Thursday, January 21, 2016

Molten Chocolate Cake for one!

Have any of you watched The Great British Bake Off? I had no idea there were multiple seasons of it, but the latest one is on Netflix and it's lovely. Very soothing way to unwind after a day at work. I love the cheery cut scenes of sheep and rolling countryside, the pastel KitchenAid mixers, and the normalcy of the contestants. They're not professional chefs, they don't have over the top, made for tv personalities. They seem like friends and neighbors. 

Plus, the show makes me yearn for sugar. You don't even know the depths of my cake need yesterday around 7:30 pm. Thankfully, Joy the Baker came to my rescue again with her recipe for an individual molten chocolate cakes. A real one, not a desperate and gummy microwave one. In 15 minutes or less you can have your own gooey piece of heaven. 

And though it was nowhere near as fancy as the self saucing puddings the British bakers were making, I was quite pleased with myself. 

Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake (from Joy the Baker Cookbook, Joy Wilson, 2012)

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips1
 large egg
4 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and place cookie sheet in oven as it heats up.  Generously flour and butter an 8-oz. (1 cup) ramekin.

2. Place butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe container (I used my glass measuring cup) and heat in microwave until both are melted, maybe 40 seconds.  Set aside to cool.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and sugar.  Pour chocolate mixture into bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Add salt and flour and mix until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepped ramekin and place in oven on top of cookie sheet.  Bake 7-10 minutes; the less time it's in the oven, the more oozy the middle will be.  (The top should be set, though, so you can turn it out onto a plate!)
5. Remove from oven and cool for 2 minutes.  Using pot holders, invert cake onto plate and devour.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chocolate Orange Scones

Just finished the first week of my new job. It's strange, working in an office. It's so quiet. I kind of miss the friendly cacophony of the bakery. I also have my own office, with a door and everything, so people in the cubicles would have to go out of there way to chat with me. It's just different. When I get home, I'm tired bone tired and feeling the need to drop into bed like I was before, but the last rays of the sun are disappearing and I feel sad that I didn't get to see any light. It's a give and take, I suppose.

The good news is I'm feeling the urge to bake again already. It's a good way to ingratiate myself with my new co-workers, if nothing else. I made scones today, which has become second nature after doing it for so long. It's a great experience when you can just look at and feel a dough and know if it's right, or what else it needs. I don't want to brag, but I make a pretty killer scone. You can ask around if you don't believe me. These are flavored with chocolate and orange zest, a classic combination.

I'm not going to post the recipe unless I get express permission from my former boss, but if I do, it'll be up here. I just wanted to share a little slice of life with you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lost Year

I don't know where to begin. This blog is unfamiliar to me, typing this is strange. It's like working a muscle that you haven't used in a while...the knowledge is there, but the ease and intuition with which you use it is gone. But it can come back. It will come back.

I have been gone a year. Longer than that, but I'll round down. So much has happened. Perhaps most importantly, at least in the context of this blog, is that I discovered what I want to do with my life. Or rather, what I don't.

I don't want to bake for a living. I tried, and I'm so glad I tried, but it is not the path for me. I don't regret the detour – if I never had taken it, I would have always wondered what could have been. But my body is tired, my mind is tired, and when I come home, the last thing I want to do is bake after I've been doing it for eight hours.

So the blog grew dusty in the corner. So many people expressed their sadness that I had stopped, and I felt guilty, like I was letting people down. Also, surprise, because I didn't realize people cared that much. But I couldn't bring myself to come here when I knew my heart wasn't in it.

I'll be starting a new job in the new year, one that has nothing to do with baking. And I hope that sparks my passion again. It's still in me, lying dormant. That's my hope. I'm not sure what shape or direction this blog will take in the future, but I'm going to pour my heart into it. That's all I can do.

Thanks for sticking by me. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Working in a bakery has its perks, such as being able to eat all the imperfect treats, access really nice ingredients, and wear jeans and t-shirts everyday. But lately my body has been getting irritated with me. I have scoliosis, and while it hasn't ever acted up much in the past, spending all day on my feet, as well as bending over to lift large bags of flour and pulling things out of the oven makes my spine very upset.

No way I'm going to let my body limit my passions though. It just means I need to take better care of myself. More exercise to strengthen my spine. Better shoes (time for some ugly kitchen clogs...). And, if necessary, seeing a doctor. But I'm trying not to let myself be too concerned. 

Having days off to rest helps, even if I'm still baking at home! I've been making a decent amount of black bottom cupcakes recently. I'd never had them before, and they're crazy easy to make. No mixer required! Or frosting, since they've got a cheesecake center. Nom. The recipe I prefer is from a cookbook called Wintersweet, which I unfortunately returned to the library already, but David Leibovitz's recipe is pretty solid as well. 

Black Bottom Cupcakes 
from David Leibovitz
(Mine made like, 15 cupcakes. Dunno how you'd get 12 out of this)
For the filling
8 ounces regular or reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
For the cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Put in the freezer for like an hour. 
Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Daring Bakers! - Ensaimadas

Well, it's that time of year again, time to pack the car to bursting, lug refrigerators down seemingly endless hallways, buy boxes full of overpriced textbooks...oh wait, no it's not. It's quite possibly never going to be that time of year for me again. I'm not going back to school...I'm done. It doesn't really feel like summer is winding down for me because I don't have any of the experiences associated with end of summer happening right now. The transition from summer into fall just isn't that big of a deal anymore. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. 

I think...I might like it. There's no impending sense of seriousness looming over me. I'm enjoying myself immensely. I even went to the state fair for the first time, since I didn't have to think about packing and driving. 

Saw this terrifying figure there. Ugh. 

We'll see if my feelings change in the fall and I get all weepy and nostalgic. Anyway, my challenge for this month was either chimney cakes, which I do desperately want to make but I was afraid of setting my house on fire, or ensaimadas, which I also wanted to make, and seemed like less of a risk. I'll get you someday, chimney cake! Ensaimadas, I've decided, are the perfect breads. Soft, buttery, Douse 'em in powdered sugar or, if you're feeling the Filipino style, sprinkle with cheese. 


The August Daring Bakers' Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

2½ cups (10½ oz) (300 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoon instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1 large egg
½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
7 tablespoons (110 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) butter, softened
Confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting

If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar add to lukewarm water and set aside for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy. You can use the other yeast types directly with the flour
In a large bowl or bowl of kitchen aid mixer combine the sugar, egg and olive oil. Add flour, salt, and yeast. Knead for 6 minutes if using kitchen aid mixer or 10 minutes by hand, until you get a soft and pliable dough. Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl and covered with plastic wrap or covered with a cloth. Let rise for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.

Punch down dough and shape it into four pieces. Lightly oil the work place and place a ball of dough, using a rolling pin roll out the ball into a long thin rectangle about 12x4 inch (30x10 cm) piece. Divide your butter to 4 pieces. Place a butter portion on the rolled out dough and spread it into a thin layer. Take pieces of dough between your fingers and try to gently stretch the dough to be even thinner and larger about 16x7 inches (40 x18 cm). Roll the dough into a long tube, then coil it like a snail shell. Make sure to keep the coil loose so that there is space in between the layers, this will help the dough to rise.
Repeat for the other three dough balls and butter portions.
Place the snails onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly press the sides with your hand. Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let rise for 1 hour.

During the end of second rising, pre-heat oven to 180⁰C/350⁰F/Gas mark 4
Bake ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes. Watch them closely during the end of baking time. They should be golden brown in color.