Baking

Baked Doughnuts with Caramel Topping

Have I expressed how much I truly love my doughnut pan? It might be one of my favorite kitchen items of all time. I’ve used it so many times that I’ve lost count. I don’t often branch out and post different recipes, though, because the ones I have for plain and chocolate doughnuts are perfect for my taste.

However, I really wanted a doughnut this morning, but I wanted something more than my regular recipes offer. I found these Caramel-Glazed Baked Doughnuts from Namely Marly and loved the premise, so I tweaked the recipe to suit the ingredients I had on hand. I wish I could say they were amazing, but I can’t. While my version baked a lovely doughnut, I still prefer my other recipes.

I encountered some trouble with the caramel glaze because it started to solidify before I could even top the doughnuts. It was more caramel-y than glaze-y or frosting-y, so it didn’t make a very smooth coating like I wanted.

Also, when the doughnut and coating came together, the sweet caramel overwhelmed the doughnut flavor, and even plain it didn’t have that distinctive doughnut taste. The original recipe didn’t call for nutmeg, so I added a little shake of it to see what would happen. Nothing really happened.

Baked Doughnuts with Caramel Topping

Yields 6-7 doughnuts

6 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon yeast
½ teaspoon baking powder

Caramel Topping:

¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

——————————————

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Grease or spray a doughnut pan.
  2. Mix together the sugar and butter in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the egg and mix together to incorporate.
  4.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix to combine.
  5. Add the flour, yeast, and baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Try to get rid of the lumps that form, but a few remaining is fine.
  6. Spoon into the wells of the doughnut pan and bake for 10 minutes. The tops will still be very pale, so be careful to not over bake.
Caramel Topping:
  1. Over medium to medium-high heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Let boil for 1 minute and then take it off the heat.
  3. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Let the mixture cool slightly.
  5. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix until combined.
Advertisements
Baking

Mini Ice Cream “Cake” Pies

It was my roommate’s birthday recently, and all she wanted was to eat the garlic pizza crust I make and to go sing karaoke. She’s not one for desserts or sweets, with the exception of Oreos, ice cream, and Snickers. I figured I would just make the pizza crust and call it a day . . . until fate took over and I found this: Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream “Cake” Pie. Omit the peanut butter cups, and it’s the perfect birthday dessert for my roommate. The concept is so simple I don’t know why this didn’t come to mind before.

Rather than use Oreos, which can cost an arm and a leg in the city, I used Trader Joe’s Joe-Joes. I can definitely tell a difference between the two cookies–Oreo cookies are crunchier–but they still passed the roommate test. I also halved and miniaturized the recipe, because a giant ice cream cake is just too much for two girls to consume by themselves. Four girls, no, two, yes. I ended up making six mini pies in a muffin tin, which was perfect for three nights of portion-controlled dessert.

The pies looked so sad with just crust and ice cream, so we broke out the caramel sauce and then topped them with an additional Joe-Joe. These little treats hit the spot, so much so that my roommate was thinking about them all day until she could eat another the next night. I’d say they were a success!

Baking

Baked’s Sweet and Salty Cake

I love to bake. No surprises there. This topic seems to pop up all the time, no matter who I’m talking with. Well, it doesn’t come up so frequently in class, but it can’t contain itself in more informal settings when just chatting with people. It’s an important part of who I am as a person, and so it just comes up naturally. I may not document everything I make, but that’s mostly because I usually bake at night, and my roommates and I seem to make every crumb disappear by the time morning and the good light rolls around. Nevertheless, I am baking and making things all the time, and my internship supervisors caught on to that fact very quickly last semester. As an early Christmas present, those two lovely ladies gifted me with a  copy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Needless to say, I was speechless and beyond excited when I opened the box to find the one cookbook I had been coveting beyond all others.

When I got home that night I sat down and went through the book page by page, putting sticky notes on every single recipe I wanted to try. In the end, I think there were more recipes selected than not! However, I found that I have to carefully plan ahead when I want to make something from this book, because chances are a recipe calls for something I don’t have on hand all the time, such as dark brown sugar, dark cocoa powder (but not anymore!), fleur de sel, sour cream, or lemon zest. I only have so much storage space (and money!) to stock everything all the time, so unfortunately this isn’t a spur-of-the-moment-baking type of book.

