Baking

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake

Happy Birthday to me! I don’t know why everyone is always so perplexed when I tell them I *like* making my own birthday cake. It’s a chance for me to try out a new technique or flavor and to splurge a bit on ingredients.

I think I went through three or four cake options over the past few weeks. Did I want chocolate? Lavender and matcha? Peanut butter? Nope, nope, and nope! This Blood Orange Chiffon Cake paired with this Whipped Frosting snuck up and blew the other contenders out of the water.

The blood oranges took forever and a day to candy, and I was a bit terrified of accidentally deflating the egg whites, but I’m quite pleased with the final results! The cake has a nice orange fragrance, and I cut the sugar by a half cup so the frosting isn’t overly sweet.

And not only do I have a cute 7″ cake for myself (Yes, I know the recipe called for 9″ pans, but I’m a rebel in my new age), but I also baked up a 9″ layer and cut it in half for a cake to bring to work on Monday. Part two of birthday extravaganza baking was a success!

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Baking

Round Two: Rustic White Bread

I read Robin Sloane’s Sourdough this week, and, just like after watching The Great British Bake-Off, I desperately wanted to make bread. I figured I would turn my weekend birthday into a baking extravaganza, and round two with Rustic White Bread was part one of about five!

This loaf is definitely less rustic-looking than the last, but it wafted the same amazing fragrance around the apartment. I proofed it for a bit less time and made a smoother ball (and purposely scored it) before popping it in the oven.

Topped with some Kerrygold, I’m in for some delicious toast over the next few days. No sharing! 😉

Baking

Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies

You want a cookie whose aroma will waft throughout your apartment building? This is your cookie! These Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies came together super quickly, and I eventually got the hang of baking them.

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At first, I didn’t roll the dough into balls before baking, which caused some frustration in not being able to get a decent cross-hatch on top. But by the last four, I rolled the dough into balls and got a lovely little design on each. These last ones also cooked and browned more evenly. So, note to self, don’t just plop the peanut butter cookie dough onto the sheet. Take another minute to get a smooth, evenly browned, cross-hatch-having cookie!

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I didn’t have any sanding sugar like the recipe called for, but I did sprinkle some raw/Turbinado sugar over top each cookie before baking.

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Baking, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

I’m trying to keep the momentum going on doing at least one semi-productive thing each weekend day now that I’m not consistently at work until all hours. Today’s productivity resulted in temporarily being the epitome of a “basic white girl” and making PSL muffins.

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We definitely didn’t have a true Fall this past year, which means that all of my candle scents have shifted by a few months, hence the Pumpkin Banana Muffin in the background. How rude of the weather to not abide by candle season!

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In even sadder news, the sugar/butter rule applies to these little delights, which means that I have to share them with my coworkers. At least they can safely go in tupperware containers in a tote bag to get them to work!

Baking

New Year, New Bread

Is this a New Year’s Resolution? Who knows? Maybe this lasts, maybe it doesn’t. All I know right now is that I made my best loaf of bread ever today! And I want to celebrate that personal achievement.

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Coming off of watching 40 episodes of The Great British Baking Show over the holidays, I needed to make *something,* but a sugar-overload during the latter half of the year has put me off sweet baked goods for a bit. It also seems more reasonable to eat an entire loaf of bread than to eat an entire cake. That’s how it works, right? It doesn’t have a mountain of sugar or butter, so I can eat it all myself?

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I used this Rustic White Bread recipe, and I’m quite pleased with this little loaf! Paul Hollywood was in the back of my head the whole time–knead well, don’t over-prove, have steam in the oven for a good crust! Using a Dutch oven didn’t hurt, either. When I brought it out of the oven and gave it a good knock on the bottom, there was a lovely hollow sound. Music to my ears!

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All in all, not a bad start to the year!

 

 

 

 

Baking

Cupcake Week

Last week was a great week for cupcakes! A friend came to visit me in the city, and after we went to a blues and bbq festival on Pier 84 (that pulled pork sandwich really hit the spot!), we went down to Molly’s Cupcakes in the West Village.

There are no words to describe the heaven we were in. I had been there one time previously and loved it, but this time there was no comparison. We couldn’t make a choice at first, and then I had the BRILLIANT idea to get three cupcakes and just cut them in half. I see that all the time on the blogs I follow, so how was that not the plan from when we walked in the door? Crisis averted!

