I had a lovely Thanksgiving at home with my family and Matt. Lots of shopping, not nearly enough studying, and way too much dessert. I brought four desserts to the event, including the Sans Rival cake I posted below. My favorite was the cheesecake. My mom was a big fan of the cranberry pie and her boyfriend kept getting up in the middle of the night to eat the pear pie. Here's the photos I snapped, while everyone was still full of breakfast.
I made this delicious cake for Thanksgiving. I wasn't planning to bake it, but then my step-mom asked me to bring something chocolate to Thanksgiving, so that was that.
Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog. The Bibingka cake was a little to crazy for my family, so the sans rival cake was a much better match.
This cake takes 10 eggs! The cake layers are meringue with ground cashews and cocoa folded in. The frosting is made from half of the left-over egg yolks and is an extremely rich French buttercream. It was my first time making butter cream in this way and it was difficult but ultimately worth the effort.
I don't know if I'll make this again, just because it was so labor intensive. But, it was a fun thing to bring for the holidays and everyone enjoyed it.
I promised to bring treats to my Tax Procedure course this week during our pre-Thanksgiving movie week. I made cupcakes, but they aren't very cute, so I felt the need to make something else. I was watching my friend's son, so I decided to make something easy that he would be able to participate in. He's only two, so he wasn't much help, but he did really like the color. He was also totally entranced with the oven window and watching them bake. So cute!
Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies
Red Velvet Cake Mix
1/3 C Oil
1 C White Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat eggs and oil together in a mixing bowl.
Add cake mix and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and uniform.
Stir in the white chocolate chips.
Measure out tablespoons of dough. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Allow to rest 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
I saw a belt like this on Pinterest ages ago and kept intending to make it. I love neckties and I love wide belts, so this was a must! This belt is so stupidly easy to make, I'm kind of embarrassed to even give the instructions.
You start with two neckties that are as close as possible to the same width and their widest. It would be best to test this out before buying them to make sure they line up. I prefer silk ties for all of my necktie crafting - if all ties cost the same amount at the thrift store, why not go for the nicer fabric?! Anyway, I glued the large ends together using fabric glue. To tie the belt, put it on front to back, wrap the ends around your front, and then tie in a knot.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to send all of the adults in the family a tin of cookies for Christmas. The ones I remember most were the ones she sent to my dad, these sugar twists. My grandma died back in 2002 after a long fight with emphysema. In 2007, I asked my grandfather to send me a couple of my grandma's cookie recipes. He sent me this one, but at that point, I wasn't a good enough baker to execute these cookies. I remember sitting in M's kitchen in Grinnell and rolling out the dough, but in the end, they ended up being too dense and they didn't have any layers.
This is in black and white because...uh, it's like a memory.
In the intervening years, I lost the recipe he sent me - I'm guessing it has to do with the approximately eight times I've had to move since then. I was scouring the internet trying to find the recipe, and I thought this looked close. I decided to make them, but I also added my own touches. I've also written instructions that are a little more clear than the original.
2 1/4 tsp Yeast
1/4 C Water (between 105 and 115 degrees Farenheit)
Stir yeast into warm water and allow to sit while you mix up the rest of the ingredients.
Combine flour and salt. Dice butter and work into the flour mixture.
Add in the eggs, sour cream, 1 tsp of vanilla, and yeast mixture. Mix until well combined and dough forms.
Mix the granulated sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla, and lemon emulsion together until the sugar appears uniform.
Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 375.
After refrigeration, spread 1/2 C of vanilla on a cutting board and roll out 1/2 of the dough. Place the remaining dough back in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out.
After the dough is rolled out into a large rectangle approximately 1/2" thick, place 1 TBSP of the vanilla sugar along the middle third of the dough. Fold the left and right thirds over one another. Then fold the dough into thirds again so that it is square. Roll out the dough back into the large rectangle. Spread another 1 TBSP of sugar down the middle section and refold back into a square. Roll back out. Add more sugar as needed throughout the rolling out process.
Cut the dough into strips and twirl them into desired shape. The middle cookie in the picture above was folded in half and then twisted. The other cookies were just twisted.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Baked on a lined baking sheet for 15-10 minutes until golden brown.
My grandma really loved coffee, but it's Coke Zero in this cup!
I've been in a really crafty mood lately, which is good, because Christmas is coming! I have yet to sort through my all of my craft supplies since my move back in August, so it's been kind of an adventure. I can't find a lot of things, but I'm rediscovering materials I forgot about! The fabric I used for this is from back when I lived in Ann Arbor, and I'm pretty sure it's from the Scrap Box.
