mud-pie-header

SUMMARY – two layers, pecan and chocolate ganache, balance out the sweetness of this pie. Neither is overwhelming, but both are distinct and delicious.

When I was making this pie, I was thinking about a story my friend Lori told last week about the adventures of her Russian tortoise.

russian-tortoise

Lori has a tortoise named Michael that she lets out in her yard to walk around in a semi-natural habitat. One day on one of his outings, Lori gets distracted and Michael disappears. How a tortoise runs away I have no idea. She puts signs up around the neighborhood in search of her tortoise.

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Months later she gets a call that someone in the neighborhood found a turtle. She goes to get it, and Michael seems to have gotten bigger. He looks like the same tortoise though, so she brings him home. Mystery solved … so Lori thinks.

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A few more months later, she gets another call that someone completely different had found a turtle. It can’t be Michael because he is home safe. Lori goes out anyway, since she is the official “crazy neighborhood reptile lady” and that’s how she rolls.

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She heads to the other neighbor’s yard, and there is another Michael. This time, the right size. Lori brings Michael II home and puts him in with the bigger Michael.

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Needless to say, she soon found out that the bigger Michael is really a Michelle, because smaller Michael gets amorous with her.

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Now, Michael and Michelle have their own, separate, inside homes, and are only allowed out with a strict chaperone. My pie shows Michael on the left, and Michelle’s little tail on the right, after she burrows down to get away from her love-struck housemate.

slice-of-pie

I will call this pie Russian Tortoise Pie from now on, in honor of Michelle and Michael.

I wonder if I will hear another story this week for the Banana Split Chiffon Cake?


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

honey-cake-header

SUMMARY – a unique combination of flavors ensures that butter isn’t missed. Moist and better the next day when the flavors meld.

alternate loaf and mini bundt pansI have a new fascination for small, shareable baked goods. Like cookies, brownies, cupcakes, small pies and cakes. I think it is for a few reasons. One: small baked treats are more easily shared with the neighbors. Two: portion control. Three: sharing a piece of something larger is offering up leftovers and is therefore not cool. I am also an odd person 😉

I looked at this honey cake recipe, and looked at the picture. It seemed like a big cake and not logistically as shareable. So sorry Rose, but I broke out the loaf pan and the mini bundt cake pan for this one.

This was an easy cake to put together. If I say it’s a pantry cake, does that mean I have too many baking ingredients in the house? I did substitute ground allspice for the ground cloves. I ground cloves for the pepparkakors and my grinder still smells like clove oil. And since I used the mini pans and a glass loaf pan, I skipped the cake pan strips. I also didn’t want to make a separate trip to the market for superfine sugar.

The wet part of thewet ingredients batter was a little off-putting. I wasn’t just the color. I had to stir up the sugar quite a bit. My own fault. It also smelled very unappetizing. Like a hangover hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you breakfast. Whiskey, coffee, orange juice and eggs. I had a minor flashback to my misspent youth. I also started to worry about the flavor of the rest of the cake!

Adding the dry ingredients helped. The batter looked more like a spice cake. And it did smell better too.

filled-pansAnd it did make a LOT of batter. There was no problem filling up the pans. Looking back, I could have used 2 smaller loaf pans and it would have been fine.

I did have a little spillage from the loaf pan. And the batter popped up over the mini-bundt pan, making a nice crusty base of the cake.

Plus I had to bake the loaf twice as long as the small bundt cakes. The spillage was a minor bonus because it made little batter cookies which I cleaned up (ate to hide the evidence).

mini-bundt-cakesAfter I got the bundts out of the pan, two of them didn’t last 5 minutes. One went to the neighbor, still hot. The other went into the mouth of the cook. The cake was still warm. It was yummy and tasted nothing like a bad breakfast. My worries were laid to rest. The flavors weren’t as pronounced on day one.

The next day, the cake was even better. The flavors bloomed and I tasted the whiskey essence. It was still moist and I didn’t miss the butter.

mini-bundts-cooling

I brought half the loaf to work along with some fresh raspberries and whipped cream. I was so nice on a Monday morning!

I would make this cake again, but maybe I would use melted butter instead of oil.

loaf-mini-bundtsI’m looking forward to the next project! I probably won’t miniaturize the Mud Turtle Pie. Maybe I’ll just serve it during football on Sunday instead. I will let you know!


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Pepparkakor-headerSUMMARY – With warm spices and a surprise ingredient, ground black pepper, this exotic cookie is a tasty, upscale and Scandinavian interpretation of gingersnaps.

Here is another cookie, like the Kourambiethes, that (a) I have never had, and (b) would never think of making. Why would I when my friends and family have their favorites, like chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal or Italian cookies?

But if I get a request for gingersnaps, I will make these instead. They have the spicyness of a good gingersnap, plus the kick of the pepper to make them extra snappy.

