Tag Archives: baking

baked cornbread

Martha Substitutions: Cornbread

Yesterday it was raining all day, which was lucky because I needed to stay in and get some commissioned paintings done. While I had the Christmas music playing and was waiting for the first coat of paint to dry, I popped an easy cornbread recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook into the oven.

Martha Stewart's cornbread
Martha Stewart’s cornbread

Here’s the scoop:

This cornbread is of the sweet variety (which is my preference) and is extra fun given the lightly charred kernels of corn mixed throughout.

Here’s what I subbed:

  1. Butter in lieu of vegetable shortening (1:1). I didn’t really feel like purchasing a thing of Crisco just for this recipe…and anyway, isn’t that stuff supposed to be bad for you? Not that butter is a health food, but at least it was the organic kind.
  2. Coconut milk in lieu of regular milk (1:1). I was nervous it would give the bread a coconut-y flavor which I don’t think it did.
saute corn until golden brown
saute corn until golden brown
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients

Here’s how it turned out:

Really well in fact! Fortunately or unfortunately Martha says this bread is best served day of baking or¬†maybe the day after is well-wrapped….Sooooo you can guess what I had for lunch yesterday.

Day of baking the cornbread was moist and slightly sweet and slightly salty and I really enjoyed the pop of the corn bits. Day after baking, slightly drier but still delicious covered in more butter ūüėČ

golden crusted cornbread
golden crusted cornbread

Now not ever having made this recipe with the suggested ingredients, I can’t say for sure how these substitutions might detract or improve the original recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe definitely still works and the ease of the mix-batter and bake means I will be bringing this out again next time I’m called on for a pot-luck.

slice of cornbread
slice of cornbread

I’m off to have a¬†lunch of cornbread and roasted acorn squash. A perfectly cozy fall meal!

cookie batter

Fall Baking Has Begun Again: Eggless Cookies

It came as a bit of a shock this morning that it was so chilly and windy outside. It shouldn’t have since it’s already October, but it’s been so beautiful for so long that I forgot it was fall and no longer summer! After a morning coffee date (and before visiting some potential new apartments this afternoon), I threw together some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

To be perfectly honest, the reason I went with oatmeal cookies was because I had a huge tupperware container of oatmeal taking up WAY too much room in the cupboard and I had to get rid of it.

The recipe I adapted from allrecipes¬†is an eggless one, which is perfect because I don’t have any eggs, AND because I can eat the batter guiltlessly. A word to the wise though: don’t eat too much batter if raw oatmeal makes your tummy upset.

While the recipe doesn’t call for eggs, it does mean the cookies are a bit drier than a typical moist oatmeal cookie.

A few adaptations and tips:

  1. Use all brown sugar to keep the cookies chewier
  2. Use dark chocolate chips for a richer flavor (and to be slightly healthier depending on how dark you go)
  3. Add a pinch of cinnamon for a fall flavor
  4. Skip the oatmeal altogether, add the chocolate chips, wrap the uncooked dough in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator to snack on. Why must the cookies be baked to enjoy?

 

Here’s the recipe with my changes:

Ingredients & Procedure:

1 cp butter (slightly softened)

1 cp brown sugar (light or dark)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the above ingredients until well-blended.

cookie batter
cookie batter

In a saucepan, boil 1/4 cp water and dissolve 1 tsp baking soda into that.

To the butter-sugar-vanilla mixture, add: 1.5 cp flour and 1 tsp salt  (optional pinch of cinnamon) and stir.

Add the water-baking soda mixture and stir.

Add 2 cps oatmeal and at least 1 cp chocolate chips (to taste based on the darkness of the chocolate and how chocolatey you like your cookies).

oatmeal cookie batter
oatmeal cookie batter

Bake teaspoon-sized balls on parchment lined cookie sheets at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown

That’s it! Enjoy!

chocolate chip oatmeal cookie
chocolate chip oatmeal cookie

 

hard caramel dots with sea salt

#MarthaBakes Caramel Dots

Wow, it’s been a few months since I’ve written up a Martha Stewart recipe¬†but it always seems a bit too hot to be baking up a storm during the summer. Now that fall is starting to creep in, spending days inside doesn’t seem so blasphemous.

