Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Big Disappointment turned good!

I was so excited about entering the Iron Cupcake Challenge this month. I planned out an idea, and I set a day to make it, and I was certain I had one or two days extra, missed it by two days. And I so thought my idea was creative and neat...I'm sooooooooooooooo disappointed. But's not too late. I made it! Vote for me!

Nevertheless, here's what I made. The challenge was savory cupcakes so I made an egg roll cupcake.

I started with an egg roll wrapper and made it into the form of a cupcake liner. I thought I might be able to bake the cakes in it, but the shells got burned, so I just ended up sticking the muffcake into the shell afterwards.

And here's what it looked like on the inside. I opted for a vegetarian egg roll filling. It really tasted like egg roll, and some corn.

And here's the recipe:

Adapted from two recipes on
This one and this one.

Egg Roll Wrappers
1 (1-lb) package Asian egg roll or spring roll wrappers

Egg Roll Filling
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 4 cups peanut or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 bunches scallions (about 10), white and pale green parts cut into 2-inch lengths, then cut lengthwise into very thin matchsticks (2 1/2 cups)
2 celery ribs, cut into very thin matchsticks (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks (1 cup)
8 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/4 inch thick (3 cups)

Corn Muffin
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Prepared Sweet and Sour Sauce for a glaze

Egg Roll Wrapper
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Trim the egg roll wrapper to a slightly smaller square. Grease a muffin pan and the egg roll wrappers with shortening and fit into the cups of the muffin pan. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Be burns easily.

Egg Roll Filling
Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add 2 tablespoons peanut oil, swirling skillet to coat. Stir-fry ginger, garlic, and scallions until scallions are wilted, about 1 minute. Add celery, carrots, and mushrooms and stir-fry until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.


Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups. Combine first 7 ingredients of corn muffin in large bowl. Whisk sour cream, eggs and melted butter in another bowl. Add sour cream mixture to dry ingedients and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in egg roll mixture.

Divide batter equally among muffin cups. Bake until golden and tester inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Place one muffin into an egg roll wrapper, and glaze with sweet and sour sauce.

Here's the prizes:

Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Date with Some Scones

I've made these scones several times now, and my husband's and my favorite version is the one with dates. So that's what I made this afternoon. I am putting the measurements by weight, since that's the way that the author suggested, and that's the way I made them.

From The Bread Bible

8 oz. unsalted butter, cold
21.25 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 liquid cups heavy cream
4.5 oz currants (I used chopped dates)

1. Chill the butter. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes.

2. Mix the dough. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, press the cubes into large flakes. (Or use an electric mixer, mixing well until the butter is the size of small walnuts.)
Stir in the cream just until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to come together in large clumps. Stir in the currants (or dates). Knead the dough in the bowl just until it holds together, and turn it out onto a lightly floured board.

3. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F 30 minutes before baking. Have an oven rack at the middle level and set a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.

4. Shape the dough. Lightly flour the top of the dough (or use a floured pastry sleeve), and role it out into a long rectangle 1 inch thick and about 8 inches by 12 inches; use a bench scraper to keep the edges even by smacking it up against the sides of the dough. Fold the dough in thirds, lightly flour the board again, and rotate the dough so that the closed side faces to the left (a 90 degree rotation). Roll it out again and repeat the "turn" 3 more times, refrigerating the dough, cover with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes as necessary only it if begins to soften and stick.
Roll out the dough once more. Trim the edges so that it will rise evenly. (To use the scraps, press them together and roll out, giving them 2 turns, then roll the dough into a 1-inch-thick square and cut it into 2 triangles.)
Cut the dough in half lengthwise so you have 2 pieces, each about 4 inches by 12 inches. Cut each piece of dough into triangles with about a 3-inch-wide base and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets (prepared with either silcone mats or parchment paper). (The dough will rise but not expand sideways.) If the dough is soft, cover it well with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.

