then this is perfect for you. These are light and moist (does anyone else strongly dislike that word? because I cant stand it, but I cant think of a better alternative) and the blueberries are swaddled nicely with cinnamon and sugar.

Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Gourmet

6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 c whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package of blueberries (7 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil muffin tins or put liners in the cups.
2. In a stand mixer add butter, brown sugar, milk, and egg in a bowl. Wisk on medium-low until fully incorporated.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Add to wet mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
4. Remove bowl from stand mixter and gently fold the blueberries in.
5. Equally divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. They are done when a toothpick

Fun fact: if you dont have toothpicks on hand, you can use an uncooked spaghetti noodle instead!

Oh, and you don’t need a stand mixer to make these. I just happen to be in love with my new KitchenAid and will take any excuse to use it.

Muffin

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Persian Spice Cake

Saffron Vanilla Frosting
I’d been waiting for an excuse to make a cake – a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday… something – and nothing soon was coming up. But why does anyone really need an excuse to make a cake? Cake is good all the time. So for no reason at all I made a cake last night to bring into my office. I called it a Happy May Day cake (a day early).

Now, does anyone else get tired of eating chocolate and vanilla cakes over and over? I mean, dont get me wrong, I love them both. I love chocolate cakes with coffee or chocolate stout (recipe for that one to be made and posted soon) or vanilla cakes that use real vanilla beans. Great fruit fillings can also turn an ordinary cake to something brilliant (I want to make a fig filling when they come back in season). But sometimes you just want something different. Something you wouldn’t know where to buy, but if you saw it on a menu you’d say to yourself (or out loud), “ah ha! that sounds fantastic. I’m ordering one of those!” Well… this is one of those cakes.

The ingredients are based on flavors found in Persian, Turkish, and Indian foods. I succeeded in finding 2 out of the 3 ingredients that I didnt have at home: ground cardamom and saffron threads (apparently the most expensive seasoning in the world, or so the bottle told me). I searched through four different stores to look for rose water/oil/essence with no luck – Boston/Holly fail. So I decided to make my own by using organic flowers from Whole Foods and letting the petals steep in boiling water. I’m not sure that the end result was what I would find in a store bought bottle (it wasnt especially strong), but it worked well enough with the light flavor. And honestly, I’m guessing it would be great completely without it.

The texture is light like angel food or chiffon cake. The cardamom is just enough to balance the lemon zest without overpowering the experience. The saffron adds a twist while visually providing the whipped cream with a beautiful yellow color and vibrant red streaks. If you’re feeling like something new for Mother’s Day or an upcoming celebration – you might consider this. I know I’ll make this again (and again).

Persian Spice Cake
adapted from Bon Appétit

Cake
1 c cake flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I like sea salt)
5 large eggs, separated (3 egg yolks, 5 egg whites)
1/4 c water
1 tsp rose water (optional)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tsp ground cardamom

Frosting
2 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Small pinch of saffron threads
1 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Very slightly oil two 9″ cake pans and line with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 c sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl wisk 3 yolks, waters, vegetable oil, cardamom and lemon zest. Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth.
3. Beat 5 egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 c sugar and beat until whites form solid peaks.
4. Slowly add the egg whites to the batter and mix well.
5. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until cakes are golden, about 20-25 minutes.
6. Invert pans and cool upside down on rack for 25 minutes ( It doesn’t rise much so dont worry if it deflates a little).

To make the frosting:
1. Combine 1/2 cup cream and saffron in small saucepan and bring to a slight boil. Remove from heat and chill until cold.
2. Beat remaining 2 cups cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and rose water in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add saffron cream and continue to beat until solid peaks form.

Frost one layer flat-side up. Place second layer on top, also flat side up. Spread remaining frosting over entire cake and allow to chill for at least 1 hour.

Cake + Rose

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Sliced Bread
I love learning new things about food – either from people, magazine, or food blogs. Lately I have been taking classes at the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. I love it because it is relatively close to my apartment, the instructors are great, I get to meet new people (which is REALLY hard to do when you move to a new city), and I learn. So far I have taken 3 classes – a sushi class, a 6-part basics course (one 4 hour class of knife skills – yes! I finally know how to properly cut an onion!), and a baking series. In fact, my recent baking addiction is partly due to the baking classes.

This bread came from my last cooking class. Flour, Sugar, butter, wine, cranberries, walnuts. What else could you want in a dessert breakfast? The recipe tells you to grill it once the bread is cool and sliced. In class, we have an indoor grill and I was able to do so – at home, not so much in my tiny Boston (read: very very old) apartment. It also is accompanied by directions to make an extremely delicious Mascarpone to go on top of it in the event that you wish to eat it as a dessert like we did in class.

Me? I chose to eat the leftovers for breakfast this week. I think that worked out pretty well. It’s not too sweet, the wine flavor doesn’t stand out too much (others may disagree with me on this one), and has hearty breakfast ingredients like cranberries and walnuts. I will say that if you dont plan to add the cream to the top, beware that the cranberries can get you. Personally I like tangy flavors, but you may want to add a little bit more sugar to the recipe if you want to eat it plain.

