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Tuesday
Oct072014

Homemade Honey-Wheat Bread. Yes. 

Right now I am so into this bread. No, it's not dessert, but since it's baked, and since it is so, so, SO good, I deem it worthy of sharing with you.

To me, bread is one of those foodstuffs that gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to make all by myself. When I do it, I feel like king of the mountain, Martha Stewart, Alton Brown, and Portlandia character--all at once (someone please draw a portrait of that?). I'm also amazed, every time, by how not-impossible it is. I would say easy, but managing all of those rise times, etc, can be kind of tricky. But no, it's not hard to make your own bread. This is, of course, a fact that I forget almost immediately after I bake a loaf, then forking over $5 or more for a fancy loaf at Whole Foods or Sage Bakery until I feel like making bread again (this is usually a six month cycle for me). 

Homemade honey wheat bread

But this loaf has me hooked. I came across it at the Bake For Good event by King Arthur Flour, where I learned to master the basic sandwich loaf (as well as the secret to perfect pie crust--check that out here!). Ever since, I've been messing with it a little bit, and this recipe is one of my recent successes. Only lightly sweet, this loaf is appropriate for any type of sandwich, but I love it best when it is lightly toasted (or fresh from the oven, in which case it remains untoasted so I can enjoy the residual heat) and smeared with chunky peanut butter, a zigzag of honey, and sea salt. This is my happy place. 

Homemade honey wheat bread

Want to join me? Here's the recipe. 

Honey-Wheat Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 1 large loaf 

  • 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk granules

 Procedure

  1. Combine the water and yeast. Once the yeast begins to bubble lightly, proceed.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients with the yeast mixture in the order listed. Homemade honey wheat bread Knead, either by hand with a dough scraper or with a stand mixer, until it has progressed past a shaggy texture to a smooth, slightly elastic-feeling dough. This can take up to 5 minutes by hand; less when using a mixer. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise at room temperature until it’s quite puffy and doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Homemade honey wheat bread
  4. Gently deflate the dough with your hand (a gentle pressing, not a knockout punch), and shape it into a fat 9″ log. Homemade honey wheat bread
  5. Place it in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
  6. Cover the pan, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it has formed a crown which extends 1 inch or slightly more over the rim of the pan (the picture below is toward the beginning, not the end, of the rising time). Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  7. Homemade honey wheat bread
  8. Bake the bread uncovered for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top, and when knocked lightly, yields a slightly hollow sound.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out onto a rack to cool. Go ahead, give it a taste if you can’t resist (who can resist warm bread?). When completely cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature. 
  10. Homemade honey wheat bread

What would you put on this bread? 

Tuesday
Oct072014

Toasty Fall Delight: S'mores Martinis Recipe

Let's get s'mores cruuuuuuuunk!

Yes, I just said that.

This is an excerpt from the new book In the Kitchen with David: QVC's Resident Foodie Presents Comfort Foods That Take You Home. It brings together several of the things I love: pop culture, tv, happy hour, and s'mores, all at once. Enjoy!

S’mores Martinis

Oh! My! Word! While these decadent drinks may remind you of toasting marshmallows and making s’mores over summer campfires, you can enjoy these grown-up cocktails any time of the year. Yes, Adult Chocolate Milk is just that—chocolate milk with vodka. Ask for it and the marshmallow vodka in wine and spirits stores. Finish a Valentine’s Day or an anniversary dinner by serving these for dessert.

Makes 2

  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 2 marshmallows
  • ¼ cup marshmallow vodka
  • ¼ cup Adult Chocolate Milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Procedure

  1. Put 3 tablespoons of the chocolate syrup on a small plate. Place the crushed graham crackers on another small plate. Dip the rims of two martini glasses in the chocolate syrup, then dip the rims into the graham cracker crumbs. Quickly turn the martini glasses right side up and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup in a spiral design on the insides of the glasses. Put the glasses in the freezer for 1 hour to let the chocolate harden.
  2. Remove the glasses from the freezer. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Put each marshmallow on the end of a skewer. Place the skewers in the skillet with a flat side of the marshmallows facing down, until the marshmallows turn golden, about 45 seconds. Remove the skewered marshmallows from the pan and, using the tines of a fork, push 1 marshmallow into each martini glass.
  3. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, half of the marshmallow vodka, half of the Adult Chocolate Milk, and half of the cream. Shake well and strain the mixture into one of the glasses. Repeat for the second drink.

From the Book, In the Kitchen with David: QVC's Resident Foodie Presents Comfort Foods That Take You Home; © 2014 by David Venable. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct072014

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Tips

Listen, I know it's not about cake, but I'm so proud of this post I could pop. It's about tips for making tasty and superior-textured gluten-free pizza crust, and you can check out the entire post on Craftsy. Enjoy!

Monday
Oct062014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

I need to tell you, these bars basically have all the building blocks of what I consider delicious.

Well, first, before any ingredients, let's start with something important. Arlene Erlbach, who created this recipe, hails from Morton Grove, Illinois. I consider Illinois firmly planted in bar country. No, not dives where you drink beer (although yes, that exists there too). I am talking about cookie bars. The midwest just does them right.

Now, back to the actual ingredients. They have maple, which is a quintessential cozy flavor; they have peanut butter, which loves sweets and makes them nice and rich and dense. They have chocolate chip cookie dough, which makes everything better. The peanuts, frosting, and toffee bits are hardly necessary after all that goodness. But no, I am certainly not going to turn them away.

Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 40 Min
  • Makes: 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 teaspoons maple extract
  • 1 cup vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toffee bits

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of the maple extract. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix frosting and remaining 1 teaspoon maple extract until smooth. In another small bowl, mix peanuts, toffee bits and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread frosting evenly over cooled bars. Sprinkle with peanut mixture; press in lightly. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered.
Monday
Oct062014

Healthy-Ish: Chocolate-Butterscotch Whole Grain Cookie Bars

Some cookies are definitely dessert.

And then there are others which reside under a mask of health. This mask may or may not be reality. This "healthy-ish cookie" can readily be sighted at establishments such as Whole Foods, health food stores, cafes outside of yoga studios, and places that smell of patchouli. These cookies typically include whole grains and/or wholesome ingredients, but at their very beating heart, they are a tasty dessert item. I'll show you a few examples of ones I've know and loved in the past:

Oatsies (click for recipe)"Power cookie" by Capers, at Whole FoodsVegan Oat Bar, Caffe Ladro, Seattle

So when I found myself with half a bag of Bob's Red Mill Hot Cereal, I was all, "I'm going to invent a healthy-ish bar cookie". I started with the basic idea of a Nanaimo bar crust type texture, but it's very different because it's made mostly with a whole grain cereal mix. 

 
Let me tell you, I came up with a recipe for sweet (and somewhat healthy) success.

They are tasty little things. They taste somewhat healthy, but the richness from the butter, and the sweetness from the melange of vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch, lends them a distinctly dessert-like feel.

They still feel like they might be breakfast-appropriate...but, you know, it would be a GOOD breakfast. 

Healthy-ish bar cookies

Here's how you make 'em.

Chocolate-Butterscotch Whole Grain Bars

Makes one 8 or 9-inch square pan's worth (how many? Depends on how big you cut them!)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill hot cereal (I used this kind)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate morsels or coarsely chopped chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar. Once it's melted and combined, remove from heat, and add the vanilla and the egg. Stir vigorously so that the egg doesn't cook or leave scrambly bits in your mixture. Once it starts to thicken (right around the time the egg is thoroughly mixed in), add the cereal mix and flour and salt, stirring until thoroughly moistened. 
  3. Add the chocolate and butterscotch morsels. If you wanted, you could add some nuts or any other mix-ins you like at this point.
  4. Healthy-ish bar cookies
  5. Press the mixture into a greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and slightly dull on top. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly before cutting into pieces as large or small as you like. 
  7. Enjoy! Healthy-ish bar cookies

 

Monday
Oct062014

How to Use Fresh Flowers in Cake Decorating

Have you ever used fresh flowers in your cake decorating? If so, you know that it's harder than it sounds: keeping your cake from wilting the petals, and the stems from flavoring the cake, can be tricky to navigate. I wrote a great roundup of tips and tricks for using fresh flowers on your flour creation. Read the full article here.

Sunday
Oct052014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Grizzly Bear Claws

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events).
 

Gerald Martinez of Westminster, Colorado deserves an award: for the cutest pastry name in the running at this year's Bake-Off! Not that it's that different from "bear claw", but somehow the "grizzly" referring to a flaky coating of coconut makes me coo. That's cute! Plus, the pastries are a fine way to start the morning, made from biscuit dough reconfigured and filled with a date-nut mixture. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Grizzly Bear Claws

  • Prep Time: 25 Min Total
  • Time: 50 Min
  • Makes: 5 bear claws

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 large orange (1 tablespoon grated peel and 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons juice)
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3
  • cup finely chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup Jif® Creamy Almond Butter 1can Pillsbury Grands Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (5 biscuits)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with Reynolds® Parchment Paper. In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the orange juice with whisk until smooth; set aside. In another small bowl, mix coconut and almonds; set aside. 
  2. In medium bowl, mix dates and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Stir in almond butter, orange peel and remaining 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Set aside. 
  3. Separate dough into 5 biscuits; press each biscuit to form 7x3 1/2-inch oval. Spoon about 2 tablespoons date filling on one half of each biscuit oval. Spread filling to center, 1 inch from short end and 1/4 inch from sides. Fold dough in half over filling; bringing top edge of dough even with bottom edge. Press edges firmly to seal. 
  4. Place biscuits 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Using sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make four 1-inch cuts, 1 inch apart on sealed end of biscuit. Gently stretch each section between cuts to form claw shape. Brush tops of biscuits with reserved orange glaze; sprinkle evenly with reserved coconut mixture. 
  5. Bake 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and coconut is toasted. Cool 2 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Saturday
Oct042014

How to Keep Your Cakes From Falling in the Center

There aren't many bigger bummers than baking a perfect, beautiful cake and then having it fall in the center. I wrote a great article for Craftsy about some of the causes, and how to keep it from happening. Read the full article here!

Saturday
Oct042014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

The list of things in the world that are better than home-baked brownies...well, it isn't a very long list.

Make them easy to create using just seven ingredients, and make them gluten-free to boot, and you've got a treat that will please many palates. Thank you for the recipe, Michelle Matoba of Fair Oaks, California...and good luck at the Bake-Off!

Easy Double-Chocolate Brownies

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 20 Min
  • Makes: 24 brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 13x9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add remaining ingredients; beat with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.
Saturday
Oct042014

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

Photo via The Everyday Art of Gluten-FreeI'm not anti-gluten; I'm pro-delicious. This cake happens to be gluten-free, but that doesn't stop me, because just look at the thing. It is a guest post featuring a recipe from The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free: 125 Savory and Sweet Recipes Using 6 Fail-Proof Flour Blends. It is inspired by a recipe from Austin pastry chef Sandy Reinlie, a "genius" when it comes to combining flavors. 

Coconut Pistachio Gateau with Marzipan Filling

For the cake

  • 2 1/2 cups "cake and muffin" blend (link here)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • scant 1 cup finely ground roasted salted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pure olive oil
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the icing

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the marzipan filling

  •  1 pound gluten-free almond paste
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Garnish

 

  • 2 cups salted pistachios, chopped
  • toasted coconut

Procedure

  1. Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour blend, sugar, pistachios, cornstarch, and baking powder. Beat briefly to combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg yolks, sour cream, and extracts until very smooth. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients in a slow, steady stream. Beat the batter on high for one minute, or until thick and smooth. Add the shredded coconut and mix until just combined.
  4. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they attain stiff peaks. Using a wooden spoon, fold this mixture into the batter until there are no more white clumps remaining.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top cracks slightly and the edges have pulled away from the sides.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least an hour.
  7. Make the icing now. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil, whisking to make sure the sugar dissolves, and cook until the temperature registers 239 F (115 C, soft ball stage) on the thermometer. This will take several minutes. 
  8. Meanwhile, in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until opaque and frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until the whites are thick and foamy.
  9. With the mixer on high speed, pour the hot sugar syrup into the whipping egg whites in a slow, steady stream being careful to keep the hot syrup between the bowl and whisk to prevent sprays of sugar on your skin or beautiful face. Beat the meringue for 7 minutes, or until the egg whites are very shiny and hold deep folds. The mixer should be cool to the touch on the bottom. Beat in the vanilla just til combined. 
  10. Make the filling. In a food processor fitted with the "s" blade, combine the almond paste with the corn syrup and one to two drops of the food coloring, if using. Mix them until the paste is very smooth. If the almond paste is crumbly, add a bit more corn syrup, a teaspoon at a time, until it folds in on itself. 
  11. Lightly dust your work surface with confectioners' sugar. Turn out the marzipan mixture and roll it into a circle 1/4 inch thick and 11 inches in diameter.
  12. Assemble the thing. Invert the cooled cake onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap a thread or piece of unflavored dental floss around the circumference of the cake, halfway from top to bottom, and draw the floss tight, using it to cut the cake in two layers (or do it the normal way with a serrated knife).
  13. Set one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Place the marzipan disk on top. Dollop 2/3 cup of the icing on to the marzipan and spread it twoard the edges. Top with the second cake layer. Ice the cake with the remaining icing. Press the pistachios on the sides of the cake, and sprinkle the top with toasted coconut. Keep the cake under a cake dome for a few days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

 

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