Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge #1 Not So Scary Danish Bread!

My First Official Daring Bakers Challenge!!! I have to admit that when I found out what this challenge was I immediately thought wow I am in over my head!! I freaked about it for awhile, read about other Daring Bakers problems, continued to freak, but then I watched this video about folding and then this video.

Once I figured out how to fold the butter in, I then used thisfor my visual on how to do the braids (it is in Italian so it is all about the visual!).

What had me freaking out was how to do the butter block and folding and I immediately screwed up because I couldn't unfold it the way the directions said to; however, it seemed to work out okay by just rolling into a ball and flattening it out every time. I didn't have problems with the butter coming out or with it being overly sticky. However, I did have a problem with juice escaping and smoke everywhere but despite that they were pretty yummy!!! I brought one to work and the other is in my freeezer for later.

Mind did not come out as beautiful as the other Daring Bakers did but I am excited I could acutally do it!

The spreading of the butter

Not super Pretty but Delicious!

Slighlty Burnt but still delicious


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wine, Jazz, and Baby Loafs!

Tonite I am joining some friends for some wine and Jazz music at the Sculpture Garden and I wanted to bring something for us to nibble on. I haven't made this bread in a few years and the recipe originally calls for it to be 3 loaves but I remembered that last time they came out kind of thin and this time I wanted fatter loaves so I divided the batter into 2 pans instead of 3 and it was still delicious! I brought one loaf into work and so far everyone loves it!

Orange Baby-Loaf Cakes with Dried Cherries and Walnuts
(Original Source: Fitness Magazine December 2002)


Butter Flavored Cooking Spray
2 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
8 Tbs. (1 stick) Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C. granulated Sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 Tbs.Grated Orange Zest
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 C. Nonfat Buttermilk (I used 2% this time)
1/2 C. Dried Cherries (I used a combo of Cherries and Cranberries)
1/3 C plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Finely Chopped Walnuts (mine weren't too finely chopped and it still tasted great!)


1 1/2 C. Sifted Confectioners' Sugar
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Water


- Heat oven to 350 degrees and coat three 5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 inch metal loaf pans with cooking spray.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda onto a large piece of waxed paper (I used another bowl).
- In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, effs, grated orange zest, and vanilla extract until smooth.
-Alternately beat in buttermilk and flour mixture until well blended.
- Fold in cherries and 1/3 C. Walnuts and pour into prepared pans.
- Bake 45 mins or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes and remove cakes from pans and cook completely

- Prepare glaze in a large bowl by beating confectioners' sugar and water until smooth. Drizzle over tops and sprinkle with 1/3 tsp. walnuts

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Craveable Quiche!

I love to bake but cooking is not my thing; however, I was recently craving my mom's famous quiche - her friends used to pay her to make them for events. It was so easy that even I could do it! The important lesson I learned from making it is that it tastes better when it sits for a few minutes - a hard lesson for me to learn because I usually can't wait to eat it! Also, warning self control can go out the window with this recipe!

Spinach Layer

Spinach and Cheese

Rt before going into the oven

Right after it came out

A Messy but Delicious Piece!


- 9' Deep Dish Pie Shell
- 6 oz. cheese - Swiss or combination of cheese (tastes best with 3 different types incl. Swiss)
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 C. Light Cream OR 1 C. Heavy Cream & 1/2 C. Milk
- Salt, Nutmeg, Pepper
- Filling: Chopped Spinach and Onion (make sure dry), Shrimp, Mushroom, Broccoli, Bacon

- Heat oven to 375
- Put filling then cheese on the bottom of the shell
- Beat eggs, cream & spices until frothy
- Pour into pie shell
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes

- I only had skim milk so I used that, my mom is not a fan of the skim substitute and is a purist, but I just added a lot of extra cheese and it tasted just as good!
- My mom likes using 3 different types of white cheese - I don't care

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Butterscotch Brownies!

In the past few weeks it seems like everyone has been making brownies so when my office was having an ice cream party I thought it was a great opportunity to make a delicious batch. I know that everyone loves these because people kept coming up to ask which ones were mine and they disappeared the quickest!! One of the great things about this recipe is that I substitute different types of chips and they always come out great!

This recipe is originally from the family I used to nanny for and they are delicious.


