Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Absence

I didn't forget about this blog but I have been busy figuring out life and traveling. I recently discovered that I don't think I want baking as a career but as a hobby I can always rely on for comfort. Fall is my favorite time of year, when I love baking the most because the ingredients I love using the most are fresh this time of year.
My sweet life from the last time I posted:
In light of the recent election and the outcome, which I am still estatic about

In St. Louis I visited 2 bakeries:
The Cupcakery (Vanilla, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Pumpkin, Coconut)

Jilly's Cupcakes (Pumpkin & Key lime)

Monday, July 21, 2008

cure to the blues: gooey chocolate chip cookies

These are my favorite cookies and the best recipe ever. I got it from my friend Michelle so I call them Michelle's chocolate chip cookies and they always make me happy. I have so many memories associated with chocolate chip cookies. Me and my friends (Liz and Michelle, hey girls) have spent many nights in making chocolate chip cookies, listening to music, and being funny. My favorite memory had to be when we were all dancing to Jonas Brothers a few years ago or maybe it was last year, whenever it was time flies (haha oh jonas), in Michelle's kitchen. This was pre disney ate their souls days. Fun times. Anyways, the point is that chocolate chip cookies are my cure to getting rid of the blues or I guess for me, anxiety.
I think what I have learned that I love a lot with baking are the memories behind a certain dessert. It is not just one memory but a vast amount of memories. There are so many times in my life where I eat a certain food and it reminds me of another time in my life when that food was significant, even the smallest way, to a event or moment. Those moments when you re-eat a food and look back on the good times make me feel so infinite.
I find that I am looking back on memories a lot lately but there are so very few great ones being made currently. These cookies made me remember and smile wide.

I hope that all made sense. I go to camp in 2 days so there won't be any baking for a while.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes

I experimented with different types of vanilla cupcakes. I added chocolate chips to half the batter and then orange juice to one to see how it would taste. I frosted with cream cheese frosting. The best cream cheese frosting I've ever met. My house was really hot so it sort of melted a little bit but I finally found a cream cheese frosting that I liked that I could actually pipe with. Now if only I can find a vanilla frosting that I like that will let me pipe.

Listening to: This is my suitcase

Friday, July 4, 2008

Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream

First off let me say that I haven't abandoned my blog. I was sick for about 2 weeks then I went out of town for a weekend. I came home and was exhausted. Here I am, back at it again.
So I went to California for a wedding and they had the prettiest cake. I just want to show a picture of it cause I loved it. It was very simple, and when I went to look at it there were some other people and they were asking questions about the cake that I could actually answer. Guess all the baking and reading I do pays off.

When I bought my red kitchen aid stand mixer I got a free ice cream maker attachment. It isn't as great as the ice cream maker I have but it was fun to do. It was hard to set up but after figuring it out with no help from the directions it gave. With the old ice cream maker we had we use to make Iranian ice cream all the time. This seemed like a great time to do that again. This ice cream is made with the basic ingredients for ice cream: sugar and whole milk. I found a great Paula Deen recipe that also used vanilla pudding mix and evaporated milk. With that I added saffron, rose water, and pistachios. A little goes a long long way and with saffron and pistachios being as expensive as they are that rule is a very good thing.

Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream:
2 cups of whole milk (don't think 1% or 2% will work because it won't)
1 cup of sugar (I used about 3/4 c because that is all we had left and it was still great)
1 pkg of french vanilla instant pudding
12 oz can of evaporated milk
saffron and rose water to taste
1/4 cup of pistachios, grounded (grounded that they are little pieces but not so much that they are a powder)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: L'Opera Cake

