Friday, January 28, 2011

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have made many an oatmeal raisin cookie in search of the perfect recipe.  My search is over.  These are from Martha, and they are indeed perfect.  Seriously.  Super chewy with a lovely cinnamon maple flavour and the slightly crunchy texture from the shredded coconut.  Love love love these.  Martha has done it again.

I made a couple of changes to Martha's recipe, I used whole wheat white flour instead of all-purpose and I reduced the brown sugar to 3/4 cup.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Adapted from  Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Yields about 2 dozen large cookies

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar,
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B (it has a stronger flavour)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary if you have non-stick pans).  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the coconut. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment,  beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mix to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches; mix until just combined. Add oats and raisins and mix until combined.

Using a 2-inch ice cream scoop (= 3 tablespoons), drop dough 2 inches apart onto baking sheet. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet until firm enough to remove to wire racks, about 2 minutes.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to four days.

Linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

Plain Bagels

I'm almost late with my first post for the January challenge on Have the Cake but here it is!

I love bagels, especially boiled bagels, which is really the only thing that should be calling itself a bagel.  I went with Nigella Lawson's bagel recipe.  I was a little leery since I find her instructions aren't always as detailed as a novice might need, but I'm getting confident with my baking so I gave it a go.

The bagels turned out perfectly.  Well, not nearly as pretty as her's but there were a few decent ones that made it in the photo.  I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to knead the dough, and it almost overheated.  I think once the dough really comes together it would be wise to knead it by hand.  I literally think I would cry if something happened to my mixer.

Not terribly labour intensive, these bagels are worthy of a bakery (other than their looks) so I'll definitely make them again, although I probably could have let them brown just a bit more.

Note: These bagels got quite hard the next day, so eat them fast or freeze them within a day. :)

Nigella's Bagels
6 3/4 - 7 c bread flour, plus more as necessary for kneading
1 tbsp salt
1 pkg Rapid Rise yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil, plus more for greasing
2 1/4 c warm water (about 110 F), plus more as needed
2 tbsp malt or sugar for poaching
2-3 baking sheets, oiled or greased

1. Combine flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. In separate container, add sugar and oil to the water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, mixing to a dough with a spatula or wooden spoon.

2. Knead the dough either by hand or with dough hook, try to add more flour if you can. The dough is better dryer than wet. It will be stiff and hard to work. Even with a dough hook, kneading takes about 10 minutes. (keep an eye on this if you're using a mixer, I found it only took about 8 minutes)

3. Form the dough into a ball and put it into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat all around. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1 hour. Once dough is well risen, poke with finger to test; impression should remain.

4. Punch the dough down and knead again, divide into 3 pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a rope then cut each rope into 5 pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands into a ball, then roll another rope; curling to form a ring. Seal the ends by overlapping and pinching the ends together.

5. Put on a large pan of water to boil, when it boils, add malt or sugar.

6. Set the bagels on the baking sheets, cover with tea towels and leave for 20 minutes. Bagels should grow puffy. Preheat oven to 500 F(or your oven's max temp.)

7. When the water is boiling, start poaching. Drop in a few bagels at a time. Boil for 1 minute, flipping once. Remove from water, place back on baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they're shiny and golden brown.

Makes 15 Bagels

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Don't let the long instructions scare you, this pizza dough is easy peasy and so good.  Make it once and you'll never go back to pre-made crusts or prepared dough again.  It's out of Nick Malgieri's Bake, which has loads of great recipes and foolproof instructions. 

Use whatever toppings you like, just don't overdo it or it will be a mess to eat and you don't want to cover the flavour of the crust.  I seriously can't get over how good this is, I want to have pizza every night!

Thin-Crusted Pizza
from Bake by Nick Malgieri

5 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (about 110 F)
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

Stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk the yeast into the water and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Use a large rubber spatula to stir the liquid into the flour, continuously scraping the side of the bowl and folding up any unmixed flour from the bottom of the bowl.
Once most of the flour is moistened, repeatedly slide the spatula between the side of the bowl and the dough and fold the dough over on itself to make it smoother.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Scrap risen dough onto floured work surface.  Fold it over on itself several times to make it smoother.  Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into equal pieces.  Fold sides of each piece of dough into the top center to round it.  Flip pieces over so that smooth sides are facing up.
Generously flour each piece and wrap them individually in plastic.  They can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
About 20 min before forming and baking pizzas, set rack in lowest level of oven and preheat to oven's highest setting, at least 550 F.
Use 2 more tablespoons of oil to grease bottom and sides of pan and unwrap dough onto it.  Turn dough over so top is oiled too and press with fingers of both hands to stretch the dough to fill the pan.
Add toppings, drizzle with remaining oil.  Bake pizza until toppings are bubbling and lightly browned and bottom is well baked through, about 10 minutes.  After about 5 minutes use a metal spatula to lift crust to see if bottom is colouring.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Apple Cake with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Frosting

My lame picture doesn't do this wonderful cake justice.

