Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #37—Swedish Rye (Limpa)

swedish limpa-crumb
Another rye bread, but not an ordinary one. I loved it — Swedish Rye (or Limpa).

(Full disclosure: the recipe called for aniseeds. I don't like anise, therefore don't keep it in my spice cupboard and did not use it in the bread. You may proceed.)

I'm (very, very slowly) baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a number of us have finished). Want to learn more about it? Check out the following links:
swedish limpa-scored

swedish limpa-scored-proofed

I made this 4 months ago, so the details are sketchy, but I definitely remember being thrilled with this one – the way it came together, the way it smelled, the way it looked (gracious, these were gorgeous loaves) ... and the way it tasted. Delicious.

swedish limpa baked

Slightly sweet thanks to the brown sugar and molassess, fragrant and flavorful thanks to the fennel, cardamom and orange peel, with a lovely chewy crust and perfectly dense crumb – chewy without being the least bit heavy.

swedish limpa-sliced

broken stone

This was a keeper, most certainly. Unfortunately, it killed my baking stone. Not sure why, but shortly after putting the bread in the oven, I heard a "pop" and realized my stone broke. But it split really cleanly—if you put the two pieces together, you can't even tell it's broken. I'm keeping it since it still works. (Someone let me know if that's a bad idea, using a broken stone!)

Please check out other BBA Baker's posts. It looks like a lot of us were pleasantly surprised by this one!
Phyl at Of Cabbages & King Cakes 
Sally at Bewtiching Kitchen 
Janice at Round the Table
Oggi at I can do that!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest Post - Tiffany Inspired Cupcakes


After my Dangerously Decadent Cupcakes got some exposure from Cupcakes Take The Cake (and tumblr) I got an email from Jeris Donovan, the woman behind Sahmmy.com, "a monthly Ezine of comic blogs by comics, comic writers, and actors who are now parents."

September is sahmmy.com's one year anniversary and Jeris asked me to come up with a cupcake to mark the celebration. I thought quite a bit about it and decided to go with a Tiffany-esque cupcake, because who wouldn't like a little something from Tiffany's on her anniversary?

Head on over to sahmmy.com and check out the post. A link to printable recipes isn't working properly on the guest post, so you can access it HERE. (I noticed a typo in the printable recipe. I referenced "baking soda" in the directions but it should be "baking powder" as listed in the ingredients.)

In the mean time, here are a few images from process. Enjoy!




neon food color-bg

icing styles
Here are two ways to pipe frosting, both using the 1M tip. Left is shown starting from the center and winding out. Right is starting from the outside and working in. 

I asked my nieces to taste test the various flavors to determine their favorite. Yeah, I'm the best aunt ever. (The chocolate caramel candies were the hands down fave, followed closely by Butterfinger.)
k-1st cupcake






Saturday, September 11, 2010

Caramel Apple Cupcakes


As much as I hate to admit it, summer is coming to a close. Some might say it's over. I say, "Shut up" because even though I do love fall, it's far, far too short. And then it's winter. But I'm going to go all Scarlett O'Hara and not think about that right now. Let's focus on the joy that is fall.

Cooler temps, no more A/C, windows open, and fall flavors. They are my favorites. Warm, spicy, inviting. So with that in mind, I did some baking last weekend and had some leftover cinnamon cream cheese buttercream frosting. What's a girl to do? Make caramel apple cupcakes, of course.

Caramels-apple preserves


While these were very good — I had some really nice complements from my co-workers — I will be tweaking the recipe, mostly having to do with the caramel. I used Werther's soft caramels, and while they melted nicely in the oven, they set back up once cooled creating a much more solid caramel experience that I would have liked. Even so, they were super tasty, so here's the recipe.


Yellow Cake
This is basically 1-2-3-4 cake cut in half. I didn't have lots of frosting left over 
and didn't need a ton of cupcakes just lying around.

1 stick (1/2 cup/4 oz) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Apple preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners.
2. In separate bowl, whisk flour and baking powder together.
3. In large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. This will take a few minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute between, scraping bowl before adding each egg. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
5. Add milk and beat well. Ditto for the flour. Beat until light and fluffy.
6. Scoop into prepared cupcake tins, filling 2/3 to 3/4 full.
7. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of preserves in the center of each cupcake. Place 1 caramel on top of the preserves pressing lightly to flatten the batter slightly.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are lightly brown.
9. Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
This recipe made enough to generously frost approx 24 cupcakes. If you find yourself with leftovers, I was thinking it would be amazing on cinnamon rolls or pancakes.

4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (4 oz) butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Penzey’s Cake Spice (or just add more cinnamon)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat butter thoroughly until smooth. Scrape bowl and add 1 cup sugar beating thoroughly. Add vanilla; beat. Add remaining 2 more cups sugar and mix until combined. Add cream and beat on high until light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes and you’ll need to scrape the bowl a few times during the process. If the mix seems too thin, add more sugar a little at a time until it reaches piping consistency. If it’s too thick, add more cream (or milk).

Printable recipe here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oatmeal, Cranberry & Almond Cookies

Last Friday night, I had the baking bug and wanted something quick and not too sweet. So I flipped through a few cookbooks, seeing if anything caught my eye. The words "Oatmeal Cookies" jumped off the page—I do love oatmeal raisin cookies; they're one of my favorites. I decided to try the recipe I knew was lurking on the inside of the Quaker Oats lid. I made some modifications, of course. I can't help it.

I saw the dried cranberries when I grabbed the oats, so I decided to use those instead of raisins and I had some sliced almonds just begging to be added, too. Then I remembered that I bought some caramel extract and knew it needed to be in these cookies. Man, was I right. These smelled so good baking and tasted even better.

caramel flavoring


Oatmeal, Cranberry and Almond Cookies
adapted from Quaker Oats package top
Yields approx 24 large cookies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, very loosely packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp caramel extract (or other flavor of choice)
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Penzeys Baking Spice (or cinnamon)
3 cups rolled oats, old fashioned or quick
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda and spices in small bowl, whisking until thoroughly combined.

Cream butter and both sugars in mixing bowl. Don’t over beat, just mix until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add eggs and flavoring, beating until fully incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl as needed.

Add flour mixture to wet, mixing well.

Add almonds and cranberries and fold in with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.

I used my large Pampered Chef scoop to dole out the dough, which is approximately 3 tablespoons or a scant 1/4 cup. Flatten the mounds slightly with your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in water. These don’t spread much on their own and will cook too fast on the outsides before the insides are cooked through.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer glossy looking. Let sit on pan for a minute before transferring to cooling racks. Let cool slightly and ENJOY! These are best the day of or day after baking. Longer than that and they start to dry out, but will keep for a few days in an air tight container.

Download Printable Recipe Here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday—Bald Faced Hornet Nest


This started out as a small, papery tube hanging from the soffit. It kind of grew. A lot. The critters you see are called bald faced hornets. They chew on wood and turn it into a paper-like construction material. You can see that different kinds of wood make for very interesting strata lines. 


Despite the fact that these buggers have built a nest right by our garage, we haven't had any problems with them. After it gets cold, the wasps with eventually leave and/or die and won't come back, so we can knock this down. I'm really curious to see what it looks like inside!


You can click on any of the photos to see larger versions in flickr.
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