Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Baking with Julia-Lemon Loaf Cake

This is my first baking session with Julia and Dorie. (also know as Tuesday's with Dorie-Baking with Julia) Recipes will come from Baking with Julia. (written by Dorie Greenspan and based on Julia Child's PBS series)

I loved Julia Childs.  Julia may have been the first person I'd ever seen cooking on a TV show.  Just the mention of Julia evokes memories of my mom and I watching cooking shows together.   We watched Julia's shows and we also watched the Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr) and any other cooking shows we could find for that matter.  (this was before the food network--gasp!)  A treat for us was when KCTS did cooking specials and we'd get to watch people cook all day. 
Anyhoo, for this cooking group we try two new recipes twice a month (the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month)  And on the months with 5 tuesdays, they do a 'rewind' post.  As this is the 5th Tuesday of the month, we are doing a 'rewind' post.  (meaning we can bake whatever we missed baking from previous posts) 

Well, since this is my first post ever for Tuesdays with Dorie, my options were wide open!  I looked back on previous recipes that were done and this Lemon Loaf Cake caught my eye.  Something simple yet full of flavour.  Yes, it has been decided; this is going to be my first blog posting for Tuesdays with Dorie.

This loaf cake went together very quickly and easily.  I enjoy a recipe that doesn't involve pulling out my mixer, processor or blender.  Just a whisk and a scraper. (simple pleasures) 

Lemons zested and the kitchen is smelling lemony fresh.

Now what to do with these zested lemons? 

What to do when life gives you lemons?  Why make lemon curd of course!  And Baking with Julia helped me out there too.  As luck would have it, Baking with Julia has a Lemon Curd recipe.  I've never made a curd before and I was pleased with how simple it was to make.  And this lemon curd is a perfect mingling of lemon and sweetness.
I'm thinking the curd would go great with so many things.  (the buttermilk crumb muffins I'll be making for next tuesday's post, scones, toast, etc)  Mmmm.

Of course I had to try this lemon curd on the lemon loaf cake. (and it was good)


Basic ingredients plus simple baking techniques equals one lovely Lemon Loaf Cake.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I'm feeling confident I can do this recipe. It sounds simple enough.....pumpkin seeds and brittle. Wait, this is going to involve the melting of sugar isn't it? Okay, bring it on. I'm still feeling somewhat confident.

Maybe I'll need to use my new candy thermometer. A new toy makes everything better...even denial. (true story) Oh dear, I just looked at the recipe and no candy thermometer is required. (but...but how do I know when the sugar is done?)

Now I'm not a huge fan of brittle. But I'm going to put aside my feelings and work through this......at least until I have to break it apart into all those uneven misshapen pieces. <shutter> I like nice even shapes thank you very much. But I'm using this baking therapy to help me work through this issue of mine.  So let's begin the session.

Proof I'm working through my baking issue.....I even made the Toffee Pumpkin Cookie Brittle recipe from Patty's Food Blog (thanks for sharing that Patty. I love seeing what Patty has made!!) http://pattysfood.com/cookies/toffee-pumpkin-cookie-brittle/
and I actually made them into brittle pieces.....

When you're this big they call you Mister.
but I wanted so badly to make them into individual nicely shaped cookies.
Or even keep it as one big cookie!! 


A brittle cookie

I did it. 
I broke a cookie.....a perfect big beautiful cookie.....shattered.

Okay, back to the brittle at hand. One would almost think I'm afraid to start making the toasted pumpkin seed brittle. (that's crazy talk I tells ya....crazy)

Step 1)  Buy a pumpkin
Step 2)  Cut into pumpkin
Step 3)  Rip insides out of pumpkin to get to seeds
yeah....about that....sounds messy. 


Say, can't I just go out and buy raw pumpkin seeds?? 

Hey, I broke a cookie!  That's enough therapy for one blog post!  Baby steps.


The toasting of the seeds was easy...once I got all those seeds out of the pumpkin (let me finish) seed packages. 

I forgot how tasty toasted pumpkin seeds were.  Mmm Toasty goodness.

Now to the sugar mixture.  I was a little anxious to get this part going after reading some posts on Baked Sunday Mornings  site this week.  I took Sheri's advice on the meaning of "clear"-- as in it just means the sugar needs to dissolve. (done)  From there, I added the butter as instructed and brought it up to a boil, set the timer for 8 minutes and walked away from it.  I think 'walked away' might be a bit of an exaggeration....it may have been more pacing and staring at the boiling pot.

Apparently a watched pot does boil.

  It took just over 9 minutes for it to get to a desirable colour.
The adding of the baking soda is freaky as it totally bubbles up and gets frothy.  I'm not going to lie, I was sure it was going up and over the pot.  But calming bubbles prevailed and all was well.
Baking Soda madness

I had to work quickly to get the brittle spread out onto the baking sheet, as it hardens up super fast once it leaves the hot pot.  But it all got spread out and then I went for the chocolate layer.  I was only going to put chocolate on part of the brittle (hence only chocolate on a quarter of it) .

