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What are you baking these days? November 2012, part deux [OLD]

Hello again everybody, this is getting into the season that everybody is baking up a storm (sometimes during storms, or in preparation for storms...)
I have been wanting to try the nut cake from Maida Heatter's first book, but am planning to do it when there will be more than just the two of us to put ourselves around it.
So what are you planning and/or hotting up your oven for?

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  1. I recently made the Apple Dapple Cake from a recipeI found on CHOW. Growing up my mother made a really good apple cake, but the recipe was lost years ago. It's one of the first cakes I remember being able to bake all by myself when I was about 10 or 12 without needing any adult help or supervision. So there is a lot of sentimental value to my mom's apple cake (w/cream cheese icing). Over the years I've tried various apple cakes trying to replicate it with no luck. There were 2 things that stuck with me from the original recipe...it was an oil based cake and it could be made in a bowl with no mixer. So when I saw the recipe for the Apple Dapple Cake (which is a pretty silly name) and saw that it met those 2 criteria and the rest of the recipe seemed vaguely familiar I figured why not. The big difference was that this cake was baked in a tube pan and topped with caramel.

    The verdict? The cake recipe IS the same one I remember making as a child, it is my mother's apple cake. Instead of the caramel being semi-soft and gooey like a candy apple, it crystallized, which was probably due to bakers error on my part, but even slightly crystallized it still had that rich buttery, brown sugary goodness that really complimented the apple cake.

    The cake does not really need to be baked in a tube pan, a 9"x13" pan or even a 10" springform would work just as well. So glad to have this recipe back in my collection :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      What a neat story. So glad it's returned to your home!

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Chocolate babka. This was my first time making it, and while my loaves turned out beautifully I am I little intimidated to convert the recipe to make mini loaves. Maybe you all could help, I am hoping to give them away to family members this holiday season, but how do you adjust baking time/tell doneness on a yeast bread like this? Instead of 2 large loaf pans, could I use 6 minis? http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

      2. Tonight I'm doing a test-run of caramels. Also making the chocolate peppermint bark tonight. And then planning for the rest of my baking happening throughout the week (for cookie exchange on Sunday).

        1. I am not a frequent baker and have quite the love-hate relationship with baking but I'm constantly saving recipes for 'someday.' One such recipe which got stuck in my head about a month ago was Bienenstich/"Bee sting cake". I'd never heard of it before but for whatever reason I just had to make it.

          I will be making a pecan-pumpkin pie on Wednesday, for my father who loves pumpkin pie (I prefer pecan, which is where the compromise came in). I got ambitious yesterday and made the bienenstich and a test run of the pie in one day.

          Both came out fabulous. I really surprised myself. I used the Bee Sting's from this recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe... The only modification I made was to replace the almonds with crushed walnuts (I'm on a walnut kick lately).

          For the pie I used this recipe for the filling: http://kidscooking.about.com/od/thank...

          I was positive I hadn't kept the crust cool enough or I'd overworked it, but it came out flaky as could be and delicious. In the past I've been atrocious at crust making ( I don't bake pie crust, I bake bricks). This recipe is a keeper: http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-...

          I shared the pie around with family and coworkers, no complaints!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tovflu

            Those Bee Sting things ae adorable! Can't wait to try them, thank you!

            1. re: blue room

              That they are.

          2. May I join? I bake constantly. I have been a hobby cake baker for over 15 years so there is always something in my oven. Most recently I have put my decorated cakes on hold during the holiday season. This coming week, for Thanksgiving, I am baking a browned butter pecan pie, a bourbon chocolate pecan pie, and two sour cream apple pies for co-workers. Christmas is going to keep me busy for sure.

            Last week I made a pan of these for someone's birthday:

            http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Wh...

            I am not a huge fan of that combo (especially white chocolate-yuck) but dang these were good! Everyone at work flipped over them. The base for the blondie is so chewy and flavorful, so I am going to modify it for Christmas with chocolate chunks and toffee bits folded into the batter and a chocolate icing instead of cream cheese.

            2 Replies
            1. re: AnnieWilliams

              Of course you may! Welcome!

              1. re: AnnieWilliams

                That looks great.. it almost looks like the starbucks cranberry bliss bars (which I have on the mind because I just made some using a different recipe!). In any case, despite have dozens of blondie recipes, and at least 4 for the cranberry bliss bars... I am still clipping this one. thanks for sharing!

              2. I've done so much baking this week because I'm currently in the thick of Thanksgiving potluck season (I'm a young twentysomething with lots of young twentysomething friends who kill for an opportunity for lots of free food and alcohol... hence, potlucks).

                I brought pumpkin pie squares (the Joy the Baker recipe) to a potluck Thursday night. Yesterday evening I made torta di mele to bring to a brunch this morning with friends of mine who I studied abroad in Italy with. And tonight my roommates and I hosted a potluck for which I baked individual pumpkin pies (made in a muffin tin). It was my first time messing with mini pies but it was really successful! They got all eaten up! I used Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" flaky pie crust and pumpkin pie filling recipes.

                Haven't decided what I'm baking for real Thanksgiving yet. I'm thinking either a pecan pie or a cheesecake. I also promised my boyfriend I'd bake us some scones or muffins for the train ride to my parents' house. Must decide what to make for that... I'm a bit maxed out on pumpkin things, so any suggestions for non-gourdy baked goods are welcomed!