I was recently longing¬†for a sweet treat but didn’t feel like leaving the house to go purchase some cookies or something, so I turned to Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook¬†for an easy recipe.

I came across these caramel dots, which are actually part of a sub-recipe for cake decorations, but who needs a whole cake when you can just eat some caramel?

Additionally, the recipe was super simple: sugar, water, lemon juice!

Step 1: Mix sugar and water and lemon juice.

water and sugar in the pot
water and sugar in the pot

Step 2: Heat until it turns into caramel

bubbling sugar
bubbling sugar

Step 3: Drizzle bits of caramel onto parchment paper* and let cool

*When the caramel was still hot (and PS it was really hot – I burnt my finger and it blistered because the caramel stuck to it and I couldn’t get it off – so don’t touch it!) I pinched bits of black sea salt on top to make a sweet-salty dessert.

stained glass-looking caramel dot
stained glass-looking caramel dot

Thoughts on this recipe:

  1. I don’t have overly processed white sugar, only pure cane sugar which is pretty coarse. I think this resulted in too grainy a caramel.
  2. These dots are super hard candies. Definitely more of a sucking candy. Next time I would add a tablespoon or two of butter to make the texture creamier and try for a chewier caramel.
  3. The ones with sugar tasted a lot more interesting and less overwhelmingly JUST SUGAR than the regular ones.
  4. The caramel dots were quite pretty – almost like stained glass.

This recipe definitely served the purpose of sating a sweet tooth and would look good on a cake, but one or two was enough.

hard caramel dots with sea salt
hard caramel dots with sea salt

Verdict: Have I ever said something was TOO sugary? This might be the first time.

Okay, time to capitalize on this dark rainy day to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!! ūüôā

 

one strawberry and one blueberry muffin

Red (White) and Blue Muffins ~ Happy 4th of July!

Phew it’s been a while since I’ve whipped up any Martha Stewart treats in the kitchen, but last week I was inspired by the start of berry season, so I turned my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook open to blueberry muffins.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been working in a bakery for the past 5 months? Mostly helping customers up front, but it’s afforded me the opportunity to sample some delicious cookies, quick breads, brioche and¬†blueberry muffins.

At the bakery, our muffins typically turn out huge with tops that far exceed the size of the rest of the muffin. And that’s pretty much everyone’s favorite part anyway right, so what’s not to love? (My mind is jumping to Seinfeld: “It’s not, ‘Top of the Muffin TO YOU!'” with flamboyant Elaine hand gestures and then later, “I gotta haul some stumps”…such a hilarious episode.)

ANY.WAY.

In pursuit of using up some strawberries from the fridge, I decided to make a batch of mini blueberry muffins and a batch of mini strawberry muffins. PS I only own a mini muffin tin. New York apartment and all that. PPS I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a¬†strawberry muffin before. Have you? I was really quite excited at the prospect!

I’ve never really made muffins before, but I’m not sure why not since it only calls for very standard ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, milk, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and eggs. I think I’ve always been scared that my muffins will stick to the tin and I’ve been too lazy to purchase those little paper cups, which also seem sort of a waste to the environment.

So with this, I made to sure to super duper butter the muffin tin, not only in the wells but all along the ridges too because I knew I wanted to try to “overstuff” them to create the large muffin tops. Then I dusted the whole tin with flour and scooped in heaping spoonfuls of batter – first up was blueberry.

Since I was using a mini tin, I thought the cook time should be decreased but I wasn’t sure by how much. So I started with 15 minutes, they were clearly not done, so I turned the tray and put them back in for another 10.