I started this project around 9 p.m. Saturday night. Good thing I read the recipe and realized the dough needed an overnight rest in the freezer! Or else I would be baking on Monday and frantically writing about it so I didn’t miss the deadline!

grinding-clovesTo start, I broke out the spice grinder for the pepper and cloves. I didn’t want to stand over a bowl with my battery-operated pepper grinder and wait, and burn out the batteries. And I didn’t have ground cloves, but I had whole cloves for pickle-making.

The kitchen smelled pretty good post-grinding!dry-ingredients

Weighed the dry ingredients out and poured on the ground spices. I used ground ginger from Grenada. One of my coworkers took a cruise down there and brought back a spice box as a gift. The ginger still had some zing to it.

I creamed the butter, sugar and molasses. I added the dry ingredients starting with stirring manually with the paddle. I put it back on, and finished stirring.

The dough came out good, but not exactly the texture of frosting. More like the texture and smell of a molasses cookie.

dough-coolingI used regular molasses, because I still had the jar from the molasses cakelettes when I couldn’t find light molasses.

I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. And then proceeded to pull the cardboard rolls out of the two rolls of paper towels currently in “use” around the house. I wonder how annoyed everyone (including myself) will be when the roll is near the end? I think I’ll make it a surprise. Aren’t I a wonderful roommate?

unstuffed-doughAnyway, after the rest in the fridge I divided up the dough and got ready to wrestle with plastic wrap. My dough, at least, probably because of the darker molasses, reminded me of … well, you will get the idea.

I got over my 4 year old giggling self and started stuffing wrapped dough into the purloined paper towel cardboard. I used the end of my big whisk to squish it in. Which worked. I put the packed rolls in the freezer and went to bed.

sliced-dough Sunday morning, I was up at  6 a.m., bringing my roommate to work. He works at the mart that doesn’t begin with K. AKA Wally-world. And the bus that goes down there doesn’t run on Sundays or holidays. If it’s a Sunday or holiday, there’s a good chance I am up earlier than I am during the week. So it’s a good time to bake!

My slices weren’t the most round slices. I think if I make a sliced dough cookie again, I’ll use the paper towel roll trick. It really worked. Plus I don’t have to buy PVC pipe to do this. I have this aversion to vinyl from my days working at an environmental nonprofit. (Don’t start in about vinyl Aimee!)

I also didn’t grease the pan, because I didn’t want to have burnt sugar crystals from the sugar sprinkles. I used my nonstick “paper”. It is a lot easier to wash than a pan. And the crystals don’t stick to it.

These smelled really good when I opened the oven to spin the pan. Like Christmas at my hypothetical Swedish grandmother’s house.

finished-cookies-cooling

Here they are! The ones I sliced a little thinner were on the overdone side. I ate those to hide the evidence. They were good. I ate one warm. Of course a warm cookie is the best! I ate one cooled. Still good, with just a hint of softness. I ate one or two cooled. Crunchy with a tiny bit of softness. Really good with coffee. I didn’t dip them in the coffee but that would be really good too. Like adult graham crackers and milk.

And a back heat. Not bad! But I am glad I used a mix of black and white peppercorns. I didn’t want to go full-pepper monty on everyone.

Like the description in the recipe says, these would be good with goat cheese. I think they would be even better sandwiching cream cheese and honey.

cookies-plated

I was even inspired to do a real bit of plating for a Pinterest-worthy picture! A little NSFW food porn; don’t share it with your coworkers/family/friends as they may want to try these little spicy cookie gems.

plated-cookies-napkinHoney cake next week. Happy Rosh Hashana!


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

SUMMARY – three different apple varieties, cider and cream cheese crust made several very luscious apple pies.

4-apple-piesI would have had finished done earlier, but I took a semi-spontaneous trip to Cape Cod this week. Part of the reason it was semi-spontaneous was that I had to finish this project!

I thought that I could finish the post in the motel, and I even downloaded WordPress and Dropbox to my tablet. But the free motel wi-fi was terrible, and I couldn’t get Dropbox to cooperate with WordPress on my tablet. I love it when technology refuses to cooperate. Here it is, a few days late.

mini-pie-makerI made small pies, because we picked up a display model mini-pie maker for $4.00. I don’t normally buy single-use appliances like this, but it was a total deal.

It was also interesting assembling the pies. Homemade crust is not the best crust for the pie maker, since it’s very fragile. You are trying to get the crust into a hot surface, and then patch the holes that you will make!

Break out the premade pie dough for this thing, but if you don’t mind potentially burnt fingers, use the homemade crust. The pies were really good! And very cute.

cooling-apple-piesSo after making these, my roommate and I decided to leave them for the boys, who weren’t going.

