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What are you baking these days? Part VIII [old]

(Note: There's a newer "What are you baking these days?" thread started. If you have a question or comment about something below, please go ahead and post it. But if you want to add a new thing you're baking to the list, please find the newest thread from this list: http://www.chow.com/search?query=&amp... -- The Chowhound Team )

Have been thinking about baking even more than ever because of this delightful back and forth. It occurred to me that having this forum and wanting to write about discoveries, the process of baking, its emotional effect, and so on has made me much more of a "mindful" baker. I really am "in" it when I'm doing it to a much greater extent than ever before. I find I pay much closer attention to details -measuring being one of them - and to the techniques I'm using (or discovering along the way) knowing that I will be at least attempting to describe them - and to desGreat! It's cool and rainy here today - am brainstorming what to make...and wondering what you are all up to.cribe the finished products I'm coming up with. In the past, I would often bake while being distracted (by work issues, what was going on around me, moods, time pressures, etc) and lose a good deal of the enjoyment. This is not as much the case any more. Baking as meditation...this from one of the least New Age-y people on the planet...what's next? OK, off the soapbox, Nellie...

Great! It's cool and rainy here today - am brainstorming what to make...and wondering what you are all up to. Here we go with lucky part 8!

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  1. The slight change in weather here is making me think longingly of fall, and a family discussion last week prompted us to have a pie taste off yesterday. Sweet potato pie vs. pumpkin pie, canned vs. fresh pumpkin, and prebaked crust vs. just pouring the batter in. I kept the spices the same in all the pies (I'm not sure how I ended up making all of them, but there you go). It was actually a lot of fun. I'd never cooked with fresh pumpkin before. The end result? The children all preferred the sweet potato pie, and the adults all liked the fresh pumpkin with the blind baked crust. Which all means that I just doomed myself to making sweet potato AND fresh pumpkin, blind baked pies for every single Thanksgiving henceforth. :)
    Today I will go back to admitting what season it really is and make a chocolate zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting from the monster zucchini that has been eying me from the counter for a week now.

    4 Replies
    1. re: auburnselkie

      Chocolate zucchini cake sounds great (and like a way to sneak veggies into my kids). Would you be willing to share your recipe?

      1. re: greeneggsnham

        Oh yes, of course - I was planning to type it up tonight so I will get it to you either tonight or tomorrow morning. It really turned out well!

        1. re: auburnselkie

          Oh great, thanks! Glad to hear it went well. With chocolate annd cream cheese frosting, must be delicious!

          1. re: greeneggsnham

            I am SO sorry...I have been without internet for two weeks so could not get back to you. Here is the recipe:

            Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

            1/2 cup granulated sugar
            1 cup brown sugar
            1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
            1/2 cup oil
            3 eggs
            2 teaspoons baking soda
            1 teaspoon baking powder
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            2 cups flour
            3/4 cup cocoa powder
            1 cup buttermilk
            3 cups grated zucchini
            1/2 cup chocolate chips

            Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9” x 13” pan. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add in vanilla. Add in flour and buttermilk; mix until combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips (batter will be thick). Spread cake batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until toothpick poked into center comes out clean. Let cool thoroughly before frosting. Once frosted, store it in the refrigerator, but if possible let it come to room temperature before serving.

            Cream Cheese Frosting

            2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
            1/2 cup butter
            1 teaspoon vanilla
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1 teaspoon lemon juice
            2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

            Cream together cream cheese and butter. Mix in vanilla and salt. Add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing at low speed, until the frosting is of the right consistency (thick enough to spread).

    2. Well, I have never been much of a baker, but I love reading this thread and do find it inspiring (as I do most of the HC threads). In fact, I've found myself doing a good bit more baking lately even though it is hot as Hades outside--and worse in my kitchen. So far, my baking has been confined to pretty simple stuff--hardly worthy of mention in this company--but I am enjoying it more than I ever have.
      Yesterday, I made yet another batch of salted dk. choc. chip-pistachio cookies, at the request of my niece. Turns out she wanted to take a bunch of them to her father when he comes for her today. Noticing my sister's tight smile (the post-divorce relationship has been perhaps rockier and more hostile than the marriage), I pointed out that she has raised a sweet daughter who is likely (sub-consciously) trying to present a peace offering from "this side," as it were, trying to build some kind of bridge. I believe sharing food is usually an act of love, and if anything I bake contributes in any small way to healing wounds, I will bake away.
      Therapy session is adjourned :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        That's a really sweet post, Nomad - Bake away! I haven't baked anything in awhile except for potatoes, so this thread is indeed inspiring!

        1. re: JerryMe

          Well, my newfound interest in baking is starting to show up--along w/all the cream and duck fat I've been cooking with--on my, um, hips.

      2. Oh, my - I just had a similar conversation with my husband about how my baking has become both more mindful and more of a pleasure. We live at about 5000' , and it took time to figure out how to bake good bread (I bake all of our bread now) - part of that is coming to understand and appreciate the chemistry of baking. As for meditation....my equally non New Age self finds the process of setting out the many ingredients for Russian black bread (or molé, for that matter) relaxing and meditative. Thanks for this thread and for it's periodic renewal - it's fun and inspiring and just a pleasure! Oh, and I have pita bread dough rising - my husband made hummus, then tabboule from the garden, so I made some fresh falafel and of course there has to be pita....

        1 Reply
        1. re: janeh

          Oh, my, yes! Baking bread at altitude took quite a bit of work to figure out! We're at 8250' and cakes were easy, but bread just put up such a fight! Our biggest thing was trying to get the crust right so we wouldn't need a giant laser to cut through. It takes practice but it sounds like you've got it figured out. Just thought I'd say hello since I'm way up high too.


        2. I made apple cake -- twice, since we have a sudden infestation of ants and they got at the first one. And yesterday I also made a large pan of brownies, which got inhaled by my son's friends and my Egyptian house guests, and today, yet another batch of chocolate chip cookies as requested by the house guests. I have to say that I could make CCC blindfolded at this point, and I'm getting sick of 'em, but you can't argue with success.

          1. I finally got back in the kitchen and made Amanda Hesser’s almond cake using the food processor method. It turned out beautifully, and didn’t slump in the center. I made this once before using a recipe from an unknown (to me) blog, in which the instructions said to remove the cake from the pan before cooling! This time I followed the Amateur Gourmet’s instructions and I’m so pleased.

            17 Replies
            1. re: mnosyne

              This looks gorgeous and I'd love to make it but husband's tolerance for almond is semi-limited (with chocolate, maybe, but he's a walnut man) and I don't want a cake of my favorite nut flavor all to myself. (Don't like my workmates enough to share and have no close neighbors...)

              1. re: mnosyne

                That looks scrumptious! My go-to almond cake recipe is this one from epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                but now I'll have to keep an eye out for Amanda Hesser's.

                1. re: mnosyne

                  Here are the links to the recipe. The first is made in a stand mixer; the second is the food processor method, which is really terrific.


                  1. re: mnosyne

                    oooh, so jealous. We only have marzipan here in the UK so I am building up to the day I can be bothered to make almond paste before I make the cake. Enjoy!

                    1. re: kookiegoddess

                      With all the snooping around I have done in books and on web sites I have never been able to determine the difference between almond paste and marzipan, so would appreciate it if you told me the difference.

                      1. re: souschef

                        My understanding has always been that marzipan has a higher percentage of sugar, which makes it more malleable for molding and rolling (and I have seen recipes for marzipan that involve mixing almond paste with more sugar). I think you could certainly use marzipan for a cake like this, perhaps decreasing the amount of sugar in the batter slightly to compensate.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I just remembered that I do have a source for almond paste locally, so I should buy some and compare it with marzipan, which is widely available, from a few different countries.

                          1. re: souschef

                            Please do let us know if you do a comparison! And I will have to give the recipe a go with marzipan so other UK cooks will know if it works or not.

                            1. re: kookiegoddess

                              I had intended to just taste some almond paste vs marzipan, not actually make the cake. I did look at the recipe, and I'm sure it's a nice cake - you can never go wrong with sour cream. Why don't you just make it with marzipan, and if you find it too sweet cut back on the sugar - is should work equally well with almond paste and marzipan.