They seemed to be slightly browned on top, so I pulled them out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes and then flipped them over and banged the tray a few times (a new trick I learned at work) so that the muffins slide right out. I only had to manually pull a few out and they ended up breaking, mostly because the berries were at the bottom of the well and had melted and stuck to the pan.

blueberry mini muffins
blueberry mini muffins

I rebuttered, refloured and did the same with the strawberry batter, although I had even more batter to use, so I cooked for 27 minutes instead of 25.

folding strawberries into muffin batter
folding strawberries into the batter

The strawberry muffin tops were much wider than the blueberry ones and they had kind of baked into one another so the flip and tap method didn’t work and I had to use a little knife to help pop the muffins out, but none of them broke.

the bottoms of baked strawberry muffins
the bottoms of baked strawberry muffins

Some tips:

  1. Toss the fruit with flour before folding it into the batter to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the tin.
  2. Sprinkle sugar on top of the raw muffins before baking for an extra sweet crunch. I did this on the strawberries but not on the blueberries.

    raw strawberry muffins ready for baking
    raw strawberry muffins ready for baking
  3. Bake the muffin tin on top of a cookie sheet (especially with a mini muffin tin) so that you have a wider tray to handle. It’s hard to grasp narrow edges of a muffin tin with oven mitts on.

These muffins were quite addicting and I ate at least 4 warm ones straight away. The blueberry ones were tart (small blueberries) and the strawberry ones were pretty sweet. I LOVED the way the strawberry ones smelled in the oven – like strawberry shortcake – and just like summer.

one strawberry and one blueberry muffin
one strawberry and one blueberry muffin

How perfect for July 4th to have some summer berry muffins that are red and blue and white (the muffin part?) – yum!

out of the oven

Martha Stewart’s Popover Fail

Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve eaten a popover – a light and crispy eggy bread – but I couldn’t remember how it was supposed to turn out, as¬†I set out to bake Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Some preliminary thoughts:

  1. I don’t have a specific popover tin, which Martha highly recommends, seeing as the tin is designed such that each cup is taller than it is wide to help with the vertical rise of the batter. Subsequent research shows that you can make popovers in any container really.
  2. The popovers are best served immediately out of the oven as they will start to deflate as soon as they are out.
  3. They rise from the interior steam, since the batter is so soupy – leaving a hollow middle and flakey exterior.
  4. Popovers are called Yorkshire Pudding in Britain and usually eaten with a roast or meat and gravy. I made mine for breakfast, but I think they would have been better suited to a meat dish.
  5. Martha Stewart’s recipe calls for powdered sugar, since I guess in the US it’s more typical to have a sweeter version than in Britain. Frankly I couldn’t taste any sweetness in my outcome, and further investigation shows many many recipes that don’t have any sugar…and so if it’s not actually sweet, why bother adding the extra sugar calories? Skip the sugar.

I easily made the batter since it’s very few ingredients: mostly eggs, milk and a bit of flour.

popover batter
popover batter – very liquidy

I tested three different vessels: 1. a mini muffin tin, 2. a larger ramekin (small dish) that I typically use for souffles or chocolate lava cake, and 3. a coffee mug.

all the vessels
all the vessels

Let’s start with the most obvious fail: the coffee mug. Remembering that there are all these “mug microwave brownie” recipes floating around, I thought, maybe I can make the popover in the microwave too!

Well just no.

up and up and over
up and up and over in the microwave

The whole thing rose sky high – almost straight out of the mug! But there was no way that it was going to crisp the outside (duh) and the end result was basically a rubbery omelette.

Now let’s move to the not-so-obvious fail: the mini muffin tin. There is a photo in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook of the final popovers’ exteriors, but no interior shots. So I thought the insides were supposed to be dry and bread-like, perhaps more like a brioche.

I used 1+ tablespoons of batter in each mini muffin cup, and they rose beautifully. When the tops were golden brown, I took them out of the oven and bit into one. It seemed underdone to me. A definite egg flavor, and even though there was the desired hollowness to the center, I wasn’t quite sure if the whole thing was “correct.”

