Most days off I've had lately have been teacher workdays and even on the weekends I'm somewhere else. So today means I need to do all the things I haven't, starting withk reorganizing my kitchen. Not sure it will be as good as Martha's but I can try.
So, let me explain. My camera hates me. At the beginning of August Jon and I went to Nashville. I took lots of photos, most importantly of Jon beside Gram Parson's suit at the Country Music Hall of Fame on his birthday and of a room full of vintage party dresses. Then I got home and my computer and camera refused to get along anymore. It'd really been an on and off relationship for some time. So everything I've baked since then has not been blogged about because I feel like if I don't have a picture it didn't really happen. But some things need to be shared.
I've been on a whoopie pie kick lately. I guess they are like the new cupcake. or macaron. or whatever. I've made a few varieties but this is the best one so far. I took them to school for a halloween dessert fest. There were lots of store bought things and some regular brownies and such. When I went to get my dish, everything else had leftovers and these were gone! Unlike some other whoopie pies I've tried these are very moist (ugh, I hate that word because everyone else hates that word but can't think of another to use) and have the perfect amount of pumpkin and spice. A must have for Halloween and the upcoming month of November.
*And if you really want a picture click on Tracy's link. They looked the same :)
Cookies 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup packed light brown sugar 1 cup canola oil 3 cups canned pumpkin 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk the sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Finally, gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine completely.
Use a small scoop (or a large spoon) to drop rounds of dough (about 1.5-2 tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven, then let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat to combine. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cookies over so the flat side is up. Put the cream cheese filling in a disposable pastry bag and cut a hole from the end. Pipe the filling onto the flat side of the turned cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so the filling spreads to the edge. Cover the whoopie pies and transfer them to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
I'm using this to explain my lack of baking lately. Well, it's not my only excuse but it's the easiest to blame. Here are some really lovely cakes inspired by good children's lit. Of course I chose these cakes based on my favorite books:
Let's start with a basic intro into children's lit. Mostly early elementary but very good choices.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle- I used to check this book out from the library every time my grandmother took me. Love, love, his illustrations. The cake above is maybe perhaps the best cake ever.
When I was in 3rd grade we read Farmer Boy as a class. My mom bought me the Laura Ingalls Wilder box set and I would do nothing but read book after book each weekend. Last year I read several of them to my 3rd graders and I was happy to see that even in these technological times, the kids still loved hearing about Laura and Mary's adventures, Pa's fiddle, and traveling in covered wagons. I also think about Little House on the Prairie everytime I hear the word calico.
And my all time favorite...love, love, love. Love.
Baby Maddox is growing up! Last weekend he celebrated his 1st birthday party. Stephanie had the most adorable decorations and party food.
Here is his farm birthday cake. The top tier was vanilla butter cake with buttercream and buttercream fondant. The bottom tier was chocolate cake with buttercream and buttercream fondant. I used a new vanilla cake recipe which I'll have to share very soon because it was delicious! I managed to cover both tiers and make all the "accessories" with one tub of fondant. My favorite addition was the tiny ears of fondant corn! I also worked extra hard on the cow and pig's ears, ha.
I also made Maddox a little cake to tear up. It was just butter cake with vanilla buttercream. The ducks of course are fondant and I used piping gel for the water. Maddox enjoyed chewing on the ducks.
Today I began prepping for to make Maddox's birthday cake with a trip to Michael's for a few supplies.
Before I left I remembered I had a 50% coupon from my last trip to Michaels (a couple of months ago). Michael's always has the best coupons. I learned back in the day when I was taking my cake classes that they'll even if you don't have a special 40% off coupon when you go to checkout they will find you one. So even after I read that my coupon expired June 12 I was still pretty confident they'd let me use it.
Mostly I was wanting to use my 50% off coupon on a tub of fondant. That's right, bought fondant was on my cake supply list. Ever since I started baking I've never used bought fondant and have relied on my marshmallow fondant recipe. Back a few months ago when I made Lilly's 1st birthday cake I decided to try Duff Goldman's new line of buttercream fondant. At $20 for a 2 lb. tub I was really hoping it was a good investment and I was very happy to find that it tasted just as good as the homemade kind. Really, it's good!
The main convienence for me buying fondant instead of making it is that my kitchen is super hot in the summer. I'm super cautious about fondant falling apart before I get it on the cake. For Maddox's cake I'm planning on using a combination of bought and homemade fondant. I'll probably use Duff's to cover the cakes and the homemade for the accents. I'm sooo excited about the accents for this cake.
All of Duff's cake products are 25% off this week. This is a good thing since it turns out I got in the most evil Michael's employee line and she threw away my expired coupon. She even had extra 40% coupons lying around on the register that she didn't even offer to let me use. That's not the Michael's spirit! But in the end I still came out pretty good with the 25% off each item instead of 50% off one item. So there!
I also got a fondant smoother since I lost my original one a long time ago. The Duff version and the Wilton version were the same price. So since Duff's was 25% off (and they were pretty much exactly the same) I got that one.
Also, I bought some fondant "texture tiles" for the farm themed cake. It came in a pack of two-brick and wood grain. I was not fully decided if I was going to put a barn on the cake or not but once I made up my mind.
For my last cake project I thought I was going to need some black fondant. I bought this gel color kit and ended up using the teal and gold as well. The black was amazing and I only needed a few drops to get it correct instead of the usual entire bottle with Wilton gel colors. The teal and gold turned out really vivid as well.
I'm calling this Grandmother Chess Pie because both my grandmothers have made chest pie at some point. Not too long ago they each made a variety of it within several weeks of each other, one was lemon, the other vanilla (much like this one). Then my mother started making a chocolate chest pie which everyone went crazy over too. It was then that I really started appreciating chest pie. My favorite part is that it has this really thin crust but is gooey on the inside. Sooo good. It's so old fashioned, but in an insanely good way. It's almost like you went back 100 years and are eating pie with your great-great grandmother and that's a good thing.
This recipe came from my Sweet Carolina cookbook that I've neglected lately. This was the recipe I've wanted to try the most since it is from Rowan County and has the best story to go along with it. It's contributor was 104 when this cookbook was written. She was born in rural Rowan county (not sure which part) in 1899! One day in the 1920's she picked up the telephone to get the operator in Salisbury and instead overhead a neighbor's phone call. Oh, how fun party lines must have been! So it just so happens that when she picked up she heard someone asking for directions to bake a chest pie. So like any good southern woman, she eavesdropped to get the recipe as well. The cutest part, she calls the pies "crusties"!
*I'd suggest adding the pecans. I took the pies to my grandmother's today so I could have a pre-birthday celebration with her since I'll be in Las Vegas on Saturday. She, my cousin Allison and I could have taken out this entire pie!
Nolie Ridenhour Zimmerman, from Sweet Carolina
Makes 2 pies, 6 to 8 servings each
2 unbaked 9-inch piecrusts
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspooon vanilla
pecans (optional)-I made one of each
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the filling ingredients and blend well. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared piecrusts. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 325 and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until done.
So here it is July 4th blogging from Jon's computer and I've baked nothing patriotic. I actually made a cake the other day but chose to go swimming instead of decorating it and I'm totally okay with that decision! But hopefully after traveling to Greenville today, fireworks tonight and probably being lazy tomorrow...I'll be back to bake something good up next week.
So here is my favorite America inspired baked good complete with recipe and instructions:
Maybe it's the heat or that it's sort of my favorite color, but I've really been loving some cool minty hued cakes lately. I've come up with a new challenge...it's summer and I need things to do. So whatever my baking lust theme is, I need to make something based on this theme. I'm thinking a minty cake will be completed later this week.