Monthly Archives: May 2006

I have just discovered Butter Cakes... I'll post more later, but, meanwhile, I am having a problem getting mine to bake completely! ;-( I have been scouring the internet for info and found this great article: ************** Better Baking Technique: Is it Done Yet? by Dennis R Weaver Are my breads, cookies, or cakes baked and ready to come out of the oven yet? The ability to tell when products are baked seems to cause more consternation than almost any other phase of baking. And of course, it is important. Over baked cookies are dry and hard; under baked bread is soggy. But you can get it right. In this article, we will give you the techniques and pointers for baking your goods to perfection. *Yeast breads* The tendency is to under bake yeast breads. The internal temperature of yeast breads should be 210 degrees and must be at least 185 degrees. The only way to reliably tell what is going on inside that loaf is with a probe type thermometer. Remove the bread from the pan and insert the thermometer through the bottom crust into the center of the loaf. (If you are going to bake bread and you don't have a thermometer, we strongly recommend that you purchase one. You will need it to test the temperature of the water, the dough, and the finished bread. You can buy one on our site.) When the bread is done, the crust color will range from a golden brown to a deep brown for artisan breads baked in a hot oven. Breads with a higher sugar content or in a hot oven will tend to brown more rapidly as the sugar caramelizes. If the bread is browning too rapidly, make a tent of aluminum foil and cover the top of the loaf. In light colored pans, the bottom crust is the last to brown. With a done loaf, the bottom will color even in a light-colored pan. My mother was a bread baker. She tested doneness by tapping the loaf with her finger--a done loaf will sound hollow when tapped. I don't remember her ever making a mistake. Though she taught me to do the same, I'm not as good as she was. Out of habit, I still tap the loaf but I nearly always follow with a thermometer probe and sometimes the thermometer proves me wrong. *Cookies* If the tendency is to under bake breads, the tendency is to over bake cookies. Take them out just before you think they are done; you won't be wrong often.My father is a consummate cookie baker. If you ask him what his secret is, he'll tell you: "I don't over bake cookies." The difference between a just right cookie and an over baked one is dramatic. Make cookies uniform in size. Not only are they more attractive but different sizes of cookies take different times to bake. Most recipe writers tell you to leave the cookies on the sheet for a minute or two. Cookies continue to bake on a hot baking sheet. Sometimes that's necessary for an easy release but for most recipes, we remove them as quickly as we can. If the cookies look a little soggy in the middle, then leave them on the sheet for a few minutes and they will firm up. Most cookies should be gold in color, not brown. Both the amount of sugar and soda in the recipe will affect how fast a cookie browns. Chocolate cookies represent another challenge: you can't tell if they are browning. If you are baking with a new recipe, bake a few cookies and check them for doneness before baking the entire batch. Chocolate cookies will tend to lose their "wet" look when done. Many bar cookies will have a dry, shiny crust when done. *Cakes* For most baked goods--but especially cakes--it is best to set the timer for a few minutes less than directed in the recipe - different ovens or even different positions in the oven bake differently. A dark pan bakes more quickly than a light pan. When you find your cake not quite done and continue baking, set the timer for three or four minutes and check again. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake will come out clean when done. "Clean" means a few crumbs. If there is wet looking batter clinging to the toothpick, it's not done. If you don't want to poke a whole in the center of the cake, check for doneness with your finger. There should be some resiliency to the touch and the cake should spring back. When done, the cake will usually have a golden brown color to the top though different recipes will brown more or less quickly. When done, the cake will tend to pull away from the edges. *Quick Breads* Quick breads are basically cakes in a loaf pan. The same tests that you use on cakes can be used with quick breads. Stick the toothpick or skewer right in the open crack in the center of the bread. The area under that crack seems to be the last area in the loaf to set up. Incidentally, quick breads release from the pan easier if left to cool for few minutes before removing. Because of the larger mass, a loaf does not continue cooking as quickly as cookies do. *Custard Pies* Custard pies, including pumpkin pies, are a special problem. It takes quite a while for the protein in the eggs to set and make the pie firm. Often, the crust is becoming too brown before the eggs set. If so, cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil to retard further browning. When a custard pie is done, a knife inserted in the center of the pie will come out clean. If you don't want a cut mark in the center of your pie, use the jiggle test. Pick the pie up with two hot pads or mitts and gently shake the pie back and forth. If done, all but the center should be firm - there will be a little jiggle in the center. The center will continue to cook and firm up after you remove the pie from the oven. We hope these guidelines help. With practice and observation, you'll soon become very proficient at judging when your bread or cookies are baked to perfection. Your baked goods will then be irresistible. Dennis Weaver is the general manager at The Prepared Pantry ( with recipes, ideas, and the best selection of mixes and ingredients. Visit the free Bakers' Library for more articles like this, free baking guides, and tested recipes. Article Source: Food and Drink ************** I know I learned a couple of useful things from this, and I hope that you have also! Tink *When I dream, I cook and bake like an artist…*
