Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peach Cobbler...Featuring the Best Helper Ever

Last summer I bought an obscene quantity of peaches from the local farmer's market.  I made 24 pints of peach jam with some of them, and froze the rest.  Even though it's spring/summer, peaches aren't yet in season, so I thawed some out and made a peach cobbler :-)

First you'll want about six peaches, peeled and sliced.  Put them in a bowl with some sugar and cinnamon, and set aside while you make the batter. 

Cream shortening and sugar (sorry to the shortening-phobes...I guess you could use butter if you had to). 

Remember back when I made the petit fours, and I burned up the motor in my hand mixer?  Yeah, I still haven't replaced it.

Anyhoo, next have your lovely assistant take a photo of the progress with her trusty princess phone.

Into the creamed shortening and sugar, mix flour, baking powder and salt alternately with some milk until it looks something like this:

Spread it a baking dish.  And then have your lovely assistant take another picture.

Gently pour the peaches on top of the batter.

Here's where it gets a little freaky, so stay with me. 

Cube some butter.  Boil one cup of water and drop the butter cubes into the water.

Now, pour the butter and water on top of the peaches in the baking dish.  Do not panic.  Do not skip this step, or it won't turn out.

Very carefully put it in the oven and bake until golden brown and delicious.

It's a beautiful thing. 

We made this cobbler and served chicked and dumplings for dinner.  It was also the night we helped the boy with his report on Texas.  We felt very southern that night :-)

Here's the recipe:

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

5-6 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp cloves(optional)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

1 cup boiling water
3 Tbs butter, cubed

Mix peaches, sugar and spices and set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add flour, baking powder and salt, alternately with milk.  Spread mixture into a 7x10 baking dish.

Gently pour peaches over batter.

Drop cubed butter into boiling water.  Pour over peaches.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45-50 minutes or unil golden brown and delicious.  Serve warm with ice cream or cream.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Graffiti Birthday Cake

My friend brought me a picture of a cake and asked me to copy it for her nephew's birthday, so I can't take any credit for this design.  However, the picture did not say who made the original cake, so I can't credit the baker, either.  If anyone knows who did this cake originally, please let me know and I'll add a link/credit. 

The nephew is an aspiring rapper by the name of Jelani.  This was my first attempt at a tag, so it's not the greatest.  But I thought the record came out ok.

Of course, my handwriting is atrocious.  I blame being left-handed.  It's my cross to bear. 

Vanilla cake with strawberry filling.  The record is chocolate fondant (yum!) and the brick wall is vanilla fondant.  The record player arm is a mix of both, with straws internally for support.

And that's it for today!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sticky Pecan Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Backstory:  (Because most of what I do has a backstory) I somehow got nominated to bring birthday treats to work once a month, and April was Chris' birthday.  Only he doesn't like cake.  I made cinnamon rolls over Christmas, and he told me that they would be perfect if they had caramel and pecans in them.  So I searched the web and found this:  No-Knead Sticky Pecan Caramel Cinnamon Rolls over at the Steamy Kitchen

All I can say is, "Holy Sugar Buzz, Batman, these are awesome!"

So you start with the master dough, mix it up and put it in the fridge for two or three days.  I made the dough on a Wednesday and made the rolls on Friday.

The recipe calls for instant yeast, but I didn't have any, so I used regular yeast and let it bloom in the honey and warm water for a little while before mixing the other ingredients.

Here is the finished dough.  Pop it in the fridge and let it do its' thing.

The dough a couple days later:

Now, the recipe says to pull off a small cantaloupe sized chunk, and the rest of the recipe is scaled to match.  Since I was taking these to work to feed 12 people or so, I used the whole ball of dough and tripled the rest of the recipe.

So, roll out your dough:

I forgot to get a picture of the baking pan.  You will mix butter and brown sugar and salt, spread it in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with pecans.  THEN roll your dough, and smear it liberally with the buttery cinnamon filling, thusly:

Roll it up and cut it into pieces.  I used my bench scraper/baker's knife like I always do.  Hey, there's a shot of the missing pan!

Because I used all of the dough, I filled a 9 x 13 pan and an 8" round pan. 

Turn them out immediately after they come out of the oven, or the caramel will harden and you will have a big mess on your hands. :-)

I turned mine out onto a Christmas platter because it was the only one I had that was big enough.  The smaller batch went onto a dinner plate.

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures.

Try these if you get a chance.  You won't be sorry!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Swoon-Worthy Fudge Brownies

I finally made brownies and took pictures!  I've made brownies approximately six times since I started this (baking) blog, and never remembered to take a picture.  So here you go:

Had I had something to block out the background, this might have been a decent picture! 

Anyhoo, I use this recipe, almost exclusively:  King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies  They are very, very good.  I'll post about King Arthur flour another time. 

First, you melt butter on the stove, then you add the sugar and heat until the mixture is hot, but not boiling.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and vanilla.  And here is where I differ from the original recipe.  I do NOT use espresso powder.  I see on baking sites where people say, "Oh, you can't taste the coffee, it just makes the chocolate taste more like chocolate!"  Baloney.  It makes the chocolate taste like coffee.  So I use vanilla and about 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract.  Not peppermint, not spearmint.  Mint.  And a little goes a long way, so don't overdo.

It will look pretty scary when you've mixed it all together.

Now you pour in the hot butter/sugar mixture.

Now it looks even scarier!  But just keep stirring, it will work itself out.  

After your sugar and chocolate are all incorporated and playing nicely together, add the flour and the chocolate chips.

Now, the biggest complaint on the King Arthur recipe seems to be that the chocolate chips are melted (as in gone) once the brownies come out of the oven.  King Arthur suggests letting the batter cool for about half an hour before adding the chips.  Personally, I've never encountered that problem because I store my chips in the *gasp* freezer .  I know, don't tell the chocolate police.  But it works for me and my chips don't melt when I make brownies.

So pour your brownies into a pan.  I grease mine with home-made cake release, but you can use shortening if that's all you have.

They will be very thick.

Pop them in the oven and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.


So if you get a chance, make these soon.  Have plenty of milk handy.  Or maybe some mint chocolate chip ice cream.