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WHOOPIE!! 1-28-12

As I continue on in my quest of finding, and trying, Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish baked goods (see ‘The Giving Pie’ post), I’ve ‘tripped’ over Whoopie pies in one of those ‘free Kindle baking books’.  So I’ve begun to search out different recipes and have decided to try this one first.  These are red velvet whoopie pies filled with a marshmallow cream filling.  I really like the texture of the ‘cookies”.  They are basically a cake like cookie.  I think these could be a little sweeter but hubby said he likes them just the way they are (he does not have a big sweet tooth like I do)!  I topped these with a white chocolate drizzle.  I do understand why the are called “WHOOPIE PIES” now because they are tasty and you do want to yell that ;-)!  If you’d like to read more on the history of these, go here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whoopie_pie

Happy Baking!!

Shiny Things or ‘Squirrel’!

Does anyone else out there have the same problem that I do?  You know, where you start to do one thing, then you get distracted by ‘shiny things’ and end up doing something else WAY different from what you had planned?  I like to call these my ‘Dory’ or ‘Doug the Dog’ moments.  Remember how Dory from the movie, ‘Finding Nemo’ (Jellyfish scene) or Doug from the movie ‘Up’ (Squirrel/point), always got distracted?  That’s me!

I had not planned on baking today, but let me digress…..  My mom continues to be hospitalized and has had some setbacks, but hopefully she is now headed in the right direction i.e. towards healing.  We can only hope.  Anyhow she has told me for the past week to not come home because there was nothing that I could do right now, so she’s asked me to please stay put and take care of myself and my husband.  So I have listened to her wishes and have stayed put.

Staying put is hard, so I decided to take today and start cleaning out and organizing my kitchen.  My mom leans towards the ‘neat freak’ side of life and likes things to have their place i.e. organized.  I tend to ‘stray’ in the opposite direction.  So I figured that I would make her happy by organizing my kitchen i.e. basically knowing what I have and where each item is located.  P.S. She teases me by pointing out that I do not “know where half my stuff is and what I have” and she’s right :-).

So with much determination, I started in on my task and opened the first cabinet.  I started at the top and after taking out two Corning Ware dishes, I found my Pampered Chef Apple/Peeler/Corer that I had purchased approximately 15 years ago and have never used.  I took it out and stared at it, having no clue as how to use it and put it aside.  And then it started…I went ‘Dory’..SHINY THINGS!!!!

I detoured to my computer.  I found a video on You Tube (see below) on how to use the corer thing.  I went to see how many apples that I had in my stash.  I found 8 apples.  I washed the apples.  I washed the apple corer.  I was in disbelief that this thing could work as easy as the video was showing, so I tried one apple on it.  OH-MY-GOODNESS!  IT WAS AMAZING!!  This thing worked!!  It peeled the apple, cored the apple, and sliced the apple all with turning the knob!!  I could not believe it!!  So I grabbed another apple, and another and within 10 minutes, at the most, I had a bowl full of sliced apples!  What normally takes me days (I do not have good knife skills) I had in minutes!

It was then that I realized that I had a bowl full of rapidly oxidizing fruit that I had no plans for.   I quickly grabbed a lemon and squeezed some juice on the apple slices so they did not brown while I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with them.  I did not have any pie dough on hand, and I did not feel like making any, so what was I going to do?  THEN I remembered that I had extra shortbread cookie dough (I make my Halloween finger cookies out of this dough) in the refrigerator because I had been ‘playing’ with cookies a couple of days before.  So I figured what the heck, let’s try that as a crust and make a version of ‘The Giving Pie’.

I patted the shortbread dough into an 8 pie pan and the remainder into a small glass dish.  Then I added the apples, topped with the crumble topping, placed into the oven, and hoped for the best.  I did have to cover the pies half way through the baking time (I did not have to do this with the traditional pie crust) because the edges were browning too quickly.

Once the pies finished baking and cooling, I tried the little one and it was very yummy!  It doesn’t taste like a traditional pie but more like a cookie pie which makes sense since the crust is a cookie recipe ;-).  But nevertheless it was tasty and is hubby approved!  Of course, when my hubby got home he wanted to know if I had an order due and I stared at him with a confused look until I started laughing because I had to tell him that “no I didn’t have an order due, I just went ‘Dory’ again!”