                              I get my almond paste from a cake supply house. In addition to making cakes they carry stuff like cake boards, fondant, etc. You should see if you can find the same in your area.

                          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Here is an interesting read on almond paste vs marzipan. I agree that the French version of marzipan is lighter, with a finer texture. I definitely prefer it to the German version.

                            1. re: souschef

                              Did you mean to include a link, souschef? And I think it must be this one: http://www.ochef.com/1087.htm

                              The sugar content question may speak to some of the difference with regard to German marzipan (in addition to manufacturing method), as it, according to that piece, must have twice the weight in almonds as sugar, while most specs I've seen for marzipan show it having more sugar than almonds.

                              Here are some numbers from an American brand, both about theoretical ratios of almonds and sugar, and what it uses in its paste and marzipan: http://lovenbake.com/service/faq.html

                              And this, from baking911.com:

                              Q. What is the difference between almond paste and marzipan?
                              A. Almond paste is made of ground, blanched almonds, sugar, glucose and some almond extract. Marzipan uses almond paste as its base with the addition of powdered sugar, egg white (or other binder) and additional liquid to make it pliable enough to shape into fruit or other shapes. This allows for easier rolling out and modeling. Almond paste’s higher almond content gives it a stronger flavor. Both can be used as an ingredient in baked goods.

                              The answers are obviously clear as mud, but my own experience tells me that marzipan is sweeter and has a finer texture than almond paste, which is why almond paste is really suitable as an ingredient, but doesn't suit the uses of marzipan as a finished candy or embellishment.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                Yup, that was the one. Thought I had included it. Thanks.

                      2. re: mnosyne

                        I just found out the how to's of making almond paste as I hadn't done it before.
                        this cake looks delicious. Did you use almond paste?
                        here's the link for those of us like me who have no clue how to make any nut meat paste.

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          Just keep in mind that almond paste that you make will not be as smooth as the stuff that is made commercially.

                          1. re: souschef

                            How quickly does Almond and Nut paste go rancid?

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              I have no idea as they never stay around long enough to go rancid; any leftovers from baking quickly take a tummy tour.

                              They must have a lot of preservatives in them as they are found on shelves, unrefrigerated.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                For the most part, almond and other nut pastes are made from nuts and plenty of sugar. For the mos part, I have seen them sold in shelf-stable packaging (cans or plastic, as in the Odense brand readily available in the US). Once open and well wrapped in plastic, they will last a long time (and stay soft) if refrigerated. The commercial packaging and the sugar prolong their life, but I do believe that, once open, they are best kept in the fridge or freezer.

                        2. Today was the day I gave another chowhound a lesson in 'how-to bake pie'. This is his first-effort lattice-crust apple pie... with Gravenstein apples from his tree! A+

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cynsa

                            Gorgeous, obviously you are a very good teacher! Miss Gravensteins, they seem not to be grown on the right coast. Lovely flavor.

                          2. Buttertart, I bought a slab of the TJ's chocolate you instructed me to buy, ma'am. I'll let you know my opinion about it in a few days.

                            I also bought some Marcona almonds from Dean and Deluca in Napa, since you mentioned them here. Any special recipes?

                            I also picked up some pistachio and almond paste, thinking it would be cool to make a green almond Kugelhupf.

                            This will also interest you - at D&D I bought some chestnut pasta. An expensive-as-hell novelty.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: souschef

                              That's great. I want to hear about the 72% TJ's choc.
                              The Marcona almonds are wonderful just roasted and lightly salted, or used anywhere the almond nut flavor would shine (I wouldn't use them in combination with almond paste, they'd be lost).
                              The pistachio paste is intriguing, I've looked at it and never splashed out...you want a green cake, David Lebovitz's absinthe cake is great (can make with Pernod or other anise liqueur, la fée verte not necessary - the green comes from ground pistachios - that is, great if you like anise).
                              Chestnut pasta? Hmm. With venison or wild boar (or maybe duck) ragu?
                              This weekend: RLB's Grand Marnier cake sighted on the horizon!

                              1. re: buttertart

                                The green cake idea was because of the pistachio paste, not for the sake of a green cake. Anise in a cake? Not for me.

                                You will LOVE the RLB cake!

                                1. re: souschef

                                  Great...say the makers of the Meilleurs Oeuvriers de France patissier competition documentary are being interviewed on a radio station here today, you might want to give a listen: http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/

                                  1. re: souschef

                                    One for you, on General Topics, on your favourite chocolate...

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Thanks buttertart. I have to agree with the assessment.

                                      BTW I was amazed at the price of the bar I bought at TJ's. With two boxes of chocolate cookies I paid only $9!

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        I know, my man, it's an astonishing deal even here. The milk chocolate in the same line isn't all that great by the way, not that you would deign to buy m.c.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          While at D&D I realized that I had lied to you, albeit unwittingly. I do like milk chocolate in one guise - gianduja. I saw a bar there of Vosges gianduja, so I bought it. It was quite enjoyable, but not as good as the one I buy at home from my favourite chocolate shop. They get theirs from France, and it is super-creamy and rich.

                                          When I was at the SFO airport on my way home I saw some Ghirardelli 72%, so I bought a bar, thinking it would be good to compare it with the TJ's bar. I'm going to take the two bars and some Felchlin to the chocolate shop and do a taste test with the owner (the one with the fine palate, who detected corn syrup in my chocolate glaze). I'll let you know the results.

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            I love gianduja...would be nice to have a dark chocolate version, wouldn't it?
                                            I don't think you'll be that taken with the Ghirardelli (much as it pains me to say that, as a former Bay Arean) - may be surprised but I have never found their choc to be all that great.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              For a while ScharffenBerger was making a dark chocolate gianduja that I loved.

                                              1. re: milklady

                                                Until they were bought by Hershey, I suppose...

                                            2. re: souschef

                                              Hey Buttertart, I finally did the taste test today, with the lady in the chocolate shop. Here are our results (we were in agreement):

                                              Ghirardelli (72%): Fruity undertones, but not a rich chocolatey flavour

                                              T.J's Pound Plus (72%): She loved the richness of the chocolate. Could not believe how little it sells for !

                                              Felchlin (65%): The best of the lot. Very earthy. But then I pay $30 per kilo as opposed to T.J's at about $10 per kilo.

                                              1. re: souschef

                                                The TJs is supposed to be Callebaut so too bad you didn't have some branded Callebaut to compare (I have never had any available to do this when I've had the TJ's). It is an astonishing bargain.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  I did have some Cacao Berry (owns Callebaut), and the TJ's was better.

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      The savings are so huge that I'm going to have to stock up when next I'm in the US of A.

                                    2. re: buttertart

                                      miss buttertart, I have a question on TJ's 72% choc. Do you use it in baking? If not, which bar do you use in baking at TJ's. They don't sell unsweetened choc in my TJ's. But, the gal I spoke to said people use their chocolate bars in baking. I generally use Ghiradelliis(sp?), and find the price outrageous. Thanks. ;)

                                      1. re: mcel215

                                        I use the TJs 72% a lot. They do carry unsweetened in NYC TJs, maybe not all the time, and it's quite good (much better than Baker's etc).

                                  2. i just baked delicious pumpkin bread and muffins when i picked up a mini pumpkin from my csa. i had to give them out to my friends so i didn't eat them all by myself!

                                    1. I am new to chowhound and pretty new to baking, but I find these posts inspiring. I wish I had more time for more involved baking, but with working fulltime and two little ones with one on the way, there is never enough time in the day. However, I have recently began making the bread for our family using the Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day book. Not sure what you guys think about that method, but I must say I am a big fan. I had been spending a fortune on organic bread at Whole Foods or the local bakery and feeling guilty about the fact that way too much stale bread goes into our trash can (I know you're supposed to make bread crumbs or panzanella or whatever out of it, but somehow that was never a reality in our house). With this method I can make a small loaf every other night for the family and even sneak in a little bit of whole wheat flour into the mix. Plus, my 3 year old likes helping me make it and we can even learn a little science about yeast and carbon dioxide, etc. As a working mom, I thought bread baking was out of reach, so this has been a joy for me.

