Category Archives: Baking

The Famous NY Times No-Knead Bread

This is one of the most popular recipes ever published by the New York Times, courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, who designed this bread as a minimalist technique for anyone who wants to bake a fantastic loaf of bread.

Let me tell you – it’s fantastic. And works every single time.

It is SO good and SO easy to make that I’ve made enough loaves to open a small bakery. Except we gobble it up too quickly to sell.

Three ingredients + water and stirred with a spoon. After that? TIME to let the magic (science, really) happen: The secret to great bread? Let time do the work.

I like to do this in the morning or at night and than leave it alone for a day or two. Takes 5-10 minutes.

 This recipe guarantees: soft and airy on the inside and chewy delicious on the outside.

 Three ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. Stir.

That’s it. The dough will be wet and shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap for12-18 hours. Here is where the science comes in. Your dough needs to rest for a long time to allow the gluten to become long elastic molecules – the reason for no kneading.

You’re going to bake using a covered dutch oven (or cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic.)

A covered dutch oven? Yes, this crust needs a lid to bake. The Professor gifted me with this beauty and I absolutely adore it. You can cook soups and stew on the stove and bake puffed pancakes and bread in the oven; it’s my most favorite kitchen item!

 Unlike the New York Times recipe, I use parchment paper. The advantage is you simply lift up the paper (with the bread on it) and place in pre-heated dutch oven.

Baby loaves. Which cook more like a four-leaf clover.   Package it up all pretty if you like. Deliver warm. And you’ll have friends for life.

The New York Times No-Knead Bread*

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons salt
  • 1 5/8 cups water (5/8 is just barely shy of 2/3 cup!)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (warm or cold,) and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when doubled and bubbly. Heat oven to 450. Place dutch oven in the oven.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface or parchment paper. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your fingers, work dough into a ball and onto the floured surface. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Let rest about 30 minutes (OR longer – NYT lets it rest for 2 hours!) When dough is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. Remove hot pot from oven. Carefully pick up parchment paper and place in heated dutch oven. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 10ish minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
  5. Eat and realize that life is beautiful because of warm bread.

*tweaks from astackofdishes

Enjoy!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Aunt Margie’s German Chocolate Cake {a love story}

unnamedThis cake is brought to you just in time for Valentine’s. It’s special for three reasons:

  1. It’s my Aunt Margie’s recipe, who is now gone, but I have her cake and think of her whenever I make it.
  2. It has a very special ingredient that makes me laugh.
  3. It represents so many things I love about my husband.

Sometimes we don’t want to share our favorite recipes because then they won’t be special, but boy am I glad Aunt Margie didn’t keep this one all to herself – life is so much better with this cake in it.

If you want only the recipe, skip to the end. If you’d like the love story, keep reading…

Aunt Margie and Uncle Warren raised my father after both his parents passed away when he was young. He grew up on a dairy farm in my most favorite place ever: Bear Lake, Idaho. When we visited in the summer Aunt Margie cooked, and boy was she a good cook!

Aunt Margie was a farmer’s wife and made everything from scratch which is why this cake’s very special ingredient makes me laugh. Are you ready for it…the very special ingredient is…a…cake mix! When I showed surprise she whispered, “you can make the cake by scratch if you want, but it’s just as good with the mix.” I had a new admiration for a busy woman who knew a good thing when she saw it. I have the original cake recipe, but Aunt Margie was right – the cake mix is just as good and so much easier!

As for my husband? Well, way back when I was going through a sad time in my romantic life. I wanted to make a very special cake for a boy who had kind of broken up with me. But he kept coming around. To show him what a catch I was, I figured all he needed was a bite of this very special cake that I had made from scratch (hey, I was young.)

I biked to the grocery store on my green Trek bike and discovered that I hadn’t brought the recipe with me. Did the frosting call for evaporated milk or condensed? Oh well! What’s the difference (said the clueless bakerella)? I bought the condensed milk.

I baked the cake mix (even I could do that) and began the frosting. Stirring it on the stove, I could not get it to thicken. Doubt began to fester. I stirred and stirred until I figured it was good enough – and dumped the frosting onto the cake. It vaguely occurred to me that maybe there was a difference between condensed and evaporated milk.

It was a soupy mess. But I optimistically hoped it would miraculously thicken and be as delicious as Aunt Margie’s cake.

Then I went and did my hair.

The boy was late, not showing up until 10 o’clock. I had grumpily gone to bed (party animal way back then, too). My roommates followed me as I ever-so-glamourously carried out my very special cake and presented it to the boy. (um, this is beginning to sound like an embarrassing 50’s story but I assure you I was a feminist in other ways 🙂

The boy took a look at my cake, put his hand on his stomach and said, “Oh, I’m so stuffed. I really couldn’t.”

