Banana Bread

Can you smell that?  Banana bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter….

This isn’t something that I make often mainly because it takes a bit of planning.  My store doesn’t sell “overripe” bananas, so I have to buy some purdy yellow ones and let ’em get old, usually by then I’m not in the mood for banana bread.  Rob always eats all of the bananas that he buys, so I bought some just for this purpose, and wouldn’t you know he brings some bananas home that he had taken to work, and now we were overrun with ripe bananas….   I can’t win!

I was so excited to make this recipe that I didn’t take a picture of the ingredients, but really how many times do you need to see my flour and sugar containers?  I’ve wanted to try this recipe or one like it for a while since seeing it on Pinterest, and finally I did, and it is good, so I’m sharing it with you, I’m a giver.

Click here for printable recipe

Use overripe, ugly bananas, these will have the most flavor, they should look like this or even darker.

First beat the butter and the cream cheese until smooth.  Oh butter, how I love thee…  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy

Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a sifter, yes I’m kickin’ it old school with a sifter, but you can use the bowl and whisk method from previous recipes.

Add the sifted mixture right into the butter/cream cheese mixture all at once and mix just until combined, a few small lumps are OK

Now add your nuts if using them, I used walnuts ’cause I love ’em, but you can use pecans if you want.  Also add your mooshed up bananas, I don’t like mushy banana chunks, so I mashed mine up really good, but you can go chunky if that’s your thing.

Now just mix gently until combined.  Place in your greased and floured loaf pans, I’m using a parchment sling that helps me lift out the loaf without any sticking, you should too, because it’s ingenious!

place in the preheated oven and bake from 45 minutes to an hour, go low and slow, if your bread is browning too fast, lower the heat even more.  This has lots of sugar and sugar from the bananas so it will brown nicely, but an oven that is too hot will over brown it.  It’s done when a toothpick inserted comes out without batter on it, a few moist crumbs are OK, but not batter.

You can also use this for muffins!  Just grease a muffin pan or use cupcake liners and fill right to the top, bake for 20-25 minutes or until it tests done.

Click here for printable recipe

  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) softened butter
  • 8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed over ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

 

 

 

Posted in Quick Breads and Muffins | Leave a comment

Coconut Pecan Cookies!

OK, I gotta pat myself on the back for this one, it’s a winner!  There are these coconut pecan cookies in some grocery stores that are AWESOME, and I really wanted to make a clone of them, from scratch without all the weird ingredients that are usually found in mass produced food.  Wanna know what?  I think I nailed it in one try!

This is a chewy cookie with crisp edges, it is heaven, at least to me anyway.  They are “slap ‘yo mama good”, don’t really slap your mother, just make her these cookies and you’ll become her favorite kid!

Printable recipe click here

Get your stuff, and pretend that you see almond extract in this photo….

get your electric mixer, and I’m going to show you that you don’t need a $300 mixer to make cookies, heck if you wanted to go really old school, you could use a wooden spoon!  With your mixer cream the butter and sugars for a few minutes until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed.

add the egg and the extracts and beat again to combine.

In a separate bowl or in a sifter, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly and add to the butter sugar mixture.

Mix it up, just until combined, don’t over beat, we aint makin’ bread here!

Add the toasted pecans, you did toast them right?  don’t skip this step, they are usually kind of stale after sitting on the store shelf, and since you practically had to sell a kidney to buy them, you want them to taste great!  Just place them on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until they smell nutty and toasty.

Give them a rough chop, I like big chunks.  Dump them in the batter.  Add the coconut, a whole bunch, you’ll want it lightly packed into the measuring cup.

Stir it up.

Now resist eating it with a spoon!

now you can bake them right off and they will be super fantastic, but if you are patient and let the dough age in the fridge overnight, you will be rewarded with even MORE flavor, trust me, it’s worth it!  You can bake a couple now if you can’t wait, and then cook the rest tomorrow, if you can wait that long.

bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer look wet in the middle.  And this is what you get.

Now go make some!