                                      Iterestingly, it also makes me start to think about what else I can make instead of buy. Organic yogurt was the most recent project over the weekend. The first batch was a horrible disaster, but the second batch was a terrific success! And it makes me unreasonably happy to eat it and serve it to my kids knowing that I made it.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                        That's great greeneggsnham, you've got it going on! The wide world of baking awaits you. Talk about inspiring, expecting and two toddlers and baking, wow!

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          thanks, buttertart. I think your description about baking as meditation is apt. I'm discovering it can be really relaxing. I dream about some day when I might be able to make a Grand Marnier cake, but that will be several years!! In the meantime, vicarious enjoyment :)

                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                            Really, almost nothing is that hard - just read up on it and experiment. You'll hae some flops but what the hey. The Grand Marnier cake is from the "Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, the most meticulous baking recipe writer there is. Have a look at and a go at some of her simpler recipes if you get a chance.

                                          2. re: buttertart

                                            I'll say. And bread to boot - that is impressive.

                                        2. Plum torte! So yum, so easy:


                                          Just a couple of corrections: place plum halves skin side down! I've seen this classic recipe in several places, and this is the only version that says the skin should be up. Also, 24 full-size plums is way too many. I used 6 or 8 smallish dark plums. I make this torte almost every year. It's always delicious and pretty, and what a forgiving recipe.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: csdiego

                                            I just made a batch of cookies. The base was chocolate chip and then I threw in a bunch of other goodness: granola, dried cranberries, pecans, oatmeal, and some flax seed for good measure. Turned out lovely. Better get some of these bagged and in the freezer before I lose control. Okay, whom I trying to kid, they taste just as good frozen as not.

                                          2. I'm the process of making pains au chocolat at the moment, twenty more minutes and it will time to start rolling and folding again. I find smooshing a bunch of sticks of butter into one big rectangle therapeutic in it's own way.

                                            1. Apple cider challah ... eaten still while still warm and spread with butter.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                That sounds so lovely! And talk about perfect for Rosh Hashana. Does the apple flavor come through? Do you add spices as well?

                                                1. re: operagirl

                                                  Or Yom Kippur. :)

                                                  This was the first time I'd made this recipe, so I stayed fairly true to it, so no spices. But in addition to the apple cider, there are bits of dried apple throughout the bread, so it is fairly apple-y. It turned out really well, and the first loaf is already gone, lol. Next time I make this I'll do a regular egg wash instead of the honey/oil one recommended in the recipe, but it's definitely a keeper.

                                                  1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                    is there a link to the recipe for your apple cider challah? looks lovely - and delish!

                                              2. I made some delicious sesame cookies yesterday -- they made wonderful presents for two of my friends who had a double birthday! I started with a Cooking Light recipe, but then made a bunch of substitutions -- agave syrup for corn syrup, rice flour for corn starch, whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose, and rolled in black and white sesame seeds instead of more sugar. These cookies are AWESOME. Nice and chewy, with super sesame flavor from toasted sesame oil, tahini, and the seeds on the outside. They baked up really pretty, too!

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: operagirl

                                                  Yum ... I've made sesame cookies that were pretty boring before. These look much more interesting.

                                                  1. re: operagirl

                                                    Wow. Those sound and look phenomenal. I'm not usually a cookie person, but I might make an exception for those.

                                                    1. re: csdiego

                                                      Thanks! Here's the recipe in case you're interested:

                                                      Sesame Cookies

                                                      makes about 24 cookies

                                                      1 C. dark brown sugar, packed tightly
                                                      1/3 C. raw tahini
                                                      2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
                                                      1 Tbsp. agave syrup
                                                      2 tsp. vanilla extract
                                                      1 large egg
                                                      1 1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour
                                                      1 1/2 Tbsp. rice flour
                                                      1 tsp. baking powder
                                                      1/2 tsp. baking soda
                                                      1/4 tsp. salt

                                                      1/4 C. white sesame seeds
                                                      1/4 C. black sesame seeds

                                                      vegetable oil, to prevent sticking

                                                      1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, tahini, and toasted sesame oil, stirring well until all lumps are dissolved.

                                                      2. Add the agave syrup, vanilla, and egg to the bowl and stir until smooth.

                                                      3. Add the whole wheat pastry flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

                                                      4. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

                                                      5. Preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

                                                      6. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Mix to combine the colors evenly.

                                                      7. Dab some vegetable oil on the palms of your hands, then roll the cookie dough into 1 Tbsp. balls, then roll them in the sesame seeds.

                                                      8. Press the cookies onto the cookie sheets, flattening slightly. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then move to cooling racks.

                                                    2. re: operagirl

                                                      Love sesame. I have some sand cookie dough in the fridge that I made this morning, must roll some of them in sesame seed before baking.
                                                      Am presently waiting for butter to soften to make souschef's favourite cake, the Grand Marnier one from the Cake Bible, and puff pastry to get rollable for a leek tart for dinner tonight (inspired by gorgeous leeks from our farmer's market today). Probably bread tomorrow, just about out.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        The leek tart is dynamite, and the GM cake extremely good. I'll post a pic of it later.

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          Pics of cake and cookies (rolled them in chopped walnuts and some of them have 3 chocolate chips pushed into the centers when forming the balls).

                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                              Very nice, even if i did cheat a bit on the flour (only had a cup of cake flour, made up the weight with AP and a bit of cornstarch to take down the gluten). Also stirred all the sour cream in with the eggs because I read the recipe sloppily (used 3/4 c of this in the initial beating). I love that high-ratio cake method, makes a very tender cake.

                                                      2. Buttertart your meditation comments hit home since I made bread yesterday. I insist on kneading by hand because I love to pay attention to how the dough changes as I work it. It was cool and rainy - a perfect day for homemade bread and soup.

                                                        I made this rustic white bread from Smitten Kitchen with a couple twists:
                                                        I added a little whole wheat pastry flour - I was to lazy to go to the store and all my flour except the end of my AP and the WWPF had bugs in them. I also topped the loaf with carmalized onions and gruyere (couldn't decide between french onion soup and minestroneish - this was my compromise). I'm very pleased with how it came out really good flavor, even though I didn't do a long rise. Probably the best crust I've made in a long time. I can imagine that with actual bread flour and a longer rise it would be even more amazing. Same weather today so now I feel like making something else...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                                          It's been a bake-y weekend for some reason (even though it's been sunny and 75+ here these past few days). The bread sounds very good.

                                                        2. This was a rainy, cold weekend here in Calgary so I tried my hand at baking cinnamon rolls. I also made homemade granola (does that count as baking?).

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: Merry113

                                                            Nice rolls...and granola's baking enough for me!

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              It was the first time I've ever tried to make them. They turned out really well especially considering that I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the total flour content.

                                                              1. re: Merry113

                                                                What flour do you use? I'd like to get Monarch here but it's not imported (I'm from London, Ont. originally).

                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                  I used Robin Hood All purpose and Co-Op brand whole wheat flour. Regular flours not bread flour.

                                                                  1. re: Merry113

                                                                    I use Robin Hood as well; AP and cake flour. I don't do whole wheat anything.

                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      I use whole wheat to make things moderately healthier & now I actually prefer the taste. All white flour makes things taste pasty to me.

                                                                      1. re: Merry113

                                                                        Is Monarch just a SW Ont thing then?

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          I've never seen Monarch. Pretty much all I've seen is store brand or Robin Hood.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            In the grocery store today I saw some Monarch cake & pastry flour. I will buy some when the stuff I have is finished, since it is Blessed By Buttertart.

                                                                            I guess it's been there all along, but I didn't notice it until you mentioned it.

                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                              It was me dear old mom's favourite brand. Also nice lion on the label, I think?

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Yep lion - http://www.simplyhomemade.ca/brands/m...

                                                                                I'm from Eastern Ont and only remember Five Roses & Robin Hood flours from my time there...but maybe that's just what my folks bought?

                                                                                1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                  I liked the gingham bag. Nice to see it's largely the same. My mom almost never made bread so the cake and pastry one was her staple and Robin Hood and Five Roses were too "strong" for her liking. Although she did use the Five Roses cookbook a lot.

