The baking

Marshmallows, chocolate, cookies

This is a round-up sorts.

A round-up of cookies.

The very first post on The Baking was a post about cookies.

Cookies are fun to make. And it’s easy to experiment with ingredients.

Generally, cookie success can likely be yours if you consider the chemistry of the cookie ingredients that you’re using and if you keep an eye on the cookies while they’re in the oven.

The basic cookie formula I use can be found here.

Now, on to some cookies.

These cookies are chocolate chip-pecan cookies, with MARSHMALLOW baked inside:

marshmallow-cookies-1

That’s right, MARSHMALLOW. Here’s an ever-so-slightly closer look:

marshmallow-cookies-2

I was somewhat inspired, of course, by my own previous experiments with cookies inside cookies.

The marshmallow-containing fantastic-ness pictured above was, frankly, a random idea I came up with ahead of a party. I went and bought the marshmallows specifically for this project.

The reviews were positive.

The prep was easy: basic cookie formula, plus chocolate chips, plus pecans, rolled and shaped around individual marshmallows.

Having made marshmallow cookies a few times since, I would advise lining your baking tray with foil, baking paper, or silicone baking mat. The marshmallows can – and do – bubble out of the cookies. And sugar is sticky.

Next up, cookies with chocolate chips and cocoa nibs:

more-chocolate-chip-cookies-1

The cocoa nibs were a curiosity purchase at a bulk store. I’d never baked with cocoa nibs before. I wanted to try them out.

Again, basic cookie formula plus other ingredients.

I tried something new. And it worked. The cocoa nibs were a nice, crunchy, contrast to the chocolate chips.

I made the cookies thin and crispy on the outside – because that’s the way I like them.

A slightly closer look at the cocoa nib and chocolate chip cookies:

more-chocolate-chip-cookies-2

The next several photos are from a cookie baking session I had ahead of a holiday.

Three different batches of cookie dough – all, of course, based on my basic cookie formula – were involved.

First up, vanilla-chocolate chip cookies with sea salt:

so-many-christmas-cookies-2

For these cookies, I made a vanilla and chocolate chip dough and rolled balls of dough in a plate of sea salt before baking.

I liked the cookies. Fellow salted cookie fans liked the cookies. Cookie win.

Underneath the salted chocolate chip cookies, on my fabulous triple-decker cooling rack, is a batch of chocolate chip and pretzel cookies:

so-many-christmas-cookies-1

Basic cookie formula, plus chocolate chips, plus pretzels.

I’m a fan of sweet and salt and crunch together. I liked these cookies. So did others.

A small step back for a wider shot of cookie admiration:

so-many-christmas-cookies-4

And, in somewhat of a giveaway of when these cookies happened, chocolate chip cookies with pretzels and crushed candy cane:

so-many-christmas-cookies-3

The pretzel-candy-chocolate chip cookies are slightly darker than the cookies cooling beside them thanks to about a teaspoon of dark cocoa powder that I added to the dough.

I bought the candy canes whole and crushed them in a bag.  But I have seen pre-crushed candy cane in stores. Candy canes could be replaced with many other candies if you want to experiment. Though I would suggest thinking about the texture and consistency of the candy that you want to use. A lot of candies would probably melt and make a mess at oven temperatures.

Here are all three types of cookies together, cooling:

so-many-christmas-cookies-5

Cookie experiments: good times.

 

 

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Cheesecake reappears

Cheesecake reappears.

And a new The Baking post.

Many cheesecakes – using variations on this recipe from this post – have been happening.

I like the recipe quite a lot as I find it easy to experiment with.

Flavours can be played with and switched up, as long as the ratio of liquids to solids is maintained.

I’ve tried replacing some of the soy milk with lime juice.

And I’ve tried replacing cocoa and some of the soy milk with pureed strawberries.

Both attempts resulted in delicious cheesecake. So delicious that pictures didn’t happen.

Cue the sad trombone.

Anyway.

I’ve also tried graham crust instead of Oreo crust.

I’ m thinking that a cookie crust – in the form of cookie dough pre-baked in a springform pan – might be the next experiment.

