Tag Archives: Baking

Simple Cinnamon Rolls

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I am usually a “grab a quick breakfast” kind of a girl.  I always have breakfast…you don’t want to be around me if I don’t have breakfast.  But, every once in a while I like to cook breakfast.  My two favorite breakfasts are belgian waffles (on the crispy side) and some good cinnamon rolls.  You can always go for the gooey Pillsbury ones right out of the package OR you can make these.  These are the simplified version of cinnamon rolls…there is no pastry dough here.  Here’s the instructions and recipe….

ROLLS

  • 2 1/2 Cups Bisquick
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2/3 Cup Mill (I use skim milk)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the above in a mixing bowl.  The dough is pretty sticky…I like to use the Silpat matts to roll out the dough.  I use about a 1/4 cup more Bisquick to keep the dough from sticking to the matt.  Turn the dough out about 10 times.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle.  The actual recipe says into a 16×9 inch rectangle.  I dont’ know about you, but things don’t ROLL OUT into a RECTANGLE.  Hello!  So, I roll it out the best I can into some sort of a rectangle shape.  Maybe there is a trick to rolling it exactly into the desired shape, but I don’t have a trick for you here!  Anyways, once it is in a sort of rectangle shape, I fold the edges up and over as seen below.  You will see why in a minute.

FILLING

  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Spread the melted butter onto the RECTANGLE.  Once spread out evenly, sprinkler the cinnamon sugar mix all over until it is absorbed in the butter.  You need the little dough “dams” to keep the butter from oosing everywhere.  A little trick I learned after the 10th time of having melted butter everywhere.

Once all of the filling is spread out, roll up the dough starting with the longest side.  This is a little tricky because all the sticky goodness in the inside wants to squish out.  Stick with it and roll until it is a little log.  At this point, I pinch the edges closed and then seal the flap on the leading edge of the dough.  This is sometimes tricky as the butter makes it a bit slippery.  Do your best…no one will know if it doesn’t stick.

Once you do that, slice the log into one inch slices and place them on a cookie sheet.  I like to space my rolls apart so that they get a little crispy on the edges.  If you want your rolls more gooey, place the cinnamon rolls close together (touching each other).  Scoop any excess butter/cinnamon sugar mix up and drizzle it on top of your rolls.

Place in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until a light brown.

I like to glaze my rolls as soon as they get out of the oven so that it melts all over.  It does make a mess in the pan though.  If you want it more neat, I would wait until they cool a bit and then add the glaze.  Mix up the following ingredients for the glaze.  You will be shocked how fast that powdered sugar is absorbed…kind of magic.

GLAZE

READY TO EAT!!!

 

Wishing you a wonderful day….

Let Them Eat Cake

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It is no secret that I love to bake.  I could really take or leave cooking.  I like to cook as well, but it would be enjoyable if I had more time.  The reality is that I have limited time to do either.  So, if it comes down to cooking or baking…it is going to be BAKING!  

This time the occasion is my dad’s birthday.  I went back to my favorite location for baking recipes at the moment…MARTHA STEWART.  I can hear my mom and mother in law sigh in disgust; Martha seems to represent someone evil to them.  Despite all the stories (oh and the jail thing), I like her recipes and clear instructions.  Yes,  I know, she probably has an army of people working for her that make her house look so perfect and the kitchen so damn clean when she cooks with everything neatly organized in those little bowls.  But, can’t a girl dream….

I would like to think that would be the reality of my life if I didn’t have a full time job.  I would flit from one creative thing to another throughout the day while making sure that my sheets were pressed, the roses pinched back and dinner roasting in the oven.  Wake UP…you have to go to work tomorrow!!!

So, for the cake….I used the recipe from Martha Stewart for Butter Cake.  In addition, here are the details below.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Shot from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
  3. Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

First Cake Turned Over - Used My Patience on This One!

Cake All Wrapped up in Refrigerator Overnight

And, here’s the recipe for the amazing chocolate frosting….also from my friend Martha.