We could have packed them and ate them on the road, but we were going to the ocean!

cut-apple-mini-pieWe did split one and ate it for breakfast. It was pretty good. But since the little pies were only cooked for 10 minutes, the apples were a little al dente. I didn’t mind it but it made it a little crisper than normal.

Seagull-beach-cape-codBy the way, if you live in the northeast or New England, the Cape is the place to be after Labor Day. No kids, the water is warm, the shops are still open, and there’s lot of sales.

Since I won’t be sitting on the beach this weekend, hopefully the Pepparkakor won’t be late.


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

scones-header

SUMMARY: Cream cheese, butter and cream make these scones rich, yet light and airy. These are better than $5.00 scones from your local chain coffee shop.

I actually invented cream cheese scones three years ago.

fair-ribbons-2013Well, no, I didn’t actually invent them. I tweaked the Currant Scone recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible, substituting half the butter for a little bit more cream cheese.

I wanted to make scones with similar ingredients to the Bacon Scallion Cream Cheese dip I make – affectionately known in my house as Heart Attack dip. Then I remembered Rose’s cream cheese pie crust recipe. I thought, if this works for pie crust, it will work for these scones. And it did! I even won a second place ribbon from my Heart Attack scones, which are also my sister’s favorite scones. She is like a begging dog if I even hint I might make them.

So scones have a pretty high hurdle to get over to be better than my modified P&PB recipe.

Of course, Rose surpasses herself with this new scone recipe. They are way easier than the other recipe with the layering of the dough, rolling it out, measuring it, cutting it, recycling the scraps, etc.

The easier recipe put them as equivalent. I think they taste just the tiniest bit better and have a better crumb, which clinches these for me as the better scone.

The night before I made these, I put a bowl and the beater in the freezer to chill for the whipped cream. I never would have thought of using whipped cream. Genius. But that’s why Rose writes cookbooks and I buy them 😉

whipped-creamI whipped the cream first before anything, so that could sit in the fridge.

scones-dry-ingredients-lemon-zestThen I got the dry ingredients together. Since I use King Arthur flour pretty much exclusively, I used half bread and half all-purpose. I also zested the lemon right into the bowl. I may have used more than a tablespoon of zest. But it smelled soooo good and I really didn’t want to wash another bowl or have a half-zested lemon kicking around.

cream-cheese-addedI got out the old pastry blender, which I am more likely to use to make guacamole or egg salad these days, and worked in the cream cheese. Yes I use a food processor for pie crust. But these scones needed a hands-on approach. And I didn’t want to make even more dirty dishes for my human dishwashers.

soaked-dried-berriesI took a look at the dried mixed berries I bought and was not particularly impressed by their dryness. No one enjoys biting into a dessicated bit of fruit in their scone now do they? So I soaked them in some hot water to plump them up a bit. They looked a bit better after their bath, although the color got duller. And they got a little less sweet. I love how they add more sugar to some dried fruit. I get it with cranberries but with strawberries and cherries?

dough-with-fruitI started out with the pastry blender when I added the butter. But when the blades started bending I put it aside and just used my mitts. It worked a lot better, and I felt like a kid again playing with some Play-doh or messing with homemade flour dough. I mixed in the fruit and it was smelling pretty good already.

added-creamI made the well and spooned in the whipped cream. I’m gonna say it again, whipping the cream is genius! I use yogurt in scones because I like a thicker texture than plain cream, plus you get some tang. I always use yogurt in the Heart Attack scones for the texture and extra tang. But cream would be easier to get believe it or not.

scone-dough-diskThe dough came together really nicely and I kneaded it a bit on the counter. I was seriously getting my mind into some scones now! Wrapped up the disk and put it in the fridge.

At this point in the scone process, I went down to the farmer’s market and got some things. And I got a cookie to hold me til I got home and finished the scones.

scones-sugar-toppedWhen I got home, I put everything away, turned on the oven and got the scone dough out of the fridge. I cut them up and put them on the baking sheet with parchment. Since I love some crunch and sparkle on scones, I egg washed them and sprinkled them with demerara sugar before putting them in the oven.

I pulled them out and they looked and smelled so good! The had risen up so nice. My roommate asked what kind of scones they were. When I told her they were dried fruit she was somewhat disappointed, since she likes the other scones better.

finished-sconesBut after letting them cool in a cloth, I offered them up to everyone who was at home. Seriously, three of us ate six of them in like four minutes. They were that good. No butter, just scones in a napkin.

My two roommates were like “OMG these are best scones! Can we eat them all now?”

No! Not everyone was home and my other roommate (yes I live with three other people) was at work. He ate them th next day and said they were very good, but probably would have been better warm. Yeah!

The consensus? Make a double batch the next time! And there will be a next time, oh yes.

 

plated-scone

 

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.