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.

Reaction

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.

IMG_1576

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

Advertisements

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

A Sailing We Will Go…

The oppressive heat of the Florida summer is finally starting to wind down, and it’s time for me to gear up the baking again.

Although, not this week. Due to my guilt at not writing anything since June, I had the brilliant idea of giving a report out on the desserts that I’d tried on a recent cruise that Scott and I took. We were on Carnival, which can be a hit-or-miss when it comes to desserts eaten outside of the main dining rooms. And NOTHING beats their Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

So, let’s dive on in!

Key Lime with Graham Cracker Crust and Almond Napoleon – Upper Deck Buffet

01927a23dbc6de2e0a8de430bcea3dd965b9fdce43

Florida is a good place to track down decent Key Lime Pie. The best place that I’ve ever had a slice was Key West (go figure). So, you would assume that any port in Florida would have access to the right ingredients.

From the first bite, I could tell that they had probably used a lime-flavored gelatin instead of the fresh lime juice. Granted, it is harder to keep ingredients fresh on a cruise ship, so substitutions are common (I won’t go into the “Mushroom Alfredo” that I know started life as cream of mushroom soup).   And I will give them props for making everything fresh on board (they claim). However, not terribly impressed by it.  Perhaps they should have borrowed some of the fresh limes from the bar.

The almond napoleon also left me a bit wanting. A napoleon is not something that I have had a lot of, but I’m pretty sure that the pastry part is not supposed to be limp. And I think that there should have been a bit of almond flavor.  And it had what I think were blueberries in it.  However, they had no flavor, so I don’t know for sure.

Bitter and Blanc – Main Dining Room

018d6a94dc9edbbdbec1394f790e442a20bec8f47b

I believe that this was supposed to be their version of bread pudding. Normally I stick to the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake at dinner, but this was for research (and I just can’t bring myself to order more than one dessert, even if it is a cruise ship and everyone is doing it.) Anyway, I was excited to try this after reading the description.

Overall, I enjoyed it. The semi-sweet chocolate custard was lovely (I would have loved a little dish of it to pour on top since I there didn’t seem to be enough of it, and the vanilla custard soaked immediately into the rest of the pudding), and the “bread” was flavorful. There was also a lot of it. The top was covered with four croutons (toasted bread cubes, for lack of a better description), that I ended picking off since they were a bit too much on the crunchy side for my taste. Once I got past the top bit of custard, I was faced with about three inches of nothing but bread until I reached the bottom. I dug around until I found more chocolate custard on the bottom, but I was so full from the bread, that I didn’t finish it.

Banana Cake – Upper Deck Buffet

012550c0deb5b9c0f90d57f64a43fed24ebee70721

Normally I am not one to like banana in desserts, but this was a delightful surprise. They called it a banana cake, but it was more of a pie, having a lovely crisp crust on the bottom and yummy and banana-y custard filling. If I wasn’t eating different desserts for research and they offered this dessert every day, I would have stuck with this one any time we ate in the buffet restaurant. Sorry about the half-eaten quality of the picture. Scott dove in before I could get a full glamor shot. The cake is also accompanied by two chocolate chip cookies. Those are pretty good, but I don’t cover them in this post.

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake – Main Dining Room

01be0a74f598cff4dcbbe007416c59da3fa5368818

This must be the Mecca of all chocolate cake desserts. I had never had anything like it the first time I ate one, and I doubt that anything will come close. This is not a chocolate dessert for the faint of heart. This is a warm, dense, gooey, cup of soul-soothing chocolate like no other. The top appears to be just another small dish of chocolate cake topped with powdered sugar. The first spoonful soon betrays the secret hidden inside each cup – this cake has molten goodness straight to it’s core. And this isn’t milk chocolate, either. This is grab-you-by-the-tastebuds-and-shake-you-like-a-dog semi-sweet chocolate.  Served with vanilla ice cream so you aren’t too overwhelmed by the chocolate.

0141dcffee6368ac8d3b300c2fec5ad4c82c9c0eb6

I want one right now. I have the recipe. I will have to try making it.

Linzer Torte and Pear Torte – Upper Deck Buffet

013629e298a0bc86bfd7a5a2f1025760507442c679

I took one bite out of each of these because that was enough. The Pear torte was really a piece of chocolate cake that had a bit of candied pear on top with some vanilla custard or something like it (custard is very popular, I’m noticing). The Linzer torte was a piece of spice cake smeared with a flavorless red jam and latticed with an equally flavorless pastry. In comparing pictures of Linzer tortes with the above photo, I’m thinking that they may need to hire a new executive pastry chef.  Thank goodness for the chocolate chip cookie.

Carrot Cake – On board coffee shop

012174f2ddff3d7d91a373a9c7ad0ddcad8c4643e3

Sweet mother of carrot cakes, this is a tasty thing to eat! Again, Scotty dove in before I had a chance to get a full shot.

This was everything a piece of carrot cake should be – nutty, carroty, just enough spices in the cake, slightly sweet cream cheese frosting…my mouth is drooling just at the thought of it!. And to top it all off, your own marzipan carrot!  We split this while playing multiple rounds of trivia on a rainy afternoon (Silly people thought they could beat me at Ultimate Disney Trivia.  Peasants.)

I have one or two more that I tried, but frankly I’m on so much of a sugar high from just writing all this that I need to stop!  I promise that I will update more often now that the weather has cooled off.  Sure, it’s in the high 80’s vs the mid to high 90’s, but that is a start, right?

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Cookies At Midnight

I got to pick the recipe this week since the hubs wasn’t really craving anything in particular. I picked this one due to the fact that I normally don’t do a chocolate cookie base, and I wanted an excuse to buy Oreos. I know, why buy Oreos when I’m making cookies, but Scott likes the variety. 🙂

Original recipe is here: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/oreo-doodles-oreo-crusted-chocolate-cookies/

What You Need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

4 ounces coarsely chopped dark or semisweet chocolate

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

12 Oreo cookies, finely-crumbled

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (besides the sugar and chocolate) and set aside. Place the butter and the chopped chocolate in a microwavable bowl and melt slowly in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds or so.
  3. Using a stand mixer, combine the chocolate and butter mixture with the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, and fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Roll the batter into tablespoon-sized balls. Roll in the crumbled Oreos, then place 2 inches apart on a prepared baking sheet. Bake until cookies flatten and surfaces begin to crack, about 12 – 15 minutes. Transfer onto wire racks to completely cool.

Reaction

These little guys are as dark as midnight. They are probably as close to a dark chocolate cookie that I have gotten to yet. They were very crumbly upon moving to the wire rack, but they did firm up once cooled. They also tasted better once cooled, if you believe that. Normally, I like my cookies freshly warm out of the oven, but I do like these better than their toasty predecessors.

photo

Keep an eye on the chocolate while you are melting it. You can also melt it over a double boiler on the stove top. If you do melt it in the microwave, take the bowl out every 10 seconds or so to check to make sure that it hasn’t burned. If the chocolate still holds its shape, try to break it up with a spoon and stir it into the butter. Chances are, the chocolate will yield and will combine easily.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love and Cupcakes!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies – From my own little brain!

I’m not normally a genius when it comes to developing my own recipe.  When cooking dinner (or any meal for that matter), I really need to have a recipe to follow.  I’m not blessed with the ability to look at what I have in the fridge and whip up a gourmet meal from a can of tomatoes and a piece of cheese. 

That’s what Scott does.  And it baffles me every time.

However, about once a year, I’m struck with an idea that I feel is completely brilliant, and it seems to work out exactly how I imagined it.  What follows is a recipe that got it’s start as about five other recipes, and a lot of intuitive thinking whilst I was in the kitchen.

Original recipe from my own brain.

 

What You Need

½ cup rolled oats (or old fashioned)

1 cup butter

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons vanilla

1 small box instant chocolate pudding (unprepared)

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 ½ tsp powdered peanut butter (optional) – More on this later

1 ½ cups peanut butter chips

 

And Here’s What You Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Pulse oats in a food processor until fine.  Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing after each egg.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt & pudding mix.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Carefully stir in the peanut butter chips.
  4. Divide dough out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet using a cookie scoop.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the edges have just slightly turned brown.  Remove from the oven and let them sit on the hot sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

 What Have I Done???

I’ve been eyeing powdered peanut butter for a while.  I’ve read about it most often in the Hungry Girl emails as a good way to add the peanut butter flavor without all of the fat and calories.  Turns out, the powdered stuff has only 45 calories per each 2 tsp serving, and about a third of the fat that regular PB has!  And you can add water and make your own low-fat and incredibly yummy peanut butter!  I promise, it doesn’t taste powdery.

 Image

I’m not sure that the powdered peanut butter adds that much flavor, but there is a subtle richness to the cookies that might not be there if it were removed.  I’ll have to test that theory.

It is a creation of Bell Plantation.  Visit them here: http://www.bellplantation.com/

I bought it at my local Walmart when I was brave enough to go in last Saturday.  It also comes in chocolate.  I may have to go and get some of that as well.

 Reaction

Scott had a fresh one right off the cookie sheet…I just caught him eating another one…and it’s before dinner…anyway, he said that he really likes how they are not terribly sweet.  He also said they were “pretty good”, and considering that I saw him eat at least five yesterday, I would say that he likes them a lot.