The best part, besides learning that I LOVE my Pampered Chef Apple/Peeler/Corer :-), is that my mom was strong enough to speak with me tonight and when I told her the story she laughed and said, “Now THAT is something that your grandma would do!” —>In reference to finding something while cleaning and then making something with it instead of continuing on task.  It was great to hear my mom laugh!  And that pie keeps on ‘giving’……..

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Giving’ Pie

A Very Special Pie:  This is a Pennsylvania Dutch apple pie recipe that has become very special to me in the past two weeks.  I have named it ‘The Giving Pie’ because it started out as a gift, became a gift, and came back to me as a second gift in the form of a hug.  Let me elaborate.

I have really been into making pies lately and have enjoyed playing with different recipes.  I have never liked the traditional double-crust apple pie.  I always choose the apple pie with the crumb or streusel topping when given the choice.  And if I am not given a choice I will forego the apple pie altogether (yes, yes, I know — gasp in horror!).   Since I have been on an apple kick lately, I searched around for a Dutch apple pie recipe.

It was during this same time that my husband came home from work a couple days before Christmas and handed me an envelope containing a ‘gift’ from one of his co-workers (Kathy).  She is a fellow baker and when I opened up the envelope I was over the moon to find copies of her family’s recipes for pies and cakes!  What a special and thoughtful gift!!  I was very touched by this and most appreciative of it!  And guess what was in that pile?  Yep, a recipe for a Pennsylvania Dutch apple pie!  So that night I made my Gram Monto’s pie dough, prepped Granny Smith apples (these are my favorites!), used Kathy’s filling recipe, and what I pulled out of the oven was FABULOUS!!  (See pictures below).  I ate 1/2 of a baby pie even before the pie had time to cool!

The following day we were leaving to go home for a family visit but before we left, I took the large pie over to my next door neighbor’s house.  Our neighbors are a young family with two children (ages 5 1/2 and 2).  Amelia, the 5 1/2 year old, and I have become friends and she is always making me laugh (I could write a book about how she makes me laugh!).  I test many of my baking experiments out on these neighbors and Amelia calls them like she sees them in that innocence of childhood kind of way (which I love).

For example, when I took caramel apples over to them, her mom and dad loved the apples, but Amelia shared this with me, “Rene’, your apples are very good, but please don’t put the brown stuff (caramel) on them next time.”  I was on the floor laughing when she told me this as her parents stood there with horrified looks on their faces!  By the way, this has now become a joke between her parents and I :-).   The next time I took her family caramel apples, I took an apple only on a stick i.e. no brown stuff on it and Amelia loved it!  She now tells everyone that “Rene’ makes the best apples!”  Priceless.  So anyhow I took the pie over and told them to please let me know what they thought of it.  I was 100% sure that my buddy Amelia would let me know after she tried it.

So off we went for our family visit.  I took one of the smaller pies home to my mom for her opinion.  My mom does not pull punches with her opinion either, just like Amelia ;-), which I appreciate, so I really wanted her thoughts because I truly believe this is one of the best Dutch apple pie recipes that I have had.  When I got home and settled, I handed my mom the pie and a spoon and asked her to try it.  My mom is very good at letting you know what she is thinking with her facial expressions so when she took her first bite and there was this look of ‘WOW’ on her face, I knew I had a winner and maybe even a chance with Amelia ;-).  Mom then proceeded to tell me that the pie was fantastic as she continued to eat it.  She also praised me for finally overcoming my fear of pie making and told me that I had hit a home run with this one!  My heart was full of warmth as I finally got it!!  I got ‘food made with love makes the food so much better’!  The memory of my mom enjoying that pie will be with me forever.

We returned home after a very nice visit and shortly thereafter, my mom was hit with emergency surgery and is now facing a battle to recuperate.  This was all so sudden and she almost lost her life.  As you can probably imagine, I was not having a good day (lots of sadness and crying) when I learned about my mom and her condition and how much she now needs to overcome.  As I was standing in my kitchen I could have sworn that I heard a bell ring.  I at first thought of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and thought “did an angel get its wings?”  Then I heard the bell again and I started to follow the sound.  It took me to my front door and when I opened the front door there sat my buddy Amelia on her brand new bike!  She was ringing her bike bell to get my attention!

