Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The "From Scratch" Fiasco...

Okay, maybe not a "fiasco" exactly, but it sounded better that way.

I have a plan this year to make the "grownup" cakes from different recipes instead of my usual out-of-the-box routine. So I figured I ought to lose my From Scratch cherry sometime before the outcome was really important.

My mom got me the Cake Bible this winter, which is a great place to start. All the recipes are sorted and well described and include conversions in all the recipes. I picked the Chocolate Fudge Cake for two reasons- 1, it's chocolate fudge!, and 2, I had all the ingredients on hand.

The beginning went smoothly enough, at least until I turned on the mixer :( Adding the cocoa mixture and butter to the dry ingredients instantly turned into this dry, gummy mess. Not discouraged though, I soldiered on and began adding the egg mixture a little at a time and it seemed to smarten up and start acting like batter.

Then after I got it in the carefully prepared pans- the recipe says it should take 20-30 minutes...HA! more like 40-50! I was getting nervous as the tops puffed up an started to split and yet the insides were still goo... Finally the toothpick came out clean and I yarded those puppies out. After that, they took AGES to cool.

I got impatient and decided to "level" one. It was still a little warm and the bit I sawed off the top was moist and delicious at that moment. But I didn't have enough stuff to make frosting, and I'd be damned if I sullied my first "real" cake with canned frosting! So I wrapped my babies up for the next day, and then something happened...

Sometime in the night, all of the flavor and moisture got up and abandoned my poor cake. 

Yes, it pains me to say, that this cake is right on the verge of... YUCKY. There. I said it. Yucky. It is dry, it is bland, it's flavor is... meh. Just meh. Now don't get  me wrong, I don't blame the recipe at all- I must have done something wrong! Maybe next time I will try to measure by weight instead of volume, and use cake flour instead of regular flour, and better cocoa... I don't know, but this won't be the last of my From Scratch adventures I'm sure!

Monday, February 14, 2011

HAPPY VD (or "Friendship Day" to the kids)

So I had this bizarre urge to decorate something, and decided to take it out on the children :)
Armed with the class lists for my son and my friends daughter (same grade, same school, different classrooms), I set out to create the cutest cupcakes ever... at least that's what I set out to do. 

One of the kids is allergic to eggs, and of course nuts are a no-no in every classroom nowadays (don't even get me started on that)... 

Did you know you can substitute applesauce (mixed with baking soda) for eggs in boxed cake recipes? Well that's what they say... although "They" don't tell you that eggs are what hold the cupcakes together. I'm telling you now- eggs are what hold the cupcakes together!. Consider yourself warned. 

These are some seriously crumbly cupcakes.

But they're pretty cool.

And the kids thought it was particularly cool to have their OWN names on the cupcakes :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ta 'Za! With a VIDEO! OOH!

So I had major guilt and shame about not taking pictures of the big Pizza Bake a couple weeks ago. Really, I really did!

So today we're going back to 1:1 and making a batch of dough. What I'd like to show you is 1 pizza and a  batch of pizza pops.

You will need(yes, I'll go over it again)
Large bowl, measuring cup (big 4 cup pyrex, and a 1 cup measure), measuring spoon(s), big spoon, assorted pans.
Flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, water.

In 1 1/2 cups of warm water (not hot, not cool, warm) stir 1 tbsp dry yeast* and let sit until it starts to get foamy- about 5-10 minutes.
Into large bowl, measure 3 1/cups flour and 1 tsp salt. wait for yeast.

And here's the video!
Turn, Fold, Push, Repeat

Pour yeast mixture all at once  into flour (yeah, make one of those "well" thingys in the flour) add 1 tbsp olive oil and start stirring. When it's all mixed into a big mess, sprinkle some flour onto the counter top and turn the whole bit out of the bowl and start kneading. You will have to knead it for at least 5 minutes until you have a nice smooth ball. If it's getting too sticky, sprinkle some more flour on the counter and keep going.

Coat the dough ball with a bit of olive oil and put it back in the bowl to rise (about an hour ish) to double.
While you're waiting, you can prepare your toppings- grate cheese and stuff, and clean up your counter.
Get bored and eat leftover blueberry pancakes :)

For the pizza pops, stretch dough out into palm sized rounds, add a heaping tablespoon(ish) of mixed sauce, cheese and meat, and pinch closed. Pop into greased muffin tins and bake for about 17 minutes. 

Divide dough into half or thirds and stretch/toss/roll the dough onto greased pans.

Add the sauce and the toppings (but not the cheese yet) and bake in a 500 degree oven for 15 minutes, THEN add the cheese and bake for about another 10 minutes until the cheese is all melted and bubbleh... mmm bubbleh cheeese.

Remove from oven and RESIST the urge to tear into it for at least 5 minutes, pizza burns SUCK!


* the yeast thing- Ok so once in awhile, I can't get the yeast to "proof"- put your oven on "warm" and add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the water and stir in with the yeast. It will feed the yeast and get things moving. If this happens more than once, it's time for a new jar of yeast!