Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yearning to Learn?

Baking is an age old art. Somehow, in the modern day rush, many of us have never learned to do it. Whether you are beginning to think a store bought cookie just doesn't cut it anymore or you wish you knew how to bake with your children like your grandma did with you, learning the basics of this skill can put you on a path to a great hobby and a great gift to share with family.

Learning first from my German grandfather and later through self-teaching via insane amounts of books, websites, videos, and plenty of trial and error, I can be your guide to excellent home baking and decorating. All you need are a few basics to get you going.

I'm offering several classes to get you started. All classes can be taught either in my home or yours. At least 3 people must participate for a class to run in either location. The class atmosphere is fun and relaxed, just the way baking and decorating should be! Grab a friend and sign up now!

The following classes are offered at my house on the dates shown. If you prefer a class at your own house with your friends or family, you can contact me to work out a date and time. To register, please email me at with your desired class and date. Payment is due on the day of class.

Scratch Baking 101: Cake and Cookies
Nov. 8th, 2pm-5pm
Baking is both a science and an art. Learn the very basics of the science and technique that takes the mystery out of baking and helps you achieve consistent, delicious results every time. If you yearn for something beyond boxed cakes and packaged cookie dough, this course is for you! Learn how ingredients function, what makes a cookie crispy or chewy, and how to get a perfectly textured cake. Finish off the class with a delicious cookie and a slice of cake to devour!

Intro to Cake Decorating
2 session course
Nov. 7th, 10am-12pm and Nov. 14th, 10am-12pm
$35 + handful of supplies (decorating tips and disposable bags, approx. $10 at the store)
Always wondered how those pretty cakes are made? Move beyond a can of frosting smeared all over a cake and learn how to get a beautifully iced and decorated cake for all occasions! Learn to make decorator's icing, and then how to level, torte, fill and ice a cake, as well as several borders, designs and even a beautiful icing rose! This is a great class for friends to take together. Each student will make their own special cake to take home.

Holiday Cookie Decorating
Dec. 6th, 3-5pm
$25 - icing and cookies provided for you
Love those perfectly iced holiday cookies you see in stores and bakeries? They're easy once you learn the basics behind them. Come learn a recipe for the perfect sugar cookie for decorating, how to make the special icing, and how to make the pretty designs. Practice on the cookies provided for you and take some home with you to eat or give as gifts!

Other classes may be available upon request, including:

  • Gourmet Cupcakes
  • Frostings and Fillings
  • Intro to Fondant and Gumpaste
  • Royal Icing Flowers
  • Pizza from Scratch
  • Pies and Tarts
  • Holiday Gifts

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Oh, the delight! Permission to eat cookie dough? Check. Dense chocolate cupcake? Check. Cookie dough flavored frosting with mini chocolate chips and a cookie on top? Check, check, check!

These are fabulous. Amazing. Wonderful! I found the idea on How to Eat a Cupcake and then searched other sites for similar recipes. In the end, I used her chocolate cake recipe, my own cookie recipe, and the frosting and look I got from another blog that I can't seem to find again.

The only trouble I had here was getting the cookie dough to stay in the middle... mine migrated to the side of each cupcake, giving a lopsided, two tone appearance. The taste, of course, was not affected. These were made for a preschool Dad's dinner, and the ooos and aahhhs floated over the classroom. When there was a plate with a few left and I asked if anyone would like another, people scrambled to grab one to take home. So much for leftovers!

Looks like I'll be getting a chance to make these one more time. Becca and Will have asked me to make these for their wedding! I love that they are bucking the traditional boring wedding cupcake in favor of something as delicious as these!

Valentine's = Chocolate Love

A lightly flavored chocolate butter cookie tart crust with a chocolate souffle like filling... what could be better for Valentine's? I whipped these up quickly before we headed to our neighbor's for a few drinks. The crusts were deliciously buttery and the filling was a deep, rich, soft dark chocolate. And hey, they looked nice, too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Says Husband: Bake something for work tomorrow

Hmmm. I needed something quick and easy, yet not so ordinary that no one would care. It also had to be something I had all the ingredients for. Dark Fudge Bundt Cake it was. Could not have been easier! Mix the wet, dump in the dry, pour in bundt pan and bake. Top with chocolate chips, let melt and swirl with a knife. Tada! A deliciously dark, moist cake with a slightly hardened chocolate shell on top. I hear the co-workers loved it!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture. But since it was just so darn easy to make with such great results, I'm typing up the recipe for you here. Print it out and keep it for when you have company coming or just really want some good chocolate cake!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cappuccino Donuts with Espresso Cream Filling

You voted for it, I made it. As a side note, let me say that I got really excited to see so many votes... only to find out that my father voted for this confection 7 times! It worked - he was the one who ended up coming over to try them.

