Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School means back to Baking

WOW....less then 2 weeks till school starts again (and I go back to work).  Its been nice having time off with the kids.

I had great plans for this summer, tons of new recipes I wanted to try out, but the truth of the matter was....It was too DARN HOT!!!!!  Most days I couldn't even take the kids out to the park till about 7pm and even then they were sweating after running around a few minutes.  Add to the incredible heat the fact we live in a small apartment with no air-conditioning.....I wasn't going to go anywhere near the oven.

Now with the last days of summer upon us, the temperature has dropped to comfortable levels and I have dared to dream about cookies, bars, cakes and treats again.

So this afternoon I pulled out my big mixing bowl and got set to bake.  The kids were in raptures...."Mamas baking again!!!...what are you going to bake? ...Snickerdoodles...No!  I want Chocolate chip about cupcakes?...we want to help....."

"well actually" I replied, "I'm making muffins to put in your school lunches"...........................................
..........."hello? are you going?...........<sigh>

Well I have to admit muffins might not hold the glammer of other treats but considering that the number of muffins now on the cooling racks is quite a bit lower then the number I pulled out of the oven, I think the kids have gotten over their disappointment.

I have yet to find a muffin recipe that I am totally happy with so I was searching Tasty Kitchen  which for those of you not familiar with it, is the addictive, go-to site for all recipes hunters, created by the Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummund).  As I was searching, I came across a posting for a basic muffin mix which you can do endless variations on.  As the poster mentioned that she works in a bakery and this is the recipe they use, I decided that this needed testing out.  

I made 2 types today, a basic banana, and a pumpkin spice.  The hardest thing about the recipe is making sure your consistency is fine after adding your "variations", which is just a matter of not adding the milk until the end and adjusting the amount accordingly.  Overall the recipe is very simple and the muffins turned out good so it is something I will continue to play with.  (the kids have already put in requests for blueberry, chocolate chip, carrot and apple spice and I have some lemon and cranberries that I want to use)

Basic Muffins with Variations    -   makes 12 (med)

2 cups flour                          1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder             1/2 tsp salt
1 egg                                    3/4 cup milk (or as needed)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oil           1 cup optional variation ingredients

sift dry ingredients.  Add wet and any additional ingredients and stir until moistened.  Scoop into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for 20 -25 minutes.

For the banana I doubled the recipe, added 5 over ripe mashed bananas, cut the sugar to only 1 1/2 cup total, used only  1/4 cup oil and 1 cup milk.  It made 24 medium muffins.

For the pumpkin, I doubled the recipe, added one can (about 1 1/2 cup) pumpkin puree, 1 tsp pumpkin spice and 1 tsp cinnamon.  I ended up adding an additional 1/4 cup of milk (on top of the doubled amount).  This made 24 medium and 12 mini muffins.  * next time I think I will try adding a bit more milk.

Original Tasty Kitchen Post      

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Rainbow Realta (aka the stash-busting blanket)

So in between all the baking I have done over the last 2 weeks, I have been trying to complete another afghan.  Back when I was completing this blue afghan  as a gift for my daughters teacher, my son decided that he  wanted a blanket for his end-of-the-year gift for his teacher too.  He didn't want a boring blanket though, his teacher "liked colours!".

I was on board with that, after all, I knew I had more then enough colours in the various yarn stashes around the apartment, and I had the perfect pattern for the job.

I found the pattern very easy to follow and it is very versatile to whatever colour pallet you have to work with.

The Realta afghan  created by the very talented Gingerbread Lady.  She is also the creator of the Kitties in a Row Blanket  that I made. ( shown in this post).  Check out her blog.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mini Streusel Coffee Cakes

Well its the calm after the Bake Sale, all there is left to do is clean up the debris in the kitchen and try to ignore my kids pleas to have "just one more cupcake Mama...pullleeeeeze". (and ignore my own inner voice trying to sweet talk me into a strawberry lemonade bar....mmmmmmmmmm....lemons........)

The turn out this year for the Fun Fair was excellent even with all the black clouds looming over us. When the the deluge started I think we only lost about a third of the crowd, with the rest making a beeline into the school gym (which did wonders for bake sale table as there wasn't much of anything else for them to do while they waited for the rain to stop!)  And what a glorious feast we had laid out for everyone...cupcakes galore,cookies, pies, strudel, cakes, tarts, fudge, loaves, and squares of all sorts.

I only grabbed a few quick shots of a few of my favorite inspirations for future baking .

Cookie Monster!!!!!!! ( C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...)

At the beach  (we also had these made in Ice cream cones)

Formal strawberries.  These were such a huge hit.
  Such talented people!!!  

So as I was planning what I would bake for the sale, I rediscovered some mini baking pans that I bought a while ago.
They're round so i didn't want to do a loaf because i thought it would just end up looking like a short, squat muffin.....individual cinnamon rolls? idea but i didn't really like that either (maybe another time).  So Somehow i came up with mini coffee cakes.  

Yummy!!!!!!!!!   So much so in fact that my kids kinda ate their way through most of the first batch I made and so I had to do 2 more batches for the sale.

Streusel Coffee Cake     Recipe adapted from "Company's Coming - Muffins and More by Jean Pare"

butter or margarine   1/3 cup
sugar                        1/2 cup
egg                           1
flour                          1  1/2  cups
baking powder          2 tsp
salt                           1/2 tsp
milk                          3/4 cup

Cream butter, sugar and egg

In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.

Streusel Filling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
The original recipe didn't call for this but after the first batch I decided they needed something extra.  Microwave the mixture until its runny enough for you to spoon/drizzle into batter

Fill greased liners about 1/4 full with batter then drizzle filling in.  Cover with more batter


packed brown sugar    1/2 cup
flour                            2 tbsp
cinnamon                     1 tsp
melted butter               3 tbsp
mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of each cake.  Bake at 350 F for about 25 min ( or until lightly golden brown and toothpick comes out clean)  Makes 7 mini cakes.

The cake on the right is from the first batch.  I filled it slightly less and I smoothed out the batter before adding the topping.  The left is the second batch.  I filled it more and left it lumpy.  I like the look of this batch better.

Another new recipe that is going into the keeper binder!!!

I also made Snickerdoodles, King Squares and Lemon Loaves for the sale but didn't take pictures as I was doing them so those posts will have to wait for another  baking day.