Category Archives: Baking

Z is for Zebra Cupcakes

Zebra Cut Out

Whew! And here we are – this baking/blogging marathon is nearing its end after quite a busy month!

Before I share this month’s final recipe of the Blogging A to Z Challenge with you, I do want to thank each and every one of you for visiting this blog; for liking and sharing and commenting on the posts.

I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to visit your blogs and websites – what amazing talents you possess and share with all of us. Thank you!

And now for the recipe …

ZEBRA CUPCAKES

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite chocolate cake

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite vanilla cake

Preheat oven to 350* and place paper liners in each of 24 cupcake tins.

Using only one flavor at a time, place one tablespoon of cake batter in each muffin tin, being sure the batter is even and reaches the edges.

When done, carefully place one tablespoon of the second flavor in each tin, again making an effort to spread the batter evenly and to the edges.

Repeat as often as you are able, filling each tin 2/3 full.

Bake until done, according to cake recipe directions.

Allow cupcakes to cool, then decorate with white frosting drizzled with chocolate – or the other way around!

Devour and enjoy!

Zebra Cut Out

As you might imagine, the completion of this Challenge is just the beginning of a fresh, new year for this and my other two blogs

Creatzart.com and DiscoveringHome.com 

and like you, I am impatient to get underway and looking forward to many more shared culinary adventures!

Thank you.

 

X is for Hot Cross Buns

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Before sharing this recipe with you, Dear Reader, I have to say that for some reason the BakingGods were with me when I made these and … well, modesty prohibits me from describing the ethereal dough with a mere hint of orange and the lightest touch of sweetness.

But I have to admit that I so enjoyed the making of and the baking of these springtime buns, that I quite neglected to measure each and every ingredient.

This business of tossing spices here and scattering herbs there is pretty normal behavior for me, but I generally try to remember to measure accurately and time carefully when a blog post is involved.

Nonetheless, I just added the orange pulp and juice to the dough until it seemed about right, and I kneaded in enough juice and vanilla soaked raisins to look OK.  For good or  bad, that leaves the guesstimating of such things up to you. My only advice is to close your eyes, listen to your inner cook, and trust your instincts.

Well, here is the exact recipe for a sweet dough that is best eaten within 24 to 48 hours of coming out of the oven. Any ingredients or steps in the process that were dealt with more creatively are italicized.

HOT CROSS BUNS

Sweet Dough (from R is for Rising Yeast)

 

Basic Sweet Dough

As with any bread machine recipe, please refer to your particular machine’s manufacturer’s directions first.

(For 2 pound loaf)

3 eggs, large at room temperature

1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

After fitting with paddle, place all ingredients in order given above in bread pan. Place pan in machine, choose the dough setting.

While waiting for dough cycle to complete, gently grate only the orange zest from two medium oranges into 8 ounce measuring cup. Squeeze both oranges for fresh juice, being sure to include some smooshed pulp, then add to zest already in cup. Add a tablespoon or so of vanilla extract, and dehydrated orange peel if desired – 1+ teaspoon – then add enough water to bring level to 3/4 cup. Add a handful or two of raisins to liquid, allowing to soak during dough cycle.

Allow bread machine to complete cycle, approximately 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan and place in large, lightly greased bowl. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. preheat oven to 375*

Place dough on flat surface. Scoop plumped raisins from measuring cup, being generous with any accompanying liquid, but careful not to soak dough.

Knead raisin/orange juice mixture into dough.

 

Divide dough into 12 -16 equal parts. Gently form each part into a ball, then place each ball two inches apart on baking sheets. Using scissors, snip small Xs into top of dough (unless you forget all about this step – oops!).

Cover lightly with lightly oiled/buttered waxed paper and allow to rise in draft-free location until almost double in size.

Bake Hot Cross Buns 17-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, and while cooling, prepare icing.

X Baked Yum

Icing

X Glaze Pour

 

Remaining orange juice/pulp mixture

Confectioners Sugar

 

  • Combine ingredients, adding small amounts of sugar just until achieving desired consistency. Using a teaspoon, pour over tops of cooled buns in the shape of an X. If buns are too warm, or if icing is too thin, buns will be glazed rather than decorated, but they will still taste delicious!

