Category Archives: Baking

Greener

It would be quite impossible to catch you up on everything that has been going on here in the past month.  I’m continually astonished at how fast time goes by and I have so much to tell you that I don’t even know where to begin!  But, we are friends, right?  Have you ever noticed how true friends can go long periods of time without talking and then just pick up where they left off, just catching up on the highlights since they last talked?  That’s kind of what I’m going to do today because we just don’t have time for me to tell you every little detail.  Ok, I’m just going to dive in now.

Firstly, I have been doing a lot of baking.  Some of my very favorite bakes of late include:

Boston Cream Pie from the Canal House Cookbook.

The sponge cake part of this recipe is the real gem here.  My plan is to talk about this more at a later date, but that means I need to make it again, which I will do soon.  Promise.

We also loved this Tuscan Sourdough Cake, which is more like a bread.

It’s an excellent and tasty way to use up some of that sourdough starter that you need to discard every feeding time.

Recently, I also made chocolate babka using this recipe.

I have been loosely following King Arthur Flour’s Bakealong recipes.  If you hadn’t noticed, I am a sort of sucker for a bakelong, knitalong, or sewalong.  I haven’t made every recipe since they started back in September, but I have made a few.  They have all been good.

This babka, though. Yum.  I’ve made several other babka recipes in the years I have been baking, and I think this one is my favorite so far.  Other babkas have been too sweet or too sticky or have huge gaps between the layers after cooling.  This one has none of those problems.  Plus, it was relatively easy.

I’ve also recently joined the Food52 Cookbook Bakealong (see, it’s true that I am a sucker for a bakealong).  This month, we are baking from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft.

These are marzipan challah loaves using the recipe from his book.  My favorite thing about this book is that the recipes make a lot.  Why go to all that trouble to make just one loaf of bread?  My philosophy has always been to make more now and save time later.  The freezer is your best friend here.  We easily ate half a loaf in one sitting with our growing boys, so these four loaves will not last long.

I also have a new favorite cookbook for dinner (see I don’t always bake!).

Melissa Clark’s Dinner, Changing the Game is full of fairly easy and tasty dinners.  In the first week, I made three recipes and they were all delicious.  I don’t know about you, but making dinner gets to be boring sometimes and this book does a great job of bringing some new ideas to the table.  Highly recommend.

Ok, on to sewing.  During March and April, I was busy making a new quilt for a friend who is expecting.

Each square has fabric picked out by a different person in out little group of friends to be a virtual blanket of hugs and kisses for this little one to come.  It was a fun quilt to make.

I love how quilts can be a tangible gift of love.

I’ve also been working on my collection of 12.5 inch blocks from the Cookbook Quiltalong book.

I was trying to keep up, but got behind when I had to finish the baby quilt.  That’s ok.

My plan is to keep making these and combine them with other quilt along blocks I have done in the past to make one big scrappy quilt.

So far, I have 27 blocks and I think I will only need 36 for a queen sized quilt if you factor in sashing.  I considered not sashing, but I don’t think that will look right.

In my knitting life, I was able to finish a pair of socks a couple of weeks ago.

These are Vincennes by my friend Kim and were really fun to knit!  You can seem more details on my ravelry page.

I’ve also picked up my Triticum sweater again, but am afraid I am on sleeve island with this one.

I have one sleeve left to knit and can’t get up the gumption to even cast on.  It’s probably because I just recently got back from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and I have new yarn for new projects I want to start immediately!

My Brambling Shawl from A Year of Techniques is done, though!  I finished this a couple of weeks ago.  It looked a bit like a snake sweater at first:)

But, it blocked out nicely.  It was very long and skinny, though.

It was hard to get it all in the picture!  It was fun practicing intarsia.

This month’s project is an adorable knitted mouse, but I think I am going to skip that one because there are a lot of parts to put together.  It’s a bit too much for me right now.

Also, I am taking part in The Starting Point Mystery Shawl Knitalong by Joji Locatelli.  I had a few days last month when I totally went through every ball and skein of fingering weight and lace weight yarn in my stash.  I eventually settled on using up a bit of my laceweight by holding it double.

Phew!  You are a true friend if you have followed along during this whole post so far!   I think we are mostly caught up now.  I’m hoping to blog a little more often from here on out, but perhaps make the posts quite a bit shorter to make them fit better in my routine.  You can also find me on Instagram as @crafteamama.

One more thing: the boys and I are closing our etsy shop on Tuesday, May 16.  We have a sale going on now.  25% off your entire order with coupon code CLOSING2017.  Tell your friends!  Here’s a link: 1514Homemade.  We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us the last several years.  It was fun while it lasted!

Tell me what you’ve been working on lately!  Thanks for coming by!

Merry Christmas!

Hi All!  Just popping in to announce the winner of the Christmas Treat Box Giveaway.  I used the random number generator to help me pick the winner and it chose post 67, which is Laura C. with this post:

“I’ve seen these cookies before but never had any. Glad the machine was fun and easy to use”

Well, Laura, there are some pizzeles in the box I just shipped off to you, so I hope you enjoy them and the other treats as well!

Thank you to all of you for being faithful readers and commenters.  I wish you could be here to enjoy a piece of cake with me.  Our event on Saturday ended up being cancelled due to weather, so we’ve had to eat the whole cake by ourselves, but I would have loved to share it with you.   You all make writing this blog a lot of fun!

Today, despite getting off to a late start, has been fairly productive.  My candied orange peel is drying now.

And the next batch of panettone dough is made and rising (very slowly).  Do you see how stretchy and sheer the dough is?  Heavenly!  I know it’s only Monday, but the week is looking good so far!  How’s your week looking?

