Saturday, September 24, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Honey Corn Muffins

Sometimes, when Baked Sunday Mornings comes around, I get scared of how much work the recipe is going to be.  However, when I hoped up the book to look at this recipe, I breathed a sigh of relief.  2 bowls, one muffin tin, no mixer and these muffins were done in under 30 minutes.  And they were quite yummy to boot, with a good corn flavor and a little something extra from the honey.  They tasted like the best version of a corn muffin -- not too sweet with a good texture.  I ate one plain right out of the oven, and then the next day with butter and honey and they were both delicious.  I've been on something of a baking pause because this is my insane time of year at work, so it was nice to find something easy and yummy to make.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Carrot Cake: Not As Healthy As It Sounds

Last week, I set myself a challenge. We were at my grandmother’s post-unveiling lunch and my cousin Danielle, who is petite and blond and very pretty, was talking about how she had decided to give up bread for the week after eating seven slices of pizza and realizing how much bread was in her diet. She has the world’s most enviable metabolism, and can out-eat pretty much anyone I know while still remaining super-thin. Some people have all the luck. Anyway, this is relevant because she inspired me to try and give up sweets for a week. I realized that I eat three or four desserts a day – dessert encompassing candy, baked goods, ice cream and soda – and that it probably wasn’t that healthy, and that I was probably addicted. So give up sweets I did. I have to say, it was extremely difficult. Before my mom even knew what I was doing, she asked me why I was acting so ornery. My body really missed the regular injection of sugar. And since I was going to be free of my bond on Thursday night, I had this great plan for all the crap I was going to eat, especially the delicious ice cream my dad and I had made the week prior. (On Wednesday night I went to check on it, and discovered that over my sweet-free week, my dad had eaten it all! The outrage! And I didn’t even get to photograph it, so I’m afraid it won’t be making an appearance on this blog any time soon, although it was extremely tasty.)

Anyway, Thursday night rolled around, and what did I discover? I didn’t even really crave sweets any more. Sure, if you put them in front of me, I would eat and enjoy them, but I wasn’t as excited as I imagined to be re-introducing them to my digestive system. All I ended up eating that night, sweets-wise, was a bit of carrot cake batter, and I was satisfied.

Ah, carrot cake, ye most deceptive of cakes. Your name makes you sound all healthy, yet you are one of the least healthy cakes out there. My friend Allison and her kind mother gave me a new cookbook for graduation, and I wanted to try it out. Luckily, my dad’s birthday was on Friday, so I had the perfect excuse! I happily grated carrots, before being informed that using the food processor attachment would probably be a lot faster. I blithely dumped mounds of shredded carrots, toasted nuts, flour and sugar in the mixer. I gaily cracked eight eggs. As the ingredients mounted, I thought, “Wow, this sure seems like a lot of batter.” But the recipe said it made a 12 x 7 inch cake, so…

Wrong. Dead wrong. It said it made a 12 x 17 inch cake. My kitchen not being a professional bakery, I do not own such a ridiculous pan. So I split it into two pans that had roughly the same combined surface area as a 12 x 17. Grrr, I hate it when I have to do math in order to make cakes. Anyway, it took longer for them to bake than the recipe said because I think they were thicker, but whatevs. I pulled them out of the oven and decided to frost one and bring it into work the next day, and use the other for my father’s birthday cake.

WRONG AGAIN. Apparently, the Amy’s Bread cream cheese frosting is the most high-maintenance cream cheese frosting in the world, as you have to make poured fondant and then refrigerate it for 24 hours before incorporating it into the frosting. Once again, if I were good at reading recipes, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. So I had to make some quick brownie buttons to bring into the office instead, stick my fondant in the fridge and hope that I would have enough time to whip up the frosting before Shabbat dinner on Friday. Which I did. And it was really good frosting, although there was a LOT of it. Which was appropriate, because there was a LOT of cake. I stacked the cakes on top of each other, trimming one so that they’d be the same size, but even after the trimming it was still the biggest cake in history. It could feed all of North Korea. We had eight dinner guests but we still only ate about a quarter of the cake. I brought another quarter of the cake to my friends’ house, where three boys and three girls were unable to eat even half of it. This cake was nuts.

And how did it taste? Very good! It was moist and dense, but also springy, and it keeps pretty well in the fridge, which is lucky because we’re going to be eating it until my dad’s next birthday. He says that the fondant is probably to stabilize the cream cheese frosting so that it doesn’t melt, and maybe he’s right – I’ve never been much good at that kind of chemistry thing. All I can say is it’s quite a pain, although if you know in advance that you’re going to make it, you can keep the fondant in the freezer for some time and take it out when needed. Next time around, I am halving this recipe, fo shiz.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cream-Colored Ponies and Moist Strawberry Streusel

Hey there, long time no Baking Sisters. Wassup.

When you are a prolific baker, it’s good to have what I like to call “back-pocket recipes” on hand. These are foolproof recipes with simple ingredients that don’t take long to make but always impress. Some of my favorite back-pocket recipes are tarte noire, Emily’s apple pie, and chocolate (fake) souffl├ęs. But when I am called upon to make a dessert that is both parve and non-chocolate, this cake from Kosher By Design: Short on Time is always the one that I go to. The problem with most parve cakes is that you can really taste the lack of butter. Not having frosting goes a long way towards helping this, but usually the cake itself is still dry and crumbly. Not so this cake. It’s light yet satisfying, it stays moist and delicious for days, and it’s incredibly simple to make. Try this out, and you’ll want to keep the recipe in your back pocket, too.

I am aware that Rachel had already blogged about this. I would like to state that I have made this cake many, many times and I've never had the problems she had - thus proving categorically that I am a better person than Rachel. Just kidding. But seriously, this cake is fool-proof. Thus proving that Rachel is a fool. Just kidding again. Before I get myself into more trouble, here's the recipe.

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