Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesdays with Dorie - Apple Weekend Cake

I joined this group just last month, and this is the first post since joining. I am excited to be part of a baking group again. It has been far too long. :)

I chose to bake the Apple Weekend Cake. I am a sucker for anything with apple in it, so it was an easy choice for me.

This was super easy to put together and smelled fabulous while it was baking. I did not have any dark rum, so I just upped the amount of vanilla in the recipe. I think my two medium apples may have been on the large side as it seemed there was more apple than batter, but since I like apples (see above paragraph) I didn't mind. I didn't add any nuts or raisins as Dorie suggests, but think I would add nuts when baking it again.

The cake is moist, not too heavy, not too sweet and delicious. I can see toasting a slice and then adding a little butter to it. I can also see warming a slice in the microwave and adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to it. It would lend itself well to breakfast or dessert.

To see what the other bakers baked, head over here...https://tuesdayswithdorie.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/bcm-lyl-apple-weekend-cake-and-pailles/

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Baking with Julia

I recently received my copy of "Baking with Julia" and decided to jump right in and make croissants.
Nothing like starting out with something simple and easy, right?

Actually the arrival of the book was at a perfect time. I had mentioned in front of one of my Starbucks partners that I had never made croissants at home. He seemed a bit incredulous at that (he is often the recipient of much of my baking adventures) and said I should make some.  I was planning on scouring the web for a croissant recipe when I got home that afternoon. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I stopped by the post office to find the copy of "Baking with Julia" in my mailbox.

I made croissants once during a class at Sur la Table. I have attended many classes there, most with my daughter and that was a class we took together. We made plain croissants, chocolate croissants, and a ham and cheese croissant. I remember us doing some work, but, most of the work is done ahead of time so that there is time for the class. The class was 2 hours long and I can attest to the fact that it took me A  LOT  longer to make the ones I made. Days in fact! Two of them!

My boss at Starbucks is a coupon queen and she recently gave me three pounds of butter, one of them a European style butter. That is the butter I used for the croissants

First roll after adding butter

I definitely gave my poor old Kitchen Aid mixer a run for her money. I made two batches of dough for the croissants. I have one batch in the freezer for a another time. I am glad I made two batches as all the things I learned to do and not do will make the second batch even better.

 I think  know for me one of the hardest thing was waiting between turns. I wanted to see how they were going to turn out. Rolling, folding, wrapping and chilling took several hours between each turn and by the time I got to the part where I was waiting for them to rise before baking, (deep breath!) I ended up rushing that rising a bit.

Croissants are a lot of physical labor. It's real work rolling the dough out into 24x14 inch rectangles, not once, not twice, but 4 times! Counting the final rolling out before cutting them into triangles or strips, depending on whether you make butter or chocolate croissants.

I made both. I'll admit I have trouble not going overboard. I am a bit obsessive/compulsive so of course I made butter and chocolate. It really wasn't that much more involved. Just cutting the dough differently and chopping up some bittersweet chocolate. I need to find where to buy the sticks of dark chocolate you can use when making croissants.

With all the work involved, all the hours waiting in between, I would still make them again. My house smelled amazing while they were baking. I shared them with a couple of my friends and got rave reviews on them, especially the chocolate ones. My two grandkids, who came to stay this weekend (they are 6 and 4) couldn't get enough of the plain ones. Buttery. Flaky. Better than any store bought ones, in my opinion. Try them!

Sunday, February 11, 2018


I don't work on the weekends. Well, I don't work at Starbucks or Home Depot. I do work at home, doing things like housecleaning or laundry. You know, the usual things. I used to work weekends. Almost every Saturday and Sunday. Then, two years ago, I had back surgery and while recovering I decided that when I went back to work it was only going to be Monday - Friday. I figured if my bosses valued me, they would take me whenever I was available. And, they did. So, I now work Monday thru Friday from 6AM to 4PM. That's at both jobs. 5 hours at Starbucks, an hour off and then 4 hours at Home Depot.

But, I digress. This post is supposed to be about brownies.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed a week or two ago, I stumbled across a link to Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies. The pictures looked amazing and I saved the link for a time when I could make them. That time was yesterday afternoon, after I finished making my Pineapple Upside-down cake.

The recipe for the brownies was actually two part. You made a brownie recipe, either a box version of your favorite brand, or in my case, a scratch recipe for brownies.

 Once that was made, I made the peanut butter cookie recipe. The recipe, that I will post at the end of this post, called for baking the brownies in a 9" pan. I wanted to surprise my Home Depot coworkers with them so I needed more than what a 9' pan would yield. I made them in a jelly roll pan.