OK... I'll admit it, we are a household of passionate Hellmann's Lovers. There are only three of us: Jeffrey, Mom and me...and you would think there are a dozen of us, the way we go thru Mayo! Jeffrey is the primary cook and grocery shopper and he starts to twitch if there are fewer than 3 jars of Mayo, unopened, in the pantry. (Yes, we are lucky enough to live in a 100 year old house with a pantry... it makes up for the fact that the kitchen is a slooow work in process) Now, due to height constraints, I don't let him buy the REALLY big jars because they just don't work well in our refrigerator, so I guess that might account for some of his worry about running out. *VeryBigGrin* As you may know, I LOVE collecting cookbooks... the more vintage and unique the better. A couple of weeks ago I scored an really interesting 1979 cookbook called *That Amazing Ingredient: Mayonnaise*. It has quite a bit of history and *fun facts to know and tell* about mayo. It also has some very intriguing recipes. Here is one that I am dying to try: CHEDDAR-ONION CASSEROLE BREAD
Fresh and hot, straight from the oven... the tang of cheddar and green onions... cut into wedges and dripping with butter...
● 2 1/2 cups unsifted All-Purpose flour ● 1 tablespoon baking powder ● 1/2 teaspoon salt ● 1/2 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise (or Best Foods if you are West of the Rockies!) ● 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese (8 oz) ● 1/2 cup minced green onions ● 1 egg ● 3/4 cup milk ● Shortening to grease casserole
Large Mixing Bowl Small Mixing Bowl Measuring cups Measuring spoons Mixing Spoon 1 1/2 Quart Casserole
Step by Step
● Preheat Oven to 425 degrees F. ● Grease 1 1/2 Quart Casserole ● In large bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt ● Stir in Mayonnaise until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. ● Add cheese and onions, toss. ● Beat together egg and milk in small mixing bowl ● Stir into flour and cheese mixture, just until moistened ● Spoon into casserole ● Bake 35-45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean ● Cut into wedges ● Serve immediately and ENJOY!
I'll share more from this wonderful little cookbook in later posts... think cookies and cakes! Tink *When I dream, I cook and bake like an artist…*
Vintage cookbooks are one of my favorite things. ;-) I can't get it to scan in the song... but, none the less, it is true! Jeffrey, Mom, and I just got back from an afternoon roaming the local flea markets and I scored some GREAT finds. While normally I HATE books that have been written in, I hold cookbooks to a different standard. I love cookbooks that are signed, I like it even more when they have a personal note and were given as a gift. I get REALLY happy when the owner has written comments in the margins... the more the better... and, oh, swoon... if the owner has added her (or his) own recipes in the blank pages... that is the BEST! Today I hit several good nests of interesting cookbooks in the $1-2 range. I'll share them in later posts. One of the great finds this afternoon was a small hardback book entitled: *Herradura Tropical Cookbook*. Herradura is identified as *The American Town in Cuba* and the cookbook was prepared by the Ladies Club of Herradura. Part of the purpose of the book was to help Americans adjust to living in Cuba. The first pages are titled *Hints on What to Bring to Cuba* and the pages following that identify the various tropical fruits, vegetables, and foods which would be unfamiliar to an AMerican newly arrived on Cuba's shores. Rest assured, MANY of the items mentioned were unfamiliar to me also! In the front and back of the book are ads for local businesses. There isn't a date, but whenever it was printed pre-revolution, it was a pricey $1.50. While there isn't a name on the flyleaf, the owner paperclipped several small notes to the pages. One of the cooler ones refers to a Cornmeal Muffin recipe and says *These cornmeal muffins sound easy for quick morning use and worth trying. Save egg for the egg dealer.* Interestingly, the recipe doesn't use eggs and is prepared the night before, then baked the following morning. The index is arranged alphabetically by fruits and vegetables... It looks like it will be a fun read! At a quick glance I see: Lemon and Banana Sandwiches, Green Tomato Mince Pie, Battle Creek Vegetarian Roast, and a lot of other fascinating recipes. This was back before cooking temperatures and times were listed, so reproducing them may be quite a challenge... and many of the ingredients look to be well nigh impossible to find in Richmond, KY! I report on more of my recent cookbook finds in upcoming posts. Tink *When I dream, I cook and bake like an artist…*
I live in Kentucky and an oversight of this magnitude is enough to earn me a ticket outta town! Let me quickly make amends and offer a Yeast Bread recipe to honor the *Run for the Roses* While I won’t be in L’ville on Derby Day, I’ll be there in spirit! ;-) MINT JULEP BREAD
Add a NEW tradition to your Kentucky Derby Celebration!
