Cupcake Friday Project

A one-woman test kitchen meets nano-bakery

Baking is science!

science-baking-final-rd2

Shari’s Berries contacted me with this really wonderful infographic, asking me to share it with readers, and I just couldn’t say no!

Johnny Cupcakes fashion tip

Johnny Cupcake Tip

If you’re a baker, and a lover of cupcakes, you might have a t-shirt or 2 from Johnny Cupcakes. I receive their emails regularly, but they tend to be for new t-shirt designs or hot sales. So when I saw this particular email, I was amused (and yes, this is the marketing day-job side writing …)

The pie’s the limit!

Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme missing a sliceOn Saturday, Collingswood Farmers Market hosted its annual peach pie baking competition, and this year Ray and I changed it up a bit. We BOTH entered.

Both of our pie ideas were just too good to pass on, so when you have 2 ideas and 2 people, you get 2 pies. Or in this case, a pie and a tart.

Herb and Chevre Peach Tart with Balsamic Crust

Ray’s entry into the peaches-plus category: Herb and Chevre Peach Tart with Balsamic Crust

However, today’s post isn’t going to have my usual pie recipes in it. For that, you’ll have to wait for my article on Table Matters to publish (mean, I know).

Early Gre Peach Pie with Thyme

My entry into the peaches-only category (where peaches are the only fruit to be used): Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme

The outcome of the baking contest was that my pie came in 3rd place for presentation, Ray’s tart made it up onto the scoreboard for his category of peaches-plus (I think he was in 4th or 5th place), but my Earl Grey Peach Pie with Thyme did not get any flavor points from the judges in the peaches-only category. Maybe it was too weird, but we really liked it!

Blueberries and cream cookies

Blueberries and cream cookies
While I think I like blueberries fresh off the bush the best, these cookies may become my new favorite. The cookie is chewy, caramely, with a gentle crunch to the edge, and then the tartness of the blueberries comes in. Heaven. Absolute heaven.

The cookie base for this recipe is inspired by Serious Eats’ Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, and I think it might become my new base for all cookies that have add-ins like this. I used to be a big fan of the New Best Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie, but unfortunately those have been coming out hard. I much prefer a chewy cookie.

What have you been baking this summer? I know I’ve been keeping my baking to a minimum, mainly because I’ve been so busy working on our condo, training for the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, volunteering at PAWS and writing for Table Matters. But I haven’t forgotten about all you lovelies!

Blueberries and cream cookies

Yield: Approximately 48 cookies

Ingredients

Blueberries and Cream Cookie Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ice water
10 oz (approximately 2 cups) flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 oz (approximately 3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz (approximately 1/2 tightly packed cup plus 2 tbsp) brown sugar
8 oz dried blueberries
8 oz white chocolate chips

Directions

Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.

Cook the butter, swirling regularly, until the butter is browned and has a nutty aroma. This should take about 5-7 minutes, depending on the strength of your stovetop.

Whisk in the ice water (which replaces the moisture cooked out while browning the butter), and cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine both sugars, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix on medium high speed until the mixture is golden, about 5 minutes.

Set the mixer on low and slowly pour in the browned butter. Once added, turn the speed up to medium and mix until combined.

On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down when necessary.

Add the dried blueberries and white chocolate, mixing to combine.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill the cookie dough for at least 8 hours or up to 72 hours.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line cookie sheets with either parchment or baking silicone.

Scoop the cookies onto the sheet, leaving at least 1.5 inches between cookies.

Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for an additional 6-7 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and place on cooling racks. After about 5 minutes, the cookies can be transferred off of the cookie sheet and directly onto the rack.

Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Sour cherries, summer baking, and food writing

Table Matters Tarte Diem post

It’s been nearly a month since I last posted … yikes.

Since then, I’ve road-tripped to Asheville with Ray, picked sour cherries, wrote about sour cherries, baked cookies, made caramel corn, and baked a bunch of cupcakes.  All in the heat of Philly’s summer, which let me tell you, is not the most pleasant when your kitchen is tiny and very far away from the AC window unit.

Summer has also drained away some of my baking inspiration, which has been sort of eating away at me. But, my somewhat monthly writing gig for Table Matters has been pretty awesome, and helps me stir up some baking mojo.

Cherry Cheese Pie Recipe for Table Matters

My post about sour cherries was the first that was photographed by their staff photographer, and wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my desserts look this good before!

Rosemary Sour Cherry Galette recipe for Table Matters

And those cookies I mentioned? Well they turned out divine; I think I have a new base I can use for everything from chocolate chip to dried fruit cookies. Look for a post in the next week or so!

And I think once the weather cools off and the busyness of summer calms down, I’ll be back in the kitchen and telling you all about it.

Fried & True: Stepping away from the oven and up to the skillet

Fried and True

Though it’s not baking related, I HAD to share this new book, Fried & True by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman (with a sassy and thoughtful foreword by Whoopi Goldberg). The big pull for me, I have to admit, was that this book contains THE recipe for some of the most amazing fried chicken I’ve ever eaten, from Federal Donuts in Center City, Philadelphia.

The book contains more than 50 recipes for fried chicken, and yes, if you didn’t think it was possible to make fried chicken 50 different ways, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong you are.

Fried & True is broken up into the following sections:

  • Southern Inspiration
  • American Originals
  • Pacific Rim
  • Sandwiches, Wings, Li’l Bits, and Special Diets

And it offers a little something for everyone, including delicious side dishes such as biscuits, hash brown casserole, smothered cabbage, as well as recipes for rubs, sauces, brings and more.

I was happy to see that the book doesn’t skimp on food photography … almost every other page has a stunning photo of fried chicken and sides. Of course, excellent photography adds to the visual appeal of flipping through a book, but I also think it’s extremely helpful to be able to look at food photos for guidance. Does my chicken look like that? Yes? Ok then … time to eat!

The front of the book, even before diving into the recipes, has a full photograph tutorial showing how to break down a full chicken, as well as a spread explaining the variety of fats and oils that can be used (I totally geeked out while looking through the book for the first time on the couch with Ray, exclaiming, “Ohmigod, it includes the smoke points!!!” I’m such a nerd.)

My only criticism is that paperbacks don’t always make for the best cookbooks because they’re hard to keep open without weighing them down with something, and then things can become awkward. But if that’s the only beef I have with this book, then I can look past it.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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