I stepped outside to look at her beautiful bike as well as say ‘HI’ to her, her mom, and brother.  Once I got outside to her, Amelia jumped off of her bike and ran to me with her arms wide open, gave me a giant hug, and said “I came over to give you a big hug and say thank you for that yummy apple pie!”  I was stunned and my heart melted.  The gift of a smile was given to me, at a time that I so needed it, by a little girl and the pie.  I ended up walking around the block that day accompanying Amelia on her ride.  It was such a healing experience for me.

Food does nourish and warm the soul when it is made from the heart.  This will always be a special pie to me, one that was given to me as a gift, that I gave as gifts, and then it came back to me as a gift in the form of a hug.

Please hug your mother and if you cannot, call her, and if that is not possible, reflect on one of your favorite memories of her because even if she is no longer with you, she will know you are thinking of her.

Happy Baking.

 

For Great Gram Monto

I’ve finally had some time to sit down and upload pictures of the things I have been making and baking over the past couple of months!  Wheh!  I’ve added a caramel apple/candy section since that is my favorite passion right now!  But I’ve also been busy baking for our non-profit organization, called Cakes for Causes, as well as baking for my clients and trying to squeeze in some time to ‘bake for fun’ i.e. experiment!  If you take a gander at the ‘General Baking’ section you’ll see some of the things that I have been working on.

For this Christmas season, I’d like to pay tribute to my Great Gram Monto who I was fortunate enough to know until she passed in 1991.  She was my maternal grandmother’s (Gram Alice’s) mother.  If someone asked me to describe my Great gram Monto in a phrase, I would say ‘strict, yet fun.’  She expected you to behave yourself and be courteous and respectful to others.  She would let you know if you were *not* behaving properly.  She lived in Ohio for most of her life but spent her remaining years out here in Arizona and I am glad that she did!   I was blessed to grow from a child, who was kind of afraid of her, into an adult that got to know her.  And what a treat that was!  Underneath that ‘you behave’ exterior was a wonderful lady who had a great sense of humor.  And *boy* was she a great cook!

I still remember coming home from high school and seeing my grandma’s dining room table covered in newspapers with Great-gram’s egg noodles drying on them.  That meant fresh egg noodles stewed in beef broth with chunks of roast beef for dinner that night!  YUM!!  And yes, we ate that those noodles over mashed potatoes.  Don’t ask, it is just another one of my family’s ‘things’.  I guess we loved our carbs!

Great-gram also made a wonderful ‘green jello’ which my entire family loved/loves.  She gave the recipe to my mom and after Great gram passed, my mom made the ‘green jello’.  We all gathered around the table and excitedly dove into the ‘green jello’.  BUT it didn’t taste exactly like great-gram’s.  My poor mom sat there and said “But I followed the recipe to a T.’  So my gram Alice said, “Well then, the joke is on us because she took that recipe with her.”  We all miss that ‘green jello’.

Great gram Monto also was a master at pie making.  She made THE best pumpkin pie!  Her crust recipe is fabulous too!  She used an all shortening recipe which gives a very nice flaky crust.  And then there is her sugar pie.  I grew up on that sugar pie.  Eggs, butter, milk, sugar, and pie dough,,,,,to me you cannot go wrong with that combination :-).

Last year I started the tradition of making one of my family’s recipes at Christmas time.  Last year I chose my Gramps BB’s pecan rolls as a tribute to him.  This year I chose to make my Great-Gram Monto’s sugar pie and I am proud to say that it turned out just like I remember!  SO she didn’t get the last laugh on this one!  Her sugar pie lives on ;-)!!  I will warn you that if don’t like sweet/sweet stuff you will not like this one.  But if you do, you will LOVE it because it is S-W-E-E-T!!

And for those of you who have played bingo with me, you know what I mean when I say “I-two-two”.  Miss you Great-Grandma Monto and thank you for all that you taught me!

Great Grandma Monto’s Old Fashion Sugar Pie:

1 cup brown or white sugar (brown will give more caramel flavor)

2 tablespoons butter

1 ½ tablespoons flour

1 egg

1 cup milk

Pinch of salt

Cream sugar and butter, add flour, add egg and beat well.  Combine mixture with the milk.  Pour in 8 inch unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 min or until filling is set.

If I ever get stranded…..