                                                            2. It was the first rainy day for the season, so I had to do some baking. Made peach and apricot bread to share with friends and family.
                                                              Also, found an interesting recipe in American Profile for a Green Tomato Breakfast Cake. I am now waiting for some green tomatoes to try the recipe.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: inthekitchen

                                                                Would you post the green tomato breakfast cake recipe? The idea sounds so good to me right now. Maybe that is because I have a zillion green tomatoes trying to ripen before the sun goes away.

                                                                Thank you!

                                                                1. re: MinkeyMonkey


                                                                  I will be interested in your comments on the finished product. I will make it this week for the first time. ;-)

                                                                  1. re: inthekitchen

                                                                    Thank you! For some reason, I expected it to be a savory dish. Now I'm even more curious!! I'm going to try it and I might try changing it around to a savory dish later. Looks yummy...


                                                              2. i baked an apple pie/crumble, i tried a new recipe and it was really good, probably the easiest apple pie ever, only took like 5 min to prepar

                                                                1. Hmm, we have been mostly baking bagels, bread, dog treats and enchiladas. I love baking desserts but had to stop due to my boyfriend's diet. He lost over thirty pounds!

                                                                  One of the things I was really getting into was tarts. I started making them last winter and wound up trying a thousand different things.

                                                                  The changes all started with my issue with things being too sweet.or junk-foody. So, I made the tart crusts with whole wheat flour. I should add that I never use refined sugar. I usually use molasses, sucanat, agave or honey and I always cut the sugar amount in half or less. Everything still comes out super yummy, at least I think so :)

                                                                  For my work mates, I had to incorporate the gluten free and dairy free diets, so there were tart crusts made with Pamela's mix and tarts made with home made lemon curd! Yeah, I was pretty excited about the lemon curd because that stuff is not only addicting but pricey.

                                                                  We have vegan friends who have a young daughter who is not vegan. So, out came the earth balance and I made more home made dairy free lemon curd.

                                                                  Then, I wanted to perfect a batch for my dad who is diabetic. I haven't quite figured out the curd yet but I plan to try splenda in it this year. I did, however, add almond meal to the whole wheat crust at the recommendation of a poster on another forum. Oh, wow!! I have been eating almond meal since I was a wee kid and never thought to add it to crust. It was so good I can't make crust without it now.

                                                                  Each and every odd recipe was a success and I taste-tested each batch--might not have been a good idea!

                                                                  Since that winter, we have been on a better eating plan. I do plan on baking more desserts this winter though!

                                                                  My current favourites are the 'power bars' my guy makes. Oh, and I do make cookies here and there and then count out a few for us and give the rest away.

                                                                  My recent cookies are lemon cheesecake, what I call Moroccan style and chai spice. For the lemon cheesecake cookies, I just followed a recipe on someone's blog and tweaked it for my altitude and cut the sugar in half. I added organic lemon flavor to the lemon juice and zest and topped them with granny's lemon juice and powdered sugar icing.

                                                                  For the Moroccan styled cookies, I used a recipe for ginger cookies and added quite a bit of fresh coffee grounds, cut the sugar in half, used strong, black tea and orange blossom water for the liquid and added an almond to the top of each cookie. Not sure what made me think it would be Moroccan styled, I just thought it sounded like it would go with the Moroccan dinner my friends prepared. I left most of the cookies with them so I wouldn't eat them all!

                                                                  For the chai cookies, I took a long time figuring out what to do. I wanted a spice cookie that didn't taste just like molasses and ginger and I wanted to be able to taste the cardamom. It took a lot of tweaking, poor me, but the taste tests were fun for everyone! I finally had replaced about 3/4 of the molasses with agave and cut down the cloves to a minimum. I used lots of ground cardamom and a touch of orange flavor.

                                                                  I have an almond cookie recipe that I found on someone's blog and I'll be making that for Thanksgiving to bring to work.

                                                                  I find baking and cooking to be a great meditation! I get lost in what I'm doing rather than thinking about the things that happened during the day or the things that annoy me but I can't change. I could roll dough or knead dough all day...

                                                                  Tonight, my guy baked a loaf of bread. Just whole wheat and white wheat but it was different than usual. We often play with just about any and every kind of flour there is, millet, rice, buckwheat...who knows. This time, he just used the wheat and it was awesome. I think it was the best crust yet. That will be my breakfast in the morning.

                                                                  Now, off to read all the posts for inspiration!


                                                                  1. Just baked my own spin on baklava..minus the rose water and not overly sweet. Yum! Went well with Lobster Festival here in Los Angeles area.

                                                                    1. I don't think I'll be making the almost no-knead bread again...heated the oven with the Dutch oven (LC) in it...took it out to put the bread in...3 of 5 smoke alarms went off. Got the bread in the parchment sling in the oven...opened it to take the lid off partway through (the loaf was golden brown)...all FIVE unbearably loud smoke alarms went off. Turened off oven and left loaf etc in it. Husband up on stepstool with umbrella hitting the switches, on ladder taking the batteries out, me rushing around opening windows like a mad thing, one cat diving into the closet, the other sittling with an extremely affronted look on his face...this at 11:15 pm...praying the Fire Dept wouldn't show up...what's all this then, ma'am? Oh nothing, just baking bread...

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Why does one need FIVE smoke alarms ? Is that any reflection on your cooking/baking ability ? :))

                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          They came with the place. NJ code I think. CO2 detectors too...drives me insane, even with shower caps on them they still freaking go off (I like to cook at high temps).

                                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                                          That’s really weird! I’ve been making the Jim Leahy version for years and have never had any smoke problems. I just plunk the dough into the pot, no parchment. Is there residue of some kind in your oven that is smoking?

                                                                        3. I broke my wrist two weeks ago. So cooking and Baking is very hard if not impossible. Ever try chopping a onion or garlic with one hand. I was trying to make my own spaghetti sauce for spaghetti and its darn near impossible for me to even slice a onion in half. I had to have my dad slice the onion in half and chop the garlic. I used a slap chop style chopper to do the onion and those don't work that well for sure. I was at my dads making this and he had bought this thing at a yard sale and told me to try it out. Then I had a dozen apples from a local orchard and I had some pre-made pie crust that is already rolled out so I thought I would make my dad's favorite dessert, Apple Dumplings. I still had to cut the round of dough in quarters and roll each piece out further to cover the whole apples. But its darn near impossible to roll it out with one hard so I had to call my mom to have her come over and help. I could not peel the apples either so all I could do was core the apples and add the sugar, cinnamon, and a dab of butter to each apple then my mom would wrap it up. I have been trying very hard to be independent while I have my wrist in a cast but some things are just to hard. I can't wait till the cast is off and I can bake apple cake and apple bread. and chop onions and garlic and I really want to get into making my own bread this winter.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: LEsherick2007

                                                                            Having broken my left wrist 10 years ago and my left elbow 2 years ago, I know only too well what you're going through. Yuck, poor you. You might want to get a Kyocera slicer to assist in cooking but it's tricky baking one-handed. One good thing: kneading bread is excellent for building up your wrist once the cast is off (don't be surprised to find your wrist and arm near it reduced in size, mine looked like a 5 yr old's but came back within a couple of months with therapy and use).

                                                                          2. we were having a party so I decided to make a new recipe: chocolate cupcakes with butterscotch frosting. I should have known better - don't make a new recipe when lots of people are coming over! I completely failed at the butterscotch frosting, it was supposed to thicken when I simmered it but stayed totally liquidy (any ideas why?). I was pretty despairing and then I decided to just mix in a package of cream cheese. I ended up with incredible butterscotch cream cheese frosting and felt ridiculously proud of myself - I'm not usually very good at fiddling with recipes but this was a success!

                                                                            1. Cheese blintzes, served with sliced strawberries and cinnamon applesauce.

                                                                              1. Just wanted to remind everyone that a new and excellent book, "Bake!" by a real master baker, Nick Malgieri, is out and has something in it for all interested:

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                  How can he be a master baker if he measures stuff in cups and thimblefuls ? :)

                                                                                  I'm a lazy baker. If I can't weigh the ingredients I don't do it.