We had friends over for dinner last weekend, and as anyone knows company coming means baking.  Well, any weekend = baking, but I usually make cake when we're having guests.  I ADORE cake.  I love making it, love icing it, love eating it.  Cakes are beautiful and delicious and remind me of being a kid when I wanted cake all the time but rarely got it.  Well now I can make it whenever I want, but Mike and I can only eat so much before feeling ill.

Back to the cake.  This cake is simply delightful.  The actual cake is moist and fluffy, full of vanilla and apple flavours.  The icing is omg divine.  Not too sweet it's perfect with this sugary cake.  It's pretty filling, so don't make this unless you have a few people to share it with.

Apple Cake with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Frosting
from Magnolia Bakery

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temp
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped, peeled, crisp tart apples

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper (I used parchment)
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, on med speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla.  With each addition, beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides making sure ingredients are well blended.  Stir in apples.
Divide the batter in pans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (make sure to keep a close eye on the cake, mine took almost 60 minutes)
Let the layers cool in pans for 1 hour.  Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
When the cake has cooled, time to frost!

1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, on med speed of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to thicken before using.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

There always seem to be overripe bananas in our house, and I usually make my Mom's delicious banana bread.  But with my plethora of new cookbooks I wanted to try something a little different today, so I went for Clinton Street Baking Co.'s Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins.  The recipe is a nice size, it says it makes 10 muffins but it made 12 for me, so I didn't need to worry about mucking up the ingredients (which I often do) when halving recipes.

The best part?  The streusel, or crumb topping.  I seriously heart streusel.  When my Mom used to bake cakes with it I would sneak into the kitchen to pick bits off, leaving the cake behind.  The muffin itself is nice and moist, with great banana flavour.  And the chocolate chips aren't half bad either, just remember to use a good quality chocolate.  Guittard is my favourite.  I was a little dubious about the large pieces of banana, but they seems to melt into the batter and all was well. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Clinton Street Baking Co.
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chunks (52%-62% cacao; chips can be substituted)
2 perfectly ripe to overripe medium-size bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks
10 tablespoons Crumb Mix (see below)

Crumb Mix
Makes 1½ cups, enough for 2-3 batches of muffins
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ stick of unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the dry ingredients with the butter until the mixture is pea size. Keep the crumb mix in a cool place until you're ready to use it.  The mix can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups.

In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Sift the remaining dry ingredients together into a bowl.

Add the egg to the butter mixture and blend until combined.  Add ¼ cup of the sour cream to the butter mixture, then half of the ingredients, mixing and repeating with the remaining sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until the batter is combined. Be sure to end with the dry ingredients.

Fold in the chocolate chips and bananas until evenly mixed.  Spoon the batter into muffin tins, leaving room on the top for the Crumb Mix.  Spinkle one tablespoon of crumb topping on each muffin.  Bake for 25 to 33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool for at least 10 minutes for best release of muffins from their tins (if not using paper liners).

Linked to: sweets for Saturday #1

Rustic Apple Streusel Pie

This is my first pie ever from scratch, and damn was it good if I do say so myself.  Mike said so too.

Anyways, this is another one from Sarabeth Levine's cookbook.  I love Sarabeth.  Not only did she reply to my tweet which I think is really nice, but her cookbook is fantastic.  Her instructions are very detailed and there are lots of pictures to help you with your technique.  If you are looking to try some more challenging recipes but are a little hesitant this is the book for you.  This recipe and many others are on her website.

The pie dough is not the flaky kind, but a more dense and tender crust.  The apple filling was lightly spiced and pleasantly sweet.  And the streusel, mmmm, I love me some streusel.  I served it with some vanilla ice cream and it was simply delightful.

I did try to halve the pie dough recipe which I should know myself well enough by now to know that I shouldn't do this.  Something got lost in translation and my pie dough wasn't coming together so I had to add milk until it did.  Next time I'll just make the full recipe and freeze half the dough.  I mean who are we kidding, this isn't the last time I'm going to make pie.