If I ever get sent to, and stranded on a ‘baker’s survival island’, you know ‘Survivor’ style, and I was allowed to take 10 things, these would be what I would take:

  1. Kitchen Aid Mixer, bowl, and paddle attachment. -Yes, there will be electricity on the island ;-).
  2. Large stainless steel bowl
  3. Medium stainless steel bowl
  4. Double boiler (I LOVE this style)
  5. Mallet thingy (I found this at a yard sale and man can this thing crush whatever I want it to!)
  6. Parchment paper (Unbleached …I LOVE this stuff!)
  7. Cutco knife (I have had this forever and love it!)
  8. Bench scraper
  9. French rolling pin
  10. Pampered Chef large spatula

THE Yellow Butter Cake from CIA

Hello all!  Long time ‘no blog’!  I realized that although I have been uploading pictures of my creations, I have not blogged about a recipe in awhile (and no those scary doughnut ‘wannabes’ did not take me out!).  I also realized that I have not blogged about a CIA recipe in awhile, SO without further ado, I give you THE YELLOW BUTTER CAKE!!  And can I say, OH HOW YUMMY!!!!!!!

I have made this particular cake numerous times and each time it turns out absolutely perfect and delicious!  This one rivals the pastry cream recipe in the CIA book i.e. ranks AT THE TOP!  Another nice thing about this cake recipe is that it is a great teaching tool for my students.  It teaches them the ‘high ratio’ mixing method.  Most cake recipes call for creaming of the butter and sugar together, separate mixing of the dry ingredients, separate mixing of the wet ingredients and then you alternate adding these dry and wet mixtures into the creamed sugar/butter mixture.  In this recipe (high ratio mixing method) instead of creaming together the butter and sugar as a first step, you blend together all of the dry ingredients with the all of the butter and a bit of the liquid.  It is mixed for approximately 4 minutes and it almost looks like a wet pie dough.  Then you add in the egg/vanilla/and milk mixture.  And wa-la you have cake batter!

By mixing in this manner, the crumb on this cake is delectable!  It has such a soft feel on your tongue, almost like a light pound cake texture.  It is SO hard to describe!  One of my students (thank you Jeanne) said, “the flavor is awesome, it is almost like a sugar cookie but in cake form!”  And it is!  Delicious, buttery, yummy goodness!  Plus it is a sturdy cake as you can see above.  I baked a 3-D duck cake from this recipe and it stood up very well (pardon the pun!)!!  The price of the CIA baking book is worth it for this and the pastry cream recipe!

Other examples of my use of this cake recipe was ‘Cakes for Causes’ (non-profit baking outreach group) Alice in Wonderland cake that we did for the Candlelighter’s Prom in March 2011.  If I am remembering correctly, we baked approximately 16 batches of this recipe for that giant cake!

If you’d like to learn more about Cakes for Causes or see the Alice in Wonderland cake, please visit:  www.cakesforcauses.org

But back to THE Yellow Butter Cake!  I give it 2 thumbs up, actually I’d give it 4 thumbs up if I had them!!

Below is a picture of the completed duck.  My dear friend and fellow cake decorating instructor, Liz, decorated the duck for a demo/fundraiser for Cakes for Causes at the Tucson Home Show.  Well done Liz!  Such a cute duck!  Thank you!

Happy Baking!

It Looks Like a Blueberry Doughnut. . . . .(Non CIA)

Ok, readers, I need your help because this one has me *extremely* puzzled.  It ‘looks’ like a homemade blueberry doughnut but it tastes like a fried blueberry bread stick!  Any of you ever tried the bread sticks at Long John Silvers?  They take a bread stick and throw it in the fryer so it has a crunchy outside and a doughy soft inside.  And this is the exact texture of this ‘doughnut’…….

First off, I probably should not buy the 99 cent cookbooks off of Amazon for my Kindle reader, but I thought what the heck let’s give this a try since it has a blueberry cake doughnut recipe in it.  The blueberry cake doughnut is my all time favorite so if I can learn to make it from scratch then I will be very, very happy.  So I download the cookbook and enter the kitchen….

2 Tablespoons of solid shortening are mixed well with 1 cup of sugar on the stand mixer using the paddle attachment.  Then you add 2 eggs, one at a time and mixing well between each addition.  Slowly add 1 cup of buttermilk to this mixture as your mixer is running on a low speed.  Then you change the paddle attachment to the dough hook attachment and add 1 pint of fresh, washed and dried, blueberries.  At this point, the mixture looked kind of scary, curdly looking, but I kept going.

