Monthly Archives: June 2010

Birthday Cake for Dear Old Dad

Happy birthday, Dad!  Tomorrow we’re heading up to my parent’s campground trailer to celebrate both my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day.  Per his request, I made this:

I haven’t cut into it yet – it is a birthday cake, after all – but the little bits that were stuck to the pan were delicious.  It was a bit more complicated than other cakes I’ve made, but overall I’d give it a two thumbs up.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The Best Recipe via Baking Beast (a blog that appears to have been abandoned about four years ago… but still, give credit where credit is due, right?)

Using a 9×3 inch round pan to bake the cake gives it straight sides. If you prefer slightly flared sides on your cake, bake it in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, which streamlines the process in three ways. First, the skillet need not be buttered; second, the caramel topping can be prepared in it directly; and third, the total baking time is cut to 50 minutes, which is 10 to 15 minutes faster than the cake pan.


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for cake pan
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 small pineapple, quartered, cored, and cut into 3/8 inch thick slices


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Butter bottom and sides of 9 x 3-inch round cake pan. Melt 4 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan; swirlpan to distribute evenly.
  2. Arrange fruit slices in concentric circles over topping; set aside.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350º F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Cream butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolks and vanilla (scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary); reduce speed to low and add dry mixture and milk, alternately in three or four batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until batter is just smooth.
  5. Beat egg whites in large bowl at low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add 2 tbsp sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks. Fold one-quarter of beaten egg whites into batter with large rubber spatula to lighten. Fold in remaining whites until no white streaks remain.
  6. Gently pour batter into pan and spread evenly on top of fruit, being careful not to disperse fruit. Bake until top is golden and toothpick inserted into cake center (not fruit, which reamins gooey) comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
  7. Rest cake on rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position on top of cake.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I guess I’m on a roll with upside down cakes.  Two in a weekend?  Not shabby.

Now’s the perfect time for a rhubarb cake – it was all over the place at the farmers’ market today.  I had a recipe I’d been meaning to try from my husband’s cousin – it was in the book of family recipes I received from my mother in law for our wedding.  I’m not sure where the recipe is from originally, but there are other similar recipes all over the internet, like here and here.  Compared with other recipes, this one is heavy with the sugar in the topping, but I think having a small piece with a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be just perfect.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


  • 1 1/4 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cold milk


  1. Combine 1 cup of sugar and rhubarb in sauce pan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved and fruit begins to soften (approximately 5-8 minutes).  Spread into greased 9×9″ pan.
  2. Beat shortening with remaining 1/2 cup sugar in bowl until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Beat in flour and baking powder alternately with milk (start and end with dry ingredients).  Spoon over rhubarb and spread batter as evenly as possible in pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Cool on rack for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a serving dish and lift off pan.  Can be served with ice cream or whipped cream.

Baked Doughnuts

The term “doughnuts” is used loosely in the title of this post.

They look like doughnuts… smell like doughnuts… but unfortunately they’re missing the essence of doughnuts.

I chose to make baked doughnuts because I’m a fried food novice.  It’s one thing to know your fast food has spent some time in the deep fryer.  It’s another to purposely dunk your meal in a vat of fat.  For that reason, I’ve always avoided making fried food at home.  I think next time I’ll take one for the team and go the fried route.

That being said, they still were tasty, and adorable.  Would I make them again?  No.  Did I eat three right out of the oven?  Yes.  Oops.

They’re made of your typical sweet yeast dough – no surprises there.  Cutting out the doughnuts was interesting.  I used a small cup-like container for the large circle, and an apple corer for the small hole in the middle.

The first roll out of the dough (far left in picture below) produced beautiful, perfectly shaped doughnuts.  The doughnuts cut out from the subsequent roll outs (far right) produced doughnuts that were difficult to shape.

Strangely enough, the misshapen doughnuts were the ones that rose the highest.  Must have been the extra kneading.

Baked Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts

Adapted from Piece of Cake; makes about 12 doughnuts

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup milk, heated to 95 to 105 degrees
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon-sugar Coating Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Place 3 tablespoons of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the yeast and set aside for at least five minutes.
  2. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of warm milk in a small bowl, stir in the butter and sugar, and add it to the yeast mixture.
  3. On low speed, stir in the egg, flour, nutmeg, and salt – just until the flour is incorporated.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. At this point, make a few adjustments – if your dough is seriously sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add a little bit of milk. Eventually, you want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and become soft and smooth.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface, knead it a few times by hand, and shape it into a smooth ball.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until its doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on a floured work surface. Using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cut holes in the centers with a smaller cutter, about half the diameter of the first–remember the hole will close up on the second rising if it’s too small, so make it a little bigger than what a finished doughnuts would look like (alternatively, use a doughnut cutter, if you actually own one).
  8. Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let the doughnuts rise for another 45 minutes.
  9. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 7 to 9 minutes – start checking around 7. Better to underbake then overbake here–pull them early if in doubt. While the doughnuts are baking, melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugars and cinnamon in a separate bowl (or large ziploc bag), stirring to blend evenly.
  10. Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugars. Serve immediately.

Homemade Pancake Mix Recipe

I always feel like such a cheater when I pull out a box of Bisquick or Jiffy Mix.  I also feel wasteful – why spend extra money on something that I already have the ingredients for?  Same goes for those handy little one-time-use pancake mixes.

I saw one of these at the grocery store and figured it would be perfect for bringing camping with us – fresh pancakes with minimal mess.  Even taking the handy container into consideration, it’s hard to justify spending a couple dollars when it could be made for pennies (I think… I didn’t calculate the actual cost of making it from scratch, but I’d assume it’s much, much less).

The homemade version of Bisquick mix is very little trouble to whip up.  There are quite a few different versions floating around out there, but since I’m using it for pancakes only, I based it on an instant pancake mix recipe.  There are only five ingredients necessary for the mix: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  When the time comes to make the pancakes, add an egg and a little milk, shake, and pour.  I put mine in an old peanut container.

It had a wide enough opening to add the ingredients directly, which was really nice, and pouring was only a bit of a mess.  If I would’ve had an empty ketchup bottle to spare, I could’ve used an idea I saw over at Crafter-Holic, originally from Real Simple magazine:

Adorable.  And you could do fun things like make your initials, or a heart, or the classic Mickey Mouse.  I probably won’t end up using it, though – you’d need a funnel not only to make the original mix, but then you’d also need to remember to bring it camping with you to add the egg and milk.

I’d highly recommend this recipe to any camper or someone in need of a quick way to make pancakes.  I don’t think I’d use it for a leisurely brunch – there are probably tastier versions available – but it’s a simple, quick, tasty way to get your pancake fix.

Bisquick Mix

(to use for instant pancakes while camping)

Based on Alton Brown’s “Instant” Pancake Mix

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons sugar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded container.  Shake to mix.
  2. When ready to make pancakes, add 1 egg and enough milk to make desired consistency.  Place the lid back on the container and shake until combined.  Cook on a hot griddle.

Rocky Road Squares

A five ingredient dessert recipe?  Count me in.

My mother in law gave me a book filled with family recipes for a wedding gift, and I’ve tried to do a recipe every few weeks.  I’m ramping it up, though, during my cooking month!  This recipe for rocky road squares comes from my husband’s step-grandma.

Her recipe calls for a double boiler, which I decided to forgo.  In the first place, we don’t own anything specifically designed for the purpose.  I’ve made my own before by using a medium sized pot and a large metal bowl, but it’s just one extra step that has always seemed a bit tedious.  It wasn’t until I was reading The Kitchen Detective that I decided to abandon a double boiler all together.  The author (and the chef I admire most) said he hasn’t used a double boiler in decades – he just turns the stove top on its lowest setting or uses the microwave.  If Christopher Kimball doesn’t use one, then I don’t have to either!

This recipe was quick and easy – to be honest, it’s taken me more time to blog about it than it took to make.  The most difficult part of the whole process was spreading the mixture into the pan.  And now that I really look at the picture, I realize that’s because I didn’t follow directions.  (Does that look like a 13×9″ pan to you?)

I will admit – I’ve already snitched a piece.  The chocolate was soft, the marshmallows were gooey, the nuts were crunchy… but holy sweetness.  I’ve got a major sweet tooth, and even to me it was sweet beyond necessity.  I was a bit upset – they seemed so promising – until I looked up this recipe on the Eagle brand website, and it was actually called “Rocky Road Candy.”  It’s all in your expectations, right?  Maybe cutting them into what I consider bars was a little extreme.  Some things are just better in small doses.

