Today was an epic day at work. Epic in a good way. On Saturday I was told we were getting a new cake decorator. I was very excited because I have needed help for a very long time. There is another cake decorator but she kind of does what she wants when she wants and leaves me with everything else. It often leaves me overwhelmed and very, very frustrated because I just can’t keep up. Anyway, I met the new cake decorator today. The more I talked to the new lady, the more I realized she really wants to work with me in setting up a good system for the bakery.
Then my boss brought me something I thought I wouldn’t get before I was too old to decorate cakes anymore. He brought my new edible image computer, scanner and printer. He also ordered a bunch of licensed images just because I told him they would be cool to have. All he asked was that when the disks come in I decorate him a Scooby Doo cake. I so can do that. After my boss got everything set up, I spent the rest of the afternoon getting my cake decorating geek on playing with my new computer. I foresee many joyful hours learning to use all the bells and whistles on that thing.
To celebrate the end of an epic day, I decided to make a sour cream raisin pie.
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
6 TBS all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBS canola oil
2 tsp milk
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp all purpose flour
3 TBS lightly beaten egg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the crust ingredients with a fork, until a soft dough forms. Place the dough in the bottom of a 6 inch pie pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Use you fingers to press the crust in the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake 10 minutes; set aside. In a small sauce pan add the raisins and the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool, add sugar, sour cream and flour, mix well. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg a little at a time, stirring briskly so you don’t cook the egg. Cook until the filling thickens then pour into the baked pie crust.
I was looking at my blog this morning and realized 4 out of 5 recipes I posted in February were for some type of bread, quick bread or recipe using bread as an ingredient. Oops. I usually like a little more variety to my posts. I blame it on the weather. When it’s so damn cold baking just seems to feel good and makes the cold go away for a little bit.
Since the weather hasn’t gotten any warmer I am going to give you another bread type recipe. Today I am going to give a basic waffle recipe and a flavor variation on that basic recipe. A few weeks ago, I bought a Rival 2 plate waffle iron to replace a waffle iron I broke when I dropped a crockpot crock on it. Don’t ask. It wasn’t one of my finer moments. In the three weeks I have had it I have made waffles 5 times, experimenting with different flavors.
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup canola oil
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened, some lumps are okay. Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter on each side of a pre heated waffle iron coated with cooking spray. Bake 7 minutes.
Apple Pie Waffles
Made up by me from stuff I had in my kitchen
To the dry ingredients in the basic waffle recipe add, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, and a dash of cloves or ginger. To the wet ingredients add 1 tsp vanilla. Once the wet and dried ingredients have been mixed together fold in one peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple and proceed with baking them as directed.
While I am a total cynic about Valentine’s Day (do we really need a day to tell our loved ones we love them?), I totally love St. Patrick’s day. Not the going to bars and drinking beer part but the having friends over and eating corned beef, colcannon and soda bread part.
My St. Patrick’s day menu doesn’t have much room for variation but I try to bring something new to the table every year. Most times, the variation comes in the form of a new soda bread recipe. I was surprised to find so many variations on soda bread. I thought the only variation I would find is whether to add raisins or leave the raisins out.
I decided to try the rye soda bread version because the flavors of corned beef and cabbage go well with the flavor of rye and I love rye bread in general. I was not disappointed by rye soda bread. The caraway seed fills the house with a lovely aroma as it bakes and the rye taste will have you making this all through the year, not just on St. Patrick’s day.
Rye Soda Bread
1 cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium size bowl, combine the flours, caraway seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and slowly pour in the buttermilk. Mix well. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for two or three minutes. Lightly spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Gently press the dough into a circle about half an inch thick or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Use a serrated knife to cut an x into the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before cutting into the bread or it gets really crumbly.
I try really hard not to buy a lot of cooking gadgets. I would like to say it is because I am old school and like to do things the old fashioned way but the truth is I don’t have a lot of money to spare for gadgets and even less space to store the gadgets I am only going to use once. My rule of thumb is if I can’t think of at least two things to do with it before I get to the till, I put it back.
However, rules are made to be broken. While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I bought English muffin rings. English muffins have been on my to try bread list forever. I just couldn’t find the rings to shape the batter like dough. Some of the recipes I have found say you can use tuna cans with both ends cut off for rings. With all the talk of BPA and other chemicals in cans, it doesn’t seem smart to use them for something they weren’t designed for, like baking. It is an option if that doesn’t bother you.
The English muffins were the first bread I have ever made that I didn’t immediately love. It wasn’t that the muffins were bad. It was more like the muffins weren’t at all what I expected, the homemade English muffins are so totally different then my favorite store bought English muffins. It was hard to compare them, even side by side. Would I make English muffins again? Yes. I did eventually like them enough to put them here. The muffins freeze beautifully. If you want the traditional English muffin nooks and crannies make sure you pull the muffins apart with a fork, not cut them with a knife.
By the way, when I got home I thought of another use for the rings. They make fabulous molds for bean and veggie burgers.
1 1/2 cups water
1 TBS granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all purpose flour
In a big bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. Add butter, salt and flour. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, beat the mixture together for 8 – 10 minute until a smooth dough is formed. This mixture will be very loose, more like a batter then a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside, for about an hour until doubled in volume.
Heat a griddle over high heat. If you can sprinkle a little water on the grill and it immediately sizzles and evaporates, the griddle is hot enough. Put the muffin rings on the griddle and fill them half way with the batter. Cook until the muffins are browned on bottom, 5 minutes. Flip the muffins using a spatula or tongs. Cook another 5 minutes. Let cool completely before toasting and enjoying.
Adapted from The Everything Bread Cookbook
No matter how much a person likes bread it is hard for one person to finish a whole loaf of bread. I used to think the only thing to do with stale bread is throw it away or feed it to the outside birds. Now I know that stale bread is one of the kitchen’s greatest gifts. There are so many yummy things to do with it.
A good place to begin exploring the possibilities of stale bread is with bread pudding. Bread pudding can be a sweet dessert or a savory main dish. Today’s recipe is a sweet dessert bread pudding. I like to very he dried fruits I use. You could also change up the spices if you wanted.
1 1/2 – 2 cup soft bread cubes
2/3 cup milk
3 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS butter, melted
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup dried fruit
Place bread in a greased 2 cup baking dish. In a bowl, whisk egg and milk, stir in brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over bread; let stand 15 minutes. Sprinkle with raisins. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 2 servings