This wreath probably cost me under $5. This is in part because the wreath is made from a pipe insulator. I picked up this idea off of Pinterest which linked to The Penny Parlor. THIS IDEA CHANGED MY LIFE. Lots of wreaths are in my future, I think. All you do is tape the ends together - I used packing tape, because I forgot to buy duct tape.
The wreath was made using this tutorial at Kelly Hicks Design, though I packed my ruffles more tightly together for a more robust look. Love it! This is probably going to be a Christmas present, but I do rather like it, so who know?!
October 12th was National Coming Out Day. The Journal was having a bake sale and I wanted to have an item that acknowledged the day. I baked these mini rainbow Bundt cakes, which aren't anything special in terms of taste (they're just made from white cake mix), but they're adorable!
The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!
The Daring Baker's Challenge will be a new monthly feature on my blog! This is my first month participating, and every month there will be a new challenge that I will post on the 27th of the month.
This bread is insanely complicated and I now understand why the Croatian grandma I saw in a YouTube video said she made them loaves in batches of twelve. I only made one loaf, which had a traditional walnut filling, and it was quite labor intensive. It is a yeast dough, which I tend to struggle with, but it actually came together quite easily. I had a harder time rolling the dough out thinly enough to get enough beautiful layers inside. The recipe suggested you roll the dough out on a bed sheet, which I did. Felt kind of weird, but it was quite effective.
This bread was really addictive and delicious. I thought, oh, this bead is just okay, but then I couldn't leave it alone. I am now trying to come up with some filling variations. I'd like to incorporate apple butter into my next one, as I have a fresh batch a friend made for me!
Earlier today, my friend Nate shared this story with me on Facebook: Cupcake Batterer Charged with Domestic Violence.
I assure you, there is no actual assault or battery in my life and I have never assaulted anyone with a baked good, despite the name of my blog.
They're from that Doughnuts book I showed you on Friday. They're really good.
French crullers are made from pate a choux, which is the cooked French dough that is the basis of creme puffs as well as many other pastries. I've never made it before, so that was it's own party. Then you pipe the dough onto parchment paper and fry the donuts one-by-one.
The glaze is really what made this. I have some orange blossom honey, and Alton Brown taught me that the type of flower gives the honey a subtle flavor of that flower, so the orange blossom honey tastes a little bit orange-y.
I am in a sugar coma right now. And I have to go to two meetings and finish my homework.
So, I might be addicted to making macarons. I also might have a problem with doing nothing but stare at them while they're baking and pray that they come out. When the first cookie sheet of these gave the slightest indication that they were getting feet, I felt like dancing. My macarons are working, my macarons are working!
These macarons have ground culinary lavender in them as well as some orange extract. Matt showed up with both of these items from an awesome market he went to in Atlanta while he was helping his brother move back in August. I have a pint of lavender and it cost just over two dollars. Now I just need to think of more lavender things to bake.
Lavender Macarons If you can actually pipe uniformly, this should make about 15 total macarons (30 shells)
3/4 C Almond Flour
1 C Powdered Sugar
2 Large Egg Whites
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/4 C Granulated Sugar
1 TBSP Culinary Lavender
1/2 tsp Orange Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
I'm still not going to include the directions for making the macarons because I'm so not confident in my strategy yet. But, for this recipe, I pureed the lavender in my food processor along with the almonds and powdered sugar.
3 TBSP Lemon Juice
3 TBSP Granulated Sugar
2 TBSP Butter
1 Large Egg
1/2 tsp Orange Extract
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium. Stir consistently with a whisk. Try to encourage the butter to melt - you can expedite this by cutting up the butter before putting it in the saucepan.
Cook until it the mixture starts to thicken and as you bring your whisk across the bottom of the saucepan lines in the curd remain visible.
Place in a container in the refrigerator and cover the surface with plastic wrap.
The yellow metal container is a vintage West End cake carrier. I thought maybe it was a reproduction because of the modern-looking "cake" decal, but it's not! Now I need to think of some more excuses to bake cakes.
The books is a book I had to have about doughnuts. I've made two kinds in the last two weeks - the pumpkin ones I shared with you and some chocolate ones that didn't really float my boat. I can't wait to try out some of these recipes!
Today I feel like a real baker. While I've definitely grown in my baking ability over the last three years, I still consider myself mostly a person who just follows the recipes and achieves results. These macarons are the first thing I've ever baked that required technique - lots of technique - and that actually came out.
