More Pie!

I mentioned my fondness for pie, yes?

Good, you remembered!

Whelp, I have a deep love for pumpkin pie. Call me basic if you img_20161203_144604want to. I’m okay with that. I’ve come to terms with my “basic bitch” status since it first became a thing. I do not care.

You will not take my love of pumpkin pie away from me.

I would have made one for Thanksgiving, but my good buddy Maura had it covered, so I went with the apple, detailed in a previous post.

That didn’t mean I didn’t stock up on pumpkin pie ingredients for a later date.

That date was this past weekend.

Here’s the thing about pumpkin pie. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t need extra bells and whistles. As long as you have the recipe on the back of the Libby’s can, you’re pretty golden golden.  There’s a reason they are comfortable with using the word “famous” in front of their recipe. It’s a good frickin recipe.

I will say I added nutmeg, and subbed out some of the white sugar for brown. Your millage may vary on that. It’s just what I wanted at the time.

You mix up the pumpkin with sugar, spices, eggs and the evaporated milk, pour the whole thing into your pie shell, throw it in the oven for about an hour, and then viola! Pie!

You know what the worst thing in the world is? A baked good that tastes nondescriptly sweet. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t taste like anything your taste buds can identify either. Many cupcakes are guilty of this sin. I have bought countless cupcakes from cupcake shops who are critically acclaimed. Some have had their own television shows! But those cupcakes taste…okay. But they don’t taste like anything in particular.

img_20161203_144316You want to eat something and have your brain register that it is specific, because you’re not only enjoying the taste of that item, that taste also has the ability to trigger memories of previous times you’ve enjoyed that flavor, which can also be great.

Suffice it to say, where pumpkin pie is concerned, it’s all about your spices. I may have dumped just a little more ginger in than it called for.

For reasons.

In any case, pumpkin pie is my favorite pie. I wish pumpkin were an all-year-round acceptable flavor, but alas, it is relegated to fall and winter.

Enjoy it while you can. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Goodbye Cupcakes!

No, not “goodbye, cupcakes.” That implies that I’m never going to make or eat a cupcake again, and that would be a lie.

Recently at work, we’ve had quite a few departures. It’s always sad to see your cube buddies go, but it’s also inspiring, and nice to know they’re headed for greener pastures.

Once such departure is my buddy, Sam, whose last day was Thursday. He’s headed for sunny San Diego and a shiny new nerd job. Go Sam!

So for Sam’s last day, I made lemon cupcakes with strawberry jam frosting. Unfortunately, he was so nervous about his move samand his new job, that he messed up his jaw, and couldn’t actually eat them, but reports from other coworkers were positive, despite some mishaps.

la-la-la-la-lemon

Rawr!

Sometimes you get really tired, and you don’t mean to overmix your batter, but you overmix your batter, even when the recipe is like “yo don’t overmix your batter.”

So I overmixed the batter.

I got the recipe from Live Well, Bake Often, whom I don’t think I’ve ever used before, but I can’t really blame the recipe. I felt like it was pretty solid for the most part. I just…

Got over eager with my mixing. There’s been a lot on my mind lately, so I’m not totally surprised things didn’t end up the way I wanted.

They sunk!

sunk

Now, I’ll admit they didn’t sink half as hard as the brown sugar cupcakes I made to pair with my super exciting bourbon frosting, but they weren’t the lovely, fluffy soft cupcakes I envisioned.

I didn’t have time to redo the recipe, and I was out of lemons anyway, so I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and rolled with the punches, making the frosting to go with it.

I have gotten very good at this frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
1/4 cup of strawberry jam

Again, I use the Smuckers Natural jam because it has less sugar in it. It’s a little pricier, but worth it. I recommend (as my friend Leeson recommended to me the first time I made this frosting) making this frosting before adding the jam. It works well!

They look pretty, and according to coworkers, taste good. So I’ll call it a semi-win. 🙂

A belated Thanksgiving!

Seriously, I really need to be better about updating this thing. It’s kind of aggressive how much I legitimately forgot about this blog.

It isn’t that I haven’t been baking. I’ve been baking. But sometimes, you just want to bake and not worry about snapping photos and coming up with themes I guess.

But here I am, a week after Thanksgiving to tell you that the week BEFORE Thanksgiving, when my friends and I did FRIENDSgiving, I made an apple pie.

An amazing apple pie.

The best apple pie.

Okay, it’s probably not the best apple pie. I’m not so pompous. I’m a little pompous, but “best” is probably too strong a word.

It was a solid apple pie.

I have a special place in my heart for pie that stems from being a nerd. Look up “Dean Winchester pie” in Google’s image search. That should give you a pretty good idea of why.

img_20161118_203424

Not poisoned!

The pie started here, with four different kinds of apples: Granny Smith, obviously, the classic, Braeburn, Gala and Envy, which I had never heard of before. Envy apples are sweet and on the softer side, which was different.

