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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

Monthly Archives: June 2009

I was hesitant to make these cupcakes…well, actually anything that had the word “cake” in it.  Clearly, I’ve had a few disasters in the cake department, but still, I was determined to clear the slate, and rebuild my reputation as a cake-maker.  These cupcakes were so yummy, and apart from the pineapple flowers, they were pretty easy to make – I would definitely recommend them!

 

Hummingbird Cupcakes – Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

Makes 24 cupcakes.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with dried pineapple flowers, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

INGREDIENTS

Makes 3 cups.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Dried Pineapple Flowers

INGREDIENTS

Makes about 2 dozen.

2 large or 4 small pineapples, peeled

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Using a small melon baller, remove and discard pineapple “eyes.” Using a sharp knife, cut pineapple crosswise into very thin slices. Transfer slices to baking sheets. Bake until tops look dried, about 30 minutes. Flip slices; bake until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more. Pinch center of each pineapple slice to shape into a cone, and let cool in a clean egg carton to form flowers. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
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I’ve been dissatisfied with granola lately.  It seems that every type I buy has a flaw that I just can’t get over:  it’s either too sweet, too dry, doesn’t have enough “stuff” in it, or it’s just bad (in my opinion).  After complaining about the lack of a good granola for a decent amount of time, I realized that the best way to remedy this situation would be to make my own.  I used Martha Stewart’s recipe, and it was very good.

Homemade Granola – Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

Makes 8 cups.

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pecans, cherries, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine oil, honey, and sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle syrup over oat mixture; toss with a wooden spoon. Pour granola onto sheet pan and spread evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 25 minutes). Let granola cool completely on a wire rack. Break it into chunks and store in an airtight container.

*I added more of all of the fruits and nuts, and substituted the vegetable oil for butter (1 stick of unsalted butter)…all for personal preference.

By this point, you could say that I was more than a little frustrated; still, I knew that it was my duty, as the self-appointed baker of the family, to make miracles.  While I was “sleeping”, my parents took my sister out for “birthday breakfast”…little did my sister know, I had actually been awake for hours, on an intimate date with my personal cookbook collection (yes, I keep a select few in my bedroom).  The recipe that I decided on was not from one of my beloved cookbooks, but rather from an old issue of Bon Appétit, circa 1997, posted on Epicurious: Lattice-Topped Strawberry-Ruhbarb Pie.  I have to admit, I was extremely intimidated by this recipe…I’d never worked with rhubarb, nor had I  ever dreamed of making a lattice-topped pie crust.  Going with the whole idea of making miracles, I decided to just give it a try…nothing could be worse than my previous epic failure.  So, I ventured off to Plum Market, scouring the produce shelves for rhubarb (I hate to admit that I wasn’t completely sure of what it even looked like), and all of the other necessary ingredients.  I rushed home, whipped it together, end of story…yeah right.  This pie probably wasn’t as hard to make as it seemed while making it, but who knew there wouldn’t be any articles on “trimming” rhubarb…only vague blurbs.  And who knew that the pie crust would nearly fall apart while transferring it to the pie dish?  Bumps along the road aside, the pie turned out beautifully, in my very humble opinion.  It was so delicious, perfect for an early summer evening, and just what the birthday girl had wanted*.

*When we were out to dinner Tuesday night for my sister’s birthday, the waiter listed the dessert choices, strawberry rhubarb pie being one of them.  I didn’t actually know if this was something my sister liked, but thankfully that was the choice that appealed most to her.  We didn’t let her get it.

I had such good intentions.  I thought long and hard about what to make for my sister’s birthday…I came up with the PERFECT (or so I thought) cake: A Malted Milk Ball Cake (she used to love whoppers when we were younger).  So, I went out during a tornado watch to get the special pans, and the rest of the ingredients that I needed, all the while trying to conceal my plan, as well as my uber-excitement.  And then it began….flop, upon flop.  As soon as I took the golden cakes out of the oven, one of the three layers sunk a little…I didn’t think it was anything to worry about (I was really, really wrong).  While assembling the layers, I noticed that the cake was moving around a little bit.  I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, or the fact that it was around 12:45 AM; much to my astonishment, neither was the case.  Before my very eyes, I saw my beautiful cake collapse into a mess of milk chocolate ganache frosting and crumbled, malted-milk flavored cake.  Do not fear, however, as I have a few other tricks up my sleeve…or should I say pans in the oven…stay tuned!

I’ve finally returned to the fantastic world of baking.  I wanted to ease myself back in, so I started with a simple favorite…chocolate chip cookies.  While watching Whatever Martha, which featured Alexis Stewart’s famous chocolate chip cookies, I decided to try them myself.  I have four words: These cookies are delicious!  They’re very thin, very crispy, and the perfect balance of sweet and salty goodness.  As an added bonus, the recipe also makes SO many cookies.  Enjoy!

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