Baking

Baked Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

Last year I was crazy busy beyond belief, and I can’t say that I’m sorry 2011 is over. This semester seems like it will be a bit calmer, but I have to say that I’m definitely going to miss interning at Little Simon. My time there was such an experience and I learned so much that I can actually apply to my future career. But, new year, new endeavors, new experiences. Bring it on!

Speaking of new things, I ordered a doughnut pan during winter break and broke it in this morning. I have been looking for the perfect recipe with which to christen this pan, and Lara Ferroni’s Baked Chocolate Doughnuts fit the bill perfectly. Everything came together very quickly and easily. I had to substitute milk and vinegar for the buttermilk, and I don’t think the final results suffered one bit. I also replaced the yogurt with my “buttermilk,” as I’m not sure if Greek yogurt would have worked properly in this recipe.

With these doughnuts, I finally did realize that it IS the nutmeg that MAKES the doughnut taste. I’m coming around to this particular spice, especially with this recipe.

I didn’t use my buttermilk substitute for the glaze, but I think it works with just plain old milk. I did add a bit more milk than I should have, so I didn’t get the thicker glaze/frosting that Lara’s had. It’s fine though. This one reminds me more of the Dunkin Donuts glaze.

When I next make chocolate doughnuts, I think I might use my brand new dark cocoa powder. I would like to have a chocolate-ier flavor, more akin to a chocolate cake/cupcake. I know that pretty much defeats the purpose of making doughnuts–I mean, why not just make cake–but I want to somehow replicate the DD’s chocolate glazed doughnuts. So good!

I think next week I’ll try a plain vanilla doughnut and jazz it up with a chocolate glaze. After that, the options are absolutely endless. Reese’s Cup Doughnuts, anyone?

Advertisements
Baking

How Many Ways Can I Use Cinnamon?

I just want to reiterate that I LOVE cinnamon; without a doubt, it’s my favorite spice/flavor. I’m always looking for ways to consume it, be it via cinnamon rolls, a sprinkling in my hot cocoa, cookies, anything.

I have a go-to cinnamon roll recipe, but even though it only takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, I still find baking them to be a messy hassle and not worth it for how often I crave them. Enter Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Recipe Girl!

They’re pure heaven on a plate, that’s the only way to describe them. The cinnamon swirl cooks up and becomes crusty and delicious, spreading all over the pancake and creating a wonderfully crystallized coating.

The first  time I made them I decided against topping them with the glaze. They were perfect plain, and even though Recipe Girl highly recommends the glaze, it seemed like overkill when I topped them with it the second time I made them.

One issue I had with this recipe came up when I actually flipped the pancakes to cook the swirled side. More often than not the swirl would seep out from the pancake and start to burn in my pan. A few times that led to some smoking and burning, with me begging and pleading with the pan to not get too smokey and burned. I ended up rinsing out the pan after each pancake in order to avoid this, but that made the whole process take a lot longer than I anticipated, since I had to wait for the pan to heat up again each time.

The final results were entirely worth this slight hassle, and I think I’ve found the perfect substitute for when I want cinnamon rolls but don’t want to make a giant mess with flour all over the counter. The almost instant gratification with these isn’t so bad either, which is perfect for my impatient self.

And because this wasn’t enough cinnamon, I also tried my hand at a new Snickerdoodle recipe from Smitten Kitchen. This is probably the best one I’ve tried out so far, so I’ll stick with it if I want snickerdoodles in the future.

They went over really well when I brought them to a party at work, however they didn’t all disappear and so I brought the remainder home. For some reason they didn’t all get eaten immediately, but that was actually a blessing in disguise.

These cookies stay soft for SO LONG. I only had them in a ziploc bag, but they stayed fresh and delicious for more than a week. I’ve never experienced this with cookies before, and I wish I knew what was so special about them to have this result. For this reason alone–never mind that they’re delicious–these snickerdoodles get a top-notch rating and my wholehearted recommendation to everyone.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Wow, What a Back-Log of Baked Goods

I have been remiss in posting about my baking exploits as of late, so now it’s time to catch up. I’m going back to my roots and blogging instead of writing 2 papers and 2 essays, doing a pile of reading, or putting laundry away.