But once the chocolate melted and I started spreading it around, it seemed that I had enough to cover the whole thing! (I feel like I should take that exclamation point out, as it wasn't that exciting of an event)   Nah, chocolate should always be an event unto itself!

The brittle broke apart fine with
 a little persuasion from my knife. 

It looks nice enough as far as brittle goes.....but I'm still not a fan of brittle. 
I could have just eaten the toasted pumpkin seeds and have been happy.  Candy just isn't my thing. 

I could see making it and giving it out in little cellophane gift bags....if I were so inclined. 

But I think I would make the cookie brittle before I made this again, as cookies are my thing.  Mmm Hmm!  :o)

And so this ends today's session. (somebody get me a cookie, stat!) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frogger....Joe Frogger

By day he's a Ginger Rum Molasses Cookie.....by night Joe Frogger. (Yeah, I wanted to go all James Bond but all I could think about was the video game Frogger)  I'm surprised by this, as I've never played it in my life.  (but I do recall a Big Bang Theory episode about it)

Let's hope my cookies don't end up squished on the road!

Wilton Halloween Linzer Cookie Cutters
I am wondering if  I'll be able to use my new cookie cutters for these Ginger Rum Molasses Cookies.  I bought these lovely Wilton Linzer Cookie Cutters and have been wanting to try them out.  So perfect just before Halloween.

I just need to think of a filling that will compliment the ginger rum molasses cookie.  Chocolate?  Dulce de Leche? Pumpkin?  Maple?  Of course this decision is way bigger than just a filling.  If I do this, it will be deviating from a recipe.  I am 'by the book' when following recipes.  If a recipe is great and I love it.....I don't mess with it.  And if I've never tried a recipe, I wouldn't dream of deviating from it before I even know what the end result is supposed to be like.  (unless it is by accident...and that seems to happen regularly) 
Admittedly, I'm not really changing the recipe just adding to it. Embellishing if you will.  Bedazzling even.  (unless it doesn't turn out....and well.... we've all seen bedazzling gone bad)


I re-read the recipe and the directions and noticed that the cookie dough needs to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
 So I've decided to make the dough the night before and let it chill in the fridge overnight.  The dough smells and tastes fantastic.  I can't wait to bake up these cookies!


I liked making the cookie dough the night before.  It is nice breaking up the tasks.  And how great knowing that all I had to do today was bake the cookies. (the mess of making the dough all cleaned up the night before) 

The dough straight from the fridge was easy to work with.  But the dough did soften up very fast and I found that it was better to work with smaller pieces of the dough so that the remainder stayed chilled in the fridge.  It rolled out beautifully and I was able to use my Linzer cookie cutters. (joy!)

And I used my standard halloween cookie cutters as well.

Now to pop them in the oven and wait that agonizing 8 minutes for them to bake. 
D'oh!  I forgot the sanding sugar.  I was doing so well.  Didn't forget a thing.  Good thing I've got way more cookies to bake!!  I found some red and yellow sanding sugar in the cupboard. (whew)
I did find that the linzer cookies did better if I put the cookies into the fridge to chill again before baking them off.  My first batch the cutouts in the middle didn't keep their shape.

All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome of these cookies.  I loved the flavour and the texture of the cookies.  But let me show you how they turned out.

Oh, and the filling for these (also the dip) is a pumpkin cream cheese icing.  It was easy to pull together....pumpkin puree, cream cheese and icing sugar.  I just added some colouring for the linzer cookie filling.  I liked dipping the cookies into it as well. 



Final Verdict?  This recipe is a keeper. 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumped up Scones


Seriously???  All that in one scone?  Is this legal?  Will I judge all other scones that have fewer than 3 main ingredients as lacking?  (btw, no problem being that judgemental...just sayin')  I'm looking at you dainty scone! 

I feel like the stars are aligned and all is right in the world.  Why you ask?  Well, it isn't often that I start a recipe and actually have all the ingredients...but today is one of those days.....the fridge and pantry have all the required ingredients. (and there was much rejoicing)  Okay, I didn't have crunchy peanut butter, but I did have smooth.  (close enough)  And I didn't make my own peanut butter as the recipe suggested.  But I just couldn't picture me shelling a bag of peanuts when picking up a jar of peanut butter is so easy.  (perhaps one day I'll try to make my own)

I can barely wait for them to emerge from the oven.  Amazing how 20 minutes can feel like an eternity.  But I'm pretty sure my staring at them will speed things along.  (or make them really uncomfortable) 

So let's look at some pictures of the scones in the making to take my mind off the waiting.  (ohhh, ahhh)

Addition of butter to dry ingredients.

Chocolate Chips at the ready.

One huge scone?


 Cut into 8 scones, sprinkled with raw sugar and ready for oven.

I am feeling a bit concerned though....I've had them in the oven for the recommended time and they are still not done.  Have I made them too thick?  I swear they seemed to be the right size (as per the recipe)....this is not a size issue.....there will be no size debate.
I've lost track, but I think I've now had them in for an extra 10 minutes.

