Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whole Wheat Bread

This is the best go-to wheat bread ever.  Honestly- we'll make it and it's all gone within a few days, and that's pretty big for us.  Seeing as it's mainly just us three girls and mom and dad most of the time.  Usually we end up having it three times a day when we get it, then smother it in butter and dripping with honey.  (I know, all those carbs aren't good for you, blah, blah blah)  But hey.  It makes us happy. 

And it's not like we eat it just out of the pan.  We take it right out of the pan, let it cool a bit, and then stick it in the toaster.  That makes it healthier, right?  The toaster HAS to make stuff healthier.  You know, kinda like you burn stuff to burn all the stuff out of it.  So a nice, toasty, wonderful golden brown has to have at least some health benefits.... right? (hey. don't burst my bubble.) 

Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. instant yeast
Put the above ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix till combined.
Add the following....
2 sticks of softened butter
12 Tbs. honey

Heat 4 cups of water in microwave until about 120 degrees.  Add water to mixture in bowl.  Beat until combined.  Add up to 6 more cups of whole wheat flour and knead (switch to dough hook) for around 5 minutes.  

Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise in warm place about an hour. 

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide the dough in half.  Pat into largish ovals (about 8"x6"), and roll up tightly to form a loaf.  Place in a greased loaf pan, and pat down gently to fill pan.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Let rise for about 7 minutes.  Bake until lightly browned and the loaf registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center, about 40 minutes or longer.

If you want to change it up a bit, you can do half of the flour bread flour instead of whole wheat.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Washington Cream Pie

This is one of those cakes that you make, eat it all, and two weeks later you're craving it again.  There's just something about it that makes you want to stuff it all in your face.  I think I made it at least 4 times in one month.  It's that good. 

And the custard is simply my favorite- you can use it to fill cakes, lighten it with whipped cream and use it in a trifle, sandwich between cookies, or use it to fill cream puffs.  And another plus is it takes less than 10 minutes to make (okay, so maybe that's the real reason I love it so much).

And who calls a cake a pie?  It really is quite confusing.

The way I usually make this is make the white cake several days in advance and throw it in the freezer.  The custard I also usually make ahead, 1 day in advance.  That way, all I have to do is assemble it the day of.  And that way it tastes the freshest- it really is only good the day it is made.  So don't assemble it the day before.  

Washington Cream Pie
From Cooks Country
This pie is best the day it's made.


2 (8-inch) white cake rounds (see related recipe or use your own) (you'll notice the related recipe makes 3 layers, just eat the third one or freeze it for another time)
2/3 cup raspberry jam or preserves (I prefer seedless)
1 1/2 cups vanilla custard, chilled (see related recipe or use your own)
1 recipe Frosting (see related recipe or use your own)

To assemble: 
Slice each cake layer in half horizontally. Spread 1/3 cup jam over each bottom half and replace top half. Place 1 filled cake layer on cake serving platter. Spread custard in even layer over top. Place second filled cake layer on top of custard. Spread thin layer of chocolate icing over top and sides of cake. Chill until icing has set, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. Slice and serve.

White Layer Cake
(can be made 1 day ahead, or longer if you freeze it)

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, dust with flour, and tap pans to remove excess flour. Mix milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in 2-cup measuring cup.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl of electric mixer at low speed. Add butter and beat at low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
Divide batter evenly between three prepared cake pans and using rubber spatula, spread into even layer. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on upper middle and lower middle racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 21 to 25 minutes.
 Rest cakes in pans 3 minutes, then loosen from sides of pans with a knife. Invert onto large plate, reinvert onto wire racks. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Easy Custard
(can be made 1 day ahead)

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch table salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat cream, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in heavy saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until sugar begins to dissolve. Whisk in cornstarch until mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When cream mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened, about 1 minute. Immediately pour through fine mesh strainer into bowl, then whisk in butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.


3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup
8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

For the icing: In medium saucepan, cook cream, corn syrup, and chocolate over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until smooth. Transfer mixture to bowl and chill until thickened but still spreadable, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, chill mixture overnight until completely set. Let sit at room temperature until softened and spreadable, about 1 hour.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Grandma Bardole's Super Sugar Cookies

So.  These about these sugar cookies.  They're our go-to sugar cookie recipe, when you're so overloaded with chocolate and uber-rich desserts and stuff that's still left over from Christmas, still left to age in the fridge (please tell me I'm not the only one that does this).  It's almost like ushering in a premature spring- these cookies are light and lemony but still slightly buttery.  And the edges get all lovely and crispy while the middle's soft and yummy..... *sigh*  Let's just say they're really, really, really yummy.

You'll have to excuse the lack of pictures.  I was rather busy stuffing my face with them.  Sometimes it's the little things in life.    

Oh, and just in case you ask, I have no idea who Grandma Bardole is, for the record.  *shrugs*  But hey, she sure does know how to make sugar cookies.

Grandma Bardole's Super Sugar Cookies

1 c butter
5 c flour
1 c oil
2 t soda
2 c sugar
2 t cream of tarter
2 eggs
1 t salt
1 t lemon flavoring         
1 t vanilla

Cream butter, oil, & sugar.  Add eggs, flavoring, and vanilla & beat well with mixer.  Sift dry ingredients together & add to first mixture.  Roll into balls as big as walnuts.  Roll in sugar and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press to flatten and bake at 350, 10-12 minutes.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blueberry Bundt Cake

So here goes. Mobile blogging. *hears tons of gasps from all you peeps reading this* But what can I say, I enjoy taking pictures with my iPhone, and, quite honestly, I'm usually very pleased with the results, although they might not be quite the quality that I would get with a camera, at least I'm posting on my blog. So there. 

You know that huge, snowey storm that went through here in IL yesterday, and then made everyone stay home from work today?  That's why I made this cake. Not like I really felt like baking- I had a bad case of the couch potato virus (although, quite honestly, a few days before I actually was sick- that's the worst kind- feeling nasty and then feeling lazy and then just in general not wanting to cook in the kitchen). And then mom hollers from the other room that I should make this bundt cake that she found. So, I humored her (even though I really just wanted to return back to my couch and watch Dr. Who). And man, am I glad I did. You'd never think that a bundt cake could be so amazing. But it was. (And of course we all quoted My Big Fat Greek Wedding as I carried the cake into the kitchen). 

You can do what you want with it- the recipe said to let the cake cool for 3 hours. But who would want a perfectly delicious warm cake to go to waste?  (And FYI- ice cream only makes it better)

Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake
From Cook's Illustrated
Serves 12

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons low- or no-sugar-needed fruit pectin
Pinch salt
10 ounces (2 cups) fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoons juice

For the Cake:
 Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heavily spray 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with baking spray with flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine in third bowl.

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium and beat in half of eggs until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs, scraping down bowl after incorporating. Reduce speed to low and add one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape down bowl, add remaining flour mixture, and mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing filling (batter will inflate a bit).

For the Filling:
Whisk sugar, pectin, and salt together in small saucepan. Process blueberries in blender until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer 1/4 cup puree and lemon zest to saucepan with sugar mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Heat sugar-blueberry mixture over medium heat until just simmering, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar and pectin. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Add remaining puree and lemon juice to cooled mixture and whisk to combine. Let sit until slightly set, about 8 minutes.

Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Using back of spoon, create 1/2-inch-deep channel in center of batter. Spoon half of filling into channel. Using butter knife or small offset spatula, thoroughly swirl filling into batter (there should be no large pockets of filling remaining). Repeat swirling step with remaining batter and filling.

Bake until top is golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out with no crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto wire rack. Let cake cool for at least 3 hours before serving.