Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pancake Tuesday Gingerbread Cakes

Gingerbread Pancakes  
from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion Cookbook

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 Tb sugar
1/2 tea cinnamon
3/4 tea ground ginger
1/8 tea ground cloves
1/2 tea salt
1 tea baking powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 Tb oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten

Add all dry ingredients and mix well. In separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add liquid to dry and stir just until combined. Cook until done in center...takes a tad longer than other pancakes.

We like to serve them with chocolate sauce or some whipped cream. They are wonderful alone too!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baked Quick Skillet Cake- The Cravings

One of our favorite books is Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake. It is about a bunny who discovers chocolate cake for the first time. It is a fun read for the kids. It makes me daydream of chocolate cake.

Someone else loves chocolate cake too! Can you believe that doing laundry sometimes makes me crave chocolate cake? True story.

When I was reading my latest fun read..I found myself craving chocolate cake!

I agree that chocolate cake is at its best when it's moist! And has a thick layer of creamy homemade chocolate frosting. You could find this kind of cake, if you could find the Traveling Restaurant..or just come to my house. I found a moist cake recipe.

Short story about the cast iron pan. Joel and I laugh that this is the reason I married him. He had one kitchen item that I did not own. This was it!! and I wanted it!

This quick simple cake bakes in your cast iron skillet and whips up quickly.

Smells delish.

Pops right out of the pan.

The frosting makes this cake. Creamy dreamy chocolate frosting. Which leads me to my suggestion on how to improve this cake. More frosting is needed: a layer in the center.

We took this to a cookout and it was perfect. Wedges could be handed out and everyone loved it.

Just having a cake in the pan is fun. I am excited to see what the other Baked bakers did.

Like I said the only thing that would make this better is to cut the cake horizontally and add another layer of frosting!!

Skillet Chocolate Cake 
Copied from Baked Website

1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 – 72%), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk, shaken vigorously
Make the Chocolate Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 10-inch, cast-iron skillet or ovenproof stainless steel skillet with butter. (The heavy, dark-colored cast-iron skillet will makes the sides of the cake more crispy than a stainless steel one.) Line the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess.
In a small, heatproof bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, chocolate, and espresso powder. Add 3/4 cup very hot water, wait one minute, and then whisk the mixture until its melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
In another small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugars and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs one at a time, and beat just until combined. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting, and in a slow, steady stream, add the reserved chocolate mixture. Scrape down the bowl again, then turn the mixer to low.  Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix for a few more seconds and pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Smooth the surface with a spatula.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the skillet halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides of the pan and flip the cake onto a cooling rack. Turn the cake right side up and let it sit on the rack until completely cool.

For the Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces good-quality chocolate (60 to 72%), melted and cooled

Make the Chocolate Frosting
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar all at once and beat until completely blended, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add the melted, cooled chocolate. Beat until smooth, continuing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed until the frosting is uniform in color.
Transfer the skillet cake to a cake board or serving platter. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top. Serve it immediately or refrigerate it, if necessary. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Apricot Harvest and Scones

Oh...let me tell you how much fun we are having with the apricots! If you have missed the week of fun we have made jam, bread, muffins, and now apricot cream cheese scones. Recipe here. I just love King Arthur's Flour. The cookbooks are my favorites and now so many of their recipes are online.

The recipe calls for mixing by hand but I do love to use the processor. And it worked. Plus my assistant loves to press the buttons.

I love the smell of fresh fruit..and being able to throw everything in to one place to mix.

Having fun whisking together the egg, vanilla and milk.

And sporting a new apron!! I made that..wow, canning, picking fruit, homemade bread and sewing. Have I been abducted by aliens? I bet you didn't even notice the apron because my assistant is so cute.

Brushing with milk and adding a sprinkle of sugar..taste testing along the way.

 Apricot Cream Cheese Scones
King Arthur's Flour Baker's Companion 


  • 3 1/4 cups  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, chunked
  • 1 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more, if needed
  • Sparkling sugar for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place all dry ingredients into processor and pulse a few times.
Pulse in the butter and cream cheese like biscuits.
Add apricot to the bowl but do not pulse yet.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add liquid to processor and pulse until evenly moistened..but not a lot.
Put onto floured board and fold over until it holds together-2 or 3 times
Pat into 1 inch think slab.
Cut into triangles.
Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 18 minutes until golden brown.

We loved them with fresh apricot jam and sour cream. YUM.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Apricot Harvest and Fresh Bread

 What must you do when you have wonderful fresh apricot jam? Make bread!

 I made the Vermont Maple Oatmeal Bread from King Arthur's Flour. The recipe is here. But the amazing thing I wanted to share was the new way I found for rolling out rolls. It is called THE FLIP! I love it and now find myself wanting to make rolls every day because flipping them is so fun. Watch the how to video. (you have to scroll down a bit to see the video)

I tell you...mmm this is living. Fresh rolls and fresh jam.

 Vermont Maple Oatmeal Bread/Rolls


  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Mix first 7 ingredients.
Add flour and mix in mix 7 minutes until "springy dough"
Rise till doubled-1-2 hours
Deflate dough and then....the fun begins. Cut and FLIP!!
Place on pan with siltpat, 2 fingers between each roll
Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Apricot Harvest and the Muffins

 You have got to try this amazing recipe. The flavors mix so well together. We all loved this.
The technique is like making biscuits..interesting for a muffin.

 This was MT first recipe made completely without help. What a winner!! Nice job beauty.