Rustic Apple Streusel Pie
from Sarabeth's Bakery From My Hands To Yours

Makes Two 9-inch single-crust pies, one double-crust pie, or six individual deep-dish pies. You will be using 1/2 recipe to make this pie.
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1/3 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at high speed until the butter is smooth, about two minutes. With the mixer running, slowly dribble in the milk, occasionally stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula. The butter mixture should be fluffy, smooth, and shiny, like a butter cream frosting.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl. With the mixer speed on low, gradually add the flour mixture and incorporate just until the dough forms a mass on the paddle and the sides of the bowl are clean. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times until it is smooth and supple. Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into a disk, about one-inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap.
3. Refrigerate until chilled but not hard, 30 minutes to an hour. (The dough can be refrigerated up to one day, but it will be very hard, and should stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling out. The dough can also be frozen, double wrapped in plastic, for up to two weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.)
BAKER'S NOTE: Be sure to slice the apples thin so that they cook in the amount.of time needed to bake the crust — this isn’t a chunky filling. • Peel the apples, one at a time. Stand an apple on the work surface. Using a large knife, cut each apple in half. Place each half, flat side down, and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Now trim the core of each slice. You will have perfect half-moons, without the ugly hole from the corer.
1/2 recipe Tender Pie Dough (see above)
Apple Filling
4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and trimmed (See Baker's Note)
2/3 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Seeds from 3/4 vanilla bean or 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, well beaten with a hand blender.
Streusel (see below)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. To make the filling, gently toss the apples, sugar, flour, maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium bowl until well combined.
3. Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap the dough and rap the entire circumference around its edge on the work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll out into a 15-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, centering it in the pan, and let the excess dough hang over the sides. Heap the apples in the crust, mounding them high in the center. Bring up the edges of the dough, pleating the dough as needed around the circumference of the dish — the center of the filling will be visible. Brush the exposed crust with the egg. Place the streusel over the exposed filling to cover it, then sprinkle any remaining streusel over the crust.
4. Place the pie on the half-sheet pan. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and any juices that escape are thick, about 1 hour. If the crust is browning too quickly, tent it with parchment paper. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the flour, superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir the melted butter and vanilla together in another small bowl. Gradually stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture, just until evenly moistened (you may not need all of the butter). Squeeze the mixture in your hands until thoroughly combined. Crumble the mixture in the bowl to make fine crumbs with some small lumps.

Milk Chocolate Brownies

This recipe is from the famous Fat Witch Bakery in NYC, and I found it via the Dallas Duo Bakes blog (they always have loads of tasty recipes).  I've made their snow witch white chocolate brownies before and they were delightful, so I had high hopes for these.  I adore rich dark chocolate brownies, but Mike is more of a milk chocolate kind of guy so I figured these brownies were right up his alley.

The recipe is super fast and easy to make.  Brownies are probably one of the only things I make without my beloved stand mixer, and it's kind of fun to mix things by hand once in a while.  I used Guittard for all the chocolate the recipe called for (yes I am a chocolate snob).  The final verdict?  While they looked gloriously chocolatey these weren't my favourite.  I definitely prefer a deep dark intense chocolate flavour which these brownies lacked.  The texture was nice and fudgy, just how I like them.  Surprisingly Mike wasn't a huge fan either, I guess he likes dark chocolate more than he thought!

Milk Chocolate Brownies

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped to same-sized pieces
1/2 cup milk chocolate, coarsely chopped to same-sized pieces
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (we didn't have chips, so we chopped a milk chocolate bar)

1.  Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter.  Dust with flour and tap out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Melt the butter and the coarsely chopped milk and unsweetened chocolates in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
3.  Cream the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue mixing until well combined.
4.  Measure the flour and salt and then sift together into the batter.  Mix gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.  Stir in the milk chocolate chips by hand.
5.  Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.
6.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Cut just before serving.

Yield:  12 to 16 brownies

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cranberry Scones

Sarabeth's cookbook seems to be my favourite these days, here's another one from From My Hands To Yours
I was hosting a playdate today, and what kind of amateur baker would I be if I didn't have some freshly baked goods ready for my guests?  ;)  Hah, I will literally take any excuse to bake, and company coming over is the best excuse I know of.  
These scones are super easy and quick to make up.  I used the mixer option which made these take no time at all.  The original recipe calls for currants but I only had cranberries on hand, and they added a nice sweetness.  The scones are actually not very sweet, with only 2 tablespoons of sugar in the entire recipe.  I'm used to sweeter scones, but these were great, moist and flaky, and perfect with some butter and strawberry jam.  