While this is slowly mixing, you sift together 3 1/2 to 4 cups (I used 3 1/2 cups) of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  You add the dry mixture, 1 cup at a time to the blueberry goo mixture, “until a smooth ball is formed and starts climbing up the hook attachment.”  Well, I added all of the flour mixture staying on a low speed and even added the additional 1/2 cup, but the dough continued to stay very, very wet.  I added yet another 1/2 cup of flour and the dough continued to stay wet.  At this point I began to worry that I was overworking the gluten, so I stopped and poured/plopped the very wet dough into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for 1 hour (as the directions said).

When I removed the dough after an hour, it was still wet….you are supposed to be able to roll this out to 1/2 inch thickness and then cut doughnuts from it.  I ended up having to work more flour into it since it was a sticky blob just to be able to use the doughnut cutter!  Hubby helped me fry up all 24 doughnuts, I love when recipes do not work out and you have a monster volume of failed product ;-).  Then I coated them with the confectioners’ sugar glaze.

And then we tried them…hubby thinks they have the texture of a bagel but I think they are rivals to the Long John Silver bread stick.  They need more flavor (there was no mention of vanilla or nutmeg in the recipe) and a different crumb because this is NOT A CAKE DOUGHNUT!!

I’ll probably turn this failure into bread pudding, enter the Paul Dean recipe for making a bread pudding out of doughnuts. Plus these doughnuts are bread consistency so hopefully they will make a good bread pudding.

I would love any input from you all because I am stumped.  How can you have such a wet dough and have it so overworked at the same time?  The only thing I could think of is that the fresh blueberries were breaking and giving off their moisture, but I am still confused…..

Again, any input you have would be much appreciated because my analytical mind is going to keep going over and over this!  Thank you!

Happy Baking!

Pink Velvet Cake – Non CIA

Wha HAAAAAAAA <this is the sound of discovery>!!!!  Ladies and gentlemen, after years of searching, I have *finally* found a ‘red velvet’ scratch cake recipe that I am very, very happy with!!  And the best part about this cake?  It does NOT have the red food coloring in it!  It is made the old fashion way, with beet juice, and NO you cannot taste the beet juice.  So with this success, I have decided to add yet another section to the blog, the ‘Other Recipes That I’ve Tried’ that are not CIA  recipes posts.

But let me backtrack a bit. . . . first of all I never have understood the appeal of the red velvet cake other than the red color and the cream cheese icing that garnishes it.  No offense to you aficianodos, but if you look at the recipe, it is really a shortening based light cocoa flavored cake that has way too much red food coloring dumped in to give it that ‘blood’ look.  And if you have seen the movie ‘Steel Magnolias’ we can all laugh now as we think of the Armadillo cake scene ;-).  As I was growing up my mom made a plain ol’ chocolate cake and iced it with the cream cheese frosting so that is what I am used to.

BUT over the years I have received order after order for the red velvet cake and try as many scratch recipes as I might I have not found one that I like and have even resorted to the ol’ chocolate cake mix trick where you mix up the cake per box directions and then dump in an entire 1 oz bottle of red food dye.  It ‘kills’ me to think about how much toxin I am adding to the cake at this point when I am dumping in that bottle of food dye.  I am a believer of nutritional response testing and healing (http://www.unsinc.info/aboutus.html) and believe that a lot of our illnesses are due to over exposure to toxins that our bodies encounter day to day through food, water, and the environment.  I could write a dissertation about this but will not.

Anyhow, I did some internet research and discovered that the red velvet cake was ‘born’ in the 1950s and did originally have beet juice in it to give it color.  Over the years, it evolved to where the red dye was used instead.  During my search, I found the following recipe, and by the way, since I got this recipe off of the internet, I feel I can share it without going to copyright jail ;-), and decided to give it a try.  I will mention that I never have buttermilk around so I always make my own and in this recipe I used the 1 cup of whole milk to 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar trick.

First of all, this recipe was FUN to make!  I love where you mix the vinegar and baking soda together at the end just before stirring it into the batter….the chemical reaction was a lot of fun to watch and it brought back memories of all of the time I spent in the chemistry lab!  The recipe made a lot of batter!  I was able to get 24 cupcakes, 1 8 inch round cake that turned out very tall, and a small 6 inch round.  The best part is the taste and texture.  The crumb is very light, fluffy, moist, and the lift obtained by the soda/vinegar reaction was great!  The flavor is wonderful!  My hubby said, “it tastes like a Swiss chocolate cake” and it does…and this is what I think red velvet tastes like!  Oh and hubby also said, “it doesn’t need the icing.”  Not sure if I agree with him on that one since I love cream cheese icing, but ok ;-).