A versatile recipe, with simple ingredients, that’s easy to modify is a good recipe to have around.

And now for something not-at-all completely different: pictures of some of the cheesecakes.

The cake in the picture below had to be one of the best-looking cheesecakes that I baked:

beautiful-cheesecake

This was a vanilla cheesecake with Oreo crumb crust.

When I took the side piece off of the springform pan after this cake had cooled and chilled, I somewhat couldn’t even.

The cake was quite the aesthetically-pleasing cake.

The batter met up with the crust in just the right way.

And the cake was delicious.

The cake appearing below was a pumpkin cheesecake in the form of a pie:

pumpkin-cheesecake-1

Here’s a close-up of the cut cake-pie.

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I replaced some of the soy milk and some of the oil with plain canned pumpkin. And added a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

The crust was an Oreo crust. And I baked the pie-cake in a glass pie dish.

The main thing was to adjust the cooking time as the pie was thinner and had less volume than the cheesecake I usually bake in my springform pan. I checked on the pie a few times and took it out of the oven once it looked set.

And there it is: cheesecake.

Again.

And a new The Baking post.

Bon appetit.

Corn bread

Behold the corn bread:

cornbread-3

This corn bread is another adaptation of a recipe in my old batter splatter cookbook.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and prepare for corn bread, my way.

In a large bowl, mix together:

-1 1/2 cups of cornmeal – you can use yellow, white, or blue cornmeal

-1/2 cup flour

-1 1/2 cups water along with one teaspoon of vinegar

-one tablespoon corn starch

-1 teaspoon sugar

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-two teaspoons baking powder

Mix all ingredients together – for about a minute or so – until the batter is smooth and any lumps have been broken up.

Transfer batter to a greased pan to bake. I used a cast iron loaf pan. You could use a metal or glass loaf pan – or a round or square cake or brownie pan.

This is freshly-mixed corn bread batter ready to go into the oven:

cornbread-1

Bake for 25-30 minutes or so. The corn bread should be ready when the top is golden brown and crispy-looking.

Some fully-baked corn bread action:

cornbread-2

Somewhat of a disclosure that I’m not really so much into loaves of corn bread – but nearly everyone else seems to like corn bread.

So I make corn bread.

 

 

Chocolate, chocolate, ganache, pretzels

Behold, a cake occurrence:

pretzel-cake-5

This is a double-layer chocolate cake, topped with chocolate icing, salted pretzels, and ganache.

Photos of this cake have lurked in my files for a somewhat longer-than-average while.

The cake was delicious. It looked cool. And it was well-received.

A pretzel-related observation and suggestion:

The pretzels ended up being a little less crisp than they should have been. If using pretzels as a decoration in conjunction with wet ingredients such as icing, I would suggest adding them at the last possible moment.

And now for something completely different a few gratuitous photos of the cake.

Fresh from the oven:

pretzel-cake-1

And another angle of the finished cake:

pretzel-cake-3

 

 

[Soft] focus on olive bread?

This is a random loaf of olive bread from somewhat recently[ish] ago:

coo kies 6

I suppose that the shot is somewhat glamour shot-ey, if glamour shots existed for bread.

The bread is turned on its side. The light and focus are a little soft. And you can imagine, if you so please, the bread holding its collar and gazing into the camera.

Anyway, the recipe for this olive loaf is pretty much this other recipe that I wrote about.

But I only used black olives.

And – this is probably the most important part – the bread machine use was limited to using the dough cycle to prepare the dough.

The bread was actually baked in a cast iron loaf pan in the oven.

I believe that the bread was in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or so at around 350 degrees – though, well, this was somewhat of a while ago.

The loaf came out of the oven when it was slightly brown on top and looking ready for glamour shot greatness.

And it tasted pretty good too.

Hoot, hoot: it’s a pie

It’s a pie, decorated to look like an owl:

owl pie 2

More specifically, this is a pumpkin pie decorated to look like an owl.

This isn’t, of course, an attempt to create a pumpkin spice and owl hybrid: it’s merely a pumpkin pie decorated to look like an owl.

The filling of this pie started out as an actual pie pumpkin: no canned pumpkin involved in this particular pie.

