English Muffin Bread

We are at the end of our fiscal year at work, and that always means for higher stress times. So, in order to help with that, I usually try to bring in a few extra treats. I found this recipe and wanted to try it (because I love bread, especially bread that doesn’t take all day to make!), but didn’t want the temptation of a loaf of bread hanging out at the house.

Original Recipe is here (King Arthur Flour Company): http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/english-muffin-toasting-bread-recipe

What You Need:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda * 1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

Cornmeal or flour, to sprinkle in the pan

And Here’s What You Do:

1) Whisk together the dry ingredients (minus the cornmeal or flour for the pan) in a large mixing bowl. I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

2) Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. Stir the liquid completely before measuring. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

3) Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

4) Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.

5) Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal or flour.

6) Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible. I used a spatula sprayed with some cooking spray.

7) Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F. ( It took 30 minutes in my very warm garage for it to get twice this size. I also used plastic wrap over the top, so that could have trapped a lot of moisture inside).

8) Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it is golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

9) Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf.

What I Did

I followed the directions this time. Now, the directions do not say to put the dough in your 90 degree garage to rise, but that is what I did. And rise it did! I think that the dough was sticking up over the top of the pan a least an inch and a half when I brought it into the house! At least it settled down to where it was supposed to be before I put it in the oven.


I left a sign next to it saying what it was (since an unsliced loaf of white bread in the kitchen may or may not have gotten eaten), and it was eaten fairly quickly. I had a lot of coworkers pass by my desk saying “Great bread” or “That was really tasty”. A friend said that the bread, butter and strawberry jam was a killer combination.


The bread was very crumbly, although the taste was divine! It really does taste like an English Muffin. I found that the small and thin pieces fell apart pretty easily, but would probably hold together a lot better if it was a thicker slice. The next time I make this bread, I won’t put it in the garage. My microwave is normally a nice warm spot, and would probably make a good place for dough to rise and be out of the way at the same time.

Since the consistency is somewhere between a quick bread and a loaf of sandwich bread, this would probably be best eaten as the name indicates – as an English muffin.  Unless sliced thicker, it probably wouldn’t hold up in a sandwich.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Simply Divine Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

This post has been a very long time in coming. But not without good reasons…

The first part of the year (read that as starting on January 1st) we dealt with renovating 90% of our home due to a flood that sat in the house undetected for four days. It’s not fun when you have been flying all night and you walk into three inches of water across your ground floor. So, after moving out for a few months, replacing most of our furniture, then having to deep clean all possessions, we’ve finally settled back in and gotten back into a routine.

Which brings me back to baking on Sundays. Did I mention that I got a brand new kitchen out of the flood? Yeah, I did. Here’s a photo of the new countertops, and a Christmas gift to myself from last year…

IMG_1491I finally upgraded to the Mac Daddy of mixers! The next level up is the commercial grade floor mixer, and I’m not there…yet.

Anyway, I have been baking. I promise. I finally have a little time to toss together a post on my latest cookies, which are still cooling on the rack.

Original Recipe is here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/10/08/death-by-chocolate-peanut-butter-chip-cookies/

What You Need

  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips

And Here’s What You Do

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir. Continue to melt in 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl from the chocolate and flour mixture. Set aside. With a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides every so often. The mixture will be granular.

Mix in the beaten egg/vanilla until incorporated. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly. Fold in the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Be careful not to overmix.

Chill dough for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Scoop about 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set with the centers still appearing very soft.

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

What I Did

Since these started life as “Death By Chocolate” cookies, I added a packet of chocolate pudding to the mix. Pudding makes the cookies nice and soft, and has a tendency to keep them soft throughout the week. Plus, it adds a little something to the taste. Not a separate flavor, just an added richness to the flavor.   And who can say no to a little extra chocolate?

IMG_1492I also used the mini chocolate chips (of course) instead of the normal-sized chips. It seems to be just a little more interesting when you have multiple chip flavors that are different sized than all chips of once size.

I also poked a few of the peanut butter chips on the top of the cookies before they baked just to make them a little prettier. Ha! Something they never really tell you in recipes, but they all do in order to make cookies photograph better.

I wasn’t having luck streaming the chocolate in while the mixer was on. The chocolate was collecting on the top of the beater, and spraying all over the upper edge of the mixing bowl. So, I turned it off and poured the chocolate all in at once.

Something else that I’ve also learned is to ‘drop’ the cookie sheet as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Sounds weird, I know, but it lets the still-soft cookies spread out a little and not be so…ball-ish (which can sometimes happen when you chill the dough before forming your cookies).

IMG_1494Oh, I also finally got open water certified. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, and I just decided to go for it. At times it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done (jumping into a fresh water spring when you aren’t prepared for the water temperature is probably not the smartest thing), but at 60 feet down on a reef and seeing giant green turtles and beautiful coral, it was an experience that I will never forget. I can’t wait to go again!

