We’ve had a lot of snow this winter in Wisconsin. Yesterday was no exception and what’s better to do on a snowy day then bake cookies!? And the only thing better then baking cookies is handing them out to people who need an afternoon pick-me-up which is exactly what I did after making these. I was a little sad last night because I realized I only had one but maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂
I also had something I’ve been wanting to try with cookies. As many of you know, I read a lot of cookbooks. Too many some would say. I kept running across recipes that called for dissolving baking soda in hot water before adding it to the cookie dough. I did a little looking and here is what I found. I may have done more then a little reading on this and I will keep it simple.
The number one reason I found that this process is used is because baking soda can be really clumpy. When you dissolve the baking soda in hot water it will distribute evenly through the dough. For this reason alone I think it is something I will do again in the future. You need to be careful how much water you add because that is just extra moisture in your recipe.
The number two reason is since baking soda is heat sensitive, the hot water gives the baking soda a head start of sorts. This creates a better texture in the cookie. What I found with this recipe….but I don’t have the science for it, is that it made the outside edge crispy but because of the warmed baking soda it gave a really nice rise to the middle which kept it very chewy and delicious in the middle.
Number three is that it will stop the cookie from spreading. I can say that this was true for the recipe I made.
I think this recipe, with a little tweaking for next time, will become a staple for me and I will for sure try the baking soda in hot water again and report back. Just another tool in our bakers tool belt.
It is very cold here today in Wisconsin and that always makes me think of warm days in the bakery making loads of cookies. I am sure I’ve said it before but making cookies was my favorite thing to do there. Making up new recipes felt a little like magic. I thought I would share one of those recipes with you today.
This is for a cutout sugar cookie that was a staple for us. We would decorate them, fill them with fruit filling or just sprinkle them with a bit of sugar for an old fashioned sugar cookie. My mouth still waters for these. Enjoy!
*You may need to do some hunting for this item but it is well worth it. It will give an undefinable richness to your doughs and cookies. I used to be able to get it by the bucketful but here in the real world, I have had to buy vanilla powder and butter powder and mix them to the right taste. There is also an emulation I found on amazon but I haven’t tried it. I love this company so I am sure it would be delicious.
Cream your sugar, butter and shortening together until very light and fluffy. 3-5 minutes
Add the vanilla, butter vanilla powder, salt and eggs. Mix those together another 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
Lightly sift together the cake flour and baking powder and add into the bowl in 3 sections so you don’t get it all over your kitchen. The dough should be very soft but not stick to your finger if you press it lightly.
Press the dough into a jelly roll pan or a cookie sheet pan. Put into fridge for 1 hour or until the dough is chilled through. You can leave this dough in the fridge overnight or longer but I would recommend taking it out, cutting it into sections and wrapping it in plastic if your not going to use it right away.
When you take the dough out of the fridge to roll out, preheat your oven to 365.
Roll dough to desired thickness and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookie is lightly browned on bottom and edges.
Some variations on this dough: sprinkle with sugar on your last pass of the rolling out to give it an old fashioned sparkle, cut dough into circles, fill with desired fruit filling and fold over or even, like the photo, use a fun cookie stamp! You may want to chill the stamped cookie before you bake it just to make sure the lines stay crisp.
I was asked to make a cake for a work party at my husbands work. I have been working on this recipe off and on for about a year. I don’t think I am totally ready to share it yet though. It was a good cake but it didn’t blow my mind yet. I am going to get it there though!
A few years back my husband shared a Raspberry Zinger with me. He couldn’t believe I had never had one! Ever since then I have kept it on the back burner of my mind to make an amped up, more delicious version of this little snack cake. For those of you like me that have never had one, it is in the shape of a Twinkie made out of a yellow sponge cake, filled with a fluffy cream and then rolled in raspberry and coconut. A delicious combo.
Here are a few photos of my attempt this time. I made a yellow pound cake, filled it with raspberry cream and frosted it with a fluffy buttercream and a raspberry toasted coconut. When I feel happy with a recipe, I will be sure to share it with all of you.