                1. I made the Corniest Corn Muffins from Dorie Greenspan's Baking this evening for dinner. As usual they were delish. I really like this recipe, super easy, great corn muffins

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I love that recipe!

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I found it here:
                      http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                      And it's now on my sooner than later "to make" list as I have a nice quart of buttermilk in the fridge. THANKS!

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Must make!

                        1. re: buttertart

                          I've also baked it in mini muffin pans (makes LOTS) and as corn bread in a 9"x9" pan - such a nice recipe!

                    2. I made English Matrimonials: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,196,1... Very moreish and too easy to make. Substituted quince paste for the raspberry jam and already thinking of variations such as mango paste and coconut flakes for a tropical twist and maybe cheese with quince paste.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jadec

                        Somebody was looking for that recipe in Cook's Country magazine. (?)

                      2. I'm making pie dough. Lots of pie dough. In fact, 4 recipes of pie dough, and each makes 2 crusts. They will be brought out to San Diego frozen, and then made into pies there. I find my SIL's kitchen difficult to bake in, and it's much easier to make these at home. I will be giving some to my neighbor whose son is a friend of my son, and who had my son stay over during the 2nd of our two blackouts recently. She's always asking me about pie dough, so I thought that this would be a nice "Thanks"giving gesture for taking in my poor chilly son a couple of weeks ago. When I get to SD, the pie dough will be turned into a deep dish apple pie, a pecan pie, and a couple of pumpkin pies, with enough dough left over for my SIL to freeze for her own use whenever she needs/wants to make a pie.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: roxlet

                          What great gifts. And a great way to make Thanksgiving pies happen.

                        2. I grew-up without mixes.. and still don't buy them unless required.. but I want to try these this week (because everything else I am making from scratch!)... even though they use a mix.

                          Brownies that Will Change Your Life. (NOT my website)
                          http://zestycook.com/the-brownie-that...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: GraceW

                            I might could have to make that this week...

                          2. I made a carrot cake last night ... and today I'm making another one, as that one refused to come out of the pan without a fight (and it was sprayed). Today I'm eating the crumbles for breakfast, going out to get more carrots, and then using parchment paper as insurance.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                              Well it is an unlikely source, but the best carrot cake I've ever made, at the recomm of my SIL, was this Martha Stewart showstopper (ignore theor photo; you can make it look much, much better): http://www.marthastewart.com/356827/c...
                              I recommend increasing the spices a bit, and you might try w/ 1/2 C drained mandarin oranges or drained crushed pineapple and 1-3 tsp orange zest, soaked in 1-2 T of Grand Marnier or rum. I did this and it was the first dessert finished after a Thanksgiving dinner - I'm not kidding - not ordinarily a carrot cake occasion.

                              1. re: tannline

                                Interesting ... that's pretty much the recipe I use. And I always increase the spices, too! Thanks!

                                Oh, and my carrot cake was the first one gone last year as well. I thought a big cake would get ignored, esp with all the other desserts I'd made, but it just vanished. :-)

                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                  I have had carrot cakes stick on me. I always spray and use parchment and spray again and never have the sticking issue when I do that.

                                  I made a carrot cake back in March (it was simple-no coconut or pineapple or even raisins) for a co-worker's birthday and I sent it over the top by edging it with praline pecans. I basically cooked pecans on the stove with sugar and spices until they got sandy, waited and stirred over the heat a bit more until they got shiny and caramelized, then whirled them around in the food processor. Then after I iced the cake with cream cheese icing, I edged it with the chopped nuts. It was perfect. Spicy, creamy, crunchy, tangy, and moist. A total awesome assault on the taste buds. Give it a try sometime!

                                  1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                    I really like your nut idea. Sounds like it would work for other applications as well.

                                    1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                      That sounds great!

                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                        I kind of stole the idea from Karen Krasne, author of Extraordinary Desserts. That is an awesome book. She edges a lot of her cakes in cake crumbs, nuts, chocolate shavings, and crushed shortbread cookies. I love the textural differences. It's nice when I can make a cake and not have to get all scientific with piping and fancy decorations.

                                        1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                          I agree! I usually do chopped nuts, but chopped pralines (is that "pralining") is just that much better!

                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                            Yeah and the awesome thing is, the nuts stay pretty crunchy. You know you made something delicious when no one says a word-just caveman grunts and indiscernible mumbling noises.

                                            The praline-d (haha) nuts are just an "extra" that you get on the cake. It's like getting candy with your cake. Who wouldn't like that? :)

                                            1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                              Just btw, my cakes came out ... sometimes it's the little things. :)

                                               
                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                Yay! They look beautiful!

                              2. Baked an old fashioned dinner roll recipe for Thanksgiving dinner (froze them and will reheat) After that, I made the pomegranate/ginger bark from the latest Fine Cooking magazine. Boy oh boy!! So Good! Like eating rubies! Made me do back-flips around my kitchen. When I calmed down, I made another batch with added pistachio nuts for the lovely color contrast. Either will put peppermint bark to shame.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: amazinc

                                  That bark sounds wonderful.

                                  1. re: amazinc

                                    I've been wanting to make that bark. It looks so pretty! (And I'm imagining the flavors ... Yum!)