So…

You know that thing that happens where you think you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but then something unexpected happens, and you wind up peeling apples with a knife because your peeler sucks butt?

Yup!

Our peeler, while it wins points for being purple, sucks butt.

In any case, after you get the apples peeled and chopped, you dump them in lemon juice so they don’t get brown and gross.

Lemon juice is like a Lazarus pit for produce. It just makes sure they don’t get old and weird.

I wonder if Lazarus pits are just giant swimming pools of lemon juice.

Ouch. That has to sting. And it doesn’t help with the weird part, apparently.

resurection

Bathes in lemon juice probably

 

img_20161118_211736

Also bathes in lemon juice. Is not R’as Al Ghul

In any case, there were a lot of apples involved in this, and I didn’t even use all eight. I left a braeburn and a gala out of the mix.

And I want to make it clear that I did not make my own crust.

Look, don’t look a me like that. I work really hard at my job. I don’t have time to futz with crust made from scratch. So yeah. I bought the Pillsbury double pack. If you wanna fight about it, we can fight about it, but it’s not worth it, because you will lose.

I do, however, want to talk about the spice mix I used for this pie, because it’s not the prescribed spice mix at all.

I mean, yes, there is sugar and nutmeg and cinnamon, but there is also ginger, and a whole lot of it.

I don’t know about you and your friends, but me and mine like their food – even their desserts sometimes – to kick them in their faces. And that means that things need to get kinda spicy.

So. I don’t know how much ginger I used. I just kept adding until it tasted right.

And sometimes baking is like that. I know that a lot of what goes into baking is precision. Baking is the classical music of the kitchen. There’s not a lot of room for improvisation. You play what’s on the sheet, you play it as accurately and completely as you can possibly get it, and you come up with something wonderful.

Cooking is a little more jazz-like. You play solos. There are drum breaks where you’re just standing there watching your weird drummer make weird faces as he solos.

But sometimes you can sneak a little something into your baking.

And in this case, it was ginger.

So for my first foray into making an apple pie all on my lonesome (sans some much appreciated help from Roommate!Suz in peeling the apples), presentation-wise it turned out okay. The crust overflowed, as you can see above. The filling kinda bubbled up and stickily submerged half the pie.

But it was delicious. And when I left Friendsgiving that night, there was only a slice left, that I believe was eaten for breakfast by someone a day or so later.

Mission accomplished. 🙂

The “This is About You” Book Launch Party

So my buddy Mary England, of Uncustomary Art, wrote a book about loving yourself, and different ways to enrich your life through self-love.

It’s a pretty great book. Personally, it’s been very helpful in my own little journey down life’s twisty road. The book is called “This is About You,” and it’s available to order through Amazon here. If you’ve ever had issues with self-esteem, or are interested in upping your self-care game, this is definitely a colorful, smart, interactive, comprehensive resource.

Get thee hence! *points to the above links*

c8

Dammit, Jim, I’m a baker, not a photographer!

In any case, when she announced when her launch party would by, I texted Mary and asked if she wanted me to make cupcakes for the event.

She requested Funfetti cupcakes with a blue raspberry frosting.

So I don’t usually use cake from a box, since it’s just as easy to make the cake from scratch and then dump sprinkles into the batter before putting it in the oven. It’s not so much the taste that bothers me, because box cake actually tastes pretty good. It’s that I like the process of making cake from scratch. I like measuring and mixing and trying for myself.

Recently, hands down my favorite vanilla cake recipe comes from Life Love and Sugar. It’s here, and the only thing I do differently is use unsalted butter, mostly because every time I go to make it, I think it needs unsalted butter because most recipes do. So I get unsalted, realize it calls for salted, say “eff it!” and make it anyways. It comes out just about perfect every time.

The frosting is a basic butter cream, but I made more than I usually do because instead of having to decorate like…twelve-twenty cupcakes, I had over 50. I added just the tiniest, itty-bittiest drop of raspberry flavoring, because liquid flavorings are crazy potent, and then 8 metric tons of food coloring.

c1

Oh yeah. I’m good at stuff sometimes

So Mary had requested Funfetti, and I tried to do this with gold sprinkles, but sadly they just melted into the cake. It made the cake a little sweeter which was nice, but it didn’t do much in terms of making them more sparkly which was a bummer. We did have little gold sugar balls to decorate with, so that definitely added a pop.

I’m pretty proud of them, and the party was awesome. Between the balloon hats, and face paint, the love letters to yourself and the photo booth, it was a really great time!

Maura Housley (who actually IS a great photographer) took a much better photo of the cupcakes:

c14

Somebody Has Been a Naughty Blogger

And yes, that someone is, in fact, me.

I admit it! It’s been months!

MONTHS!

https://media.riffsy.com/images/a1c92a42af519ef16142e0254eb882d7/raw

I know I know! I’m sorry!