5. Bake the scones. Bake the scones one sheet at a time: cover the second sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you bake the first one, then bake the second pan directly from the refrigerator. Place the pan on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet and bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tops are golden brown and firm enough so that they barely give when pressed lightly with a finger (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a scone will read about 200 F.) Check the scones after 10 minutes of baking, and if they are not browning evenly, rotate the baking sheet from front to back. Do not overbake, as they continue baking slightly on removal from the oven and are best with slightly moist and soft inside.

6. Cool the scones. Place two linen or cotton towels on two large racks and, using a pancake turner, lift the scones form the baking sheets and set them on top. Fold the towels over loosely and allow the scones to cool until warm or at room temperature. (Since linen or cotton "breathes," the scones will have enough protection to keep from becoming dry and hard on the surface but will not become soggy.)

You can freeze the scones and then reheat straight from the freezer.

I hope you enjoy these scones as much as we do!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Would-Be Pancake Dinner

So...I love breakfast. I think it is the very bestest meal of the day. I love the food associated with it (especially the warm stuff), and I've always felt it was just not fair for those foods to only be eaten in the morning.

As a result, we often have breakfast for dinner. This was my plan for last Friday night, but things didn't go according to plan.

Something I love even more than breakfast is sleep. I take naps whenever possible, and I inherited my mother's ability to sleep whenever/wherever. I'm pretty sure my husband has seen me more asleep than awake. It truly is sad.