                                  2. Yesterday, I made Whole Wheat Blackberry Ricotta Scones from 101 Cookbooks which is a variation on a Smitten Kitten recipe originally made with raspberries.. Delicious and moist, not too sweet and not too dense, even with the whole wheat flour.I sprinkled them with raw sugar before baking. Hubby loved them, he adores blackberries. I will definitely make these again and I will try making them with raspberries.

                                    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                                    1. I have two crumb coffee cakes in the oven right now. I'm also going to mix up some small cream scones (cran-chocolate chip and pecan praline, I think) that I'll freeze unbaked and then bake on Thursday morning.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                        What recipe do you use for your crumb coffee cake? The last one I made was extremely disappointing, and I'd love to find a great recipe.

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          This one is from Foster's Markets in NC. It's on Martha's site: http://www.marthastewart.com/355763/n...

                                      2. I also made cream biscuits and have a batch of toffee blondies in the oven now.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                          Toffee blondies? YUMfest. I was going to make something similar for Christmas.

                                        2. My caramel experiment - a little too soft, but great with a pecan and enrobed in chocolate.

                                          But I really hate enrobing. I have to re-temper all the time. >__<

                                          1. Roxlet - What recipe to you use for the frosting when you make the Nick Malgieri coconut cake layers?

                                            Edited to say.. nevermind I found it.

                                            1. After my rolo stuffed chocolate chip cookie fail, I still needed to make something for our staff coffee event on Thursday, but I wouldn't have time to make drop cookies any time this week. Instead I made "Starbucks knock-off cranberry bliss bars" (I was reminded of them in the Holiday cookies thread). I tried the serious eat version, which was pretty good.. had added crystalized ginger.. I used the last of my Trader Joe's stash of crystalized ginger bits. Very yummy, but next time I will add more dried cranberries ( and there will be a next time.. I find this recipe very popular for potlucks!)

                                              1. I started my holiday gift baking, making a recipe that someone recommended on a fruitcake thread with the fanciful name Dowager Duchess Fruitcake. It's really a rich pound cake (classic: lots o' butter, no leavening), and in lieu of fruit the recipe uses candied citrus peel and almonds. I used candied orange and lemon and candied ginger, skipping the almonds. (Almonds are one of my favorite things, but there will be other almondy goodies made and given, so wanted to change things up.) I baked part of the batch in a dozen wee, 2x4" paper pans (compare size to standard measuring spoons in photo) for giving. These are now stowed away and will come out for weekly rations of booze.

                                                Recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/354028/d...

                                                And then, for a catching-up dinner with a few folks, I made a gingerbread pudding cake, along the lines of the chocolate one from my childhood with boiling water poured on that becomes a sauce at the bottom of the pan. This didn't end having as much of a saucy layer as I hoped for when warm, but I don't know it's the recipe, or possibly baking a bit longer than necessary. Moist, with a nice, strong ginger flavor, though.

                                                 
                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  That was probably me! I am going to candy my orange peel and blanch the almonds tonight and make the Dowager Duchess cake tomorrow. This year I bough 4 small loaf pans, to make some for gifts, as well as some for home.

                                                2. It's 12:50am, and I'm baking a chocolate mousse cake. Then I'll make the almond-cornmeal crust for a cranberry tart, and then maybe I'll go to bed. Tomorrow (later today), I'll be baking scones for breakfast, and then pumpkin chiffon, apple, and pb cup pies. I'll put together the tart, a carrot cake, and finish the mousse cake. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                    Yummy! Hope that you were awake enough enjoy all of your goodies.. were these all for Thanksgiving?? Forget the rest of the meal.. I'd be happy to just eat your desserts for Thanksgiving!

                                                    1. re: rstuart

                                                      LOL come over! I ended up not making the pb pie. It was just too much with all the other stuff. We had 10 for dinner and 20+ for dessert, so we needed to have options (or at least I did).

                                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                        Oh wow... 20 for dessert is impressive!

                                                        1. re: rstuart

                                                          It was a bit chaotic--but fun!

                                                    2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                      Your productivity in baking is amazing. It's also inspiring. My pie will be gone shortly (there were only 3 of us this year and we can't eat a whole pie in one sitting <gg>), maybe I need to make something else for the rest of the weekend...

                                                    3. Yesterday, I made the lemon meringue pie from the big, red Cook's cookbook that came out last year. Truly, as I was making it, I thought it was a fail. I couldn't get the curd to set until I made a slurry of cornstarch and water and added that in. The meringue took forever to beat (I am not in my own kitchen), and the recipe has you add several teaspoons of a cornstarch and water mixture that you cook on uthe stove. This is to prevent the meringue from weeping, but it all got eaten, so I can't report on whether this is an effective solution to the weeping problem. Anyway, all's well that ends well, and the pie was delicious!

                                                      1. I don't usually buy Bon Appetit magazine anymore but the beautiful cookies on the front cover of the new December issue enticed me. To my delight, there's a feature on Dorie Greenspan this month with some really delicious-looking cookies. The Beurre & Sel Jammers, Speculoos Buttons and pretty pink Tuckers have all caught my eye. I wondered whether anyone else picked up this magazine or has tried the recipes? This seemed like the right place to ask before I jumped in!!

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          Now I'll have to pick it up! Since Thanksgiving's over, I should probably start Christmas cookie dough-making pretty soon. Although I picked up tendonitis from knitting so should not even be typing, to rest hands... habits die hard!