Okay, I think they're done now.
And I have to say, they are looking good. Guess we'll just have to wait for them to cool down a bit before we can properly judge these behemoth scones. 
Please note, this is actually 8 scones together....not one big scone.  (sorry)

I love, love, love scones fresh from the oven with a bit of butter and marmalade. Mmm. Marmalade is my go to spread. Jams and jellies are a close second or more specifically, what I turn to when there is no marmalade. Or if I'm in a more savoury kind of mood and don't have a sweet scone, I go for cheese...even dare I say it..... Cheez Whiz. Yes, I admit it....I like Cheese Whiz!
I don't know that these scones will need anything other than a pat of butter though. Oh who am I kidding; marmalade will be at the ready!! Carbohydrates unite (just not on the hips, okay?).

No marmalade or anything needed for these lovely, crazy big scones!  They are yummy.  (final judgement)

But wait...... 3/4 of a stick of butter??....not 3/4 as in 1/4+1/4+1/4....seriously how do I manage to miss the 3 ounces of butter and then the 3/4 stick in brackets and just go with my version?  I blame those cute little 1/4 cup sticks of butter....they are just so darn cute. 
Yet the scones still turned out.  Oh and I added the whole egg rather than separate it. (and had to crack another egg to get the egg white for the wash)  Perhaps I need a prep team to get all my ingredients ready for me.  Or even more unrealistic....read the recipe thoroughly before I start.  Sigh.

Okay, so I'm making another batch.  All is good.  The scones have just come out of the oven.  They look and smell wonderful. 
I will definitely make these again. (and not just because I can't read a recipe)  :o)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Can you smell that? Someone else cooking…Mmm

So today Hubbie is in the kitchen.  And I gotta say, I like that.  As much as I love cooking and baking (and believe me, I really do), I also love it when someone else cooks for me.  Now don’t get me wrong, it is hard for me to stay out of the kitchen and not take over help.....it's just my nature and I'm hoping one day the medical professionals will find a cure for it.  (I’m guessing there will be telethons until then)  And it isn’t that I think he can’t do it….he’s a very good cook. (not sure why he doesn’t do more of it)
So what’s he making?  Macaroni Ratatouille soup.  He got the recipe from his mom as it was always a favourite growing up.  I've looked on the interweb and there seem to be a gazillion riffs on this recipe.  A lot seem to call for ground beef, but his has the Italian sausage which I think makes it better.
Here is the one that he follows.

Macaroni Ratatouille Soup
1 Medium Onion
1 Pound Eggplant
1 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 cup Uncooked Elbow Macaroni
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano Leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Can (8oz/225ml) tomatoes, undrained and cut up
1 Can Condensed Beef Broth
1 Can Condensed Tomato Soup
2 Cups Water

Fresh Parsley and grated Parmesan for garnish


The sausage, garlic and oregano are filling the house will wonderful smells.  I’m getting hungry sitting out here in the living room. (poor me)  :o)

I’m thinking this is going to be dinner tonight.  There is no way we can just put all of this into individual containers for the freezer. (lunches down the road)  Granted, it is Thanksgiving and we probably should have turkey and all the trimmings.  And to be fair, we do have turkey and all the trimmings at the ready….but honestly, we just aren’t feeling like it.  Besides, this smells too good to ignore.

Yep, dinner is served.  I think it looks lovely and will go nicely with a bacon cheddar scone.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Home Run with a Bundt??

I have been looking forward to joining the weekly challenge with Baked Sunday Mornings and have finally started.  And what luck, I'm starting with a recipe that really intrigued me.

I've never made a bundt cake, but had two new bundt pans waiting in the dugout for just such an occasion.  (not sure why I bought two....not like I'd be making a layered bundt cake!!)

With the ingredients at the ready I was all set to go.

I was a little anxious about making the burnt sugar liquid, as I've never made caramel before.  But I think it turned out the way it was supposed to.......at least it smelled yummy. :o)  I was surprised by the addition of coconut milk; wasn't expecting that at all.

The cake batter came together nicely.  Though I wasn't sure if it should seem so thick.  Was different than other cake batters that I've made.

But it baked up nicely...though it did take at least 10 more minutes than the time suggested in the recipe.  I decided to use the regular oven, rather than convection so I'm not sure if that made a difference.  And thankfully it came out of the bundt pan perfectly. (whew)  Now I just have to be patient and let it cool completely before I try frosting it.

I decided to go ahead and make the caramel shards, as I thought I should do the complete recipe.  Shards are waiting to finish off the cake.  (I think maybe I made the shards to small)

Now on to the frosting.  This tasted good, but I never seem to get the thickness that the Baked boys got with their frosting.  I ended up adding more icing sugar to it (probably 3 cups total) as it was way too thin with only 2 1/3 cups. 
Even with the extra icing sugar, it still didn't look thick and when I put it on the cake it ran down the sides of the cake....which I don't mind, but I was trying to make it look like the photo in the book. (not so much luck with with)

  Well was it a home run?  The officials (hubbie and I) are calling it a double.  The frosting was good.  But the cake was overdone. (totally a baker issue)  I think I am always a little anxious about underbaking a cake....which ends in an overdone cake.  Sigh.  I will give it a go again though, as I do like the idea of a bundt cake.