To start it off, a no-bake item: chocolate-covered Ritz peanut butter sandwiches from kevinandamanda.com. I stumbled upon this idea one day and I can’t believe I never thought to do this. I love chocolate, and I love Ritz and peanut butter, so why not love the two together? I altered it a tad and used whole wheat crackers and semi-sweet chips and some shortening instead of white chocolate bark, but I’m itching to try the white chocolate version. I made these on a whim one night when I had the kitchen to myself, and it was a really quick process.

1.) Make peanut butter sandwiches.

2.) Melt chocolate and shortening together in the microwave.

3.) Dip in melted chocolate/shortening mixture.

4.) Refrigerate until hardened.

5.) ENJOY! These go quite nicely with  “The Story of the Grail” by Chretien de Troyes, if I do say so myself.

Next up is a Buttermilk Banana Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod. I still had some leftover buttermilk from my birthday cake, and it was getting near its expiration date, so how could I not make this. In addition to going into the bread, before I made it I actually froze the remaining buttermilk in ice cube trays and then put all the cubes into a freezer bag. No wasted buttermilk for me. I’ve read that it doesn’t taste quite the same when you drink it after freezing, but it works just fine for baking. Who am I kidding anyway? I’m not drinking buttermilk, so freeze away I did.

Now, I admit, while I was able to take some pictures of the process, I forgot to do something important. We’ll get to that.

Butter and sugar. I wanted to use some brown sugar in addition to the white, but my remaining brown sugar was rock hard and I didn’t want to deal with softening it up. I’m already bad enough at having room temperature butter and eggs. I can’t deal with hard brown sugar too, especially when I had to make this quickly. I should include the microwave as a material needed because just about every time I bake, I have to soften the butter/cream cheese/whatever first. It works wonders . . . especially if the butter is coming directly from the freezer. . . .

Some serious elbow grease went into creaming the butter and sugar, but it was nice and light and fluffy in the end.Now for the addition of two (just out of the fridge) eggs. Whoops.

And mashed up bananas. I just used two giant ones that I had, but I think I would have liked just a little more banana taste to the final bread. Oh well, next time.

And now we get to my idiot moment of this process. I defrosted my frozen buttermilk cubes (again, in the microwave). I then proceeded to happily pour nearly the entire bowl into the batter. . . . As I was pouring, it hit me that I hadn’t MEASURED IT! I only needed four tablespoons, and I don’t know how much actually ended up in there. I added a pinch more flour after to compensate for the possible extra liquid.

The buttermilk was interacting with everything else, and as a result the batter looked a little suspect at this point, but it was just all the acidity.

FLOUR and other dry ingredients. I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat.You can see the darker whole wheat in the back of the bowl.

Mix, mix, mix. But not too much.

Into the prepared pan you go, delicious, if buttermilk-y, banana bread batter.

With a sprinkle of cinnamon. I LOVE cinnamon!

And out of the oven!

I think I slightly over-baked it because it was a tad bit dry. It was still really good, though.

I’ll get it right next time, along with actually measuring the buttermilk before I go pouring it all willy-nilly into the batter.

It was my breakfast this week, and I still have one yummy piece left. I took to putting a slice on top of the toaster for a minute and then spreading the warm bread with some peanut butter. SO GOOD.

I also did my third Baking Bonanza on Monday. More buttermilk was involved, but this time in the form of milk and vinegar. That was me following the directions ;D. But wait, where is my second bonanza? I did it, but I’m waiting to re-do it so I can get some proper pictures this time.

I’m going to make a separate post for this, so this is all you get right now.

For my final back-logged creation, I give you: the most wonderful homemade garlic bread I’ve EVER had.

I came across this on Buns in my Oven, and it is absolutely heavenly.

Granted, it’s heavenly even with my alterations, namely: a ciabatta loaf from Trader Joe’s (LOVE those. I’ve also been making croutons out of it.), no Parmesan (I didn’t have any.), added ricotta, no onions or herbs (I didn’t have those either.), some pepper, and a liberal coating of mozzarella cheese before going into the oven. So maybe I should amend my statement to say that the premise is heavenly.

I can’t wait to make this again. Perhaps tomorrow? I still have bread and just enough cream cheese for one more half batch.