Before I threw my cake AT the boy my roommates ushered me into the kitchen where they assured me it wasn’t me or my semi-disturbing-looking cake, it was him.

This moment, I sadly realized, was THE END of that boy.

The next day I was quite ill. I had a cold and a broken heart was miserably missing Anatomy class to go lay down thinking I was going to fail out of school for missing class, a baking failure and no one would ever marry me (not dramatic at all, not me.)

As I passed a condo out popped The Professor who I had just met. Rather than walk toward campus he surprised me by walking me home. There are many funny details to this story, but I’ll cut to the most important part: he walked into my apartment and saw my cake on the table.

The Professor you see, has always been a man who appreciates good food. “Mmmm,” he said, eyeing my cake.

“You can have some,” I said, feeling very sorry for myself. “No one else wants any” (boo hoo…)

“Thanks.” And then he did an audacious thing: he didn’t politely wait for me to open the utensil drawer and hand him a fork. He opened every drawer in the kitchen until he found a fork and then rather than wait for a plate, he stuck his fork in the middle of the cake and took a huge bite. Oh my. This professorial boy who used very big words, was excessively polite, and infuriatingly sparse with his compliments was eating my cake.

It was rather horrifying.

And then he said the only words I needed to hear: “Mmmm, tasty!” And proceeded to take another large bite.

Oh, I could have cried. Which I did. After he left.

And maybe it was then that I knew I had finally found the right boy.

It’s the small things, isn’t it?

And so, on the eve of this Valentine’s, I’d like to give you my very special, most favorite cake recipe. Passed down from my dear Aunt Margie who knew when to substitute, and has been made with love every since, all these years later.

unnamed-2I had to take the picture with my iPhone due to computer problems. My photography, as with my baking skills, is always a work in progress.

German Chocolate Cake by Aunt Margie

For the cake:

1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (devils food works fine, too).

Bake and cool

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix and cook butter, eggs yolks, evaporated milk, and sugar on low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and coconut and walnuts. Spread on warm cake between layers or on top.

May you bake it with love, eat it with love, and enjoy it through the years, just as we have.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

This is the easiest made-from-scratch biscuit you’ll ever make. And it’s ever so tasty.

Biscuit history: I loved buying prepackaged biscuits from the freezer & grocery section (Pillsbury! Red Lobster!) but after perusing the ingredient list, reading too much Food Babe100Daysofrealfood, and not being able to identify what exactly I was eating, I shed a sad tear and left them biscuits in the freezer section…wo, was me.

I turned to homemade biscuits, like these Greek Yogurt Buttermilk Biscuits (tasty!) but due to time rolling dough, molding, rerolling, remolding, etc…biscuits rarely happened around these busy parts.

Until now.

Hark! The Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuit saves the day! Straight from my favorite cooking magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, “Drop biscuits are the non-nonsense alternative to traditional rolled biscuits.” So there.

Yes, white flour is used, but these drops of goodness are a huge upgrade from the highly processed alternative. This biscuit features ingredients I can pronounce, real butter and real milk from real cows. Also, they are so delicious.

biscuit3 And easy, did I say EASY? Similar to the Bisquick drop biscuit, I’m partial to these.

biscuit1 A pad of warm butter or perhaps a swivel of your local honey?

biscuit2Light, fluffy, the perfect compliment to any meal, especially warm soups on these cold windy days. I’m hungry now. Excuse me, I need to go make some more biscuits…

Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar)**

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly***

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 475. Put 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Let cool.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and the 8 tablespoons cooled butter in medium bowl and stir until butter forms small clumps.

2. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, scoop onto baking sheet.

3. Bake until tops are just golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Gobble!

compliments of Cook’s Illustrated

*Whole wheat white flour works well. Coconut flour does not; too crumbly with a flavor change.

**I rarely have buttermilk handy. I almost always substitute 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar. It works perfectly. Lemon juice works but is more obvious. Yogurt not as successful.

***Make sure that butter is slightly cooled so you’ll get some butter clumps.

Happy baking!

 

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Cherry, Pistachio, and Coconut-Toasted Granola

A bit granola obsessed around the holidays? Join my party. I just can’t get enough. Here’s a Christmas granola that’s going to make you swoon with Santa spirit: Cherry, Pistachio, and Coconut-Toasted Granola.

May I suggest starting with Buddy the Elf’s favorite ingredient: Eric Johnson’s award-winning Tucker Mountain Maple Syrup?

photo (2)I always make a double batch because it goes so lickety-split. First, in a small saucepan, combine 1 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Cup Honey, and 1 Cup Pure Maple Syrup. Heat on low until small bubbles form around the side.

While that’s going on, assemble the dry ingredients.

photoIn a large bowl, combine oatmeal, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecan pieces, coconut chips, and a dash of salt. I cook my granola until it’s toasty dark. This time around it went a little too dark. “Just say it’s gourmet,” the professor advised. Gourmet sounds better than “burnt.”

granola2Gourmet, no? After you’ve cooked the granola, add dried red cherries and freshly shelled green pistachios. There you go! A beautiful, energy-inducing, homemade Christmas treat.

Some granola tips: from sad experience I have learned what not to do: do not cook the cherries or the pistachios. The cherries turn hard and the pistachios turn mushy.

Want granola that clumps? Sure, adding more sugary binder will help clump, but I didn’t want more sugar. Instead, Food52 advises adding a frothy (beaten) egg white to help stickage.

Two frothy egg whites were added. Clumps ensued. And life was good.

Super duper clumping: Bake granola as directed. Do not stir. When toasty brown, turn off oven and leave overnight. In the morning you’ll have a sheet of granola you can break apart with your hands, to your exact specifications!

granola Feast, my darlings.

photo 5Wrap it with a bow and give some Maisymak Granola Snack, Holiday Style. Fully loaded.

Cherry, Pistachio, Toasted-Coconut Granola

1 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 Cup Honey

1 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

6 Cups Oatmeal (not instant)

1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1 Cup Walnuts

1 Cup Almonds

1/2 Cup Pecan Pieces

1 Cup Coconut Pieces

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

2 Frothy Egg Whites (optional, for extra clumping)

1 Cup Dried Cherries

1 Cup Pistachios

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Must be low or granola will burn (another sad experience.)

1. In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, honey, and maple syrup. Heat on low heat until small bubbles come to surface.

2. While wet ingredient are heating up, combine oatmeal, seeds, nuts, coconut pieces, and salt in a big bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir.

4. Add frothy egg whites (I used a blender) and stir.

5. Line two cookie sheets with foil. Spread out granola. Cook for about an hour, checking to make sure granola doesn’t burn. For more clumps, resist the urge to stir the granola. Let cool and break up by hand.

6. Add dried cherries and pistachios.

7. Eat and/or scoop into bags for Christmas delivery!

Merry Christmas, friends! May you eat cherry, pistachio, toasted-coconut granola and never be weary again…

More holiday treats:

Sugared-Cranberry Brie Bites

Fudgy Black Bean Candy-Cane Cookie

Pomegranate, Mango, Mixed-Green Salad

A Runner’s Holiday Granola (Deseret-News Style)

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Quick and Tasty After School Snack: Baked Apple Bites

Are you in an afternoon snack funk? For that magical combination of fast, quick, tasty AND healthy?

Check. Baked apples to the rescue!

True, you need an oven, but baked apples are so different than the usual fare, that I was just tickled apple pink at such a quick, healthy, and tasty morsel.DSC_0056 Man, I love this season. The apples are in full bloom (are we really into fall?) so it’s time to pick yourself some yum-yum.

Turn the oven on to 400.DSC_0057 Take a knife and cut a circle out of the top

DSC_0058 Just like that!DSC_0060 Now, darlings, use a melon baller and scoop out the middle, past the seedsDSC_0061 It’s surprisingly easy.

DSC_0176 Isn’t that pretty?DSC_0179The gorgeous apple! And I love stars. Star was my alias in college. Really 🙂

DSC_0062 Eat the tops or feed them to the chicken. Or doggie.DSC_0063 There. All scooped out and ready to fill. I suggest putting down foil to prevent dishwashing.DSC_0066 Put a little brown sugar in the center and on the sides. Just a tad. Totally optional.DSC_0067 Add a little cinnamonDSC_0069 Perfect, no?

Now, put in preheated oven for about 15 min.DSC_0084 An apple full of love. Isn’t that a perfect heart?

DSC_0096If you accidentally overbake them, no worries, just eat that warm, mushy apple pie right up.

Can you only have these for after school? Heck no! They’re pretty terrific for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even Valentine’s.

Baked Apple Bites:

Preheat oven to 400.

Wash apples, cut off top

Spoon out seeds (scraping sides a little bit), making a little well

Put a teensy bit of brown sugar and cinnamon inside

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how crunchy or soft you like to eat baked apples.

I just inherited a bag of apples from my middle school soccer team so I gotta go – baked apples await! And remember, apples contain quercetin: an apple a day, really does keep the doctor away.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

The Great Carrot-Cake Bake-Off

Awhile back, in the deep freeze of February there was a great hunkering for cake. And apparently carrots.

It just so happened that I found a “Carrot-Cake Makeover” recipe. In need of cake and a healthy dose of Vitamin A, I raised my hand for this experiment. But my husband is legend for his carrot cake. Could I really make a cake that was healthier AND rivaled the great master?

