Monday, March 31, 2008

Artisan Breads- Master Recipe Boule, Brioche and Chocolate Brioche

First, an update that justifies my blog having a law based name: I decided where I am going to school next year! I am going to be attending GW Law. Super excited, though inherently broke. Cheaper ingredients will soon become a common feature here at Chez Tart Reform. Doesn't matter though. I have made a decision and am happy with it.My First real cookbook review! So…I’m excited! I recently purchased “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” after being inspired by many lovely posts on it. The basic idea is that you take about 10 minutes to mix the dough (literally, I timed myself when I mixed it one day before class, and I had it mixed in 10 minutes). You mix enough to make about 4 loaves of bread. Then you let it sit out for a few hours untouched. Later, you put your large bowl of bread in the fridge, where it sits, again untouched, until you pull out just what you need to bake bread for that night. Most loaves (ones without eggs or milk) are fine for up to 2 weeks (though the longest mine has lasted is a week because we eat it up). On the day you want bread you have 2 options:
1) in the morning, take out your dough and shape your loaf. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake.
2) at night, take out dough and shape your loaf. Let sit about 40 min then bake.
Either method only requires about 5 minutes of hands on time, but I preffer the 1st method (called the refridgerator method so that I can get dinner on the table quicker.
Since “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” came in the mail a few weeks ago, I have been hooked. One of my friends from home is even getting a parbaked loaf of the Brioche filled with Chocolate Ganache as her birthday present and way to end Passover. I have tried 2 base recipes as well as a few cooking methods, so here is a review recipe by recipe:

Master Recipe: Great. SOOOO easy to make, you can’t go wrong. The taste is good to start, but does get even better over time in your fridge (think of a mild sourdough) or if a little bit of the last dough is left in. The dough becomes harder to work with as time progresses (stickier and harder to shape) but is delicious and still super doable. I have made it into the basic boule (easiest and perfect for serving with dinner), the wheat stalk shape (WAY too much crust. Looked very pretty but it is hard to bite into the tips of the stalks) and the sandwich loaf ( I wouldn’t call it a sandwich loaf so much because it isn’t the size of a loaf you are used to for sandwich bread. Think more like a size that would be perfect for appetizers once sliced. Mine was about 4” wide x about 2-3” high). I have come to serve the boule of this recipe with dinner regularly. I also turned this into the sundried tomato and parmesan bread the book lists, and I had great results. Not having sundried tomatoes, I baked some cut cherry tomatoes with olive oil and basil in the oven until about the same texture. It was so pretty and super tasty served with baked ziti.Brioche Recipe: I only made a ½ batch and both loaves from it got turned into chocolate ganache filled loaves. Not that I’m complaining. They are DELICIOUS. Soft, buttery sweet bread (a lot like challah) rolled around a chocolate glaze, baked to golden brown and then topped in more chocolate glaze. And, still very easy to make. Just be sure to flour your rolling area as it is sticky.

Conclusion: I highly recommend this book. There is the caveat that the bread is not ACTUALLY done in the 5 minutes listed in the title (about 30minutes in the oven plus 40 minutes rising if you don’t use the fridge method) but even that time isn’t hands on and can be done while making the rest of dinner or even watching tv. I have read complaints online about the bread not having much flavor, but I haven’t found this to be the case if you either give it time, give it some leftover from your last batch or just aren’t overly critical of the warm, crusty bread that you make in about 15 minutes total of work time. Seriously, it is GREAT with time or a little leftover, but is still darn good without. OH! And, one of my favorite things is that one of the authors updates a blog about the book with answers to questions, color pics, tips and variations to the recipes. LOVE IT!

