Posts tagged ‘baking’

May 22, 2014

Blueberry Breakfast Treat

Sometimes it is important to say an extra thank you to the people you love.

Sometimes it is fun to surprise someone in the middle of a regular old work week.

Sometimes it is good to leave a warm blueberry treat on the counter before you slip out of the house to go to work.

It will make you smile all day.

Blueberry Breakfast Surprise

Serves 1-2 people

Filling:
Large handful of blueberries (enough to fill 2 ramekins almost to the top)
1 T flour
spoonful of sugar ( to taste)
squeeze of lemon

Topping:
1 T brown sugar
2 T butter, cut into chunks
2 T flour
sprinkle of salt
dash of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter 2 oven-proof ramekins. Stir together filling ingredients.

Use your fingers to combine the topping ingredients until crumbly. Divide between the two ramekins.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until juices bubble and top is golden. Surprise someone you love.

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May 10, 2014

The Pursuit of Perfect Pie: Part 1

 

As a teacher, I spend a lot of time thinking about kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Use the strengths, strengthen the weaknesses, you probably can imagine how it goes.

We don’t usually get to choose our strengths and weaknesses. Like, I would really like to be good at making bread. And I’m sure that if I really really stuck with it and practiced, I would get better (kinda like those multiplication facts, kids). But after several mediocre loaves have emerged from my oven, I am coming to realize that bread is not my strength. I would also really like to be good at running long distances, remembering directions, and not leaving the oven on all night, but that’s for another post.

I am choosing pie. Pie is going to be my strength. See, I can make a pretty darn good pie. It’s not bragging, it’s just a fact. Plus I had a really really good teacher –  my Grandma Snow.

But I am not completely satisfied. I am on the quest this summer for the perfect pie. My pie adventure will include a lot of golden brown crusts, juicy berries, and full tummies.

This apple pie is my basic go-to recipe. It’s mostly from Martha, not going to lie. I have been using her pie crust for a while and I am pretty happy. It is an all-butter crust that comes together pretty easily and always has pretty good results. My Grandma Snow is a champion of the lard crust, but we will discuss that another day. This butter crust is very flavorful and bakes up very flaky and crisp. I have used it for quiches too – it can definitely go sweet or savory with just a little dash of sugar in there.

So let’s call this apple pie my baseline. It’s really solid. But I’m going to step away from it now and try some new things. (Step away from the pie.) Join me in my pursuit of perfect pie!!

First a lesson in crust.

All-Butter Crust (Or Pate Brisee if you want to get fancy)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients together a few times. Then chuck the cold butter cubes in there and pulse some more until it looks like coarse wet sand. Drizzle in 1/4 cup ice water a little at a time until the dough starts to come together. In your food processor it might not come together but have faith. If you pinch it together, the dough should hold together. If it doesn’t, keep drizzling in a little water. Dump it out on a floured counter and work the dough into a ball. Try not to work it too much, just get it together. Split the dough in half and make two discs. Put them in a tupperware or plastic wrap (if you hate the environment) and chill them for at least an hour before using, or up to 24 hours.

When you are ready to go, take one of your discs out of the fridge and roll it out until it is an inch or so bigger than your pie dish. At first it will be very hard to roll but just put a little muscle in it and it will become your friend. As though dough spreads, make quick, short rolling motions from the center of the pie going out, rather than back and forth back and forth. It just is better, trust me. Slide the dough into your pie plate and use kitchen scissors to trim around the edge, leaving a mostly even 1″ overhang all the way around. If you have some uneven spots, feel free to get a patchwork thing going on. Stick it back in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the top crust the same way, but feel free to do something fancy like cut out cute shapes. At the very least, make a few slits in the top for air to escape. Save the cute shapes on the side – we will attach them later with pie crust glue (i.e. beaten egg). Chill all pieces until you’ve got your filling ready to go.

 

Apple Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Full recipe of pie dough (see above), rolled out and chillin’ in the fridge
2 Tablespoons flour
8-12 apples (I like a variety of sweet and tart – more research on this to come!), peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar (do this to taste! I personally like a lot less sugar in my pies, and it also depends on how many apples you put in)
2 Tablespoons (a.k.a. a few squeezes) lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or a little less if you are not a huge nutmeg person)
2 Tablespoons of cold butter
1 egg, beaten
sanding sugar for top of pie (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees  F. Mix together the apples, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix em’ well so all the yummy elements get evenly distributed.

Pull your chilled pie crusts out of the fridge, and pour the apple mixture into the bottom crust. Sprinkle little chunks of cold butter across the top. Brush around the rim of the bottom crust with a little beaten egg. Carefully lay the top crust over. Tuck the top crust edge over and under the bottom crust edge and crimp all the way around. If you want to attach any little cut outs, use the beaten egg like glue. Then, brush the entire crust with a thin layer of beaten egg, and sprinkle coarse sanding sugar (or regular granulated sugar) over the top.

Bake in the 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then turn down to 375 degrees and bake until crust is golden, and juices are bubbling, about another 45-55 minutes. If the top starts to get to o brown, put some tinfoil around the edges or over the top. Let pie cool on a wire rack for at least 20-30 minutes before eating.

May 2, 2014

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

 

These cookies are so many things for me right now.

The rainbow sprinkles are a blast of childhood nostalgia, the cookie choice of any kid. Oh wait. I still order rainbow sprinkles on every soft serve cone ever. And my blog is sprinkle themed. But still… childhood.

 

The soft-slightly-underbaked texture have that naughty ready-to-bake-Pillsbury-gold-crap thing going on. But they are also undeniably homemade.

The sweet vanilla sugar taste is seriously launching me into spring. There are sugar cookies for winter and there are sugar cookies for spring. Did you know that? I’m telling you that these are sugar cookies for spring.

I can’t claim much credit for the creation of these beauties. I pinned them on Pinterest from Averie Cooks, a blog I have admired for a long time but surprisingly haven’t mentioned here yet.  I followed the recipe pretty darn closely with just a few minor changes. I can however claim credit for those three that disappeared yesterday morning. Oops.

This is my new go-to drop sugar cookie. I like my roll out sugar cookies thin, crisp and buttery. I like my drop sugar cookies thick, chewy, and buttery. This recipe is so right it’s almost wrong.

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
adapted slightly from Averie Cooks

makes about 25-30 cookies using a 1 1/2 T scoop

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
4 t corn starch
1 1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt (if you used salted butter – leave out)
about 1 c sprinkles – or more to taste

Directions:

Cream together the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until very light and fluffy. Don’t short-change this step – it takes a good 5-7 minutes with a mixer! Sift in the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Just as noted in the original recipe, this step is super important to getting the right shape/consistency in the cookies. At this point you can either transfer dough balls to freezer or bake right away. I like to freeze them and just bake off a few at a time straight from the freezer since its just me and the Mr.

Bake cookies at 350 degree oven for about 8-9 minutes (plus a few if coming out of the freezer). Cookies should still be pale but the edges should be starting to set. These are best if they are still nice and soft in the middle, and they will continue to set as you let them cool on the pan for 2-5 minutes and then remove to a wire cooling rack.

 

August 1, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

You know how some people count sheep when they can’t sleep? Or count backwards from 100? Or drink a warm glass of milk?

I close my eyes and think about food. I dream about what crazy kitchen adventure I could take next. I lull myself to sleep with thoughts of butter and sugar and melty chocolate chips. If you want to know if I wake up with drool on my pillow…. I’m not telling.

Lately, I’ve been dreaming about shortbread. There is something beautifully simple about shortbread that makes it the perfect palate for adventure.

Usually, I am too lazy, broke, thrifty to go out and buy a billion new ingredients for some elaborate recipe, unless I have a very specific purpose. So, with shortbread on my mind, I looked in my fridge and saw a lonely lemon. I looked out my window and saw a pot of fresh rosemary baking in the August sun, shivering in this weird summer cold patch, and this cookie was born.

But duh, I didn’t make it up. As I am drifting off to sleep, I am usually convinced that I have invented the worlds most innovative treat. But a quick Google search in the morning usually brings me back to reality…. okay okay and provides me with a recipe as a jumping off point.

As you are falling asleep tonight, do me a favor and dream of shortbread. Then wake up in the morning, come back to this post, and bake these Lemon Rosemary Shortbread cookies.

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread
adapted from My Baking Addiction

makes about 18 small cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, slightly soft
generous 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
zest from 1 small lemon
juice from 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup wheat flour
dash of salt
1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
sanding sugar

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla, and mix until fully combined. Add in flours, salt and rosemary and mix until dough comes together in a ball. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to fully incorporate the dry ingredients until a nice solid dough forms.

On top of a sheet of plastic wrap, roll out the dough into a cylinder. Sprinkle sanding sugar all over the outside of the cylinder, rolling back and forth along the plastic until the dough is coated. Wrap dough well in the plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake, pop the dough in the fridge while preheating the oven to 350 F. When oven is preheated, slice the cookies into quarter-inch slices and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until cookies are just turning golden. Do not overbake, or you will have dry shortbread. I always think it is better to slightly undercook if anything, as I prefer a soft, creamy shortbread over a crunchy one. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.