February 27th Daring Baker Reveal

This month was quickbreads, dealer’s choice. I like quickbreads and I would have probably gone with a scone had that not been January’s challenge. Since it was, muffins seemed a good choice. Here it’s time for a confession. I’ve been known to use a mix when making muffins and coffeecake. Why? well, quickbreads are pretty firmly rooted to morning food for me and I’m not a morning person. Just ask anyone who’s heard me grunt hello before my morning caffeine. Bleary eyed grumpy people don’t measure well so mixes seem appropriate. My favorite is Morrison’s BisKits. They’ve got a terrific coffee cake variation on the back of the package and its a real winner. But that’s not in keeping with the challenge so mid-morning muffins were called for. I used the King Arthur recipe below and added a bit of orange peel and handful of dried cranberries and some pecans. I loved it, husband hated it. (Not surprised there really)

muffins fresh out of the oven

Fancy Department Store Muffins

These lavish muffins emulate the big, high-crowned muffins you often see in department store bakeries. They’re a good example of “cake-like” muffins, containing high amounts of both sugar and fat. Be sure to set your muffin tin on a larger baking sheet, to catch any overflow which may occur as muffins bake.

2 cups Round Table Pastry Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries, chopped apple or peach, etc.*
1 cup chopped nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.*
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg mixed with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (for topping)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, berries and nuts. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.

Blend dry ingredients into wet alternately with milk.

Because these muffins will rise up and over the edge of your muffin tin, you’ll want to grease the top of the pan as well as the cups. Fill the cups almost full, and sprinkle with the spiced sugar.

Bake muffins 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove muffins from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

* Chopped fresh cranberries are nice, but be sure to increase the amount of sugar to 1 1/4 cups, as cranberries are quite tart.

* Note: These muffins are wonderful made with tiny fresh blueberries, chopped, toasted almonds, and almond extract substituted for the vanilla extract.

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January’s Daring Baker Reveal

Scones at Harrod's - London

bisuits or scones

January challenge results

I loved January’s challenge – scones. Mom and I love having afternoon tea together a time or two each year. We’d do it more often but tea is Texas means ice tea and “hot” tea is mere a way to irritate waiters and is is most often served as tepid water with a bag of Lipton shoved in it. To be fair, in recent years, teas have become a lot more available but that still more likely to be at a specialty shop. Pity. In December, we flew to Budapest for a Christmas Market tour on the Danube. I scheduled a London stop-over so we could go to Harrods for tea. This was our third visit thoroughly enjoyable. I had a pot of Earl Grey, a couple of the sandwiches and my fill of warm scones. Ymmm.

So after I read the scone challenge I had entered several vigorous debates with myself. Where biscuits and scones the same thing? My experience and sensibilities screamed an emphatic NO! After all, I wouldn’t have a stop over in London for BISCUITS. Related? Sure. But the same – …. Several web searches later, I was no more comfortable with the answers than I was at the outset. The consensus is that the difference between the two foods is largely, the amount of sugar added, and the addition of eggs and/or cream.

I made the month’s recipe two days in a row, once with cream, once following the plain recipe. My findings, The scones I’ve had and those I’ve made previously are all cream scones. The cream makes a decidedly different taste and texture. When I made the plain recipe, I agree I’d call it a biscuit. I like that it made a small batch which is nice when cooking for two. However, it wouldn’t make my favorite recipe pile. Still it was a fun month.

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Yikes, which way did I go? (Or, posted to the wrong blog) Daring Bakers

Well today I realized that not only did I have a whopping failure of a baking challenge but I posted about it on the wrong blog! December can be a tough month! Well, I’ve gone and snagged it from typepad and pasted it below and hopefully, I’ll be just a bit better organized in the new year.

From my Typepad
Baker’s Bust – First challenge, first failure

I was very excited to discover the daring barkers via a search for an enticing recipe in November. What a fun group! I rushed ot join eager for the challenge and inspirations. I extolled the group to everyone who happened upon me and eagerly awaited the December announcement. Sourdough! Awesome. I love bread and what a perfect introduction. I had a very busy December but this was a challenge that I was super eager to tackle. The trick was I was scheduled to fly to Europe on December 6th returning just before Christmas. No worries, that gave me five days to make the starter and and three weeks for it to wait for me to return home. I opted for the standard wheat starter. I figured I had a backup plan too because my dear friend is also a daring baker and was starting all three starters while I was away. I followed directions and after five days had a not completely pleasant brew or unclear stability. I stashed it in the fridge and headed to Budapest. I ate many good bread in Budapest but my favorite culinary adventure there was the kuros koclacky aka chimney cakes aka Transylvanian donuts roasted on an open spit. This is my 2012 challenge to myself. Upon my return, I pulled out my starter and gave it a nice feeding and ….nada. It was dead and gone. So to the trash it went. Luckily I still had my backup plan. Unfortunately, his three starters had gone to mold. With not enough days until challenge I am just out of luck for December. I baked myself a nice foccacia with commercial yeast and have to so content myself for now. I’m planning to try again but confess that after my reading and searching I’m thinking about ordering some starter for the long developed flavour and history. What do you think?

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Cooking with Chris

Last night was cooking night with my good friend Chris. I had Turkey Pot Pie in the oven when he arrived and we strategized on the rest of agenda. I was having a bad luck today (locking keys in car, walmart weirdness, etc) which carried on to a over-exuberant caramel boil over. (I have the tastiest stove in town) Oops, I gave away one of our selections. Caramels, French Toast Cupcakes, and Raspberry Macaroons.

We had a few more recipes in reserve but things took a little longer than expected. Perhaps I’ll put up pictures after I wrap my share of the caramels.

caramels, macaroons and cupcakes

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Hello wordpress

Well it’s been too long since I had anything on my website.   This is my newest trial.

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