                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                    I said to myself, souschef ain't gonna like it. It's the book's one real failing. You're right (as usual).

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      It's still hot here, so I figured that as long as the oven was going to be on, that I might as well go for it and baked a New York deli rye åla smittenkitchen, black bread and mini donut muffins. My family's happy, my co workers are happy, the freezer is full and I'm happy.

                                                                                2. Yesterday I purchased one of those apple peeler/slicer/corer gizmos, and I have to say that it works like a charm and preparing apples for apple pie or apple cake will be an absolute breeze. So, inspired by this gizmo and the fall apple harvest, I plan on making an apple pie today. Since I have not used it in a while, I think I will consult RLB's Pie and Pastry Bible for types, amounts and spices. It has been given a lot of love on this board lately, so though I usually just wing it when I make apple pie, I may try her method. (I seem to recall that she wants you to freeze the pie before baking it. I'm not sure if I am making that up or not, but if I am not, I will definitely NOT freeze it before baking.)

                                                                                  21 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                    Nope, in her "best all-American Apple just let the apples sit with the sugar etc for a couple of hours and drain off the syrup they exude, then boil it down somewhat, add to the filling.
                                                                                    The spicing is great in that one, I used the least amount of cinnamon as I'm a bit iffy on the ingredient (the result of a one-day stint in a spice factory between high school and college, packing cinnamon sticks in boxes - breaking longer ones to fit with my hands - my glorious summer job ended the next day when I woke up with every part of my body I had subsequently touched in welts and my face swollen up like a balloon...) and the result heightened the apple flavor without obscuring it.

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      Yes, I am just looking at the recipe now. What I remember -- which was tedious -- was all the pauses she requires. Not only do you have to let your pastry rest (which I do always anyway), but the apples have to macerate for at least 30 minutes, then to have to boil down the liquid, roll out the bottom crust, let it rest, assemble the pie, let it rest, bake the pie and cool for at least 4 hours before cutting. I think that this was the reason why I stopped using this book. It wasn't that the results were wonderful -- they were -- but the technique removed all spontaneity from baking a pie. All these periods of rest turned a couple of hours operation into a full day event.

                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                        I'm glad I don't like pie. Well, actually it's all that crust that I don't like; I have no problem with the filling, except that anything apple is always ruined by the addition of cinnamon, which I don't like. I do have the P&PB and have used it to make a crust for a fruit tart; it turned out great. The tart was a Payard recipe, but I could not get his crust to work.

                                                                                        Buttertart, I have a great-looking chocolate/almond cake recipe which I will post after I have made it. It looked really moist in the picture in the book.

                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                          Excellent thanks re cake.
                                                                                          - roxlet, I really found the pie to be worth it, fussing apart - himself is iffy on apple pie but ate the whole dang thing except for 1 piece himself (over a period of days of course). As with bread you're not hanging over it the whole time.
                                                                                          - souschef, the Payard tart dough from his first book? and the chocolate tart ditto? I make that a lot - tell the truth I press the dough into the pan, don't roll it out, but it bakes like a dream (I find I have to bake the filling about 10 mins more than he indicates).

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            The Payard recipe is from an issue of Taunton's Fine Cooking. I can't get myself to press the dough into the pan; I always roll it. I learned a trick from RLB - roll the dough and drape it over a cake pan, then invert your pie pan over. Next, flip the two and you are done.

                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                              That's an excellent trick. The new NM book has you roll it out over the tart pan bottom (and an inch and a half or so over around it) and drop it into the shell, which seems quite brill too.

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Yes, that was a neat trick I noticed when I looked at the book. Clever idea, but I would wonder if it might cause the dough to be rolled out unevenly.

                                                                                              2. re: souschef

                                                                                                I was at my mother's house for dinner recently, and she was baking an apple pie. She has a silicone pastry mat, but uses a regular old pastry cloth for pie dough, because her trick is to roll it out, then invert the pie pan on the rolled-out dough, wrap the corners of the cloth up over the bottom of the pan, and turn the whole right-side up; then she peels the the pastry cloth off and pats the crust down in the pan. She inverts the pastry cloth with the top crust over the filled pie, too. (Please don't ask why I never noted this trick of hers until I'd been around her for more than four decades, and plenty of pie-making.)

                                                                                                I have found RLB's pate sucree tart crust to be fairly easy and good, and she has a number of flavor variations.

                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                  Hmmm. I just fold my pasty in half and plop it in the pan. I love my silicone mat because it allows me to use less flour when rolling out the dough. I just used it to make fresh pasta, and that was a great use too -- easy as pie!

                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                    Do you bake on the mat too or just use it for pastry/rolling out? Mine are quite stained from being used to bake bread.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      I have a large silicone pastry mat, probably 16x20 or something, separate from my Silpats.

                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                        No, I don't use it for baking on. This one is strictly rolling out dough and kneading dough.

                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                          I need to get one of those. My MIL has the nicest round footed board with a cotton cover she uses - I covet it.

                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                            Guess my post wasn't so clear or complete, but that's what I meant - it's larger and is meant for preparing pastry, rather than baking. The one I have is thinner and more flexible than my baking Silpat.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                              I've seen those rolling mats but haven't lashed out for one. They sound useful.

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                Yes, I really love mine and use it all the time.

                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                  souschef - the Malgieri book has a dreamy-sounding chocolate CHESTNUT cream tart recipe I'm planning on making (and if I'm in a really good mood, weighing the cup measures as I go along, just for you, dear).

                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    You ARE a sweetheart! Please let me know how it works, and the recipe if you like it.

                                                                                              3. re: buttertart

                                                                                                My pie just came out of the oven and it looks delicious, though I wish I had used a few more apples. I used RLB's amounts, and then just reached for my usual pyrex deep dish pie. It wasn't until I was piling the apples into the bottom crust that it occurred to me that there were fewer apples than I usually use for an apple pie. Despite that, it smells delicious and is cooling on the counter right now.

                                                                                              4. re: roxlet

                                                                                                I know I need to get one of those apple gizmos it seems to make the whole apple process a lot easier.

                                                                                                1. re: LEsherick2007

                                                                                                  I just stuck a cranberry cake in the oven. Somehow - maybe even through CH - I came across Vanilla Garlic's blog and found the recipe there. Except I didn't have enough cranberries so for the most part substituted with blueberries. Having company for dinner tonight and plan to serve this for desert. G-d willing LOL

                                                                                              5. I just made this bittersweet chocolate pear cake http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/bit.... Oh my word, the brown butter in the batter was a first for me. I used first of the season asian pears, which was my first time baking with them, but all I could find at my farmers market. They held up incredibly well in the cake, the perfect texture and firmness. I will definitely make this one again, though would be so much easier if I had a stand mixer!

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: jules127

                                                                                                  Lordy, that recipe looks amazing. I've saved it, and will definitely make it when I transition to fall fruits.

                                                                                                2. Coffee crunch bars, from this thread:
                                                                                                  (scroll down for the response from Molly Wizenberg)

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                      They're good! The shaping directions seem a bit fussy to me--you could just press the dough into a square pan to begin with, for ex., and have them a little thicker or whatever (instead of using a bigger pan and then shaping the dough into a 12x12 square). But that's a small detail overall. Oh, and I used all light brown sugar, as that's what I had.

                                                                                                  1. I just took out Blueberry Boy Bait from the oven. My two boy dogs and my really fat orange boy cat came running over. The husband is asleep, but I'll see if I can hook him in the morning.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: jindomommy

                                                                                                      That blueberry cake is great. I can just see the dogs and cat! (love orange kitties)

                                                                                                      1. re: jindomommy

                                                                                                        I really loved the Boy Bait, but my husband said it was similar to Maida Heatter's blueberry crumble. He liked the textures of Heatter's crumble better. I like the butteriness of boy bait but overall think the blueberry crumble has a slight edge. I think the animals went nuts of the boy bait because of the butter content.

                                                                                                      2. I had a nice baking session last night with this Carrot-Zucchini Bread and we enjoyed it this morning for breakfast. http://leitesculinaria.com/47515/reci... It was my first time baking with candied ginger and I loved the spice it added.

