Four Leaf Clover Rolls (KAF)

Today is a good baking day. It is at least 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. Saturday was an out of doors kind of day: picked up dog poo, unwrapped the camper trailer, fixed bicycles, got out the lawn chairs and table, and had lunch outside. Truth be told, Hubby did most of the work. I made the lunch and brought it outside. The poor dog; he did not know what to do with himself at first. He does not seem to like laying on the lawn or sitting on the patio. By patio, I mean a section of concrete squares that surround the basement bulkhead, nothing pretty and designed.

Again I am making something from King Arthur Flour. Their catalog comes in the mail trying to sell me all sorts of baking items and has these few recipes in it. For this recipe they want you to use an Irish-style flour and some baking papers. Well, I used whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill) and a jumbo muffin pan and two  8-ounce ramekins. I used raisins because I did not have currants, and I did not toast the walnuts.

The recipe link is here: the recipe.

My ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour; I always use unbleached but differing brands.
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt; I use kosher salt because I used to watch Alton Brown and i think he always used it.
  • 2 tablespoons honey; remember to spray your spoon with cooking spray first and it will slide right off; I forgot.
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup lukewarm tap water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1//2 cup raisins

20170226_192341860_iosThe instructions are simple and fabulous: Mix and knead all the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic. This took just over two minutes in the Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the bread hook. Grease the bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy about 60-90 minutes. I let mine rest for about 75 minutes.

This makes eight large rolls so I used the jumbo muffin pan and needed two more spaces so I used two 8 ounce ramekins. I sprayed these with cooking spray.

After the first rise, gently deflate the dough. Ha! Mom always called this “punching down the dough. Divide this into 32 pieces. So divide the dough into eight pieces. I like to use a bench cutter/scraper. Cut each of those pieces into four and roll each piece into a ball and place four in each cup. Cover and let rise until they crest over the rim. (I could not find the height of the special papers that KAF was promoting so I figured 60 minutes was in between the 45-75 minutes in the recipe.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes. Mine took 27 minutes. Brush with 1-2 tablespoons melted butter, if desired. I desired. And rolls for dinner.

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I think one of these with a cup of yogurt and fruit would be a fabulous on the go breakfast too. They taste sort of like a yeasted Irish soda bread with a touch of whole wheat. Gotta be healthy, right?

Maple Pound Cake

I have been baking, and cooking, just not writing! We got a late start on camping this summer so are trying to make up with the weekends that are remaining through October. There’s something about camping that makes sitting around doing nothing very productive. This is compared to sitting around at home doing nothing which is just plain laziness.

I am back to using King Arthur Flour recipes. I have not yet taken up their current bake-along challenge but may do so in the future.The catalog flyer they send each month has a few recipes in it along with the promotions of their products for sale. This latest had a Maple Pound Cake with Maple-Rum Glaze recipe which looked and sounded tasty and seasonal. It is definitely fall in New England and the Sugar houses will be full of maple syrup soon. Here is the link to the recipe on their website. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/maple-pound-cake-with-maple-rum-glaze-recipe

I followed the recipe almost exactly because that is just the kind of baker I am! Mise en place is essential for baking and I failed to pay attention to the recipe and what ingredients I had in the house. What type of baker runs out of butter! I had only some butter so I substituted coconut oil. This was solidified being less than 70 degrees F in my pantry. I also made my own cake flour using the directions from Mark Bittman’s book How To Cook Everything.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour whisked with 1/4 cup cornstarch (OR 2 cups cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons butter (OR 3/4 cup butter, softened)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the recipe also calls for 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor but this I do not have)

Sift the first four dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the coconut oil/butter with the brown sugar in separate bowl. To this add and beat eggs one at a time and then add the maple syrup. Now add half the flour mixture followed by the sour cream and vanilla. Then add the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.

You will have preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly greased a 9-10 cup bundt pan. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake test done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on a cake plate. My cake did not come out cleanly. I had to patch some of the pieces of the top (or bottom, depending on your perspective) of the cake back to the cake like a puzzle. Luckily this does not affect the taste. No Star Baker for me though!

While the cake is baking, or actually when you pull it out of the oven, make the glaze by combining 2 tablespoons butter (I found a partial stick of butter in the camping butter container), 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 1/4 cup rum (or water) in a saucepan. Bring this to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickens to a syrupy consistency. I forgot to check the consistency and just simmered it for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the warm cake.

The directions say to let the cake cool completely before serving. What? Why?

I let it cool just a bit while finishing an episode of the current Binge Watch on Amazon!

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This is a flavorful and moist cake. Hubby asked for a piece to put in his lunch the next day. This recipe is a definite keeper. Ice cream or real whipped cream could be added but is not necessary.

 

 

Musings from my Kitchen Table

For the past 8 or so weeks I have started my day sitting at my kitchen table contemplating the day at home, out of work due to my broken ankle. If hubby had coffee before leaving for work there is a thermos of coffee waiting for me. If not, that is the first thing I’ll make. I have a journal that I write down what I would like to accomplish on that day or that week. My “to do” lists rarely have been checked off completely. From my kitchen table I can see the stove, the pile of dishes in the sink, the cats eating their food, and my cabinets full of cookbooks.

In the weeks before Christmas the list was full of sewing projects, cookies to bake, and gifts needed. I wheeled around the house in my sewing desk chair preparing for the holiday. Then the holidays came and family was around and it was great fun. The ankle pain had died down mostly by then but for occasional twinges and achiness. After the Christmas holiday my son was home and we talked some, he played piano a lot, and I trusted him to drive my car. It is a standard shift and he learned and mostly drives automatic. We cooked a little bit together, watched Jeopardy and football, and he cooked some meals for us.

So after the New Year I expected to be healed and well on my way back to work. Did not happen! Another 4 weeks for healing the bone was needed. So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table in the mornings planning out my day. There is no holiday to prepare for. It is only bleak winter.

The son left for vacation. He decided to see Vietnam. I went to High School and college in the 1970s. My brother had a low draft number the year they stopped the draft. Saigon fell in 1975. There was a flooding of refugees. Do you know the oddness of feelings when there is the thought “my son left for Vietnam this morning”? (Mothers of my parents’ generation dealt with that for the many years of the war. I am ever grateful that my family was saved from the ravages of that war. Many were not spared.)

Bleak winter calls for soup. This is a barley soup from the back of the barley package. I use my regular substitutes: potatoes for parsnips, spinach for kale, northern white beans for the cannellini, Italian seasoning for the basil. With soup, the exact ingredients are not essential for successful outcome. Throw whatever you have around the house in a pot of broth!

Sitting in my kitchen I like to plan supper. I don’t want to wait until the end of the day to decide. Sometimes I do, though very seldom. I brought my computer in here so I could take care of household business. But I also peruse all sorts of wonderful recipes from you fellow bloggers as well as the King Arthur Flour website and blogs. I have gotten used to baking something or trying a recipe each day.

The other day I was contemplating brownies. Today I am contemplating chocolate cake. I was even thinking I could make a cake and send my sister a picture of it for her birthday at the end of this week. “Give” her a birthday cake!? Hubby does not have a sweet tooth like mine. I would eat 80% of the cake when and if I make one. What to do? I revisit the desserts for two website: www.dessertfortwo.com . Here I can find small batches of chocolate desserts. Brownies or cakes, which will it be?

And I have been thinking about frozen raspberries as well. And here is where other bloggers become my inspiration. I rarely make one of the recipes exactly but I will give credit to the inspirers! http://bitesize-bakes.com/2016/01/26/raspberry-buttercream-layer-cake/ and http://www.dessertfortwo.com/2011/09/one-bowl-chocolate-cake/ and http://sugarbcupcakes.com/2016/01/21/chocolate-raspberry-ganache-cake/

MusingsChocCake 008I get out the closest thing to a six inch cake pan that I can find. This is a 7-inch cast iron skillet to make the one-bowl-chocolate-cake:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I am using Hershey’s Special Dark since the only other chips I have are bittersweet chocolate)
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour the pan. Melt butter; stir in chocolate until melted; add the jam and sugar and stir well; add the egg and stir until well blended. Sprinkle on the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Bake 43 to 45 minutes at 350 F. My cake took only 40 minutes. The directions say to let cool completely before trying to slice. I turn it out on a plate. Tasting the crumbs from the bottom of the pan finds that there is definitely a raspberry taste to this chocolate cake.

