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Craftsy Writer
Tuesday
Sep022014

Batter Versus Dough: What's the Difference?

Batter. Dough. Both are stages in the baking process, and both tend to yield tasty treats. But what exactly is the difference between batter and dough?

Anecdotally, most people tend to refer to more liquid concoctions as "batter" and more solid mixtures as "dough". We tend to refer to each for certain dishes: cookies and pie crust are made from dough, whereas cakes are made from batter. But when does batter become dough, exactly? Is there a rule which governs baking mixtures?

Could a cookie ever be made from batter, or could cake ever be made from a dough?

As it turns out, a bit of internet research and delving into baking reference books reveals that yes, batter and dough are different. And as you might suspect, it has to do with moisture content. 

If you're a professional baker, you might already be aware that there are official ratios. This document I found online detailed them:

See? It's a ratio thing. According to this, the more flour that is added, the more firmly planted a recipe is in "dough" territory. 1 part liquid to one part flour is definitely batter; 1 part liquid to 2 parts flour is a firmer batter, but definitely still batter; once you start adding more flour, it transcends the barrier into dough territory.

Well, that answers that--there are rules! 

The misfits

Meringues by Jess

Still, this document doesn't answer every batter versus dough question. Can we assume that the "flour" here can be translated as "dry ingredient" for other, harder to classify recipes? For instance, coconut macaroons (some types are made with coconut, condensed milk, and eggs, no flour in sight)...or what about homemade candy corn (confectioners' sugar gives it a sturdy, dry texture that I refer to as "dough" in my recipe).

And what of recipes for confections such as meringues? Is that just a "mixture", or would it be ok to call it a "batter"? 

Also, here's one final one for thought: though bread is definitely made with dough, what about the brief phase when you're adding wet ingredients...is it, for a few minutes, batter? 

I don't have the answers to the above, but welcome your comments, my sweet readers!

Can batter and dough ever be combined?

Well, duh. Of course. Stuff your cupcakes with cookie dough and you'll find out how wonderful the combination can be! I helpfully have a recipe right here for you (what can I say, I live to give). If you like the idea of that recipe, I should say that I also have a recipe for cinnamon rolls (dough) stuffed with cookie dough. That's a double dose of dough, but it's good for what ails you. 

Which do you like working with more: batter or dough?

Monday
Sep012014

Fried Peanut Butter Crescent Bombs

Photo via Pillsbury

Some days are easy; some are hard.

I've found, though, that a a sweet treat can do wonders in terms of turning the latter into the former. Case in point: this fine specimen, called "Fried Peanut Butter Crescent Bombs". Talk about an explosion of om nom nom: these are basically like peanut butter filled croissants, deep fried and coated in sugar. That's a day-maker if I've ever heard of one.

While this recipe very much fits in my world view, I can only wish it was mine: it was part of a roundup Pillsbury sent me a roundup of their "State Fair-inspired" recipes. This isn't the only bit of wonder in that collection: it also includes such classics as churros on a stick to deep-fried candy bars to pizza cones. OMG! 

But I'm sure you're ready to move on to the bombs, so here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Fried Peanut Butter Crescent Bombs

Courtesy of Pillsbury

Makes 16 servings

Prep time: 15 min / Total time: 35 min

  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 can Pillsbury "Place and bake" refrigerated crescent rounds
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Procedure

  1. A day ahead of serving, line sheet pan with cooking parchment paper. Place 32 individual tablespoons of peanut butter in pan. Freeze overnight.
  2. On serving day, heat oil in heavy saucepan to 350°F.
  3. Separate dough into rounds. Cut each into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each piece of dough tightly around 1 frozen spoon of peanut butter.
  4. Fry each filled dough ball in hot oil until evenly browned on all sides. Cool about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

What's your favorite fried treat?

Sunday
Aug312014

Desserts You Can Make on the Grill

Desserts on the grill = perfect for Labor Day. And they're all so quick to make that you could make them same-day, which means this post is perfect for procrastinators like you and me. Here's the full post.

Saturday
Aug302014

Cake Byte: Win CakeSpy Art!

Guess what? You could WIN this original page of black and white line illustrations I did for my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts . Find out how on my Facebook page!

Saturday
Aug302014

Creative Prompts for Artists

Sometimes we could all use a little help, creatively speaking. When you need a little extra energy to keep on creating, I would like to offer up these sweet creative prompts I've come up with. They'll have you looking at the commonplace in a new way, opening a new world of creativity to you! Check out the full article here.

Friday
Aug292014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Let your garden be your muse: a sweet art tutorial (no cake involved, but still pretty sweet)

Tree nut star tarts. Yum.

Did you miss the awesome roundup of my recent edible adventures?

These cinnamon rolls in Nebraska have an interesting story.

