Tag Archives: Baking

Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake

And I am chipping right away at #3 on my 31 before 32, this time with Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake. While seemingly simple, I had a tough time with the recipe. Was it an off day? Was it the humidity? Am I not as good at this baking thing as I thought I was? Who knows, but this recipe was delicious and, after a bit of reflection, well worth the trouble.

Notes:

  • Boy howdy did I have a rough time with this recipe. First, I could not get the brown sugar to melt into the butter. I stirred and stirred, up-ed the heat, turned it back down, and in a desperate attempt – added more butter. Alas, it was all for naught, and I eventually just had to give it a “good enough” and cross my fingers. It 90% worked out. Most of the texture issues worked themselves out as the cake baked, but there was one small grainy patch left that I gently scrapped off before serving.
  • I also could not get the fruit to cooperate, I used nectarines instead of peaches because that fuzz on the outside makes me shudder. As I tried to pit the fruit, it refused to release the pit, and two of my nectarines turned to mush in the process. Even afterwards all I could do was squeeze fruit pieces off of the pit and use them for something else. So I guess I should go for slightly under ripe fruit next time?
  • The cook time was WAY off on this. I baked it for the recommended time plus some and finally took it out when it seemed like the sugar mixture on the edges was starting to burn. The middle was still not fully cooked. Next time I am going to bake it lower for longer. Maybe 325 for 50 minutes to an hour.
  • It is important to note, I do not have a cast iron skillet that is the right size for this recipe so I used a cake tin. Which might have contributed to the bake time issues. I’d still use it again, but I’d also be interested in a do-over with the recommended equipment.

 

 


Baking Adventures: Rosemary Cupcakes

After a very intense week, I was looking forward to this past weekend quite a bit. I was ready to disconnect for a bit and indulge in something creative. I decided to work on an idea I had a while back, which is coming up with interesting ways to spruce up gluten free cake mixes (there are some really good ones out there these days), sort of like the Cake Mix Doctor recipes, but a bit more pretentious sounding.  I also wanted to include fresh rosemary because I’ve tried in a few sweet applications, and I think it brings something unexpected to the flavor party.

 Just for funsies, I came up with two variations: a Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting and a Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting. I used the King Arthurs Yellow and Chocolate Cake Mixes as my bases, respectively. The Results:

Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting – Pretty good. I was a little worried when I tried the cake without the frosting that it was going to be to herbaceous, but the sweet and fruity from the blackberry frosting went a long way to even things out. I think it needed a tart element to really give things some depth. I’d made a blackberry filling for these, but I forgot to fill the cupcakes before I frosted them (Oops). I think it would have done the trick, though.

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting – A bit disappointing. The cake alone was almost perfect, but when paired with the whipped ganache, the subtle flavors of orange and rosemary were very much overshadowed by CHOCOLATE. I am still rolling this one around in my head; keep the cake and change the frosting? Or Keep the frosting and change up the cake? The frosting was a new 2 ingredient recipe I found online: equal parts chocolate and butter, melt together, allow to set up in the fridge and whip until light and airy. Rich, light and a little prone to melting, but as long as the weather is cool, I will be using it again.

Progress made, but no finished recipes quite yet. I’ll have to get back into the kitchen and give things another go. Although, considering how long it took to clean up the kitchen when I was done, it might be later rather than sooner 🙂

 


A Modern Twist on a Classic Favorite

As a kid, you quickly learn that most things are better with sprinkles: cookies, ice cream, and, of course, cupcakes. In the last year I’ve been paying more and more attention to how my bakes look as well as taste, and while I am still unwilling to compromise taste for style, I am very big on getting the most bang for your buck. To be honest, I hadn’t given sprinkles a fair shake. I assumed that the only things available were the same things I had grown up with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Fancy Sprinkles for the Modern Baker . What the what? Turns out all those crazy shape and color combos I’ve been impressed with on Instagram are available in easy color coordinate containers and bento boxes.

I am also a fan of the names of their combos; “Call Me Maybe” and “Purple Pony Party” are two of my favorites. I must admit I’m not quite to the place where I would subscribe to their monthly bento box, but there are a few projects that I have planned that would benefit greatly from some sprinkled embellishments.


I Made A Cake!!!!

Monday I got an email from my husband asking if I would be willing to make this birthday cake for one of his coworkers. My knee jerk reaction was “mmmmm, I don’t think so”, but then he told me it was a surprise birthday cake for the lady who had sweetly sent me my beloved “Baking the World a Better Place” kitchen sign. There was no way I could say “no” to something for the nice lady who gave me presents, right? So I told him I’d try. The rest of the conversation went like this: When did they need it? Wednesday. Next Wednesday? Nope, this Wednesday. Okay then, emergency run to the grocery store it is.

Here’s how things went down.

l1Tuesday night I baked three layers of triple chocolate cake, sandwiched chocolate chocolate chip buttercream between the inner layers, and dirty iced the outside with vanilla buttercream. After all that was done, I placed it carefully in the fridge so it could “set up” over night. l2Tuesday, I made another batch of vanilla buttercream and gave the set cake its final coat of frosting using a icing smoother and the Viva towel method to smooth things out a bit but still maintain the charm of classic buttercream. Then I made my very first drip glaze for the top and side of the cake.  l5There was a minor set back; the Dunkin Donuts near my house was out of pink frosted donuts, plus they had no alternative colors with the required sprinkles. So I bought plain white frosted, took them home, brushed them with a little heavy whipping cream, and dipped them in my own damn sprinkles. That’s right people, I Tim Gunn’ed the thing 😉 l4The rest was really easy. Stack donuts, cookies, and roses, and finish with a handful of sprinkles to tie everything in. Andy was even kind enough to drive me back to his office so I could guarantee that my precious cake baby arrived safely. l3So, will I be taking up cake decorating as a new profession? Probably not, but I did better than I though I would, and Andy said his coworkers were very pleased with the results. I’m gonna chalk it up as a win, and now I have a couple more tools in my baking arsenal.


Sometimes You Don’t Have Time – Baking Mixes

I do a lot of “scratch” baking (there are some situations where store bought just can’t stand up to homemade), but sometimes you need/want baked goods and you don’t have 3 hours to whip egg whites and temper chocolate. I always keep a box of brownie mix and a box of gluten-free cookie mix in my pantry. Along with convenience, box mixes are getting more and more sophisticated. Recently, my Target started stocking a number of swanky looking baking mixes, and I picked up a few, for those “just in case” moments. We hit one this weekend, and I pulled out the Milk Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Mix.

Milk1 Milk2 Milk3 Milk4Reaction:

  • This required a little more effort than the standard rip and dump method of most box mixes. That being said though the flavor was spot on, and I learned the only thing more delicious than frosted flakes was toasted frosted flakes. They gave the cookies a chewy toffee-esqe element that made it even more difficult for me to leave them alone.
  • I followed the directions on the box exactly, but as you can see, I did not end up with the prettiest cookies. Fine for me and Andy, but I wouldn’t have given them to other people. My kitchen was really warm while I was cooking, and I think my dough got too soft. Next time I’ll pop the filled cookie sheets in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.
  • Also, I think it is important to note that these cookies are not vegetarian. Unless otherwise specified, marshmallow contains gelatin which is decidedly not vegetarian. If that is something that doesn’t bother you, bake on, but if it does, you can easily swap the provided marshmallows with Dandies.

Summary:

These cookies are delicious: a tiny bit labor intensive, but completely worth it. I’ll be buying the mix again.