Back in 2007, the Christmas before I graduated from high school, I asked my grandfather to send me a couple of my grandmother's recipes. I had this grand idea that I was going to make everyone's favorite cookies of hers and send them out. When she was alive, everyone always got a tin of their favorite cookies at Christmas. I did manage to bake a few of them, but in the wake of finals I didn't manage to send them. my mom discovered two or three tins of cookies somewhere during winter break and we all devoured them without ever putting them in the mail.
Anyway, one of my grandmother's cookies was a vanilla creation that required making a dough that I now know to be very similar to croissant dough. My cookies ended up being more like shortbread, with none of the wonderful flakiness I remembered. Technique fail.
Since then, I have baked a great amount more and definitely have a better grasp on how ingredients work together and such. I still haven't reattempted those particular cookies (have you seen the price of butter these days?!), but maybe it will happen this year.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have never actually had a macaron before. I've only seen them in real life one time in Des Moines. I had wanted to bake french macarons for a couple of years, but knew they were out of my league from all the blog posts I've seen on them. I didn't have a food processor and didn't know where to find almond flour near me. Since I snatched up the food processor late this past summer, I've had macarons on the brain.
Today seemed like a good day because it's finally cooled off here and I had nothing else I wanted to be doing - plenty to procrastinate on though, that's for sure. I've read a number of tutorials online about how to make macarons, but I couldn't find most of them today. I ended up trying to remember as much as I could from the past and following this tutorial. Yes, I microwaved my egg whites (in fact, I went a little long and a little bit cooked - eep!). No, I didn't use any food coloring. Yes, my powdered sugar had cornstarch in it. Yes, I used slivered almonds.
3/4 C Almond Flour
1 C Powdered Sugar
2 Large Egg Whites
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/4 C Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
In terms of technique, I'm really not good enough yet to give it, so check one of the awesome tutorial's that's out there. I will say that I found the hardest part to be piping the macarons out and only a handful of mine were appropriately sized and matchable to another half.
I filled these babies with some South Carolina peach jam that Matt brought me back from his vacation. Yum!
Today was the first University of Iowa football game of the season. I live very close to the stadium (though less close than I did for the past two years) so of course the tailgaters woke me up.
For me, football season means fall. It's fall now, damn it. I don't care that Iowa City felt like a tropical rainforest as recently as Thursday. It is fall and I am going to make pumpkin things.
Matt and I went to the store once the game had gotten going and Iowa was basically assured a win and I got what I was missing in order to make my very favorite pumpkin donuts. This recipe is one of the most popular on my blog and they are absolutely delicious. Important tip: get a candy thermometer that goes up to 400 degrees so you can make sure your oil stays at the correct temperature of 375.
I coated half of these donuts in cinnamon sugar and half of them in orange glaze. I can't decide which one I like better. Both are delicious.
Matt was also very excited when we were at the store because Sam Adams Oktoberfest was available. Fall! Fall things!
Also, we are puppysitting for my mom this week. Puppy makes it difficult to take photos because she wants to eat everything. But she is so frickin' cute.
Also, this weekend is another Saturday Show Off.
Go check out what other people created on this gorgeous faux fall day!
This Saturday, Kitty over at A Law Student's Journey suggested a Saturday Show-Off where you show off a recent project. This buffet was a Craiglist find. I sought it out because of my need to have a place to store my approximately 18 million snack sets and to put M's immense bar while he's staying here. Full disclosure - M has been collecting the items in this bar since he turned 21. He loves to have anything and everything on hand, just in case somebody wants it.
I stripped the buffet with some serious paint stripper, sanded it down, primed it, and spray painted it this sage green. I also changed the hardware out, as it looked very dated before. I'm not sure I love it, but for what I need it for, it works quite well.
As I've discussed before, I've recently become obsessed with vintage Pyrex. One of my favorite flea markets for Pyrex is on the other side of town from where I live. On my way home, I've driven past a very sketchy thrift store a couple of times. Last night, I was getting ready to meet my mom and was running a bit ahead of schedule, so I decided to stop. This thrift store is really, really sketchy. The ceiling was leaking and I think the place doubles as a Bingo hall? Anyway, I found this beauty, but it didn't have a tag on it. It turns out it was just $4.99! I wasn't sure it would work, because there was no place to test it out. I figured that a $5 donation to charity would be fine either way, but it does work! It's missing all the attachments except the main blade, but I don't mind. I am so excited to finally have a food processor to try out all the recipes I've sadly had to pass on because I didn't have one.