 I think that I might have been picturing them turning out slightly darker.  As it is, they are the color of a lovely glass of chocolate milk.  While still lovely, not the shade I had thought.  But, considering how tasty they are, I don’t think that I will change that much.  Maybe I would get a different result with cocoa powder, but not the same consistency.

 Image

 Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Cracker Barrel Chocolate Coke Cake

I will be the first one to admit that I am not a cake person. That being said, every once in a while, I can be persuaded to try a piece. I tried this cake at Cracker Barrel, and I knew that I had to see if I could find the recipe for it.

Original Recipe is here: http://www.allfreecopycatrecipes.com/Dessert-Recipes/Copycat-Cracker-Barrel-Coke-Cake

What You Need

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup Coca Cola

5 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Topping:

½ cup unsalted butter

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

9 tbsp Coca Cola

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

And Here’s What You Do

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×13 baking pan using your favorite meathod. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and baking soda and Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup butter with 5 tablespoons cocoa and 1 cup Coca Cola. Bring to a boil, whisking together as it melts.

2. Pour the chocolate mixture over the flour mixture and stir until combined. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, stirring well until combined

3. Pour the batter into the prepared 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes (mine was done at 30 minutes).

4. For the topping, sift 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 9 tablespoons Coca Cola. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the sifted confectioners’ sugar. Whisk together until completely combined.

5. Remove the cake from the oven once it is done and poke with a fork all over the top. Slowly drizzle the warm chocolate frosting over the cake. Allow to cool completely before serving.photo 2(2)

 

What I Did

This recipe originally calls for a marshmallow fluff layer between the cake and the frosting. However, this was already turning out to be a pretty sweet cake, so I decided to omit the marshmallow and just go

with the frosting. I don’t think it is lacking anything. And the cake that we had at the restaurant didn’t have the fluff either.

Reaction

I think my coworkers really needed the chocolate cake today. Maybe it’s due to the fact that it is Monday, and Mondays around the office tend to be pretty hectic. But, it certainly was welcome.

I think the next time I make this cake, I will remove some of the sugar in it.  The cake had a bit of a grainy texture, but perhaps that was just the frosting.  Perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough…In any case, definitely worth another try!

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Eggnog Cranberry Bread

After spending a few weeks baking with ingredients that I normally don’t have, I wanted something that would use up those ingredients, namely eggnog and fresh cranberries.  What could go wrong?

Recipe came from here: http://thecornerkitchenblog.com/eggnog-cranberry-bread/

What You Need:

2 ¼ cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup eggnog

½ cup melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups fresh cranberries

 

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a standard loaf pan using your favorite method.  I’m a fan of lining the pan with foil and spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside
  3. Combine the eggs, sugar, eggnog, melted butter and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. The original recipe said that the batter will be lumpy, but mine wasn’t, amazingly enough.  Just keep reading…Fold in cranberries.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes. Check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before cutting.

What I did:

Since I knew that this would probably only make 1 loaf, I doubled the ingredients so I could make two loaves.  I didn’t feel like hauling out the stand mixer (mistake #1), so I mixed everything together with my adorable little hand mixer (mistake #2).  The dough quickly decided to adhere to one only one of the paddles, working its way toward the mixer base like a snake, and throwing dough everywhere outside of the bowl.  When my hand mixer started making a funny smell (I think I might have started to burn the engine up), and all the dough was far too dry and sticky to be decent bread, I realized that I’d forgotten to double the wet ingredients (mistakes #3-5).  More eggs…more eggnog…lots more eggnog…then folded in the cranberries with a spatula.  All 6 cups of them (mistake #6). Wow, lots of cranberries…

So, divided everything up and stuck it all in the oven.  After an hour, the house smelled divine!  I knew that all the mistakes I’d made would be worth the end result.

Only it took about twice as long to cook the loaves due to the amount of cranberries that were in the dough (mistake #…oh forget it.  Too many to count).  Yeah, I forgot that when you are using fresh fruit, it always adds baking time.  What can I say?  It’s the holidays, and everyone is going faster than they care to admit.

I covered the loaves with foil during the last bit of baking time so that their tops wouldn’t burn. 

Image

Terribly blurry photo…Sorry about that.  Its the only one that I got before the bread was gone.

Reaction:

This was one of those times in my life when everything should not have turned out, but some miracle it actually did.  The bread is super moist, and it easily falls apart when cut/handled/looked at, but the flavor is very sweet and tart at the same time.  And not overwhelmingly eggnog-y.

I loved this recipe.  And I love making quick breads like this.  I think I would like to maybe concentrate on them a little more so that I can get the moisture level to a good point without having the bread fall apart on me when I cut it.  I could have used less cranberries and less eggnog, and it probably would have been fine. 

I guess I’m just paranoid that the bread will be dry.  Oh well.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes