Tag Archives: baking

Dr. Hook and the Crusty Bread Show

I haven’t made bread in awhile and I’m certainly a rookie bread guy (or maybe Private Bread Guy), but I’m borrowing a stand mixer from a friend to see if I can’t live without one. It’s official: I can’t live without one.

My hands are delicate and my arms are puny, so I could never knead the dough adequately. I see that the bread hook (Dr. Hook) can pick up the slack, though.

I was looking up methods to make the bread crusty, and I found this recipe. My recipe was slightly different, but I believe cooking the bread in my cast iron Dutch oven helped increase the crust factor. I thought it was nuts to throw water in the pot, but hey, I’m not the Master Bread Chieftain.

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Cocoa Nib and Oat Muffins

Just made these and they taste incredible! I didn’t use any whole wheat flour and cut the nibs to 1/2 cup. I’m really happy with how amazing these taste.

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A modernized chocolate chip muffin. Cocoa nibs are the more sophisticated parent of the chocolate chip morsel. Roasted, hulled, and a step away from becoming processed; the cocoa nibs are basically raw chocolate pieces…tiny bits of cocoa beans. Similarly flavored like coffee beans and texturally a bit crunchier, it’s ideal to devour this muffin alongside a cup of coffee, dunked perhaps? Additionally, of course, I had to throw in some oats and whole wheat flour to bump up the nutrition.

IMG_0965 After a day on the counter awaiting the next day’s breakfast routine, these muffins became a bit crumbly. They still tasted great with a swipe of butter, but I have a personal preference for soft muffins. Just a forewarning if you eat on-the-go…

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Cocoa Nib and Oat Muffins

makes 6 jumbo-sized muffins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup golden brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

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Maple Cake with Mocha Frosting

A friend of mine lent me her stand mixer so I could see if I wanted (or needed) to buy one myself.  I have been baking a lot of cakes lately, and depending on where I have been baking them, I either mixed them with a hand mixer or by hand with an authoritative spoon.  It is work using a hand mixer, but when you are cooking full sized sheet cakes with nothing more than a spoon, it becomes work.  Fast.  The stand mixer runs laps around my puny arm.

This is much more effective than my puny arm.
This is much more effective than my puny arm.

Today, I decided to create a maple cake with mocha buttercream frosting.  I loosely based this cake on the same recipe I posted the other day.  As a matter of fact, this cake is nothing like it.  The required ingredients are as follows:

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I’m using Honduran extract)

 

Frosting

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup baking cocoa

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coffee extract

 

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter in a bowl with brown sugar until smooth.  Blend in maple syrup and oil.  Slowly add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Once well mixed, add two eggs and buttermilk.  Finish off with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Greased 9 x 13 sheet pan and pour in batter.  Bake approximately 30-40 minutes.

While cake is baking, beat 1/2 stick butter with whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, and whipping cream.  Once smooth, add vanilla and coffee extracts.

Maple cake with mocha frosting.
Maple cake with mocha frosting.

Pour frosting over cake while still warm.

Enjoy.

Note:  The edges of the cake seemed a little hard, so next time I will try with white sugar instead of brown sugar.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

Note:  the featured image above is from a full sheet cake.  the cake wasn’t thick as I didn’t have a high walled cake pan.  Cakes are better when they are so tall they won’t fit into your mouth unless you unhinge your jaw like a rattlesnake.  Photo was taken by Josh Guthrie.

Over the past few weeks I have been looking up cake recipes and even had a few ideas of my own.  My family loved the chocolate-peanut butter cake with banana frosting.  Personally, I thought it was too sweet and the peanut butter seemed to overpower the banana.

This isn’t a cake recipe, but recently I made peanut butter-bananas foster chimachangas with marshmallow.  That was our supper one night.  Again, the family loved it, but it was too sweet for me.  I’d like to revisit both  make some adjustments to make these winners.

I have an exceedingly hard time following recipes.  Yes, I can read.  Yes, I can follow simple directions.  Just not in the kitchen.  Does that happen to you?  At the last moment, I always have something I want to change to make it better.  With this impromptu baking I have learned that cakes, breads, etc. can be very forgiving.

I did find a recipe that was anomalous.  It was a cake recipe that I had no desire to change.  I have make this cake four or five times in the past month mostly for me to gorge on, but the family loves it and so does everyone else who has tried it.

I cannot eat enough of this cinnamon-chocolate cake.  Instead of walnuts I used pecans. That’s what was in the pantry. Today’s cake was a little different as I only had enough granulated white sugar for half of what the recipe calls for. The other half was brown sugar.  See, these changes were out of necessity, otherwise I would have *gasp* followed the recipe as written.

I just ate a piece and it was moist and airy.  Doesn’t Mexican chocolate have cinnamon in it?  This recipe just has enough cinnamon to wake up the chocolate.  Chocolate is great.  The cinnamon enhances the chocolate flavor that you cannot rest until the cake is devoured.

Today's cake.  I made this four times or so in the past month.
Today’s cake. I made this four times or so in the past month.

I really wish I could take credit for this cake. I’m considering a cinnamon-maple cake with coffee frosting. If it’s worthy of sharing, you’ll be the first to know.

Best. Cornbread. Ever.

I have to admit that I don’t eat cornbread very often. I like it alright, but I think the sensation of having sand in your bread is a bit off-putting.

There are basically two types of cornbread: sweet cornbread and not sweet cornbread. I mistakenly thought southerners like sweet cornbread. I guess I shouldn’t make assumptions based on a southern friend who always shared his sweet cornbread with me at work.

I had a catering event yesterday and made a nice batch of cornbread. As a matter of fact, I was so enamored by it, I had to continually share my experience.

The caterees also shared their experiences. They likened the cornbread to cake and claim they thought they had two desserts. Claim #1: cake is good. Cakey cornbread is great. Claim #2: are two desserts such a bad thing? Of course not.

I perused many recipes and finally found one that I wanted to adapt.

1/2 cup corn meal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar (I reduced the sugar. I can’t stand hyper sweet)
1 1/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (buttermilk rocks for baking)
1 tablespoon cinnamon (trust me)

The directions are all the same in the original recipe except after the cornbread comes out of the oven.

This is when you grab a stick of butter and slather it over the top. There is nothing more satisfying. You don’t melt the whole stick, just enough to butter the top.

Finally, lightly dust the cornbread with cinnamon. It really makes it come alive. I know it may sound unconventional, but I’m sure you will enjoy it.

I now know that southerners should like sweet, cakey cornbread. And unsweetened iced tea.

Busted

I don’t bake much, but when I do I love licking the beaters, spoons, bowl, whatever. If there is cake batter it needs to be licked.

I have three daughters, so I usually usually just let them have all the paraphenalia because sharing is the right thing to do.

Some time ago, I was working on a cake when all the girls were playing in their rooms. I got the cake in the oven and I went straight for the bowl. Have you ever eaten something where you just can’t stop?

I believe it was a peanut butter cake. Who can resist? In my weakness, I greedily wiped on the bowl’s interior with my whole hand. Batter covered my face like an infant eating strained peas. I’m certain I had batter in my eyebrows.

Then I was caught. All three girls bound for the kitchen and I attempt to gain composure. I couldn’t even make up a story as my face gave me away. I surrendered my cake batter cornucopia to those girls with the sunshiny faces. I’d be smiling too if I still had that bowl.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Sadly, it wasn’t the virtue of sharing. I learned to bake while the kids are in school.