- 4 oz unsweetned chocolate
- 1 stick butter
- 4 eggs
- salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 C. Flour
- 6 oz Chips (butterscotch, chocolate, and peanut butter)


- Preheat the oven to 350
- Melt the chocolate and butter together
- Beat the eggs and salt
- Slowly add sugar and vanilla and mix
- Stir in the melted chocolate and butter
- Mix in the flout
- Add your favorite chips

Pour into a 9 x 13 in. pan and bake for 25 minutes. Watch out they go fast!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guest Post: Fresh Berry Cake

This is another guest post from my cousin. Father's Day was a beautiful day here so it looks like the perfect dessert for a nice summer BBQ, I'm sorry I didn't get to try it.

For Father’s day, I wanted to make a berry cake for my husband because he prefers lighter desserts in the summer and really enjoys berries. I made the cake in a bundt pan. Rather than frosting it, I sprinkled powedered sugar on top and filled in berries in the middle and then served it with berries and whipped cream.

I got the original recipe from Good Things Catered but adapted it a bit.

Fresh Berry Cake

2 c. plus 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
¾ c. egg beaters
2/3 c. Fage 0% fat greek yogurt
3/4 c. blueberries
3/4 c. raspberries

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt pan.
-In medium bowl sift together 2 c. plus 2 Tbsp flour, baking soda and salt.
-In bowl of large stand mixer with flat beater attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes, scraping as needed.
-Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
-Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt and beginning and ending with the flour.
-Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
-In the bowl the flour mixture was in, add berries and 2 Tbsp reserved flour and toss to combine.
-Using a rubber spatula, gently fold berries into batter.
-Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
-Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
-Invert cake to release from pan and let cool completely on wire rack before frosting and serving.

I made the cake in a bundt pan and then sprinkled powdered sugar on top and filed the middle with strawberries and blueberries. I served it with some whipped cream.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chocolate and Cherries!!

Last weekend my friends and I went to go visit my officemate who just had a beautiful baby girl 3 weeks ago. I asked the new mom what she wanted me to bake and she requested my Devils Food with Comstack Cherries and Chocolate Frosting Cake, I made this cake for work and it was a big hit!

This one was very good too except I didn't have time to let it set in the refrigerator after I frosted it. Since it was almost 100 degrees on Sunday and it sat in the car for awhile it did not look pretty by the time it reached its destination, it split in 1/3 and the chocolate frosting was very melted, but other then not looking pretty it still tasted delicious!!

The Devils Food Cake recipe is the same recipe as my Delicious Ice Cream Cake ; however, this time I baked it in 2 round pans for 25 minutes.



1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

- In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in sugar and butter until butter is melted.
- Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
- Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture and mix thoroughly.

Pour into 2 round pans for 25 minutes.


2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
-In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk.
- Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.


A cool trick I learned is to take some of your frosting and make an edge or a dam on the perimeter of your inside layer to keep the Cherries or any filling from oozing out. Then take a can of cherries, Comstack and Lucky Leaf are popular brands, and spread it around on the inside layer. Then after you assemble the second layer on top frost with the Creamy Chocolate Frosting, for this recipe I ended up making 1 1/2 batches of frosting and I had a little left over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Delicious Ice Cream Cake!

I have never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies and in order to stop the relentless mocking at work I went over to my friend's house for dinner, dessert, and Indiana Jones. This was a great opportunity to use my awesome Betty Crocker Bake n'Fill pan, my dad got it for me a few years ago and I absolutely love it!

This time I made a Devil's Food Cake with light mint chocolate chip ice cream and a satiny chocolate glaze and absolutely delicious on a hot day! One of the good things about this cake is that if you leave it in the freezer for awhile you can let it sit out for a little bit and it stays cold enough until you cut it. It was delicious and everybody loved it!

Devil's Food Cake Recipe


1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

- In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in sugar and butter until butter is melted.
- Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
- Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture and mix thoroughly.

The recipe calls for a greased and floured 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Satiny Chocolate Glaze



3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


The original directions:

- In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla.

My directions:

- Melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave 45 seconds to a minute and then stirring and then another 20 seconds until melted.

- Add corn syrup and vanilla and stir until smooth.


- The Satiny Chocolate Glaze recipe is originally for a bundt cake but it is delicious and easy so for this recipe I did the chocolate in stages to see how much I actually needed and I used a bag of chocolate chips and basiclaly did the recipe by 1.5. I then covered the whole cake in it and put it back in the frezzer to harden.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yummy Workshop!

