Sunday, March 27, 2011

Change of Direction

So once I realized that after a year of trying to purchase the domain name "" and not succeeding, I needed to consider a name change! OMG a name change? It's rough, I really love Craftbake and the idea of a community of CraftBakers but after thinking long and hard I took the plunge.

The new company name will likely be Acme Baking Company. Acme was the name of the company my parents owned while I was growing up, so it had a real meaning to me. The word acme means pinnacle, seems a good fit for what I am trying to convey.

You can find new blog posts at

Hope to see you in the kitchen :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Magnolia Bakery in my very own kitchen

Oscar Sunday was last week and I opted to bake my contribution to the party. I knew I wanted to do cupcakes but what to do what to do!

Enter the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook that has been on my shelves for years and never used. The decision. Lemon Cupcakes and Chocolate cupcakes. I thought I was going to do cream cheese frosting on both but it just didn't taste right on the lemon so I whooped up the lemon with a lemon curd filling (from the book) and a lemon buttercream frosting.

The lemon curd was to die for so that is the recipe I am going to post. To fill cupcakes I used some weird tool in my kitchen that was for juicing lemons. I think there is a tool made specifically for this task so I might have to buy one because the idea of filled cupcakes is a winner in my book.

Lemon Curd
6 egg yolks at room temp
1 1/2 Tbsp grate lemon zest
1/2 c. lemon juice (freshly squeezed of course)
1/4 tsp lemon extract (this really added a nice balance)
3/4 c. sugar
cook all of that for about 20 minutes (stirring constantly) over medium heat. It will get thick and bubbly (you'll think it is thick enough earlier but just keep going for about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and add 1 c. of cold butter cut in small pieces one piece at a time and stir until each piece is incorporated.

Place in a heat proof container and chill until firm (the recipe calls for overnight, but I only had a couple of hours)

I made about a dozen cupcakes and I only needed about half of the mixture to fill them. The rest was consumed on toast, biscuits, name it!

Happy Birthday to you...

Sometimes being able to bake something that impresses people can be the most wonderful thing in the world. Not everyone understands the love that goes into something, that it could easily take 5 hours to make a cake from scratch, that there are skills and challenges in every attempt.

And most importantly, people don't realize that you could put in all this effort and have a massive failure on your hands. I am so glad that wasn't the result this week when I took on the challenge of making a birthday cake for a co-worker.

Let me preface this by saying, I have never made a multi-layer cake and had it turn out pretty. I almost never make layer cakes because of this but I was not going to let the stop me when I found a recipe for a Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake.

OMG! So f'in good!

Are you ready? I think you are. Now there was a tiny little warning at the bottom of the recipe that said "This cake is a lot of work". I would like to go on record and say that was an understatement, but that all of that work was well worth it! The cake was a huge success and when the left overs made their way to the office kitchen they were gobbled up. When I went to collect my carrier there was a note.."This cake was delicious, can I please have the recipe."

That is the best compliment!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Prep 3 8 or 9" cake rounds - butter, the put in parchment rounds, butter again and then flour
Preheat oven to 325

3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. hot water
2/3 c. sour cream
Mix together in a bowl until completely blended, then set aside

2 2/3 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Sift together in a bowl and set aside

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
Blend together until creamy and smooth using your beater blade (mine never got perfectly smooth)
Add 1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
Cream together
Add 3 large eggs at room temperature one at a time
1 Tbsp vanilla
Mix together until smooth - remember to scrape down the sides to make sure everything get mixed together

Alternate additions of the flour mixture and the cocoa liquid mixture

Divide between the three pans, spread out in the pans then tap the pans a couple of times on the counter to get some bubbles out.

Place in the oven and bake about 30 minutes (until toothpicks come out clean)

While the cakes are baking you have a good amount of work to do.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
put in 2 qt sauce pan, stir together without splashing. Then turn the burner on high and just let the mixture come to a boil and boil until it is a light amber color. Remove from heat and let it cool for a minute or so (it will darken)
While you are cooking that mixture - heat up 1/2 c. heavy cream and 1 tsp sea salt (I did this in a double boiler so I didn't have to watch it like a hawk) stir to make sure the salt is dissolving
Once the caramel mixture has cooled for a minute add the warmed heavy cream mixture and 1/4 c. sour cream
Stir and pour into a heat proof container. Let it come to room temp and then cover and refrigerate.

Another caramel sauce
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
Stir and then put on high heat - cook until it is a light amber color. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute then add 1 1/2 c. warmed heavy cream

Put 1lb of dark chocolate pieces (chips and chopped chocolate) in a large heat proof bowl. Once you have the caramel sauce cooked and slightly cooled, pour it over the chocolate. Wait a minute or so and then start stirring the mixture so the chocolate melts.

Transfer the chocolate caramel mixture into your mixer bowl and turn the mixture on low to keep it moving. Do this until it is cool to the touch (this took over an hour for me) then add 2 c. of unsalted butter cut into cubes (using your beater blade).

Once the butter is incorporated and smooth, switch to the whisk blade and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Construction of the cake
Put some frosting on the plate or container so the cake won't move around then put 1 cake layer on, top with 1/4 c. of the first caramel sauce and then top that with a round of frosting. Repeat all the way to the top layer.

I put all the frosting in a really large zip lock bag and snipped a big bit of a corner off (I didn't have any pastry bags that were really big so this was my easy cheat). This makes it really easy to frost this cake. I make a nice big swirl on each layer and then smooth over with an offset spatula (knife).

Oh yeah - because I am lazy I decided to melt some dark chocolate and just drizzle it on some parchment paper to make the decorative stuff on the top.

I didn't put the cake in the fridge and it didn't seem to need it (if it was warm outside I might have).

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Who doesn't love a pot pie?

A few months ago a girl that I work with fostered one of my rescue's dogs and unfortunately for both of us, the adorable dog known as Bob's Big Boy decided to eat her house! Literally! He ate through a door, he ate a comforter, he ate and clawed his way through some carpet and then for dessert he ate a pillow.

What does all of that have to do with pot pie? Well she took all the destruction without getting mad at the dog and without getting mad at me, so I offered to make her anything she wanted. At first it was a loaf of pumpkin bread for her brother, which she devoured that day in her office. Then it was a pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese frosting inside. And this last one, the one she has been asking for since day 1...Chicken Pot Pie.

I've never made a chicken pot pie, I only just started making pie crust, but really how hard could it be? It wasn't hard at all and it was so freakin delicious I want another one right now!

I used my mom's crust (the one posted on this blog as my admission of defeat) for the bottom crust and then I used this insane Cream Cheese Crust for the top. It was perfect! The bottom crust was delicious and flaky and the top crust was rich and puffy.

Here are the recipes:
1 stick of butter cut into cubes
8oz of cream cheese
1 1/2 c. flour
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp ice water

Put the flour, butter and dollops of cream cheese in a food processor. Pulse until it looks like parmesan cheese. Then add the egg and 1 Tbsp of water, pulse and if it doesn't come together as a ball, add a little more water.

Make a round flat dough disk, wrap in plastic and chill while you make the filling.

Pot Pie Filling
(I took a cheat here)
1 rotisserie chicken - remove skin, take off meat and chop or shred (I prefer costco any day of the week - I think grocery stores let their chickens sit too long and they get mealy)
1 onion chopped
2-3 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup of chopped carrots (I use baby carrots)
1 c. frozen peas
Some sliced mushrooms - not too many, maybe a 1/2 c.

Cook the onion, celery and carrots in 1 tbsp butter and 2 tsp olive oil until tender. Then add the peas and mushrooms - cook until the mushrooms are brown and soft then add in the chicken and leave on low heat)

Make the gravy in a separate sauce pan
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
cook those together until the butter and flour make a paste
then add
2/3 c. warmed milk
1 3/4 c. chicken stock
Salt/Pepper and celery seeds (you really need the celery seeds they add a lot of flavor)
Stir and cook until thick then pour over the chicken mixture

Roll out the bottom pie crust and place in a deep dish pie plate (or individual pie plates)
Fill with mixture and top with cream cheese crust which will be pretty thick when you roll it out, maybe close to a 1/4 inch - but it makes it heavenly if you like a good amount of crust.

Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes - you might need to throw tinfoil over the top of the crust if it gets too brown

It was so good and worth the effort.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Admitting defeat...the pie crust challenge

The Pie Crust Challenge!

For months I tried out different pie crusts, some all butter, some with frozen butter, some with shortening, some mixed, some using a food processor, some you just pat into the pan. All in all they kind of all turned out the same. Good flavor, nice flake! They all shrunk in the pans, but I think I have learned to cut no closer than 1 inch from the lip of the pan and that has eliminated some of the shrinking. They were all basically equally difficult to roll out and transfer.

So, begrudgingly, I decided to tackle my mom's favorite go-to pie crust recipe. When I was little my parents owned their own company and as a result I spent a good amount of time at the "office." At the office, every day, the radio was on - but there were no tunes coming out of it unless you count the little jingles for the talk radio stations.

I don't remember what time or what day but I do remember regularly listening to this cooking show hosted by Jackie Olden. She was a guru of sorts, she had published a number of cookbooks and would walk through recipes on the air. I am not sure if my mom got the recipe from the radio show first and then bought the book but the below is the never fail pie crust from Jackie Olden's cookbook "Crowd Pleasers" (if you can get your hands on a copy, there are a number of recipe gems to be found between the covers).

This crust has worked for me a number of times since my first attempt and I am finally admitting that for once my mother knew best ;) (okay maybe it's not the first thing she has been right about).