Cranberry Scones
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs, chilled
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup dried currants
1 large egg, well beaten with a hand blender, for glazing
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. TO MAKE THE DOUGH BY HAND: Whisk the milk and 2 eggs together in a small bowl; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix quickly to coat the butter with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour, scraping the butter off the blender as needed, until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs with some pea-size pieces of butter. Mix in the currants. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the milk mixture and mix just until the dough clumps together.
TO USE A MIXER: Whisk the milk and 2 eggs together in a small bowl; set aside. Sift the dry ingredients together into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Add the butter. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks mealy with some pea-size bits of butter. Mix in the currants. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the milk mixture, mixing just until the dough barely comes together.
3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour on top. Knead the dough a few times, just until it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Do not overwork the dough. The surface will be floured, but the inside of the dough should remain on the wet side. Gently roll out the dough into a ¾-inch-thick round.
4. Using a 2 ½-inch fluted biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts, cut out the scones (cut straight down and do not twist the cutter) and place 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared half-sheet pan. To get the most biscuits out of the dough, cut out the scones close together in concentric circles. Gather up the dough scraps, knead very lightly, and repeat to cut out more scones. You should get two scones from the second batch of scraps. Brush the tops of the scones lightly with the beaten egg, being sure not to let the egg drip down the sides (which would inhibit a good rise).
5. Place the scones in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 400°F. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, then serve warm or cool completely.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Cookies

I have been making these cookies on a regular basis for a while, and even more now that my toddler flat out refuses to eat anything that resembles a vegetable.  You can use pureed pumpkin or any pureed squash in place of the sweet potatoes.  These cookies are quite cake-like, but nice and soft and perfect for kids. This makes quite the batch of cookies so you may want to either half the recipe or freeze them since they don't keep for more than about three days.

Sweet Potato Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup sweet potato puree
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and mix until well combined.  Stir in the sweet potato until combined.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Stir in oats and raisins. 
 Drop teaspoon-size drops of cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes

Linked to Seasonal Sunday

Friday, January 14, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

I love biscuits.  The best biscuits I have ever had were from the Flying Biscuit in Atlanta.  Flaky, moist, buttery, omg I loved that place.  I don't know why I was under the mistaken impression that biscuits were difficult to make, they're seriously so easy.  Biscuits are such a great addition to so many meals, last night I made these to compliment leftover soup.

This recipe is from Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook, it's fantastically easy and produces light and fluffy biscuits with a glorious buttery flavour.  As Sarabeth explains, the key to a good biscuit is to minimize handling.  I was very careful to follow her instructions to the letter.  Mine were not as pretty as her's but hey, it's my first try at biscuits so give me a break.

The biscuits even tasted great the next day, I find most pre-made biscuits are more like hockey puck if not eaten immediately.  Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about these, I think I'll make more for breakfast tomorrow!

Buttermilk Biscuits
from Sarabeth's Bakery

Yield: 16 biscuits
  • 3 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Add the butter. Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the buttermilk, mixing just until the dough barely comes together.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out a little more than ¾ inch thick. Using a 2 ¼-inch fluted biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts, cut out the biscuits and place 1 inch apart on the pan. Gently press the scraps together (do not overhandle the dough). Repeat rolling and cutting.
Bake until the biscuits are well risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or way. To reheat the biscuits, wrap them in aluminum foil in bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walnut Raisin Chocolate Chip Oat Bran Cookies

Well that's a mouthful isn't it?  In staying true to my resolution, my baking during the week must be somewhat healthy, and these fit the bill.  They're not low in fat if that's what you're looking for, but they're full of good things like raisins, oat bran, whole wheat flour, walnuts, and dark chocolate.  Yum!
These cookies are nice and soft, satisfying, and perfect for an afternoon snack. 

Walnut Raisin Chocolate Chip Oat Bran Cookies

 2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup ground walnuts (I used my hand food grinder, don't grind to a powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, oat bran, baking soda, and salt.  In a stand mixer fitting with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs one at a time, combining thoroughly.  Add vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula and mix until combined.