Fresh Apricot Cardamom Muffins
Baking in America by Greg Patent

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tea baking powder
  • 1/2 tea salt
  • 1/2 tea baking soda
  • 1/2 tea ground cardamom (scant)
  • 6 Tb cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups diced apricots
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tea vanilla

  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1/8 tea cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients
Cut in butter like biscuits
Add fruit

In another bowl mix all wet ingredients together
Pour wet into dry and fold gently until well moistened
Fill 12 greased muffin tins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins

Monday, July 23, 2012

Apricot Harvest and the Jam

We were invited by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to pick apricots in the Santa Clara orchard. What an invitation!! I had just looked at purchasing apricots at the store and they were over $3 a pound. We jumped at the chance to go pick our own...for FREE.

 We arrived at 6:30 am and were greeted by friendly helpful folks who loaded us up with ladders and pails. After a word of prayer we were on our way. I waited until later to take a picture of the sign because it was still dark when we arrived.

 This was our first family adventure with CT picking anything. She loved it.

 ST loved finding the perfect apricots.

 Every time I turned around more apricots!!

 MT was amazing at harvesting hard to get to fruit. It was a thing of beauty to watch the girls work together as the sun rose.

 And the apricots began to fill our buckets. Then we transferred them to a big plastic bin we brought.

 I hope it wasn't greedy but we picked 19 lbs of apricots!! And did we make use of them: Jam, scones, muffins, and just plain fresh.

 We started by measuring out our apricots in 2 lb, pit free piles. MT and ST did all the pitting. The hardest part was waiting for the green ones to get ripe..but we didn't have to wait long. 2 days later they were ready for canning.

 I found a recipe online for jam but we changed things up a bit. Our recipe is below:

Apricot Jam
  • 6 lbs pitted very ripe apricots
  • 5 scant cups sugar
  • 3 tea cinnamon
  • 3 tea vanilla

Place everything in the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours. When soft use an immersion blender and smooth the jam out. Leaving as many lumps as you like. I don't like lumps.

Or we put everything in a pot on the stove and cook for an hour. Blenderize.

Put into prepared jars. We made about 10 quarts of jam. Which is really a life saver because we are toast people and I still have not found a job.
Thank you Santa Clara Orchard!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Death by Chocolate "The Big Dig"

After making the triple layer Mississippi Mud Cake for the Baked Sundays Group, I found a recipe that I wanted to make a long time ago. The Mississippi Mud cake was fun but I thought it could be so much better...so I made my favorite layers (no flour chocolate torte and chocolate pudding) and assembled it "The Big Dig" style. The Big Dig is from the Death by Chocolate Cookbook. I got this cookbook from The Trellis restaurant in Historic Williamsburg VA from the King of Ganache!! I had 2 signed cookbooks from there but gave the sister book to my friend Joy.

After you make your favorite recipe for a flourless chocolate torte and pudding, get ready to have the fun!!

You will need:
  • Biscuit cutter
  • Parchment Paper
  • White Chocolate- 2oz
  • Dark Chocolate-4 oz
  • Milk Chocolate-2 oz
  • Large Work Area
Melt your chocolate in separate bowls and start to cool.

Cut rounds out of your cake and place in fridge until ready to use.

Transfer your milk chocolate and white chocolate into small ziplock baggies. Then cut a small corner off.

Decorate your parchment paper. I premeasured mine to fit my biscuit rounds. Then started with my white chocolate.

I then added my milk chocolate swirls. Cool them briefly.

Then I added my dark chocolate over the top of my design...and swiped it with my groovy spatula. If you want it more marbled looking press harder with your spatula. I wanted to keep my designs a little more intact so I was gentle.

I had to swipe some chocolate off the end because I had to much on...spread it thin. Then roll up your flourless chocolate cake bottom.

Sit your rolls in a pan and place in the fridge for 30 min or more.

Very carefully pull off the parchment paper. Then add your pudding layer...and then the whipped cream layer. It doesn't have to be perfect. I tried with the first one (top right back corner) and it wasn't nearly as cool looking as the others.
I used a decorators plunger thing to add both layers as my cups are too fragile for a spoon.

You can spinkle chocolate chunks on top...

Or decorate with shards of chocolate.  Notice the different designs on the cups...milk chocolate is beautiful!
This is the center! It is nicely layered.

These are very rich and should be made small! I used a 3 inch cutter and thought that would be perfect but it was really too big. The bottom layer is best at room temperature, but the cup melts quickly (especially in our desert heat).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pancake Tuesday Sweet Potatoe Cakes

One of my fondest memories is of the Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My folks took us there to have Sweet Potato Pancakes. It was the most wonderful little cafe. Narrow and small with great food. Joel fell in love with Grits and I with Pancakes.

If you take a humble (but large) sweet potato and bake it for 45 minutes, you will have the beginning of something magical. True love has never started so easily.

Peel and mash it with:
 2 TB honey
1 tea cinnamon
1/2 tea fresh grated nutmeg

Set aside to cool.

 2 3/4 cup flour
1 tea salt
5 Tb plus 1 1/2 tea sugar
1 1/2 tea baking powder
3/4 tea baking soda

Whisk in another bowl:
3 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 Tb melted butter

Whisk wet into dry. Then add sweet potato mixture. Let batter stand for 1 hour. That is the only hard part!!

Heat a skillet over medium heat and scoop 1/3 cup at a time. Cook till bubbly.

Light and fluffy..no not fluffy but tender! Joel says, "Fantastic and Amazing!"

A perfect southern breakfast..eggs, sweet potato hash, peppered bacon, sweet potato pancakes..and yes we had grits too!!