Sunday, April 24, 2011

So how much butter is in this cake?

Happy Easter to all. We had a DELICIOUS meal today...tons of food as always...and great company. For Easter, I attempted to make Mary's Hot Cross Buns, but once again (I had attempted them a few years back), they came out like hockey pucks. I don't know if it is the recipe or something I am doing. I was reminded by my cousin Alison that Mary's Hot Cross Buns were always a little hard, but something is definitely not right. I was able to cover this mistake by preparing another non Mary recipe. I promise I will post some of her recipes soon. For dessert, I made Paula Deen's Coconut Lime Cake - A light sorbet as we say in our family...which usually means a recipe has a sh** load of butter, fat, or other unhealthy substitute.

Coconut-Lime Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch, 3 layer) cake

11/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups Domino Granulated Sugar
5 Large Eggland's Best Eggs, separated
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
31/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 cup buttermilk
Luscious Lime Frosting (recipe follows)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray (9-inch) cake pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.
2.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.  Add egg yolks and extracts,beating until combined.
3.  In a medium bowl, combine flour,baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4.  In a small bowl, combine coconut milk and buttermilk.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with coconut milk mixture, beginningand ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
5.  In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold intobatter.  Spoon batter into prepared pans, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
6.  Spread Luscious Lime Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.   Press coconut flakes around edge of cake. Garnish with fresh raspberries and lime slices; if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

Luscious Lime Frosting
Makes about 5 Cups

1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 cups Domino Confectioners' Sugar
1 (8 ounce) container frozen
whipped topping, thawed

1.  In a large bowl, beat butter, lime zest, and lime juice at medium speedwith a mixer until combined.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.  Add whipped topping, beating
until combined.

 My aunt Carol gave me an "Easter" gift today - The Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook that Mary gave her 40 years ago! My mother made a comment of how it looks like new. Carol's response was "Well I don't cook so I never really opened it." This will definitely get used now!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gluttonously Unnecessary

It has been awhile since my last post. Life seems to have gotten in the way of baking the past few weekends! I have had some time to catch up on work/de-stress over this vacation, so it was back into the kitchen. Today I wanted to try a recent recipe I found on a blog I follow. It isn't a Mary recipe, but I felt like it needed to be posted because it was so absolutely unnecessary and gluttonous...Mary would be proud.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies!
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 bag Oreo Cookies
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined.  Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough.
Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. 
Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE Cookies 


Two Words - Gluttonously AWESOME!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dutch Apple Cake

It has been very hectic in our household, so I haven't been able to bake until today! I wanted to use up some of the apples we had so I made Dutch Apple Cake.

Dutch Apple Cake
(Magazine recipe cut out and taped onto recipe card)

Flour, 2 cups
Baking Powder, 3 tsp
Salt, 1/2 tsp
Sugar, 2 tablespoons
Shortening 2 tablespoons
1 egg, beaten
Milk, 2/3 cup
Apples, sliced, 2 cups
Butter or margarine, softened 2 tablespoons
Sugar, 1/4 cup
Cinnamon, 1 tsp

Sift flour, measure; add baking powder, salt and sugar; sift into mixing bowl. Add shortening and cut in with pastry blender or two knives until mixture looks like coarse meal. Combine egg and milk; stir into flour mixture with for. Spread in greased pan (8X8). Pare, core, and lice apples. Arrange slices in rows and press into top of dough; spread with butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. Bake in hot oven for 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

This came out great. The topping had a little crunch to it. The cake was more of a cornbread consistency and not overly sweet! YUM. I zumba-ed my a** off for 2 hours today at the gym, so I indulged in a piece of this tonight :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Academy Awards - What a production

Tomorrow marks the night of the 83rd Academy Awards. I have always been interested in this annual event, thanks to my mother - the ultimate queen of movie stars and their gossip. Years ago, my mother and her best friend Kate, took me and my friend Katie to London. While there, we stumbled across the Bristish Academy Awards aka The BAFTAS. Somehow, Kate and my mom scored tickets to the red carpet and we set front row in the grand stands while all of the celebrities made their grand entrance. We were the only (obnoxious) Americans there, so we scored a ton of autographs and photos:

The night ended with my mom and Kate somehow making it into the BAFTA's after party and scoring a bunch of gift bags and a chocolate centerpiece...don't ask.

In addition to the festivities in California, tomorrow also marks the annual Oscar's celebration held by Kate and her husband.It is a fantastic party where guests come in optional costume, dine on amazing food, drink fantastic beverages (naturally), and mock/cheer/jeer the celebrities and their movies.

I wanted to make a dessert fit for an Academy, so I chose Mary's Prize Chocolate Cake and Rich Chocolate Frosting. Like the making of a movie, this culinary feat was a production!

I started off by making the cake:

Prize Chocolate Cake:
(written by Mary on lined recipe card)

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 squares chocolate
1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk & 1 tbsp vinegar)
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar. Add beaten egg, melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat Thoroughly. Add sour milk. Sift soda, salt, and flour. Add to wet mixture. Beat thoroughly. Place batter into two 9 inch buttered and floured cake pans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

My original idea was to make chocolate Oscar statues (using a fantastic Oscar cookie cutter given to me by my mom's dear friend Sue) and decorate them with a gold colored frosting. I found a recipe for salted caramel frosting - PERFECT....Not. The frosting tasted like a caramel-y/salty stick of butter. Plan B - Mary's Rich Chocolate Frosting

Rich Chocolate Frosting
(recipe cut out of magazine and taped onto recipe card)

4 oz (squares) unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup strong coffee
Melt chocolate and butter together. Place in mixing bowl and add powdered sugar. Mix well. Add coffee and continue to mix (I let the stand mixer mix this up for @ 2 minutes). Add additional powdered sugar if needed. This frosting will be more of a ganache consistency, but it will harden up.

I started in on other projects around the apartment, letting the cakes cool a little too long. By the time I took them out of the pan, only one came out in its entirety. Crap! I decided to change my plans again - Plan C: Round 9" cake with Oscar Statue. I cut out a statue from the crappy cake, decorated it with chocolate frosting and gold/silver non-nonpareils and placed it on top of the 9" cake. I give all of those bakers on the cake shows a lot of credit. This was not easy, but I finally had a finished product that I was content with

Matt and I just got back from seeing The King's Speech. What an absolutely amazing movie! It MUST win best picture, Colin Firth MUST win best actor, and Geoffrey Rush MUST win best supporting actor!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A little history lesson

In trying to decide what to make today I read a list of recipes aloud to Matt, with the final decision being Cornbread (his choice). This particular recipe for Durgin Park Cornbread comes with a history lesson:

Durgin-Park is a centuries-old restaurant at 340 at Faneuil Hill Marketplace in downtown Boston. The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau states that it has been a "landmark since 1827", and it continues to be a popular tourist destination within Quincy Market. The restaurant has entrances on both of its facades (Faneuil Hall and Clinton Street).
 In keeping with its long history, the concept of Durgin-Park maintains the tradition of communal seating at long tables. The menu is designed to offer traditional New England-style fare with a concentration on seafoods, chowders, broiled meats, and broiled dinners. The service is also a partial hold-over from the time of its founding as the waitstaff have been encouraged to adopt a "surly" attitude and "backtalk" the clientele. Another sign of it heritage, is that it has only changed head chefs a handful of times in its history. ~ Wikipedia

I have never been to this restaurant, but I could see how Mary would be a fan since she was never one to pass up seafood, chowder, or broiled dinners!

Durgin Park Cornbread
(written by my aunt Kathy - excellent handwriting - on lined recipe card)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal (grandulated)
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk

Mix sugar with beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add cornmeal, melted butter & milk. Beat up quickly and bake in buttered pan. Use very hot oven

So besides the history of the restaurant that I had to look up, I also had to research the oven temp and cooking time of this recipe. Some recipes called for a 450 degree oven, but this cooked the bottom to quickly and left the middle uncooked. Other recipes called for a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. I concluded that baking the cornbread in an oven between 375 degrees for @ 25-30 minutes was perfect!

Mine browned  on the top because I was experimenting with the different temps/times, but it still came out delicious! I cooked mine in a 8X8 pan, but you could also do a 9X9 and reduce the cooking by a little.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em

I actually had a full week of school! It was tiring...I was starting to get used to having short weeks.

Valentine's Day is on Monday. V-Day is one of the holidays that I appreciated when I was little for the school art projects, friend valentine cards, and gifts from my parents. It lost its muster in my teens and early 20s. This is the first year, however, that I am back in the cupid spirit. I owe this in part to my wonderful students and their excitement for EVERY holiday. I had one last week who was celebrating his favorite holiday, Groundhog's day! We have a school dance on Monday, which is always a wonderful time and the students are very excited to decorate and give their friends and parents gifts, so rather than fight it, I have decided to get in the spirit. If you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em.

and might as well make Valentine's Day cookies. I found the PERFECT recipe in Mary's recipe box...

Heartthrob Cookie Dough
 (newspaper recipe taped onto recipe card)
  • 1  cup  shortening
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1   egg
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla
  • 1/4  teaspoon  peppermint extract
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
Beat shortening in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Roll dough on floured surface and cut into heart shapes. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks and cool. Makes 30 cookies. 

I used one of Mary's cookie cutters to make the hearts... can tell that it has been used with love for many years!

I decorated the cookies with drizzles of pink royal icing (1 cup sifted powder sugar, 1 tsp milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and red food coloring). HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ANOTHER SNOW DAY! Are you kidding me?!

Another day off from school = another day added to the summer :( UGH! I am definitely ready for spring!

I decided to take another stab at Mary's Oatmeal Molasses Bread. I thought that the kneading would help get out some of my snow day frustration! This time around, I had success with the bread. Yeast breads make me nervous, so I made sure to follow this one very carefully.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread
Makes 2 Loves
(recipe cut out of the paper and glued onto recipe card)

1 cup milk
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 -115 degrees)
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Grease large bowl and two 9X5 inch loaf pans. Combine milk, water, and butter in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Transfer to bowl; stir in oats. Cool to lukewarm

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir yeast into oatmeal mixture. Add molasses and salt and mix well. Stir in flour one cup at a time until mixture no longer sticks to bowl.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary. Transfer to greased bowl, turning to coat all surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Let stand in warm draft free area until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Divide dough in half. Transfer to loaf pans. Let dough stand in warm draft-free area until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves until tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool on racks.

 Second times a charm!