I washed, seeded, and chopped the pie pumpkin. Then I steamed it and pureed it with an immersion blender.

For the pie, I, basically, used this recipe – minus the pecans.

I played around with the spices – more cloves – a bit. And I used vanilla sugar in place of about half of the total sugar. Vanilla sugar – which used to be somewhat difficult to find – has seemed as of late to be available at a certain large bulk food chain. I’m a fan.

I made a batch of pie pastry dough using this recipe.

This is what the pie looked like when it first came out of the oven:

owl pie 1

The decoration – which I chose to do in the form of an owl – is extra pastry dough that I baked separately on a cookie sheet. I cut a few of the pieces – such as the eyes – with cookie cutters. I cut the rest of the pieces freehand with a paring knife.

Pumpkin pie filling always seems to remain somewhat moist on top, so the pastry pieces I made for decoration pretty much just stuck to the pie without any additional effort, pressure, or ingredients.

Hoot, hoot.

And, of course, I set aside the pumpkin seeds for roasting – with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and ground white pepper.

You don’t have to be exact

When I mention that I bake – or when I share some of my baking – I often hear comments with some variation of “I can’t bake. Everything has to be exact. That’s just too much trouble for me.”

I hear it. Again and again. And I usually don’t bother to engage.

Because I disagree.

I don’t think you have to be exact.

You don’t have to measure every ingredient down to some fraction of a gram or cup.

You don’t have to weigh stuff.

You can substitute.

And you can experiment.

Usually.

Use your judgement and all that. And this is strictly my opinion.

But really though, one of the things I enjoy most when baking is experimenting and trying out new ingredients or substitutions.

Yes, baking is chemistry – though, really, everything is chemistry and chemistry is everything – but baking is chemistry that you can play around with.

You might screw up.

You might burn whatever you’re baking. Or you might forget to add the sugar. Or, for some reason that you just can’t figure out, whatever you’ve baked might be hard as a rock or of some other undesirable quality.

If you can’t figure out what went wrong, the internets – or the general instruction pages in your old batter splatter cookbook, if you happen to have such a thing – can probably help you out.

Not convinced? You can start by following instructions or a recipe as much as possible – then experiment as you get more comfortable with baking.

You can learn.

You can learn to bake better.

And bake more delicious.

You don’t have to be exact.

Not always.

Pecan chocolate chip cookies

The title pretty much says it all.

These were chocolate chip cookies – with pecans.

I used the old basic cookie procedure along with about half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and about half a cup of pecans.

For the pecans, I bought a package of pecan halves and, then, chopped the pieces a little smaller on a cutting board with a knife.

Here are the cookies – posed, of course – as they cool:

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And here they are again, on a plate:

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Note the random – and colourful – structures from around the world on the edge of the plate. Fun plate is fun.

Delicious cookies are delicious.

Two pies in one?

Some time ago, I acquired a pie pan that allows one to make two different kinds of pie at once.

A pie could look like a regular old, one-kind-of-pie pie on the surface:

piiie1

But, on the inside, thanks to a pop-in pan bottom that splits the pan in two, you could actually have two different kinds of pie.

Here’s half apple pie without spice and half apple pie with spice:

piiie2

Rather fun.

And good pie too.

I’m interested in further experimentation with different kinds of dessert pies.

And I’ve thought about using this pan to make a savoury pie on one side and a dessert pie on the other.

You could, in theory, make dinner and dessert in one pan.

Fascinating.

Baking, on The Baking

It’s been a while since I posted.

But I have been baking things.

One of the things I baked was a batch of cupcakes.

Chocolate on chocolate.

I used the usual recipes – slightly modified, of course – for the cake itself and for the icing.

The main modification was that I added a little bit of coconut flour – for flavour – to the cake batter.

I also used coconut flour in the icing.

For decoration, I opened up and tried a vial of edible glitter – in gold – that I’d picked up but hadn’t gotten around to using.

Cupcakes, chocolate, coconut, glitter: all rather fabulous.

And here the cupcakes are:

coo kies 8

And that is indeed a custom The Baking cutting board.