● 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons ● 3/4 cup warm water ● 3 cups all-purpose flour ● 1 tablespoon granulated sugar ● 1 teaspoon salt ● 3 tablespoons mint, chopped ● 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel ● 2 large egg whites ● 1 tablespoon vegetable oil ● 2 tablespoons bourbon ● 1 teaspoon brandy
Large Mixing Bowl Small Mixing Bowl Measuring cups Measuring spoons One 9x5 inch loaf pan, greased Wire cooling rack
Step by Step
● Preheat oven to 350F ● Dissolve yeast in warm water in small mixing bowl. ● In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, chopped mint, grated lemon peel, egg whites, oil, bourbon, and brandy. ● Stir in the yeast mixture and knead to form a soft dough. ● Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat, cover, and allow to rise until doubled; about 1 1/2 hours. ● Punch down; form in a greased loaf pan, and allow to rise again; about 1 hour. ● Bake at 350*F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is browned. ● Let cool and enjoy!
For a printable version of the MINT JULEP BREAD Recipe, click here. Just click the Back Button to return here.
Next year I’ll plan a bit better and have a lot more to offer! Happy Derby and may all of your horses win!Tink *When I dream, I cook and bake like an artist…*
My Mom has been visiting with me for about four months, after a long spell where we saw each other infrequently. I work here at home and (please, don’t tell her) when she isn’t here, lunch consists of a *sammich* in front of the computer. Now that she is here, I actually take a break and we eat lunch togther and visit. We have been reminiscing about wonderful food experiences and I have termed the phrase *Defining Gastronomic Moments* or DGMs. Peanut butter has always been a family favorite and I was amused to realize that BOTH my Mom and Dad had DGMs related to Peanut Butter in college. Daddy had apparently lead a sheltered life gastronomically and didn’t have his first PB&J until grad school (Ok, so I was exaggerating slightly when I said they both had PB DGMs in college… think of it as literary license!). He was at Harvard Business School and his first Peanut Butter and Jelly was a revelation. I remember that Mom ALWAYS kept the makings for PB and Js on hand, and he made them frequently! Mom’s Peanut Butter DGM was in college. Her college, Pennsylvania College for Women, now Chatham, offered late night snacks during exam time. (How civilized is that!?!) She ordered a Grilled Cheese sandwich and the cook offered to add Peanut Butter for an additional dime. I don’t think Mom has had a Grilled Cheese sandwich without Peanut Butter since then! In the winter, when I was growing up, our typical Saturday Morning lunch was a Grilled Cheese and Peanut Buttter, with a side of Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream… oh, bliss… If you haven’t ever had a Grilled Cheese and Peanut Buttter, there is one great trick. A thin layer of Peanut Butter on both slices of bread is the best way to go because: 1) it holds the sammich together nicely 2) the peanut butter melts and drips if you put it on too thick. For some reason, two thin layers seems to work a bit better. And don’t forget the Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream, one of my personal DGMs which I will share at a later date! Tink *When I dream, I cook and bake like an artist…*

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks

Follow on Twitter!

Join Us on Facebook