Wednesday, June 30, 2010

strawberry crazy!

Last week I had the pleasure of going strawberry picking with my friend Melissa and her baby Imogen (the best baby on earth).  We planned this outing because I had asked Melissa (an experienced jam maker) to teach me how to make jam.  So, on Tuesday we picked the berries, prepared them, and on Wednesday I went over and we finished it up.  So yummy and rewarding.  I love learning how to make things that most people would buy.

Since the picking, I made strawberry shortcake cookies (via Martha Stewart), and vanilla bean poundcake (to become strawberry shortcake), and some strawberry-peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting.  I'm still working on getting this whole food photography thing down - needless to say my cookies looked very unappetizing and I forgot my camera for the shortcake.  I quickly snapped this photo of the cupcakes as I was heading out the door to the birthday party I made them for.  Not the best, but the best of what I had.

The recipe for the cupcakes was adapted from The Cupcake Calendar.  My friend Meaghan got it for me for my birthday.  I love it.  I have it on my desk at work to make my cubicle more "me".  The original recipe is for whole wheat peach muffins.

Strawberry-Peach Cupcakes
makes about 4 dozen minis

2 cups drained canned peaches
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 lightly beaten egg
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strawberries (cut fairly small)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 and line cupcake tin.
2. Purée the peaches.  In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, beat the egg, oil, and milk with an electric mixer until combined.  Stir in the peach purée, then add the flour mixture until just combined.  Fold in straberries.
4. Bake for 9 minutes (for minis).  Remove pan and cool.
5. Frost with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) - softened
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
mix of icing sugar and brown sugar

Whisk together butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Add sugar until it tastes good. (Honestly, this is my method).  I never mesure the sugar...just keep tasting it and adding until it looks and tastes good.  These cupcakes were delicious and a big hit at the party.

Monday, June 21, 2010

crumpet attempt no. 2 = success!

This past weekend, I made my second attempt at crumpets.  This time, they totally came out.  I was so excited, dancing around and yelling, "they're working, they're working!" 

I got the recipe off of Home Cooking in Montana (who would have thought, English Crumpets in Montana!).  The instructions were awesome. 

So, that was the highlight of my weekend.  Here is a photo...sorry for the quality, I was rushing out the door to go for a bike and it is not the best.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

crumpet attempt no. 1

Also known as: my biggest baking failure in recent history.

It's been a while since I posted.  Life has been busy and none of my baking has been very inspiring lately.  I also went on a vacation.  My roomate Kate and I went to Sasquatch! music festival and then spent four days in Seattle.  Sasquatch was such a good time.  There is no better way to see a ton of amazing bands in three days than a music festival, and this one was set in the most beautiful concert venue in the world, the gorge.  Seattle is also a very cool city and if given the opportunity, I would move there in a heartbeat. 

While in Seattle, we visited the Crumpet Shop, a small cafe near the Pike Place Market where you can get a crumpet with just about any topping you can think of.  I got a cream cheese, maple butter and walnut crumpet and Kate got a ricotta, honey and almond crumpet.  Delicious!  We both tried egg crumpets as well.  After coming back I decided I needed to learn how to make crumpets.  So, I went online, found a recipe, got all the ingredients and started.

From the second I put the dry ingredients into the wet, I knew this wasn't going to go well.    After watching the guy in the window making crumpets, I knew the batter had to be fairly liquidy but mine turned out very dough-y.  I forged ahead, not giving up until it was a guaranteed failure.  Well, it was a guaranteed failure in the end.  Kate insisted on cooking all the dough, but in the end, they were nearly inedible.  I say nearly, because Kate ate half of one (pretty much the whole one....).  Apparently, the Tayberry Jam that we got while in Seattle made it "not that bad".

I'll be trying again sometime this week or next weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.  I will figure these out!  Meanwhile, the gorge and our crumpets.