Tomorrow is my younger son’s last soccer game of the season so we are having a party right after the game. I volunteered to make cupcakes and this is the result.


They are the vanilla butter cakes with simple vanilla buttercream from One Bowl Baking. I bought this book on a whim because I picked it up in the bookstore and opened it to a recipe for pretzel cupcakes which I felt like I needed to make. I made them for my cousin’s birthday and they did not disappoint. I taste tested these, of course, and this recipe is holding up too. I hope the kids enjoy them!


NaBloPoMo Day 23: a day for baking

I did a few things today that I feel are noteworthy. (And yes, we’re going to ignore that I missed yet another day yesterday. Shh.)

I knit on my double-knit cowl that I have, apparently, be working on for three years.

an old project

I’m on round 33 out of 67. At this rate, I will be done by 2014. Go me!

I baked an apple pie (not pictured), a pecan pie, and a pumpkin pie.

more pie!

I also baked cracked wheat rolls which were delicious but did not photograph well.

On tap for tomorrow: more cooking! (In case it wasn’t obvious.)

the missing month

It's been a month since I posted! A big month too, the end of school is always a busy time. Here's what I've been up to. We went to the Maker Faire and saw cool stuff like this dragon.

We  went on a camping trip with lots of cool rocks.

And I spent a bunch of time helping some friends of ours pack up their house and sell their stuff to move onto a boat. In the process I inherited many pounds (20?) of organic white flour, about half as much whole wheat pastry flour, some hard red whole wheat flour, oat flour, yeast and vital wheat gluten. My friend Victoria also loaned me her copies of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. One of the reasons she was giving the ingredients to me is that half of her family is gluten-free now. So on Monday when I had her daughter over to play instead of watching them pack I also mixed a batch of the olive oil dough so that Victoria could at least eat some. I then made it into a foccacia with onion and olives on top. I didn't get a picture of it but here is the less beautiful version I made the next day, with Stefan's help. (He was "patting" with all of his weight so it got a bit squished and lumpy.)

It was delicious, though.

Tonight for dinner I used the other half of the dough and made two sausage strombolis (recipe also from the Artisan Bread cookbook). Again, not beautiful but really delicious.

Niels liked the bread but not the stromboli. I'm going to try it with pizza sauce instead of diced tomato and cut up meatballs instead of sausages. Niels only likes chicken apple sausage and didn't approve of the sweet Italian sausage. The nice thing is, if I make two I can make one Niels-friendly and one for the rest of us.

There has been some knitting too. My Rill is ready for the sleeves to be attached, so I need to knit those. I want to block the body first and make sure it's not going to grow too much and that the edges will work out. I also knitted a quick baby blanket for Stefan's baby doll, which I tried to get him to name Saskia. (It's supposed to follow the layout of the Moderne Log Cabin blanket but I kind of messed up.)

Saskia is the girl's name I have had picked out since about 1999. I love that name but since I am not having any more babies I figured the babydoll could have it. It didn't stick, though, Stefan calls her Saskie (and another doll Saska) so I guess it's close.

NaBloPoMo Day 23: make bread, not sweaters

I know this is not very helpful in terms of my NaNoSweMo goal but I made soup, spaghetti sauce and bread today and did not knit very much. Niels was sick over the weekend and was not fever free for 24 hours yet this morning so he stayed home from school. Every time I walked into the living room to sit on the couch and knit while they played there was some chaos in my way or something that needed attention. I got several loads of wash done (and folded!) and a lot done in the kitchen, most notably, the bread. I don't bake bread very often but I was looking in an old spiral notebook that has recipes I wrote down in the mid-90s, I think. My mom needed the recipe for Swedish meatballs that she gave me and that's where that one is. I was looking through it and found a recipe for Honey Whole Wheat bread which I say is from the bread book in Bon Appetit series of cookbook. I think that must mean it came from my mother's house so I am going to have to look at it again when we visit them because the recipe seemed woefully lacking to me.

There's no mention of kneading, just of beating the dough in the mixer. That made some sense to me until I got to the second "knead" and the bread was so incredibly sticky. I decided to knead it by hand instead. I had also substituted bread flour for the all-purpose and I think my whole wheat is pastry flour and I also added vital wheat gluten, so I wasn't exactly following the recipe anyway. I kneaded in a bunch more flour until it felt smooth, let it rest, and then shaped a loaf put it in the loaf pan rather than just beating it in the mixer and "turning it out" into the loaf pan. It was a success. (It's shiny because I had just brushed it with butter when I took this photo.)

The crust is very thick but the crumb is soft and sweet. I started to write that sentence in the past tense because I cut it and we all ate a couple of slices with dinner and it's almost gone! This is one of the reasons I don't bake bread that often, it takes all day and then is gone in an instant. I need to learn to make more than one at a time.

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copycat cookies

I posted a picture of copycat cookies in my Flickr account and Chikn with Stix asked what a copycat cookie is, so here they are!

They're a copycat of a Mrs. Fields cookie, according to the recipe in my newspaper this week. I made half the recipe, left out the nuts (so Stefan could have one) and the grated Hershey's bar (since I didn't have it) and used Rapadura in place of the brown sugar, because that's what I had. They are incredibly good. Next time I make them I am going to try replacing half of the flour with whole wheat too.

Copycat cookies

Makes 112

2 cups (1 pound) butter

2 cups sugar

2 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups flour

5 cups oatmeal, measured then finely ground in a blender

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

24 ounces chocolate chips

8-ounce Hershey's chocolate bar, grated

3 cups chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars and add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients with creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips, grated candy bar and nuts. Drop golf ball-sized balls of dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for eight to 10 minutes.

Many Home Plates readers

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vegan twinkies

I finally acquired all (well, most) of the ingredients for vegan twinkies. I couldn't find barley malt powder for the inside so I bought marshmallow creme and figured they'd be semi-vegan. It turns out I bought ricemellow creme, so they're completely vegan after all.

I don't think they taste very much like real twinkies, but it's been ages since I had one. They got a thumbs up from Niels and Erik so I suppose it doesn't matter, neither of them have ever had a Twinkie.

The real test will be a friend of mine who was appalled that Erik hadn't ever had a Twinkie. I'm sure he remembers what they are supposed to taste like. I'm going to drop one off to him tomorrow.

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My last cake was a disaster so I had to offer to bake one for my mom's birthday to make up for it. This time I stuck with our old standby recipe for Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing, modified for our nondairy needs. I would definitely call this cake a success, even though I broke one of the layers a bit while putting it on the cooling rack. More patience needed!

successful cake!happy birthday, mom!it was delish

Note: I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks where it calls for shortening coconut milk where it calls for milk.

Chocolate Cake

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix in order of ingredients, then mix in:
1 cup of strong coffee.

Makes 2 9-inch layers.
Bake at 375 for ~40 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
8 oz (1/2 box) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
milk to moisten

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