Friday, June 24, 2011

Four Grain Chocolate chip Pancakes

Growing up my mom made homemade, from scratch pancakes...But never for breakfast.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm guessing she didn't want to get up extra early to mix everything together.  And I don't exactly remember eating breakfast together as a family.  But now dinner, that was different.  I remember we ate together for what seemed like every dinner.  And we'd have pancakes, for dinner, at least a couple times a month.

Now that I have a family of my own, and I do more than half of the meal prep, I have continued the tradition.  Homemade pancakes for DINNER!  But I have changed a few things from my mom's meal plan and recipe.  First of all, my pancakes are 4 grain.  My husband affectionately calls them "gravel" pancakes, because they have more texture than your 100% all-purpose flour pancakes.  The four grains are 100% whole wheat flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, cornmeal and rolled oats.  Now, don't roll your eyes, the proportions are such that these pancakes are still light, fluffy and moist.  I'm not a big fan of whole wheat bread, so even though you have some whole grains in here they are still quite tasty.  In fact I like them more than my mom's all-purpose pancakes and use this recipe exclusively.  The recipe, by the way, can be found in the Pillsbury cookbook.  Although, I modified it since the original seemed really too wet.  And I added mini chocolate chips.

Just look at that nice golden color.  You know it's time to flip your pancakes when the bubbles are starting to pop and the edges look nearly set.


Forget the maple syrup, I top my pancakes with a hot fruit topping.  Take your favorite frozen fruit, strawberries or peaches are my top two.  Dump them in a medium sized sauce pan.  Turn the heat on medium low and wait for them to thaw a bit.  Add a couple spoonful of sugar and they'll really been to juice.  I like a thick sauce so I always add two tablespoons of cornstarch, dissolved in a little water and stir, stir stir, until everything begins to boil.  Then stir and boil for another minute or two.  That's the secret to cornstarch!  Be patient, stir constantly, and boil it!
When you first dump the cornstarch in it makes everything real white and unappealing.  But as it begins to boil the white fades and the fruit color really begins to come through and it looks nice and glossy.  The sauce won't get real thick until the mixture cools but I like to eat it hot on hot pancakes.

If you'd like the recipes for anything on the site, drop my a message with your email and I'll pass it along.  I'm still not sure about posting recipes that I got from other sources.  I suppose I'll have to look into that.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Broiche for Father's Day: Part Two

OK, another early morning (such is the life of a baker) for the second part of Father's Day Brunch.  I figured it out around 11:30pm last night.  Rich coffee cake with sweet cheese and strawberry filling.  Maybe a struels topping and icing/glaze if I want everyone to go into a diabetic coma.

Sweet cheese filling is very much like cheese cake, with all the same ingredients but in different proportions.  Cream cheese, sugar (duh), vanilla, egg and this recipe called for a little flour and lemon zest. All that goes into a mixing bowl and gets beaten for a few minutes.  Then shove it into the fridge to chill - though it seems like it would be easier to spread at room temp.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Next the strawberry part of the filling.  First and foremost are the fresh strawberries picked from our backyard, compliments of my husband...Who also cleaned and hulled them.  (He's great!)  Then there's a little lemon juice, a few tablespoons of sugar and cornstarch to thickened.  Put that in a pot and stir, stir, stir until it's all hot and bubbly.  Transfer that to a bowl and chill thoroughly.

I'm eating my breakfast and waiting for everything to cool off.  Then comes the "fun" part.  Rolling out the broiche dough.  Wet and sticky but that buttery dough is so good once baked.  I can't wait.  Of course, I'll be trying something new today.  I'm going to attempt a braid.  It doesn't look difficult in the baking books but if you read yesterday's post you'll know that something is bound to go wrong.  We'll all have to wait and see.

The first time I made this recipe the dough was extremely wet.  It was such a sticky mess I had to call in my husband to dump more flour on it and help me out in general.  My hands were completely covered in the gooey stuff.  So this time I completely covered my hands, work surface and dough in a LOT of flour.  As evident in the above photo.

Of course, because it's never a dull moment or rather something always goes wrong...I rolled out the dough no problem, spread on the cream cheese no problem (Hey I'm doing well!).  Then I cut out my strips and start braiding.  Oh CRAP!  I forgot the strawberries!  Well, it's a good thing I was planning on making two of these things.  (that's how much cream cheese filling there was)  The next loaf went as planned.
The strawberries are such a color contrast I think it's really quite lovely.  Next is the topping.  Cinnamon and sugar (brown and white), some other spices.  Sprinkle all that goodness on top and bake.
The mistaken braid, I just put the strawberries on top and the cinnamon-sugar topping on top of that. And actually I think it looked AND tasted better.  I'll let you decide on the looks.

First the braid according to plan:

Both fillings on the inside and cin-sugar topping outside of braid. Looks OK, but nothing to write home about or start you salivating.  This photo was taken prior to baking.

This photo was taken after baking.  Still it's not that exciting.

Next is the mistaken loaf.

Cream cheese inside.
Strawberries and cin-suage on the outside.

Maybe it's just me but I think this one looks better even before its bakes.