This night, sixty years ago, was the last time my grandmother ever saw her abusive husband outside of a courtroom. On this night, according to what various family members and news stories have told me, my grandmother's husband was beating her with his .38 caliber gun when her brother Chuck tried to intervene. All three of them lived in a small trailer in rural Iowa together, along with my aunt Bertie who was just an infant at the time. My grandmother was just nineteen years old and was far away from her home in northern Iowa and her brother was only twenty-four. On that night, in what was later characterized as a family argument, my grandmother's husband shot and killed her brother with that .38 caliber revolver, right there in their trailer.
There was a trial and the jury acquitted my grandmother's husband. She never saw him again. The news reports say that my grandmother planned to continue on with the divorce proceedings she initiated before the murder. My grandmother said in the new reports at the time that "it wasn't right to let [her husband] go."
Interestingly, my grandmother has never once discussed this incident with me. It's not because it's a secret, thought until I started digging, I knew knew her first husband's name or even the name of her brother who died. My grandmother first told my mother this story when shes started dating my father in 1975. My younger brother knows far more details than everyone else in my nuclear family. I have a lot of questions, now that I'm older and know more about the criminal justice system and domestic violence. I probably won't ask right now, though. It doesn't seem right to make her think about these painful memories given how the last year has gone.
Fifty-nine years ago, my grandmother married my grandfather. They had five more children, including my father and my grandfather adopted my aunt Bertie as well. This spring, my grandfather fell and hurt himself severely. Since then, his medical condition has been declining and he has been moved into a nursing home. My grandmother remains in her independent living apartment. For the first time in fifty-nine years, she spends her days without my grandfather. My grandmother can no longer drive due to her glaucoma, so she relies on others to take her to see my grandfather and to bring her the necessities. She spends many of her days alone in her apartment.
I've been hanging out with my grandmother a lot this summer because I know she's lonely and we have a good time together. When I was a child, these grandparents took care of me every day until I went to kindergarten. They watched me grow up and turn into the woman I am. My grandmother is also the best baker in the family and her recipes are a major source of inspiration.
What I didn't realize about my grandmother until my recent revelations about her life is what a bad ass she really is. She was practically a child herself when she tried to leave her abusive husband with their child in 1951. She went back home after her husband was acquitted of murder and found a new love for herself and her daughter. Besides that, she had six children with no anesthesia! My grandmother is a fighter who always had a sense of what is right and what she wanted. Even now, that remains true as she stubbornly stays in her apartment and maintains an unwavering hope that my grandfather will improve and be able to return to their home together. There are countless other examples of her deciding something and then making it so.
I love you, Grandma. You remind me that the most important things are worth the struggle. As they say, keep loving, keep fighting. You're awesome.
This weekend was great! I finished up a whole bunch of work for my journal this week and after my class for the legal clinic on Friday I was free, free, free! My friend Allison came to Iowa City to visit because she just moved back to the Midwest for graduate school. That was great, too!
On Saturday, I made this strawberry cake. The recipe is essentially this recipe from She Simmers, except I didn't make the cake from scratch, I doubled the filling recipe, and I put a frosting on top. I baked a white box cake in my 10" spring form pan and then split is in half. The filling is cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar, gelatin, and strawberry. I put the pink topping on because I am really bad at splitting and the top ended up breaking when I moved it. The topping is just margarine (I know, I know, but butter is expensive right now and I had a stick of margarine), pureed strawberries, and powdered sugar.
I also drank this beer over the weekend. It has the flavors of ruby red grapefruit and ginger. Was there ever a more perfect beer for me? I do not think so.
This cake is really, really good. But also intensely rich. Five of us didn't even manage to eat half of it. And now everyone is gone and I'm going to leave it with Matt. Although, I worry that if I leave it for him in his time of intense bar studying, he might now eat anything else. At least it has multiple food groups represented?
For the first week this summer, I did not have to go to Iowa City in the middle of the week. I cannot even describe to you how much more relaxed I felt because of this. Normally, I leave work on Tuesday night, hop on the Megabus, get to Iowa City about 7, eat dinner with friends, and then crash. On Wednesdays I do whatever remote work I can, meet with my professor who is advising my internship, and have my clinic class. At about 9 P.M., sometimes later because the bus is coming from Chicago, I get back on the Megabus and head home to Des Moines.