This is my first Daring Bakers Challenge. And oh my, was it a challenge. This was my first cake that had so many elements that became very time consuming. These past few days have been busy since my friend is in town for 2 months so I had to find time to finish this cake. Tonight I finally did.
First let me describe what a opera cake is. It is a layered cake with layers of buttercream, nutty flavored thin cake, ganache, and glaze. Usually the flavors are coffee and chocolate but since it is spring time the daring bakers decided that light colors would be more appropriate.
This is how the cake is set up (jaconade, syrup, buttercream, jaconade, syrup, buttercream, jaconade, ganache/mousse, glaze).
I made a jaconade using hazelnuts instead of almonds and vanilla extract. A jaconade is a cake that does not rise. it is very very thin. I decided to not make the syrup because the jaconade was already sweet enough and i didnt want to make it overly sweet with the syrup. It was also already very very moist. Even after 2 days it was incredibly moist.
I didn't use the Daring Baker's buttercream frosting recipe because of the issues with eggs and how I didn't think the syrup would actually be hot enough to get rid of the bacteria in the eggs. So I actually used the buttercream recipe in Dorie's book. Finally Dorie didn't let me down. Hah. The buttercream was really good. The only thing was it was more buttery then sweet so I added about 2 TBSP of icing sugar and a lot of fresh lemon juice and frozen blueberries in juice. It turned out great. Not too sweet, but still a great thick consistancy. This was a great buttercream to experiment with.

For the ganache I use Gharadhelli (hopefully I spelled that right) white chocolate I got from Trader Joes. Trader Joes is my new place to get baking chocolate. You get a big block of nearly 9 oz for pretty cheap. At grocery stores it can get really expensive which adds up. So, I learned that my mixer doesnt whip up egg whites or heavy cream that well because I halved the recipes so its about half a cup at a time since I dont like to make a lot. I whipped out my hand held mixer that I have had since I was little. The instructions to make a ganache is you have to melt chocolate over the stove with a few tablespoons of heavy cream. It turned out oily and i had to use a spoon to get rid of the oil that built up. After I put the ganache in the fridge and it turned out GREAT! So far everything turned out as great as I wanted.
For the glaze which I didn't end up using a lot of in the end was blueberry glaze. Not the white chocolate glaze like in the recipe. I used corn starch to thicken it up. A lot of people use agar agar or gelatin to make a glaze. I have yet to try those, I will in the future I am sure. It ended up so well and very blueberry tasting.
Finally everything came together after 3 days. Attempt the recipe for yourself!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TWD: Sticky Buns

This weeks challenge, I will call it, was a failure, to but it lightly. So far I have not been impressed by Dorie, hopefully that will change soon. For this challenge you are suppose to make a Brioche bread dough, which I did. I didnt want to make more then I needed so I halved the recipe like it said to. Maybe that is where I went wrong, but I am not sure. When I made it the night before it seemed alright. More butter then I would ever put into a bread but I thought hey I love butter this will taste great. Then today I make the gooey part and that turned out alright too. I thought wow this will come out amazing. Wow was I wrong. Maybe it was the paper I used or I did something wrong with the glaze or the bread. The dough did not roll out to 15 rolls like said. I got 9. I also don't think I added enough cinnamon for the filling, that was my fault. This turned out a disaster, when I baked it it looked great then when it came time to plate it, the stuff would not come off of the parchment paper I used. It was stuck on there, and wasted my pecans which I paid so much for. I didn't even want to take a picture of the end result I got, the words I used to describe it as I was sobbing in dissapointment was "hot mess"
I guess you can't win them all.

Sticky Buns Recipe

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD: Berry Cheese Cake

Recently I joined 2 group baking blogs. TWD (Tuesdays with Dorie) is a group of bloggers who use the book "Baking: From my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan and bake something weekly then post it on Tuesdays. This weeks challenge was Mandelines but unfortunately I do not have the right pan for it and I have yet to buy it, maybe sometime in the future but not now. So, we were allowed to do past challenges. Since this is my first challenge I got to choose from many. Everyone in my family has been craving cheese cake and this one seemed like a great one to do.

This cheese cake definitely needed to be eaten cold to taste good. It wasn't a great tasting one and I will probably try finding another recipe that taste better. Along with cream cheese this also had cottage cheese which my family and I are not a fan of. The texture of the cottage cheese really came through but luckily the taste of it didn't. It wasnt as creamy as I would have liked. The crust was great and I will use that recipe again for sure. I also liked the idea of having a layer of jam in it, I used Raspberry Jam.

Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oooey Goooey Brownies

These brownies came out so much better then i thought they would. Taste great with ice cream. I made them with bittersweet chocolate baking chips which was my first time using chocolate baking chips. I have heard horrid stories about them, about how they dont melt right and stuff but these were at this cake decorating store I found a while ago and I thought if Ina Garten (i think thats how you spell her name, whatever the barefoot contessa) uses them I should do. I wish the store was closer so i can buy more. They melted great and the brownies turned out so moist and not too rich like the chocolate cookies I made. I cut down the chocolate the recipe asked for. I also added walnuts cause they always go great in brownies.

I dont know if I already mentioned this, but if anyone is in the market for a new baking book I totally recommend William Sonoma Baking book and Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I recently bought them and they are fantastic. They have helped me out so much.

The Best Gift to Give.

Graduation time is around and I thought instead of spending tons of money on gifts for friends that are graduating that I dont even think they need I could bake them something. Because one its from the heart and because its practice for me.
I decided to make 3 or 4 things for each person. I had 3 people to bake for which meant a lot of organizing to get this right. Its one thing to have your family eat something that you made but its on a whole other level if you have someone not related to you eat something you made. It's just more pressure.
This took 2 days of baking, because there is only a certain amount of day I get to use the kitchen all by myself without people coming in and out complaining about the mess I am making.
Also this was a great time for me to use my new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer I just got in a great Red color.
So I decided to make stuff that would be small and wont go bad when mail. I made Raspberry Crumb Bars, Blondies, Banana Nut Bread, Sweet Cinnamon Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin (chocolate chip) Muffins. This was the most I've baked since Senior year I had to make close to 200 cookies for a school event. That was a little more hectic then this though.

Cinnamon Bread:
(Sweet Bread that is cake like and the bread is made of basically vanilla cake and then in the middle and top has cinnamon butter, sort of like cinnamon roll.)

Brown Sugar Blondies:

Raspberry Crumb Bars:
(The Crust and Topping had the best smell, I mixed in some cinnamon and nutmeg for taste and smell, those have become my 2 favorite ingredients they aways kick up anything you are baking to a new level)

Banana Nut Bread (with walnuts):

My awesome moist and crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
(I must have made nearly 50 cookies for mom's coworkers, family, and then freinds)
I made Pumpkin Muffins but Ive already posted on here and I have got to say that those muffins are probably the first recipe I actually invented and has secret ingredients. Hah.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cream Cheese Blueberry Bars

The crust for these bars are made of hazelnut, what a wonderful wonderful smell to have your house filled with. The nutty flavor of the crust goes great with the cream cheese & blueberries.
I had to use frozen blueberries so the blueberries didnt spread out as much as i would have liked.
I think this could also make a great cheesecake recipe or the crust could be used in a pie.
Sorry for the bad picture, the lights in my house are dim and dont make for great picture taking especially since i dont know how the flash on my camera phone works.

If anyone is in the market for a new book I highly recommend the William Sonoma Baking book. It is probably the best one I have and use it often. Also I just got the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and can't wait to try some of the recipes out. I will making so much this month with graduations, mothers day, and daring bakers!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Apples Apples Apples! (Tartlets & Muffin)

I have had 2 huge green apples sitting around for a while now and haven't been in the mood to eat them so I decided to bake something with them.
The tart crust is made from cream cheese, butter, and flour. Sat in the fridge over night. Roll out and pressed into the tart shells. The filling is a apple filling I created cause I love experimenting with different things. It is apples cooked in brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Used corn starch for thickening. For those who don't know, if you ever want to bake with apples make them green apples. They turn out the best and never get too soggy as red apples tend to get.

The muffins came out really great. I decided to add cinnamon to the batter and topping along with nutmeg in the topping for more flavor. You could really taste both spices when eating it and they always go well with lemon. I didnt have enough brown sugar for the batter so i added half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. I also ran out of buttermilk so I used milk and it came out great

For the first time I am going to add the recipe because I didnt really adapt this recipe like I have other recipes because it wasnt necessary:
Apple Pie Muffins

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk (I used milk for half)
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c brown sugar (i used 3/4 c brown sugar & 3/4 granulated sugar)
2 c diced apples (no skin, green apple)
**1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
**1/2 tsp cinnamon
**1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 TBSP butter, melted

**I added to the recipe for more flavor

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine 2 1/4 c. flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl
3. Cream egg, buttermilk, butter, vanilla, and 1 1/2 c sugar together with a mixer
4. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients until combined. Make sure you don't over mix because muffins will come out dry.
5. Stir in diced apples until just combined. Do NOT over mix
6. Using a ice cream scooper scoop into greased muffin tins
7. Mix the dry ingredients of the toppings in a small bowl (1/2 c brown sugar, 1/3 c flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
8. Slowly pour in melted butter while mixing.
9. Using a tsp pour over batter in muffin tins
10. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked (using a plastic knife place in the middle of a muffin to see if it comes out clean).