Coconut Pecan Cookies
A delicious chewy cookie inspired by the ones found in grocery stores!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 sticks (1 cup, or 8oz.) softened butter
  2. 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  3. 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. ½ teaspoon butter flavoring
  6. ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 cups all purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  10. ½ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter omit added salt)
  11. 1 rounded cup toasted pecans chopped
  12. 3 cups coconut lightly packed into cup (sweetened, from the baking aisle)
  13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  14. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add flavorings and extracts, along with the egg,
  15. and beat to combine.
  16. In a separate bowl or sifter, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. Add to the
  17. creamed mixture and mix just to combine. Stir in pecans and coconut.
  18. For best flavor age the dough overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to bake scoop by
  19. rounded tablespoon onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or
  20. until they no longer look wet in the middle and are lightly browned. Let cool on sheet for 5
  21. minutes and then remove to cooling rack.
http://bakingbetter.com/
Posted in Cookies and Bars | 32 Comments

Cream Cheese Icing that isn’t soupy!

OK, did that get your attention!

How many of you have made cream cheese icing only to get a soft, sometimes soupy mess that was almost impossible to ice a cake with?  (I raise my hand and wave wildly).  Well I’m going to tell you why that happened and help you make better cream cheese icing.

Cream cheese icing is a soft icing, it isn’t really suited for cake decorating, it is almost strictly known for its flavor.  Sure you can pipe a simple border with this icing, but you really don’t want to try and make roses with it.

Let me tell you what I have learned after making cream cheese icing.  First I realized that I was beating or “whipping” it too much.  How can that be you say, aren’t you supposed to beat the hell out of icing to make it nice and fluffy?  Yes and no.  Birthday cake icing made with hydrogenated shortening ( like crisco) takes a beating and keeps getting fluffier, you can’t kill the stuff.  The same icing made with all butter instead of shortening, will not stand up to such a beating, and here’s why.  Shortening is 100% fat, and it is hydrogenated, incredibly stable with a high melting point.  Butter is mostly fat, but also has water naturally.  The more you beat butter, the more it will break down, causing the water to separate from the fat meaning that you need to keep adding more and more powdered sugar to get it nice and thick.  That’s when a light bulb went on in my head!  The same exact thing was happening to the cream cheese! Cream cheese has likely more water naturally than butter.  That’s when I developed this method.

This is a cheesy, pleasantly sweet icing.  This recipe hasn’t been tested with lower fat cream cheese, I doubt that the results would be the same, live a little, use the real deal!

Let’s get started!

Get ‘yer stuff!

Make sure that the butter and the cream cheese are at room temperature (I left mine out for 2 hours)!  If it is a hot summer day and you don’t have A/C then move…  Well hot days without A/C aren’t good for making any kind of icing, so if your kitchen is hot, this may turn out a bit too soft, you can remedy that by popping it in the fridge for a while.

Now in the bowl of a mixer (a hand mixer will work fine too) place the room temperature butter, vanilla, and salt.  Beat until smooth.

now add your powdered sugar fluff it up before measuring, and beat until smooth.   Your mixer is probably going to complain a bit if you don’t have a strong mixer.  Scrape the bowl as needed.

now you should have a very stiff buttercream, it may even be a bit crumbly.

Now is where the magic happens!  Add the cream cheese all at once.  Now mix at the mixer’s slowest speed for one minute, until the cream cheese is just stirred in and the mixture is smooth.  Scrape the bowl half way through to help it combine (I have a fancy scraping blade for my mixer).  Now STOP THE MIXER!  You should now have a very thick, creamy cream cheese icing where the cream cheese hasn’t broken down, creating a soupy mess!  Don’t expect this to be as “fluffy” as buttercream, that’s OK, it’s awesome the way it is.

Now you have an icing that is thick enough to pipe on cupcakes or to ice a carrot cake.  Feel free to double this recipe.  This icing is best kept chilled, but best eaten at room temperature.  If icing cupcakes take them out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to eating, a layer cake, at least an hour.

That glob of icing didn’t end up in my mouth, I swear…

Printable recipe click here

  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (fluffed before measuring)
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese (not low fat, not “whipped” or in a tub

 

 

 

 

Posted in Frostings, Fillings, and Glazes | 49 Comments

Strawberry Dessert Sauce!

It’s strawberry season here and fresh strawberries are everywhere.  This is a versatile sauce, it’s great on cheese cake, pound cake, ice cream, a spoon etc..

First you wanna give the strawberries a bath.  Who knows how far these have traveled, I know after a long trip I’m feeling a bit dingy I’m sure that the strawberries are too.

Now just drain them to get most of the water off them, don’t go nuts and give each one a toweling off, a little extra water won’t hurt this recipe.