We finally chose the Mixed Berry, Chocolate Decadence, and Creme Brulee and settled into our swing chairs for some cupcake bliss. I knew from the second I cut into the chocolate one that we were in for an amazing experience. We were not disappointed.

I started with the chocolate (obviously!), and it was so rich. I don’t think I could have handled the whole thing. It certainly lived up to its name! Then I moved on to the mixed berry, which was like a perfectly sweet blueberry muffin. The cake and buttercream were light and fluffy, and it was like I was eating a cloud. We each saved the creme brulee for last, since another friend was raving about it before we got there. I’m not even sure how to describe it. It had a thin glaze over a creme-brulee-flavored cake, with a custard filling. It was the perfect ending.

Every so often for the rest of the weekend, when one of us would remember these cupcakes, we would both reply with an “OMG so good!” and sigh in contentment. It was almost a religious experience, and I can’t wait to make the pilgrimage again soon!

Shifting gears, I finally redeemed the voucher I won for frosting the best cupcake at Butter Lane last year. I thought it would be a yummy treat for me and my new roommates. I headed over there after work, eager for another sugary indulgence.

I picked out a Sea Salt Caramel, Strawberry, Salted Caramel with Popcorn, Peanut Butter Banana, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate. I knew immediately that under no circumstances would I share the Sea Salt Caramel cupcake. It was mine.

It was torture waiting for people to come home so we could dig in. I figured we would cut the cupcakes in fours, so we could get a bit of (almost) each. When I ate the Sea Salt Caramel earlier, I had the thought that I didn’t want to share the rest, which made me all the more impatient for later in the evening. In the end it was worth it, as we crowded around the table and sampled the night away.

Baking

Home Sweet Home

It’s happened! I’m officially an apartment renter! No longer a dormer! Is this real life? Seriously, am I a legit adult now? Do I actually have to pay for utilities now? No more lights for me, haha! I still don’t fully believe it. I may not have a publishing job yet, but I love my tutoring work and I start a new babysitting gig next week. My life is now work, work, work, and not school, school, school. For the first time in seventeen years. It’s been an adjustment, but I think I can manage. That ever-present knot in my stomach is ever-so-slowly going away, but if only things would stop popping up to make it suddenly reappear.

The best part about this place is definitely the kitchen (sorry roomies!). So much counter space! So many cabinets! Today I had to open every single cabinet in order to find the dishes. I’ll learn my way around soon enough. I can’t wait to start baking. I can just imagine all the delicious things that will be made and shared here. Soon. I just need to restock ALL of my baking ingredients. Which will happen. Sometime.

In the meantime, I want to move away from food shopping in Manhattan. Of course I’ll still get cabinet items and such from Trader Joe’s, but I want to start getting my produce in the neighborhood. A goal I have is to try to shop less frequently at chains, and to push myself out of my comfort zone by checking out local stores and restaurants.

I walked over to The Angel’s Fruit Market after work today, and I was very pleased with their selection, price point, and staff. I scoped out some items in the front of their store and determined that was the quick sale area, because everything was about half the price of the same items inside. When I have a particular recipe in mind–or want to eat an entire pint of strawberries in one evening ($0.99/pint, OMG!!)–I think I’ll pick stuff from this area. I moved into the store and there was so much produce! I took a lap around first to see what I might want, and then I grabbed a basket and commenced filling.

I wanted to buy everything I saw. I think this store will be a great excuse to try new things. There was a large variety of familiar and unfamiliar items, and I might try out one new thing each time I go. I know I want to go back tomorrow in order to get carrots to put in a salad, and maybe I’ll get an apple or two.

While I was browsing, I determined that some items were still cheaper at Trader Joe’s. I guess I’ll continue to buy my bananas and baby spinach there for the time being. My relocation is actually a really bad thing since TJ’s is right on my way home, and now I’ll have an unlimited Metrocard . . . uh oh! I’m going to need to show some restraint, or else I’ll be popping in there way too often. At least I have to walk a few blocks out of my way to get to The Angel. And it’s a $10 limit on credit cards, so I’m restricting pop-ins to cash only, which I almost never have on hand.