Stir in ground walnuts, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and raisins.  Using an ice cream scoop drop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper approximately 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes, cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clinton St. Baking Co. Pancakes

In a previous post I had mentioned that Martha's buttermilk pancakes were my favourite breakfast recipe.  Well move over Martha, you have been replaced by Neil Kleinberg of Clinton St Baking Company in NYC.  My lovely husband bought me several cookbooks for Christmas, one of which was the Clinton St Baking Company cookbook.  Their pancake chapter boldly declares "The best in New York".  So of course I had to try them.  Only having been to NYC once I'm certainly no expert on the best pancakes, but I can tell you these are the best I have ever eaten, in a restaurant or otherwise.

The secret is surely the whipped eggs whites which are folded into the slightly lumpy batter.  These pancakes cooked up like little clouds, just perfect.  The flavour is more than just a plain pancake, they're absolutely delicious.  We had them with with maple syrup, but they are so good you could eat them plain.  They're definitely a little more work than most pancake recipes, but so worth it.  The recipe also halves easily if you're only making them for a few people.  I can't wait to add some blueberries next time.

Neil's Pancakes 
from Clinton St Baking Company


Makes 18 to 20 3-inch pancakes
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 teaspoons unmelted for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries or sliced bananas and 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting (optional)


  1. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Whisk yolk mixture into flour mixture until just combined; batter will be slightly lumpy.
  3. Place egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or whisk by hand, until medium peaks form. Gently mix half the egg whites into batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in remaining whites. The egg whites should not be fully incorporated into the batter.
  4. Heat a griddle until hot, about 350 to 375 degrees. Add remaining unmelted butter to hot griddle. Add 1/4 cup pancake batter and let set. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon blueberries or sliced bananas and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts, if using, over pancakes. When bubbles begin to form, lift pancake; if golden brown, turn. Cook until golden brown on remaining side.
  5. Transfer cooked pancake to a plate and keep warm. Repeat process with remaining batter, fruit, and nuts. Garnish with confectioners' sugar for blueberry pancakes and cinnamon sugar for banana-walnut.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have previously twice declared that I have found the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, and yet I keep trying new recipes.  My dear sis bought me David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert for Christmas, and after drooling over almost every recipe in the book I settled on giving his chocolate chip cookies a try.

The recipe calls for refrigerating the dough for at least 24 hours, which was a bit of a challenge for me since when the mood to bake strikes, the mood to eat usually does as well.  Of course I had to nibble on the dough a bit, but I managed to wait the full 24 hours, and not a minute longer.

Best thing about this recipe?  So. Much. Chocolate.  I used Valhrona 71% chocolate bars which is one of my favourite dark chocolates.  Very rich and has a super strong cocoa flavour.  I wanted to be true to the recipe and use dark chocolate chunks, but Mike prefers milk so I split the dough and made half with Guittard's milk chocolate chips.  Both versions were to die for, the cookie is super chewy with an almost caramel-like flavour to the dough. 

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (215 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (about 225 g) nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, or macadamia nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 14 ounces (400 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/2- to 1-inch (1.5- to 3-cm) chunks or 3 cups (340 g) chocolate drops
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. 
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed just until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture followed by the nuts and chocolate chunks.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters. Shape each quarter into a log about 9 inches (23 cm) long. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, preferably for 24 hours.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Slice the logs into disks 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick and place the disks 3 inches (8 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets. If the nuts or chips crumble out, simply push them back in.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are very lightly browned in the centers, about 10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

One of my New Year's resolutions was to only bake sweets once a week, but who am I kidding.  I love to bake, I love sweets, I cannot change who I am.  So I decided to try and adapt some of my favourite recipes to be a little healthier. 

I made Tartine's pumpkin tea cake into cupcakes for our holiday party, and they were delicious, so I figured why not healthy them up a bit and make them into muffins.  Since I'm not a baker by trade I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to making up my own recipes so I go for the easy substitutions and additions: I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, cut out some of the sugar, and added one cup of walnuts.  I wouldn't say they're necessarily healthy since they have quite a bit of oil and sugar in them still.

They turned out really tasty, very moist and spicy, with a nice crunchy top.  I actually tried some out in my whoopie pie pan to make muffin tops but the baby had nap issues halfway through baking so I had to take them out and put them back in later.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Tartine's Pumpkin Tea Cake

1 2/3 cup of white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree
1 cup of vegetable oil (sunflower, canola or safflower)
1 cup of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line muffin pan with muffins tins or grease
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a mixing bowl and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the pumpkin purée, oil, sugar, and salt on medium speed or by hand until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds to make a smooth batter.  Stir in walnuts.