Other recipes from the book I intend to try soon: Ciabatta, Caraway Swirl Rye, English Granary Style, Vermont Cheddar Bread, Caramelized Onion & Herb Dinner Rolls, Spinach Feta, Roasted Garlic Potato Bread, Pizza, Spinach & Cheese Calzone, Focaccia with Onion & Rosemary, Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper, Pita, Naan, Challah, Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls, Soft-Style American White, Buttermilk Bread and the Blueberry Lemon Curd Ring.Master Recipe for a Boule
Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for four loaves, to be baked within 2 weeks. Each daily loaf will average 5 minutes of active preparation time.
Makes four 1-pound loaves3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F) (NOT HOT! You should be able to comfortably put your fingers in)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (I use a little more since I have active dry yeast, not instant)
1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (I use 1 TBSP since I use table salt)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel.

1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. If dry bits of flour remain, wet your hands and quickly work them in. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

2. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel (I use a silicone baking mat) by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour (I find this leaves too much flour on the extra dough, so I just flour my hands, flour my work area, then proceed. After cutting, I loosely roll the cut dough in floured area). Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives or kitchen scissors are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6. Place the dough on the cornmeal dusted pizza peel/mat. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered (or cover and put in fridge up to 14 hours). The bread may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone (I use a cookie sheet) on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone (sometimes I just put the mat on the baking sheet just for ease). Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

Brioche Bread
Makes four 1 pound loaf.
The recipe is easily doubled or halved.
1 1/2 cups luke warm water (slightly heated, but not hot)
1 1/2 tsp yeast (again, I use slightly more since mine is active dry, not instant)
1/2 tbsp salt (I use slightly less since I am using table salt, not kosher salt)
8 Eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter ( 3 sticks), melted, plus extra butter for greasing the pan.
7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water)

1. Mix the yeast, salt eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled, don't try to work with it before chilling.

3. Cover (not airtight)

4. Refrigerate in a lidded (not air tight) container (or in the same bowl, covered with plastic wrap) and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days freeze the dough in one pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then allow the usual rest and rise time

5. Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge if frozen. On baking day grease 9 x 4 x 3 inch nonstick loafpan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and and cut off a 1 pound piece (grapefruit size) (Again, I find it easier to dust hands and work surface so you don’t overflour leftover dough). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.

6. Elongate into an oval shape and place in the prepared pan. Allow to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

8. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash.

9. Place the bread near the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a medium golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, brioche will not form a hard crackling crust.Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache
1 pound brioche dough (grapefruit sized)
1/4 pound bitter sweet chocolate finely chopped (semisweet works too, but not as well)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan.
4 tsp unsweetened cacao powder.
1 tbsp rum
5 tablespoons corn syrup.
1 egg white lightly beaten with 1 tbsp of water.
Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Making the ganache:
1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave on low heat, until smooth. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated.

2. Stir the cocoa powder into the rum, add the corn syrup, and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate.

3. Assembling the brioche:Lightly butter 9 x 4 x 3 inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated brioche dough with flour and cut off a one pound piece. ( I flour my hands and work area more so than the dough)Dust the piece with flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out the ball into 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.

4. Spread 1/2 cup of the ganache evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 1 inch border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, being careful to seal the bare edge.

5. Gently tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate into a oval , and drop into the prepared pan.

6. Allow to rest 1 hour and 40 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with egg white. Sprinkle lightly with the granulated sugar.

8. Bake the brioche for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sugar caramelizes. Due to the butter in the dough, the brioche will not form a hard crust.

9. Remove from the pan and cool slightly, then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of ganache over the top crust. Cool completely and slice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chicken Parmesan Subs

Yet another Rachael Ray recipe. I know some of y'all hate her, but gosh is she good to have around when I get home from work at 6:30 and just want to eat. This is more of a method recipe than exact, so feel free to play around with the quantities. She suggests only using one side of a roll per person...but that seems silly to me. I want my own roll, thank you very much! Also, I typically only have chopped garlic, not whole cloves laying around, so I sprinkle some on the bread instead of rubbing with the head. Basically, this is a quick, easy and rather healthy chicken dinner that we all love around here.