Jackie Olden's

Never-fail Pie Crust

4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg
1/2 c. water

Cut the shortening into the flour, sugar and salt.
Beat egg, vinegar and water in separate bowl.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture.
Make into 1 large dough ball. Cut dough ball into 4 equal size pieces. Round and flatten each dough ball and then wrap each in plastic wrap.

Chill for at least 15 minutes. Dough can also be frozen - a frozen, flat disk will take about 30 minutes to thaw.

Dust board with flour and roll. (I prefer to use a pastry cloth with flour and my Silpin rolling pin)

Place in pie pan and trim no closer than 1 inch from the outside edge of the pan if you are going to make a crimped edge. Trim right to the edge if you are going to flute the crust edge with a fork.

Makes 4 single crusts

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am the bread baker's apprentice! at least today..

My friend Oscar is leaving for Spain in a few short days. For the past two years I have promised and promised and promised again to bake the man buttermilk biscuits. I have yet to perfect my buttermilk biscuits but maybe when he gets back from Spain I will make him some.

The other day Oscar confessed that there was one thing that would top buttermilk biscuits on his list of wants...Cinnamon Rolls.

I have never made cinnamon rolls but it sounded like the kind of challenge I was up for. Did I know they would take all day? I knew they would take a good amount of time and effort.
Did I know they would be gorgeous and taste like sin itself? No!

The recipe came from the Break Baker's Apprentice - a book by Peter Reinhart. It was a gift from someone many years ago and until today I had not attempted a single recipe, though I have read and re-read dozens.

The recipe made 8 giant cinnamon rolls

Oscar's Cinnamon Rolls

6 1/2 T. granulated sugar
1 t. salt
5 1/2 T. room temp. salted butter
1 large egg (room temp)
1 t. lemon extract
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour (you will likely need a little more to add in)
2 t. instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 c. milk (room temp)
6 1/2 T. granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 T. ground cinnamon (for the inside mixture)

Cream sugar, salt, butter on medium speed using paddle attachment. Ass in egg and lemon extract until smooth. Then add flour, yeast and milk. Mix on low until the dough forms a ball (I had to add more flour to even get to a sort of ball, and it was still a little tacky not exactly a ball).
Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for 10 minutes (still adding more flour as necessary - just a tablespoon or so at a time).
Dough should be silk and supple, tacky but not sticky.

Spray a bowl with spray oil. Turn the dough into the bowl and roll around the sides. Cover and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place. (I took this time to turn the oven to 350 and kick out a batch of chocolate chip cookies)

Spray the counter with oil and roll the raised dough onto the counter. Roll out dough with a rolling pin into a rectangle 14" wide by 12" long (about 2/3 inch thick) Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and roll up. Seem side down cut in half, half again and half one more time (that will give you 8 rolls) you can make them smaller if you want.

Place in a greased 9x13 pan and let rise for another 75 to 90 minutes

Preheat over to 350 (you see, I didn't have to do this, I let the heat from the oven rise the dough and bake my cookies, then it was ready to go when I wanted to pop the rolls into the oven)

Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Mix together 4 c. powdered sugar with 1/2 c. warm milk and 1 tsp. lemon extract.

Drizzle mixed over semi-cooled rolls (about 10 minutes out of the oven) - it ends up being a ton of glaze but trust me you want it all. Let it sit for a couple of minutes them remove the rolls from the baking pan and place on a cooling rack. Scoop up the rest of the glaze from the pan and redrizzle over the rolls.

Let cool about 20 minutes and then serve.

It is without question a great deal of work but the finished product is so worth it.

(If you are gonna go for a roll you might as well go all out and put butter on the finished product when eating)

Eat up!

Now Oscar can depart to Spain knowing he is loved (having witnessed the work and time these rolls took).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Everyone has one.. here is mine

No picture this time, because to be honest I was in a mad dash to make it happen. Everyone raves about them, they are very delish but they turn out a little different every time. What is the mystery treat? Chocolate Chip Cookies of course! Mine are a slight variation of the Toll House brand cookie but then what recipe isn't a slight variation on this classic concoction?

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 sticks cold butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 6oz chocolate chips (or chopped high quality dark fave)
  • you decide if you want to be nutty or not but no more than a half cup chopped (I would pick pecans over walnuts any day)

Put the butter in your kitchen aid and let it blend with the paddle until soft (you can skip this and use soften butter but this does change the texture). Once soft, cream in the sugars. Once combined add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla.

Sometimes I sift my dry ingredients together but most of the time I don't. I just add the salt and baking soda to the mixture and then add the flour (don't over mix once the flour is in or you will get tough cookies). Then I stir in the chocolate chips.

Almost always yields exactly 3 dozen cookies. I use a cookie scooper that I think is 2 tbsp.

Bake 350 for 11-14 minutes - depending on your oven.

I always line my pans, sometimes with parchment sometimes with aluminum foil. You will find you get a slightly different result from each material. Aluminum tends to let the edges get more crispy and oddly enough can sometimes take longer to cook on.