Next, in a sauce pan slice a pound and a half of the fresh strawberries that have had their little green hats removed, add the water and sugar.  Now the amount of sugar may vary here.  If your berries are very sweet, you may want to only add a 1/4 cup of sugar, if they are tart, you may need up to a 1/2 cup!  Add the 1/4 cup first and after it has cooked, check the sweetness, if you need more sugar, add it now and stir to dissolve.

Place on medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  If the mixture is boiling hard, turn down the heat, you don’t want burned berries here!

Yes that’s a pink spoonula, I happen to think that it’s fabulous!

After the mixture has cooked for 5 minutes, you will want to strain the mixture to remove the cooked pulp.  Press through a sieve until most of the moisture is gone.

This is what you’ll end up with.  Just discard the pulp.

next get some cornstarch ready.  I use cornstarch in most sauces and pastry cream because it gives a much lighter taste on the tongue than other thickeners like flour, and it is easy to get.  You’ll want to mix the corn starch with the 1 tablespoon of water to make a slurry.  If you added it right to the hot sauce, it would clump and make lumps, and that isn’t what we’re going for here.

Place the strawberry liquid on the stove over medium heat and quickly mix in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring mixture to a full boil and remove from the heat.  Stir in lemon juice.

Place in a bowl and allow to cool.

This is the sauce that I used in the Sour Cream Cheesecake post

This is a great sauce to jazz up some run of the mill store bought ice cream, great for company.  It could also be used to swirl into your favorite cheesecake recipe.  Use it to flavor a milkshake, the possibilities are almost endless!

Printable recipe click here

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries (about 4 cups sliced)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (about a tablespoon)

 

Posted in Frostings, Fillings, and Glazes | Leave a comment

Cheesecake 101!

Hey who likes cheesecake?

I’ve had a request for a cheesecake post, so here it is, this one’s for you Jenny M.

This is going to be more of a tutorial than a recipe post, but I will provide the recipe at the end of the post.  Y’all know I wouldn’t leave ya hanging!

There are some pretty specific steps to the way I make cheesecake.  I am going for a very creamy texture, and NO CRACKS, just say no to cracks!  If you follow the steps as I show them, you will get a nice creamy crack free cheesecake, if you go all rogue, then you’re on your own and I can’t be held responsible for the results.

This basic method will work with virtually any baked cheesecake recipe that you encounter.

First lets talk water bath.  This is a step that is the most crucial to achieving that creamy texture.  A water bath tempers the heat of the oven and helps it bake very gently and very evenly.  Cheesecake is a custard, a custard is thickened and set with eggs.  Eggs are delicate, overcooking will cause them to seize, making a cheesecake that has a rough almost cottage cheese like texture, that’s definitely not what we are going for here.

OK let’s get our pan.  A spring form pan is what is most often used to bake a cheesecake, they have removable bottoms, which makes it so much easier to get them out of the pan. It also makes them LEAK!  So we need to wrap that pan in a couple layers of WIDE heavy duty aluminum foil.  You need the wide stuff, a seam will let in water, and that’s what we are trying to prevent.

bring up the foil and make sure that there aren’t any deep creases in the side that will let in water.

See that wasn’t too hard!

Now we’ll make a graham cracker crust.

and press in to the pan.  I give it a light spray of pan spray grease, you know like PAM!  You can push the crust up the sides of the pan if you want to, it’s up to you.

Now on to the filling step.

You want all of your ingredients to be at room temperature, around 70-75 degrees, if you live in the jungle with no A/C, this might not be room temperature for you….  Take them out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for an hour or so.  This is important, with all of the ingredients at the same temperature they will blend effortlessly.  You NEVER want to “whip” or over beat a cheesecake filling.  If you have to do this to get it smooth, then your ingredients were likely too cold.  Beating the filling, especially after adding the eggs will cause it to “puff” in the oven (the eggs will have a souffle effect), and as the cheesecake settles as it cools, it can crack, and often wrinkles.

First mix the cream cheese to smooth it out, using low speed on your mixer ( a hand mixer works just fine too).

Then add your sugar gradually, with the mixer still on LOW.

it should look like this.

Next combine all of your liquid ingredients, such as eggs, vanilla, and in this case sour cream.  Stir to combine.

Now slowly add the liquid mixture to the cheese mixture, still with the mixer on LOW.  Scraping the bowl as needed.

Mix until everything is combined and then STOP!

Silky smooth, with no air beaten into it.  Pour into the pan containing the crust.

The next step is preparing the water bath.  You’ll need a pan larger than your springform, I use a roasting pan.  You’ll want to pour about a 1/2 inch of boiling water into the roasting pan (or whatever pan you are using).  Then place the batter filled, wrapped pan in the water bath being careful not to let any water splash in.

Place in the preheated oven.  I would suggest a temperature between 300-325 degrees.  You have to know your oven, if it usually browns quickly, then maybe closer to 300, if it browns slowly, maybe closer to 325.

You’ll want to bake for the time specified in the recipe, always checking at the least amount of time and adding more if needed.  The cheesecake is done when the edges have set (slightly firm) and the center jiggles like Jello when the pan is gently shaken.  If it seems to slosh around in the middle and seem liquid, cook a bit longer, checking every 5 minutes.  Your first instinct is going to want to cook it longer, but try not to.  When it jiggles like Jello, it is done, trust me on this, if it is completely firm all the way across the top, it is overcooked and the texture will likely be more dry and cottage cheese like, and it will likely crack.  The cheesecake should not have risen much at all, it should be roughly the same height as it was when it went in.  Have you ever seen a pumpkin pie with a big crack down the center?  It was overcooked.  Pumpkin pie is a custard as well.

here it is, right out of the oven.  It is barely browned at all.  My oven is very accurate, and with the help of the water bath, it got a nice gentle bake.

Remove from oven and let sit for about 30 minutes in the water bath before removing the pan.

Place the cheesecake in the fridge for a minimum of 4-5 hours to get completely cold.  I always make my cheesecakes the night before.  The cheesecake will be much more sturdy if it is cold.

Run a thin knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen.

And then run the knife under the crust to release.

and carefully slide on to serving plate.

Slice and serve!  You can see how smooth and creamy the filling is.

I know that this has been a really long and detailed post, but I wanted to share some good info with you.  If you want to improve your cheesecake skills or have been too intimidated to try making cheesecake, I hope that this tutorial will help, and maybe give confidence that you can make perfect cheesecake!

Printable recipe click here

 

 

Posted in Cakes, Techniques | 8 Comments

Moist Chocolate Cake!

OK I know that some of you see me as some cake genius, and I’m not denying that, but my favorite chocolate cake recipe couldn’t be easier, and it has been right under your nose for years!

I got this recipe from the back of the Hershey’s can!  YUP not kidding!  I have only made a slight change and that is to add some instant coffee to the boiling water (yes you pour boiling water into the batter!).  The coffee just enhances the flavor of the chocolate, and doesn’t make it taste like coffee, I promise!

Lets get on with it!

grab your grub

Simple enough.

To start off, you combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.  I like to sift all of the dry ingredients except for the sugar.  Cocoa powder can be a bit lumpy, this will smooth it out.  I use Penzy’s high fat natural cocoa (don’t tell Hershey’s…)  and it is a bit lumpier than average.

Next add the wet.  Eggs, oil, vanilla, milk, and oil (DON’T ADD THE BOILING WATER YET)

Next, beat with a hand mixer for about two minutes until you get a smooth batter, scraping the bowl as needed.  Why a hand mixer?  Glad you asked, I have made this with my Kitchenaid and adding the boiling water, I and half of my kitchen ended up wearing it!

Next, get one cup of water boiling and add the instant coffee.  I like to keep these little packets around for baking, they are about 1 teaspoon, give it a quick stir.

Now take that hot coffee and carefully pour it over the batter.

And very carefully mix on low speed until combined, scraping the bowl as needed.  Your batter will be quite thin.

Now divide the batter between 2 9″ round pans that have been greased and floured (I use a parchment circle in the bottom for insurance).  You can also use 8″ round pans if the are straight sided, and are at least 2″ deep,  more shallow or  tapered side pans could cause the batter to overflow while baking.  A greased and floured 9X13 pan can also be used for a one layer rectangular cake.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out almost clean, a few crumbs are OK, raw batter is not.

Cool in pans for 15-20 minutes, then remove and let cool completely before adding icing.

Printable recipe click here

 

Posted in Cakes | 7 Comments

Choosing a cake pan

Think that a cake pan is a cake pan?  Think again!

Like most people, when I started baking, I just went out to a big box store and bought some cake pans, and didn’t give it much thought.  Then when I started baking more cakes and decorating them, I realized that the pan can make a huge difference in the finished product.