Due to my excess of free time and my general procrastination - what, there are write-on packets to finish scoring? - I've been going looking for more Pyrex. I admit, I love the hunt. Here are the most recent finds:
A solid blue divided casserole dish. I'm guessing this had a fancy lid at some point. I'm thinking it might go with a set of cinderella bowls I have in Iowa City, but I'm not sure. I think this will be a good piece for making freezer meals that I need to flash freeze into individual portions.
Crazy Daisy/Spring Blossom Butter Dish! I love butter dishes, and I actually didn't have one already.
Spring Blossom/Crazy Daisy Sugar and Creamer Set. These are kind of strange. They're meant to be used alongside the Corelle of the era. I like them and was especially excited to find that the lid was included.
These are three of the four bowls from the highly sought after primary colors mixing bowl set. From the research I've done online, these are the original set from the 1940's. Now, to find the missing green bowl. These were a steal, by the way, and even though I don't normally go for solid colors, I knew I had to snatch them up. I think I have a new secret place to find Pyrex. They even told me they are processing a bunch of estates right now full of housewares...I will definitely be back.
These are a couple of Pyrex casseroles I picked up. I have a larger pink gooseberry casserole, so I decided to go ahead and add this to the collection. I like the blue pattern, so it had to come home with me as well.
This weekend is the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines and Matt and I have VIP tickets, so we have an exciting weekend planned. Perhaps even some baking will actually occur. We shall see!
I spent the last weekend perusing garage sales and flea markets for some new Pyrex. I am kind of obsessed with it. This weekend, I acquired quite a few new pieces! The best part - all of this cost me only $35 total!
At one of the garage sales, the woman showed me her Pyrex collection. It took up the entirety of her built-in shelves in her living room. And she had just started collecting and had found all the pieces locally at what seemed to be very reasonable prices. Gives me hope!
On to the new Pyrex pieces!
Three of four Gooseberry pattern cinderella bowls - I actually ordered the 4th bowl off eBay today, because I am an addict and I can't stand an incomplete set.
Three casserole dishes. From bottom to top, the patterns are Snowflake Blue, Butterfly Gold 1, and the famous Butterprint.
These next two bowl sets are remarkably similar in color and pattern. Apparently they are confused frequently.
According to my research, these two bowls are part of a three bowl set of Crazy Daisy/Spring Blossom Green mixing bowls. I'm missing the middle bowl, which is a lighter yellow. I will find it...
This set is a set of cinderella mixing bowls in the Spring Blossom pattern. I am missing the second bowl, which is white with green flowers. I am now intent on finding it somewhere.
After I took these photos, a very sad thing occurred. Very sad, indeed...
This last set of bowls was unstable as I'd stacked them, and the top bowl slipped off. I couldn't catch it because I had the tower of three casseroles in hand. Sad times. So now I'm going to have to find both white bowls with green flowers.
Now I can't wait until next weekend, for more garage sales and opportunities for finding new pieces!
This is my entry for the very last Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge. The theme this month was "Fizzy." I have a bottle of my beloved Andre Spumante sitting around from the last time it was on sale at the grocery store, so I decided to make a champagne cupcake.
I've always been a fan of the peach bellini, so I decided to try to capture that flavor in a cupcake. I read online that traditional bellini's also incorporated raspberries for their color, and I had some fun raspberry sugar from a visit to Ann Arbor, so I decided to add that as a garnish and put a glaze of raspberry jam over the cupcakes before I frosted them. '
The cupcakes themselves are a variant of this recipe except that I reduced the champagne a bit and then added some peach juice in its place. I added a little bit of red and yellow food coloring to make the batter a peachy color. I also baked them a little bit less than they recommended - about 27 minutes.
I used Smucker's Rapsberry Spreadable Fruit for the glaze. I microwaved the jelly a bit and then dipped each cupcake into it. I let if dry before going on to frost them.
The frosting is a basic buttercream with champagne, peach preserves, and a bit of the raspberry spreadable fruit.
Now, on to the the challenge! The official rules are here and voting starts the 20th.
The winner of June’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
My friend Michael jokingly told me to bake him a peach pie for his birthday. I did it last night, though it's admittedly probably not my best work as it's made from pre-made pie crust and canned peaches. Still, my first real lattice crust looks pretty good. Also, I'm in Iowa City for the day and my camera's hanging out on my bed in Des Moines, so it's a phone photo.
This is the most complicated thing I've made in awhile. Before that, it was a a pepperoni sandwich that required cooking. This is not the summer of advanced culinary arts.