One thing that I have always wanted to have and maintain is a good sourdough. I just admire the people that can have a 20 year old starter! I want to be one of those crazy people. 🙂
I started a batch 2 weeks ago now almost and she is coming along well. *yes, my sourdough is a she* I would like to see a little more activity but it is bit cold in the house so its understandable that she isn’t getting the rise and fall I want to see. There are still lots of bubbles and a nice ripe smell. I am just going to stick with it a little longer before I start keeping it in the fridge and feeding it weekly.
If you have ever started and fed a sourdough you will know that lots of it gets discarded. When you do this you can make bread with it, give it to friends or a variety of other things. Those other things are what I want to search out. This is the first trial recipe from my sourdough starter. Waffles!! And they were delicious and a great way to use up discarded starter if you don’t just want to toss it. 🙂
Most of the recipes I looked up has you make the batter up the night before, which I will be trying in the future, but I wanted waffles immediately so I made this one with a few changes.
They came out beautifully! Crispy and flavorful. My husband and I both really loved them. It is defiantly added to my list of sourdough wins.
I love soup. I could have it almost every day! And what I love even more about soup is being able to make it in a new way. Two appliances that have allowed me to do that are my Vitamix Blender and Pressure cooker. My husband and I really splurged this past year and bought a Vitamix. I have always had a blender but the difference in having a Vitamix….well it’s night and day. Not only does it make the best smoothies I have ever had (no seeds to be found!!!) but it makes the most amazing, smoothest sauces I have ever had! Packed full of flavor and eliminating dairy almost entirely. It’s a true marvel.
It is a cold and gloomy fall day here and on top of it my poor husband has been sick for going on 3 weeks. I call that the perfect day for soup. Most of my soups not start with a cycle in the pressure cooker and today was no exception. I picked up 2 bone in chicken breasts, onions, carrots, celery and topped it off with some basic spices and 8 cups of water. I pressure cooked that for 35 minutes. I would normal toss most of the veggies just because they get so mushy and I like more texture in my soup….but today I thought maybe I would try something new. I left all the veggies whole and on top of the chicken breasts. After they were cooked I just popped them all in the vita mix with about a cup of liquid and set it to the soup setting. I then went ahead like normal and strained the stock into a pot and diced in some fresh veggies, cleaned the meat off the bone and added that, lightly browned some store bough Gnocchi and by that time, the soup setting was done. I then added that to the pot. I let this simmer for a bit and added a little more salt and pepper, some cornstarch to thicken it up a bit and a spoonful of goats cheese.
I tell you what, this soup is packed with flavor and veggies! And it is so creamy. Its just so much fun to try and make something new out of an old recipe.
I am going to add the recipe down below but please note that I only made this once so it may need some adjustments. I cant wait to try this again and peg down the recipe. If you try it, let me know what you think! 🙂
salt, pepper and any other seasonings for stock that are desired
Add to a pressure cooker pot 2 bone-in chicken breasts, 8 washed carrots with the ends trimmed off, 2 onions with ends trimmed off and outside skin removed, 4 stalks of celery, 8 cups of water as well as salt, pepper and spice to your taste.
Set your pressure cooker to high pressure for about 35 minutes and let it do its thing.
Clean and chop the carrots, celery and any other desired vegetable and set aside.
Lightly brown the gnocchi and set aside.
Once the pressure cooker goes off, release the pressure with quick release. Spoon vegetables into the Vitamix/blender. (try not to get any of the chicken gunk with the vegetables.)
Strain remaining broth into a large pot. Pour about 1 cup of the broth over vegetables and process until smooth.
Turn stock on medium high heat and add raw vegetables and gnocchi. Allow this to simmer until vegetables are soft.
Rinse the chicken breast and remove meat from bones. Roughly chop and add to soup. Add pureed vegetables.
Mix together the cornstarch and cold water and add to the soup while stirring.