And in Celtic Thunder news, I purchased my first concert ticket for this fall’s tour! At 7:45am, no less. Yes, I was up that early on a Saturday. In fact, I was up a bit before 7. What is wrong with me? Perhaps it was because I fell asleep almost immediately after coming home from work yesterday and slept though the entire afternoon and night, save for about an hour to eat dinner (salad and the last of my garlic bread, yum!).

EDIT: I knew I was forgetting about something. I also made a pizza earlier in the week. I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough and pressed the bottom with cornmeal, then I topped it with marinara sauce, chicken, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of salt/pepper/garlic powder. It was so good, and I just finished up the last bit of it for lunch today. Even though it was in my fridge for a few days, I somehow managed to not take any pictures at all. Next time. Wow, that really should be my mantra. Next time I’ll do this, next time I’ll do that, it’ll be better next time, I’ll actually measure ingredients next time :).

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Chaos and Insanity

My first week of the semester wasn’t quite what I expected. For starters, I didn’t think it would only entail two days of classes. You have to hand it to Mother Nature for making my school close down on the day I have three classes. Kudos to her, but missing classes means the course work has to be made up somehow, which brings me to my main complaint. I just had to rework the days that I would hand in assignments in one class, and it did not make me happy one bit, especially the fact that a paper due date was moved to the same day as for another paper. This semester is going to test my abilities to stay on task more than ever before, which means I need to learn how to NOT PROCRASTINATE. I have so many assignments in all of my classes that there is absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever. If I don’t stay on top of everything, it’s going to be disastrous, and I wish that was just an exaggeration.

In preparation of this week, I decided to not honor my decision to avoid baking for a little while and made some blueberry muffins to eat for breakfast as I’m going out the door in the morning. I made the To Die For Blueberry Muffins on Allrecipes.com, and I must say that they really are “to die for.” This also marked the inaugural use of my new muffin tin.

I made some of my own alterations to the recipe, and they turned out wonderfully. I did not use the cinnamon/sugar/butter topping the recipe suggested, but I did sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on top before I put them in the oven. I also subbed in a half cup of whole wheat flour, and I couldn’t even notice that I did that. Next time around I will probably use half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, just to make them a bit healthier and more filling. I didn’t have it at the time, but I’ll also use applesauce in place of the vegetable oil, just because.

Unfortunately, the recipe only yielded 11 muffins, probably because I tried to fill the cups too high. I also wish they could have had a more golden coloring, but I didn’t want to leave them in the oven, for fear of drying out. I’m not sure how long I left them in, but any longer and I would not have been happy because they would have been dried out. I took them out at the perfect time to obtain maximum moisture, so in the end the coloring is just an aesthetic thing.

This snow day also yielded additional unfortunate news, beyond the changing due dates. I went to check on Fishy this afternoon to find him floating immobile on his side. He had a good long life, for a little fish, but I will miss him swimming around in his bowl on my desk, blowing bubbles up at the surface along the sides and then popping them. RIP Fishy, May 2010-January 2011.

After today, I really want nothing more than to listen to some Celtic Thunder and bake up some Best Cocoa Brownies, which I think I’ll do as soon as my suitemates clear out.

Baking

Cinnamony Breakfast Treats

My favorite spice is definitely cinnamon. I love it in my apple pies, my cinnamon rolls, my oatmeal, and even in my hot chocolate. While I was at home I was itching to make cinnamon rolls, but my sleep schedule didn’t really allow it, seeing as how I started sleeping until noon with great frequency. When I make cinnamon rolls I like to make them in the morning and eat them fresh out of the oven while they’re still hot and gooey. There’s nothing better than that delicious cinnamon flavor mixed with soft and tender dough. Making them is truly a labor of love, and I guess that’s why I don’t make them all too often; it’s probably also because there’s just so much butter and sugar in them that they are not in the least bit healthy, and I can’t convince myself otherwise. Why must some of the most delicious things be the worst for you? I’d like to believe in all things in moderation, but it’s just so hard to resist these when they’re sitting in their pan, looking and smelling so irresistible.

While these aren’t exactly winning any health food awards, they are considerably less butter-laden than my go-to cinnamon rolls. These Cinnamon Bun Muffins from Crepes of Wrath are such a simple alternative to all of the rising and rolling and flour mayhem I usually have to go through when I want a cinnamony breakfast  food. I made them over break as a quick substitute, and my father likened them to the Drake Coffee Cakes, but better. I have to agree with his assessment, at least on an aesthetic level because most of them didn’t rise up and have actual “muffin tops”; they just kind of stayed in the tins and did their own little thing. I don’t know if that’s my fault or the yeast’s fault.

