Sunday, September 30, 2012

Honey Oat Beer Bread (And roasted veggie pasta!)

I LOVE my bread machine. I love fresh bread, but I've never had the patience to wait for things to rise (and now, I don't quite have the shoulder to knead anymore. Getting old is the pits!), so I never really made anything other than quick breads. My family however, took pity on me last Christmas and bought me a bread machine. We went for several months without buying bread. I think we all gained a few pounds too though.. I've since gone back to buying our daily bread from the grocery store (sorry, but I don't think anything can top $0.88 loaves..), but every once in awhile I break out the machine and make a couple of loaves of GOOD bread. I found some mixes on close-out the other day, and that got me to bring it out. I made one of them, and then decided I needed to make a good from-scratch one too before I put it away again. I've always had an affection for honey wheat bread, an affection for beer bread, and an affection for oat bread. Why not combine them all? The machine I have came with a recipe booklet, so I found a beer bread recipe for the bread machine, and then tweaked it to my liking. Here's the result:


(2lb loaf recipe)
1/2 cup + 2tbsp water, room temperature
1 cup beer 
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour (bread flour, if you have it, otherwise AP works just fine!)
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast


Place ingredients in machine in the order listed above. Make a small well in the flour for the yeast. Set machine to 2lb white cycle and then.. Leave it alone! Seriously. Watch it during the first mixing cycle to make sure you don't need to add a little more flour or a little more beer (or water, whichever. I added a little extra beer). Once it's done, try to resist and let it cool for at least a few minutes before slicing it up. You'll tear it. Do as I say, not as I do. I tore it. I can't help it. I love fresh bread! 

Oh, and it also goes remarkably well with a plate of roasted veggie pasta:
Roast an assortment of veggies on a sheet tray at 425º with olive oil, salt and pepper until fork tender, dump into 1lb freshly cooked pasta. Add a drizzle of olive oil, dried minced garlic (or fresh if you have it!), a dash of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, and some salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm! And with a slice of fresh bread. YUM! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blackberry Cupcakes

Here in the great Northwest, it's the tail end of blackberry season. Being a baker known for stockpiling goodies to use in her freezer, I have amassed quite a few gallon bags of blackberries in my freezer. The frozen ones from the store are okay, but really, they're SO much better when they're local and you freeze them yourself! No extra preservatives or treatments, and local always tastes better! I've learned recently how to use a boxed mix to make some awesome treats. Why not use blackberries to spice it up? Oh, and some citrus that you've got laying around? 


1 box of Betty Crocker white cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted
3 eggs (whole eggs)
1 3/4 fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk

1 stick butter, softened
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange (about 1/2 - 1tsp)
1-2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
2-5 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine cake mix, butter and eggs. Microwave blackberries for 2 minutes, mash. Add milk to make 1 1/4 cups total blackberry milk mixture. Add to cake mix. Divide between muffin cups. This made 20 for me, though the box says that it should have made 24. Boxes lie. Never trust a box. Just saying. Anyways, bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

While the cupcakes are cooling, whip together the butter, extracts and orange bits for the frosting. Add powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes once they've cooled. Then? DIG IN! 

I thought I'd try out a rose piping style tonight for these. It turned out pretty well, I'd say, and was a LOT easier than I thought it'd be. Just start from a dollop in the center and work your way out! 

And yes, I realize that the cupcakes look chocolate in these pictures, however, I assure you, they are a deep royal purple and the frosting is a gorgeous off-white on top. GORGEOUS! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chocolate High Class Cookies

My High Class Cookies went over pretty well. I went to an event today that I was bringing "snacks" to.. Snacks meaning baked goods that are most likely terrible for you. I told everyone that I was open to requests, and I got a request for chocolate. The first thing that came to mind was the High Class Cookies I had made the other day, and how easy it would be to convert them to a chocolate deliciousness. I made quite a few changes from the original, the most obvious being the chocolate addition, but they turned out DELICIOUS. Because I doubled the other recipe and added an egg, they turned out to be a little less dense, but also a bit chewier. Did I mention that they're also very delicious? Oh, I did. Well, they're delicious. I only managed to snap one picture of these though before they disappeared:


1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla 
3 tsp applesauce
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
4 packets of instant cinnamon spice oatmeal (Can sub 1 cup regular oats and 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350º.

Brown butter on the stove top. See the link above to High Class Cookies for more information on this if you don't already know how. Add sugars and combine well. Let cool to almost room temperature. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until just combined. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, or a parchment lined cookie sheet (I have two cookie sheets, and one I have to line and one I don't. You know your bakeware better than anyone else). Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over each cookie, and bake for 9-11 minutes.

