Bridal Shower Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

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This is it guys, I’ve made it!

I just made my first batch of cupcakes for a client!

Granted, it was one of my good friends… but she still chose to ask me to make the cupcakes for her best friend’s bridal shower instead of buying them from a cupcake shop! I was so honored and flattered!

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She said that I could make whatever I wanted and she needed 2 dozen.

My Classic White Cupcakes were to-die-for, so I revisited that recipe for a sure-fire yummy hit. I wanted to do something new and fun, given the time of the year I was thinking light and fruity.

STRAWBERRY!

Doing a strawberry cupcake gave me a pretty pink color that wasn’t overpowering, and it’s a pretty safe flavor that most people would love to gobble up!

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I found the recipe for Sprinkles famous Strawberry Cupcakes on Martha Stewarts website here and decided to go for it.

I used my vanilla buttercream frosting recipe that was provided on my Chocolate Cupcakes post.

I made an extra cupcake (a baker’s dozen) so that I could taste the cake and make sure I was giving a quality product and oh my this was so so good. I can’t wait to hear how they went over. And I decorated them so beautifully, if I do say so myself!

Strawberry Cupcakes

Prep: 15 minutes     Yield: 1 dozen

Ingredients

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

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Enjoy!

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BAGELS!

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We got about 9 inches of snow last night, so I was gifted with a wonderful

SNOW DAY!

Snowed in with nowhere to go and nothing to do…What better way to spend my unexpected day off, than by crossing a challenging item off of my Baking Bucket List!

I pulled out my brand new Baking with Julia cookbook and was thumbing through it and came across her recipe for

BAGELS

Let me tell you, this recipe is 3 1/2 pages long. I knew I had my work cut out for me. And I resolved to do it the old fashioned way, with a wooden spoon and hand kneading. Phew, I got my workout in for the day, it’s tougher than I remembered.

My bagels aren’t the smoothest, or most beautiful bagels that I have ever seen, but they are delicious! They are soft and moist in the center, and nicely browned on the outside. Plus you can season them however you’d like! I used garlic salt and kosher salt on the first batch and on the second I used garlic salt, kosher salt, and a cajun spice mix. I can’t wait to have one for breakfast with some cream cheese smear and a coffee. Mmm.

I typed out Julia Child’s recipe below (yes, it took me quite a while). They are really very yummy, and I am proud to have accomplished the feat of making these babies from scratch. Enjoy, and please report back if you decide to try making some bagels of your own! I’d like to know how to smooth them out to make them prettier 🙂

BAGELS

Inactive: 5 hours     Bake: 35 minutes     Yield: 10 bagels

Ingredients

Creamy yeast

Creamy yeast

Bagels

  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 2 1/4 cups tepid water (80-90 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (optional)
  • 6 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

Water Bath

After the 1 hour rise!

After the 1 hour rise!

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

Directions

Brush the inside of a large bowl with some melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining butter for coating the top of the dough.

Mixing and Kneading

  1. Whisk the yeast into 1/4 cup of the tepid water. Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy.
  2. Pour the remaining 2 cups water into a large bowl and add the shortening. Add the yeast mixture along with 2 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and the black pepper, if you’re using it, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix.
  3. Stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon, add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stopping when you have a soft, sticky dough that is difficult to stir. (You will probably use almost 6 cups of flour, but the dough will still be soft and sticky-and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be). Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Add additional flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface.

*Can use an electric mixer

Rise

After the refrigerator!

After the refrigerator!

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in bulk.

Chilling the Dough

  • Deflate the dough, cover as before, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or, if it’s more convenient, overnight.

*At this point, the dough can be well wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days

  1. When you’re ready to make the bagels, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If the bagels are to bake on a stone, preheat the stone too and generously dust a peel with cornmeal. If they will bake on baking sheets, brush the sheets with vegetable oil (or spray) and dust them with cornmeal. For added flavor, use one or all of the suggested topping ingredients in combination with cornmeal to dust the peel or sheets.
  2. While the oven preheats, fill a stockpot with water and bring the water to a rapid boil.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets or trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into 1 of the towels and place both sheets close to your work surface.
Ready for the boil.

Ready for the boil.

Shaping the Dough

  1. Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half; cover and chill one piece of the dough while you work with the other. Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel.
  2. To form a bagel and develop the gluten cloak that will give it its structure, draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top. Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until you have a perfectly round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot or pleat at the top. Turn the dough over so that the knot is against the work surface and plunge your index finger into the center of the dough. Wiggle your finger around in the hole to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other and start rotating the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a diameter of 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough.