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Meanwhile plan the frosting! With the Raspberries! Should it be pink or chocolate? When getting the raspberries from my freezer I find that I have a container of chocolate frosting leftover from the birthday cake made in early December. (I hate throwing food of any kind away.) So I take some raspberries for decoration and put the rest with this frosting, thawed of course. I whip that up to blend and then chill it a bit for spreading consistency. Now to wait for the cake to cool completely. Otherwise the frosting will melt and become more of a glaze. That’s not a bad idea, but, no, I’ll wait.

MusingsChocCake 014

Looks very rich and yummy! I could whip up some cream to serve with it. This small cake should make dessert for two for two nights.

(While finishing this up the KAF shopping magazine came in the mail, with a chocolate sheet cake recipe in it! Another cake next week?)

Missouri Mix

MoMix 001

Mom would send for a variety of information from the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Missouri. This later became the Extension Division. I think she was a farmer at heart. Missouri Mix is “an all-purpose baking mix that you can make up to be ready for easy baking. It can be used to bake many good foods.” The table of contents includes cookies, fried pies, muffins, pancakes and waffles, cakes, coffee cake, swirls, gingerbread,and pizza. Mom would make a batch of Missouri Mix and it would be in a large tub along side the other baking supplies in the kitchen cabinet. She made this up with vegetable shortening although it can be made with lard. The storage instruction for lard is that the mix must then be refrigerated.

Mom also has a “Basic Receipt For…”a mix developed at Purdue University. These mixes were substitutes for the expensive Bisquick in the grocery stores. Both cost out the ingredients. The cost of 5 pounds of flour at the time was 53 cents! Apparently in 1967 2 ½ pounds of Bisquick cost 55 cents and 4 ½  pounds of Missouri Mix cost about 70 cents.

MissouriMix 002I have two booklets for Missouri Mix. The one with Mom’s notations is from April 1960. This is the one she gave me when I moved away from home. The newer one that I found in her recipe clippings notebook is from July 1976 but is the revision from 1971. My sister raised her family on Missouri Mix. I would make half a recipe since I did not make biscuits and muffins and the like often for my children when they were growing up. What I remember most and did make for my young family was the Fudge Pudding. This was a dessert that baked a cake on top and its own pudding underneath. Very yummy!

At one point in my family life I found “The New Missouri Mix” on line. I printed this out in 1997. This booklet has a “large batch”

  • 5 pound bag of flour or 20 cups
  • 3/4 cup baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3 3/4 cups shortening

and a “smaller batch” recipe.

  • 8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening

It still calls for shortening! There is a hint for using whole wheat flour and that would require storage in the refrigerator. This booklet does not have the “Fudge Pudding” recipe. But what to do about the shortening? You know, trans fats and all that!

But first let’s cost it out. I am using Walmart prices since I tend to shop at discount grocery stores. When I first calculated this formula I used the entire can of shortening and there was no cost savings at 2016 prices. Both the homemade and the store bought baking mix cost about $0.45 per cup. So why bother? But when I redid the calculation it came out with a cost savings. The home made mix cost about $0.36 per cup.

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Several years ago while waiting for an appointment of some kind I was browsing through a magazine and happened upon a recipe for a homemade Bisquick using butter! This was intriguing because that would answer the trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils problem found in shortenings. I have made a half batch of this and here are the ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks frozen butter, unsalted, grated

This would make about a third of a recipe of Missouri Mix. The cost of butter would be more than the equivalent of shortening, but not that much more. Hmmm?

Lard has no trans fats. The mix could be stored in the refrigerator. But butter adds such nice flavor to baked goods. What to do?

I like home made. It is about making a home, making a meal, and living the legacy of my mother and grandmother. If I were to make this mix, I could make the Fudge Pudding at the drop of a hat! I could use half whole wheat flour and it would be “healthier”. I would also give in to the urge to make biscuits or muffins or other goodies more often.

 

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So much for reducing carbs in my diet!

Birthday Cake

I have the privilege of making the birthday cake for my granddaughter’s second birthday party. What to make? I had recently organized some photos and found some of my daughter and there was one of her third birthday and the cake I made then. And it is in the shape of my granddaughter’s favorite word: cat!