I can safely say, though, that there was too much yeast in them, because I could taste it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get the milk hot enough to dissolve or because I used whole milk. Next time I make them I will also probably just use one packet, rather than two, which was what my measuring out four teaspoons somehow amounted to–don’t ask me how that happened.

This one was one of the only ones that miraculously rose up well, and might I say it looked and was very yummy; yeasty, but yummy. The icing helped to mask the yeast flavor, so plus one for the icing. I didn’t make the icing the way the recipe said, however. Instead, when I was making the cheesecakes, I set aside some of the cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture in the fridge and added just enough milk to get it to a nice consistency.

Yesterday, I was craving some sort of cinnamon something, and so I dug up a recipe I found a while ago for Donut Muffins. I omitted the nutmeg (I’m just not much of a fan), and instead substituted about a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon. I also added some additional milk to the recipe because it was just SO thick. I then baked them up in my mini muffin tin, and got adorable little mini donut muffins; they look just like doughnut holes.

Then, because there wasn’t enough cinnamon yet, I added a couple of shakes of it to the glaze I made. It was just powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon–really simple.

Once they cooled, I dunked each mini donut into the glaze and put them aside to set. Two of them happened to mysteriously disappear before I took this picture. I wonder what happened to them.

They are SO yummy. I might try a plain batch next time, just for kicks and giggles.

Baking

It Had to Happen Eventually

It was only a matter of time. I failed. That’s the only way to put it. I tried making apple turnovers, and I failed. Miserably. I should have known something bad would happen when the filling was running all over the puff pastry and also when the pastry wouldn’t stick together without LOTS of squeezing and manipulating from turnovers to purses. All I can say is thank goodness I didn’t leave the kitchen after I put them in to bake, or the aftermath would have been much worse than a few filling dribbles in the oven. I was so looking forward to breakfast pastries for the next couple of days, but it looks like that’s not going to be happening and I’ll have to find something else for breakfast tomorrow and Monday. I don’t even know if I want to photograph that poor baking sheet and the sad things upon it.

OH. I just had an idea. Maybe I can still salvage this by transferring everything to one of my glass dishes and baking it that way. Instead it’ll be a sticky, caramelly, appley, desserty thing, rather than a nice clean morning apple turnover. I’m going to see what can be made of the situation.

So, it looks like I’m going to need to clean the oven a bit, because I smell burning sugar. Wonderful.

AH SUCCESS! I can’t believe I salvaged that huge mess. It smells so yummy and I can’t wait to dig in.

Yay!

Edit: Oh, wow, I’m REALLY glad I didn’t toss these after the first attempt mishap. SO GOOD! I don’t want to stop eating them now that I’ve already had one. They’re the new Lay’s potato chip in my life.

Baking

It’s a Lemon and Pancake Party!

I can’t even begin to express the sadness I felt as I ate the last piece of this lemon blueberry loaf with a lemon glaze last Friday morning. While the lemon flavor was slightly over-powering, I think it was a fantastic first attempt at this recipe. For future baking endeavors, though, I think I’m going to cut down on the lemon and sugar so that it has a more subtle flavor, rather than a BAM *sour face* one (even though that was thoroughly enjoyable and made me think of Damo and his lemon love each morning). I’m not sure if I want to make this same loaf again Sunday morning, or if I want to try something else for next week. I’m going to have to have a look around the All Recipes site to see if anything new will jump out at me. Whatever I end up baking, though, I hope it will be just as enjoyable as last week’s breakfast was, especially to make up for my lack of breakfast this week (big mistake, because I realized I NEED to eat breakfast every morning).

In other lemony news, I tried my hand at making lemon squares a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on. The recipes was SUPER easy, and the results were SUPER yummy. The little squares were “suitemate-approved”, and so now I know what I can make when I want to make a dessert for my suite, since one girl doesn’t like chocolate (I’m going with it, even though I can’t quite wrap my head around hating chocolate. Oh well, to each her own.).

In non-lemon news, I made pancakes. They were also yummy. It was a tried and true recipe, so I wouldn’t have expected anything less than perfection.