Recent baking exploits

So I’ve been very, very bad about updating my blog. I have been baking and crafting, just not with the same frequency as I used to. Recently I got some good baking in and thought I’d share.

I’ve been craving apple fritters for multiple months now, but don’t eat them often since they’re fried. I came across a recipe for baked apple fritters and gave it a shot during the weekend where we stayed indoors due to nonstop rain from Harvey. I followed the recipe exactly and the only note I have was that you don’t have to make so much glaze.

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My second delicious baking adventure was a peach upside down cake using delicious in-season peaches that the grocery store has right now. I have a few changes / notes on this recipe:

  1. Used ginger in place of nutmeg. Ginger and peaches are delicious together!
  2. I made extra caramel topping after reading the comments, but I think the original amount would be better. If I were to make extra of anything in the future, it could have used a bit more cake batter.
  3. I baked it in a springform pan because it’s the only cake pan I have that size. I put foil around the bottom to catch any caramel leaks. It did leak a tiny bit.
  4. I did not serve the cake with creme fraiche since Whole Foods was out of it. It was delicious eaten on its own.
  5. The cake took much longer to bake than the recipe called for, like 45 – 50 min instead of 30 min.

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Very shortly I’ll start posting about biking since this year’s Bike MS is just a month away. So stay tuned!

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Two fresh fig recipes: fig blueberry crisp and fig cookie bars!

It finally happened… the figs on our monster fig tree started to ripen! I tried two new recipes this year with figs that both turned out fantastic.

Fig and Blueberry Crisp

I basically followed this Food Network recipe with some slight modifications:

  • I used 3 cups blueberries and 3 cups figs and added a bit of lemon zest to the fruit mixture
  • I did not add nutmeg or pecans
  • I did add some ground ginger, probably about 1/2 teaspoon

Fruit mixture and topping:

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The final, delicious product:20160710_165231

Fig Cookie Bars

While the crisp was super easy to throw together, fig cookies bars (also called fig newtons) required more work, spread across two days for me. For the cookie part, I mostly followed this Fresh Fig Newtons recipe from Sugar Dish Me. For the jam in the middle, I looked around at a number of recipes and ended up using:

  • 2 lbs fresh figs, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. After the boil starts, reduce to a simmer and continue to stir / mash from time to time. After 45 min or so, the jam should be thickened.

Note: this jam did turn out quite sweet, so next time I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup probably.

For the cookie part, I changed the Sugar Dish Me recipe by:

  • Reducing the butter – I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Omitting the orange zest – I didn’t have an orange and wasn’t sold on this anyhow.

The bars were a huge hit. If only they weren’t so much work!

Making jam:

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Finished jam:

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Finished cookie bar sheet:

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Mmmm… delicious!

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A most delicious fresh fig tart

 

 

Back when we had figs ripening like mad, I came across a recipe from Vegetarian Times for a Lavender and Fig Tart with Goat Cheese Cream, and oh man was it worth the effort. It was a super big hit at a party, the first food to completely disappear.

The only change I made was to use thyme instead of lavender, since we had that in abundance in our garden.

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The hardest part of the recipe was dealing with the puff pastry, something I had no experience with.

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After you bake it, you have to cut along the edges to create the crust and then press down the middle. It wasn’t too bad, but of course mine wasn’t as pretty as the magazine picture.

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We had on over-abundance of figs at the time, so I really loaded up the tart.

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The final step was drizzling with a sweetened balsamic and thyme mixture. I can’t wait to make this recipe again next year!FigTart-6

Our birthday dessert spread

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

A few weeks ago, it was that time again. Time for the husband and I to jointly celebrate our birthdays by inviting people over and providing waaaaaayyyyy more desserts than the group could possibly consume. Last year’s selections were a hit and this year was no exception.

The menu:

We had left overs of everything. Luckily I hid some of the extra banana cream pie that wouldn’t fit in the pie pan, because that pie pan was clean by the end of the night!

 

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Fat free ginger cookies

Fat free ginger cookies

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

 

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Cooking the cream filling.

Cooking the cream filling.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

 

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Baking orange ginger cupcakes

Cupcakes for my birthday!

Cupcakes for my birthday!

I recently came across a recipe for these orange ginger cupcakes on Instructables that I just had to try. Conveniently, my birthday gave me a good excuse to bake something I wanted to eat, and then force my co-workers and softball teammates to eat it for me.

I edited the recipe a bit, to cut down on the butter of course. My next updates to this recipe will include using more orange zest and adding some chopped candied ginger to the batter. However, here’s the recipe I used for the pictured cupcakes. They were pretty good after all.

Ingredients – Orange ginger cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sticks (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients –  Buttercream frosting

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (you may end up adding more)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (you may need more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Steps – Cupcakes

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and applesauce together in a large bowl until fluffy.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger together in a smaller bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well between each.
  4. Add the orange zest and vanilla.
  5. Add the milk and dry ingredients mixture, alternating and mixing between the two until the batter is smooth.
  6. Since I didn’t have cupcake liners, I greased my cupcake pan well. Definitely grease the pan well if you do this and use a knife to loosen up the cupcakes when you try to remove them!
  7. Fill the cupcake holes 2/3 of the way full. You should get 22 – 24 cupcakes.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 – 22 minutes. The cupcakes are done when golden and they spring back when touched. Use the toothpick test if you’re not sure.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes before removing and putting on a cooling rack.

Steps – Frosting

  1. Once the cupcakes are cool, you’re ready to frost them!
  2. Cream the butter until nice and smooth.
  3. Add in half the powdered sugar.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar.
  6. Frost your cupcakes! I like just a thin layer of frosting. If you like more, you may want to double this recipe.
Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester - it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester – it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Finished batter.

Finished batter.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Frosting in the mixer.

Frosting in the mixer.

Yum!

Yum!

 

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