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Yellow Butter Cake
  • Colored sprinkles (optional)

Melted Chocolate - Make Sure to Cool to Room Temperature Before Mixing w/ Butter/Sugar

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Turn off heat; stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Set bowl on countertop, and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until cocoa is dissolved.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture.
  3. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; brush off crumbs. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting. Place the second layer on top, bottom side up, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting; repeat process with the third layer. Place the remaining layer on top of the third layer, bottom-side up; insert a dowel into the center of cakes if necessary. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

See the Disaster on the Side of the Cake - Fixed w/ A Little Construction

And, of course…my TIPS….these are the embarrassing things that no one else will admit to or tell you how to handle.

  1. The recipe is for two 9″ layer cakes.  The recipe in my cookbook is not clear so I doubled the recipe.  So, if you do this and fill up each of the cake pans, you have overflowing goodness on the bottom of your oven.  Lovely.  If this happens, act quick and place a cookie sheet on the rack below so you don’t have burnt goodness wafting through your house.  However, I did have extra cake for my husband which made him happy.
  2. When you are mixing the flour and milk alternately, the texture seems really weird (kind of lumpy).  It turns better as you empty your last batch of flour mixture.
  3. If you have a gas oven like I do, the baking temperature should really be more like 300 degrees and the time for baking is more like one hour.  My oven is calibrated, but it cooks the top and outside too quickly at 350.  For baking, I typically lower it by 25 to 50 degrees and bake longer.
  4. Be patient…HELLO!  You think I would know this by now.  When you take the cakes out of the oven and let them rest for 30 minutes, follow the instructions.  For the first cake, I followed the instructions and turned the cake over onto a wire rack.  It is simplest if you use two wire racks on either side to squeeze the cake together.  It worked great.  I guess I got cocky on my second cake layer and decided to do it by hand.  Ooops…the cake broke in half!
  5. Stick the cake layers in the fridge over night….it will fix everything.  Hopefully.
  6. Put a layer of parchment paper between your cake plate and your cake.  I didn’t and it was a pain to clean out the chocolate frosting out of all the little holes of the cake plate.  Lovely.
  7. Cutting even cake layers is harder than it looks.  Be patient and don’t cut too deep or you will have crooked layers.
  8. Use a cold cake to fix your problems.  I had a large hole in the side due to #3 above.  As a result, I was able to fill this area with some cake cut off the top and do some construction with the frosting.
  9. DO A CRUMB LAYER OF FROSTING AND THEN PUT THE CAKE BACK INTO THE REFRIGERATOR!  Best tip ever…this will make it so much easier to put your second layer of frosting on without crumbs all over the place.
  10. Make extra frosting for your husband to lick.  Otherwise, you will get mad at him!

Cake w/ Crumb Layer of Frosting - Goes Back into Fridge for 30 Minutes

Last, but not least…have fun!

Swirl Textures w/ Frosting & Sprinkles

Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas & Pulling Teeth (Literally)

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It was a busy week trying to wrap up all the loose ends at work (as if that is really possible).  I have finally realized that I will never have everything ‘done’ before I take time off at work.  I am either at that point in my career or in my life that I realize it simply isn’t even possible.  Yet, I still try every single time.

It certainly feels like the Christmas season around the house with presents under the tree, the smell of baking and 70 degree weather (yes, southern California is lovely this time of the year).  Although, I wouldn’t mind a chill in the air.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…I narrowed down my Christmas decorations this year and really just kept those things that I absolutely loved.  I mean really loved.  Here’s a small sampling of this year’s tree.

The tree skirt is got to be at least 15 years old.  I made it by hand; it was a cross stitch pattern that I probably bought at Michael’s and took a few years to complete.  It needs to be updated I think; maybe a project for next year.  I am thinking it needs some type of quilt backing and an update on the edge ribbon.  We shall see.

I also tried my hand at a few hand made gifts besides the cookie baking and pretzel bag gifts in my previous post…I tried my hand at some homemade sugar scrub.  Stay tuned for that in my next post.

The biggest bummer about this week was that Cali went in to have her teeth cleaned only to come out with 11 teeth extracted.  Now, first, I feel like the biggest jerk dog owner in the world because her teeth were in this condition.  But, second, I signed up for a teeth cleaning, dropped her off and called to get a status only to find out that they removed 11 teeth.  The initial appointment was predicated on a teeth cleaning and maybe having to remove one tooth…NOT 11.  Much to my surprise when I called for her status, I was casually informed that she was doing well and that they had to remove 11 teeth.  My first response was “how many teeth does she have”.  Well, apparently they have 42.  I don’t know about you, but they would never remove 11 teeth out of a human at once.  NEVER.  I am not a happy camper.  I paid for the x-rays so that they could call and tell me ahead of time what the plan was…NOT so that they could remove 11 teeth and tell me after the fact.  They assure me that this is fairly normal and that she will be fine.  I am most unhappy that no one notified me and when I did call, they were so casual about it.  So, I am waiting for her to come home so I can make her feel better…..I feel so bad.  So, so bad.

Sweet Cali - I am so sorry!

The Truth About Baking

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My baking extravaganza has come to a close….almost.  I currently have cream cheese pound cake in the oven.  And, cream cheese sugar cookies in the fridge ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes.  And, a plan to make more chocolate dipped pretzels.  Okay…I am not even close to done yet.  Somewhere in this post will be all of the recipes for all these yummy treats below.

But first, here are the lessons learned from yesterday:

  1. Martha Stewart is NOT always right.  

  2. Making caramel from scratch is never easy no matter how many times you do it.  (might have been easier if I could have found my candy thermometer).

  3. Not everything always works…tried macadamia nut turtles…sounds great…not so much.  Only if you want to remove a tooth.

  4. You cannot color chocolate with coloring food.  It turns into lovely clumps.

  5. Cleaning is overrated….

Full Plate

I only think it is fair to show the disaster that accompanies the wonderful plate of goodies above.  It is kind of a precautionary note should you decide to do this.  No matter how neat I try to be….it doesn’t quite work.  Creativity is messy for me; very messy.

What a mess!!

Now for the recipes….let me give you a run down of what I made, then they will be followed by a photo (if there is one and a recipe, link to the recipe and tips):

  1. Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods – Easy

  2. Gingerbread – Easy

  3. Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies – Medium

  4. Pinwheel Cookies – Medium

  5. Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars – Medium

  6. Congo Bars – Hard

  7. Cream Cheese Pound Cake – Easy

Dark Chocolate Pretzel Rods

White Chocolate Pretzel Rods

So, these are super easy.  Just your standard pretzel rods, any type of chocolate and some holiday candy decorations.  Make sure that you get chocolate that comes already in chips.  It will make it much easier to deal with and to melt.  Dump the chocolate chips into a microwave proof bowl and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring in between each time.  Do not overheat…it will make the chocolate clump together and you will have to throw it out.

Another little tip…do not get any water in contact with the chocolate as you melt it or it will mess up your chocolate.

Dip in your pretzel and set on wax paper (wax side up)…sprinkle whatever you would like onto the chocolate.  Let dry for about 15 minutes and package them up.

I packaged up the pretzels in some cute Christmas good bags and tied them up.

Pretzel Rods Ready to Give

Next up is super quick and easy gingerbread…they are in the middle of the top photo with the white frosting and red sprinkles.

This is a recipe from Martha Stewart and here’s the link:  Gingerbread

It is super easy and I added cream cheese frosting on top rather than powdered sugar.  It is super easy and makes a perfect gift.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies Ready for the Oven

These are some of my favorite cookies to make.  They just melt in your mouth.  I think they are personally better than the cookies with the hershey kiss on top because these have a soft chocolate center.  These do take some time because you have to roll them prior to baking and then pull out several times during baking to make the indentions for the chocolate.  This is also a Martha Stewart Recipe; here’s the link:  Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

A few hints on this recipe:

  • Roll the balls slightly larger than the recipe says.

