Beckoning Spring With Baked Goods

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As I was headed to the store today for more butter I stepped outside to thick, puffy SNOWFLAKES!  This has been a long, draining winter and I am so ready for Spring to really be here.  We have had a few teaser days but then snow keeps coming back.  At least it felt like Spring inside my house this weekend.  I had colorful flowers on the table and I made this cake with handmade flower, butterfly and bumblebee decorations.  This is the first time I added this type of detail to a cake and it was so fun to make.  I was making cupcakes too so I made many, many flowers, bees and butterflies.  I still have to practice lots of techniques but I can see where I am improving.  Practice makes perfect.

To make this cake I tried several new things.  First: this is a surprise inside cake.  There are two flavors: White Cake and Lemon Cake.  Using my Cake Pop Maker  I made cake balls with the lemon cake batter that was tinted yellow and sat them in the freezer while I made the white cake batter.

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I intended to make a small personal cake for my boss’s birthday but I wanted to make sure there was enough space for the yellow cake balls inside so I chose 6 inch by 3 inch cake pans for this project.  In each pan I spread a layer of the white cake batter, then placed 4 cake balls and covered them with more white cake batter.  Since I knew I was decorating and giving this cake away I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the results of the inside of the final cake so I baked one extra that I could cut.  Luckily there was just one that was a little messed up coming out of the pan so that’s the one I cut.  Below is a cutaway of that cake.  The final cake is two layers so, hopefully (fingers crossed), you will see two layers of yellow circles throughout the cake and it will look really cute and better than this one.

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I also used both flavors with the cupcakes., putting a layer of each. For the frosting I made a lightly-lemoned buttercream.  There is a hint of lemon without it being overpowering.    The decorations were made using a pre-made colored fondant.

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My youngest son does not care for lemon flavored cake so I let him make a few cupcakes with the white cake batter.  He chose green icing with sprinkles and decorated them himself. 🙂

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With this winter weather I have been doing a lot of baking and a lot of gobbling but no running, and boy is my body feeling the effects.  I have to balance out all of these baked goods!  Come one SPRING!  I rarely run in cold. Haha.

Sweet and Savory New Adventures…and a Self Assessment…I Give Myself a D

When I started this blog about my food and running adventures I vowed to included the good and the bad, the flops and the victories.  Well this weekend was a series of flops :-(.  I probably should not have been lazy.  It was an absolutely beautiful weekend with sun and temps in the 60’s but did I get out and run????? No.  I was lazy.  I could have even gone to hit some golf balls or at least just take a walk and get some fresh air.  Nope.  Other than going to the library to study and a quick dinner date with the hubby, I was inside in PJ’s and baggy sweat pants all weekend.  And then to top it off I was not satisfied with any of the 3 new recipes I tried. But I am going to post about them anyway.

I have no formal training in baking what so eve, or cooking..  I get information online, cooking shows on TV and from cookbooks.  So I am completely self-taught.  So since I am teaching myself I felt it was time for an assessment to see what I have learned AND retained thus far.  For the 1 dinner and 2 desserts that I made I decided not to follow someone else’s recipe and to use what I know about baking and cooking to make my own recipes.  Sort of my own Food Network type challenge.  I like to try to make things that are a bit off the beaten path but still taste good.  So here is where I lament the fact that I have retained very little knowledge from high school chemistry.  Baking is a science.  It is all about how chemicals (ingredients) react to each other.  This is why precise measurements and timing are so important in baking.  Cooking, on the other hand, is much more forgiving in that you don’t have to have exact measurements of ingredients, most of the time.  You can go by taste and feel.  That is harder to do in baking.  So when you are trying to merge flavors that you have not merged before you have to think about the chemistry of it all.

Here are the three creations:

1. Dinner: Slow-Cooker Oxtail with Rice, Gravy and Salad

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2.  Vanilla Custard Pie with Graham Cracker Crust and Meringue Topping

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3. Rum & Coke Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Rum & Coke Ganache

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Slow Cooker Oxtail:

First I heated a cast iron skillet.  Next I seasoned the meat (I should I trimmed some of the fat).  I seared the meat then put it in the crock pot along with onion, garlic, green pepper, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and A1 sauce.  Hubby liked it.  I am neutral.  I could eat it but  I am feeling kind of meh `\(‘_’)/`  My boys?  Well 1 made a hot dog and the other made a frozen dinner, so there’s that.