Anyway, aside from the different pan, I basically followed "The Little Kitchen's" recipe.

These brownies are amazing! Super chewy, moist and delicious! I used King Arthur's black cocoa powder in place of dutch processed and it gave the brownies a darker, richer depth than regular dutch cocoa would have. I used Ghirardelli  bittersweet chocolate in the brownies. It's my favorite brand of chocolate.

Give these brownies a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pineapple Upside Down Cake, in a cast iron skillet

I recently joined a group on Facebook called Cooking with Cast Iron. I own two Lodge cast iron skillets, one 10" and one 12". I hadn't been using them, haven forgotten about them. They were in the bottom of a cabinet, just waiting to be brought out into the light again.

So, after joining the group, I've been making an effort to use them. I've made many dinners in them. Pork Chops with Apples, Goulash, Tuscan Sausage and Peppers. The list goes on. However, I haven't done many sweet things in them.

A little back info to this post is that I work at Starbucks. I work with a bunch of really great people and I often bring in "tasty treats", as one coworker calls them, for the gang. I satisfy my baking urges and I don't have all those fattening things here in my house, with only me to eat them. :)

Friday one of my coworkers suggested Pineapple Upside-down Cake as a tasty treat for Monday. I realized that while I have made Peach Upside-down Cake (my Mom's recipe), I had never attempted a pineapple version. Challenge accepted. :) And, while I usually make my Mom's recipe in a cake pan, I decided to use my 12" cast iron pan instead.

The recipe was a simple one. Butter in the pan. Brown sugar on that. Pineapple slices over that.

 A quick batter mixed up and poured over top. I used the liquid from the pineapples for the liquid in the recipe and added a teaspoon of vanilla.

 Baked for about 25 minutes. I let it cool for about 5 minutes and them flipped it onto a cake circle as I have no plates large enough for a 12" cake.

It turned out very well. Delicious, actually. Edges have a little bite of bit to them. That crunchy kind of bite that comes from sugar caramelizing around the edges of a pan. Adding the pineapple juice as the liquid was a good move because it also added a little extra flavor. While I think I still prefer my Mom's peach version, this was pretty darned good. I think the crew at Starbucks will be happy come Monday morning.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I've made some changes!

I used to post to this blog every week. I was part of several baking groups and loved reading other blogs, trying new recipes, taking pictures. Being part of a community.

The man I was married to made some negative comments about the time and money I was spending baking and blogging and I stopped. Stopped blogging. Stopped keeping in touch with friends I had made. Stopped a lot of things.

In April of 2016 I suddenly woke up so to speak and decided I no longer wished to be married to the man I had lived with and been married to for 26 years. I asked for a divorce. Moved out. In other words, I stopped. Stopped allowing someone else to control my feelings, my likes and dislikes, my time.

With my divorce settlement I bought a cute little single wide 3/10 of a mile from a beautiful lake (I can walk my kayak down to the boat launch) and started living again. My divorce was final January 30,2017.  I am now spending time with my children and grandchildren, without worrying about hurrying home or upsetting someone. I spend time with friends without hearing judgement about them. I travel when and where I want. Some of those things I did when I was married, but I was always worried he might get mad if I stayed too long, or remind me of whatever at a later date.

I wish I had done it years ago.

Of course, years ago I didn't feel like I did on that day in April when I decided I couldn't spend another 26 years being where I was. Years ago I was still trying to be a good wife and homemaker. I still loved my husband and wanted to do whatever to make him happy. Unfortunately, my husband didn't feel the same about his wife. But, it's all good. Things happen when they are supposed to happen. And, rather than look back and say I should have, I look forward and say what should I do today.

So, after what, 6 years away, I am back. I plan to post pictures of things I bake and things I cook. I plan to blog about trips I take and things I see and share pictures of those things. Because I want to. Because it will make me happy. And, because I have missed it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Off to Italy

Hello! I am sure you all thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. Not true! I have just been extremely busy working two jobs and baking an occasional cake here and there. I will post some pictures of those cakes in the near future. But I just wanted to post about my impending trip to Italy. Which I leave for tomorrow!

I, along with a very dear girlfriend, started planning for this trip almost a year ago. It started with me deciding to learn some Italian. From there we started talking about Italy and I decided to make it my "once a year I go someplace I have never gone before" trip. Since my best friend passed away 7 years ago my mantra has been "Live life to the fullest." each year I pick somewhere I have never been, either in this country or in another country, and spend a few days there. Last year I decided it would be Italy.

I asked around and was told if I could only go to one city in Italy it should be Venice. So, my trip started out being a couple of days in Venice. Then Kayla said, rather wistfully, that she would love to go to Italy one day. And me, being me, said why not next year with me?!

I started looking around at plane fare and hotel accommodations and began trying to put together a trip for us. Then I stumbled upon a web site called "European destinations". For the price of twice just the airfare, I was able to book us not just a couple of days but 12 days. And, not just to Venice, but Florence, Rome and Naples!! three days in each city, train fare between each city, hotels in each city (3&4 star!). And, now, about 10 months later, tomorrow we leave for Venice!! I still can't believe it, and probably won't until I walk off the plane at the Venice airport. Kayla has never traveled outside of the country so this is quite Exciting for her. And she is comforted about traveling with someone who has traveled to other countries (Japan, Ireland, and Germany) and been able to get around without getting (too) lost. :-)

So, I will try and update and post pictures for those followers who might still be out there and would enjoy seeing Italy through my eyes. Until later...arrivederci!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chocolate with Francois - Chocolate Tiramisu

I'm back! A day late (and a dollar short!) but I have a legitimate excuse for not posting yesterday. I was at Richmond International Raceway with my Mother-in-law, attending the NASCAR race. She and I attend both Richmond races and the May race in Charlotte. We have been doing it since 1994. No hubbies. Just her and me. We make a full day of it, tailgating, people watching, hanging out. I think she enjoys it more than I do, and that's just fine with me. So, that explains why I didn't post yesterday. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

So, the April pick for CFW was Chocolate Tiramisu and Seattle Pastry Girl made it her pick. I don't know if I ever would have made it if she hadn't chosen it for April. I like Tiramisu. I made a Tiramisu cheesecake a while back. Just tried to find the post for it in my blog, but I guess I never blogged about it. :] I wish I had, and maybe I will one day. It's a great recipe and the cheesecake it made was fabulous. But, would I have chosen to make this recipe? I am not sure I would have. But, boy am I glad I did.

This was (is) a slightly complicated recipe. You have to make a ganache, a cake and a mousse. Then you have to put those three components together.

The ganache was pretty easy. Chop up some bitter-sweet chocolate, add some mascarpone cheese, and pour some boiled cream over and stir till the chocolate melts. I reread the recipe to see if it said "finely" chopped, when the chocolate that I just "chopped" didn't melt. But, no, I read it right. I ended up setting my bowl of clumpy, lumpy chocolate/cream/mascarpone on my burner which I set at low and stirred the mixture until it melted. Once it cooled down I tried it and found it to be most excellent!

I started on the cake next. After tasting the ganache again to make sure it was still okay. I am lucky enough to have two mixers so I was able to have the yolks and sugar mixing in one bowl while I whipped the whites in another bowl. The cake baked up in the 10 minutes recommended and was set aside to cool.

Making the mousse was a real test of muscle power for my arms. It took all of the 5 minutes, if not more, to first get the mixture of egg yolks and sugar hot and thick and then to get it cooled off, all while whisking it constantly, except when I stopped to check the ganache.

After tasting the ganache again I gathered all the components for the tiramisu to begin putting it together. Francois called for using a 1 or 1 1/2 quart bowl to assemble the tiramisu. I looked at my 1 1/2 quart bowl then tasted the ganache the amount of mousse, cake and ganache that I tasted again that I had on hand and decided to go with the largest bowl I had. Good thing too because more ganache it would have been far too much for a smaller bowl. More ganache Once I had ganache everything ready it took no time at all to assemble it.

I brew my coffee on the strong side but still added some Via to the coffee. I wanted to be sure that the coffee flavor was strong and didn't get lost in the cake and mousse and mmmm ganache. Once the tiramisu was assembled licked the bowl the ganache was in I covered it in plastic and put it in the fridge to cool.

I was pretty sure that I would like it. I wasn't sure about the hubby. He isn't a big coffee person and sometimes textures are an issue with him. I thought he might find the coffee soaked cake a turn-off. However, I worried for nothing. He said it was really, really good. In fact, he went so far as to say he thought it was one of the best recipes I have made from Chocolate Epiphany. The bowl I used, the large size of the Pyrex mixing bowl set I have, to assemble the tiramisu in? It was empty by the third day. Gone! All of it! I work most nights and without me here to portion control the serving sizes the hubby fixed much larger servings than I do and each night I got home, more and more of the tiramisu was gone. I think I might have gotten 1/4 of the amount there was, with the hubby eating all the rest. He asked me yesterday when I was going to make that Chocolate cake/pudding thing I made a couple of weeks ago. Men!

So, my advice to you is make this recipe. Seattle Pastry Girl has it posted on her blog. It the ganache is well worth the effort and dirty dishes it takes to make it. Fabulous dessert. Impressive dessert. Ganache filled dessert. Need I say more. :)