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.
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:
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.
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.
spread batter into greased baking dish
cornbread batter close up
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 😉
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.
I’m off to have a lunch of cornbread and roasted acorn squash. A perfectly cozy fall meal!
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.
Step 2: Heat until it turns into caramel
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.
Thoughts on this recipe:
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.
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.
The ones with sugar tasted a lot more interesting and less overwhelmingly JUST SUGAR than the regular ones.
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.
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!! 🙂
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Toss the fruit with flour before folding it into the batter to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the tin.
fresh strawberries tossed with flour
tossing blueberries in flour mixture to prevent them from falling to the bottom of the muffin batter
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.
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.
How perfect for July 4th to have some summer berry muffins that are red and blue and white (the muffin part?) – yum!
When we last left off, I had completely messed up my measuring of nearly all the ingredients in Martha Stewart’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. (Which by the way, when I look back, is actually referred to as a “Classic Crumb Cake.”)
I also decided to use a much smaller bread loaf pan instead of the cake pan the recipe called for, which I do not own and was not willing to buy specifically for this recipe (although which will probably be needed for many a future cake recipe).
The coffee cake was in the oven, smelling delicious (although that could have also been the vanilla-scented candle I had going in the apartment). But would be it be okay – taste and texture-wise? TBD.
After 40 minutes of baking and 10 minutes of cooling. I took the plunge and sliced in.
Unfortunately the center of the cake sort of deflated and got a sunken look in the middle. However the overall taste of the cake was pretty good, if not subdued.
It was very butter accounted for by the butter in all the batter, the topping and the heavily greased pan.
Although overall it was pretty good, a few changes I would make along the way:
If using the same loaf pan again, I would add less flour to the crumb topping and more cinnamon for a bolder flavor.
The cake itself isn’t very sweet, which is fine, but I might actually sub brown sugar in for the white sugar, for a bit richer taste.
And so, as to the measuring goofs? Well, I’m sure the sinking center was caused by some mis-proportion of eggs/leavening/etc. Also, I may be overthinking it, but I feel like I’m getting a little metallic aftertaste…perhaps slightly too much baking soda or the brand which I’ve been using
I’ve never really tried to make bread before. Sure there were childhood forays with the electric bread maker craze (which churns out deliciouuuuuuus bread that we consumed within minutes after waiting hours upon hours for it to cook), and quick breads like banana bread, pumpkin bread, scones and the like.
But I’ve never made yeast breads (except I guess pizza dough which is super easy).
To start this adventure, I chose the Martha Stewart recipe for cinnamon raisin bread, mainly because it called for all-purpose flour and not bread flour (which I need to purchase but haven’t yet) and because I had all the other ingredients on hand.
Suffice it to say, I don’t know what happened, but it didn’t work out. I kind of knew it wasn’t going to turn out well when the dough barely rose, but I kept going anyway.
Here are some of the ways in which I may have failed:
1. I used the Rapid Rise Yeast which I use for pizza dough. This type of yeast is typically added to the dry ingredients, as opposed to active dry yeast which is typically added to the warm wet ingredients (and bubbles up before everything else is added). The recipe called for active dry yeast, but I didn’t have any of that at home. Following the instructions (but subbing the rapid rise yeast instead), I added the yeast to the wet ingredients. So maybe the bread didn’t work because I used the wrong type of yeast.
But this is a head scratcher because on the yeast company’s website it does say you can make this substitution; you just can’t substitute the opposite way (active dry yeast in place of rapid rise). Hmmmm….
Also when I added the yeast, I did get that bready smell right away, which I took as a good sign.
Maybe I killed the yeast? Maybe it was old? I didn’t take the temperature of my warm milk (as instructed) before I added the yeast….so maybe it was too hot?
2. I used stale raisins. I don’t see why this should matter but the little buggers were like sticky pebbles.
3. I let the bread rise twice as called for in the recipe: the first time for an hour and the second time for 40 minutes or so after shaping the loaf. Perhaps I didn’t put it in a warm enough place? I just left it covered on the counter.
4. My “filling” wasn’t quite right. Once the cinnamon raisin dough has risen, you were supposed to roll out the dough and “sprinkle” the filling over top. I don’t really see how sprinkle was the correct word though since you were to mix cinnamon and sugar with water. Mine was more of a paste. And so that egg wash to help it stick was probably unnecessary.And so the interior of the dough was really really wet and soggy. See my photo versus the pic in the cookbook.
cinnamon and sugar filling “sprinkled” on rolled bread dough
Martha Stewart cinnamon raisin bread recipe
All these minor errors probably added up to the undercooked and unrisen center. I mean, it still tasted yummy what with the oozy cinnamon sugar core. It was kind of like a cinnamon roll and some icing would have been appreciated. But it was not bread. Le sigh. I will try again one of these days. Maybe with the correct (and newly purchased) yeast.
You guys ~ This is so out there, but I started a YouTube Channel *grimace face emoji*!!!
I feel like working for a cooking show would be SO much fun, but since I don’t have that job, I figured I would play around with making some of my own videos for some of these baking recipes.
The first such installment WAS going to be this easy raspberry scone recipe from Martha Stewart HOWEVER I need to work a bit on my camera skills before I can actually put this out in the world.
Sorry you will miss the unfortunate camera angles, terrible lighting, the hilarity of me throwing things on the floor and splattering raspberry goo down the front of the cupboards (and my large chin pimple). Maybe next time.
Meanwhile, I was really pumped to make these warm and comforting scones for my friends. Downton Abbey has started again, so duh, we needed scones and tea to make our viewing party complete!
This isn’t from the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, but rather a recipe of hers I found online a number of years ago and have been making ever since. Here’s my re-creation of the original recipe.
6 tbps milk
1 & 1/4 tsp white vinegar
1 & 1/4 cup flour
2 tbp sugar (plus some for sprinkling at the end)
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick cold butter
1/2 an egg yolk (just divide it with your hands and eyeball it)
2/3 cup fresh raspberries washed and dried (or frozen raspberries which will make your scones pink)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix milk and vinegar in a cup and wait 5 minutes until the milk is a bit curdled (this is going to sub for buttermilk)
3. Meanwhile mix the flour, 2 tbp sugar, baking powder and salt in the food processor
4. Add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until pebble-like crumbs have formed
5. With the mixer on low, add the milk-vinegar and egg yolk through the feed tube until the dough comes together
6. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and pat into a square
7. Add the raspberries on top of the dough and fold one side over to encompass the raspberries. Try not to totally smash the berries.
8. If you can manage, fold the dough a few more times without squishing the berries – turning the dough a quarter turn with each fold. You are creating the flaky layers by doing this. [Side note, if you DO smoosh the berries, the scones will still be super yummy, they may just be tinted slightly pink 🙂 Even better this way?]
9. Pat the dough out to about an inch thick and use a long sharp knife to cut the dough into equal size pieces
10. Place the pieces and inch or two apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
11. Sprinkle the extra sugar over top of the scones.
12. Cook for 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheets after 10 minutes. Check for browning at about the 15 minute mark. Mine took about 17 minutes.
13. Eat warm with clotted cream, lemon curd, jam, Scottish Afternoon tea