This weekend my cousin and I took a Cupcake Workshop at Sur La Table. Over the winter we took a cake decorating class there and enjoyed it so we thought we would give this a shot. An added benefit for me was spending time with my cousin because I really enjoy taking classes with her and sharing our baking interest.

At the class there were 6 cupcake/frosting recipes and they divided you into 3 groups with each group making 2 different types. Some of the recipes were good, some I would change a little bit, and some were a lot of work that I am not sure I would spend the time making. They all look cute though!

Blueberry, Peanut Butter with Milk Chocolate Glaze, Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes, Black and Whites, Blossom Topped with a Cream Cheese Frosting, Lemon Raspberry (with jam inside)

Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Topping (Great for a kid's birthday!!)

Blueberry Cupcakes with a Maple Sugar frosting

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars - Vegan Style

A few weeks ago I made these delicious Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bars from Amber's Delectable Delights and they were a HUGE hit at work. I also agreed with Amber that they are pretty sinful if you are a Resse's lover. This is a great recipe to make in the summer when it is too hot to turn on the oven!

Because these were such a big hit at work I was trepidatious to change the recipe at all but one of our interns is a Vegan and I wanted to make something she could eat at our training session today. I have to say I am pretty impressed with the results and if you need a good vegan recipe this is an easy one to do. Below is the original recipe and listed next to the ingredients are the vegan substitutes.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bars
(Amber's Original Source was:


1 cup butter (Vegan Margarine)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cellophane package and 3 extra grahams)(I buy the boxed Graham Cracker Crumbs; however, see below for the Vegan note)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips (Vegan Chocolate Chips - I bought them at Whole Foods)


- Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and peanut butter. (An easy way to measure the peanut butter is to put 1 cup of water into a measuring cup, and then add enough peanut butter to it that the water reaches 2 cups).
- Press mixture into a 9x13" pan.
- Melt chocolate chips in microwave and stir until smooth (try a minute first, and then check).
- Spread chocolate carefully over peanut butter layer with a spatula. (Having one person to pour the chocolate and one to spread works well!).
- Let the chocolate cool for a while, and then cut into bars before the chocolate is completely hardened (or else the chocolate layer will just crack).


- I was very worried about making sure I made this recipe vegan; I have to note that the intern does eat honey which I realize does not follow the vegan lifestyle. I checked to make sure all the ingredients were vegan, which included the graham crackers. When I normally make this recipe I buy the box of Graham Cracker Crumbs; however, those seemed to have milk in them. I jumped to the conclusion that all graham crackers did so I went and bought Mi-Del Graham Crackers, which are Whole Wheat All Natural; however, the ones I bought had honey in them. When I went to the regular supermarket and looked at the Honey Maid Graham Crackers I realized that I stressed for no reason and could have bought those.

- I personally did not find the Mi-Del Graham Crackers to be tasty on their own; however, they tasted just fine in the recipe.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Guest Post: White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookies

My cousin Allison is part of the reason why I started this blog and is an excellent baker and cook. She recently made these cookies for a PTA meeting at her son's school. They were all gobbled up!

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
11 oz bag white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts

Directions:-pre- heat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Mix dry ingredients together; set aside.
-With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined.
-Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.
-Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips.
- Drop in tablespoon size drops on cooking sheets
- Bake about 12-13 minutes
-Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yummy Bran Muffins!

I love these bran muffins: they are very moist and healthy! I usually can't wait for them to cool down and I eat one right away but I also freeze them. To defrost them sometimes I'll throw them in the microwave for a few seconds or I'll just take them out and let them defrost on their own, which seems to give the best result!


1 1/2 C. Wheat Bran
1 C. Butter Milk (I used Organic Fat Free Butter Milk)
1/3 C. Vegetable oil (I used Unsweetned Apple Sauce instead)
1 Egg
2/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 tspn. Vanilla
1 Cup Flour (I used Whole Wheat Flour)
1 tspn. Baking Soda
1 tspn. Baking Powder
1/2 tspn. Salt
1/2 C. of Raisins or Shredded Carrots (I used carrots this time)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour the wheat bran and buttermilk into a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add the rest of the ingredients (except carrots/raisins) and mix well, the batter will be very moist. Then mix in your carrots/raisins. Pour into muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees for 13-17 minutes.