I think everyone should try these, they are pretty easy and fun to make and make for a great breakfast.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Good Mornin' (Muffins & Sourdough Baguettes)

Sometime I enjoy waking up before anyone in the house to make hot fresh treats for my family to wake up to. We always eat bread for breakfast with cream cheese or something. So I made sour dough baguettes with the same sour dough starter I used for the rounder I made the other day.
I finally figured out how to form the dough in a baguette size without it having cracks on the top and bottom. Practice makes perfect.

Then comes the pumpkin muffins I made. At the bakery I worked at we would have pumpkin muffins and I would eat one every day. I missed them and so I decided to make them. I made them fat free with apple sauce instead of oil/butter. Made them have a new texture I enjoy. They came out a lot sweeter then I wanted but I think my applesauce had sugar in it. I add oatmeal for texture and taste. I also added semi-sweet chocolate chips to half the batch. I love the color of them and they tasted basically the same as the bakery.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Super Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Where do I start. This cake took so long to make, maybe I am just not that fast yet but this cake took a lot of components. The recipe was made for a bundt cake but I always picture a pound cake in a bread pan. This recipe also called for lemon extract which I didnt have and dont really like to use because extracts cost a lot of money that I don't think its worth spending. This was the first recipe I really really really adapted and totally made my own.
First you make the batter for the cake and I wanted to use fresh lemon juice instead of pre-bottled. Then you make a syrup to pour over the cake once baked fully.
Then I thought it would be great to make a lemon curd filling which really didnt turn out the way I wanted to. It turned out a lot more thin and liquid like then I imagined. I think it might have happened when I split the recipe. The recipe a friend gave me called for 5 egg yolks and to split it I used 3, maybe 2 would have been better.
Overall, everyone really really liked the cake. However, I do not like the flavor of lemons so this cake wasnt for me. If you are a fan of lemons then this cake is for you.
So far I have only plated one of the cakes and I think for the other one I won't cut it in half put the "lemon curd" on there and just pour it over the cake.

This was the lemon curd, sad it didnt turn out the way I wanted to but next time I am sure it will:

I noticed that I named this blog and it makes it seem that I just bake cupcakes but I have been making anything but that lately. Hopefully that will change soon. I am thinking of changing the name of this blog. If you have creative names for a way to show that I am a baker please share!

Sourdough Bread

As many know you have to make a sourdough starter before you make the sponge and dough. So 4 days ago I made a sourdough starter that consists of milk and flour. Smells so awful after a few days. Anyways 4 days went by and I finally made the sponge and dough. The 3 weeks I worked at the bread bakery paid off cause the recipe called for adding more water to the dough and I thought that would ruin it and we never did at the bakery.
The bread over cooked either because I sprinkled too much water on it or I put it in for too long. Mistakes only make you learn and not everything always goes perfect.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I made the sponge for this yesterday and let it sit at room temp over night. I wanted to make it in the morning cause baguettes are a perfect breakfast food. 

They came out great, but my only problem with them was they had a unusual smell. The recipe I adapted from said they made 3 and i was going to make 3 as you will see but then I decided to make 2. The recipe also said to slightly grease the bowl you transfer the dough to. Maybe I greased too much or maybe greasing was a bad idea but I think thats the reason it made it harder to roll out and form into a perfect baguette shape. Next time I wont grease. 

But I still wonder what gave it such a unusual smell, maybe the flour. Anyways, here are the pictures:

I made a sour dough sponge, so that is coming up and I think I will make some biscuits tonight. 
Music Listened to when making this: Panic @ the disco - Pretty Odd