Has it really been over 2 months since I wrote on here!? Time just flies…
I do have a few new things in my life. Number 1 amazing thing is that I found a new job. This is really a dream job for me and I am so excited to be there. I am the Pastry Chef for 3 restaurants and a food truck! It is just part time but I am ok with that. I get 2 full days of making Crème Brulee, Ice Creams and a huge list of other fancy things. I am still a little timid in bringing in new recipes but I know that will come. Right now I am just so thankful to be so excited to be a Pastry Chef.
Another change is that I left my other job. I was a cook at an assisted living home. There were a few things I really liked about the job but the things I didn’t like outweighed them all. Last week was my last day and it feels really good to be going in a new direction.
So, what am I going to be doing with myself, you may ask. Well….I am wanting to really throw myself into my flipping for a few days a week and the rest of my time I want to put into my new job and baking. I have been doing some thinking about even getting some certifications or classes to really advance my baking skills. I am not sure where that is going to lead but its exciting to think about.
One more quick thing to share with you. Last month at my new job I needed to create my first dessert for a special dinner. This is what I made.
It is a Cinnamon Sugar Shortbread “Tostada”, Mascarpone Cream, Grilled Cyan Pepper Peaches and a Candied Pecan Crumble. It came together splendidly! I also introduced myself and my dessert to the crowd. It was quite a night for me and really felt like I was on track to doing what I was meant to do all along. Isn’t that what we all look for?
It has been far too long in-between posts. I am so sorry for that. I hope to improve that in the future because……I GOT A NEW JOB! I will be a pastry chef at 3 of the best restaurants in the area! I will be trying out all kinds of new recipes and techniques. I am so excited about it. Last weekend I did 2 different kinds of Crème Brule and this weekend, as you can see, I made Angel Food. Kevin and I tried a dessert while staying in Madison that I need to try and recreate. It was slices of cake soaked in a run cream sauce with pears. It was incredible and I have some idea of how to really amplify it.
I found just a simple, basic Angel Food recipe from one of my many cookbooks. This recipe is from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. I had to change it a bit to fit what I had in the house but it baked up beautifully and tastes like Heaven. 😀 Don’t use a mix unless you have too. I promise….you can make it from scratch.
Credit: Chez Panisse Café Cookbook by Alice Waters (page 224)
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 12 eggs)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice (you can also add rose or orange blossom water)
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar* I didn’t have any in the house so a little hint is: you can replace will either lemon juice or vinegar. 1/8 tsp per egg in recipe. Your cake will not get quite as high (the cream of tartar is a stabilizer and helps give it height) but it will still come out wonderfully with a little extra flavor on the end.
Preheat oven to 325. If egg whites are cold carefully warm them in a large stainless steel bowl over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until they are body temperature. (You will get more volume from warm egg whites)
Measure 1 TB water, vanilla & lemon juice and set aside. (also any other liquids you are using in recipe) Sift the cake flour. 1/2 cup sugar and salt together. Set both aside.
Begin whipping the egg whites at a medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and the measured liquids. Continue whipping until the whites hold a loose peak. At this point begin to very slowly add in the remaining 1 cup of sugar. (I do this while the machine is running and make a very slow stream into the mixer.) Continue beating the whites until they hold a softly stiffed peak when the whisk is lifted from them. They should not pour but hold soft mounds when scooped and appear glossy and meringue like but not dry. *see photo below recipe*
Pour half of the dry ingredients over the egg whites and fold in white a rubber spatula. Continue with the rest until mixed in well.
Scoop the batter into 10×4-inch tube pan and make sure the top is smooth. DO NOT GREASE PAN
Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and the edges have begun to pull away from pan, 40-45 minutes. The cake should spring back when gently touched. Invert the pan onto a cooking rack while still in the pan. If the cake has risen to the very to go the pan, hang the pan by the center over a large bottle. inverting the pan helps prevent it from sticking or deflating. Cool completely before removing from pan. Run a knife around all edges and then gently tap it out of the pan.
To cut cake, use a sharp serrated knife dipped in water, dipping after each cut. This helps prevent the cake from sticking to the knife.