Because of this little hurdle–and the fact that most of what I want to make can’t be ready immediately–it took me until my birthday to finally break in my gift. I had intended to make the Sweet and Salty Cake at home over winter break, but after rereading through all of the steps and realizing the intensity of the project, I decided it wouldn’t work for an at-home recipe. However, it would be PERFECT as my birthday cake.

In recent years my favorite part of my birthday has been baking my own cake. Last year’s “Chocolate LOVE” was such a rewarding (if filling) experience. I don’t normally choose such time- and labor-intensive recipes, but my birthday is the perfect excuse to do so. It serves as a day that I can take for myself to do something new and exciting. I get a chance to bake something I wouldn’t normally have the time or funds to bake, so it’s like my present to myself. Some people buy bags and shoes, but I buy ingredients!

I didn’t have the entire day this year because I did have to go to work for a few hours, but I got home in the early afternoon and respectfully kicked my roommates out of the kitchen so I could get to business. I taped my printed out recipe to the cabinet doors and turned on my Keith and Damo playlist (sound familiar?). I also turned on every light in the common room, because I’m also a person who loves–no, NEEDS–light go leor (hence why I’m loving my two giant bedroom windows this year).

I have NEVER spent so much time mixing up a batter before. I’m sure if I had a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer this process wouldn’t have been so intense *hint hint nudge nudge*. Unfortunately I only had my dying $5 Wal-mart hand mixer at my disposal. This poor appliance is seriously on it’s last legs; it just doesn’t have a strong enough motor, and it can’t even mix up a buttercream anymore. I don’t know if it ever could, actually.

Despite my lacking appliances, the batter came together, albeit after a very long time. I didn’t time it, but I was already becoming exhausted after just this first phase. But who could blame me. Upon its completion, the batter filled my entire largest bowl. Wow.

I still haven’t even come close to baking without getting flour on every single surface, but the mess wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Something this cake required, though, was cleaning as I went, which definitely helped with keeping the mess in line.

This picture was the only one I took of the process because everything else was so time-sensitive that I didn’t want to juggle both my camera and the boiling caramel sauces. I’m not quite at that level of expertise yet. I also got rather caught up in the excitement that I sort of forgot about my camera for the most part. I legitimately haven’t been this excited about something probably since meeting some of the CT lads a couple of years ago (I was even more excited than when I got my internship or met Cassandra Clare in December). I was *that* excited, and my suitemates definitely noticed and commented.

The caramel sauces were terrifying and HOT. I bought a candy thermometer at the beginning of the semester, and this was my first chance to use it. However, it seems that there was not enough sauce in the pan for the temperature to properly register. Which meant that I had to tip the pan to create a deeper pool of caramel and thus expose myself to the heat of the pan and burner. Yay for oven mitts! During all of this I was terrified of burning the caramel. I had been reading about caramel and how the temperature can jump really high really quickly, and I was worried my improvised way of cooking it wouldn’t allow me too see exactly when it hit the correct temperature. In the end I probably could have let both batches cook for another minute or two, because the final products were lighter in color than they should have been. Oh well. Better to have ever so slightly undercooked (but still delicious) caramel sauce than burnt and ruined caramel sauce.

My mixer literally could not handle the ganache. Thankfully a major disaster was averted because a friend of a friend had another mixer I was able to use. What a difference a working mixer makes. I tell you, I really did not want to give the functioning one back after I used it. Think she would have noticed getting back a dying mixer?

I also encountered an issue when assembling the cake. The caramel and ganache didn’t seem to want to stay between the layers, so a lot of it came out the sides. I ended up just spreading the escaped fillings on as part of the crumb coat, so very little of it was actually lost. After I put on the crumb coat I stuck the cake in the fridge for a while to set up, and my suitemate’s reaction when she opened the fridge and saw it was priceless: “I didn’t know you were making a MOUNTAIN!” This cake was literally a mountain. There’s no other way to describe it, it was a giant mountain of chocolate and caramel deliciousness.

Putting on the final layer of ganache was messy, to say the least. At this point, the ganache was getting really melty because there was no room to keep it in the fridge, and the oven had been on for most of the afternoon so the kitchen was a sauna. I lost a bit of it to the kitchen table, but hey, that’s keeping with birthday cake ganache-ing tradition. Last year’s wasn’t even close to a pristine assembly either.