                                                                                                        I also made a chocolate caramel tart. I loved the crust, though I modified it a bit using the food processor and had to add water at the end, froze before baking and didn't need any weights. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                                                                                                        1. I was on a baking spree today! Multigrain rolls and maple walnut granola.

                                                                                                          1. I just baked an apple pie today. I used Gale Gand's Plain and Perfect Pie Crust which is an all butter crust. I only use all butter crusts for fruit pies. However, for the fruit filling I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's technique where you macerate the fruits and then reduce the liquid. I was really looking to improve on the texture of the bottom crust. The pie came out great. I wonder if this technique will work on peaches.

                                                                                                            1. We are making fig pear scones. Yumm! We are using a blend of two recipes found on blogs and then we used whole wheat flour for half the flour, instead of just white. We added fresh pear, fresh organic dark figs and organic Turkish figs, dried. (Is that redundant? Are Turkish figs always dried??)

                                                                                                              Our local co-op made them and they were so good we are making them for a second time today. We made them Friday and ate them all!

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                                                                                                They aren't dried to begin with but they're too perishable to be imported fresh other than by refrigerated airfreight which is prohibitively expensive.

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  Thank you, I've always wondered about this!

                                                                                                                  And, I'd like to invite myself over to the poster below's house for key lime bars!! they sound so good :)

                                                                                                              2. I made a carrot cake (standard recipe), key lime bars (CI recipe) and Bobby Flay's German Chocolate Throwdown cake for a party yesterday. All of them came out great, although the Bobby Flay recipe needs some tweaking IMO. I've made it before, so I knew the proportion of cake to filling was off (for my taste). I doubled the filling recipe and had a bit too much, so next time I'll just do 1.5 times the recipe. The cake isn't quite right either though, and I'm not sure how to fix it. It's an extremely liquidy batter, but I'm not sure how much liquid I can cut without making things dry and/or losing the fudgy texture. It also calls for the cake to be baked in 2 9" round pans and there's absolutely no way that would work - I bake it in 3 9" pans and it almost rises over the top. I felt like it wasn't quite sweet enough, too - not that I wanted it sugary sweet, but next to the filling it was rather bitter. People still loved it, though, and I will admit that I couldn't resist having a slice for breakfast.

                                                                                                                The key lime bars were also fabulous and the tangyness is truly addictive. Makes the work of squeezing the limes so worth it!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                  I wonder if the throw down cake has an error in the recipe? This has happened to me before but usually it is just a mistake in sewing pattern instructions! I've emailed a cookbook author before and had a quick response but he is probably too famous or busy for that kind of feed back. Now I'm curious if it was a misprint and others have had the same problem...

                                                                                                                2. Today was the first time I had a chance to bake bread for more than a year. I took out my beloved Electrolux Assistent (that's how they spell it!), cranked it up, and made two loaves of cracked wheat bread and one loaf of cinnamon bread. They are cooling on the counter now. The cracked wheat recipe is from an old Fleischman's yeast pamphlet and the cinnamon one was from the KA Flour Baking book. I have a billion bread books and yet, here I am, baking from an old tattered and ripped pamphlet. But my son adores this particular bread, so I always make it for him. For some reason, my cinnamon bread isn't as beautiful as it has been in the past, but I am sure it will taste fine. Nice to get back in the saddle!

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                    That's a nice mixer! I'm trying to replace a dearly beloved Braun Kitchen Machine from the '70's, I know they're out there but every time one comes up on eBay some fiend snatches it away from me. If anyone here has one they don't want or comes across one at a garage sale, I would dearly love to take it off your hands.

                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                      I also have my husband's old Kitchenaid from the 1980s. I just had it serviced and it's as good as new -- and maybe better with solid metal parts throughout. I used to say that I married him for his mixer. I use it more for cakes and the Assistent for bread. My husband uses the Assistent to make sausage. It has an awesome grinder attachment that makes the one that he was using on the Kitchenaid seem like a child's toy.

                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                        Why not just buy the latest and greatest from KitchenAid......or Hobart?

                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                          Sentimental value. I have a K5A. I really want the Braun, was given one as a wedding gift, it got used to death.

                                                                                                                      2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                        Cinnamon bread, now that sounds yummy. Care to share roxlet?

                                                                                                                      3. Hey y'all, I think I posted recently to say I made Nigella's Ginger Guinness Cake - it is good, but still not as good as the recipe I have from my grannie's friend. Very soft and moist tho. And keeping well.

                                                                                                                        I also made the drunken apple cake from Warm Bread and Honey Cake and it was absolutely lovely, wonderful textures and flavours and not too sweet. Highly recommended. Served as a simple birthday cake after a big lunch and was very well received.

                                                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: kookiegoddess

                                                                                                                          kookiegoddess would you be willing to phraphase the recipe for drunken apple cake? It sounds lovely.

                                                                                                                          1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                            I'd like the Guiness cake from kookiegoddess's grannie's friend myself.

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              Have you ever made the one from The Last Course? It's funny, the illustration is of this gorgeous mile-high bundt pan type affair, but the recipe calls for baking it in a loaf pan. Seems so homely after the elegant presentation of the photo, but I want to make it anyway!

                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                That is one of my favorite cakes, roxlet. It's super-moist, keeps for days, and has terrific flavor. The recipe actually calls for baking it in either a loaf pan or a 6-cup bundt pan, something I don't have. I have never baked it in a loaf pan, though; I have done it in mini bundts, and it also works well just baked in a springform pan.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                  I never have, just because we never have Guinness in the house (of course could buy a bottle). I know kattyeyes is very fond of that cake too.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                    It's funny, I got to the checkout with a can of Guinness the other day, and when it wouldn't scan, the checker said that they don't sell Guinness individually -- you have to buy a 6 pack. I asked my husband about that, and he told me that we have several cans in the fridge. I never noticed because I don't drink the stuff, but I am happy we have it and happy to bake from it!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                      I'll have to have a go at the cake when it's definitively cooler, seems very fall-winterish to me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                        I keep intending to bake, but...we're having a real Indian summer (after a very cool August), and it has been mid-80s since last week. Nevertheless, in theory will be baking from Arabesque tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                          It did cool a bit, so I baked a Turkish yogurt cake, which is essentially a very light cheesecake that's got Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese or ricotta(think fallen soufflé, as it's made with beaten egg whites and puffs, then collapses). Just 1/2 cup of sugar, and zest and juice of a lemon (Meyer in my case), eggs, yogurt, and a few tablespoons flour. It's very nice.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              Do you not have Arabesque? I do remember you saying you didn't think that much of it vs. TNBOMEF.

                                                                                                                                              Here is a paraphrase:

                                                                                                                                              4 lg. eggs, separated
                                                                                                                                              1/2 cup superfine sugar
                                                                                                                                              3 T. AP flour
                                                                                                                                              1 2/3 cups strained Greek-style yogurt (I used TJ's 2%)
                                                                                                                                              grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

                                                                                                                                              Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Beat in flour, then yogurt and lemon zest and juice, until thoroughly combined. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into yogurt mixture. Pour into a buttered 9-inch pan (I used a springform) and bake at 350 until the top is browned (it will puff up like a soufflé, and then fall as it cools).

                                                                                                                                              She says to bake 50 to 60 minutes, but luckily I kept an eye on it, because mine was puffed, browned, and a tester came out clean after around 27 minutes. Oven thermometer said my temp was spot on, too. I had convection on, but still, very odd!