The only ‘downfall’ of this recipe is that it is not blood red.  It is more a pale pink/brown.  The pictures are not doing it justice but it is not deep red.  That can be easily fixed if I choose, in the future, to dump in red food coloring BUT from now on I am going to ask my customers if they prefer a somewhat healthy (ignore the shortening and sugar!) ‘pink velvet’ cake with some hidden beet juice for health to a blood red ‘dye’ cake (ok, that was a bad pun, but true!).  If they choose the red food color then I will make it but at least they will have the option.  Either way this one is a WINNER in my book!!  Enjoy!!  — Happy Baking!!

Red Velvet Cake
Beet juice is the secret ingredient that substitutes for red food color in this traditional Southern specialty cake. Some people prefer a boiled white frosting, but I cannot imagine this cake without cream cheese frosting. Make this cake when you want to dazzle people — or when you want superb taste. This is the kind of cake to take to a party.
CAKE
4-1/2 C cake flour, sifted
1-1/2 t salt
4 T Cocoa
4 oz. beet juice (drain from one 15 oz. can of beets – add water to make 4 oz., if needed)
1 C vegetable shortening
2-3/4 C sugar
4 large eggs
2 C buttermilk
1-1/2 T vanilla extract
2 T white vinegar
2 t baking soda

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Remember to use glass and metal utensils to avoid beet-juice stains.

Add salt and cocoa to sifted flour and sift again. With mixer on medium, cream together vegetable shortening and sugar for at least five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating at least one minute after each addition.

Add beet juice and vanilla to buttermilk. Alternate adding these liquids and the flour-salt-cocoa mixture to the shortening/sugar. Use a spatula or put your mixer on low — don’t overbeat.

Put white vinegar in a small bowl and add baking SODA (not powder). It will foam up briefly. Fold into the cake batter — DO NOT BEAT. Batter should be somewhat thick, but add water, if needed, to make a pourable batter.

Pour batter into prepared cake tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes in a 350 oven. Allow layers to cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake tins. Cool cake completely before frosting. Cut each layer in half to create a four-layer cake.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
(Neufchatel tastes great, too, and has less fat — as if that mattered given the rest of the recipe)
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 T vanilla
4 C powdered sugar
water or milk to thin, if needed

http://www.thehealers.org/food/redvelvet.html

 

Blueberry Muffins 5-29-11

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!!  Please take a moment to remember those who have served and are serving our country and send prayers and positive thoughts in their direction.

SO, I *finally* got some time to bake another recipe out of the CIA book and was able to ‘try it out’ on my new co-workers, (which was an added bonus for me because I was able to get their input).  But before we get to the recipe, I must admit that I am a baking book ‘addict’…..I need a 12 step program to get away from my book buying!  I like to scoop up bargain books, so you’ll find me at the thrift stores sorting through cookbooks, and let me tell you, I find treasures!  Of course, when I return home my hubby always asks me if I “bought anything” and when I tell him a baking book his immediate comment to me is “shocker” ;-).

Anyhow, I have been trying out recipes from these books as well as other books that I have bought for my Kindle reader. And to be honest with you, I am usually disappointed in the recipe more than I am thrilled by it {maybe I will start blogging about these ‘ugly’ recipes ;-)}!  So far, the recipes in these other books do not hold a candle to the ones in the CIA book!  I know I could ‘tweak’ these ‘weak’ recipes, but I am spoiled/lazy in that I do not want to waste my time.  My attitude is this, “if the recipe is not foolproof and perfect the first time through, then do not publish it for those of us who want to bake it once and have it work.”  And this is where I continue to admire the CIA book because every recipe, minus the dreadful Irish soda bread, seems to come out nice the first time around!

So with that being said, let’s talk about the CIA’s blueberry muffin recipe. . . . .about a month ago I was hired as a part time receptionist at a vet clinic and have been very busy learning all of the things one needs to learn at a vet clinic!  Yesterday was the first Saturday that I was scheduled to work and since Saturdays have a ‘skeleton’ crew in versus the work week, I decided to take a treat in for my co-workers.  Since we had to be there at 7:30 am I decided to take blueberry muffins and I grabbed the CIA book to test their recipe.

