Friday, August 28, 2009

Cranberry Scones

It is Dining For Women time which equals pot luck. This month's theme was breakfast food. When you think breakfast, who doesn't think scones? Right? : ) I found this scone recipe online on Martha Stewart's website. I had everything to make them except the half and half. So scones it was... Enjoy!


2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup (plus 1 tablespoon) half and half
1/2 cup halved cranberries, drained on paper towels

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, baing powder, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 2/3 cup half and half until just moistened. Gently fold in cranberries.

2. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently, 5 to 10 times. Pat into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges; place on a baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon half-and-half, sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Overall, I think this recipe could use some work. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5. The scones aren't the right density. This may be secondary to my inability to cut butter into flour or from composition of the recipe. Next time I make these though, I am going to do some research on how to get scones to turn out just right. Despite all of my complaining, they still tasted good though and that's what is really important right?

Morning Glory Muffin Bread

Last week was crazy busy. I was working on a paper for a professor and trying to put together my application for residency. In the midst of the craziness, I still found time one morning to make this bread. This particular bread recipe I found in the March 2009 Southern Living Magazine. This was my second time to make Morning Glory Muffin Bread. My first time to make this bread was in the spring of this past year. The bread was quite a hit in the spring amongst one of my neighbors. She particularly liked the moistness of the bread as well as the pineapple and golden raisins. Anyways, I decided last week that I wanted to give little loaves of this bread away to one of my professors that helped me so much in the residency application process to say thanks. Since it was well liked in the spring, I thought it would be a safe bet.

1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8-oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 large carrots, finely grated (1 cup)
1 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Bake pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool completely on a wire rack. (about 15 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
3. Whisk together sugar, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; fold in crushed pineapple and carrots. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in toasted pecans and raisins. Spoon into 2 greased and floured 8- x4- inch loaf pans.
4. Bake at 350 for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely, about 50 minutes.

All in all, this was not my most successful baking adventure. The bread was undercooked. I managed somehow to overfill the pan in such a way that the outsides of the bread were brown and the inside was gooey. You can see in the picture above how the bread sinks in a little in the center. Alas, the first time I made it the bread was definitely better. Don't get me wrong, I will still definitely make this bread again. It is a 4.5 out of 5 star bread in my book. I loved the crushed pineapple and golden raisin combination. It is a pleasant surprise to the unaware eater. However, next time I will be more careful while filling the bread pan to not overfill.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Surprise Cookie

The dessert of the week is the Surprise Cookie from Martha Stewart's Cookie book. I baked the cookies to specifically take to the Pain Train softball game this past week. As the former Pain Train captain, I felt it was my duty to support the team I create every year. Let's hear it! Pain Train! Woo woooooo!!!

for the cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
About 15 marshmallows, halved crosswise

for the frosting:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Make cookies: Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
2. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium high-speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until combined.
3. Using a 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately press a marshmallow half on top of each cookie. Bake until marshmallows begin to melt, about 2 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
4. Make frosting: Put confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Melt butter with the cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add butter mixture to the confectioners' sugar. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
5. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting on top of each cookie to cover marshmallow. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Overall the cookies were good. I loved the marshmallow on the inside and next time I make them, I will consider adding more marshmallow. In addition, I need to make sure I have enough powdered sugar next time. This time I just halved the icing recipe which meant I ran out of icing before I was done icing the cookies. I give these cookies 4 out of 5 stars and will make them again someday.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Carrot Cake

Do you ever make a dessert just because you feel like it? This is exactly what I did today. I had no special occasion or event to go, but I felt like creating Carrot I did. This Carrot Cake recipe comes to you from William Sonoma's Cakes Book. I had most of the ingredients for it and I recently bought 8 inch circular pans to make cakes in that I have been dying to break in. Prior to this, I have made solely square/ circular layer cakes that were uneven. This is my first attempt at a real layer cake with equal layers. The William Sonoma Cake Book is fairly explicit on how to create the perfect cake. Hopefully I will be able to follow the explicit directions it gives and be able to create a masterpiece.


-> For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 can crushed pineapple in its own juice drained
1 cup finely chopped walnuts ( I used pecans instead)*

->For the cream cheese frosting
1/2 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar

->For the topping
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I used pecans instead)*

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter two 9 inch round layer cake pans. Line the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper, sprinkle it lightly with flour and then tap out excess flour.

2) Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and slat through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer with the twin beater. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it thickens and the color lightens slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly pour in the oil, mixing just until blending, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix just until no white streaks are visible. Add the carrots, pineapple and finely chopped walnuts and mix until evenly distributed, 1-2 minutes.

3) Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly and lightly smoothing the tops. Bake until the tops look evenly browned, feel firm to the touch and a thin skewer toothpick inserted comes out dry, 30-35 minutes. Using pot holders, transfer the cakes to wire racks and let cool for 20 minutes. Working with one pan at a time, run a thin knife along the inside of the pan. Invert a wire rack on the pan and invert together. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Invert another wire rack on the cake and invert the racks together, so the cake is top side up. Lift off the top rack. Let the cake cook completely on the rack, about 45 minutes. Repeat with the second cake layer.

4) Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer or twin beaters on a handheld mixer to mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract on the medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the confectioner's sugar until smooth. Transfer 1 cake layer to a plate. Using an icing spatula, spread about one-half the frosting evenly over the cake. Center the second layer on top. Wipe the spatula clean, then spread about 1/4 the frosting in a thin layer on the top and sides of the cake. Wipe the spatula clean again ad spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the top and sides of the cake. Top the cake with coarsely chopped walnuts.

Overall, I thought this cake turned out great. The main thing I would change is the icing process of the cake. I still need to work on presentations of cakes. I needed to wait a little longer prior to icing this cake for one and secondly, I could probably use a better tool other than a plain knife to ice it with. I will definitely make this cake again. It gets 5 out of 5 stars.