Tuesday, January 22, 2019
I knew I was going to have a busy day, so availed myself of a cookie dough I'd made for the holidays but never got around to baking. Actually, when I made the dough for these Cashew Cookies from Cookies and Brownies by the great Alice Medrich, I thought for sure that I'd screwed them up. The dough is made in a food processor, and by the time I got done processing, a lot of the cashew oil was seeping from the dough. I pressed ahead, shaping the dough into my lazy-guy rectangular logs, and then popped them into the freezer. Apparently, there was no problem with the dough as the cookies sliced and baked just fine. Go figure!
Halfway through National Baking Month!
I can't believe it took me til halfway to finally crack open my much-used and loved copy of Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. Again, motivated by the desire to use things in the pantry, I was looking for a recipe that would allow me to get rid of some almond paste, and I remembered the Cherry-Almond Crumb Cake from this book. Then I saw a container with maybe a tablespoon of dried cranberries left in it, and I opted to tweak this recipe from cherry to cranberry. (Of course, I also had an unopened bag of dried cranberries to fill out what I needed to make this cake.) Not a big stretch -- dried cranberries are a good flavor match for almond. This cake also has a great proportion of crumb topping to cake (meaning lots of streusel).
Having made a few too many big-batch items for National Baking Month, I decided I needed to make something with a smaller yield, so I turned to One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti, which has a nice selection of reasonably portioned recipes (like a dozen cupcakes rather than 24 or 30). Since I had ripe bananas, as usual, I went for the Banana Cupcakes with Malted Milk Chocolate Ganache. Pretty straightforward, and one of the great things about cupcakes (as opposed to layer cakes) is that they cool down fairly quickly and can be frosted not too long after they're out of the oven. Nice flavors, and a solid recipe.
I love the chocolate-glazed, mint-frosted version of the Classic Brownies from Cook's Illustrated. Since I was really craving something with orange and chocolate (it's a winter thing, right?), I tweaked their recipe a bit to create a brownie that pushed that citrus button for me. I added orange zest and chunks of an orange-flavored Lindt bar to the brownie batter, orange zest to the frosting, and then more of the orange Lindt bar to the glaze. Totally hit the spot!
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
On Saturday, I ponied up for two entries for National Baking Month. The first was this Sweet Potato Bread from The Everyday Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Aside from making an awesome loaf of bread, I also count this as a win for the ongoing bake-the-book project I've undertaken with TEB, as I shorthand it. Gorgeous loaf of bread, for sure, and a success also because I finally talked myself into discarding some yeast that really was long past its lifespan, which meant that I got a loaf that rose beautifully.
Second, I made White Chocolate Mousse, a recipe featured in the new issue of Fine Cooking. It's from Stella Parks, so it's a total win right there. I tweaked and used caramelized white chocolate in the recipe rather than regular white chocolate, which gave the mousse a really nice flavor nuance.
Saturday, January 12, 2019
During the holidays, I made the Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies from Emily Luchetti’s Fearless Baker and loved them. Since I love the flavor combo of cornmeal, lime, and blueberry, I decided to return to the recipe and tweak it by adding lime zest to the dough. A bit of blueberry preserve tops each cookie. Definitely a keeper combo!
Thursday, January 10, 2019
My first cookbook double dip for National Baking Month as I returned to Julie Anne Hession’s Beautiful Bundts for this cake. I was motivated to try the recipe after I found two half-consumed packages of Oreos sitting around, because we apparently are the sort of household that doesn’t finish a package of Oreos in one or two sessions ... and by that, I mean that we are weirdos. The Oreos are taken care of now, and I expect that most of this cake will be dealt with in short order, too.
Day 9. I’ve wanted to try this version of Magic Cookie Bars from the New York Times for a while. The recipe is from the fantastic Samantha Seneviratne, and is a nice taming of what is typically a far-too-sweet sweet. She uses an actual crest, too — still graham crackers, but bolstered with an egg and leavening. The topping, too, is dialed back: bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened flaked coconut, plus pecans. And just one can of sweetened condensed milk! All in all, a great upgrade to a classic confection.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
For Day 8 of National Baking Month, I finally dipped into a book I bought last year, Beautiful Bundts, by Julie Anne Hession, for this cake, which features a classic combo: peanut butter and banana. The peanut-butter glaze and chopped peanuts add a pretty finish to the exterior.
Monday, January 7, 2019
For Christmas this year, my colleague Jill Silverman Hough sent a lovely card with a super appealing recipe she developed, Holiday Granola. Since granola really knows no season — and since I typically eat mango, yogurt, and homemade granola for lunch five days a week — I decided to make a batch of Jill’s granola for day seven of National Baking Month. The flavor combo in this granola includes coconut, almonds, cranberries, dried orange slices, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, with a base of oats. I think it’ll be perfect with my yogurt and mango, especially with Champagne mangos, which will be back in season soon. Here's a link to the granola recipe Jill used to create the holiday variation. Plus, check out her website — so many great recipes!
For day six of National Baking Month, I decided to try King Arthur Flour's 2019 recipe of the year, Classic Birthday Cake. Really a nice cake, all in all. I like that this cake is adaptable to both 8-inch and 9-inch pans (if I'd used the 8-inch pans, I'd have been tempted to halve the layers and fill them with a complementary flavor, maybe something peanut butter or raspberry). The cake is made with a combination of butter and oil, which gives it a great spongy texture. The frosting is a chocolate American buttercream made with cocoa powder. I added a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to lighten the frosting; without the additional cream, I sensed that the frosting would be difficult to spread.
Saturday, January 5, 2019
While turning the pages of the One-Layer Cakes special issue of Bake from Scratch, I was drawn to this Peanut Butter-Nutella Coffee Cake for its winning combo of flavors. PB? Yes. Nutella? Oh yes. Peanut streusel topping? Bring it. Total keeper. I tweaked one thing: I put most of the batter in the pan before baking rather than half so that the Nutella wouldn’t sink as much as in the magazine photo. I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out.
Friday, January 4, 2019
For Day Four of National Baking Month, I went with a classic, certainly my most-baked chocolate cupcake: Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes with their lovely Chocolate Buttercream. These beauties will be going to a kind of sad event, so I hope they put the sweet in the bittersweet for everyone there.
Thursday, January 3, 2019
For day three of National Baking Month, I baked off some cookie dough I’d made and frozen a couple of weeks ago. I love a simple, flavorful sugar cookie, and these Heirloom Vanilla Sugar Cookies, from Shauna Sever’s Pure Vanilla, are top notch. Making these cookies reminded me that I love the big, soft frosted sugar cookie recipe in this book, not to mention the amazing Vanilla Cloud Cake. Fortunately, I have 28 more days of National Baking Month.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
For day 2 of National Baking Month, I plucked a recipe from the fun and inspirational Vintage Baker, which Jessie Sheehan published last year. I’d tried her Chocolate Molasses Crinkles during the holidays and had really wanted to try these chocolate-glazed peanut butter treats because, of course, you can never go wrong with a chocolate-peanut butter combo. The recipe directs to trim the edges off the cookie before cutting it into bars. Not sure if maybe I trimmed off too much, but no worries because the trimmings make for good snacking. The bars are delicate and delicious, and are especially nice with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt on the glaze.
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
For National Baking Month 2019, I’m challenging myself to bake something every day. It’s a goofy enough challenge for me, and it also will assist me in attending to my holiday-baking ingredient overage. I’m planning to mix things up, so my intention isn’t necessarily to make just cookies or cakes or breads. I’m aiming for variety.
To get things started, I went with a straight-up simple and delicious favorite from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge. These brownies contain only four ingredients: Nutella, an egg, flour, and hazelnuts, but you’d never guess they were that simple. Since I had some leftover ganache in the fridge, I decided to glaze them and then sprinkle the tops with chopped hazelnuts rather than sprinkle the batter with the chopped nuts before baking.