Learn a bit more about Racine Kringles.

10 awesome pug cakes. Seriously.

A love letter to crullers, both the cake doughnut and the eggy French sort.

"Autumn Blaze Bubble Bread". Don't you love the name?

Make your cakes sparkle--literally. How to use edible glitter on cakes!

Tips for adding emotion to your original artwork. Helpful and sweet!

Marvelous marble swirl cake.

Chocolate covered cake on a stick!

Book of the week: Alpha-Bakery Gold Medal Children's Cookbook. Did you have this cookbook growing up? I did, and I just found it again at a used book store. It has cute illustrations and surprisingly easy and good recipes for every letter of the alphabet. Aside from the nostalgia, I'm just happy to own it again. Bring on the "X-Tra Special Celebration Cake"!

Monday
Aug252014

Postcards from the Road: August 2014

Madison--Metcalfe's Market

Where in the world has CakeSpy been?

Well, let me tell you. In the past two weeks I have been in all of these places:

  • Rincon, Puerto Rico
  • Belmar, NJ
  • Lancaster, OH
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Brodhead, WI
  • New Glarus, WI
  • Madison, WI

I know. It's a record, even for ME. So what the heck have I been doing in all these places? Well, let me tell you a bit more. 

As you know, I was in Puerto Rico for a while with my lovely parents. You can read more about my adventures there, via this post and this post. <3

I departed Puerto Rico and spent a few days with my family in Belmar, NJ. There, I baked this cake, which was a definite highlight...of life.

Birthday cake with brown sugar

I also visited Kane Brewing Company with my parents. It is so neat to see my home area develop into such an artistic and cool place. Here's me and my mom.

Next, I hit the road en auto and stopped in Lancaster, OH to visit my friends Ben and Misty. Ben, apparently, has been "really into breakfast" lately. I benefitted from this newfound passion (really, I've never been not into breakfast) by receiving this plate of awesome in the morning. Those pancake-y things? Corn-cakes made using Jiffy cornbread mix (here's a recipe for cookies made with apple Jiffy mix!). Brilliant!

Breakfast in Lancaster OH

I headed back on the road to visit my friend Lisa in St. Louis. She has this adorable tea shop called Smalls. It's only a limited lease, so check it out now, if you live in the area. Cutest ever, right? 

St. Louis, MO

I wasn't in St. Louis for long, but I did find enough time to take a yoga class at Southtown Yoga (such a stylish and cool studio) and enjoy a slice of gooey butter cake at the Mud House. This was a rather nice specimen of one of my favorite cookie bar/cake hybrids. Also: just an observation, gooey butter cake is a short phrase in which no single word is wrong, yet together they are even more right. Don't you think?

St. Louis, MO St. Louis, MO

OK. Literally, OK. That was the next stop: Oklahoma City, where I did a little yoga pit stop and then continued on my journey. I stayed in Amarillo, TX overnight, which is also home of Belmar Bakery, which I love because in addition to carrying sweet treats, it also bears the name of my hometown in New Jersey.

I kept on going and ended up in Santa Fe the next day, where I spent the next 18 hours and was reuinited with this guy:

 

Hooray! Twinsies, right?

Then, not too long after, we got back on the road to go to a wedding in Wisconsin. Back through New Mexico, enjoying this sort of beauty:

New Mexico

Back through Oklahoma I went. I stopped for a photo op in front of a store bearing my name (no relation)... Oklahoma!

and this time was treated to this beautiful sunset.

Oklahoma

There was a stop at one of the Casey's General Stores on the highway for doughnuts--surprisingly good.

Donut, Casey's General store

Next up was Lawrence, Kansas, where we stopped for some sweetness at Sylas and Maddy's Ice Cream. Sylas and Maddys, Lawrence, KS

I was so impressed by this place. They had fantastic flavors like "ladybug crunch" (strawberry ice cream with oreos) and a chocolate and rainbow sprinkle-laden birthday cake flavor. But what I got, and what I considered a masterpiece of ice creamery, was the item in the forefront: BANANA PUDDING ICE CREAM. Can we all say "best thing ever" in unison, please? 

Sylas and Maddys, Lawrence, KS

Continuing on the road, there was a stop in Des Moines for, well, more yoga (I have a goal to do yoga in all 50 states, so this trip provided me a great chance to add more spots to my list), and then jetted off to Dubuque where more doughnuts were consumed. I'll tell you the truth, they were from Hy-Vee groceries, but they were actually pretty good!

Hy-vee, Dubuque

Next up was Brodhead, Wisconsin. I got myself a unicorn there.

Brodhead WI

After that, we jetted to New Glarus, which is where the wedding will be held. We had a lovely picnic dinner, and the hosts had actually made a recipe from my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts , for dessert--jumbles!