So, there you have it. The best of EVERYTHING in a cookie! Delicious, nutty, chocolatey, and the sea salt and cinnamon work together in such a way that it leaves the consumer wondering what you've done to them and how it can be done again! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

High Class Cookies

I don't know a single person who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but even vegans have found a way to make one for themselves. I happen to especially love chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. These put the "class" in "classic." 


1/2 cup browned butter (1 stick) (See this site if you need instructions)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp applesauce
1/2 cup + 2tbsp flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg (scant 1/4 tsp)
Dash cloves (scant 1/4 tsp)
2 packets cinnamon spice instant oatmeal
1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350º.

Brown butter on the stove (see directions linked above if you have never done this before), let cool a bit once done. Add to a large mixing bowl with sugars and mix well. As long as butter is cooled to close to room temperature, add egg, vanilla and applesauce. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet (my measuring spoons are rounded, so I just used that and dropped half-spheres onto the baking sheet). There is no need to flatten the cookies, they'll spread to exactly the right level while baking. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Enjoy one fresh out of the oven and be careful not to burn yourself. Do as I say, not as I do. This blister on the roof of my mouth will heal nicely.. Eventually.. It was SO worth it though. 

Try to resist the urge. I dare you. Let me know how that works out for you. Because it won't. I guarantee it. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blackberry Peach Muffins

I love muffins. They're easy to make, portable, (usually) attractive, and tasty! Not to mention they're usually fairly healthy, especially the whole wheat and/or fruit variety. Like these. I love baking with fresh fruit. Seriously. Nothing better. I was contemplating throwing some chocolate chips in these, but why would I ruin some perfectly good fruit? No. I was also going to throw in some oatmeal, but that was forgotten due to.. well.. me. I'm sure that these would be terrific with some rolled oats thrown in. *sigh* Next time, my friends. 


1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup sugar (Or Splenda)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup finely diced peaches, heaping
1 1/2 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen


Preheat oven to 375º.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, beat well. Add flours, baking powder, milk and applesauce and combine. Fold in fruit gently. Divide between 15 muffin cups (lined or well-greased). They will be almost full, these won't rise much. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with no batter. 

The result is essentially a peach-blackberry cobbler in a wrapper, except healthier! It's not too sweet (I used Splenda in mine), but the fruit is perfect and juicy still. Oh, did I mention that it's gorgeous? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lemon Blackberry Cake

Well, hubby's birthday has come and gone, but I managed to snap a few pictures of the cake I had made for him. I needed to use up some blackberries I had gotten, and he wanted a fruit-filled cake. Have I mentioned lately he's my favorite person? No? Well, he is. And a happy, happy birthday to you, my dear.

Okay. Done with the mush. Ready for cake? DELICIOUS cake?


1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1c cup sugar
2 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1tbsp)
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 tbsp vanilla (yes, a full TABLESPOON)
1/2 cup milk

2 cups fresh blackberries (can also use frozen)
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how good your berries are)
2-3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

4oz cream cheese, softened
4tbsp butter, softened
1/2cup filling mixture
2-4 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans, set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add flour mixture in alternating batches with milk, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Divide mixture between the two pans and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

For the filling:
In a medium sauce pan, combine blackberries and sugar, bring almost to a boil while stirring often. Add corn starch 1 tbsp at a time, waiting about 2 minutes between each addition, stirring constantly and checking for consistency. When done, it should be about the same consistency as jam. Stir in lemon juice and cinnamon, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. 

For the frosting:
Cream together cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Add the cooled filling mixture and blend well. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Keep in a cool place until use.

To assemble:
Level the layer of cake that you will be using for the bottom. To do so, use a serrated knife held horizontally that sits just above the outer edges at both sides of the knife and saw back and forth gently until you get to the other side of the cake with it. Remove the remnants and discard (or if no one is looking, take a piece and dunk it in your filling mixture that is cooling.. YUM!). Using a piping bag, put a ring of frosting around the very outer edge of your bottom layer. Fill the rest of the area in the ring with the filling mixture. Place the second layer on top gently. Top with a large dollop of your frosting and spread it gently to and over the sides of the cake. Frost the sides next. Add details if desired.

Please excuse my frosting job. I ran out of powdered sugar, so it wasn't quite as stiff as I would have liked, and it was rather humid and warm while I was making it. It melted a bit. I had to refrigerate my cake between steps, along with my frosting. That being said, it was absolutely delicious. I also made some into cupcakes to share. I scooped out a bit of the center of the cupcakes once they cooled, filled with the filling mixture (I did not replace the center piece like I do with my Salted Caramel cupcakes since this filling isn't quite as sickeningly sweet) and topped with a beautiful mauve mound of frosting. My sister devoured at least four mini cupcakes the night I made them. They're pretty good.