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            For those of us who don't have the magazine, those Dorie Greenspan recipes are on Epicurious.

                                                            Beurre & Sel Jammers: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                            Speculoos Buttons: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                            Tuckers: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                            Linzer Stars: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                            Crunch Bars: ://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views...

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Thanks Caitlin.. this looks great!

                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              The Tucker's and The Crunch Bars caught my eye.

                                                              1. re: angelsmom

                                                                Yes, I was thinking of making those Crunch Bars, maybe using candied bacon and popcorn. The Tuckers are interesting, too.

                                                            3. Baked a chocolate cake for thanksgiving, but I'm at a much higher altitude (4500 feet higher) than I'm used to and in a different oven, so it didn't bake quite right, so we had cake pops instead. They were popular and tasted like the cake and ganache I was planning on, but not quite what I wanted.

                                                              1. I made a cherry galette today. It looks lovely, but I think I used too much corn starch in the filling.

                                                                I also made a spice cake with a maple butter cream icing. The icing was a bit runny/not quite thick enough. I don't think I am a fan of butter cream icings - taste or working with them. I like something a bit stiffer.

                                                                Anyway, today was not my best baking day.

                                                                I got the Dorie Greenspan Baking cookbook from Amazon last week. I am looking forward to cracking that

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: CocoaChanel

                                                                  Some days are like that ... sorry, though!

                                                                  That cookbook is one of my favorites. :-)

                                                                  1. re: CocoaChanel

                                                                    Would you like a flour icing better for the cake? I've heard lots of people here rave about them. And have to try it myself.

                                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                                      It was a flour recipe :( Maybe I didn't cook it enough.

                                                                      (I decided on a flour one this time as previous buttercreams had the same issue - not quite stiff enough)

                                                                    2. re: CocoaChanel

                                                                      The Dorie Greenspan cookbook will restore your baking mojo.. I've had a lot of success with the recipes. There a group that blogged their way though the book, so I check their comments before I try anything..

                                                                    3. On semi-hiatus at MIL's, just made a crumb topping for a cherry pah that was the alternate to the sempiternal punkin, and some bread today (2 pans of rolls to freeze and a flatbread to go with leftover turkey spiced up with curry etc to kill the recooked taste). The turkey was good, the bread better.

                                                                      1. Been doing a lot of work and research baking as of late...

                                                                        In the bread dept:
                                                                        Pane Siciliano
                                                                        French Bread
                                                                        Potato and Rosemary Bread
                                                                        Pain a l'Ancienne

                                                                        Cakes:
                                                                        Soy and Dairy Free Yellow and Chocolate Cakes with various frostings
                                                                        Salted Caramel Cake
                                                                        Vanilla Bean Cake with Cookie Frosting with Cookie Dough Bits
                                                                        Pumpkin Chiffon with a Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

                                                                        Pies/Tarts:
                                                                        Pumpkin - varied slightly from my norm this year; pleased
                                                                        White Balsamic Custard Fruit Tart with a Plum Glaze
                                                                        Grape Frangipane Pie
                                                                        Deconstructed Cosmopolitan Tart

                                                                        Cookies... lots... esp lots in the diabetic family... lots of experimentation with isomalt, agave, erythritol, xylitol, etc. waiting on a delivery of pure lo lo han...

                                                                        1. Thanksgiving this year was:

                                                                          Apple, pear, fig pie. Filling was yummy. I sous vided the apples and pears and they were a wonderful texture (per Kenji on Serious Eats). I used to many whole grains in the crust and streusel - so not the best.

                                                                          Yoder's peanut butter pie except I used a cookie crust. Too sweet for me but yummy. This was a request from my Man vs. Food obsessed kids. I don't get that show but I am the only XX in a sea of Y chromosomes.

                                                                          The power was out for a few hours Thanksgiving morning so my rolls weren't rising (too cold). I stuck in the oven once the power came back and forgot to turn in off in time - killed some but not all yeast. Between that and the lazy hand kneading job (no mixer : ) ). They were flat. Still my 3 year old ate 6 of them for dinner and the other two kids weren't fat behind.

                                                                          Also this week - chocolate cupcakes (good old Beatty's) with a salted caramel filling and ganache topping - classic standby made by request, and pumpkin bundt cakes with buttermilk glaze.

                                                                          Cinnamon ice cream using the Birite Creamery base - big hit.

                                                                          1. For Thanksgiving, I made a pecan pie, with bourbon which was gooey and delicious. Also, we had several showings of our house yesterday so I baked chocolate chip cookies, before we left. I do not know if it will help us sell our house, but the cookies were delish! Recipe from Williams Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook. Pecan Pie from Fanny Farmer Baking book with 2 T added Bourbon. Making a Red Velvet cake today for a friends birthday. I am planning to try Bobby Flay's recipe. My son wants some Oatmeal Bread which is out of the Food that Really Scmeck's cookbook. An oldie but goodie.

                                                                            1. Cheesecake with a passion fruit gelee. I made my regular cheesecake recipe the night before. For the passion fruit gelee, I strained passion fruit for the juice as well as keeping a couple with the seeds. Put that in a pan with some sugar and heated until the sugar disappeared. I had never used gelatin before and was a bit apprehensive. I started with cold water, sprinkled in gelatin powder and let it sit for 10 minutes. It was still watery. I started another cold water and sprinkled in gelatin powder. I mixed this into the passion fruit juice mixture and said that's as good as it gets. Poured this on top of the cheesecake and hoped that it would set. It actually worked out. I had something like this on a trip to New Zealand once and wanted to recreate that taste. (I am currently in a country that has passion fruit available).

                                                                              1. Back from La Jolla, and done with making Thanksgiving pies! Two pumpkin, an apple and a pecan pie, plus three little cups with left over pumpkin batter. The pecan recipe I made was from kingarthurflour.com, and it was made with Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. I didn't get to taste the pie, but it didn't seem to be very firm since slicing it was really difficult. However, the reports were that it was quite delicious...

                                                                                 
                                                                                1. For years -- YEARS -- pie crust has been my nemesis. I've read countless articles and message board threads, watched numerous tutorials, but something always went wrong. It would be too wet or too warm or too sticky or too tough and on and on. I had given up and not made pie for over 2 years, but when my aunt requested I bring dessert to Thanksgiving, I felt like I had no choice. I HAVE to eat pie on Thanksgiving!! And if I didn't bring it, there would be none. (I discounted the store bought pumpkin I knew someone else was bringing.) So I sucked it up, rolled up my sleeves and gave it another try. What resulted was hands down the best, most delicious, most easy to work with pie crust I have ever -- EVER -- made. YAY!! I am sure everyone here can relate to the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally, finally conquer a baking demon.

                                                                                  Sadly, my bee-you-ti-ful crust was ruined by the watery mess of the filling. That's the last time I believe a recipe when it says substituting frozen cherries for fresh is fine. Oh well. The filling flavor itself was sensational, and even juice-logged, the crust tasted pretty darn good.
                                                                                  Recipe here: http://passthesushi.com/tart-cranberr...
                                                                                  (I subbed half butter for half the shortening in the dough recipe.

                                                                                  )

                                                                                  I also cobbled together a recipe from 3 different sources for Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Filled Cupcakes, which I was really happy with. Pics of both below.

                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                    Those look great!

                                                                                    I cheated this year and used pre-made roll-out crusts from WF. They looked fine but had an "off" flavor, IMO ... though no one else seemed to mind. Next year I'll be back to homemade crusts again.

                                                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                      I had epic pie crust failure this year. I tried making Ina's Perfect Pie Crust, which has a ton of high reviews. Well, maybe it's my food processor, but that recipe didn't work for me at all. What I should have done was remove the fat/flour mixture after the butter had been cut in, and then mixed in the liquid by hand. The food processor over-processed the dough. Some was soaking wet, almost like bread dough, and some was dry. Needless to say, I didn't have any lovely large pieces of fat throughout the dough. I was so bummed. So at 9:30 I ventured out to the grocery store and bought the Pillsbury. :(

                                                                                      1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                        As much as I typically adore Ina, her pie crust recipe is one that has failed me in the past as well, and for precisely the same reason. I made the mistake of adding the full amount of water called for directly into the food processor (rather than sprinkling one tablespoon at a time and incorporating). It promptly resulted in a wet, gloppy, sticky mess. So do not despair, you are not alone.

                                                                                        1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                          Wow thank you so much. I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one. I wasn't sure if it was the blade or what. I have a Kitchen Aid food processor. It's a really nice one. I just think it's too powerful for pie dough. In the future, I will use it only to cut the fat in, if I use it at all.

                                                                                          Thanks so much for making me feel better!

                                                                                        2. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                          After once trying to "finish" pie dough by adding liquid to the food processor, and being quite unhappy with the results, I now always do it by hand.

                                                                                          My current favorite crust, and the one I used this year for my pumpkin pie, is a variation on Flo Braker's Milk Crust - butter, shortening, flour, pinch of sugar, salt, and milk. Perfectly flaky and lovely flavor.

                                                                                      2. avalanche bark bars from Brown eyed baker. Reminded me a bit of peanut butter marshmallow squares, which are so sickeningly sweet I haven't found many other people that like them too..
                                                                                        These bars are a snap, and have some rice krispies to cut the sweetness...
                                                                                        Yum. Couldn't be easier. Let's hope that I don't eat half of the pan for dinner..

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: rstuart

                                                                                          Yum ... those are good!

                                                                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                            They sure were!

                                                                                        2. Simple baking today: peanut butter dog bones

                                                                                          1. Baked these cookies this weekend:
                                                                                            http://dianekochilas.com/1402/olive-o...

                                                                                            http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-super...

                                                                                            Will be baking 3 different squares a couple weeks from now.

                                                                                            Lemon squares, turtle squares ( something like this http://avecgourmandise.blogspot.ca/20... , but I'll make my own caramel ) , and a 3rd square to be determined.

                                                                                            Anyone have a lemon square recipe they love? I tried 2 different versions last year, and wouldn't mind trying a new recipe this year.

                                                                                            Anyone have another type of square/bar they'd like to recommend?

                                                                                            22 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: prima

                                                                                              How are the melomakarona? I would like to try them but I am not sure if I would like them because of all the olive oil. Are they cakey? Chewy?

                                                                                              1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                Diane Kochilas' recipe turned out more dense than the butter and egg version with which I am more familiar. The colour was paler than the butter version, with a slightly olive hue. These cookies were more chewy than cakey. The syrup was honey-heavy, cinnamon-light and sticky compared to other Greek pastry syrups I've made/tasted.

                                                                                                The olive oil melomakarona recipes that do not call for ground walnuts in the dough might be lighter in terms of texture and flavour. I noticed quite a few recipes that either called for flour alone, or for flour and semolina. http://www.aglaiakremezi.com/recipies...

                                                                                                I also noticed several of my cookbooks' had recipes calling for powdered sugar, rather than granulated. I'll try using powdered sugar next time I make an olive oil melomakarona.

                                                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                                                  Ok thanks!

                                                                                                  1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                    Here is a photo of my batch.

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    1. re: prima

                                                                                                      Beautiful! Are those for Christmas gifts?

                                                                                                      1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                        Thank you! I made them for a cookie exchange. Haven't figured out which cookies I'll gift this year.

                                                                                                      2. re: prima

                                                                                                        When I was in college, my friend's boyfriend's mother used to make something like these. I thought that they were the most delicious things I'd ever eaten. I doubt she used olive oil, and they weren't orange flavored, but they were soaked in a honey syrup. Is there another version of these.

                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                          Yep. There are many versions. Some have just a little OJ, so the main flavour ends up being honey and cinnamon, or honey, cinnamon and clove. I would think some recipes call for no OJ, although most I've seen call for at least a little. Some have nuts in the dough, some have nuts on top, some have no nuts. The main thing these cookies have in common is that they're soaked in a honey syrup. There are also many variations on the syrup.

                                                                                                          Maybe another CH can add their recipe for butter-based melomakarona / finikia to this thread. Here is Arianna Huffington's mother's recipe, that calls for butter: http://www.oneforthetable.com/Food-Fa... . I haven't tried the recipe yet.

                                                                                                          1. re: prima

                                                                                                            Thanks! That could be it, but that is an unusual technique of making an emulsion of the egg and butter. I've done that for a cake, but never for a cookie. I'm going to have to try these.

                                                                                                    2. re: prima

                                                                                                      I use this recipe:
                                                                                                      http://greek.food.com/recipe/melomaka...

                                                                                                      It uses both oil and butter.

                                                                                                      1. re: emily

                                                                                                        thanks! Will try it next time I make a batch!

                                                                                                  2. re: prima

                                                                                                    These Apricot-Orange Shortbread Bars are excellent, and have been a hit where I've taken them: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                    I don't know which lemon bars you've tried, but Alice Medrich has a good one: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                                                                                                    Incidentally, she has a revised version in a later book where the crust uses 7 T. butter and 2 T. sugar, with all else the same.

                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                      Thanks, Caitlin.

                                                                                                      Looks like a good way to use some of my Grand Marnier!

                                                                                                      Thanks also for the lemon bar recipe. Last year, I made the Good Housekeeping Cookbook recipe, and another recipe from a cookie/bar focused cookbook (can't remember the name of the book offhand).

                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                        Also found Rose Levy Beranbaum's Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar recipe. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                        Think I'll make Alice Medrich's version and Rose Levy Beranbaum's version, to see which version my friends and family like better.

                                                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                                                          I'll be right over! Put the kettle on.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              That would be a very interesting comparison.

                                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                Wouldn't it?

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  Yes, it would.

                                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                  I haven't made the Medrich version yet, and I ran out of butter so I won't be baking it today.

                                                                                                                  I did make Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe today http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo.... It is the most labour-intensive lemon bar recipe I've made. I tend to have lemon bars as a quick recipe, and this is exactly the opposite type of recipe. Interestingly, the curd only bakes 10 minutes at 300, since it's gets to the curd stage on the stove. The lemon curd is absolutely delicious. Definitely the best tasting lemon filling I've made for any lemon bar.

                                                                                                                  1. re: prima

                                                                                                                    RLB is a fussyboots but her recipes work.

                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                      Agreed, except for the Bernachon cocoa cakes; then they don't work.

                                                                                                        2. I just made a Spiced Cranberry Sauce coffee cake from the December issue of Woman's Day Magazine. My family the ultimate food critics who never fail or shy away from some form of constructive criticism deemed it worthy for consumption and in fact delicious.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                            I'm very fond of WD recipes in general.

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              I have a few keepers from them. One being the coffee cake and the other for bread that requires little kneading but long leavening time.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                They used to have the best knitting patterns too, back in the olden days.

                                                                                                          2. Not exactly baking, but I made Social Tea Squares, a stovetop square with crushed social tea biscuits, lots of butter and sugar and marshmallows too! They're very sweet but transport me right back to my childhood.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: pavlova

                                                                                                              That sounds right up my alley pavlova... care to share the recipe?

                                                                                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                                Sure! I've just had a look around for my hand-written book of recipes copied from my mother's hand-written book of recipes, but I can't seem to find it right now. It will surely surface soon and I'll type it up then.

                                                                                                                1. re: pavlova

                                                                                                                  Thanks!

                                                                                                                  1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                                    Found it! Here you go:

                                                                                                                    Social Tea Squares (source: my mom)
                                                                                                                    1 cup sugar
                                                                                                                    3/4 cup butter
                                                                                                                    2 beaten eggs

                                                                                                                    Cook the above in a double boiler over boiling water for 35-40 minutes, beating often.

                                                                                                                    Remove from the stove and cool enough so that the marshmallows don't melt. Add
                                                                                                                    42 finely crushed social tea biscuits
                                                                                                                    2 cups miniature marshmallows
                                                                                                                    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
                                                                                                                    a pinch of salt

                                                                                                                    Spread in a buttered 8" pan, and keep in the fridge.

                                                                                                                    I always add the marshmallows as soon as it comes off the stove so they do melt. Makes the squares gooey, just the way I like them.
                                                                                                                    :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: pavlova

                                                                                                                      Yum! Thanks Pavlova...

                                                                                                            2. With a leftover pie crust in the freezer, I made a lemon meringue pie for company on Saturday night. I had made another lemon meringue pie while at my SIL's house using the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook recipe. While I was very happy with the unusual meringue technique of adding cooked cornstarch to the meringue at the end of beating it, I wasn't thrilled with the lemon curd, which took forever to set up. This time, I used my regular curd recipe, and the Cook's meringue recipe, and I was really happy with the whole thing. A tangy curd, and a high, light meringue that still isn't weeping after 4 days. It's a keeper.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                Love lemon meringue pie!!!

                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                  Roxlet, can you share your 'usual' lemon curd recipe? I need to make a LMP for this coming weekend, and would love to use your tested combo!

                                                                                                                  Thanks....

                                                                                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                    Sure.
                                                                                                                    Fully blind bake a pie crust. I use the fluted Pyrex pie plate, which is larger than the plain one.
                                                                                                                    Preheat oven to 325 degrees

                                                                                                                    Filling:
                                                                                                                    11/3 cups granulated sugar
                                                                                                                    1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
                                                                                                                    1/8 teaspoon of salt
                                                                                                                    2 cups water
                                                                                                                    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
                                                                                                                    1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
                                                                                                                    4 egg yolks
                                                                                                                    2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 1/2" pieces


                                                                                                                    Meringue

                                                                                                                    1/3 cup of water cooked with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch until set. Let cool.
                                                                                                                    4 egg whites
                                                                                                                    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                                                    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
                                                                                                                    1/2 cup sugar

                                                                                                                    Beat the egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar in a mixer with a whisk attachment on low for about a minute, and then raise the speed to medium high until softly whipped, about a minute. Gradually add the sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form 2-3 minutes. Beat in the cornstarch mixture teaspoon by teaspoon. Set aside.

                                                                                                                    Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium sized saucepan, whisking to mix. Add the water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the egg yolks, whisking the mixture well. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking virtually nonstop until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook, whisking nonstop, for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time. Put through a sieve, then immediately pour the filling into the cooled pie shell.

                                                                                                                    Distribute the meringue evenly on top of the hot lemon curd, making sure that the meringue goes all the way to the edge of the pie crust. Use a spoon or spatula to make attractive swirls. Bake in a 325 degree oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Let the pie cool completely on a rack before serving.

                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                      roxlet, I used your lemon filling recipe (with some tweaks to proportions), but I didn't make pie. I wanted something light (and not so caloric!) to follow our Hanukkah latke fest, so I made an experimental lemon "meringue" mousse that turned out great.

                                                                                                                      I made a half recipe of the lemon filling using Meyer lemons. I used 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 tsp zest, and just 1/3 cup sugar - because Meyers are sweeter and I wanted it to be extra lemony since it wouldn't be tasted on its own. I let it cool to room temp with a piece of wax paper pressed against the surface, then whisked it to loosen it up a bit and folded it into 3 egg whites whipped with 1/4 cup sugar. I spooned this into four parfait glasses and chilled them overnight. I thawed some frozen raspberries, lightly crushed them, and spooned them atop the mousse before serving.

                                                                                                                      It was foamy and light as air on the tongue, and nicely lemony. Delicious, light, and according to an online calorie counter, only a titch over 200 calories and 5g fat per serving, to boot.

                                                                                                                2. And now peanut butter cookies for people. Dorie Greenspan's recipe.

                                                                                                                  1. I made another go of the potato bread at my MIL's (we were running around a bit too much for serious baking). Also made a browned butter upside down apple cake ("Ligita's Quick Apple Cake") from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax for which I used the last of the commercially) frozen sour cherries there. Added 2 tb cornstarch to the sugar you put on the fruit because it was very juicy. We ate it more like a cobbler, with French vanilla ice cream...was terrific.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                      Do you have a potato bread recipe you like?

                                                                                                                      And your cake sounds great. I love the Sax book and need to dig that out.

                                                                                                                    2. Baked Candy's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe again - because we love it. It does improve the next day but who can wait?

                                                                                                                      1. Chocolate chip cookies, the flat-and-chewy recipe from NY Times. More like crisp with a bit of chew, but good. Made with Anchor butter from New Zealand (82.9% butterfat), Guittard 63% cacao chocolate chips, and walnuts. Recipe calls for a scant tablespoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which sounds like an insane amount, but is actually perfect.

                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                          Caitlin, is that the one where you age the dough in the refrigerator? I have been meaning to try that one for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

                                                                                                                          1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                                            I made this recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/11244/...

                                                                                                                            The dough is refrigerated overnight, but not as long as in the Jacques Torres adaptation, which may be the one you're thinking of. I haven't made those.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                              Oh those look good! I also think it's a different recipe, but I love chewy cookies so I will file this one in my "to try" folder.

                                                                                                                              Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                              1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                                                They didn't turn out super chewy, more crisp-chewy, and that does also seem to be the experience of other Chowhounds. They're good, though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                  Crispy-chewy is the CCC done right in my book. Mine come out that way, too, as do the corn cookies. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                    I like crispy-chewy the best, too. Not a fan of cakey CCC.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                I have made these and they are delicious. I believe that I did not flatten before baking as the recipe calls for and I probably chilled the dough. I like my cookies to be a little less flat, but I am always trying out new CCC recipes!
                                                                                                                                Last week I made Bobby Flay's Red Velvet Cake for work and it was a huge hit. It was a thing of beauty and was moist and delicious. I actually tripled the buttercream which made for a very decadent and rich layer cake. I cut thin slices and everyone enjoyed it. I received a lot of compliments and I highly recommend that recipe.

                                                                                                                          2. Just finishing up the last leftovers from the Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding. So good.

                                                                                                                            1. I made the Tartine lemon bars and they came out perfectly; I followed the directions precisely.

                                                                                                                              Only thing is, they're NOT like the ones you get at Tartine! I mean, they taste exactly the same, yes, but the filling was easily half as much as what one gets at the bakery.

                                                                                                                              I wonder if it was modified for the home cook? I mean, even the ones I made called for 6 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk. Maybe a recipe calling for a dozen eggs seemed a bit much...

                                                                                                                              Either way, they tasted wonderful, but I'm doubling that filling on my next attempt!

                                                                                                                              1. I just made a 6" genoise and soaked it with the syrup leftover from candying the orange peel for the Dowager Duchess fruitcake and some Cointreau. Iced with the cooked flour frosting with vanilla. For dinner tomorrow at a friend's.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: pavlova

                                                                                                                                  pavlova, what recipe do you use for the orange peel? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                    I try to use organic oranges for it, and I either slice or dice the peel, depending on what it's for. I then blanch it in boiling water a couple of times. I made a syrup with 3 cups of each sugar and water and once that was dissolved I added the drained peel and cooked for 45 min to an hour--until the pith looked translucent. You can either store it in the syrup or drain and dry it and roll it in sugar or dip in chocolate. I am still looking for ways to use the rest of the syrup. It's too sweet to add to sparkling water without lemon juice, so I'll probably candy more orange peel in it. Oh, and from 6 oranges and the syrup quantities above I got 18 ounces by weight of candied peel.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: pavlova

                                                                                                                                      Thanks. My sister brought me a bunch of Seville oranges from Florida. We don't care for marmalade so I am trying to figure out what to do with them. The candied peel will go into biscotti with pecans.

                                                                                                                                2. Have any of ya'll made the Cordon Rose buche de noel from The Cake Bible? I am mainly just looking at the sponge portion here. I am planning on filling with a French buttercream and icing with ganache. I have tried the vanilla biscuit roulade from the book for a vanilla sponge and it worked quite well. I just need a good chocolate recipe now. Preferably one that won't crack when I roll it.

                                                                                                                                  Also, let's talk ganache. I found some awesome 85 and 70 percent cacao chocolate at...wait for it...Aldi! I always heard good things about their chocolate, but since I rarely shop there I didn't think much of it. Well I'm glad I tried it. It's WAY better than Lindt or Ghirardelli. The last time I made ganache with Ghirardelli I was very disappointed. It was downright sour. It was the 60 percent, but it didn't have a deep chocolate flavor. It was only sour. So I was very happy when I found this other chocolate at Aldi.

                                                                                                                                  I use the ganache recipe from The Cake Bible. Do you think I need to make any adjustments to the cream when using a dark chocolate? I asked on another forum and someone said I might need to add more cream to make up for the missing fat in the chocolate, but I wanted to see if anyone else uses dark chocolate and what ratio of cream you use. Even though the chocolate is a good price, I would hate to ruin a batch of ganache because Aldi is kind of out of the way for me.

                                                                                                                                  Thanks!

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                                                                    I made a ganache with the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joe's, which are 72%. I bake the epicurious double chocolate cake with this chocolate all the time, but the ganache was unpalatably bitter. Why don't you try a small amount of the chocolate/cream and see how it tastes to you? I think that is really the only way you're going to get a definitive answer.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                      I love that double chocolate layer cake! I used it for one of my wedding tiers.

                                                                                                                                      I was wondering about the bitterness too. I did intend to add some liqueur and butter to the ganache. I was kind of hoping that with the sweetness of the French buttercream and the cake which will be soaked with a syrup, that it would temper the bitterness. But you're right. Maybe I just need to make a batch and see how it tastes.

                                                                                                                                      Thanks!

                                                                                                                                  2. Made the Alice Medrich Reine de Saba 5.0 from her new dessert book again, with all dark chocolate this time, and hazelnut meal ;)...delicious and VERY simple to make.

                                                                                                                                    1. Rising now: donuts! I used the recipe from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, one of the all-time greatest cookbooks!

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                        That it is, and she's one of the best-ever baking authors.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          Agree!

                                                                                                                                      2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8800...

                                                                                                                                        Come on over to the new thread for December fun and frolic!

                                                                                                                                        1. I have been on a southern tea cake binge. Finally found a good recipe and have been baking, eating and giving them away. They are like a fluffy not too sweet sugar cookie - perfect for a snack!

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                            Can you share you recipe? :)