  • Take out the cookies about half way through and use a small handle of a wooden spoon to make the indentions in the middle.  I try to press a good 1/4″ down and make a good size indention.  Don’t use anything too big or it will crack the edges of the cookie and your chocolate will spill out.

  • When you take the cookies out of the oven, press down the centers again.  I have never used by thumb…they are too damn hot and it doesn’t work very well.

    Pinwheels in Progress

    These is a fairly simple recipe, but the volume of the recipe is enough to stop the biggest mixer.  And, because there is a lot of powdered sugar in these cookies…it makes a monumental mess.  Poof!

    The most complicated thing about this recipe is getting the dough rolled so that you can make the shape.  I did some research and found a few tips that I will share.  I am certainly not the master, but am starting to perfect this cookie.  Here is the recipe:  Pinwheel aka Bull’s Eye Cookie.

    One thing that I did with these cookies was that I made one roll of cookie dough instead of two…this made the cookies really really big!  Next time, I will roll them into two separate logs so that the cookies are smaller and easier to handle.  First, you have to master the rolling of the dough log…follow the directions on this one.

    I sought out better instructions on how to do this and found it here:  America’s Test Kitchen.  The key to these cookies is wax paper and the refrigerator.  It makes all the different in rolling the log.  For baking these cookies, do not overcook!  As soon as you see the slightest hint of brown edges, take them out of the oven!  Happy rolling!

    The Beginnings of Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars

    So, this is an interesting recipe and I first tasted these when my mom made them a few years ago.  I got my recipe from a cookbook called ‘Holiday Baking’ by Sara Perry.  And, you can find the recipe on line:  Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars.  These are really pretty easy.  The only part that may be tricky is the brown sugar over the stove to make the caramel type sauce.

    One thing you should definitely do is to line your baking sheet with tin foil (shiny side up)…it makes this much easier to cut when they are done.  And, easier to clean the pan!  Enjoy these!

    Congo Bars

    Onto the congo bars…this is a fantastic recipe that I found a few years ago in Martha Stewart Magazine…yes, I know…another from Martha Stewart.  Here’s the recipe:  Congo Bars.

    The most complicated part about making these bars is making the caramel.  I insist on making it from scratch because it is a challenge and always proves to be difficult.  It takes much longer than the recipe says it does and is even harder when you can’t find your candy thermometer.  This is an area where I definitely need to do more work and practice!

    Here’s the recipe for caramel if you are so inclined:  Caramel.  Here are photos below of caramel in process.  It takes way longer than it says in the recipe to turn ‘golden’.  And, be very careful when you pour in the whipping cream because it bubbles up in the pan pretty high.  (FYI…buy extra whipping cream in case you have to try this multiple times.)  And, be very careful and resist the temptation to taste the newly formed caramel….

    The Start of Caramelhmmm...caramel

     

    Cream Cheese Pound Cake

    And, last but not least is cream cheese pound cake.  This is actually a photo of the cake that went in the trash.  I eventually figured out the problem…the temperature on the recipe was not right!  So much for Martha Stewart.  This is an amazing tasting cake.  I eventually made these in smaller individual pound cake pans to give away and they worked great.

    I baked three at a time on a cookie sheet.  They is that I cooked them at 325 degrees for the first 30 minutes and then dropped the temperature down to 300 degrees once I saw the top edges starting to brown.  DO NOT cook at 350 like it says in the recipe.  Here is the recipe:  Cream Cheese Pound Cake  Perfect to slice up and give away as a hostess gift.

    Last, but not least is the sorting and packaging of all the goodie plates…one of my favorite parts:

    Preparing the Plates

    All Wrapped Up

    I will post the recipe for cream cheese sugar cookies and frosting later when I get those started.  Happy baking!