 Prior to baking

After baking.  Doesn't this look more tempting?  I think it's the red showing through that really draws your attention.  Also, the cin-sugar topping really brought out the sweet of the strawberries.  Here's to mistakes!  Another happy discovery.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Broiche for Father's Day: Part One

It's ALWAYS an adventure for me in the kitchen.  I'm not neccessarily new at this, I've been baking for a few years now, but some how, SOME thing always goes wrong.  So, I'm making a batch of Broiche dough from the book, "Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day" (I really like this book).  And this recipe calls for 8 eggs lightly beaten.  So I get out my kitchenaid hand blender and the measuring cup that comes with, I crack all the eggs into this thing and it's full.  I think, "I'll just whip it for a second or two to 'slightly beat' the eggs, and WHOA!  about 3 eggs come slinging out of the measuring cup and all over the counter.  What the heck just happened?  I'm guessing this hand blender was too fast, or maybe the cup was too full, but whatever the case now it's a mess on the counter top.


So I clean that up.  And move onto the flour, 7.5 cups worth.  (Yeah, I know, sounds like a lot of flour but this recipe makes 4 loaves of Broiche.)  I'm doing the scoop and sweep method and of course I sweep a bunch of flour over the side of my flour container unto the counter...Then the spatula I'm using to sweep my flour cup falls into my dough mixture, which is VERY wet.  Lovely.  No wonder it takes me forever to bake.  I'm always cleaning up a mess I've just created.

I just laughed.  You have to.  Right after the eggs jumped out of the measuring cup I was in hysterics.  My daughter Olivia (one of my twin two year olds) didn't quite know what to make of my laughter.  So she says, "Mommy I'll make you happy" and gives my leg a hug.  Oh.  What a sweet-heart (right now).  Wash my hands and give her a proper hug back.  "You do make me happy, pumpkin.  You do make me ahppy."

Bakc to Broiche, and luckily no additional messes.  What will I do with all this dough?  Well, I'm planning to make at least one or two into a coffeecake for Father's day brunch at my mom's house.  My sister and our families, as well as my in-laws always have brunch on Fahter's day at my parents house.  It's usually nice weather, so we eat on the deck and drink mimosas and eat lots of high calorie foods.  It's GREAT!

Here's a photo from one of my other Broiche batches.  I rolled it out into a rectangle and spread a thick layer of Nutella on top.  Then I rolled it up, jellyroll style and baked it in a loaf pan covered in parchment paper (a little trick from the Cooks Illustrated baking book, which worked marvelously).  It was SOOO good.

For Father's day, I'm thinking I'll do something with fruit.  Probably fresh strawberries, but I haven't decided yet.  I was thinking maybe sliced fresh strawberries drizzled with dark chocolate ganache.  Does that sound good or what?!  I'll post photos once I've figured it all out.  Until then...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

Today's adventures started early.  5AM early.  I'm not sure why, but lately my eyes open at 4:45AM and I don't always get back to sleep.  Like this morning...My eyes opened at 4:30AM and unfortunately, that was it for my sleep.  So I got out of bed at 5AM and thought, "I guess I'll try that "Quick Cinnamon Biscuits" recipe from Cook's Illustrated - Baking."

I'm not exactly sure what went wrong...I'm quite certain I followed the directions.  And I can't imagine the cook book is wrong.  Let's just say that the dough was FAR too wet to knead "for about 30 seconds" (as suggested in the book) without adding an additional 1/2 cup flour.  There was TWICE as much cinnamon-sugar filling as needed.

But in the end, they cooked up just fine - though sickeningly sweet.  Which is difficult for me to say ( as I sit here eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream with toffee covered peanuts).  I'm not going to post the recipe here, because I'm still not sure about the copyright laws and all that.  In general though, I really do like this cook book.  For someone who is still learning, it's an interesting read.  And because I am an engineer, I really appreciate the scientific process which they followed to come to their conclusions and recommendations.
 These are the buns before baking.  Just look at all that cinnamon-sugar filling.

JoAnn Backyard Blast Cake Decorating Contest

The JoAnn Backyard Blast cake decorating competition was last wkend. I'm really glad I entered the competition because it forced me to try new techniques. Actually, much of the cake was decorated with things I haven't ever tried before. Like using cereal treats, modeling chocolate, fondant/gumpaste figures...All and all I am proud of my entry. Here are some close up photos of the cake.
Baby in blow-up kiddie pool.  You can't see it in this photo but I added water by tinting piping gel.

The umbrella is three pieces of THICK spaghetti "glued" together with Royal icing, then covered with modeling chocolate.  The modeling chocolate smelled SOO GOOD!  The deck is covered in it as well.  

Slip-n-slide is fondant, the water sprinklers are piped candy melts.

The gas grill is cereal treats covered in modling chocolate and fondant.  I used silver pearl dust to "paint" the fondant silver.  There's got to be a better way.  I'll have to research that for future.

Close up of the Father figure.  Not bad for my first attempt at modeling figures but I have a lot to learn.  I need to work on the faces.  I used gel color on the end of a toothpick for the eyes, and mom's eyes ran from the condensation.  It looked like she got splashed and her mascara ran.

I think I like mom the best.  I think the way her limbs were posed made her look more natural.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Hello and Welcome!

My name is Kerry and I LOVE sugar in its many wonderful forms.  Brown sugars, granulated, confectioner's...And I love the limitless things you can do with it.  From cookies to cakes and ice cream to candy I enjoy them all.  I grew up eating a bowl of ice cream every night before bed.  This habit developed into a strong love of sweet food, as well as some cavities and a few extra pounds.  As with any love affair there will be ups (sugar highs) and downs (mentioned above), I am sure.  I am still very much a student in the kitchen and I will chronicle my romance and many adventures with sugar here.  
Hopefully, you will join me and learn a few things along the way.