There was a lot of tasting along the way, and my suitemates and I certainly did a number on the leftover bowls of batter and ganache. At one point my roommate actually asked for a moment alone with the spatula I gave her. Love it.

After many hours of slaving away in a hot kitchen, my cake was finally finished. I would have loved to have taken proper-ish pictures of it, but I don’t think my suitemates and friends would have appreciated waiting until morning to dig in. Pictures without natural lighting it is, then!

To quote my suitemate again, it’s a “MOUNTAIN!”

I was also LOVING my new cake stand/spinner. It made frosting so much fun!

Fast-forward to the next morning when I was able to take more pictures by my window:

Another birthday success, if I may say so.  And this year I didn’t have to pawn of the leftovers on my Irish class! It pays to have dessert-loving suitemates.

One final note. How is it possible to write almost 1500 words in a blog post in an hour or so (WITH distractions), but be incapable of writing a 1250 word paper in less than an entire day? Beats me.

Baking

Thanksgiving Baking

So basically I dropped off the face of the blogging earth for a while. I’ve been completely overwhelmed with school work, work, and thinking about all my final assignments these past couple of weeks that I just haven’t had the energy or will to post anything. Here’s a recap of my Thanksgiving creations.

Originally I wanted to make something really elaborate over break, but unfortunately my parents shot me down about that, and what would have been the point in making something wonderful if no one was going to eat/appreciate it. Instead they just wanted plain old boring chocolate chip cookies and a yellow cake–from a BOX . . . I guess they didn’t get the memo about my new-found hatred of boxed, chemical-laden, artificial box mixes. Now I know they work for those who don’t have the time/patience/ability/ingredients/whatever to make a cake from scratch–and I don’t think any less of those people for using this option–but now that I’ve been exploring the baking world more thoroughly, I never want to have to resort to boxes again because I’ve found such delicious and simple from-scratch recipes. I love trying out new ones, adding different flavors/more chocolate to them, and seeing how they turn out. Not all of them are rave successes, but it’s those slight flops that help me to learn what I want out of a recipe.

In any event, I–with the excuse of not having enough vegetable oil for both cookies AND a cake–managed to make a simple batch of yellow cupcakes for my father’s birthday. This attempt falls under the slight flop category, because I didn’t have the cake flour the recipe called for, and as a result, it was a very crumby cupcake (I know, bad pun). I think that if I had used the cake flour, the crumbs would have been much smaller and the cupcakes would not have fallen apart so easily (and I think having liners for the tin would have helped in that department as well, because they stuck like CRAZY and were difficult to get out).

Unfortunately, I also didn’t have nearly enough powdered sugar to make a fluffy buttercream frosting, so I had to used a tub of dense chocolate frosting instead *shudders at the memory*. It was such a light cupcake, and the heavy frosting just overwhelmed the poor dears, not to mention the chemical/artificial taste from it that I could not get out of my mouth. Again, no disrespect to those who use store-bought frosting, but I just don’t like the stuff anymore now that I try to do things from scratch as often as possible.

Overall they were good cupcakes, but I just need to institute a couple of changes, and they’ll be GREAT cupcakes. (My mother also shot down putting sprinkles on top because she hates them *sigh*.)

Before the cupcakes, I attempted a version of peanut butter/caramel/chocolate/shortbread bars (yes, like the candy bar, but with peanut butter). Again, a good attempt, but rather flawed in execution. The shortbread crust was nice and golden brown, but it wouldn’t come out of the pan; the caramel was slightly overcooked; and I destroyed the ganache topping by accident. I just don’t think I was meant to make these at this time. I ended up just taking everything else out of the pan and leaving the crust behind, resulting in hunks of thick chocolate and oozy caramel, with a thin layer of peanut butter on top.

Yeah, not exactly the prettiest thing I’ve ever attempted.

Finally, came my cookies. Finally, something turned out well. Thank goodness. I must say, this was probably the best-looking batch I’ve made in a while. They were soft and chewy, but not too much so. The perfect combination of soft and crunchy in all the right places.

A post about my creations from today will be coming up next. I’m sure I’ll need to procrastinate again really soon.