Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

For the moment we’ll forget the irony of a German Plum Cake being made with Italian prune plums; I’m guessing it’s so because they’re perfectly delicious in it! This is one of my truly favorite recipes to make. It’s surprisingly easy, absolutely delicious, (assuming you think great baking includes butter, sugar and eggs), and always comes out fabulous. What more could one want?

Above, prepped in a flash and ready to go in the oven …

I don’t know where my mom originally got the recipe, but I’ve been making it for years. Five simple ingredients in the crust, which you mix right in the pan, fresh fruit, and two ingredients on the top. Voila! The Italian prune plums are the basic recipe, but it’s easily adapted to peaches or apples with just a bit of cinnamon added to the topping sugar.  In fact, I was planning to stop at the farmstand for peaches for my Labor Day dessert contribution – summer’s last hurrah – after grocery shopping, but while in the supermarket, thought to check on the plums.

Much to my surprise, there they were! I asked how long they’d be in stock. Two or three weeks tops the produce manager told me! Plums it is then.

Crumbly butter crust, sweet fruit and some good vanilla ice cream. Does it for me!

p.s. I have now added the recipe for this here.

Read Full Post »

Berries are in season! So I decided to make my dessert for my friend’s and my Memorial Day get together utilizing some of nature’s bounty. I clipped a recipe for a Coconut Lime Berry Cake a while back from Martha Stewart, and this seemed the perfect time to make it.

I used three very full cups of berries, one each blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, and here it is ready to go in the oven.

It wasn’t a cake that browned very much except around the edges, but it did take a bit longer time than the recipe specified, which I checked twice with the standard toothpick in the middle test.

The cake turned out well, and was very moist. It’s all butter and includes buttermilk, so it’s hard to go wrong on that count, and the berries got soft and mushy, dropping through the batter. Although the grated lime and fresh lime juice gave it a nice tropical kind of kick, I am thinking now that I might like it even better with lemon instead of the lime. And there’s always more time to bake with berries in season.

Read Full Post »

What a shocking idea. Now this may not be so for some of you reading this, but baking for myself has been a rarely-indulged-in luxury for quite some time. And on the occasions when I do bake, it’s usually to bring to someone else’s house for a gathering. Well, not today. I felt like baking muffins, and bake I did. I went through my recipe stash with something apple in mind, and found it … Apple Buttermilk Muffins.

In broad daylight … the audacity. An accusing voice from somewhere within nagged me to get going on my taxes, complete another drawing, go food shopping, and please! Clean!

I’ve really got to get a better grip on that no-fun, party-pooper. And baking just for me was a step in the right direction. Perhaps I gave in a wee bit when I cleaned the whole top and hood of the stove, but really, we have to start out in a clean spot, right?

I popped in the Breaking Dawn CD – such a great album – gathered ingredients, and happily chopped, measured and whisked. Although many muffin recipes have you making 12 muffins, I always make 6 bigger ones. They came out gorgeous, and then I had the audacity to have more fun – yup, in broad daylight – photographing them. And then eating one. (OK, actually not in that order.) Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

You can make these truly chock-full-of-apple Apple Buttermilk Muffins, too. They’re from the Mr. Breakfast web site which has way more than muffins; it’s got everything you could ever think of in the way of breakfast, which is my favorite meal of the day. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

I recently asked blog visitors to let me know what they are looking for when they use the search term “sad place” and come to my site, but I got not one reply. So I’ve decided to do a short post on the opposite end of the spectrum, “happy place.”

Here’s a happy place for me … all the ingredients lined up and ready to bake. This was in preparation for baking a chocolate layer cake for Christmas dinner. I was trying a new recipe as I am often wont to do … so many recipes, so little time … and the recipe sounded terrific. But I made a mistake. The recipe called for shortening. I used butter, my shortening of choice. The texture came out rather strange, perhaps because they meant to use something like Crisco? Not sure, but since I don’t use that, I guess I’m going to have to read more carefully next time and choose only recipes where they specifically want butter. The mocha buttercream frosting, however, came out delicious. Next time I will up the amount I make by 1/2. Who doesn’t love plenty of frosting?

Baking Round 2 was my favorite brownie recipe that I’ve made for years, dressed up with dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries. This was for a gift, but I did have to sample just a wee slice. To make sure they were safe for consumption, of course.

I am a happy baker, always from scratch, and a happy cook. Nowadays, I don’t have the time I once did to bake and cook, and I have to say, I miss it. I have a great collection of recipes I’ve made over the years, and I collect new recipes for all kinds of food, especially desserts. In fact, you might think I was creating extensive meals for a big family 3 times a day, to look at what I’ve clipped, saved, and hope to make.

But we all need to dream, do we not? Me, I dream of relaxed time in the kitchen … a happy place. I wish I were there more often. But it’s always possible. Maybe even tonight.


Read Full Post »

Have you ever noticed how many perfectly competent, as well as excellent, cooks shake in their boots at the thought of making a cheesecake? (Also homemade pie crusts, but that’s a different post!) This always surprises me, because cheesecake is actually one of the easiest desserts you can make. It’s not that you can’t find very complicated cheesecakes – they’re out there, and I’ve made them, too – but most of your cheesecakes are fairly simple and almost foolproof.

Take this pumpkin cheesecake, for instance.We decided that this year for Thanksgiving I would forego the more traditional pumpkin or apple pie, and make a pumpkin cheesecake instead. I have a couple good recipes for pumpkin cheesecake that I know to come out well. In deference to my host who cannot eat nuts, I eliminated the pecan or walnut praline topping, and made a substitution in the crust ingredients. Instead of the called-for graham crackers, I used gingersnaps. Note – the crust has only 2 ingredients – ginger snaps and butter. Easy, right?