Oh, and sorry, but it isn't very photogenic!Chicken Parmesan Subs
2TBSP Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 26 oz box of chopped tomatoes (Pomi)
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
4 chicken cutlets
2TBSP butter, softened
4 hoagie rolls
a little more than 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Cut chicken into strips 1/2 the width and 1/2 the length of tenders.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add 3 garlic cloves and fry until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and oregano. Add the chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Spread a little butter on each hoagie roll half, place cut side up on a small baking sheet and broil until golden and crunchy, about 3 minutes. Top with the remaining garlic clove and set aside.
Distribute half of the mozzarella on the roll halves. Arrange the chicken and some sauce over the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of oregano on top and serve immediately.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Almond Crusted Chicken

The Feb 2008 Rachael Ray Magazine had a recipe that I saw and instantly ripped out, knowing I had to try it. It had 5 ingredients and was done in 30 minutes. Who can argue with that?
It was a pecan crusted chicken. Well, I didn't see pecans at my grocery store. Hmmm, well, not being a quitter, I picked up a bag of sliced almonds, and haven't looked back. It worked great with the almonds, but I'm sure most any nut (expect maybe peanuts) would be great.
Also, I used the Perdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts. They are like 1/2 breasts, pre-cut and individually sealed. The cooking times for them is on the bag, so I just followed the oven cooking directions on the bag and the chicken came out juicy inside, crispy outside. I will list the printed cooking directions here, but if you use a different cut (like the ones I did) adjust the time accordingly.
Almond-Crusted Chicken (Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1 cup almonds (or another nut), toasted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup honey mustard (I made my own with about equal parts honey and yellow mustard)
*salt and pepper
olive oil or olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400°. Using a food processor, grind the almonds into fine crumbs. Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl and stir in the bread crumbs and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Rub each chicken breast with honey mustard, then coat with the almond mixture. Place on a nonstick baking sheet (I used a regular baking sheet covered in foil) and drizzle with olive oil or spray on the olive oil cooking spray.

Bake until the juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes.

Blogging by Mail!

Yay! I'm super excited! My Blogging by mail package came! Mine came from (said in Texan accent) New York CITY?! The wonderful Josie at Flavor Junkie sent me more goodies than I know what to do with (not that I'm complaining).

When I got home from my Floridian vacation, I found a package from Amazon (my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Book) and from Josie. She sent me:

An insulated wine carrier (note to self: buy good wine worth carrying in insulated carrier)
Sweet and Salty Chinese Rice Crackers
Chinese Spice Rub (Josie suggests putting it on pork chops, but I think I'll try it in chicken)
Coasters that look like cocktail olives
Drink Stirrers
The CUTEST Happy Birthday candles ever. Must. Make. Birthday Cake.
Chinese Flower Tea. This looks so great. It is tea with dried flowers and sugar. You just pour boiling water over it and the tea "blooms". I'm very excited to use it.
Newman's Own Dark Chocolate Espresso Chocolate Bar. (Deep sigh of love. I didn't know this existed and I fear now that I do it may constantly stock my pantry)
A metal scrubber to clean my pots and pans (which I don't often picture for a reason. Some of these babies are dated)
Lime and Mauve colored Luster Dusts (I plan to make some very pretty cupcakes next week!)
Greek and Turkish Spice Rubs (This Thursday's dinner is going to be a Greek Chicken Salad thanks to this wonderful gift. BTW- both smell divine)
Offset Spatula- As my sous chef of a roomie put it "This would have been great to use on the hostess cake...if the cake hadn't already crumbled" This will really make decorating easier! THANK YOU
AND, Last, but not least, a lovely Card. Josie, you were so nice and I cannot thank you enough!

And a big thank you to Dispensing Happiness for organizing the whole thing! This is a great idea and I recomend it to all!

Candied Lemon Peels and Berry Lemonade

For this month's Taste and Create, I was paired with Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. She has many wonderful sounding mediterranean dishes, but sadly (or not so sadly) I didn't have much time to try them because I was on Spring Break. I have just returned from the Sunshine state with a fully relaxed body and a sub-par tan. Anyway, this week away from my kitchen left me with just one day to whip up some mediterranean goodies, so I made her candied lemon peels and sparkling lemonade, turning the lemonade into sparkling berry lemonade.
The candied lemon peels were fairly easy to make. The hardest part, by far, was removing the white pith from the yellow peel. Thankfully only cut myself once, but take your time on this step. Also, I realized it was easier to remove the pith after boiling the peels in the water. So, if you are having trouble removing the white part, get as much off as you can before hand, then boil the 2 times, then, before slicing, get off the pith.
The lemonade was SUPER easy. I just added some of the lemon sugar syrup to strawberry sparkling water I had laying around and some ice. Very good...but looked so plain. Well, I also had some blueberry juice laying around (from blueberry muffins I was making) so I added a teaspoon or 2 of that and it looked and tasted great.

Overall this was an easy set of recipes and I Loved the lemonade. The candied lemon peel isn't really up my ally, but I think I just woundn't like candied peels at all. Nothing against the recipe. Oh, and my room mates kept commenting on how DELICIOUS the ENTIRE aprtment smelled during the process. I recomend this if you have company coming over, because, not only will you have lemonade to serve, it will also make your house smell so fresh.
Candied Lemon Peel
(Candied lemon peel is tasty on its own as a sweet treat, and adds flavor when added to cookies, cakes, or ice cream. I have yet to tyr it baked into things)

2 cups lemon peel (peel from 4 - 6 lemons)
3 cups sugar, divided
2 cups water

Peel the lemons in large pieces. With a sharp knife, remove as much white pith from the lemon peels as is possible; the edge of a teaspoon works well to remove pith from a lemon’s top or bottom end. Place the peels in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Return peels to the pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Cut the blanched peel into thin strips.

Mix 2 cups sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until you have light syrup, about 45 minutes. Stir in the strips of lemon peel and cook for 10 minutes.

Let the lemon peels sit in the syrup until the syrup is cool and the lemon peels slightly translucent (She lets the peels sit in the syrup overnight, Mine sat for 2 hours). Drain the lemon peel and reserve the syrup for another use (lemonade).
Put the remaining 1 cup sugar in a plastic bag. Add a handful of lemon strips to the sugar and shake until the pieces of peel are completely coated with sugar. Spread out the candied peel on two baking sheets and let sit until dry. Repeat until all the lemon strips are coated with sugar.Put in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Berry Lemonade
Makes 1 drink

3 Tbsp. lemon syrup (from above)
1 cup strawberry seltzer water
1-2 tsp blueberry juice

Put lemon syrup, blueberry juice and seltzer water in a glass. Stir to combine. Add ice cubes and serve.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

Joelen’s Culinary Adventures is hosting what I think is an AWESOME idea for a blog event. She is dubbing it “Tasty Tools” and this month’s focus is on graters and microplanes. Hmm, well my room mate did just buy a grater…so I’m in!

I decided to make gougeres…aka French cheesepuffs. I had never made them before and, well, they are cheese puffs! How bad could they be? Oh, and they use a ton of cheese which you need to grate. Perfect.

I ended up using a recipe from Nook and Pantry for its ease and the fact that it included spices. The other recipes just seemed bland.

Issues I had: knowing when to take the dough off the heat. After the 30 sec to a minute back on the stove, I didn’t see any difference. After a minute 30 sec I just gave up and took it off the heat. I also had an issue with the flavor. I ended up doubling some of the spices because I felt the flavor as listed was still flat.

I ended up having to add the fourth egg…but it was hard to figure out! The mixture kind of drooped from the beaters…so I am pretty sure I was right in adding it. Next issue was sizing. These babies poof up a lot when baking, so don’t make your scoops too big or they won’t be bite size, but meal size.

Finally, to up the cheesyness, I added the cheese on top as directed, but then, in the last 2 min of baking, added a little more cheese to melt on top.

Turned out deliciously. Would be great to serve with a dip or filling at a cocktail party. And, they are so airy, you don’t mind eating a whole bunch of them. But remember, serve warm and fresh. They lose crispyness when they sit for a while.