This recipe is pretty dern easy,,,,all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and a dash of nutmeg for the dry ingredients; milk, an egg, and vanilla as the wet ingredients; and butter and sugar creamed together.  Basically cream the butter and sugar together, then add the dry and wet ingredients alternatively.  Toss blueberries in some flour to coat them to stop them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin and stir them into the batter.  I used unthawed frozen blueberries (the recipe called for fresh or unthawed frozen).  Since I used the frozen blueberries, it did harden the batter so I had to scoop the batter into the liners with my ice cream scoop and then smooth the tops with a knife.  But I think the frozen blueberries are the way to go but will get to that in a minute. . . .  So you bake and then you get beautiful blueberry muffins.  The other nice thing about this recipe is that your blueberries stay blue/purple and do not turn green like in many other recipes.  As the book explains, this recipe using baking powder and not baking soda as the chemical leavener.  Baking soda is acidic and reacts with the blueberries to give them that greenish tinge/color.  By using baking powder instead of soda, the blueberries retain their beautiful color.

The muffins have a denser crumb that what we, as Americans, are not used to from the boxed mixes.   The nutmeg gives the muffin a lovely background flavor and I love the butter flavor.  You cannot go wrong with butter in my opinion!  I always choose butter over oil.  The muffins were very moist and I attribute that to the frozen blueberries that released their moisture during the baking and provided the added moisture.  These are not sticky sweet muffins, you get the butter and nutmeg flavor along with the yummy blueberries.  I am going to add more blueberries the next time I make this recipe because I am a blueberry lover.

Co-workers’ comments:

1.  “These could use more salt to enhance the sweetness.”  I took that as, these are not that sweet, so that tells me we have a sweet tooth in the group ;-).  But I agree, it is not a super sweet muffin, but I like to enjoy the other flavors and not be overpowered by the sugar.

2.  “More blueberries please.” (I got this comment from two of them, to which I agree).

3.  “Very delicious and very moist.”

4.  “We really like them, thank you for bringing them, and anytime you want to try out a recipe, we are here for you!” (I laughed at this one!)

I will definitely make these muffins again and this will be another one of my ‘go to’ recipes i.e. the ones I will make over and over again!  I give them an ‘A’!

Happy Baking!!

I’m baaackkkkk……5/8/11

Hi all!

I apologize for my long, long, long absence.  And no, the bad Irish Soda bread recipe did not take me out ;-).  The year started and I went back to teaching so my energies and focus has been on my students and my classes.  Our spring semester ends at the end of this week and I will be off for the summer so I hope to get back to my blogging.  Thank you to those of you who have told me that you have missed my ‘stories’.  That means a lot!

I have also been involved in starting a non-profit corporation that will provide charitable i.e. at no cost, baked goods for other non-profit entities for fundraising and social events.  The new corporation is called ‘Cakes for Causes’ and not only will it provide baked goods, it will also provide sugar art culinary educational outreach.  There is so much stuff to attend to while forming a non-profit, but I am learning a lot as I wind my way through.  Fortunately, I have been blessed with people who are guiding me.  If you want to learn more about this endeavor please see the website:  www.cakesforcauses.org.  We are also on Facebook.  If you search for our Facebook page you should see an adorable little tea party scene as our profile picture.

Speaking of Facebook, I posted a cake picture that someone took offense to, so as it turned out, they did me a favor.  I thought about Facebook owning the property rights to my photos of my creations, and it did not sit well with me, so I have moved all of my pictures onto this site.  I will no longer post pictures of my things on Facebook, but I will alert those of you on Facebook, when I do post something new here.

I have not stopped baking.  I just have not baked out of the CIA book.  I’ve been buying up baking books at thrift stores, used bookstores, and at the library and have been baking out of them.  I may just create another section on this website and blog about these recipes that I try.  We shall see where the wind takes me.

In addition to my teaching, baking, and non-profit work, I have just taken a part-time summer job at a vet clinic.  One of my other passions is pets/animals, so I am looking forward to interacting with the pets, oh and their humans too ;-).

Again, I apologize for being ‘away’ from the blog for long awhile, but hope to be back on a regular basis now.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!

R