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Vanilla Custard Pie with Graham Cracker Crust and Meringue Topping:

So I decided to make my own graham cracker crust.  I had actually never done it before but I knew it had to be easy.  I vaguely recalled seeing a recipe that used crushed graham crackers melted butter and sugar.  I used way too much sugar for this.  It was way too sweet.  The custard and meringue turned out well but with the sweetness of the crust it just made the whole dessert way too sweet.

Crust:

about 2 cups of finely crushed graham cracker crumbs**A stick of melted butter** 1 cup sugar (Again, this is way too much.  I will use much less next time I make a graham cracker crust.

Mix all ingredients and press into a pie pan.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Custard:

2 cups of whole milk**4 egg yolks(reserve whites at room temp for topping)**1 cup of sugar**1/4 cup of cornstarch**1/4 teaspoon of salt** 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract** 2 tablespoons of butter

Combine everything except butter in medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.  This could take 5-10 minutes.  Once it thickens  remove from heat and add butter a little at a time.  Pour into baked crust and set aside.

Meringue topping:

4 egg whites at room temperature**6 tablespoons of sugar (probably can use less sugar here as well)** 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Beat egg whites until they get foamy then gradually add sugar.  Beat until you get stiff peaks.  Add vanilla then gently spread on top of custard.  I also reserved a small amount of the graham cracker before baking to sprinkle on top.  Next bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes or until it browns.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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Rum and Coke Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate  Rum and Coke Ganache:

So this recipe was inspired by a sip of rum and coke that I had Saturday, which I had not had in a very long time.  As I was drinking it I couldn’t help but think that those flavors would taste good in a chocolate cookie!  So I thought about making that.  There were actually many recipes for this online so one day I will try it.  But the goal of this challenge/assessment was to make something without a recipe.  Then I noticed the very ripe bananas sitting on the table that I needed to do something with.  So I thought Rum + +Coke+ Banana=Cupcake.  I know that is probably some fuzzy math :-).  Then I thought about the frosting.  I didn’t want a typical buttercream so I thought about the flavor combination of chocolate covered bananas.  So of course a chocolate ganache with rum and coke would pair well right?

Cupcake:

1 stick of butter(I usually start with 2 sticks of butter but with added wet ingredients I was afraid it would turn out soggy so I went with 1 stick)**2 cups of sugar** 4 eggs**3 mashed ripe bananas (that is how many I had so I used all 3)**1/4 cup of milk**1/4 cup of rum**1/2 cup of coke**2 teaspoons of vanilla extract**3 cups of sifted cake flour**3 tablespoons of baking powder**1/2 teaspoon of salt

I may or may not have put in 4 tablespoons of baking powder when I was distracted and had to yell at my kids converse with my children at a volume that they understand that I mean business.  This, along with the fact that I think there are just too many liquids in this, probably contributed to flat cupcakes with a sunken center.  So obviously this recipe needs some tweaking.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt.  In your mixing bowl cream butter and sugar.  Add in banana.  I mixed all of the liquids in my Pyrex measuring cup then alternately added this mixture and flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Pour in to baking cups and bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.

Chocolate Rum and Coke Ganache:

1 cup of heavy cream**8 ounces of chopped chocolate (I used two bars of Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate)**  A couple of splashes of rum** a couple of splashes of coke

What I should have done:  Heat cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and stir well, then add the rum and coke.

What I did: I put the chocolate and cream in sauce pan and heated them together, then added the rum and coke.

Since I made these with rum the kiddos did not get to taste test these.  They did not turn out all that bad but I made some fundamental errors in the recipe that cause the cupcakes to flatten and sink in the middle.  The flavor was pretty good but I am not sure of the coke added to the flavor or not.  I think it was just a wasted ingredient that only contributed to the sunken middles.

Hubby said they are good but nowhere near as good as my Chocolate Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling 🙂

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So, there you have it. 3 edible but not really satisfying dishes.  Time to tweak them for sharing later.

For The Love of Bacon and Cupcakes

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Alrighty! Let’s shake, rattle and roll!  Here is my very first blog post on Bake, Gobble & Run.  Who would have ever thought that I would start a blog?

Certainly not me!

When I planned this first post in my head it was going to be very different.  I  was experimenting with  a new recipe that I was sure would be a hit, and just in time for Valentine’s Day.  I had envisioned these fabulous pictures of what I produced but…it was a flop.  And so was the second thing I tried –  I have a love-hate relationship with cake pops.  I will continue to work on those two recipes and will blog about the success of them as well as the road of trial and error that will lead to that success.

In the meantime, bacon has saved the day and when my youngest son tasted this cupcake he said: “Mommy, you did good!”

I have been contemplating this recipe that I pinned awhile back but had not gotten around to trying.   Since the first time I saw a recipe for a cupcake with bacon I have seen several variations.  My recipe started with the one posted here:

http://iheartcuppycakes.com/2012/02/18/french-toast-and-maple-bacon-cupcakes/

I find it ironic that that my first blog post is based on this bloggers “goodbye” blog post.

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So here is the recipe and the variations I made due to lack of certain ingredients.

French Toast and Maple Bacon Cupcakes (Recipe adapted from iheartcuppycakes.com)

INGREDIENTS

For the cupcakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature (I also added some bacon drippings) **1 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted **1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder **1/4 teaspoon salt **1/2 cup milk, at room temperature **1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract** 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon of ground, bottled, not fresh grated nutmeg) **1 teaspoon cinnamon **3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated (I also added some syrup to the batter.  I did not use pure maple syrup because today I refused to pay $8 for a bottle of syrup even though I know it would have been soooo good.  Maybe next time.  When I do get  near the point of actually selling what I make then I will definitely make sure the ingredients are  superior. But for today Mrs. Butterworths served well.)

For the maple syrup buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature.** 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar** 2 teaspoons heavy cream, at room temperature** 3/4 teaspoon maple extract (The store I went to today did not have any maple extract whatsoever.  Kinda ticked me off because I know I have seen it there before…when I did not need it.  So I just used more Mrs. Butterworths syrup, probably 2-3 tablespoons worth.) **bacon, cooked and crumbled, garnish (For this recipe I sprinkled a little brown sugar on the bacon before cooking it in the oven to make a candied bacon for the garnish, which I then sprinkled with a small amount of course kosher salt). **extra maple syrup, garnish (…or Mrs. Butterworths)  

So here is what you do:

To make cupcakes–

Preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the cupcake pan with liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. 

In a small bowl (or a pyrex measuring cup) whisk together the milk and vanilla and set aside. 

In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer), combine the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until well incorporated(I added the bacon drippings with the butter).

Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully combined before adding the next. 

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Continue mixing until batter is smooth. Set aside. 

In a different bowl, whip the egg whites on high speed, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed. (This step reminded me that I need to buy a 2nd bowl for my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.  I had to scoop the batter into another bowl and wash out the bowl for the stand mixer to whip the egg whites). Working in 3 batches, using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the cupcake batter, until just combined. (I had never did this step with cake or cupcakes before.  Let me tell you that this made for a wonderfully light and fluffy texture.  I will be doing this with most cakes from now on!)                                                                                    

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2 full. (Yeah, most of mine were more than 1/2 full but it turned out ok, no spillage). Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely before frosting. 

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To make the buttercream–

In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), mix the butter and sugar on low speed until combined. Continuing mixing until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the heavy cream and maple extract(or syrup). Raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Pipe frosting onto cupcake. Garnish with crumpled bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

And there you have it folks!  Maple French Toast Bacon Cupcakes!  

It is an interesting flavor combination but I really like it and so did the family, especially my young one who looooooves bacon and looooves french toast.

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And on that note I am headed to dreamland.  My alarm clock is set for 4:30am and it is almost 11:30pm.  I am going to have to plan these blog post much earlier in my day Hahaha.  Good Night!