So back to last Friday, I had lain down for a nap around 7, and, to my surprise, my husband laid down with me (he hates naps because he hates having to wake up groggy and with messed up hair). He said he was just going to lay until I fell asleep, so I asked him to wake me up in an hour.

~~~Time Passes~~~

I wake up, and it's 2 in the morning. I woke my husband up and asked if he wanted to eat dinner or what. He said we should just give up and sleep for the night.

So my plans for breakfast for dinner plans for foiled. So I decided to make them the next morning. And here are the fruits of my labor.

Good Old Fashioned Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth. (I use Alton Brown's method of mix for 10 seconds and walk away. This makes pretty fluffy pancakes.)

2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

This makes me about 12 delicious pancakes. Add fruit, chocolate chips, or just eat plain. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Catching up with my baking

So this past week, I have been on a baking binge. I've just been baking away. First, I got a book from the library, so I wanted to try it out for my small group on Sunday. That's where the Banana-Caramel Cake came in. Then, it was Jacob and my 2nd anniversary, so naturally I wanted to make a cake for that. That's where the Black Magic Cake with Double Chocolate Frosting came in. And then I had a women's retreat that required a no-fridge dessert, where the Black Magic Cupcakes with Buttercream Dream Frosting came in. It was busy, busy, busy for me...and my kitchen was dirty, dirty, dirty.

Banana-Caramel Cake (although I will be omitting the caramel because I didn't like it)
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat the over to 350 F. Butter two 9-by-2 inch round cake pans; line bottome sith parchment. Butter parchment and dust with four, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together mashe bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two parts, beating until combined after each, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the reserved banana mixture, being careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden drown and a cake tester inserted in the centers 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.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of layers to make level. (This is where the caramel, talked about below, would have come in, but I say, fill the layers with more of the mascarpone frosting.) Using a large offset spatual, spread Mascarpone Frosting (below) over entire cake, swirling to completely cover.

Mascarpone Frosting
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixter fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream, and confectioners' sugar until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat. (I was a little skeptical about this since it seemed really liquidy, but it worked out great and was sooo simple.)

This cake was a mix between a cake and banana bread. I made it at the request of Brother Frank. He's quite the character, and I wanted to make him something special. The only thing I would change is the filling. It's filled with caramelized banana slices, and I just didn't like it. I spent forever with my mandolin slicer getting the slices even, only to have them fall apart in the frying pan when I was coating them with the caramel. And the caramel did not have a very good flavor. It tasted burnt, which, I guess it could have been, but I just did not enjoy the middle at all, and it kind of ruined the flavor of the whole cake for me. I think next time I'm just put some of the mascarpone frosting in the middle. That was delicious and light.

Black Magic Cake
From My Baking Addiction

Dark Chocolate Frosting
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 pound best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder

6 tablespoons boiling water

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Pinch of salt

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmer water. Turn off the 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.

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 fluff, 3 to 4 minutes. Add melted choclate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as need. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

This was my anniversary cake. I tried to decorate it with some piping, but the frosting was a little soft. This frosting is very rich and heavy-tasting. It calls for a lot of butter, which gives you that butter feel in your mouth that kind of turns me off because it feels like I'm gaining weight. So I'm not in love with the frosting, but I am in love with the cake.

Black Magic Cupcakes

Buttercream Dream Frosting from My Baking Addiction

I made these for the ladies retreat, and I tried this new frosting. I actually liked this frosting a lot. I was afraid to add too much milk since I had had so much trouble with soft frosting so far, so this actually ended up being a little stiff. But in the end, the stiffness made the frosting look a little more like roses, so I was pleased. Especially with me decorating it at 1 in the morning, I was glad they turned out so well.

So that takes care of what I've been baking. Some sucesses, some not so much. But they are all getting eaten just the same!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rainy Day = Lemon Cupcakes + Orange Chocolate Muffins

It rained all last Monday night. And I mean rained. There was thunder and lighting and really heavy, heavy rain. Our power even went out for an hour or so, but it came back on around 8. So the next morning, Tuesday, I got up and was getting ready to go to work when I received a phone call. It was my team leader, and she informed me that school was going to be closed for the day due to weather. I politely thanked her for the information and then proceeded to whoop with delight. I even ran around the apartment a few times out of joy. I know...I'm as bad as the kids. And I'm sure Jacob appreciated the celebration, since he still did have to go to work. Sorry, Jacob. :)
But I was glad.

Since my day unexpectedly opened up, I took the opportunity to do some baking I had actually wanted to to Monday night, but the power going out threw off my schedule. I decided to make some lemon cupcakes with lemon swiss meringue buttercream. And to make it a little more interesting, I filled them with raspberry whipped cream. Then I made some orange chocolate muffins. Both of these goodies, I got from other bloggers. I post the link and recipe below.

I am still working on finding how to make a really good frosting. I overwhipped this one, so it was a little disappointing for the final texture, but it did have a better flavor than my last attempt.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
from The Humble Gourmand

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking powder
pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons

large eggs
cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest in large mixing bowl. Using an electric stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and much lighter in color. (This is the key to moist and fluffy cupcakes, so make sure to beat well, at least 5-10 minutes.)
3. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a third, small bowl, combine the buttermilk and lemon extract. (The recipe's ingredients didn't say anything about lemon extract, so when I got to this part on the recipe, I threw in a teaspoon of lemon extract.)
4. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, making sure to fully incorporate the first egg before adding the second.
5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in the following order: add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/2 of the wet, another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, and the rest of the dry. Mix until just combined and finish with a spatula. (If you overmix after the dry ingredients are added, the cupcakes will not rise properly and the texture will be chewy and dense.)
6. Bake in the top third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
7. Let cool completely before topping with the lemon buttercream (recipe follows).

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

7 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
2 c. sugar
½ c. water
1 lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a water bath and heat to 110F, making sure to stir the sugar and egg whites with the whisk attachment. At 110F, the sugar should be somewhat dissolved and the mixture should feel hot to the touch but should not burn you. Remove from the water bath and whip on high speed to medium peak.
2. Add the butter in small clumps (about 1½” cubes) and whip until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and holds together.
3. Add the lemon extract and whip to combine.

Orange Chocolate Muffins
from SeaSaltWithFood

Grated zest of 2 Oranges
Juice of 1 Orange
About 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Large Eggs
3 Tbsp Honey
1 Stick (8 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped or
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used chocolate chips, but if I do it again, I would chop the chocolate myself of use mini chocolate chips. Mine sunk to the bottom a lot.)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. (I made 6 jumbo muffins.)
2. Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
3. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the chocolates. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
4. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

These muffins didn't rise very much for me, and I was really trying to not over mix the batter. When I try it again, I will preheat the oven to 450, and then when I put it in, turn it down to 400. Also, I might add a little more baking powder to the mix and try even harder to not over mix it. Practice makes perfect, I guess. I just haven't practiced enough.