Cranberry Zinfandel Bread
adapted from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Bread
2 tbs oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 walnuts, chopped (I might toast these a little next time I make it)
1 1/2 cup, whole raw cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup white zinfandel
2 tbs butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350* and lightly butter/spray 1 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oil and eggs. Mix well to combine.
3. In a separate bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly incorporate mixture into the large bowl, stirring until just combined (this will be VERY crumbly).
4. Fold in walnuts and cranberries.
5. Add orange juice and zinfandel and stir until it just comes together.
6. Pour into prepared bread pans and bake for 1 hour (or once a wooden toothpick comes back clean and the top springs back).
7. (optional) After bread is cool, fire a grill and lightly brush both sides of the bread with melted butter. Each side will need no more than 3-4 minutes to get nice grill marks and that toasted flavor.

Orange Mascarpone Cream
1 cup mascarpone
2 tbs orange zest
4 tbs orange juice
1 1/2 orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or other)
1 tbs confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt (yes, I know, salt – it brings out all the flavors. promise. try with and without it and then see)

Stir to combine. Top the bread with a dollop of cream (or eat with a spoon like me right out of the bowl)

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Cookies Cooling
I havent spent much time in the kitchen lately. I went on a trip to DC, had several out of town friends visit, restaurant weeks, just plain laziness after work, etc. There’s no real excuse, I just havent made the time in the last two weeks and it didnt feel right. Cooking has become very therapeutic for me, it helps me unwind while I dance to my ipod and whip up batter for cookies. At the end I have something real in my hands to look at and enjoy (and/or photograph) and I know exactly what went into it.

The end result is never as important to me as the process. For example these cookies. I love baking and making sweets in general; however, I dont enjoy eating them all that much. I’m really more of a salty/savory kinda girl. When I have a craving its usually for chips or fried food that has more than a days worth of my recommended sodium intake. But there is something special about baking, maybe the smell, that I cant get enough of.

Batter
In the spirit of reducing my waste and wanting to bake, my secret ingredient this week was buttermilk. I cant quite remember why I bought it in the first place, but I remember the story goes along the lines of not being able to buy a pint – they only had half gallons. Epicurious had this recipe for buttermilk cookies that rates 3.5/4 forks (usually a decent sign that the recipe is good) so I thought that I’d try them out. These “cookies” are more like mini cakes in that they are light and fluffy. They dont quite have the dense/chewy consistency that cookies do. Nonetheless, they are delicious. I halved the recipe for the most part, but kept some of the ingredients the same ratios (vanilla and lemon rind) to give it extra flavor. You can play around with the glaze as well – maybe add some zest as a final finish before the glaze has set.
Cookies

Lemon Buttermilk Cookies
adapted from Gourmet

For cookies:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk (shake it!)

For glaze:
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs buttermilk (shake!)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make cookies:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and oil baking sheets
2. Whisk together dry ingredients – flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Once mixture becomes pale and fluffy add egg, beating well after the addition, then beat in vanilla.
4. Mix in small amounts of flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter/sugar alternately in batches at low speed, until smooth.
5. Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets.
6. Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, approximately 12 to 15 minutes per batch.

Glaze cookies:
In a small bowl, whisk together all glaze ingredients. Dunk tops of warm cookies into the mixture and set aside on cooling rack. Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

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When I graduated from college I could barely make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it. My mom was a great cook so I never bothered learning because… well… why would I? Someone else made me great food which required little to no effort on my part – nice! Then I went to college and lived on-campus all four years; again, someone else making me great food that required no effort – perfect! And then I graduated, moved back home to a mom who decided she wasnt going to cook my every meal (sad), and found I had massive amounts of time on my hands now that I wasnt involved in thesis, class, internships, student groups, etc. What to do…

Scones

Well, I decided to cook. It started off with simple meals that I could put together from Trader Joe’s – premade salads, meats, pastas (they’re so easy!); however, I had no idea what to do with the left over. I started googling food websites and stumbled upon epicurious.com – my life changed. I found recipes for everything I could possibly think of ordering at a four star restaurant and loved making them myself. Adding a little bit more of this, less of that, and always more garlic. So here I am, a couple years later buying new gadgets, attempting new things, taking a few recreational cooking classes, and trying to find someone to cook with.

Dough Dough Ball

This blog is an attempt to do two things:

1. Keep track of the meals I make – recipes and notes included. I can never remember where the recipe for my chocolate chip cookies came from, what substitutions I made, what did NOT work, and what did.

2. Try something new. Food blogs bring together two of my favorite hobbies – photography and cooking. Indoor photography is new to me, so I’m counting how long it will be before I buy a better light source and macro lens… and a KitchenAid Mixer for that matter; although I have been told many times that the only reason to get married is to register for one of those… a) I think that’s sad and b) I’m not going to wait. It’s just a matter of time.

So it begins…. I thought I’d start off with blueberry scones.

Blueberry Scones
inspired by smitten kitchen

Take a bite

Ingredients
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl. Wisk together until completely mixed.

3. Pour flour mixture onto counter and add butter*. Use a bench scraper (or pastry cutter/knife) to cut in the butter until the pieces are pea sized (try not to handle the dough as much as possible). Create a small trough in the middle of the dough and add cream, 1/2 cup at a time. Use the bench scraper to cut the cream into the dough.

4. Mix in blueberries.

5. Knead dough by hand just until it just comes together into a rough ball, approximately 15 seconds (note: the dough will not be sticky). Press out into an even layer 3/4″ thick. Using your bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges.

6. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are slightly brown, 10-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Scones are best served on the same day, but can be kept in an air tight container up to 2 days.

*Note: the key to making scones is to have cold ingredients. Make sure you dont take the butter or cream out of the fridge until you are ready to use it. The warmer the dough becomes, the less flakey it will be.

Breakfast

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