Gruyere Gougeres
1 C water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 C AP flour
3/4 C + 2 Tbsp grated Gruyere (I ended up using a combo of swiss and parmesan since my store didn’t sell gruyere) (will need extra for the extra top cheese)
1/8 tsp black pepper (I used ¼ tsp)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional (I used about ¼ tsp)

(I added ¼ tsp garlic powder)
3 to 4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Add the water, butter, and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Take off heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon for 30 to a minute.

Put the pan back on heat and stir for 30 seconds to a minute to evaporate excess moisture.

Scoop the mixture into a mixing bowl and let cool for a bit.

Add the Gruyere, black pepper, (garlic powder) and cayenne pepper. Beat in 3 eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each egg. It is easiest to do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. After the third egg, see if the mixture falls from the beaters. If the mixture still clings to the beaters, add the fourth egg.

Pipe or spoon 1 Tbsp (cookie scoops are pretty handy for this task) of the mixture onto a parchment sheet lined baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Add a small pinch of cheese of the remaining 2 tbsp of cheese on top of each puff.Bake at 425ºF for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature down to 375ºF and bake for another 15 minutes, until puffs are golden brown. In the last 2 minutes you can add extra cheese on top, but try not to open the oven very much during baking.

They're delicious fresh out of the oven. You can store them in the fridge or freezer but reheat them in an oven to crisp them up. You can also fill them.

Yield approximately 30+ puffs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hostess Cupcake Cake

NOTE: UPDATED HERE.The good news? This was one of, if not the, best tasting cakes I EVER have had. Such moist, delicious chocolate cake. Creamy vanilla filling and a rich chocolate frosting. So decadent and fabulous.

The bad news? It was not at all structurally sound. As in flowing lava pit of vanilla filling flowing from a crumbling mountain of moist cake. Note to self: a very moist cake does not make a structurally sound 4 layer cake with a hole of filling in the middle. Who woulda thunk?

So this is the story of a very tasty giant hostess cupcake cake that just would not stand. It had a few cracks in the 2nd layer, but we patched those up and thought it was fine. On went the 3rd layer and it was beautiful.

Then came the fourth layer. It leaned. It squished and then it flowed. The yummy vanilla frosting started oozing out of those tiny wholes we patched. Then the case couldn’t support the top layer and it became a work of art that only Dr. Seuss could love.

Using the chocolate frosting, I patched the fallen pieces as best I could and came up with what looked sort of like a hostess cupcake cake. It tasted sort of like a hostess cupcake, only MUCH better. Much, much better.

A few choices if you want to make this. You can use a dryer, more sturdy cake. Or you can just use the white filling as a filling between layers instead of making a hole in the middle. Or, what I am going to try next time, make cupcake, cut a cone off the top, fill with the vanilla, retop with cake, then frost with chocolate. Won’t be as impressive, but then again, a Dr. Seuss shaped cake wasn’t that impressive to look at either.

Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake


MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH OF THIS CAKE (or follow this portion of the recipe and halve the layers)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Vanilla Filling

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine flour and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. In a small bowl, beat flour and milk mixture until fluffy. Add sugar and salt and beat well. Add shortening and beat well. Add butter and beat well. Add vanilla and incorporate thoroughly. Total mixing time should be 8 to 10 minutes, beating very well with each addition. This creates a light and fluffy filling

Chocolate Frosting


1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (I decreased to about 1 cup)
1/4 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt together butter and chocolate in a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl. Work in 30 second intervals, stopping to stir frequently, and continuing until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly (about 3-5 minutes).
Add in confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.