Well…the great cake bake-off began!

This was a competition-first for our marriage. Potentially dangerous territory. Truth be told, he’s a much better cook than I. However, after 16 years of marriage and carrots, I must be getting a tad bit more secure. Or reckless. Either way, we could make our cakes and eat them, too. And still like each other at the end of the day. Right?

The man’s cake:

daddycakeHe never writes recipes down; it’s all in his head. Which drives me crazy. But for back-up he went straight to the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I won’t lie. It was good. Real good. It was stiff competition.

The numbers for one serving of a traditional Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Calories: 530  Fat: 33g  Saturated Fat: 8g

Cook Country’s  Reduced-Fat Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Calories: 280  Fat: 11g  Saturated Fat: 3g

His secret ingredients: golden raisens, walnuts, and crushed pineapple.

His extra dose of yum? Shaved white chocolate.

Mama’s cake:

mamacakeI was a little worried right from the beginning. A towering two-layer circle is a little more impressive that a sheet cake – and you get double the frosting with every bite!

Mama’s extra: Shaved coconut.

Mama’s secret ingredients? Take a look!

fluffThe fluff is sugar, but according to “Cook’s Country,” a food magazine I adore, using marshmellow creme in place of some of the butter and sugar yields thick, rich frosting with no additional fat.  And the carrot baby food? Just one tub adds moisture and a mild carroty sweetness. *Look for brands with only carrots and water.

Of course, you could just puree carrots, but baby food is easier and way more fun.

cakesSo…which cake was better?

Full-fat or Carrot-Cake Makeover?

judgesThe judges had to taste and vote: four opinionated children and two food-saavy adults, one who happens to be a professional chef. Just a friendly competition with the end goal of finding the perfect carrot cake. When the voting began? I won’t lie. My palms were sweaty.

Each cake was sliced and plated. The eating began.

bestcake

Everyone was sweet as pie cake. But the voting came in: 4-2. In the man’s favor.

Reasons: More robust flavor, moist, the nuts, raisins, the melding of flavors. It was close, they said, but he had the edge.

We shook hands. And remained married.

I smiled on the outside, but vowed that this would not be the end of my fluff and carrot baby food dream. I would someday combine the two recipes and make a BETTER cake.

Time went by, and carrot cake became a distant memory. UNTIL. The 30 lbs. of carrots came to live at our house. And ANOTHER deep freeze descended. Oh, help me. Well of course the perfect carrot cake just had to be made. A fridge with a carrot view:

carrots

It was a sign! I was SUPPOSED to make carrot cake again. So I went back to Ina’s carrot cake recipe, wondering how to fix a cake that already tasted fantastic.

The first thing we had to do was cut the sugar in half. The original recipe called for two whole cups of white sugar. Yep, I cut ONE WHOLE CUP of white sugar out. And immediately felt better, remembering that in England, they usually do that with American recipes. I worried that this would affect texture as well as taste. Not so.

Oil was cut by 1/3.

Golden raisins in place of regular. Golden are plumper and more juicy. I don’t like raisins, but I DO like them in this cake.

And of course – baby food was added.

Grating one pound of baby carrots is not exactly fun or painless, but alas, it had to be done. I tried the Vitamix but it just turned to liquid. So I had to go back to the grater.

Tip: grate with a light touch so that the carrots are thin and small. Pressing down hard on the grater will produce bigger chunks of carrots and be harder to chew. Plus, you are far more likely to shave tiny bits of fingers and knuckles into the shaved carrots. Ow. Ew. Go soft touch.

I combined the two recipes and Man! It was Good! Like, oh my goodness this is Good!morecarrots

Did you want the recipe or something?

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Canola/Olive Oil Blend

3 Large Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

Beat until light and fluffy

Stir in Dry Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups Flour

2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

Fold in:

1 lb. Grated Carrots

1 Jar Baby Food Carrots

1/2 Cup Crushed Pineapple (only use pineapple in 100% juice)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8oz Cream Cheese

1 Cup Marshmallow Fluff

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla

1/4 Cup Confectioner’s/Powdered Sugar (add more as needed)

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Putting it all together:
Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

The results? When this cake was proudly served one more time, my previous competition ate a bite and began to say, “Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmmm.” I couldn’t get any words out of him. Just sounds. “Mmmmm. Mmmmm.  Mmmmmm.”

I smiled. I win 🙂 Not that it was a competition or anything!

So next time you need to make a carrot cake, come on back here to get a reduced fat/sugar cake that tastes like the full-fat/sugar version. Okay?

p.s. We are STILL in a deep freeze. I might need to make another cake.

Hooray for cake! Have a wonderful weekend.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare