Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Weekly Boozer: Baking with Bourbon

In Baking, Uncategorized on June 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

Bourbon is by far one of my favorite booze to cook with. It marries well with so many flavors.  Like cherries, pecans, bread… like Makers Mark Cherry Pecan Bread Pudding. Whew. That’s a big name! But, it is what it is and that would be fantastically delicious, comforting and worth repeating. Remember baking is just like cooking with alcohol – choose something you would drink as the flavor is transferred and sometimes amplified.  Taste tests may be necessary before baking 😉  If you don’t want the alcoholic version Makers Mark sells bottled cherries that have had the alcohol cooked off  which = all the flavor, nix the booze.

Makers Mark Cherry Pecan Bread Pudding

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (use a high-quality extract, not an imitation)
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped 
  • 5 cups day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (see Note)
    1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup Makers Mark Cherries*, diced 
    I made my Makers Mark Cherries by purchasing a jar of maraschino cherries, draining the juice completely and replacing with Makers Mark. I placed the mixture in the fridge for one week; shaking the contents daily.  This means of course these cherries have alcohol in them, unlike the store product. ~ you can also soak dried cherries in bourbon overnight before baking.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch baking dish.

To make the bread pudding, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then work in the heavy cream, half & half, vanilla and vanilla seed. Then toss in the bread cubes, pecans and chopped cherries(drained). Allow the bread to soak up the custard before adding to the prepared baking dish. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden color and is firm to the touch. It will expand in the dish/oven, but should remain moist and an inserted toothpick should come out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

Note: I made a bourbon creme anglaise to accompany my bread pudding and to compliment the flavor – both are subtle so they work well together. Bourbon Creme Anglaise – click here. I added one Tbsp of Vanilla Bean Paste to this recipe.


Bread Pudding is like country decadence. This one is slightly sweet, has a nice crunch from the pecans and a little warmth from the bourbon.  This dessert could be made ahead as it is twice as nice the second day.  On another note, I kept my Makers Mark Cherry juice and am excited to create a cocktail with it!! Happy baking!



Hot Cross Scones

In Baking, Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

Yes. You read that right – Hot Cross Scones. You see I had these ambitious Good Friday plans.  They involved cleaning,  packing for our Easter weekend trip and whipping up Hot Cross Buns.  Things escalated… as they often do and then my plans expanded to getting ready to MOVE! Yes move. Not streets, not across town, not another beautiful Texas city – MOVE STATES! It’s crazy. CRAZY! Meanwhile, at the end of our lil’ Easter jaunt my husband will leave to go work in said state.  So I improvised, cut corners, re-wrote recipes and well I saved time.  I made Hot Cross Scones.

I arrived at this alteration because, I have a thing for scones.  As you may have noticed by my previous posts. I have a thing for tea rooms. Tea sandwiches. I have a lot of things. It happens. My things make me happy, as do these scones!

Hot Cross Scones

1 pkg yeast
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1 cup shortening (we actually used 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup Smart Balance)
5 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup currants
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400.  In a small cup, dissolve yeast in water.  In a separate bowl, whisk/sift together dry ingredients (flour through buttermilk).  Cut shortening into dry ingredients.  Blend together yeast, buttermilk, dry/shortening mix and currants until sticky.  Gather dough on floured surface and knead 6-7 times (don’t over work the dough – it will be tough) and set aside aside, covered with a tea towel for 20-30 minutes.  Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness (1/2 – 3/4 inch).  Cut with cookie/biscuit cutters. Whisk together egg yolk and water, to wash tops and sides of scones, before baking.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden.

For the glaze crosses I mixed powdered sugar, a dash of milk and vanilla bean paste (one of my favorite things!) until I reached the desired consistency. You may want thinner, less vanilla, or really thick glaze – it’s yours to create.  I drizzled my mixture (1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp half & half and 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste) in a cross patter across scones.  You could also add some lemon zest instead of vanilla or shoot ice them in buttercream! It’s all good.

Never had a yeasted scone. Have to say pretty darn yummy.  I love the flavors in here – very much like spice bread and they were good without the glaze, but also great with, so the limited amount added by the cross was not an issue. Easter Blessings and happy cooking! EO

Banana Butterscotch Scones

In Baking, Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

These are in one word – delightful.  Butterscotch is not my favorite, but the banana compliments the flavor so well.  They are light, tender and not overly sweet – one reason I tend to avoid butterscotch, it can be so overwhelming.  But, not here.  These are great for breakfast, dessert or tea time.  P.S. the smell of these baking would sell houses – just sayin’!

Banana Butterscotch Scones

recipe complements of Alice’s Tea Cup
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (for brushing)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  With clean hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until it is thoroughly incorporated and has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the banana slices and butterscotch chips and combine well, so they are evenly distributed throughout the dry mixture.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the buttermilk and vanilla into the well.  Combine the ingredients until all the dry ingredients are wet, but do not knead! Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together.  Gently pat the dough to make a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a 3- or 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can and lay them on a nonstick baking sheet. (I used my scone pan… what can I say I love triangular scones and well it is easy!) Gather the remaining dough together lightly to cut more scones – just don’t knead the dough too much. p.s. this dough is SUPER sticky.

Brush the top of each scone liberally with heavy cream and then sprinkle with sugar. Next time I am using sugar in the raw – it’s one of my favorite scones toppings! Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Enjoy the bliss!

Man-Catcher Brownies – Adapted

In Baking, Uncategorized on March 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I‘m on the hunt for “that” brownie recipe.  I say “that” because it is different for each person… the perfect brownie: texture, flavor, etc.  This is not the one (for me).  This is a really good brownie recipe.  A very good brownie recipe actually.  Especially if you love a cakey brownie that is slightly chewy.  After a couple of days in a container they became slightly more fudgy and actually better in flavor each day.  Day 3 was the best day overall – which is awesome, because this would be a good make–ahead recipe.

Man-Catcher Brownies adapted from Washington Post

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted (good quality)
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter/Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Melt the butter. In a large bowl combine the butter and cocoa powder.  Whisk the other wet ingredients (eggs, sugars and extracts) into the chocolate mixture.   Then fold in the flour and salt until just combined; do not over mix. Spread the batter evenly in the pan, making sure the corners are filled. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a crust forms on the surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; cool completely before cutting the brownies.

The batter itself is delicious.  Yes it has raw eggs in it.  No I am not going to die.  My chances are 1 in 20,000 of getting a tainted egg – I’ll take those odds for another spoon of batter please? 🙂

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread

In Baking, Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Today was the last day of National Bread Machine Month. Apparently regular National Bread Month is November.  I don’t know why,  but the internet says it is so and I believe it.  I own a bread machine.  Most people don’t know that, but I received it as a wedding present and in last two plus years I have used it three times.  Guess I am a bit of a traditionalist. Also, I don’t like to clean equipment or utensils unless I REALLY need them, so maybe it is kinda a lazy thing too? Though I have to admit letting a bread machine make your dough – very rewarding!

I did such a thing this last Friday with this bread.  I let the machine do the hard work and then I removed the dough to rise and bake.  It was nice and worth the cleanup as I made the Bacon & Onion Scones during the “down time”.

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread:

1 cup warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1/2 heaping cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/4 tsp yeast, active dry
Egg Wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
additional freshly ground pepper for dusting loaf


Directions: Place ingredients, in this order, into the bread pan fitted with the kneading paddle.  Bread machine settings should be as follows: medium loaf; French/Italian style loaf; medium crust.  Once you have selected your setting press the Start button.  You can let the bread machine do the whole kit and kaboodle; however, I hate the squat loaf shape of the bread machine pan and like the liberty to egg wash my bread.  You can even let the machine knead and rise the bread and remove before the baking cycle…If you choose to do so continue below:

Option One: (Rise bread out of machine) Lightly oil (olive oil) a large bowl; remove bread dough and place in bowl covered with a tea towel to rise (in a warm place – I always put mine on the dryer and load it up)  Let the dough rise for 45 minutes to an hour and half, or until doubled in size; punch the dough down and knead on a lightly floured surface; repeat rise.

Option Two: (Bake bread out of machine) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  You can now use a loaf pan, shape the dough and cook on a cookie sheet, or make a round loaf in a round cake pan.  Whatever you choose either lightly grease the bake-ware and dust with cornmeal before placing the bread.  I folded the dough into a rounded shape and placed on a cookie sheet, crease down.  You can dress the bread up even more by making a few slashes with a very sharp knife, by making diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of the loaf.  Prepare egg wash by beating egg and water together and brush loaf; bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove loaf and brush with egg wash a second time; grind fresh pepper over the second egg wash so it will adhere to the loaf; bake an additional 15 – 20 minutes until the bread tests done.  Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing (hot bread is much harder to cut!).

Review: I made this bread on Friday – it is Monday and there is no bread.  Kinda speaks for itself. Let me see just plain this bread is light, tender, and has a very subtle cheese and pepper flavor, but toasted… OH My toasted this bread takes on this amazing deep cheese flavor and hearty crustiness that is irresistible.  This bread would make show stopping croutons for a salad.  At least I thought so, but this loaf didn’t survive long enough to test.  Actually I don’t think anything happened to this bread beyond toasting and a smear of butter and it was a good thing 🙂

P.S. When I made this bread I had no intention of posting or sharing. I was just using up some parmesan cheese I had leftover and alleviating the stress of breakfast for company, but it was too delicious not to share!!

Cupboard Keepers: Agave Nectar

In Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Agave Nectar is a liquid sweetener which is less thick than honey and maple syrup, but has a sweeter taste (about 1.5x sweeter).   Perks of using Agave include it’s a natural sweetener extracted from the Agave plant, it has the lowest glycemic index of all the sweeteners (low immediate effect on blood sugar), it has a long shelf life (won’t crystallize), and it dissolves quickly in hot and cold liquids.   Of course, like all sugars Agave should be used in moderation as it is a fructose product.  I have not used Agave for baking yet, but apparently compared to other alternative sweetness (like stevia) it has no shortcomings.

Agave Nectar ranges from light to dark.  Light has a very neutral flavor making it perfect to flavor sauces and beverages, while the amber (medium) has almost a caramel flavor.  I have not purchased dark before, but apparently it has a strong caramel flavor and is used for meat, coffee, baking, and is sometimes used as a substitute for syrup on pancakes and waffles.  Agave can be used in any recipe, use 3/4 cup Agave per 1 cup of other sweetener.

I love this stuff!  It is my go to sweetener for tea, greek yogurt, and I often substitute it when honey is called for in a recipe.

Hootycreek Cookies

In Baking, Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Yes… when my father first suggested this cookie recipe I had my reservations.  It sounds like some back water bug, or lizard, or crazy owl type creature?  But, don’t judge a book by its cover or a cookie by its name, because this is one good cookie!


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup rolled oat
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt with a pastry blender or fork.  Cream butter until fluffy, then add sugars, eggs & vanilla.  Once all the wet ingredients are well incorporated, mix in flour mixture & oats, then cranberries, chocolate & nuts.  Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 8-10 min.

Simple and delicious – Enjoy! Oh and thanks for the recipe Dad!!

Jalapeno Pepperjack Biscuits

In Baking, Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 4:15 am

Mmmmm… buttery.

Jalapeño-Pepperjack Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp for dusting mix-ins

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup whipping cream

3 eggs, divided

1/4 pound Pepper-jack cheese, small dice

2 jalapeños pepper, minced and seeded (I personally would prefer not to seed these, but some people appreciate this)

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp water

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and sauté the jalapeños until soft;about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt; use pastry blender to mix dry ingredients. Cut in the butter, until the butter bits are pea sized.

Lightly whip two of the eggs and whipping cream; add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. Add the cheese-jalapeño mixture to the dough; mix until everything is incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and fold dough six times, dusting with flour as needed.  Roll dough out to a 3/4 – to 1-inch thickness and cut dough with biscuit cutter.  Gently fold and re-roll scraps out; cut remaining biscuits.  Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water.  Arrange biscuits on baking sheet  which has been well-oiled or use parchment paper (I use a Silpat); brush with egg wash.  Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown. (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen recipe – Thanks SK!)

These are best warm out of the oven… what isn’t really?  What I liked about this recipe is the biscuits come out surprising light, considering the cheese and all, and very buttery.  Plus it has jalapeño in it and well I am a big fan of adding peppers to just about everything.

SoNo Baking Company’s Brioche

In Baking, Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 5:53 am

Brioche from the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook

There are a few things you should know about brioche: 1) this is a very cakey bread (yes I say cakey a lot… but it is true and good!); 2) this is a two-day bread, since it has to be refrigerated overnight; and 3) this bread is delicious on its own, but also makes the most amazing bread puddings and croutons.  Making this bread is worth three days of baking and cooking!  This is not my favorite recipe which is a Jean-Louis Palladin recipe (link to another blogger’s hard typing work!)

This is the first time I ever let my stand mixer do my kneading… it was a breeze.  I will have to try the recipe the good ol’ hand made way to see if there is any repercussions.  I will keep you posted on that.  The bread however did not last long enough for me to make homemade croutons – so couldn’t have been all bad to take the lazy way out 🙂

SoNo Baking Company’s Brioche Recipe:

Recipe makes one loaf or 12 buns.

2 tsps active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm milk

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

2/3 cups bread flour

2 Tbsps sugar

1 3/4 tsps coarse salt

14 Tbsps (1 3/4 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash


In a medium bowl, combine the yeast and the warm milk, and let proof for 5 minutes.

When the yeast has proofed, add the eggs and egg yolk and whisk to blend.  Combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the wet ingredients and beat on low-speed until the flour is absorbed and a stiff dough comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.  With the mixer on low, add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until the butter has been absorbed.  The dough will be VERY sticky.

Knead in the mixer by replacing the paddle with the dough hook and beat on medium-low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, and completely cleans the sides of the bowl, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour as needed. Or to knead by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by successively scooping the dough up from underneath with the thumb and the first two fingers of each hand, then slapping it down on the board as you pull your hands away.  At first, the dough will stick to both boards and hands, but as the gluten develops and the flour absorbs moisture, the dough will pull together into a ball and become less tacky.  Knead for a good 15 minutes, adding flour as needed, or until the dough no longer sticks to the work surface.

Turn the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Butter an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and let it soften for a few minutes.  Pat or roll the dough to a rectangle (or oval) about 12 inches by 8 inches, with one of the long sides facing you.  Fold in the sides so that they meet in the center and the dough is about 6 inches wide.  Starting from the top, roll tightly into a log.  Place the loaf seam side down in the prepared pan.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap or enclose in an oiled plastic bag, and let rise until increased in bulk by 1 1/2 times and very soft, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (I put mine on the dryer – I am sure the professional baker who wrote this would think that was white trash, but I get results so I am totally fine with that!)

Set an oven rack in the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.  Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and put it into the oven.  Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake, rotating the sheet about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the brioche is golden brown on top and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (use an oven mitt to carefully lift it up, and gently tap the bottom with your knuckles), 30 to 35 minutes.  Turn the loaf out immediately on its side onto a wire rack to cool completely.

EAT. Though it is not my all time favorite brioche recipe I would recommend it, especially since my stand mixer put all the elbow grease into it!  Also I loved the way it cracked – random note. Hope you enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits

In Baking, Uncategorized on December 13, 2010 at 4:44 am

Thursday we had company in route to our home… so I hopped in the kitchen to bake a few goodies to get us through the mornings!  I prefer laid back mornings filled with coffee, breads and well relaxation (dog hugs are always on the agenda!!); mornings where people get going and eat at their own pace.  Whats perfect for this mentality?? Well biscuits!  Heat em’ up with butter, jam or a little egg and cheese – biscuits are always good for breakfast.

Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe by Alton Brown

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender cut butter and shortening into dry ingredients until it resembles crumbs. (Much like the beginning of pie dough.)

Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, sprinkle top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 6 times.  Roll into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.  Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.  Roll the remaining dough out gently, cut and place on baking sheet.

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

These biscuits are light, tender and so quick to make! They also reheated well, which is great for smaller families.  Oh and… they are gone!! 🙂 Always a good sign.