Rocky Road Squares

recipe adapted from Eagle Brand via my husband’s step-grandma


  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 10 oz marshmallows
  • 14 oz evaporated milk
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 T butter or margarine


  1. On a very low stove, melt chocolate chips with evaporated milk and butter.  Remove from heat.
  2. In large bowl, combine nuts and marshmallows.  Fold in chocolate mixture.
  3. Spread in wax paper lined 13×9 inch pan.  Chill 2 hours.  Remove from pan, peel off wax paper, and cut into 2″ squares.  Cover.  Store at room temperature or freeze.

100 Things To Make

Inspired by Rina at Gotta Little Space, I’m creating a “100 Things to Make” list to kick of my month of living my passions.  I’m making a list of 100 recipes that I’d like to try.  I don’t have it completely finished, and I may change an item or two, but it’s off to a good start.  Suggestions are welcome – I whipped out the first 70 or so, and then hit a huge roadblock.  What have I missed?

  1. Povitica
  2. Cream puffs
  3. Yogurt
  4. Bagels
  5. Doughnuts
  6. Egg rolls
  7. Fruit leather
  8. Onion rings
  9. Roasted red peppers
  10. Deep fried cheese curds
  11. Rhubarb upside down cake
  12. Shepherd’s pie
  13. Lemon poppy seed muffins
  14. Jalapeno poppers
  15. Better than sex cake
  16. Black bean burgers
  17. Cheese crackers
  18. Multigrain bread
  19. Oven roasted asparagus
  20. Scones
  21. Peppercorn steak
  22. Quiche
  23. Eggs Benedict
  24. Cobb salad
  25. Chocolate eclair cakes
  26. Philly cheesesteak
  27. Calzones
  28. Sweet potato fries
  29. Pancake mix
  30. Maple glazed ham
  31. Chicken cordon bleu
  32. Refried beans
  33. Pulled chicken tacos
  34. Fortune cookies
  35. Artichoke dip
  36. Cheesecake
  37. Pumpkin pie
  38. Mayonnaise
  39. Chicken and broccoli stir fry
  40. English muffins
  41. Salad dressing
  42. Couscous
  43. Fajitas
  44. Steak quesadillas
  45. Orange Thai beef skewers
  46. Cheeseball
  47. Texas caviar
  48. Tagalong cookies
  49. Samoa cookies
  50. Chicken pot pie
  51. Caramels
  52. Pecan snowballs
  53. Sables
  54. Pork breakfast sausage
  55. Coconut macaroons
  56. Tomato soup
  57. Cake pops
  58. White pizza dip
  59. Apple butter
  60. Orange roasted salmon with yogurt-caper sauce
  61. Wine soaked cherries over pound cake
  62. Buster bar torte
  63. German rye bread
  64. Lazy daisy cake
  65. Pork medallions with blue cheese and chives
  66. Teriyaki sesame chicken
  67. Cheesy wild rice soup
  68. Ice cream
  69. Any recipe from Deceptively Delicious
  70. Pasties
  71. Hummus
  72. Frittata
  73. Edamame
  74. Breaded perch
  75. Vegetable bake
  76. Croutons
  77. Gorp
  78. Ding Dongs or Swiss Cake Rolls
  79. BLT salad
  80. Jam
  81. Dilly beans
  82. Red velvet cake
  83. Pineapple upside-down cake
  84. ?
  85. ?
  86. ?
  87. ?
  88. ?
  89. ?
  90. ?
  91. ?
  92. ?
  93. ?
  94. ?
  95. ?
  96. ?
  97. ?
  98. ?
  99. ?
  100. ?

An Unfortunate Case of Granola

Looks good, doesn’t it?

Tricked you.

The reviews were great, the recipe looked fine… but due to lack of the correct ingredients, the actual granola bars aren’t as tasty as they should be.  We’ll bring them camping with us (everything tastes better in the fresh air), but it’s not a hit.

My problem was this: we didn’t have any of the fun “add-ins” called for in the recipe (i.e. nuts, dried fruit), so I just made it with oats.  I think it threw my ratio off, because it turned out so dry – it was impossible to pack together into the pan.  I added more honey, which helped with the sticking, but of course threw the flavor.

Here’s the original recipe.  It’s supposed to be a good one… if you follow it!  And if anyone has a better granola bar recipe… please… send the link!

Alton Brown’s Granola Bars

  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries


Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.