Um, I should probably tell you that this happened, too, at the New Glarus Hotel. We only ordered the three that are not on the tray. But yes, there were three desserts. The first cake (going clockwise from the top) was a blueberry cake with cream filling; the second was a German chocolate; the third was a lemon custard. The desserts were all satisfying, with my favorite being the custard--like lemon curd in custard form, even better with sweet Wisconsin dairy whipped cream! The filling from the German chocolate cake was something I wouldn't mind eating my weight in, either.

New Glarus Inn

In the A.M., I went to Madison for (you guessed it) another yoga class, at Inner Fire Yoga. I then stopped at Metcalfe's and picked up more doughnuts at Metcalfe's Market

Madison, Metcalfe's

(It's OK to laugh at this cruller. I did).

Whew! It's been a whirlwind so far. And I still have the wedding to go! Now, I think I'll explore New Glarus more, including the bakery everyone keeps telling me is great. I'll keep you updated on my sweet adventures, my sweetest ones.

Happy Summer! Love, CakeSpy

Thursday
Aug212014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

In case you missed it: brown sugar swirl cake. Brown sugar frosting. #winning

Homemade gluten-free pizza dough: tips and tricks.

Best ice cream I've had in a while: Sylas and Maddy's, in Lawrence, KS.

I'm going to New Glarus, Wisconsin. Naturally I will hit up this bakery.

My birthday is on Tuesday. If I have any leftover cake, I promise to make birthday cake French toast.

Or I suppose I could use the leftover cake in one of these clever and tasty ways.

But with a cake like this, there probably will not be leftovers. 

Dear heavens: oreo banana pudding. Make me a vat!

Just about the best frosting ever, if you ask me.

Homemade ho-hos. Wait, what did you call me?

For fun: reminisce with me about how I killed a bunch of Little Debbie Snack cakes that one time.

A free doughnut e-guide. All things doughnut: recipes, decorating tips, etc! 

How to test cream of tartar for freshness.

Book of the week: My book! The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts! Because it's my birthday this week and this book includes the story behind, plus a recipe for, birthday cake. Awesometown!

Thursday
Aug212014

A Guide to BBQ Pairings and Desserts

Photo via CraftsyFor me, the best part about a BBQ is the sides. From collard greens to cornbread, this is the stuff I like to make a meal of. And for dessert--the pies! Puddings! Cobblers!

Assuming it's possible you love the sides as much as I do, I've put together a guide to barbecue pairings for your delicious reference: check it out here

Wednesday
Aug202014

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake With Brown Sugar Frosting

Last week, even though it was a bit early for my August 26th birthday, I made a cake.

You see, I was in New Jersey for a few days with my parents, and I would be leaving before the big day, so I decided we should all have a little party. Any excuse for more cake, right?

I was writing a post for Craftsy about brown sugar buttercream, and I decided to make a cake to go with it (although, for the record, I have nothing against eating it by the spoonful). I hit up my mom's old cookbook collection and found an old treasure: silver white cake, AKA my birthday cake growing up. Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar I doctored it up a bit, making it richer by including the entire eggs and by adding a swirl of brown sugar. The "swirl" came out more like little lumps of brown sugar here and there...but DELICIOUS lumps. Oh, and I also doubled the salt. Because if I've learned anything in my baking years, it is that brown sugar loves salt.

This cake came out tremendously, if I do say so myself. Everyone took seconds, which is always a good sign. Maybe it can add some joy to your non-birthday day, too!

Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

For the cake

Makes one 2 layer 8-inch cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Set to the side.
  2. Beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, milk, and vanilla in a stand mixer on low speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, and increase the speed to high, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 more minutes, or until the mixture is pretty much smooth and lump free. 
  4. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and melted butter. It should be pretty thick yet smooth. Fold into the cake mixture, trying to incorporate little bits of the mixture throughout the batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden on top and a cake tester comes out mostly clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the pans to loosen the cakes. After a few minutes, invert them on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes cool, make the frosting. When ready to assemble, start by generously frosting the top of one of the cakes; layer the second on top of that, and then frost the whole thing all over. I found this cake did not require a crumb coat.

Brown sugar buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4-6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of half and half, plus more if needed

Note: This recipe yields a perfect amount of buttercream to ice a two-layer 9-inch cake or a 9x13-inch oblong cake. This recipe can be doubled.

  1. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon; beat until it has become smooth in texture yet whipped.
  2. Add three cups of the confectioners' sugar, and mix on low speed so that you don't have a snowstorm. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and cream. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners sugar to your taste. If it becomes too stiff, add a bit more cream. Store unused portions of the buttercream in the refrigerator for up to a week.

What kind of cake will you have for your birthday this year?

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