Place one layer of cake on serving platter. Take next layer and, on separate cutting board, remove a 4 inch circle from middle. Frost first layer of cake with either the vanilla or chocolate frosting. Top with second layer. Fill the hole with vanilla filling. Frost with opposite flavor as from first layer. Create a same sized hole in next level. Put it on top of the 2nd layer. Fill with vanilla and again frost with alternating flavor. Put final layer on top. Frost with chocolate and then do the 7 loop swirl on top with vanilla.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Twinkies Take One

I am dubbing this post "Twinkie Take One" because this is definitely a concept and recipe to be tinkered with. I LOVED the filling in these! DELICIOUS. I have already used the filling recipe in my hostess cupcake cake (which i will blog about later) and loved it yet again. It was the cake part that I had problems with.I used a recipe that called for boxed cake mix. Instead of buying a box of mix to make even less healthy imitation twinkies, I found a recipe on allrecipes labeled "cake mixes from scratch." Dry, tasteless and boring, I would never use this recipe again. Ever. Use a boxed cake mix first. Try this idea with your favorite cake mix and even if it is moist to start (which this one wasn't), resist the urge to cut into twinkie sized pieces, for they will definitely still dry out.
Twinkie Filling
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine flour and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. In a small bowl, beat flour and milk mixture until fluffy. Add sugar and salt and beat well. Add shortening and beat well. Add butter and beat well. Add vanilla and incorporate thoroughly. Total mixing time should be 8 to 10 minutes, beating very well with each addition. This creates a light and fluffy filling

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cream of Tartar

Wow, not how I expected to be spending my morning. A reader just asked about cream of tartar in my soufles. Well, what do I know about cream of tartar except where I bought mine (which was the local Giant supermarket, btw). So I did some research. This is taken from

"Cream of tartar is is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acid salt that has a number of uses in cooking. Now, before you get all jittery about the thought of cooking with an acid, it's worth noting that lettuce, brown sugar, steak, plums, and just about every other food we eat is acidic. In fact, egg whites, baking soda, and milk are the only non-acidic (alkaline) foods we have.

"Cream of tartar is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is a obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine. (The journal Nature reported some years ago that traces of calcium tartrate found in a pottery jar in the ruins of a village in northern Iran are evidence that wine was being made more than 7,000 years ago.)

"Cream of tartar is best known in our kitchens for helping stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It is the acidic ingredient in some brands of baking powder. It is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting. It is used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products, gelatin desserts, and photography products. Cream of tartar can also be used to clean brass and copper cookware.

"If you are beating eggs whites and don't have cream of tartar, you can substitute white vinegar (in the same ratio as cream of tartar, generally 1/8 teaspoon per egg white). It is a little more problematic to find a substitute for cream of tartar in baking projects. White vinegar or lemon juice, in the ratio of 3 times the amount of cream of tartar called for, will provide the right amount of acid for most recipes. But that amount of liquid may cause other problems in the recipe, and bakers have found that cakes made with vinegar or lemon juice have a coarser grain and are more prone to shrinking than those made with cream of tartar. Now, if they were making cream of tarter 7,000 years ago in Iran (or at least if cream of tartar was making itself), don't you think you can find the small plastic or glass bottles it comes in among the hundreds of other small jars and bottles in the spice section of your grocery store? Or you can get it in almost any quantity online." Alton Brown like lesson of the day. Thanks to the anonymous poster who got me thinking about what it is I put in my food!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Soy Marinated Chicken

I really liked this recipe. Very easy and tasy. Worked well served over rice with steamed broccoli. This time I accidentally used chicken I had pre-cut into stirfry pieces, forgetting it was supposed to be a whole breast. I had to change the cooking time, but I will post the reccomended time here. next time I will use the whole breast method to better the presentation, but otherwise, great.
Soy Marinated Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 large orange
2 TBSP soy sauce
broccoli and rice to serve

1. Slash each chicken portion diagonally and place them in a singel layer in a shallow, ovenproof dish. Halve the orange. Squeeze the juice from one half and miz it with the soy sauce. Pour this over the chicken. Leave to marinate for several hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Turn the chicken over, then bake, uncovered, for 20 min. Turn the chicken over again and bake for a further 15 min, or until cooked through.
3. Serve chicken and cooking juices over rice and broccoli.