Divide into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle each muffin evenly with the sugar. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Linked to: Seasonal Sunday

Muffin on FoodistaMuffin

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tartine's Chocolate Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

I made these a few months ago and was reminded how good they were by our recent trip to Tartine.  If you ever go to San Francisco, you MUST visit Tartine.  It is hands down the best bakery I have ever been to, everything I've tried is just perfect, just how it should be.  My sister bought one of their chocolate oatmeal walnut cookies, which I hadn't tried before making, and mine were an exact replica.  Yay!

Mike didn't care for them too much since they are rather crunchy, but they are full of flavour and lovely rich tasting chocolate.  This is not a cookie that you want to use cheap chocolate chips with (no cookie is!).  I used Guittard dark chocolate chips rather than bittersweet chunks because I'm lazy and always have them in the pantry.  Note that this recipe makes a rather large batch of cookies, so you may want to halve it. 

Tartine's Chocolate-Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped roughly)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped roughly

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
2. Coarsely chop the chocolate and chill in the freezer until needed
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda and oats.
4. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter on med-high until light and creamy.  Slowly add the sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
5. Add molasses, beating until well incorporated, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the milk, salt and vanilla.
6. Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, beating on low speed until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts with spatula.
7. Have ready a small bowl of water.  Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  An ice-cream scoop works well.  Dip your fingers into the water and press out each scoop into a thin, flat 3 inch circle.
8. Bake until the edges of cookies are lightly browned but centers remain pale, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vanilla Vanilla Macarons

In case you haven't heard, macarons are the new cupcakes.  And I'm not talking about the coconut chocolate confections known as macaroons.  Macarons are light airy French pastries that are becoming very popular in bakeries around the world.

Mike and I tried to make pistacio macarons from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess a few years ago and failed miserably.  Recently I have notieced macaron recipes popping up all over the Internet and have been wanting to give them another try.  Then my sister, lover of all things Parisian, mentioned that she wanted to make them as well.  Since she was coming here for Christmas I found a lovely little book called I heart Macarons by Hisako Ogita and bought it for her.

We decided to make our first macaron attempt a team effort since while there aren't a lot of ingredients the technique is pretty detailed and I didn't want a repeat of my earlier failure.  So, if I do say so myself they turned out quite lovely!  According to the book if the macaron doesn't have a pied or foot (pleatlike frills on the bottom of each) "the pastry cannot be called a macaron."  Okay.  And ours do!  Hah, my sister went to check on them mid-way through baking and rushed in exclaiming, "they have a foot!  They have a foot!".

Like I said, the technique that Ogita explains is very specific, down to numbering the amount of times you need to "macronanage" the batter.  And to her credit, it worked like a charm.  We used a vanilla buttercream from The Food Network that was super tasty, but halve the recipe since you really don't need much for each macaron. 

Vanilla Macarons from I Heart Macarons

2/3 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temp
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

Make the macarons:
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Draw 1-inch circles on the paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.  This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter
2. In a food processor, process the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl twice.  Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Very gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and stir lightly.
4. Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and mix it in a light circular motion. Press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Repeat this motion about 15 times (no more, no less). When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with the spatula, it is ready to be piped.
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 minutes. The batter circles should not stick to your finger when you touch them. If they do, let them dry a little longer.
6. Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons for 15-18 minutes, until slightly crisp (they will crisp more upon cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Easy Vanilla Meringue Buttercream from
  • 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently and constantly until egg whites are hot (about 140 degrees) and sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter and continue beating until buttercream is smooth and spreadable. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 5 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature and beat smooth by machine. Beat in vanilla, a little at a time, and continue beating until buttercream is smooth, about 2 minutes longer (always flavor buttercream immediately before using it).

Assemble the macarons:
11. Scrape the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a .4 inch plain tip (about the same size as you used to pipe the macarons). Pipe a grape-sized dollop of buttercream onto the underside of a macaron. Gently press the underside of another macaron against the buttercream until it spreads almost to the edge. Repeat with the remaining macarons and buttercream. Store the macarons in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 5 days. 


Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have made this chocolate chip cookie recipe from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook several times before, but the recipe is quite small and they seem to disappear before I can get a picture of them.  Anyways, these are my favourite chocolate chip cookies I have made.  They are chewy and have a lovely vanilla flavour.  We tend to use milk chocolate chips more often then dark, but both are good depending what you're in the mood for.  I also doubled the chocolate chips to 1 cup, I mean come on, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips?

Magnolia Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies

11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup (11/3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, and the salt.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and the vanilla and mix well.  Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop rounded teaspoonfuls on to ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 2-3 Dozen Cookies

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