 

R is for Rising Yeast

Prior to an open house, realtors often suggest homeowners bake bread so the house smells ‘homey’ and encourages sales. Mr. Selfridge, the marketing genius, was the first to place perfume counters near his store’s front entrance to create a scent barrier between the muck and stink of the city outside and a lovely shopping experience inside. Even today, major retailers strategically position baking ovens, or purposefully scent the air, knowing how important fragrance is to a sense of well-being.

Rising Bread Machine

With the convenience of bread making machines, that same contented, bakery-fresh feeling can pervade your home with the push of a button.

The recipe below is slightly more labor-intensive than a regular loaf of white or wheat breads, but having just devoured a piece of the stuff – oh it is so worth it!

Basic Sweet Dough

As with any bread machine recipe, please refer to your particular machine’s manufacturer’s directions first.

(For 2 pound loaf)

3 eggs, large at room temperature

1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

After fitting with paddle, place all ingredients in order given above in bread pan. Place pan in machine, choose the dough setting.

Rising Dough BowlAllow to complete cycle, approximately 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan and place in large, lightly greased bowl. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.

 

 

Rising Dough Big

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 – 2 tablespoons cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, etc. to taste

Combine all three ingredients in small bowl, set aside.

Shape dough into rectangle, then cover with butter spice mixture, spreading evenly. beginning with widest edge, roll dough into log shape, pinching the seam edge with fingers.

Spray tube pan with non-stick baking spray.

Place dough seam side down in prepared pan.

Rising Dough Pan Tube Wide

Allow to rise in warm, draft free location until double, or until finger pressed into dough leaves an indention – approximately 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375*

Bake for 17 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Remove from oven, allow to rest 5 minutes before removing from pan. While still warm, but before serving, drizzle (or slather?) bread with icing.

Cinnamon Icing

In small bowl combine powdered sugar with generous amounts of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, etc. and small amounts of milk and/or grade B maple syrup. Mix until smooth, adding milk or sugar as needed to reach desired consistency, noting that the icing will thicken as it sits.

Use as icing for breakfast breads, waffles, or to frost chocolate cake, etc.

Enjoy!

 

Q is for Quilt Cookies

As part of the Indiana Bicentennial, many communities throughout the state are making quilts, hosting quilt shows, and offering classes to those unfamiliar with quilting.

Knowing that Scout groups, teachers, civic clubs and families often look for kid-friendly ways to incorporate history and the arts into their meetings or lesson plans, I thought it might be fun to make edible quilts. A tasty lesson is no less a lesson!

Q Cookies Store

Although the same idea can be applied to cupcakes, sheet or round cakes, this ‘recipe’ is for cookies. And considering how … challenging … the implementation of these great ideas can become when working with younger children, this particular approach is very easy and pretty cheap.

Before starting, you will need:

 

Store brand sugar cookies – try to buy at least three times as many cookies as there are children in order to offset nibbling, breakage, disasters, etc. And it might be helpful to use larger cookies so they will have more space with which to work.

Assorted colors of frosting – the pre-made/packaged tubes are convenient, but can get pricey when dealing with a larger group.

One option is to divide your favorite frosting recipe into as many colors as you have time, children, and imagination. Fill individual sandwich bags with each color, then snip the tip off, making a small opening for the frosting.

Working with cookies flipped top side down to use the flatter, smoother side of the cookie, draw a grid or pattern with one color frosting.

Q Cookies Frosted

 

Allow to set, then fill with colored frosting.

TahDah – it is now time to eat your quilt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P is for Picnic Pies

When planning a picnic or casual meal with friends, it can be fun to rethink those more familiar desserts. Apple pie is as American as … well, apple pie. But that is not to say that it is the most convenient dessert for eating sans plates and forks.

So, after having made personal cherry pies to celebrate Washington’s birthday, I thought I’d switch fillings for today’s post, and toss in some apples.

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Lesson learned – fresh cherries have a beautifully robust flavor that is naturally enhanced with a splash of almond extract. Apples are quieter in flavor, even when combining varieties, and especially when they are out of season and not brought straight home from the orchard. Lacking that flavor presence, the ratio of dough to apple can be disappointing.

So, I have tweaked this recipe to allow for the above mentioned variables, but suggest you wait to make these pies until you’ve stopped by a local orchard on a crisp crimson autumn day, gathered up bushels of fragrant, crisp, glowing apples, and arrived home to a cup of hot tea and a waiting kitchen.