Water Bath

Boiling!

Boiling!

  1. Add the sugar and baking soda to the boiling water. With a large slotted skimming spoon or slotted spatula, lower the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water. Don’t crowd them-the bagels should swim around in the water without touching one another; it’s better to boil them in batches than to cram them into the pot all at one time. The bagels will sink to the bottom of the pot when you put them in, then rise to the top. Once the bagels have surfaced, boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, flipping them over gently with the skimmer. Remove the bagels, shaking the skimmer over the stockpot to et ride of some of the excess water, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up.
  2. Keeping the smoothest sides up, transfer the bagels to the peel or prepared baking sheet. (Work quickly, because the wet bagels have a tendency to stick to the towel)
After the boil, ready for the oven!

After the boil, ready for the oven!

Glaze

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve and brush each bagel with the glaze. Try not to let the glaze drip onto the baking sheet or peel, or it will glue down the bagels. Don’t worry if the bagels look wrinkled-they’ll smooth out in the oven. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if you’re using a topping, or more than one, sprinkle it, or them, evenly over the bagels now.

Baking

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

  1. Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the bagels in the oven and immediately toss the ice cubs and water onto the oven floor (or into the hot pan). Quickly close the oven door to capture the steam produced by the ice, turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the bagels remain in the oven for 5 more minutes. Open the oven door and leave the bagels in the oven for another 5 minutes. Transfer the bagels to a rack and cool.
  2. Before baking the next batch of bagels, be certain to bring the oven temperature back to 500 degrees F.

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Enjoy!

Irish BOOZE Cake

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I know, I am a little behind in posting this delectable Irish treat, but better late than never!

Especially when it comes to this irresistibly rich and perfectly boozy dessert!

My dad brewed his own Irish Stout for St. Patrick’s Day, so of course I wanted to incorporate it in to the traditional family meal of corned beef and cabbage somehow, and what better way than mixed with chocolate in a cake!

I came across a food blog called Food Babbles which posted this amazing Irish Car Bomb cake recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and it was just too perfect to pass up!

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Jameson with my whiskey ganache.

 

It has all of the elements of the Irish Car Bomb beverage:

Irish Stout beer, Jameson Irish whiskey, and Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Isn’t the point of St. Patty’s day to get your drink on? This cake is the perfect compliment to whatever you find yourself sipping on.

Irish BOOZE Cake

Ingredients

Irish stout and butter with cocoa.

Irish stout and butter with cocoa.

Cake

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness, I used my dad’s home brewed Irish Stout)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache

Chopped chocolate for the ganache.
Chopped chocolate for the ganache.
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson and at least doubled the recipe- add to taste)

Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8″ cake pans with parchment circles on bottom. (I also sprayed with nonstick spray)
  2. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
  4. Add the stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the two cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake until tester inserted in center come out clean, about 10 minutes longer. Cool completely on rack.

Ganache

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

  1. Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.
  2. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let cool to room temperature and until thickened a bit.

Frosting

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

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Enjoy!

Baked Apples

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Last week, my theme for my preschool class was “Our Healthy Bodies”. We talked about things that we do to make our bodies healthy, happy, and strong (and also things that make our bodies sad and weak).

Apple Smiles

On Friday we did a snack craft where we made APPLE SMILES!

I bought a big sack of red apples and encouraged my kiddos to gobble them up!

Apples and beer.

Apples and beer.

 

However, even after my 30 students ate their snack, I still had 6 apples left over! These red apples aren’t my preferred choice in apple for snacking consumption, so I decided to bake them in to something more delicious!

Now, I will apologize for my horrible attempt at documenting the ‘recipe’ I created.

Honestly, I sliced the apples, then sprinkled my ingredients over the top without measuring. My recipe below is my best attempt at recreating this dish (with some slight changes) that would create an even better outcome!

It was delicious.

Baked Apples

Prep: 20 minutes     Bake: 45 minutes

Ingredients

Phew, done peeling and chopping.

Phew, done peeling and chopping.

  • 6 red apples
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain oats

Directions

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray shallow glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Peel and slice apples.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl, toss apples in mixture to coat evenly.
  4. Pour apples in to baking dish, cover with slices of butter.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Enjoy!

French Baguettes

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My mom just bought me Baking with Julia

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A cookbook that every aspiring baker must have in his/her collection, and one that, as my mother says, I will cherish my whole life.

While I was waiting for the delivery of this little culinary masterpiece, I managed to work up quite the appetite for some homemade bread. I mean just look at that beautiful cover photography! 

However, I just could not wait for Julia’s recipe to arrive, so I decided to go ahead and make a Baguette recipe I came across online. I know I know, I built you all up for a Julia Child recipe review, but I’m afraid I must let you down. 

 I promise to try hers soon. And many many many other things.

The recipe I did try is from the Cooking Channel TV website, titled Homemade French Baguettes which can be found here and is posted below.  

It was very easy to follow and quite quick for a yeast recipe! 

Baking with the ice underneath creating a beautifully crispy golden crust, with a moist and light center. Yum.

May not be Julia Child, but these baguettes are delicious nonetheless.

French Baguettes

Prep: 15 minutes     Inactive: 1 hour     Bake: 20 minutes
Before kneading

Before kneading

Ingredients

  • 2 envelopes dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • Cornmeal, for dusting pan
  • 3-4 ice cubes
Directions
  1. Combine the honey, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir to combine and let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and begins to foam, 5 minutes. 
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook and slowly add in the yeast mixture. Gradually add 1 cup warm water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball that is not too wet (you may not need all of the water). If the dough is sticky, add a little bit more flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 6 minutes. You can do the thumbprint test: press in the dough with your thumb and it should bounce back when it’s ready. 

    Punching down the dough.

    Punching down the dough.

  3. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a dishcloth, so it doesn’t dry out. Let rest in a warm environment until doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Shape into 2 baguettes by making a flat rectangle out of your dough, then folding the top and bottom towards the middle, like an envelope, and sealing the seam with your fingers. Keep repeating the folding and sealing, stretching the rectangle lengthwise as you go, until it’s about 12 to 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold and seal either end to round. Flip seam-side down and place on a sheet pan or baguette pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. Score the tops of the loaves, making deep diagonal slits 1/2-inch deep, cover with a dishcloth and let rise in a warm environment until they have doubled in size, 25 minutes. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position your oven racks with one on the bottom and the other in the middle. Place an oven-safe (non-glass) bowl or pan on the bottom rack. 
  6. When your bread has doubled for the second time, remove the towel and quickly and simultaneously, slide the sheet tray with the baguettes onto the middle rack while carefully throwing the ice cubes into the bowl on the bottom rack. The ice will create a burst of steam that will give you a nice crispy crust. Quickly shut the oven door so no steam escapes. Bake the baguettes until golden brown, 15 minutes. 

*Cook’s Note: If you have a glass window on your oven, place a towel over it when throwing the ice in, hot glass can shatter if ice touches it.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!


Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Enjoy!

Classic White Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

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Okay so the other day when I baked Chocolate Cupcakes for my staff, I also baked some Classic White Cupcakes per Wills request. When I asked him what his favorite kind of cake was, he said white. WHITE of all things. I thought HOW BORING.

But my god these cupcakes are good.

I came across a Simple White Cake Recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com that just got rave reviews, so I decided to give it a whirl- and let me tell you these little nuggets are the bomb-diggity (Yes. Yes. I just said ‘bomb-diggity).

I got so many compliments on these cupcakes, “Oh My God did you make these?”, “My whole family was fighting over these”, “They’re the best cupcakes I’ve ever had” – you get the picture.

The buttercream recipe was also divine and can be found at the bottom of my Chocolate Cupcakes post 🙂

Classic White Cupcakes

Prep: 20 minutes     Bake: 30 minutes     Yield: 12 cupcakes

IMG_5960Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when it springs back to the touch.
  4. Finish with buttercream frosting!

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Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting!

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Oh my goodness.

I have not posted in nearly a week, and I am NOT happy with myself about that!

However… I do have good reason: I interviewed for a special education preschool position last Monday, started Thursday, and am still trying to wrap my head around my new students, classroom, curriculum, staff, and school!

I TEACH PRESCHOOL NOW.

Hilarious. We sing a lot of songs. Like A LOT.

I wanted to get back to my baking basics and make something that can show my appreciation to my support staff for being so amazing this week, so I decided to gift them some thank you cupcakes! I really don’t know what I would have done without them.

I decided to follow Martha Stewart’s recipe for her Chocolate Cupcakes, and Savory Sweet Life’s recipe for Classic Buttercream Frosting.

The cupcakes themselves are dense and intensely rich little nuggets. The consistency is between a brownie and a cake as these babies are moist but heavy. They are also somewhat bitter so the buttercream frosting helps balance the flavor.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep: 30 minutes     Bake: 20-25 minutes     Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
  3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then finish with buttercream frosting!

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Prep: 5 minutes     Yield: 2.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Directions

  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

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Enjoy!

Fat Tuesday Paczki

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Happy Fat Tuesday!

Or better yet…

HAPPY PACZKI DAY!

It is Polish tradition to indulge in these delectable donuts on the last Tuesday before Ash Wedensday, which is also the last day of Mardi Gras!

SO DEVOUR EVERYTHING! GORGE YOURSELF! EAT LIKE A COW!

Now here I should clear one thing up…

I don’t exactly honor Lent, and I’m not Polish.

But…

I do love honoring other cultures food traditions, obviously.

I found this Pączki recipe on this Eastern European Food site posted by Barbara Rolek. She explains her busia, or grandmother, used to make this Pączki recipe without a filling, and dusted with granulated sugar.

Her recipe is easy to follow, and is typed below.

Blackberry filling

Blackberry filling

I did find this dough to be extremely tacky and hard to work with, so where it says ‘lightly floured’ be a little generous. My dough kept sticking to my lightly floured non-stick mats, and to my floured fingers. Hence why some of my pączki are not the prettiest. I also used a 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (aka my English Muffin rings), so my  pączki ended up a little larger than her recipe describes. The rises also only took me 2 hours total.

I made most of mine with a Blackberry filling (I let Wills pick it out), and dusted with powdered sugar. I also dusted some in granulated sugar and cinnamon. YUM.

Polish Pączki

Prep: 45 minutes     Cook: 6 minutes     Rises: 3 hours     Total: 3 hours, 51 minutes     Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients

Before the third rise!

Before the third rise!

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk (no warmer than 110 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or rum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 gallon oil for deep frying
  • Granulated sugar (optional)
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
  • Fruit paste for filling (optional)

Directions

Into the fryer!

Into the fryer!

  1. Add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until well-incorporated.
  2. Still using the paddle attachment, add 4 1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth. My grandmother used to beat the dough with a wooden spoon until it blistered. Dough will be very slack. If too soft, add remaining 1/2 cup flour, but no more.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours. Punch down and let rise again (about 30 minutes).
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch biscuit cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.

    Fresh from the fryer!

    Fresh from the fryer!

  5. Heat oil to 350 degrees in large skillet or Dutch oven. Place pączki top-side down (the dry side) in the oil a few at a time and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip them over and fry another 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot so the exterior doesn’t brown before the interior is done. Test a cool one to make sure it’s cooked through. Adjust cooking time and oil heat accordingly.
  6. Drain pączki on paper towels or brown paper bags, and roll in granulated sugar while still warm. Note: You can poke a hole in the side of the pączki and, using a pastry bag, squeeze in a dollop of the filling of choice. Then dust filled pączki with granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar or glaze.

Enjoy while still warm!

  • Pączki don’t keep well, which is the perfect excuse to gorge yourself on them!IMG_5952
Cinnamon and sugar

Cinnamon and sugar

Enjoy!

Hidden Heart Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hidden hearts in my red velvet cupcakes ❤

 I have always wanted to bake a shape inside of a cupcake. I have seen this done for years (even before Pinterest) and I always wondered how it was done. It’s like a present inside of a present. First you get the deliciously sweet and cute little cupcake, and you open it up and there is another little darling surprise!

This year, in the spirit of the season of love, I decided to try to bake a little heart in to some red velvet cupcakes. I know Valentine’s is still a week away, but what can I say, I got a little trigger happy.

Typically, these shape-hidden-within-a-cupcake recipes call for you to make the batter, then separate 1/3 of the batter for coloring and baking and subsequent shaping of the core. I didn’t want to do a boring old white cupcake, so I decided to spice things up for my hunka hunka burnin’ man love and do a red velvet cupcake with a white with pink marbled heart center.

Marbled white cake.

Marbled white cake.

I bought some crappy white cake box mix from the store (I hung my head as I did it, but really… I am just cutting it up and dying it… no point in making a whole quality cake to only use a few pieces of it). I spread my batter on a cookie sheet, marbled the color throughout, and baked. I did it this way because  I wanted my hearts to be as thin and petite as possible. I then stored my hearts for use in my red velvet cupcake recipe.

A couple of things did not go perfectly in this little baking craft.

I love my yellow Kitchenaid mixer!

I love my yellow Kitchenaid mixer!

First, I marbled pink gel color through my white cake, but after baking the hearts in to the cupcakes, you cannot tell that I even took the time to complete this step. The hearts just look like white cake. Which is fine, they are still cute 🙂

Second, I had filled my cupcake liners about 1/3-1/2 full of batter before sticking in my hearts. I then covered the hearts with more batter, making sure that they remained upright. I assumed as long as the batter is covering the hearts, it will rise above the heart. This did not happen, my hearts rose with the cupcakes and ended up very close to the top of the cake. If I were to repeat this recipe, I would fill the cupcake liners only about 1/4 full and make sure my hearts are as close to the bottom as possible. I made this adjustment in my directions below. 

The recipe I am using for my red velvet cupcakes is here

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: 20 minutes     Yield: 20 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    1/2 cup butter

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 20 cupcake liners in muffin pans.

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

    Hearts are covered, ready for the oven!

  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring, and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. 
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling 1/4 full.*
    1. Place a prepared heart standing upright in the center of each cupcake, being careful to have all the hearts facing the same direction so you remember which way to serve them!*
    2. Disperse the remaining batter evenly among the cupcake liners, making sure your hearts will be covered during baking.*
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. 

*I added these directions so that you will have hidden hearts in your cupcakes ❤

Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract last.
  2. Prepare piping bag with star tip. Spoon icing in to bag and decorate your cupcakes!

I topped with some Valentine’s colored sprinkles and some red hot lip sprinkles. Get creative with your decorating, that’s the fun part!

Enjoy!

Margherita Pizza

Before baking!

Before baking!

Okay so I have a confession to make.

After getting my Masters in Special Education this December, I have really been giving my brain a rest. I have been taking some time to just explore the things I enjoy doing such as baking, crocheting, crafting, and reading. I have a Bachelors degree in Literature, and I am embarrassed to admit I’ve been reading what I would consider ‘pop trash’.

Eat, Pray, Love

I also recognize that I am like 5-6 years late on this trend which makes me even more lame. Nonetheless, I just completed the section where she is eating her way across Italy and I have been craving a good Neopolitan-style Margherita Pizza.

This is as close as I could come.

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Pretty close, and AMAZING!

I scoured the Internet for a tried and true dough recipe and wished that Peter Reinhart’s American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza was part of my cookbook collection as it seems to be the universally accepted go-to book for pizza recipes. I finally settled on Bobby Flay’s Dough Recipe from Food Network after reading some reader reviews.

Finding a sauce recipe also took me quite some time, and I decided to use Mario Batali’s Pizza Margherita recipe which includes both a dough and sauce recipe.

Making both the dough and the sauce was fun. As the dough was rising, I had plenty of time to make my sauce!

AND I GOT TO CROSS OFF ANOTHER ITEM FROM MY BAKING BUCKET LIST!

I did have a little trouble transferring my prepared pizza to my pizza stone in my oven… I need a pizza peel if I try to do this again. I wish I could have photographed it. Me and Wills with hands full of dough and spatulas trying to ease the pizza on to the stone without losing any cheese or sauce in our tiny kitchen in our poorly-lit apartment. Thank god we didn’t flip it over on to the floor, I think I would have cried myself to sleep.

That brings me to another point. Sorry about the flash photography, I obviously prefer natural lighting, however the sun sets at about 6 pm here in West Lafayette, IN and I could NOT wait until tomorrow to devour this pizza!

Here are the recipes:

Pizza Dough

Prep: 20 minutes     Inactive: 1 hour, 10 minutes     Yield: 2 (14 inch) pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling (Chef’s Note: Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can’t find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour which will give you a chewier crust.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons

Directions

After the rise!

After the rise!

  1. Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball*. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
  2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

*I did 3 1/2 cups to start, then needed to add 3 tablespoons to get the right consistency

Classic Marinara Sauce

Prep: 15 minutes     Cook: 15 minutes     Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree (about 1 (28-ounce) can) roughly chopped
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • Sprig fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

My dough spread out in to my pizza crust!

My dough spread out in to my pizza crust!

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now, store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Top with fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves and bake for 10-14 minutes until the cheese gets bubbly and the bottom of the dough starts to brown!

This pizza was so delicious! The crust was divine. It was crispy on the edges but soft inside. I will definitely use the crust recipe in the future!

The sauce was a little runny, I will experiment with how to thicken it up slightly and report back.

I also made a barbeque chicken pizza for Wills 🙂

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Enjoy!