See how eggy they look even here? Like little omelettes!

So I popped them out of the tin and threw them back into the oven on a baking sheet.

Well, if it wasn’t a fail before, it was a definite misstep at this point. The outsides burned and the insides didn’t seem any more cooked through.

Further research leads me to believe that indeed the insides are supposed to be kind of wet-looking. Maybe it was an unexpected success and I just don’t LIKE popovers? Could be. I have a friend-date to go to an NYC restaurant whose popovers she loves – some hands-on research will ensue and I’ll keep you posted!

And then there was the large popover in the ramekin made with 10 tablespoons of batter – double the suggested amount from Martha. I let it bake 40 minutes – 10 minutes past the normal cook time – just to be sure.

ramekin popover out of the oven
ramekin popover out of the oven – note the burnt minis beside it

The outside looked awesome – toasted and with an odd shape, just like many of the photos in the cookbook and on the internet. The inside was hollow and the dough seemed to be moist but a bit more cooked through, which I appreciated. The downside to this vessel was the fact that the sides and bottom COMPLETELY stuck, even with a liberal butter coating. Hmmmmmm….I’ll have to dig a little deeper here to see what I can do to remedy that. Any thoughts?

I can easily try this out again with some tweaks, given the quick and simple nature of the recipe and ingredients. In the mini-muffin tin, I would probably look to bake them initially a hair longer (maybe 15 minutes instead of 11) to try to dry out the insides a touch. I could also see myself making big ones in ramekins at dinnertime to be served with a roast….once I get a handle on the sticky bottoms.

Popovers to be revisited. Suggestions welcome!

 

ingredients for brownies

#MarthaBakes Brownies

Did you know #MarthaBakes is a well-known and highly used hashtag on Instagram? I didn’t when I started this project, but now I follow it regularly to see what other home cooks are up to as they also delve into baking and cooking adventures with Martha Stewart. And there is always the potential that the folks at Martha Stewart might choose your photo to be featured on their own Instagram feed if you are using their hashtag. But typically only if your food photos are really amazing….I’m working on it.

Needing a pot-luck offering, I turned to Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook for a brownie recipe, and found her “Fudgy Chocolate Brownies” which, as she states in the intro, are meant to be dense and fudge-like and less like a chocolate cake. Well, she nailed it. No surprise though.

After melting the requisite amount of dark chocolate¬†and adding the sugar and seemingly a lotta eggs (4), my arm was pretty much going to fall off from trying to “whisk” this super dense, thick batter.

 

And I hadn’t even added the flour yet.

In terms of the flour, to make the brownies even richer, I subbed out 2 tablespoons of flour for 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. I did a small amount of research ahead of time to see if I could make the straight substitution or if I would have to add/subtract other ingredients. What I generally found (since there are so many differing opinions out there on the internet) was that if you stick with a minimal amount (under 2 tablespoons), a straight substitution will be fine. It’s once you get into large quantities that you may need to add more moisture (as the cocoa powder absorbs more moisture than flour) or different leavening agents.

Since this recipe had 0 leavening agents (no baking soda, powder, cream of tartar, etc), I decided not to worry about that. The ingredient list was lovely and simple and what one wants in a homemade baked good: butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate, flour, vanilla and salt. Done.

Never having baked this recipe as written, I can’t say whether the addition of the cocoa powder helped or harmed it, but overall the outcome was moist, deeply dark chocolatey brownies. And the crispy corners were definitely the best part, so when I make brownies again, I might have to get one of these contraptions to bake it in: all brownies are corner pieces!!

ICE CREAM SAMMIE

Making Sugar Cookie Ice Cream Sammies

Down in Houston a few weeks ago, I got the urge to bake, so while my mom and sister were napping one afternoon, I drove over to Kroger and bought all the materials to make simple sugar cookies (plus some ice cream).