Day 12: Unfinished

Christmas is a week away and I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot left to do.  Thankfully, I have a pretty clear week in which to get them done.  Unfortunately, I sort of ran out of time this weekend and there are still too many balls in the air to have a finished topic today.  However, I can show you a few things that I am hoping to get done in the next few days.

The first one is to finish up this batch of candied orange peel.  There’s lots of recipes out there for making candied orange peel.  Here’s a good one.  Orange peel is a pretty essential ingredient in a lot of my Christmas baking, but it’s also fabulous to eat on its own.  It’s also good dipped in dark chocolate!

Next on the agenda is to work on making another batch of panettone.  I made a batch last week using a new recipe, but it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked.  It was a recipe I had in my files that I definitely got off the internet, but now I can’t find it.  Funny.

Anyway, it was good, but not quite the texture we’re used to, so I want to make a few adjustments and try it again.  I may be able to talk about it later this week if it works out!

In the meantime, this brings us to the end of my 12 Days of Christmas Blog series.  It’s only one week until Christmas!  For one more entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway, leave a comment here before noon eastern standard time tomorrow (December 19).  I’ll announce the winner in the early afternoon and hope to get that box shipped out soon after.  Thank you so much for joining me these past 12 days!  See you tomorrow!

 

 

Day 11: Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing

This is one of my favorite cakes to make and not just during this time of year.  We eat gingerbread all year round because it’s good and shouldn’t just be limited to just one month out of the year.

This one is dark and spicy with bursts of candied ginger throughout.

But, the thing that makes this gingerbread extra special is the lemon glaze.  The zinginess of the lemon goes so well with the spicy mellowness of the cake.  You want to be sure that your icing is fairly thick or else most of it will just fall off.  This happened to me the first time and I had to redo it, which is why the cake pictured looks like it has two icings.

The cake tastes better if it is made a day ahead of time.  I made this cake for an event tonight, so I don’t have any pictures of it cut right now, but if there are any leftovers I will add a photo or two tomorrow.

That’s all for now.  Sorry to be so short today, but it’s been a busy few days and I need a little lie down before going out tonight.

Be sure to leave me a comment for another entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway.  I think it is mostly packed up now and just waiting for the winner’s address.  I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day!  I would love to hear about  your favorite Christmas tradition.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing

adapted from the Standard Baking Co., Portland ME

2 3/4 cups (13.25 ounces) all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (4.5 ounces) sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup mild molasses

1 1/3 cups cold water

1/4 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped crystallized ginger

Lemon Glaze

1 3/4 cup (5 ounces) powdered sugar

2  Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a bundt pan or spray with Baker’s Joy.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour and spices.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until combined.  Add the large eggs and beat to blend.  Beat in the light molasses.  It will look grainy.

Add half of the dry ingredients and beat until blended.  Beat in half of the water. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat until blended.  Add the remaining water and mix until mostly incorporated.

Stop the mixer, give the bowl a good scraping down.  Then, add the chopped crystallized ginger and beat the mixture again on medium speed for at least a minute.

Transfer the batter to your bundt pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the glaze:

Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to get a thick icing that drops in mounds (you don’t want it too runny or it will just run right off–I did this the first time).

With the cake still on a rack, pour the icing evenly over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides.

 

 

Day 9: Mince Pies

I’ll bet that mince pies is not a thing that most of you have to have on your holiday treats table.  But, I’ll also bet that most of you have never tasted a mince pie.  Well, up until yesterday, I would have been with you on both of those counts.

I don’t really remember how I first heard of this traditional treat, but from the beginning, I think the associations with it were negative.  That could be because traditionally (like from a long time ago when there were serfs and lords), mince pies had meat, meat fat, nuts, and dried fruit in them.  All those things are minced up, mixed with spices and baked in a pie.  The combination is not one that fits most modern food cravings.

However, nowadays, most mince recipes do not call for any meat or meat fat.  There’s just butter, dried fruit, nuts, and spices.  It all sounded good to me and besides, can anything in a pie be all that bad?

Well, as it turns out, it’s quite good and I think most of us are missing out on this lovely treat.

To make this, I first started by making mincemeat.  Many recipes call for store bought mince, but I wasn’t sure about those mixtures.  So, I used the mince recipe from here, except for the fruit, I used some of my Rummy Fruit Mix that had already been marinating for a few weeks.  Also, I only made half the recipe of mince.

For the pastry, I used a basic Pate sucree (sugar pastry dough) recipe from Baking Chez Moi.  Fitting the dough rounds into the muffin cups was the trickiest part.

I ended up cuting out a wedge to help them fit better.  This dough is really great for things like this because it patches really easily and it has a lot of butter which will help it to release from the pan.

For the top, I opted for some cut out snowflakes to make them look festive.

They baked for about 30 minutes, and then came out of the pan with no trouble at all.  Aren’t they pretty?

I am really pleased with how they turned out.  But how do they taste?  They taste great!  The filling is sweet and fruity, with a strong rum flavor.  It’s like eating fruitcake without the cake, so if you like fruitcake, you will definitely like mince pies.  It’s a little concentrated, so I think a few more nuts or making smaller pies might be a better balance.  Oh, and the pastry goes just right with the filling.  I love that dough and will be using that again for future pies for sure.

This is one of the things I love about trying new recipes and techniques–It’s exciting to discover something new and unexpectedly yummy.  The only think I regret is halving that mince recipe because it only made twelve.  Between the four of us, those will last about a day if we aren’t careful.  These are supposed to keep well for a long time, so now I wish I had made dozens!

Are you trying anything new this Christmas?  Tell me about it in the comments and get another entry into the Christmas Treat giveaway.