And now for the recipe:

Apple Picnic Pies

2 boxes Pillsbury pie crusts (I will share my two favorite homemade pie crust recipes in another post, but the Pillsbury brand is actually the closest to real pie crust that I have found.)

12-17 fresh, flavorful apples, various (Granny Smith, Rome, Honey Crisp, etc)

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon each nutmeg, cloves, ginger

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract

1 egg and 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

Wash, peel and core the apples, then cut into chunks. In large DSC_0025pot, combine apples, butter, spices, sugar and extracts. Stir until apples are softened, but not mushy, and spices, etc. are evenly distributed. Add more butter (or cider, water or juice) if necessary, as apples cook.

 

Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350*

Remove crusts from packaging. Roll out each crust until eight 2 1/2″ to 3″ circles can be cut from each crust, for a total of 24 discs.

Place 12 dough-discs on parchment lined baking pans. Spoon generous 1/3 cup apple mixture into the center of each disc. Bear in mind that this amount will vary depending upon the amount of liquid and the size of the apple chunks.

Cover each mound of apple mixture with the top dough-disc. Press and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Using the tines of the fork again, poke holes in the top crust to allow steam to vent from each pie.

Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash.

Bake in a 350* oven for 25+ minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool on racks.

If desired, cover with a glaze made from powdered sugar and water.

Makes 12 three-inch Apple Picnic Pies

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O is for Oversized

What is better than a cookie?

An oversized cookie … and a very big glass of milk.

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This is another easy-peasy recipe that requires nothing more sophisticated than a large pizza pan or baking stone to make it something memorable.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup well packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups (generous) chocolate chips, mini candy coated chocolates, etc.

Preheat oven to 375*

CombiDSC_0002ne flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in chips.

Dump the entire mixture onto the parchment lined pan, or stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes – approximately. When using the baking stone, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions – you might have to start baking the cookie in a cold oven. If using a large metal pizza pan, remember that this oversized cookie will take a tad longer than smaller, individual cookies.

Certainly, beginning with a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe makes it simple, but to liven things up, just toss in any flavor chips (I actually found cinnamon and lemon and even fruit flavors at a local bulk foods store), or mini-candy-coated chocolates, red cinnamon candies, or anything else that sounds good.

These oversized cookies were always a big hit with my students — and a lot quicker to bake than a zillion individual cookies.

Don’t forget the gigantic glass of milk, too!

 

 

M is for Mini

Mini ice cream cones!

I just discovereIMG_20160414_100313d these very small cones at the grocery store and have all kinds of ideas for using them.

Turned upside down, they might be great chocolate covered bells, or the merlons on a castle cake, or part of a tasty rocket …

Hmmm, for weeks, I’ve needed to find a use for edible Easter grass, and wonder if these small cones would work well as tasty flower pots, or candy filled buckets with braided edible grass handles, or as a decoration for a quilt-themed cake as spools of thread …

But today, they will become –

Mini Ice Cream Cone Cakes

You will need:

  • Two boxes of Mini Ice Cream Cones
  • Mini cupcake tins
  • Mini cupcake liners (optional)
  • A batch of your favorite cake batter
  • Frosting, piping bag, decorations

Preheat oven to 350*

Place mini cones in the wells of a mini cupcake tin. I like to use liners , but that probably isn’t necessary.

Mini Cone Batter Fill

Using an iced tea spoon, or other small spoon, fill each mini cone no more than 2/3 full with your favorite cake batter.

This is the trickiest part of the entire process. Fill too much and you will achieve a melted ice cream look, which can be fun. Fill too little, and the happy recipient will end up eating far more frosting than cake – not always a bad thing, come to think of it.

Carefully place mini cone filled tins in oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. This is an approximate amount of time since the amount of batter in the mini cones determines the actual time needed.

When a wooden toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly.

Mini Cone Interior

Frost and decorate! This can be as quick as piping a pile of frosting on top of each mini cone similar to soft-serve ice cream, or the process can include dipping the rounded tops of the cake mini cones in melted chocolate and sprinkling with edible glitter.

Your final creation is only limited by your imagination! Have fun!

 

 

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