It’s not that I haven’t been baking, it’s just that sometimes life gets in the way of things like updating your wee bitty baking blog.

I promise, I’m going to do my best to get back to it. I like updating this thing, and I like sharing my stuff.

So today is a double shot of cupcakey goodness:

20160207_123333

  1. Brown sugar (I GOT THEM RIGHT BUT I DON’T REMEMBER HOW!) Cupcakes with Pumpkin pie frosting.

I am not kidding about the pumpkin pie. I literally made pumpkin pie filling with no crust, scooped it into a pastry bag and then frosted the cupcakes with it. They were really good, but the cake didn’t go as well with it as I’d hoped. I’m thinking next time I’m going to try a cinnamon cake. It’s definitely a fall treat, so I’m thinking that I’m gonna wait to try them again until the weather gets to that chilly, crisp place, where you can smell crunchy leaves in the air.

20160305_223900

2. Chocolate cupcakes with a tart cherry jam filling, and Chipotle Cayenne buttercream.

This is a recipe that my buddy and former roomie, @Mrabey (Check her out on the Twitters!) worked up. I used the Hershey’s recipe on the back of the cocoa powder box (best chocolate cake ever), filled those suckers with some tart cherry jam and used the usual suspects for the buttercream:

2 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
1 tsp (or 1 tbs depending on how strong you want it) vanilla extract
Plus chipotle and cayenne powder to taste.

They’re a different kind of flavor to be sure, but really enjoyable.

I promise I’ll try not to let so long go by without an update. There’s another batch of cupcakes which is gonna get its own post because they damn well deserve it, so stay tuned!

Come to the Dark Side: We Have Chocolate Ganache

So I have a nifty li’l Pintrest board for Cake for Your Face!  It’s mostly delicious things that I would like to make at some point.

And on yon Pintrest board is This recipe for cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting.

Now, I would love to tell you that I dove right in and made that recipe complete with the caramel filling, but the hard truth is that I chickened out big time.

Caramel is scary, you guys. I don’t know how to make caramel. It’s a mountain I don’t feel like I’m ready to climb yet.

So I went with William Sonoma’s Vanilla Cupcakes. I know, I know, so boring, but still delicious, and a nice, light vehicle for the ganache!

But first, let me tell you about my super cool roommates, and how they found Star Wars Cupcake Liners for me, and bought them as a surprise, because they are WONDERFUL!

Okay!

20160131_170556

The cupcakes happened. It wasn’t my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe ever, but it did pretty well.

So then you take 2 bars of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate:

20160131_171309

And you cover it with the heavy cream, corn syrup, and sugar you’ve just boiled, and it eventually melts into this:

20160131_171856

And then you take it out to the living room with you, and give it its own chair so you can sit around and watch Rick and Morty while you occasionally stir it for 20-30 minutes.

20160131_172414

Now, I got worried, and the recipe says that if it sets too much, you can put the ganache in the microwave for ten seconds and it’ll soften back up.

So I did, not know what “sets too much” looks like. And when I took it out, and shoveled it into the piping back it kind of made a big stupid mess.

But! Once the ganache firmed up, it looked like this:

20160201_081410

And was delicious.

Like screw the cupcakes, let’s just spoon this up.

One day I’ll tackle that whole recipe. One day, I will conquer the scary task of making caramel.

But for now, there’s ganache.

 

Poof! Old Fashioned Donuts!

Roommate Jaki had a hankering for donuts for a while before we finally buckled down and made them last week. She sent me the recipe a while ago, but we needed cake flour and corn syrup and for some reason cake flour is not easy to find, possibly because cake flour is apparently packaged like this:

And not like this:

Also, I really need to do some research into the differences between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup (corn syrup is apparently a little racist), but I went with light because it had vanilla in it and that seemed legit for baked goods and sweets, and it worked well. I’ll do some googling on it though, because personally I’m really curious now. I had no idea there were different kinds! I was corn syrup color blind, apparently!

Now for something just as awkward as the last paragraph of bad jokes:

Uh…

So I went to go and link the recipe for these old fashioned donuts, and the link (which was to a Youtube video that also had the recipe in the video description) got taken down.

Uh…

I mean, the donuts were pretty great for a first try! They were a little overdone, but the glaze helped mitigate that.

The dough was super super sticky though. I’m not sure how to handle that without adding more flour, and thus running the risk of having to fry them longer and therefore having an overdone result. More refrigeration? Less rolling out the dough?

I have to admit, while I did a lot with the dough, Jaki handled the frying, because I could see the headlines:

“31-YEAR OLD WOMAN SPRAYS SELF IN FACE WITH HOT OIL!
IS A MORON!
WINS DUMMY AWARD!”

In Any case, Jaki did a great job, and they were pretty awesome!

Achievement unlocked!