                                                                                                                                              It's got a light, fluffy texture, not overly sweet, a bit lemony. She gives an optional sugar syrup to pour over the top (2/3 cup water, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T lemon juice, zest of 1 orange, boiled 5 minutes, cooled and chilled), but I didn't make because she says she prefers the cake without. If I were to adorn it, I would just serve with some berries.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                Thanks! That sounds lovely.
                                                                                                                                                No, I got Arabesque out of the library, read it, and never bought it.
                                                                                                                                                (Did you ever make one of the Japanese-style cheesecakes that are somewhere between spongecake and cheesecake in texture? Love those. I made one for my husband's family when we were there and they loved it so much I ended up making 4 more to freeze for after we left.)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          well I like a little piece of cake with my tea, so I will eat ginger cake almost any time! It is quite sweet and spicy and for me had a Christmassy flavour, next time I might omit the other spices and up the ginger. I love a really gingery cake. This one definitely needs no frosting of any kind.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                        I never have it around, so I do just that, buy a bottle (I have also used oatmeal stout). For anyone reading along who doesn't own The Last Course, here is the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                      3. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                        I think that my bundt pans are quite a bit larger than 6 cups, but I will have to check. I am actually thinking about making it this weekend and I will report back.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                          They (Nordic Ware) used to make a mini-Bundt - my mom gave me one when I was in my teens - it makes a very cute smaller and taller cake. I think it takes 8 cups of batter. That's what I made my Golden Grand Marnier cake in.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                            Yeah, the standard ones are 10-12 cups, so 6 cups is about half size. It works well in a deep 9- or 10-inch round pan, or a springform, which feels a bit more "cake-like" than a loaf pan.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                              Question(s) of the novice here. What happens if you bake a 6 cup recipe in a 10-12 cup bunt pan? Is there a definitive avg size for these pans or do most bakers have two?

                                                                                                                                2. Last thing I baked were Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chunkers. I plan to bake a chocolate and salted peanut caramel tart before too long courtesy of Julian Rose.

                                                                                                                                  I bake a lot of bread and live in a townhome with laminate counter tops. I'm looking for a good purchase to use as a pastry mat to roll out and knead sticky doughs. Suggestions?

                                                                                                                                  On another note... does anyone do the Daring Baker's Challenges or Tuesdays With Dorie?

                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                    "I'm looking for a good purchase to use as a pastry mat to roll out and knead sticky doughs. Suggestions?"

                                                                                                                                    I think that question deserves its own thread.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                      Yeah but my thoughts ran together. Thanks for the replies.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                        I would just use a scraper for a sticky bread dough and for a sweet dough like biscotti, I would roll out on baking parchment (the siliconed kind).

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kookiegoddess

                                                                                                                                          We don't have that here as far as I know (siliconed parchment).

                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                            If I'm not mistaken all our baking parchment is indeed silicone-coated; that's what makes it non-stick. The roll in my pantry, If You Care brand unbleached, says "Silicone Coated Parchment Baking Paper." It certainly resembles in feel all the other parchment I've used.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                              I stand corrected. I buy mine in a plain brown brown paper wrapper from a kitchen store so don't know what goes into or on it.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              buttertart, I think we do. I think that parchment is siliconed...

                                                                                                                                        2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                          I use the one I got from kingarthurflour.com. I use it for a lot of things -- from pie crust, to bread dough to pasta dough. It is one of the most useful kitchen items I own.

                                                                                                                                        3. Apple pie bars ... what KAF calls old-fashioned apple slab. They were good, but not great, and I have some tweaks in mind for the recipe.

                                                                                                                                          1. Just made a recipe from the people at Taste Spotting for a tomato tart using frozen puff pastry. I don't know if my oven ran hot or if the recipe isn't the best but the pastry burned a bit. Still edible just not as nice I'd like it. Oh well I live to bake another day.

                                                                                                                                            1. I love reading these threads and feel bad I don't have the time to bake like you all do. I did get to bake this week though! I am still picking raspberries from the garden so made a batch of Rosie's Raspberry Brownies. Mix raspberries and raspberry preserves and put it on half of the brownie batter, then top with the rest. I frost them with a chocolate ganache and if the raspberries are really good (not subject to mold) I put one on each piece. Very rich and chocolatey.

                                                                                                                                              1. Made some banana oatmeal muffins with my 2 year old babygirl today, they weren't bad but a little too sweet for me. I made the recipe from Allrecipes, it has about 451 comments! mostly good but tweaked. I added cinnamon and some ginger. Needed a pinch more salt, less sugar, and some lemon juice I think. But I add lemon juice to almost anything! Hope that my daughter will eat one for breakfast tmw. I saw that people liked the Gordon Ramsay recipe but the picture I saw of them looked a bit dense and unlovely. Will try them again, and I think I'd make mini muffins next time - am waiting anxiously for the arrival of a 24 cup mini muffin pan from Pampered Chef as I type....

                                                                                                                                                1. yesterday it was Treacle Tart.
                                                                                                                                                  today, it's the Placerville Apple Hill Apple cake with a bit of fussing with.
                                                                                                                                                  I can't leave anything/recipe alone no matter how spot on it is.
                                                                                                                                                  I added some fun-ness. Almond extract, tangerine juice, ginger and added my version of Scottish Shortbread crumb topping.
                                                                                                                                                  house smells wonderful right now

                                                                                                                                                  1. A couple days ago I posted asking for advice in making some changes to a recipe for an orange-olive oil cake that came originally from the Orangette blog (and apparently originally from one Booneville Hotel). Cherylptw came to my aid, and she was right.
                                                                                                                                                    Every time I've made the cake, I've thought carrot would be a good addition. I had already tweaked by subbing ground pistachios for almonds. I also wanted to see what it would be like w/ some WW flour subbing for some of the AP flour. Well, we counted it as a success. The crumb was a tad heavier than in the original, but the addition of WW flour did not interfere with the flavors.

                                                                                                                                                    Here's the recipe, with my changes.

                                                                                                                                                    Orange/Carrot/Olive Oil Cake

                                                                                                                                                    1 small to medium orange
                                                                                                                                                    1 lemon
                                                                                                                                                    6 ounces toasted pistachios, cooled and ground to coarse sand texture in FP
                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
                                                                                                                                                    1 Tbsp. baking powder
                                                                                                                                                    4 large eggs, room temperature
                                                                                                                                                    ½ tsp. salt
                                                                                                                                                    1 ½ cups sugar
                                                                                                                                                    2/3 cup olive oil
                                                                                                                                                    2 1/4 cups grated fresh carrots

                                                                                                                                                    Put the orange and lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. (Don’t worry if they float.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Drain, and cool.

                                                                                                                                                    Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 10-inch springform pan.

                                                                                                                                                    Once citrus cools, cut lemon in half; scoop out and discard pulp and seeds. Cut orange in half; discard seeds only. Put lemon rind and orange halves in food processor; process to texture of coarse paste.

                                                                                                                                                    In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.

                                                                                                                                                    Combine eggs and salt in mixing bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar. Fold in flour mixture. Add the citrus, ground nuts, and olive oil, and beat on low speed just to incorporate. Gently fold in carrots. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour*, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in its pan on a wire rack and then remove sides of pan.

                                                                                                                                                    I used a 9-inch square springform, which is almost the same volume-wise as a 10-inch round, and 1 hour was perfect. Obviously, if using a 9-inch round springform pan, you'll need to bake the cake a bit longer.

                                                                                                                                                    This is a really good cake when you're looking for something not-too-sweet, reasonably healthful. Good w/coffee or tea. It's an easy "gift' cake as it travels well (and freezes well), is not fussy, and is better the next day.

                                                                                                                                                    I think it would be great baked in mini muffin tins, for a brunch. And I'd like to try it in a bundt pan. It would not be hurt with a cream cheese frosting spread atop the single layer. ( And if one wanted to make a layer cake, w/the cc frosting, it would be good. For this amount of batter, small cake pans, very well buttered and floured, with baking times adjusted.)

                                                                                                                                                    1. Today I baked Claudia Fleming's Guinness gingerbread. I will report later on the results, but two things give me pause. One is that I misread (put those glasses on!) the amount of baking soda to add to the guinness/molasses mixture. I added too much, but then later omitted the baking soda that was to be added to the flour. The second thing was that I baked it in a silicone bundt pan, which was the smallest one that I had. It seems to have risen strangely and mushroom-like in the center of the pan, and when I removed the pan, it looked quite dark along the ridges. Anyway, it smells great, and I will see what the tasters report later.

                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                        I hate to admit this roxlet but it gives me a small amount of pleasure to hear that even you have the occasional baking mishap.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                                          That's very sweet of you to say, millygirl, but I have had some truly disastrous failures in my day, though as it turns out, the gingerbread wasn't one of them. Maybe I could have baked it for 5 minutes less, but the taste was good though the edges were crunchy. Maybe I should have baked it in a loaf pan, as the recipe also suggests, but I wanted those sexy bundt ridges. I have a couple of silicone bundt pans, and this is the first time I am using one. So far, I'm not sure why I have 2 of them!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                          Wow, that sounds wonderful. I love ginger-molasses-anything, and the stout sounds really good in it. Adding that to my holiday list.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                            That cake gets better with age, in my opinion. The flavors really meld and deepen after a day or two, and it stays moist.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                              Well, I don't think this cake is going to age! My friend stopped over today and demanded the recipe after she tried a piece claiming that it was the most delicious thing she ever had. I gave her a huge hunk and now there's only a little left. I guess it worked out!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Rosemary olive bread using Jim Lahey's no knead recipe. Loads of fresh rosemary whizzed with 1 5/8 cup water and added to cups 3 flour, 1 1/4 tsp salt. 1/4 tsp yeast and 56 kalamata olives halved, stirred vigorously and covered to be baked off tomorrow in a hot dutch oven while the 49er's, hopefully, defeat Atlanta.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Rye bread! I'm trying a new recipe, Dark Caraway Rye from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake. It's in the oven right now, smelling divine. I can't wait to take it out and cool it. Planning to eat it 1) plain; 2) with butter and orange marmalade; 3) with tuna fish.

                                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: csdiego

                                                                                                                                                                Toasted with butter and orange marmalade, I hope. Yum! Must make rye bread again.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  Strangely I tend not to toast before spreading unless the bread is frozen. Maybe I'm a snob, but to me if the bread isn't good enough to eat untoasted, it's stale. Not that bread has much of a chance to get stale in my kitchen. If it does I make breadcrumbs and move on.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: csdiego

                                                                                                                                                                    I think bread was made to be toasted, myself.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      I certainly don't mind a superdry Melba-toast sort of thing for a change. But to me I think the in-between state is not worth the work. I know I'm in the minority though.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: csdiego

                                                                                                                                                                  There must be something in the air, because I made rye bread yesterday! I modified the America's Test Kitchen's "Almost No-Knead Bread" a bit, using 2/3 pizza flour and 1/3 dark rye flour, then scaled it up for a slightly larger loaf. Oh, and I added a Tbsp. of caraway seeds, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: operagirl

                                                                                                                                                                        That's a very nice loaf - and very good idea to use rye, because a. it's a pain to knead rye doughs and b. the long fermentation would really bring out the rye tang. Must do.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks, buttertart! Let me know if you try it out. I just enjoyed a couple slices this morning, spread with avocado slices and sprinkled with nutritional yeast. So good.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: operagirl

                                                                                                                                                                            Haha - avocado and nutritional yeast - I said to myself "Bay Area" when I read them (used to live in Berkeley). Sounds very good.

                                                                                                                                                                3. Butter's out to soften for Ronald Johnson's apple cake, recipe recommended by the redoubtable bushwickgirl. When it'll soften or how much is a good question because it's very cool in this joint!

                                                                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    When I want butter to soften in a hurry I nuke it for a few seconds, chop it up, then nuke it again for a few seconds. Then repeat as necessary. It has to be watched very closely or you get melted butter. If that happens I make madeleines instead.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                      I may have to resort to that. The chopping up is a good idea, I've gotten half melted sticks far too often even at 30% power.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting you say that souschef. I've used your technique a few times and not watched closely enough, ending up with melted butter. I've always just kept going though with my recipe thinking no harm, no foul. Not much difference between softened butter and melted butter. I'm guessing now, reading your post, that there's a big difference in the end result. Perhaps this is why I don't always get the results I was hoping for??

                                                                                                                                                                        Now all you pro's please hold your giggles and guffaws....

                                                                                                                                                                        Seriously does it make that much of a diff between softened and melted?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                                                          Depends upon what the recipe calls for. If you have to mount a sauce with butter it will not do. Same for creaming butter with sugar or making buttercream.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                            How do you feel about creaming cold butter? People have posted that if you cream it long enough, the results are basically the same as with softened butter.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                              Creaming cold butter long enough probably warms it up and softens it, so the effect may be the same.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                                I would think (like souschef said) that if you cream it for longer it would work out. If it is warm to start with than you will already be adding enough air into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                However you should just be able to cut it into small pieces and that will hasten the warming process.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've been giving this more thought. I have sometimes forgotten to keep butter out to soften, and have beaten it cold. It seems to me that when beaten cold the texture is not as airy as when it is soft and warm. And here's the clincher: if you add melted chocolate to cold butter you are in trouble as it WILL seize. This was a mistake I made when I was a neophyte making my first chocolate cake - cold butter, cold eggs, and chocolate; into the garbage it went.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                    Right and if it seizes you should be able to fix it by adding fat to it... right? Thats what I think they tell you to do if you get chocolate wet when you are melting it, but maybe the circumstances are different.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                      I always thought that if chocolate seized there was no way to save it. This is the first time I have heard the adding fat to it solution. Fortunately it seized only once on me; I learned fast.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hey there all you baking cats and kittens, dogs and puppies, come on over to part IX! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738272

                                                                                                                                                                        1. With apple season upon us, I have been making rustic apple galettes.

                                                                                                                                                                          I use pillsbury store bought dough, but have made a decision to try the ATK's recipe soon.

                                                                                                                                                                          Peel and core 3 granny smith's apples. Slice thinly and toss into a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 T. fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Toss and let sit while you roll out your dough and preheat your oven.
                                                                                                                                                                          Roll out your dough on a floured counter and place on silpat in 1/2 baking sheet.
                                                                                                                                                                          Leave an inch border with no apples, and start making a circle, working from the outside in. Bring up outside edge, by folding and creasing the dough, toward the middle of the tart. Place butter bits all around the apples and brush the crust with the egg wash. Place in oven and check after 30 minutes, turn and cook for about 10 more minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                          Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Whisk one egg in a small bowl with a tespoon of cold water.
                                                                                                                                                                          Cut up one tablespoon of cold butter into small pieces. Take tart out of the fridge, dot the apples with butter and brush the egg wash over the crust.

                                                                                                                                                                          Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, making sure your crust is golden brown.

                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                                                                            Is there a difference in a galette and a rustic apple tart? The one i make looks the same as yours, though the dough is simple to make and free form..

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think there is much difference between a galette, rustic tart, or crostada.......

                                                                                                                                                                              Free formed apple tart here in the good old USA, perhaps crostada in Italy? :) And galette would be French, my guess.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                                                                              I am going to make a tart like that today but since I have some leftover frangipane from a fig tart I made the other day and figured it would go well with the apples and I need to use it up any way. Using Pillsbury pie crust also. Would love to make my own but every recipe I have made for pie crust its so horrible rolling out. I have to get the cold dough so warm and then add more flour in order to make a crust big enough with out cracks or breaking off. The actual making of the dough is easy for me but the rolling out of anything I hate. I even hate rolling out cookie dough. I'm just no good at it.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LEsherick2008

                                                                                                                                                                                Ditto. I took a pie crust class and I did a great job, but here at home......ugh!

                                                                                                                                                                                Going to give it another try this Fall though, it's on my list to overcome my fears. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                            3. tiny pumpkin pies in muffin tins...yum!

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. I baked a few Lahey loaves over the weekend, two ciabatta (ciabatti?) and one variation on his Pane Integrale in which I used half white bread flour and half white WW flour and ground flaxseed (which made a very nice loaf).
                                                                                                                                                                                Yesterday I made salted cc cookies w/pistachios and walnuts. I'm about to make a big batch of granola, and if I have time before a 4 pm meeting, I'm going to make some oatmeal, golden raisin, walnut, and pecan cookies as per the request of a certain someone.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hey nomadchowwoman and others, come join us in our new sandbox (Part IX) for new posts...

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I will be baking Sweet Potato biscuits and in the next few days a Salted Caramel and Banana Pudding pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Dollinks, if posting new content, mosey on over to the new thread for maximum exposure: