I love autumn. There’s a chill in the air that begs me to fire up the oven.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been on a mission to find a great white bread recipe. I’ve tried dozens from well known cookbooks and famous foodies.  I started searching on Pinterest, and put out a plea  for some help with my quest.  Within minutes, I had an email from a sweet cousin in Phoenix…with a recipe…that turned out to be the best white bread I’ve ever made.
We baked up a batch on Sunday, and within an hour we had devoured two loaves, hot and drizzled with honey.  We transformed a loaf tonight into grilled cheese sandwiches and dipped them into steamy tomato soup. Tomorrow’s breakfast will most likely be toast with raspberry jam.
Our Favorite White Bread
thanks Mandy
  • 5 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons yeast
  • 10-12 cups flour
Mix hot water, honey, oil, salt and yeast together in mixer. Add 5 cups flour.
Mix until smooth. Change to dough hooks.
Add 5 more cups of flour. Beat well. Add more flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough doesn’t stick to the side.
Mix on high speed for 6 minutes then turn mixer off.
Let rest for 12 minutes.
Form into 4 loaves. Put in greased flour pans. Place in oven, turn oven to warm and let rise for 20 minutes.
Increase temp to 350 and bake approx. 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush tops of loaves with melted butter.
Cool on cooling rack.
Now, where should I focus my recipe searching energy?

 

Occasionally I have taken a hiatus from posting to this blog but not without good reason.

The past two years have been a roller coaster.  Full of joys and sorrows.

We have warmly welcomed two new members to our family.

Chips and Salsa

But we have lost far more than our share.

My inspirational sister-in-law, Bunny  (1981-2010) and I shared a love for baking.  Her “sweets” recipes are some of the best.

My dear mother-in-law, Kathy (1947-2011) was a gracious hostess and talented cook.  Many of my favorite recipes are handed down from her.

Most recently, we lost the cyclist’s courageous brother Matt (1970-2012)*.  He helped me to cultivate an appreciation for homegrown produce (especially tomatoes) and he introduced me to the world of delicious, spicy food…including the combination of chocolate and chile.

 This is a variation on a favorite chocolate cake from Peacocks on my Porch. If you omit the cinnamon and cayenne, you have a moist, delicious, everyday chocolate cake. One you can take to parties, picnics and potlucks. The addition of the spices gives it just a little oomph. A little warming on the back of your tongue.

Try it.

You’ll like it. I know Matt would.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you know I never plan ahead…1 T of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup…add milk to the 1 cup mark.  let sit 5 minutes to curdle)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 13″x9″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon and cayenne (start with 1/4 tsp cayenne…you can adjust when the batter is all combined). Add in oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Stir gently. Add hot water. Pour into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4-6 T milk

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, add vanilla and cinnamon. Add milk and beat until you attain your desired consistency (I generally start with 4 T [1/4 cup] then add 1 T at a time).  Frost cooled cake. (This frosting is also delicious on graham crackers.)

If desired, grate a little chocolate over the top.

Store remaining cake covered in the refrigerator.  You’ll be amazed how good it is the second day.

 

 

*After being diagnosed with a rare but aggresive sarcoma, Matt had his leg amputated and within 10 months was competing in the USA paracycling Nationals. Matt placed well enough to earn a spot to race at Paracycling Worlds in Denmark in 2011. He was training this year in hopes of making the Paralympics this summer in England.

When given the choice between two flavors of dessert, my heart is always torn.  How can I turn down either one?  Especially if they are both homemade.

When I got my copy of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food in the mail last week, this recipe caught my eye.  With this cake, I wouldn’t have to choose.  Two flavors in one slice.  A bite of rich chocolate from one corner, delicious vanilla from the other.

 Mini Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Cakes

adapted slightly from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1  3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1  1/2 cups buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 T hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter four 2 x 6 inch miniature loaf pans and line with parchment paper.
Bring cold ingredients to room temperature.  Butter should be soft enough to hold a thumbprint but still keep its shape.
In  a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time, until combined.  Beat in vanilla.
In another large bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
With mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating to combine.  Beat in 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, and the rest of the flour mixture.  Beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water.  Stir half of the cake batter into the cocoa mixture.
Spoon 2 dollops of batter into pan next to each other, 1 chocolate and 1 vanilla.  Repeat twice, alternating layers (chocolate on top of vanilla and vice versa) and swirl.
Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 40-45 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.  Let cool completely in pans on wire rack.  Run a knife around edges, then turn out cakes.

 

*I rarely have buttermilk on hand, so I use this substitute:  for every cup of buttermilk you need, put one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup.  Add milk to make one cup.  So for this recipe, I used 1 1/2 Tablespoons of vinegar, then enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups)

These are my very favorite cookies (right now).  They are deliciously spiced, and just chewy enough.  The perfect treat to go along with that cold glass of milk.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the shortening, sugars and eggs.  Add vanilla.  Combine flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Add to creamed mixture.  Mix in oatmeal.  Let mixture sit for 5 minutes or so and then mix again.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 10-12 minutes.  (They spread so I bake them 6 at a time on large cookie sheets).  The edges will become golden brown but the middles will look underdone.  Cool on pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on racks.  Makes 2-3 dozen.

Note:  Do not double.  If you want to make a lot of these (who could blame you?), just whip up a second batch of dough.  It will only take a minute.

Glaze

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Beat well.  Hold cookies by outside edges and dip upside down in icing.

This recipe comes from a dear friend and incredible baker.  I took a cookie making class from her years ago.  If I ever see her on the schedule again, I’ll let you locals know.  

 

Heaven knows we eat a lot of tasty treats in our kitchen.  Here’s another healthy meal to balance out the sweets.  The recipe is from one of my favorite lunch spots.

Rumbi Teriyaki Bowls

Veggies:

  • Zucchini, julienned
  • Grated carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Celery

Stir fry in a little sesame oil (just for a minute or so…you want to keep the veggies pretty crisp and bright)

Serve over: 

  • rice (we prefer brown)

Add some:  

Top with:  

Spicy teriyaki sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups Yoshida’s
  • 2-4 tsp chili garlic sauce  (I use 3 to 3 1/2 tsp when I serve adults, 1 tsp for my kids)
  • 1 T fresh grated ginger (here’s my shortcut)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 c water

Combine yoshida’s, chili garlic sauce, and ginger in small saucepan.  Heat to simmer.  In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and water.  Slowly whisk into sauce and simmer until thickened.

Sprinkle bowls with: 

  • toasted sesame seeds.  ( I just toast in dry pan on stove over low heat)

I mentioned that we recently spent a fabulous week in Cancun.  Somehow, amongst all of the laying by the pool and playing in the sand, we were able to enjoy some good food.  Delicious street tacos, poolside guacamole, nightly ice cream cones…

Surprisingly, one of the treats that has haunted me were these buttery little orange biscuits that The Cyclist found at the OXXO across the street from the hotel. He would buy an orange foil wrapped sleeve of these cookies every day and they were gone before we left the pool.

As I have also mentioned my affinity for all things orange,  it may not come as a surprise that I have actually lost a bit of sleep trying to figure out how to recreate these at home.

Well, I’m quite pleased to say that I have had success (at least in this one endeavor).  Like a spot-on replica.  Now if I could just fashion some orange foil cookie sleeves…

Orange Shortbread

(a variation on Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe)

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest of  2 large oranges
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar mixed with the zest of one additional orange for rolling

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and zest of 2 oranges. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together (it will be very crumbly.  I generally just smush it all together with my hands towards the end of the mixing).  Dump onto a surface dusted lightly with flour and roll the dough into two logs, about 2 inches in diameter. On a large plate, combine the 1/2 cup of sugar with the additional orange zest.  Roll each log in the sugar mixture and then wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice each log into 1/4 inch slices.  Bake on parchment lined baking pans for 12-15 minutes, until the edges just start to brown.  Cool on wire racks.  Store, tightly covered, at room temperature.

 

 

I love baking with bananas.  I have several banana bread recipes that I rotate through, depending on my mood (and available ingredients).  Here are three more new favorites.  These are all fairly healthy (thanks to the addition of fat free yogurt and ground flaxseed).  But they are still a treat (thanks to the addition of peanut butter, chocolate, or a simple, sweet glaze).

Recipes from Cooking Light

Basic Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
5 T butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Glaze*
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine banana, yogurt, butter and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife. In a medium bowl, combine flour, flaxseed, soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat just until blended.
Pour batter into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes of until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely.
Combine powdered sugar and milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cooled bread.

Chocolate Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
5 T butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
2 T fat free milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine banana, yogurt, butter and eggs; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add sugars; beat until blended.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, flaxseed, soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat until just blended.
Fold 1/3 cup of the mini chocolate chips into the batter. Pour batter into a sprayed 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Combine remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips with milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth.
Drizzle over cooled bread.*

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 T butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 T chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Glaze*
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 T milk
1 T creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To prepare bread, combine banana, yogurt, peanut butter, butter and egg in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until blended. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine flour, flaxseed, soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat until just blended. Stir in nuts.
Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk and peanut butter in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled bread.

*These glazes remain pretty sticky.  Once glazed, store any leftovers under a cake dome (or only glaze the pieces you are planning to eat right away).  You do NOT want to lose any of the sweetness to your aluminum foil.

 

I have been making this cake for several years.   I’ve always made it with “common” limes and it has always been delicious.  This past weekend, I picked up my “Bountiful Basket” and was pleased to find 15 or so key limes.   Well, there was something magical in those tart little limes.  The cake was sweeter, yet more tart at the same time…like all the flavors were intensified.  The cyclist commented, “I remember eating this cake before, I just don’t remember it being SO GOOD!”

Key Lime Pound Cake with Raspberry Sauce

recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 3 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 18 T unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T fresh key lime juice (I used about 15 limes total for the juice and zest…that should cover the glaze too)
  • 2 tsp lime zest

Have all of the ingredients at room temperature before you begin.  Position rack on lower third of oven.  Preheat to 325 degrees F.  Thoroughly grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan.  Sift together flour, soda and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, with flat beater, beat butter and cream cheese until creamy and smooth-30 to 40 seconds.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl until light and fluffy-about 5 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the vanilla and lime juice.  Reduce the speed to low and fold in the dry ingredients in three additions, blending each addition until just incorporated and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl. Using rubber spatula, fold in the lime zest.  Spoon batter into pan, making sides about one inch higher than center. Bake until golden and tester comes out clean-about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and glaze.

Glaze (one of the best things about the cake…)

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Whisk together and generously brush surface of warm cake with glaze.  Let cool completely before serving.  Drizzle with raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1 pint fresh or 12 oz frozen (thawed) raspberries
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Puree in blender.  Press through fine sieve to remove seeds.

***Follow me on facebook and get Monday’s ingredient list in advance.***

The cyclist and I just spent a week, playing in the sun, with 40 of our favorite people.  Yep, 40.  Go ahead and count.

Going anywhere with our six blonde daughters brings a lot of attention (open mouthed stares).  Throw in another few dozen people and we were a traveling circus.

White Wonders have forever been my favorite sugar cookies.  They are sweet and soft and the cream cheese frosting makes them perfect.  It’s hard to eat just one.  But since I have four months until I need to squeeze my body into a bathing suit again…

White Wonders

recipe from my Kathy

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups flour

Cream together sugar, shortening, sour cream, and egg.  Add vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Roll into balls and bake at 425 degrees F on a lightly greased baking sheet for 5 to 7 minutes.  They will be WHITE when done.

Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • milk to desired consistency

Blend until smooth and firm enough to frost cookies.

 It was so hard to leave paradise and return to 30 degree weather.  These cookies are easing the pain today.  

Since I was a little kid, I have always favored orange candies.  When my girls open a pack of treats, they know to give me the orange skittles, runts, sour patch kids, gummi bears, what have you…. Orange has just always been my favorite.  I’ll never forget the Christmas when my sweet husband filled my stocking with gummy orange slices, chocolate orange sticks, and only orange starbursts (picked out of several whole bags I’m sure).  I think it’s my favorite flavor because orange always tastes like orange.  Plain and simple.

Well, these cookies have plenty of orange flavoring.  The best kind…from about 5 real oranges.

Orange Cookies

from Peacocks on my Porch

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup orange juice (just squeeze a couple that you zest)
  • 3 T orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Beat sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add sour cream and eggs; beat well.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange juice, and orange zest.  Blend well.  Drop by spoon on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown (they are better a little underdone than overdone).  Frost while warm (I frost them right out of the oven, still on the pans, so the frosting melts and turns into a glaze.)

Orange Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 2-3 T orange juice

Combine and frost warm cookies.

How about you?  What’s your favorite “flavor”.  And what is the best orange candy you’ve ever eaten?  Here’s mine.


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