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1986

This is right out of Betty Crocker. I don’t remember making neither the cake from scratch, nor the frosting but this time it will be. But it is not easy to decide on which cake recipe to make. I am thinking that the cake made for son-in-law’s birthday was a bit denser than I would like for this cake. Perhaps I should just use a Betty Crocker recipe for a white or yellow cake. Food for thought!

So I decide to peruse my Mom’s recipe notebook, the one with her typed recipes and clippings. I have only used two of the recipes in the cake section, Best Ever Chocolate and Mayonnaise. What else is there? There is a booklet published in 1967 by the Betty Crocker company, whoever they may be, all about the perfect cake from scratch and mix.

There is even a quiz on the back to rate your cake. How cool is that! I also found a description of the “regular way” for mixing a cake. This is your standard cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, sift dry ingredients together and add alternating with the milk. Now I just need to find a description of the “mix easy” method.

afterThanksgivingCakeHumility 015In preparation to make the “old fashioned” cake from the Betty Crocker booklet, I need to make my own cake flour. Every once and a while I will buy this stuff, but rarely, and I do not have any on hand at the moment. This is easy to do. Replace two tablespoons of each cup of flour with cornstarch. Sift thoroughly. This particular cake recipe makes it easy. Just replace the ¼ cup with cornstarch and use two cups of regular all-purpose flour. Pretty handy dandy, I’d say.

Making the cake: ah hah! This is the “modern method”, one bowl, super quick! Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add exactly 2/3 of the milk, the shortening/butter and flavorings and beat for 2 minutes, or 300 strokes. Add the two unbeaten eggs and the rest of the liquid and beat for another 2 minutes. Pour batter into pans and bake 30 minutes at 350 F. There is a footnote in the booklet that says to add cocoa and baking soda, if the recipe calls for it, with the dry ingredients.

Looks nice in and out of the pans. I used baking spray with flour added so the one cake did not turn out of the pan perfectly. Luckily I will frost these and that should take care of that.

Decorating the cake is a challenge. I could not find licorice whips just twizzlers. I could pull those apart…or buy thin pretzel sticks for the whiskers. I am using vanilla wafers for the eyes and paws as that is what I did 30 years ago. Perhaps using frosting pens to draw the nose, mouth, and outline the ears and paws. I finally chose to use red pull apart Twizzlers. I make a chocolate pudding type frosting and then decorate.

Voila!skylarbirthday 001

Like mother, like daughter!

Cake Envy

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My sister made the cakes pictured above. She also made a cowboy hat cake for a grandchild’s birthday but I could not find the picture.  She has a house full of people who can help her eat these cakes. I want to make cakes, fancy cakes, but I don’t want to eat the whole cake! And I would!

Someone at work brought in a Rachael Ray cooking magazine and I naturally looked through it. cake envy and rob roy 003And there was a picture and recipe for a German Chocolate Cake. I love German Chocolate Cake. I have it for my birthday each year. But it is a fussy cake to make so I usually have someone pick one up at a bakery for my day. But here was this cake and I was having a day off on Wednesday and I have one of those ½ year birthdays coming up this week so I made a cake.

A lot of people think this cake has its origins in Germany. It does not. It is made with a blend of chocolate with sugar already added developed by Samuel German in 1852. Recipes using this chocolate abound. It is all American and has the classic caramel pecan coconut frosting between its layers. Apparently the original recipe was published in a newspaper or magazine in the 1920s and it has been a classic American cake ever since.

In looking up the history of this cake I find that the recipe gets tweaked as in the number of eggs, whipping the egg whites separately or not, using cake flour, and even messing around with the type of chocolate used. The recipe from the magazine that I am using doesn’t call for German Sweet Chocolate but for semi-sweet and cocoa powder. But all the same, it is chocolate cake.

cake envy and rob roy 002Mise en place (I think I even pronounce this properly now).Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 ¾ Cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ Cup cocoa powder. Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate with ½ cup water. Separate 4 eggs.

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Cream 2 sticks (1 Cup) butter in the mixer until pale. Add 2 cups sugar and beat until fluffy and light. This takes 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time. cake envy and rob roy 006(This is a fussy part.) Now beat in the melted chocolate and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla. Then add the flour mixture alternately with 1 Cup buttermilk. (This is how my Mom always mixed her Best Ever Chocolate Cake recipe, so this is not really fussy.) Mix that up all together until nicely blended. Good job.

cake envy and rob roy 014Fussy part coming up here. In clean dry bowl whip the egg whites for about 4 minutes until firm peaks form. Fold this into the chocolate batter.