More simplicity – the filling is all made in one bowl, – cream cheese, sugars, eggs, pumpkin, cream and spices. It doesn’t really get much easier than that! It came out creamy and delicious, and although it called for 1-1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, you couldn’t go wrong by making that 2 teaspoons.

Feeling more confident yet? Cheesecake is really an easy dessert – easy on the cook, easy on your busy schedule, and easy on your hungry guests eyes!

p.s. If anyone would like to try my recipe, just leave a comment, and I will scan it or type it up.


Read Full Post »

Most of you will probably finish that line with “… lemons, make lemonade.” It’s an old adage about making the best of things, to which I have added my own variation. “When life wakes you up at the crack `o dawn, get up!”

At first, I was really fighting this. For whatever reason, this year and last, I have been waking up with the sun, this year even more so with a bumper crop of birds singing about 40′ from my open bedroom windows.  I’m a morning person,  but 4:45 am? Come on! But awake I was. I tried going back to sleep, to no avail. I lay there and harrumphed – needless to say, that didn’t help. But I was becoming more and more tired as I was still going to bed at the same time. What to do?

Adjust! I started going to bed about 10, so when 4:45 rolls around, sometimes heralded by the sun, but always by the birds, (clearly I am now synching with their bio-rhythms), I can actually get up and start doing stuff. By the time I start my jobs, I’ve often accomplished quite a bit. Ergo, the photo of the carrot bread.

I got out all the dry ingredients and mixing bowls, loaf pan, etc. last night and grated the carrots. After feeding the small fry this morning, I opened up the windows to a nice cool 65˚, whipped it together and popped it in the oven. Voila! a cooling carrot bread at 7:50 a.m.! By the time you see the finished photo with a cream cheese icing, it will be a few hours later.

Sometimes reality is a pain in the butt. We don’t always want to hear about it, nor deal with it. But the fact remains – whatever the reality is, if it’s not something we can change, it’s not going away. So for now, one of my realities is waking up at 4:45 a.m. And although this was a carrot bread morning, I discovered that this new reality also affords me extra time to work on my children’s books with no interruptions.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll give the little choristers a standing ovation.

Read Full Post »

It’s President’s Day, a national holiday. It snowed just a bit this morning, and it’s amazingly quiet. So quiet, in fact, that if I weren’t at the computer, I’d think the power had gone out. So I made my trip to the vet this morning, and am now ready to begin work, but first, a small post.

I photographed the cookies I made yesterday for two reasons .. one, I do love to bake, and two, I love to take photographs. But more important, is that I made the time to bake them for myself. My schedule seems always packed, and more often than not, if I bake, it’s for someone else, an event, etc. But I’ve started on a new path. It’s not actually about making cookies for myself, but for making the time for what I want to do and figuring out what I don’t need to spend time on at this moment, and making the change.

This is all in the interest of moving forward with my writing and illustrating children’s books. We all have issues in our lives, and we all have things we need to change. Right now, I am taking a really hard look at, well … my life, and how I go about it. I am happy with my work, and grateful that I am engaged daily in creative work, but children’s books take additional time .. where will I find it? I won’t. I have to make it. And this means dealing with many more issues in my own life, my own heart, and how badly I want to reach my dream.

So after I made the cookies, I worked on a manuscript, then a storyboard, back to the manuscript and back to the storyboard. This is who I am, and who I have to make time for. The cookies are just a bonus.

Read Full Post »

Let Them Eat Cake II

Every now and then, people ask me what my blog is about. Well, let’s see … it’s about writing, illustrating, art, children’s books, reading, animals, nature, home, music, the wonder and mysteries of life itself, and oh, yes … food.

So I guess, in sum, my blog is about many of the things that inspire me!

I occasionally think I should really have more of a focus on my blog, specifically on the children’s book field.  But so many people already do that SO well, I figured I might do best to share slices of life, and serve them up in an as attractive manner as I can … such as this lovely cake I made recently.

This is a Nectarine Upside-Down Cake, made from scratch, all butter, as is my wont to bake. I wish I had more time to bake … and even cook … but life being what it is, I will just continue to bake when I can and memorialize the results in a photograph. And share it with you. This was quite delicious, my last tribute to the fruits of summer, and was served with fresh whipped cream. Yum!

Read Full Post »

Let Them Eat Cake!

I was so happy with how this came out, I just had to photograph it! I love to bake, but have too little time to do much of it, especially since I only bake from scratch. I made this for my friend’s Easter gathering; it’s a sour cream, chocolate chip cake, (made with butter, of course, and the mini chips.)

It’s got a crunchy topping of walnuts, brown sugar and more mini-chocolate chips, drizzled with a sour cream glaze. Yum! And it tasted even better the second day.

I don’t care what anyone says – there’s nothing like homemade, and if you’re of this ilk, you’d just as soon not buy store-made if you can’t have the real thing. Now this does not include the occasional fabulous, local bakery you might find here and there. And yes, when I’m REALLY jonesing for sugar, I, too, will occasionally fall prey to an Entenmann’s something. Though I generally am sorry later.

Plus there’s something about the process of baking itself. I love getting in the baking zone, maybe with a CD playing in the kitchen … the measuring, the flavors, textures and aromas. Baking is an art form of its own, and the visuals when it’s done are so important. As dumb as it sounds, it took a bit of patience to get that drizzle looking like that, because the sour cream glaze tended to be thick, Therefore, it was a slow process. But the final product is worth it.

Have I made this cake before? No. (Though I would again.) So many recipes, so little time! Whether for here or to bring along as a guest, I usually keep on trying something new. It’s my contention that if you know how to bake, you generally can identify a good recipe with a good result. So now I’m just wondering when I’ll bake next … and what.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: