Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Muffins for a Week: Whole Wheat Blueberry Cereal Muffins

I have a sick love affair with almost anything that has to do with morning eats- scones, cinnamon rolls, muffins, pancakes, waffles, french toast, cereal- if it's somewhat sweet and can be ate in the morning you've got me.. hook line and sinker. A couple weeks ago I was checking out what Joy the Baker was up to and came across some bran muffins she had recently made that used cereal and could be kept in the fridge for a week.

Fresh muffins all week long?? Done and done.

I actually had some Blueberry Almond Cereal that I was trying to find something to do with because it was just a litttle too sweet for me in the morning. I was going to use it in cookies until I came across her recipe. A few tweaks later and I had delicious muffins every morning for a week :)

Little ramekins come in handy for single muffins!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Cereal Muffins
Inspired and Adapted from Joy the Baker
Oven: 375  Bake Time: 25 minutes
Yields 20-24 muffins

1/2 box cereal (bran or other flakes, like I said before I used Blueberry&Almond)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey*
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen blueberries

Whisk flours, cereal, baking soda and salt.
In different bowl mix oil, applesauce, sweetener, milk and vanilla. Gently beat eggs before adding to wet mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, mix wet ingredients and flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.
Let batter sit for at least 45 minutes so cereal can get soft, or keep in airtight/covered container in fridge for up to a week.
When ready, pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes.

When I left for work last week while my girlfriends got to sleep in they were totally impressed when they woke up to fresh muffins. I was almost bummed when I had to let them in on my little secret...

Happy Baking!!

*I am trying to use less agave nectar because it is unfortunately not the healthy alternative that it says it is. MM brought this to my attention a couple of weeks ago and I then made it my mission to research it as much as possible. They are finding that it is not actually healthier than regular sugar. In addition, the body actually processes it very differently than other sugars, which is something that my dietician friend explained to me may not be good large quantities. That being said, I used a very small amount in this recipes mostly because I was trying to finish the bottle I had. From now on I am going to be trying recipes using natural raw sugars and/or honey when I can.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Traditional British Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding, using, if possible a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

My first thoughts when I saw this months challenge: 'A Traditional British Pudding? What the heck is suet? Not to mention the directions seem a bit complicated! And she left the filling up to personal preference? Eeek! I don't know anything about Traditional British Puddings!? '

My thoughts after I took it all in and started reading into the discussion more: 'Ok, this is pretty neat..seems like there are a lot of options.. I don't know if I'll be able to find suet in Texas, but I can always count on Crisco (which can be substituted for lack of suet) and I bet I can pick Fiona's brain for a good pudding filling (my friend Fiona is English)."

Some interesting things you should know about Traditional British Pudding...
  • This is not the type of j-e-l-l-o pudding you're probably thinking of- "pudding" to a Brit merely means a dessert or any dish baked or steamed in a pudding bowl. 
  • As mentioned in the blog line, a traditional pudding is made with suet aka the flaky fat found around the kidneys in a cow or pig. This fat is apparently used a lot by the Brits, but Americans, not so much. From what I gather it is basically like lard and Crisco can be used in its replacement. 
  • Puddings are traditionally steamed for at least 2-3 hours, but sometimes up to 5.
  • There are two types of puddings: sponge pudding and crust pudding (my choice)
We were given a few options of where we could find the recipes, as long as we made a suet pudding using suet or a close replacement and made it by means of steaming.

As you know, I'm always up for a good challenge and all in all this was another great experience! To be honest though, I wish I would have been a little more adventurous, but unfortunately ran out of time. The finished product tasted much like an apple pie, just with a flakier, softer crust and super soft apples. Definitely tasty though! 

Brown Sugar Apple Pudding
adapted from The Pudding Club Wikipudia (hilarious)

250 gram Self Rising Flour (I made my own with All Purpose flour, baking powder and salt)
175 grams Crisco or Suet
1 TBS sugar
Less than one cup of water to mix

4 cooking apples, peeled and cut into slices
1 TBS lemon juice
120g brown sugar
2 TBS cinnamon

1. Crust: Mix flour, sugar and crisco. Slowly add water until dough becomes fairly stiff. 
2. Line well greased bowl, leaving room for a lid. 
3. In a small bowl mix chopped apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. 
4. Fill dough lined bowl with filling.
5. Roll out left over dough and place on top, pinching sides.
6. Seal bowl and cover with foil or parchment paper- securing with a string. 
7. Place in steamer for at least 2 1/2 hours.
*Make sure you keep refilling your water in the steamer or you'll get an ugly noise coming from your stove and a very unhappy pot.

Going back to the stove top every 30 minutes to refill the water in the steamer for 3 hours was well worth it in the end :) Of course I invited Fiona to come over for the taste test, because what better way to determine the success of a Traditional British Pudding than with a Brit?? 

Consensus?? We both had seconds.

April 2010 Daring Baker Challenge: Traditional British Pudding
Again, I apologize for these horrible was no good...

Looks can be deceiving.. still pretty tasty :)

What Challenge will they come up with next?! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes

This weekend was a call for celebration. Four of my favorite girls from my lovely home state of Virginia made their way to the Great State of Texas for a fun filled 3 day weekend! The girls got in on Thursday night and what better way to commence the weekend than with Champagne Cupcakes!? As I walked through the grocery store Wednesday afternoon, getting the ingredients for these delicious cupcakes, I found myself unable to walk by the fresh strawberries without a purchase. I made a quick game time decision and just knew those bright red, super plump berries would be a perfect addition to the cupcakes... and so the Strawberries and Champagne Cupcakes were born.
Champagne Cake with Strawberries
Adapted from a recipe found on
Oven: 350 Bake Time: 30 minutes
Yields 12-15 cupcakes

1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup champagne*
3 egg whites
1 cup fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces

*When making this cake it's best to use a sweet champagne and the cheaper the better. I used Andre Blush Champagne.

Cream butter and sugar.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
Alternating flour mixture and champagne, blend into butter and sugar.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Fold into batter until incorporated.
Softly mix in or fold strawberries pieces.
Using an ice cream scoop, place spoonfuls of batter in prepared cupcake tin.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing cupcakes to cool completely.

Strawberry Champagne Whipped Icing
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 TBS champagne
2 TBS powdered sugar
1/2 cup strawberries (about 6 whole strawberries)

In a small food processor (I have a mini bullet and it is amazing), pulse strawberries, champagne and 2 TBS powdered sugar until strawberries are mush (think puree) but some chunks still remain.
In a bowl beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until peaks form. 
Fold in strawberry puree. 
Beat again for a few minutes if not thick enough. 
Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes before using on cupcakes.

The champagne in the cupcakes adds an interesting, but yummy flavor and the fresh strawberries are an extra surprise in every bite- the girls described them as dense cupcakes with a light flavor aka DELISH. 

A perfect way to start a fabulous weekend with fabulous friends :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April Appreciation Day

For those of you that are unaware, April 21st is Administrative Assistant Appreciation Day. So if you work in an office that has one of these wonderful persons that keeps your day running smoothly and you didn't do anything for them, shame on you. Without our wonderful April, our office would be a mess and definitely not as entertaining. All week we've been bugging her about this day (we even kept a countdown) and all week she's been fighting it, but we all know she secretly loves it :) right April? ha. I know she'll be reading this at some point.

NOTE: I am apologizing in advance for the photos of this cake and its layers.. being the working girl that I am, sometimes I don't have the opportunity to take pictures during times where natural light is available. Whenever I make things during the week it is more than likely after work sometime and by the time pictures can be taken the sun has set and I am left with fluorescent light.. so please bear with, I'm trying the best I can with what I'm given :) I promise the sweets still taste good!!

Here's a little something about me, if you're going to fight something I'm going to go out of my way to make an even bigger deal about it- so I started calling it April Appreciation Day. And of course, I obviously wanted to make her a cake that was extra cheesy (and extra delicious). Because she brings so much sunshine and happiness in our days I decided to make her a wonderfully purple cake complete with rainbow layers :)

By the end of the night, my kitchen table was strewn with bowls of freshly dyed vanilla pudding, purple icing and multiple layers of the moistest cake you'll ever make from scratch. I tried out a new icing recipe that I found on Tasty Kitchen by Pioneer Woman, that was actually titled 'The Best Frosting I've Ever Had' and to be honest, it was pretty dang good! Let me know what you think!

My Favorite Yellow Cake 
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 2 8-inch round cakes
Oven temp: 350 Bake time: 35 minutes

2 1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
4 TBS sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.
Beat sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
Add to sugar mixture- alternating between flour mixture and milk/sour cream. Mix until combined.
Transfer to oven and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick is clean.

The Best Icing I've Ever Had
Recipe found on Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen

1 cup milk
5 TBS flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (granulated NOT powder!)
1 tsp vanilla

In small sauce pan heat milk and flour, whisking constantly until mixture starts to thicken (about 5 minutes). Once thick, remove from heat and leave on counter to cool. When the mixture has cooled stir in vanilla.

In the mean time, beat butter and sugar until combined and smooth.
Make sure the milk mixture has cooled and slowly add to butter/sugar. Beat on high until fluffy and smooth. The icing will be the texture of whipped cream. (I forgot to take a picture of the finished product :/ sorry!)

Honestly though, this icing is super light, fluffy and is just the right sweetness. It doesn't have the gritty or greasy texture that some butter creams tend to have. Not to mention, it is super easy to spread on a cake!

For Aprils special cake I actually sliced each cake into 3 layers- yes, it was tedious and yes, it was totally worth it :) I made a batch of Jello Instant Pudding earlier that evening and separated it into various bowls so I could add food dye to make the rainbow layers. I then followed the rainbow- ROYGBIV- with the exception of indigo or blue? that layer kinda turned the color of both!
cake-red pudding-cake-orange pudding-cake-yellow pudding-
cake-green pudding-cake blue/indigo pudding

Then of course I covered it with a newly dyed Purple Best Frosting I've Ever Had.

The consensus at work?? Fantastic. April had 3 pieces (that I saw), most others were consumed before 9am and I was proposed to (for my baking abilities of course- we still got 2 weeks for MMs arrival ha)

Happy Baking! and Happy April Appreciation Day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Engagement Cake in Dallas

When Ashley sent me a message a couple weeks ago about making her sister's engagement cake I couldn't have been more excited.  Ashley is no stranger to my sweets- we worked together while I was interning in NY and she has also been a lucky recipient of a Traveling SweetLemon Whoopie Pies. But an engagement cake is a pretty big deal and a surprise engagement cake is even better!

Nicole got engaged a few weeks ago and Ashley (who lives in NY) was planning on coming to surprise her in Dallas for a little celebration to include a delicious cake. And can we say kismet?! I already had to be in Dallas that weekend for a wedding! PERFECT.
After a few phone calls, favorite flavors were discussed, color schemes were established and a couple requests were made. She also sent me a picture of a purse that her sister was thinking about using at her wedding and asked me to use that as inspiration for the decorations.
Chocolate Cake with Creamy Peanut Butter Meringue-Like Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache Filling

So after all the conversations, Reese's peanut butter cups, orange, the adorable clutch and a lady bug all came together to create Nicole and Cameron's engagement cake :)
I was so happy with the way this cake turned out!  But who cares about me- the best part of it all was how happy Ashley and her sister's were.
Congratulations Nicole and Cameron!! :)

The cake is one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes out of the Better Homes and Garden Magazine and the Creamy Peanut Butter Icing is from the latest edition of Cooks Illustrated.. If you want either of these recipes just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to get it to you:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Andrea's Pecan Vanilla Oatmeal Cookies

My work blocked gchat. So I have rely on quick emails back and forth to get me through the day. Last week I got an email from Andrea that went a little something like this..

Andrea: you know that i love me some nuts...
the other day i found myself eating vanilla frosting & pecans (yes, i am ashamed to admit that).  it kind of had a divinity-esque quality to it.  SO, that got me thinking that you could probably make a non-chocolatey, nutty, kick-ass dessert of sorts.
that's all i'm giving you. 
i love you.

At the time this conversation was had I laughed at least a couple times out loud at my desk and I'm not ashamed to admit that. And as long as we're being honest, I 'LOL.'
Through a few more emails it was mentioned that she wanted me to incorporate nuts and she didn't mind if I didn't do something completely healthy. I knew this was said half heartedly so I still attempted to make these cookies as healthy as I could. If you haven't read any of my posts prior to this one (I highly recommend you do :)) but Andrea is often given a shout when I make something on the healthier side- she's all about eating healthy and trying to use healthy ingredients. That being said, this is also the girl that I've spent many an hour with, eating ice cream out of the carton and my go-to bowl licker (for cakes, brownies and cookies that is). 

Andrea's encounter with pecans and vanilla frosting was something I just couldn't get out of my head and guess what?! I  just happened to have a bag of vanilla chips in my cupboard. BINGO BANGO.

Andrea's Pecan-Vanilla Oatmeal Cookies 
Oven: 350 Bake Time: 15 minutes

1 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce* (just about)
1 TBS oil*
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
1 cup vanilla chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Whisk flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
In large bowl combine brown sugar, egg, vanilla, apple sauce and oil (I filled the measuring cup with almost all applesauce, but left enough room for 1 TBS oil).
Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix until combined.
Fold in pecans and vanilla chips.
Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove and place on cooling racks.

Happy Baking!

Don't forget to check out their travels :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

MYOG: Make Your Own Granola.. TOO EASY.

Well hello Granola Sunday. 

So lately I've been on somewhat of a health kick (I'm not counting this weekend's funnel cake..oops). I'm trying to eat more/only whole grains, eating lots of fruits, lots of veggies and as fresh as possible...even in my baking I've started incorporating whole wheat flour and natural sugar alternatives. I've also decided that if I can make it at home, I'm going to try to do so; that way I'll know exactly what is going in to my food. You would be appalled at the amount of crap they put into foods to make sure they're stay "fresh." Along these lines I've been wanting to try to make my own granola for a while now.

Who knew it was so easy?

 Not only is it super simple, it doesn't take up too much time and in the grand scheme of things you'll be saving money on the 6 granola bars you would buying for 5 dollars at the grocery store!  Not to mention you will be in complete control as to the combinations of ingredients.. if you want chocolate chunks AND raisins, well then do it to it.. you could even add dried banana if that tickled your fancy!

I found all my ingredients at Whole Foods.. have I ever mentioned how amazing that store is? Talk about health food overload... man oh man that is an amazing store.  The Whole Foods in Austin has an incredible bulk section- I could have gone completely crazy, but I just got what I needed...for this time around :)

Rest assured that MYOG will be a common occurrence from now on.. since this was my first batch I did a smaller amount, but this recipe could easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled you name it!

Have any flavor combinations you think would just be phenomenal?? Let me know!!! :)

Sunday Granola Bars
Oven: 350 Bake time: 20 minutes

1 cup rolled oats (I used quick oats)
1 cup bran flakes (Wheaties)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 TBS flax seeds
2 TBS wheat germ
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 TBS cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
2 TBS agave nectar
2 TBS canola oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup natural almond butter (or natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup honey/agave nectar (I actually did half and half)
1 tsp vanilla extract
extra TBS cinnamon
1 TBS corn syrup

In bowl combine oats, bran flakes (crush in hand before adding), pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, almonds, and cinnamon.
Add applesauce, agave nectar and oil. Mix until dry ingredients are coated with wet ingredients and transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Transfer to oven for 20 minutes.
Your kitchen will now smell fantastic for 20 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
If you don't want granola bars you could totally stop at this point to munch on some great granola or you could keep going and make em into bars.

Add almond butter, honey/agave nectar, vanilla, cinnamon and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat, mixing constantly until all ingredients are blended and mixture becomes smooth and warm. Remove from heat.
Place baked granola back in bowl and add cranberries.
Pour warm nut butter mixture over baked granola. With a wooden spoon mix until you've got everything coated and starting to bind together.
Line small baking dish with parchment paper (I just used the paper the granola cooked on) and plop in granola mixture. Push mixture into dish, making sure to not leave big open spaces. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Once bars have cooled and set, cut into squares or bars.

A perfect way to spend your Sunday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Raspberry Mocha Muffins

Chocolate. Raspberries. Coffee. YUM. 

I write you this as I sit sipping on my morning cup of coffee and the smell of chocolate baking in the oven. Saturday mornings have now been deemed Muffin Mornings. I mean, since I'm waking up at 7am (thank you body clock) I might as well start the morning off productive right!?

Even at that early in the morning chocolate sounds pretty darn good to me...let's be honest, it doesn't matter what time it is, chocolate always sounds good to me! I was actually surprised at the lack of quick bread chocolate muffin recipes I could find out there in the recipe/blog world...(for those of you who aren't familiar with the term 'quick bread' it just means there is no yeast used; the recipe relies on ingredients like baking powder or soda for leavening- think banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, etc.) I became determined to create the perfect too easy chocolate muffin and lucky for me I enjoy a good adventure :)

And so the Raspberry Mocha Muffin was created.
Note: You could easily make these into just your run of the mill chocolate muffins- I'll let you know where the ingredient swaps can take place.

Raspberry Mocha Muffin
Oven: 400 degrees Bake Time: 20 minutes
swEEts Original
Yields 12 muffins

2 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 cup sugar (white, brown, agave nectar)
1 tsp baking soda
2 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
2 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raspberry yogurt *swap alert-you could totally use just regular yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup hot coffee*swap alert- if coffee isn't your thing you could use hot milk or hot water
1/2 cup chocolate chips (this is not a typo)

Raspberry Filling/Topping
6 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 handfuls of fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400. (I recently read that muffins should always be baked at a high temperature so they get their peaks)
In large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.
In another bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, sugar of choice, yogurt and vanilla.
Place your chocolate chips in a small bowl and pour hot coffee over, mixing until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix with wooden spoon. Once combined, pour in coffee/chocolate mixture and mix until completely incorporated.
Fold in remaining chocolate chips.
Transfer spoonfuls on batter into prepared muffin pan.

Raspberry Filling/Topping: Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Smash raspberries with a fork before folding into cream cheese mixture.
Place spoonful of raspberry cream cheese on top of each muffin. Use knife to swirl around and/or push into batter.  *You could also place half spoonful of chocolate batter into muffin cup, place a dollop of raspberry cream cheese and fill cup with remaining chocolate batter for a little raspberry surprise inside each muffin

Transfer muffins to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Happy Saturday and Happy Baking!

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the Kitchen with Mountain Man (and Adventures in Cake Decorating)

Food is something that is very important to MM and I... we are both very passionate about all that is food and love spending time in the kitchen together cooking, eating and even baking. It's great to be able to share those kind of things with someone and it makes meals a lot more fun when it becomes a team effort. 

The more I got to know MM as we first began our relationship the more the kid intrigued me.. already totally not "my type" it was never a dull moment as we were getting to know each other.  It was one lazy Saturday in particular when I realized once and for all that this was the guy for me... we hadn't been dating too long and like I said I was always learning something new about him. As we laid around this particular afternoon, MM started getting ancy (surprise surprise) and insisted we do something, 'Let's make something,' he said, 'Make something? like what?' I retorted (It was Saturday afternoon, all I wanted to do was hang) 'Yeah,' he said, 'Let's make some pies.' [Insert record scratching and music stopping here] Of course, I was intrigued.. a guy who wants to make pies on a Saturday afternoon? Let me rephrase that.. a good looking, normal, cool guy who wants to make pies on a Saturday afternoon? Shortly there after we made our way to the grocery store to get ingredients and baked pies for the afternoon... cherry and apple to be exact. Did I mention he latticed the top and made the crust from scratch? sans recipe? out. of. control. 

In addition to the wonderful pies, MM bakes a mean bread. While he was telling me about some loaves he was making the other evening it dawned on me- what a perfect opportunity to get him involved, do some explaining and be included in this lovely blog! When I ran the idea by him he was totally on board- guest appearances by my MM complete with personal narrations (with a few witty comments by yours truly) I mean, he is an integral part to the bakery we want to own one day... so making his first, but most certainly NOT his last appearance... ladies and gentleman... all the way from Georgia...

Welcome to this addition of 'In the Kitchen with Mountain Man.' 

Sourdough Baguettes and a Loaf

Sourdough is a LOOONG process, but well worth the wait! This project was started on Tuesday when I put together the "starter mixture" and let it begin to sour. Friday afternoon rolled around and I knew by the pleasant beer smell that the starter was ready to be placed into action (this starter takes 3 days to get ready so plan accordingly- recipe is below) . I got this simple recipe from but unlike my girlfriend, I like to have a little freedom with recipes so I tend to deviate. (he was trying to be funny here and he knows this is crap, since I often change things up and even create my own recipes... we're going to have to work on his blog wit) The recipe began with some of the starter, then I added a little more warm water, a little salt, some whole wheat flour and a lot more bread flour. For those of you that really like specifics here are the exact amounts:

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 tsp yeast

Mix all ingredients and let sit for 3 days. If you don't want to use it right away, place in an airtight container and put in the fridge.

Sourdough Bread
1/4c starter
2 1/2 c warm water
2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 c bread flour
After mixing in the top four ingredients, add the rest of the flour one cup at a time until it was too thick to stir and turn it out on the counter.  This is my favorite part!  Kneading the rest of the flour into the dough takes some time and effort, but I absolutely love this part of the process. 
The way it feels under your hands, the way you can be rough with it, and the fact that the more you knead the better it will be (most of the time) is awesome.  After kneading the bread for about 10 minutes, most of the flour should be incorporated into the dough.  At this point the dough should be elastic and springy, rebounding if you poked it with your finger. Then, let it rest for half an hour.  
Bread in general is such a waiting game and timing is crucial.  All of the pauses and rests are so important in the baking process so if you get impatient, you could end up with some disasters (or really flat bread).  After the rest, I went ahead and formed it into 2 smaller baguettes and half filled a loaf pan.  Then again I waited... this time 12 hours!  When I woke up the next morning they had grown and doubled in bulk, so I popped them into the oven.  
375 degrees for 45 minutes was all it took... along with a little steam to give them that awesome golden brown crust and beautiful slash that is characteristic of baguettes.   


And there you have it folks.. Mountain Man's first blog spot.

I mentioned my Easter cake in the title and I apologize for the length of this post,
 but I didn't want to have to post more than once this evening so I figured I'd just consolidate it all into one. In the future, MM's posts will probably be their own post.

Adventures in Cake Decorating
This past Friday concluded Lesson 3 in my cake decorating class. Lesson 3 was devoted to learning the art of royal icing flowers, so we didn't have to come with a completed cake till the last week of class which just happened to be Easter. I knew I would be joining my friends down in Austin for Easter Sunday Dinner and it was my task to bring the dessert (obviously). In this last class we were supposed to use all the flowers we had been making for the past few weeks in addition to learning to 'basket weave.' 
I went with a Neapolitan Cake - layers of vanilla cake and chocolate cake with a strawberry buttercream filling and of course covered and decorated with vanilla buttercream.
The flowers were all made from royal icing, making them very edible (Steph and I ate at least half of them after dinner) and the basket weaving was actually not as difficult as it might appear. The Easter Bunny's butt was inspired by the geniuses behind 'Hello Cupcakes' although mine is a little different in regards to where he is and how he was decorated- but I still must give credit where it's due.

Neapolitan Cake
Adapted from Epicurious 
Oven: 350 Bake time: 30minutes

Vanilla Cake
1 cup oil
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS baking powder
3/4 cup milk
4 TBS sour cream (If you don't want to buy sour cream, you can just use 1 cup of milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Chocolate Cake
1/4 cup cocoa 
2 TBS milk

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl mix milk, sour cream and vanilla extract.
Beat oil, sugar, and add eggs one at a time. Reduce speed and alternate adding flour mixture and wet mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. 
Once all is combined, pour half of batter (about 2 and a half cups) into separate bowl and add 1/4 cup cocoa and milk.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and transfer to cooling rack.
After cooled, slice each cake in half. 
Fill cake with strawberry buttercream, alternating layers: chocolate and vanilla.

Strawberry Buttercream
1 cup crisco
6 frozen strawberries (defrosted, drained-save 2 TBS of juice- and mashed)
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat crisco and saved strawberry juice until combined. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in strawberries until incorporated.

Happy Baking!!