The baking

Category: Uncategorized

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.

 

 

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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:

coo kies 2

And here they are again, on a plate:

coo kies 3

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.

Oatmeal cookies

It had been a while since I’d had a nice oatmeal cookie.

So I made a batch of oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips.

And they were absolutely fabulous:

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I used, as per usual, my basic cookie ingredients process.

To modify the dough to make oatmeal cookies, I added extra liquid – about one quarter of a cup total – and about thee quarters of a cup of oatmeal.

I used plain, quick-cook oats. Large-flake oats would probably work too, albeit with a slightly different final texture.

I also added a pinch or two each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The idea with the spice was for a light trace of spice in the cookies, not full-on spice flavour.

I used about half a cup of chocolate chips.

I like relatively crisp cookies, so I made these cookies thin and baked them a little longer than I would have if I wanted them to be soft.

Yep.

[Everyone] heart[s] cookies

I made cookies. 

The cookies were shaped like hearts.

Here they are:

giantheartcookies

I used my usual cookie formula, with a few modifications.

But I didn’t use a cookie cutter to make the heart shapes.

Really.

Look carefully at the cookie in the centre of the picture. You might be able to see small seam-like lines that give away how the heart shape was made. I took three round pieces of cookie dough, flattened them into regular, round-ish shapes, and then shaped and pushed the pieces together into a heart-like shape. I used the edge of a butter knife to straighten out some of the edges.

As for the modifications to the cookie formula, I added about a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder to the dough, and used about a quarter of a cup each of chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. I used cold coffee as the main liquid ingredient.

I added the cinnamon hearts and heart-shape gummies – both from a bulk food store – as the cookies were cooling on a wire rack after baking. I used the still-melted chocolate chips as a sort of glue and pressed the cinnamon hearts and gummies into exposed chocolate chips. Once the chocolate had cooled and hardened, the cinnamon hearts and gummies stuck.