I was craving crispity crunchity sugar cookies, a la middle school recess snack, so after Googling “crispy sugar cookies” I landed on this easy-peasy recipe from Taste of Home.

Sugar cookies really are the best because they are generally so easy. This particular recipe calls for rolling out the dough super thinly and using a cookie cutter so that all the cookies are the same size, shape and cook evenly.

Me, being the lazy baker I am, decided against this method, and instead went with the Scoop and Pat Method (trademark pending…jk). This is where I 1. take a scoop of cookie dough from the bowl with a teaspoon, 2. pat the ball to flatten it between my fingers.

chillin' sugar cookie dough
chillin’ sugar cookie dough
me, scooping
me, scooping
mounds of sugar cookie dough, pre-patting
mounds of sugar cookie dough, pre-patting

It doesn’t yield the thinnest, crispest, prettiest cookie (in fact, the cookies are none of those things), but darn it if they don’t taste just like sugar cookies!

sugar cookies
completed sugar cookies

Being the sharp shooter that my sister is, she took that vanilla ice cream, spread it between two lopsided cookies, rolled the whole thing in rainbow sprinkles and BAM: delicious ice cream sandwich achieved!

ICE CREAM SAMMIE
ICE CREAM SAMMIE

Done and done. Now you go try the Scoop and Pat and let me know what you think. Be sure to pat as thin as possible to achieve that crunch!

matzah pizza!

Hannah’s Passover Staple: Matzah Pizza!

Even though this week is Passover and so bread and leavened products are off the menu, doesn’t mean that I have to miss my weekly pizza fix! The solution is easy: matzah pizza!

And, as you might expect, this is a super duper easy recipe for a delicious pizza treat.

Step 1: Choose your matzah. I would suggest whole wheat or regular as egg matzah can sometimes be sweet or slightly soft.

Step 2: Place your matzah on a sheet of tinfoil.

Step 3: Choose your pizza sauce, which can be either canned pizza sauce or jarred pasta sauce. Or even better, make your own homemade sauce by mixing¬†canned crushed tomatoes with a smidge of olive oil and whatever herbs you like (oregano and garlic for instance) and then throwing all that in the blender. For tonight’s dinner, I used straight roasted crushed tomatoes from the can.

Step 4: Don’t use too much sauce! A light spread is all that is needed, otherwise the matzah will get soggy and break. On the other hand, make sure all the matzah holes are covered with at least a little sauce (otherwise the cheese will melt through the holes and stick to the tin foil which becomes a total mess).

matzah with sauce
matzah with sauce

Step 5: Sprinkle the sauce with toppings – whether that be garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper only, or also chopped mushrooms, other veggies or pepperoni.

Step 6: Cover the top of the matzah pizzas with shredded mozzarella. Again, don’t use too much because it will weigh down and break the matzah.

Step 7: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted to your preferred doneness.

Step 8: Throw on some more crushed red pepper for extra spice and eat up!!!

matzah pizza!
matzah pizza!

Anyone have any other non-traditional Passover food traditions?

slice of crumb cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake…Updated to be More Delicious

Okay, by now you are so sick of hearing about sour cream coffee cake, as related by me in Sections 1 and 2 of this Epic Poem to Martha Stewart‘s Classic Crumb Cake.

But don’t quit reading quite yet! Because I’ve made some tweaks that have this baked breakfast cake¬†getting even better!

Martha Stewart's Classic Crumb Cake
Martha Stewart’s Classic Crumb Cake

Tweak #1: Using the correct size pan. Duh. As you may remember, I didn’t think I had a 9×13 pan so I used a loaf pan instead. Well turns out I DID (insert Derek Zoolander voice here) have a 9×13 glass pan, and really I think that helped so much in getting a good cake to crumbly topping ratio going (i.e. more crumb topping please!!!)

Tweak #2: In the cake, I added brown sugar to give some extra moisture and richness. To do this, I straight substituted half of the called for white sugar with the same amount of light brown sugar.

Tweak #3: To amp up the flavor of the cake, I added cinnamon to the cake, and not just the crumb topping.

Tweak #4: The topping seemed really dry to me the first time around, so this time, I cut the amount of flour in half and cut the amount of butter by about a third, so that overall, the topping was damper. I kept the same amount of sugar though so that it would be proportionally sweeter!

Tweak #5: I ditched the knives I was using to cut the butter into the flour and sugar for the crumb topping and went with fingers – so much easier and quicker! I made sure that all the dry bits were coated with butter…or really that all the butter chunks were coated with flour and sugar…so that there wasn’t any dry powder remaining.

That’s about it! I found this version to be so much moister and sweeter, which is really what I prefer in my coffee cake. Unfortunately no new pics because I brought it to a party where it was basically¬†all eaten, save for two pieces I had for breakfast the next day. It pretty much looked the same as the first time, except not as tall (due to the larger, shorter pan)….so you get the idea.

 

chocolate roulade

Finishing Up Leftover Ingredients: Heavy Cream in Mocha Roulade

In Parts 1 & 2 of my “How to Use Up Leftover Ingredients” quest, I made Martha Stewart’s recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake, using up leftover sour cream that would otherwise go to waste from the Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies recipe.

On the same morning that I worried over how that cake would turn out (well, in fact), I also ventured to make Martha’s Mocha Roulade, which is essentially a rolled sponge cake filled with mousse, in order to use up some leftover heavy cream.

Not having espresso in the house, and since Mark doesn’t like coffee flavoring, I basically skipped the “mocha” part of this recipe, and went straight at it from a chocolate cake/chocolate mousse perspective.

It seems like most bakers would consider the roulade (rolling up what is essentially a flat cake without it breaking) to be the more difficult part, I actually found the chocolate mousse the most challenging.

I melted the chocolate and whipped the egg yolks well enough (maybe?).

melting chocolate
melting chocolate – double boiler

Then the recipe calls for boiling sugar, corn syrup and water, and then adding that mixture to the whipped egg yolks. Frankly, I’m not sure if I just didn’t bring the sugar syrup to a high enough temperature (being lazy and not using a thermometer) or what, but there were some hardened clumps of corn syrup which never evened out. Do I even need the corn syrup? Can I just make a simple syrup with sugar and water? Discuss.

For the mousse, you whip up some heavy cream and fold that into the chocolate/egg/sugar mixture as the final step to create that airy, silky mousse….which mine was not.

Either way, the mousse ended up tasting fine but it definitely was not as light and fluffy as I think it should’ve been. Plus, ya know, clumps of hardened corn syrup.

While the mousse was chilling, I turned my attention to the chocolate sponge cake for the other half of my roll.

This was so interesting to me Рnever having made a sponge cake before, I thought for sure that my batter was way to wet and light. It was almost just like whipped egg with a pinch of chocolate flavoring added in. Also, interesting that you whip the egg yolks and egg whites separately and then combine them gently together.

Once the cake was baked, the fun really began!! On a tea towel dusted with cocoa powder, I laid out the baked cake, and while still warm, gently but tightly rolled the cake into a log, incorporating the tea towel.

chocolate on a tea towel - ready to roll sponge cake
chocolate on a tea towel – ready to roll sponge cake
sponge cake
chocolate sponge cake
rolled sponge cake
rolled sponge cake

Once, completely cooled, I unfurled the cake to reveal a slight curved cake – like the way my yoga mat looks when I unbundle it on the floor before class, where the edges are curled up.

I spread my mousse out on the cake and rerolled it to create the swirled mousse/cake log. I really thought this turned out a-okay for a first roulade attempt. My lessons were really all about the mousse: 1. make sure egg yolks are seriously whipped, 2. use simple syrup instead of this weird corn syrup mixture, 3. make sure it’s light and fluffy!

FYI I still didn’t end up using up all the leftover heavy cream from the Caramel Sauce recipe I made last week, but oh well.