The verdict? They were ok, said my father and husband. OK is not what I was going for here - these were time consuming and messy to make. The dough has a long rising time, the filling is made fresh and then cools for hours... then there is another rising time on the donuts, followed by frying them 2 at a time and then dipping each one in topping and injecting with the filling.

I thought the donuts themselves, minus the filling, were pretty tasty. The filling wasn't bad, it just wasn't great by any means. I may save the recipe for just the dough and use it with some other, more tasty filling... perhaps chocolate hazlenut. These also might be good twisted up and glazed with a sugar coating, or punched with holes in the middle and given a simple chocolate glaze.

In case you'd like to play with filling donuts, here's the recipe for the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (measured from 2 envelopes)
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm whole milk (105°F to 115°F)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled to lukewarm
2 large eggs
Canola oil (for deep-frying)

Combine yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer. Pour warm milk over and stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, cinnamon, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in medium bowl to blend. Whisk butter and eggs in another medium bowl to blend.

Butter large bowl. Using dough-hook attachment, beat butter-egg mixture into yeast mixture on medium-low speed until well blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 4 minutes. Beat in flour mixture by 1/4 cupfuls, then beat dough until smooth and beginning to pull away from sides of bowl, about 5 minutes. Scrape dough from hook into bowl. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Scrape dough into buttered bowl (dough will be sticky). Turn dough to coat with butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough overnight.

Sprinkle 2 baking sheets lightly with flour. Gently press dough to deflate. Roll out chilled dough on lightly floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Using 2 3/4- to 3-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Transfer rounds to floured sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Gather dough scraps. Roll out to 1/3-inch thickness; cut out more rounds. Repeat until all dough is used. Cover dough rounds on sheets with towels. Let rise in draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 360°F to 370°F. Fry 3 dough rounds at a time until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Dip both sides of warm doughnuts into topping. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Most Over the Top Cake Ever

Superbowl Sunday required a ridiculously bad for you cake. When else do you have a bunch of guys around to devour something so over the top? I had been staring at this cake recipe for weeks and knew this was one of the few occasions it would make sense for.

Twix bars, Hershey's bars, chocolate chips, fudge sauce and caramel sauce all swirled into a vanilla sour cream cake batter and baked up tall in an angel food cake pan and then drizzled with more chocolate. Ridiculous, no? This cake was very easy to make - fast and hard to mess up. The end result is very pleasing to the eye.

How did it taste? Well, Winston wagered Superbowl bets so that the winner could take the left overs home. In the end, I just let Winston take whatever he wanted. The guys seemed to really enjoy the cake. Me? I thought it was too much of the same sweet flavor. Done again, I'd use heath bars instead of Twix, drop the caramel sauce (or make my own for deeper flavor, and stick with semi-sweet chocolate.

Garlic Stretch Bread

Superbowl Sunday meant I was in the kitchen most of the day prepping food for the guys... but we all know I like that! We wanted something yummy and savory but didnt' want to buy expensive pre-made stuff at the store. We had this recipe and I decided it was easy enough to pull off.

A simple dough, much like a pizza dough, gets mixed up and left to rise. A cheesy garlic mixture is put together. Then the dough is divided in half, stretched into long ovals, topped with the garlic mixture and some more cheese, and left to get puffy for an hour. As it bakes in the oven, it puffs up and the garlic cheese mixture bubbles and browns. It looked soooo good when it came out!! It could be used as a flat bread, but I cut it into sticks and served it with some marinara sauch for dipping.

The boys seemed to love this one, and I have to admit it was pretty tasty! My one complaint was that it was a bit too salty, so next time I'll omit the salt completely since there is already salt in the cheese and in the mayo that goes in the mix.

The Superbowl itself was pretty entertaining, but I'd have to say the best part was the 3D commercials! I wonder if we'll all have 3D tvs one of these days?