Over time, I am “upgrading” my cake pans.  I want professional style cake pans with nice straight, high sides.

See the difference between cheap discount pans and a professional style straight sided pan.  You’ll notice that the cheap pans nest together neatly, this is a telltale sign of tapered sides, a straight sided pan will only stack on top of another its size.

 

I have found three brands that fit the bill.

The easiest ones to find are made by Wilton.  Now Wilton makes many lines of pans, and they are not all geared to the serious cake baker, many are just run of the mill non-stick pans, those aren’t what I was looking for.  I go for the Wilton Performance and Wilton Decorator Preferred.  The Performance round pans all have nice straight sides and come in 2″ and 3″ depths.  If you want straight sided square or rectangular pans you have to move up to the Decorator Preferred pans.  These are uncoated anodized aluminum, and will feel very light weight, but aluminum is a great material for baking pans.  By using coupons for craft stores, you can score a good deal on these pans!

The next brand is Fat Daddio’s Fatdaddios.com( funny name huh?) These are definitely a step up from the Wilton pans, they are still made of lightweight aluminum, but a thicker gauge, making for a sturdy pan.  These are real professional pans used by professional bakers.  They make just about every pan size that you would ever need.  These are easiest to get online.

The third brand is Parrish Magic Line pans.  These are also top quality aluminum pans similar to the Fat Daddio’s.   I don’t own any of this brand currently so I can’t give an opinion on them, but they are rated very high on websites like Amazon.  These pans have been around for a long time and are a favorite among cake decorators.

As you can see my preference is for uncoated (not non-stick) pans.  To me non-stick pans are disposable, no matter how much money you spend, they will eventually get scraped up and the coating will peel, non-stick coating isn’t really something that you want baked into your cake!  Uncoated pans will last a lifetime if you take care of them.  Aluminum pans will not rust, it doesn’t affect their performance if they get scratched.

If you really want a coated pan, then I would recommend USA Pans usapans.com These are nice heavy weight professional pans, if there is a coating that is going to hold up, then it’s this one, they are very well reviewed. Their pans also have nice straight sides.

What size pans do I need?  Here is a list for the beginner baker.

  • 2- 8″ round cake pans (preferably at least 2″ deep)
  • 2- 9″ round cake pans (preferably at least 2″ deep)
  • 1- 8×12 (best size, but usually needs to be ordered online) or a 9×13″

Why do I recommend an 8×12″ pan instead of a 9×13″ that is so easy to get?  That’s easy, a cake mix or a standard recipe usually calls for a 9×13, but an 8×12 will give you a taller cake, and look more professional.  Buying a pans that are at least 2″ deep insures that just about any recipe that calls for 2 8-9″ round pan will bake nice and high without the potential of overflowing the pan.

If you ever plan to do decorated cakes, either for profit, or just for friends and family, then you’ll never regret buying professional grade pans!

Posted in Equipment | 12 Comments

Orange Chiffon Cake

Here is a retro dessert that I really love.  It makes me feel like a 50’s housewife.  This cake is best served while wearing a frilly apron…

Guess who forgot to take a picture of the ingredients…

Here is what you’ll need

  • Fresh oranges
  • sugar
  • cake flour
  • baking powder
  • eggs
  • salt
  • vegetable oil
  • orange juice (from the fresh oranges)
  • vanilla
  • cream of tartar

This is going to take a few steps and will dirty up a few bowls, but so what,  this is cake and it’s worth it!

First you’ll need to separate the eggs.  you’ll need 6 egg yolks and 7 egg whites.  Just toss the last egg yolk.  After you have separated them set them aside to come up to room temperature while preparing the other ingredients.  Remember how to separate an egg?

Next using a fine grater, zest the oranges and measure out the two tablespoons of orange zest.

As you can see, I just used the very outside of the peel, not the bitter white pith.

Now combine all but 1/4 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt, mix to combine

add the egg YOLKS, oil, vanilla and orange juice and mix well.

next in a very clean bowl, preferably glass or metal, place the egg whites

beat at high speed until foamy, add cream of tartar.

now continue beating at high speed until soft peaks form.  This is what “soft peaks” look like, as you can see the tips of the mounds curl over.

At this point start adding that reserved 1/4 cup of sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.  Continue beating until “stiff peaks” form.  This is how it should look, the peaks stand straight up and the egg whites have a silky smooth look to them.

Next is where some technique comes in.  You want to incorporate this egg white mixture into the other batter, without deflating the egg whites, to make a nice airy fluffy batter.  Here is a link to a previous post that has a good video on how to do this.  How to fold

First mix in 1/3 of the egg whites (just eyeball it) don’t worry to much about this first time, we are just “lightening” the batter.

once that is mixed in, add the second third, folding carefully.

Then add the remaining egg whites, folding gently, just until most of the white streaks are gone.  You should end up with a nice fluffy batter like this

Now the next step is to put it in a pan, not just any pan, a tube pan.  This recipe really requires a 2 piece pan, since we don’t grease the pan at all, it would be really hard to get out otherwise.

Add the batter to the ungreased tube pan, we don’t grease because we want the batter to be able to “climb” the sides of the pan.

Now place in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick, and springs back when touched.

Immediately invert the cake onto its feet, if your pan has no feet, suspend the center tube on a bottle. (mine has feet, but this is just for a cool visual)

Let cool for an hour.  After an hour run a thin knife or spatula around the sides to loosen the cake, remove the pan.  Run spatula around the bottom of the center piece and remove the rest of the pan.

Place on plate.  If desired, the cake can be glazed with a simple powdered sugar glaze, just take 2 cups powdered sugar, and add just enough orange juice to make a thick glaze that barely drizzles, and pour that over the top and sides of cake.  I didn’t get a picture of it glazed, so here it is naked…

There you have it.  Fluffy refreshing cake.  Go ahead, channel June Cleaver and make one soon!

Click here for printable recipe

 

 

 

Posted in Cakes | 4 Comments

How to “Fold” ingredients into a batter.

Here is a really useful technique referred to as “folding”.

The purpose of folding is usually to introduce a light and airy component (like whipped cream or whipped egg whites) to a heaver, denser component, resulting in a lighter fluffier batter.  It’s really a simple technique, but one that has to be done carefully.

The whole point of folding, is to prevent over mixing, and keep the air that is whipped into the egg whites or whipped cream intact, to achieve that light, fluffy batter.

I found this really great video that shows exactly how to do it.

See that wasn’t so hard!

Posted in Techniques | Leave a comment

Real Irish Soda Bread!

I decided that my post for St. Patrick’s Day would be Irish Soda bread, seems fitting right?  That lead me to do some research for real authentic soda bread.  I knew that real soda bread is plain, that the stuff sold in grocery stores probably wasn’t the real thing, but never thought much about it.  My search lead me here  Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread no really, there is a such thing!  This is where I got this recipe.

I learned from this site that soda bread is a true peasant bread.  Soda bread was first made in 19th century Ireland, with the introduction of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).  Ireland was a very poor country and this was an everyday type of bread, things like grated orange zest and raisins were just not used in this bread, that would have been too exotic and too expensive, those types of ingredients were reserved for special times like Christmas and would be put in puddings (steamed cakes) but not soda bread.

This is a bland bread, certainly not a taste sensation.  It is great to sop up gravy or dip in stew.  I served mine with bangers and mash, it was great to soak up the gravy.  I used some leftover bread and toasted it, slathering with butter and homemade jam!  Good stuff!

Now that we have all of that worked out, lets make some.

Here is what you need, just 4 ingredients.  If you can get soft wheat flour like White Lily, or other southern flour, use that, it is the closest to real Irish flour that we have, but regular everyday all purpose white flour will work just fine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Now add the buttermilk, stirring to combine into a soft shaggy dough.

Pour it out onto a floured surface.

And gather it up into a ball.  Use a light hand here, you don’t want to work the dough, just bring it together into a nice ball.

Now place on a lightly greased baking sheet or one lined with parchment.  Traditionally this is baked in a dutch oven, but this method works fine too.  Once the dough is placed on the baking pan, pat it down slightly to make a nice thick disc shape.  Cut a deep x in the top of the dough, this will allow it to rise and create that signature soda bread look.

Place into the 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until nice and golden brown all over and sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom.  Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.  Avoid slicing it when it is too warm, or it could end up gummy.

Look at that, rustic perfection (oxymoron?)

Soda bread, who would have thunk it, so easy!

click here for link to the recipe

  • 4 cups all purpose flour (soft wheat like White Lily works well)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 14 oz. buttermilk

 

 

Posted in Bread and Dough, Holidays, Quick Breads and Muffins | 2 Comments