Now we are set to bake. During all these minutes of whipping I have prepared the pans. These are 9 inch pans sprayed with cooking spray, lined with parchment, and sprayed again with cooking spray.cake envy and rob roy 013 cake envy and rob roy 015

frosting 002

Now wash the dishes.

frosting 004 frosting 005 frosting 006Make the frosting: 4 large egg yolks, 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, 2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 ¼ Cups sugar, 1 ½ sticks butter, 14 ounce pkg of flaked coconut, 1 ½ cups chopped pecans. Whisk egg yolks and milk. Add the rest and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until golden and thickened. This will take about 12-14 minutes. Add nuts and coconut, remove to a bowl, let cool stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Frost cake.

I don’t know why I think of seven minute frosting as too fussy; here I’ve stood over the stove for twice that long stirring and stirring and stirring! While doing all this stirring, I think that I could have used the cold coffee from this morning to melt with the chocolate instead of water. I also wonder if I should have used my 8 inch pans. The recipe said the cakes may flatten some and they absolutely did. I’m also wondering what to do with leftover frosting because this sure looks like a lot, turns out I use it all after all.

frosting 009

The next cake I bake will be a rainbow sprinkles with white frosting. I am making this from scratch this year instead of from the box. This will be one of the desserts for our Thanksgiving Eve Steak and Cake Family Feast. It is the favorite of my son-in-law and we celebrate his birthday then.

Let us eat cake! Then it will be back to cookies!

A mind at rest. Hah!

So I caught hubby’s cold and after one night of no sleep due to scratchy throat; the second night I slept very well and woke up rested. Still have a cold but not bad enough to stay home from work. I actually have some energy that morning. I get out chicken, cut up potatoes, carrots, onion and celery and throw this in the crockpot along with a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence (just because it was on the counter) and some apple cider (because I had been thinking about cooking chicken with cider). I will add green beans when I come home from work and that’s dinner.

About the middle of the afternoon my cold hits me full force. I sound like I have a cold. You can hear me breathe. I am sniffling into my tissues, drinking hot tea, and thinking I will take a nap when I get home. I’ll curl up on the sofa and read my library book. It is due back at the library next week. Dinner is already made in the crock pot.

So I get home from work and change into comfy clothes. I prepare my book and my box o’ tissues. And here’s what I going through my mind:

The bed sheets need changing. I wonder if I should do a load of laundry? Cat box needs cleaning. Did the cats eat their food this morning? Where is Squeaky? Foodimentary says its National Boston Cream Pie day: do I have anything to make cream filling with? Should I? A friend posted that she doesn’t like Boston Cream Pie. What should I make of that? I need to embroider something over the stain on the front of this favorite sweatshirt. The hairs on my chin need to be tweezed (you older women will relate; you young women will go “hunh?”). I should look at my pattern book to make clothes for granddaughter. How come there’s no mail today? And then I have a sneezing fit! Wash the hands yet one more time.

So here’s what the body does: Cleans the cat box. Wash hands. Pulls the sheets off the bed. Sorts laundry into two baskets and puts one load in the washer. Wash hands. When I got out the chicken this morning I found cookie dough in the freezer. I take the cookie dough and wonder why I made this. It appears to be a plain sugar cookie. I put green beans in the crock pot. Wash hands. I remove two of the chicken leg quarters from the crock pot and remove meat from bone and put it in a freezer bag so I can make chicken soup sometime in the future. Wash hands. I read some blogs while preheating the oven to bake cookies. I wash the few containers from my lunch so hubby doesn’t find dishes in the sink when he comes home. I slice the cookie dough. I find some chocolate chips and think about making a glaze for the cookies to fancy them up. And then I do.

cookies 001 cookies 002I did not make a glaze. What I did was put a few chocolate chips on the hot cookies as they came out of the oven, I covered the pan briefly with another cookie sheet, and then I spread the melted chocolate chips on the cookie, and voila!

cookies 003

I really should eat that messy one there in front. Hmmmm?

Meanwhile hubby calls saying he is on his way home from work and not to worry about dinner. Little does he know it‘s all taken care of.