Blue Grotto DiveThat’s me on the right.  Except I was not ‘OK’.  I was cold.  Never diving a fresh water spring again.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Drunken Spice Cake

I opened up my cupboard last weekend and saw that I had yellow cake mix. I am starting to think that I have short term memory loss, as I cannot remember why I bought it. Anyway, it was the base for this week’s experiment that ended up going to work in a waft of cinnamon-scented goodness.
Even after all of the pins that are on my “Cakes and Pies” board on Pinterest, I still found this new recipe here: http://itsthelittlethingsblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/monogram-monday-crack-cake.html

What You Need
For the Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 small box vanilla pudding instant mix
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup white wine

For the glaze:
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all above ingredients together
3. Pour into a Bundt pan
4. Bake for one hour

When the cake comes out of the oven, melt 1 stick of butter into 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of white wine. Pour directly into the pan on top of the still-hot cake. Let cool completely before removing.

photo 1

Let’s talk a minute on Bundt pans. I’m not sure why I have two, or even where they came from, but I have them. I think my mom had four or five, all pretty much the same size and shape. I’ve seen some gorgeous pans out there that make beautiful cakes. And I do like the way they turn out. However, I have yet to master the art of getting a cake out of one of these without somehow damaging the cake. They’ve stuck to the bottom, they’ve left their entire top level inside the pan, etc. When I am successful, it is because I’ve oiled and floured the thing to within an inch of it’s usefulness, and end up with uncooked flour bits all over my finished cake (which I end up brushing off with a pastry brush). If anyone has the secret to this, can you let me know?

Anyway, back to the cake. The recipe says to bake for an hour. However, I kept an eye on my oven, and my cake was done at about 40 minutes. Now, the oven had been cleaned the day before, so I suppose that it is possible that the extra-super-clean insides make the cake bake faster. However, I haven’t seen this phenomena repeated in the past week, so it’s tough to say.

I mixed all of this by hand – Just me, the bowl, and a big old spoon. Since I had to mix everything by hand in the days before my hand mixer and the stand mixer, it makes me appreciate the appliance that make our lives just a little easier. And sometimes I just don’t want to haul the stand mixer in from the garage (teeny kitchen does not make for lots of counter space).

However, even if this cake did lose a little bit of it’s top to the bottom of the pan, it still turned out quite delicious. I took this in last Monday, the same day that we welcomed a new coworker. After eating a piece, he asked me what new thing I had made for him every day. Great, I’ve created a monster…

Until Next Time,
Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

Risking sounding like a broken record, Scott and I played our weekly game of “What kind of cookie do you want this week?”  His answer is always the same, and I usually end up making something that I want anyway.  So, back to Pinterest for inspiration for something that he will like.

I’m hoping that the upcoming holidays will spark a wealth of new cookie recipes, because I seem to not be able to find anything that sparks my interest in cookie making.  I hope that others have the same problem I do: I look at things that I have pinned and think to myself, “Why on earth would I pin something like that?”

Original Recipe Is Here: http://www.bakingandmistaking.com/2010/06/chocolate-peanut-butter-suprise-cookies.html

What You Need:

For the centers

¾ cup peanut butter

¾ cup powdered sugar

For the outer cookie

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter, softened

¼ cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup cocoa powder

½ tsp baking soda

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine the peanut butter and the powdered sugar. Form into balls slightly bigger than 1 tsp.  It will make about 30 little balls.  Place the peanut butter balls on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer (or a plate if you have a teeny freezer like I do.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients while they are in the freezer
  4. Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer, and mold the chocolate cookie dough along the outside of the ball until covered.
  5. Slightly flatten the cookies with the bottom of a glass.
  6. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the tops just start to crack.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

I gave one of the still pretty warm cookies to Scott to try, to which he said that he will tell me what it tasted like once it stopped being as hot as the surface of the sun.  What a jokester.  It wasn’t that hot.  Mostly.  Once they cooled completely, he tried another one.  That prompted a response of “Those don’t suck”, which is Scotty speak for “Dang, those are pretty good!”  At least I think he likes them. They keep disappearing when I look the other way…

These were supposed to be flattened with a sugar-dipped glass, but I thought that I would try them without.  The cookies aren’t super sweet, which is a nice change for a peanut butter cookie.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes


Update:  So, I had this in the queue to post, just waiting to take pictures of the final result…until I came home from work to find them all gone!  Sorry to say, no pics for this one, so hopefully you can use your imagination!

photo 1

Cinnamon Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

I think everyone loves to eat at work.  Ok, at least we all love to eat where I work.  I think we make any excuse to buy and eat cake.  Or cookies.  Or anything, really.  Especially for birthdays.

Recently, we unanimously decided to bring in our own goodies for our birthdays.  That way, if we wanted to celebrate, we could.  But it wasn’t mandatory if it doesn’t fit in the monthly budget.  So, of course I took the opportunity to try out a new recipe on those poor unsuspecting fools…I mean my beloved coworkers.

Original Recipe Is Here: http://www.thekurtzcorner.com/2012/09/cinnamon-cupcakes-with-pumpkin-pie.html

What You Need:

For the cupcakes
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon

For the frosting
1 16oz container buttercream frosting
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (don’t get the pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (I used a lot more)

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare a standard cupcake tin using your favorite meathod (I’m a fan of the little paper liners)
  3. Mix the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  4. Fill each cupcake well about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until done.
  5. While the cupcakes are baking, mix together the frosting, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. I used my hand mixer on low, and added more cornstarch as my frosting was a bit on the thin side.
  6. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. Garnish with a bit of nutmeg.  (Oops, I forgot to do this)

I know I’m not normally a cupcake maker.  But these had so much appeal that I couldn’t help myself.  And we don’t have much room to store a whole mess of cupcakes in the house.  However, these caught my attention during a recent Pinterest session.  They weren’t terribly complicated to make, and I loved the idea of mixing the pumpkin with the buttercream frosting.  I really cut down on the sweetness and gave the frosting a nice tone of all the lovely pumpkin spice flavorings.

If you are looking for something slightly different from your-rum-of-the-mill chocolate or vanilla cupcakes, these will work perfectly.  I used one of my two frosting tips to pipe the frosting on these cupcakes.  And now I know why I’m a baker and not a decorator…

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Carmelitas, Or How I Was Told to Bribe my Coworkers

A few coworkers and I were out to lunch, welcoming a new member of the team. The subject came up that I liked to bake, to which the woman on my left said “You know, you haven’t been baking much at all out of the “Stuff we want Liesl to make” Pinterest board. I think that you don’t really love us any more.” One of my leaders was also at the table and said, “Yeah, your year-end review is coming up. I think you need to show us the love.”

So, I got ‘gently persuaded’ to bake something and bring it in to work. Plus, we’re all facing the end of our fiscal year, so we’re all a little stressed out.

Original recipe is here: http://luluthebaker.com/2010/10/the-tale-of-the-carmelitas.html

Here’s What You Need
32 caramel squares
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove pan from oven and evenly layer the chocolate chips over crust then pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
5. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
6. Seriously, don’t try to cut them before they are cool. They will still be a little wobbly when they come out of the oven and will firm up as they cool.

What I Did
I really need to read recipes all the way through before charging blindly ahead (but, hey! Where’s the fun in being prepared?) I thought that one recipe would be enough to cover a 9X13 pan. So, I had to improvise and do another 1/2 recipe to try and cover the 9×13 pan. They turned out ok.


Oh yeah….

However, here it is a week later, and I’m making another pan for Scott. This time, I had all the ingredients that I needed for a full batch, and I can already tell that they are going to turn out better than the last batch did.


The coworkers loved them! I ended up bringing a few home for Scott to take to work, but I don’t think that actually happened. Because really, they are the perfect thing to pick you up after a long hard day at work. Or on a Saturday. Or a Sunday…

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Quadruple Chocolate Slam Cookies

Short and sweet today, but I do have two more recipes in the pipeline that are sure to delight!

Since I’m back to baking for Scott once a week, we’ve gone back to our game of “What cookie do you want this week?”  I may or may not have stopped asking at this point since he never knows. So, I just make what I want to make.  The humidity has definitely decreased in the past week, so the thought of baking has really been in the forefront of my mind.  We won’t mention the trip to Trader Joe’s yesterday morning that resulted in my buying almost everything pumpkin and wanting to come home and BAKE ALL THE THINGS!!!

Anyway, what better way to kick off the fall baking season with a heavenly chocolate cookie?

Original recipe is here: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/02/quadruple-chocolate-soft-fudgy-pudding-cookies.html

What You Need:

3/4  cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet instant chocolate pudding mix (unprepared)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt, optional
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 ounces dark chocolate

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Combine the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla in a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2.  Add the pudding mix, cocoa, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3.  Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. Form approximately 2 tbsp balls and slightly flatten each ball.
  6. Place dough on a large plate or tray, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Do not bake with un-chilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare your cookie sheet using your favorite method. Place dough on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked and glossy in the center. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

The original recipe calls for 72% dark chocolate, which the author said they found at Trader Joe’s.  Since I couldn’t find chocolate with that coco content in it, I opted for the 60% dark chocolate that I was able to find in my grocery store. (Yes, this is one of the things that I bought in my ‘Trader Joe’s Trip of Epic Proportions’ yesterday morning.)


The picture really doesn’t do these justice.  Granted, I only had two left to take photos of, but I should have taken photos earlier in the week.  They were the absolute perfect size (I used my trusty cookie scoop to form the dough, then tightened everything up with a quick roll between my hands), and so moist and tasty!

I am going to keep this recipe.  To me, it really is the perfect chocolate cookie recipe!  I should have flattened them out a little more, and they stayed pretty ‘mound-y’, but I don’t think it affected the flavor at all.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes