A Day Without Baking

After having a baking project every weekend for the past two months it was odd to have a weekend without something planned. The house just felt hollow without something rising, resting, baking, or cooling. You know that feeling.

But today I’m back at it. To stretch our thanksgiving leftovers I’m making a turkey pot pie using puff pastry. I’ve never used puff before so I’m starting with store bought.

Adding to the list I’ve got a batch of pizza dough rising that will last us almost a month. I’m thinking of also doing a batch of brownie cookies.

I’ve got a planned surgery on Friday and my dad is coming to help with our kiddos. I’d like to have some yummy stuff floating around, so more baked may be coming this week. I’ll be sure to share recipes and the outcomes as I get each thing done!

What are you baking this week?


Happy Anniversary

I’m basically a liar, let’s get that out of the way. I said in my last post that I was going to try and limit my baking leading up to Thanksgiving, but then I made a cake.

This week my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and I found myself looking through photos of our wedding day. Our wedding cake was gorgeous and funky and tasty and now I really wanted to eat cake.

I don’t hide my lack of decorating skill. Maybe I’m not patient enough, or I lack proper equipment, or my small motor skills stink but I am not a naturally talented decorator. I do love trying to make things taste good.

Today I pulled out a recipe for Genoese sponge and buttercream frosting, with the chocolate mousse from my chuox adventure. I’ve never made Genoese and it has been a long time (like two years or something) since I tried to make frosting. When we lived in California I used to made boxed cupcakes and tried to make my own frosting with soy milk and no real fat to speak of. This was before I started to understand the fundamental science around baking. Clearly these frostings failed horribly.

The basic Genoese recipe I followed was:

40g butter

3 larger eggs

75g Sugar

70g self rising flour*

*I added a half a teaspoon baking soda, as I only have all purpose flour, not self rising flour. In addition to that I omitted the cornflour that the original recipe called for. I also added mini chocolate chips, not even thinking they might sink. Of course they did sink. The basic recipe was easy to follow and can be found in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

After reading the recipe I toyed with also adding a bit of vanilla, but then I went with vanilla buttercream. Simple enough. There are several buttercream recipes in the same Mary Berry book, including a chocolate and a coffee that I need to find a use for.

Then I got the wild idea to make a Disney cake in honor of us having been married at the Grand California Resort at Disneyland. I have a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter, how hard could it be?

After the cake cooled I cut out one Mickey head and three smaller circles. The circles would be layer with my mousse and covered in blue buttercream. The Mickey would wear red marshmallow fondant pants. Great idea, right?

Yup. That’s the hot mess my kitchen devolved into.

The final product was no where near as pretty as in my head. Let’s be real, the prettiest part is the yellow crown sprinkles my daughter added.

But after we cut it there were some nice layers and it tasted yummy. I probably could have baked the sponge a minute or two less, and I probably should have put the mousse in the freezer while the cake baked to get a more firm set.

All things considered I am pretty happy with how my spur of the moment cake turned out. I could have bought a nicer looking cake. I could have made something more simple that didn’t highlight my lack of skills. Ultimately though baking is an act of love. You bake for who you love, because you love them, and because you love to bake. That’s all the matters in the end.

And that it tastes good.

Happy baking everyone.


Nine Black Friday Baking Ideas

Have a long gift list this year, or maybe you need some new equipment for your kitchen? I’ve trolled Amazon’s Black Friday kitchen sales and picked out a few perks worth considering. The prices are great for gifting a lot of people, adding to your kitchen supplies, or upgrading your older items. If you’re in need of something I haven’t listed just head over to Amazon’s Black Friday kitchen page and do some digging.

Cuisinart WAF-200 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker

Who doesn’t need a waffle maker? And at 59% off. Yes please.

Zester Grater

This seems silly but it is surprising how many times I’ve read a recipe and wished I had a zester. Of course I forget the minute I stop cooking, only to kick myself the next time I try to make a lemon curd. This one is 67% off.

USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel Donut Pan, 6-Well

Donuts are delicious and now you can eat them without putting on clothes and leaving the house.  Buy it at 20% off and then send me pictures of your donuts.

BakerStone Original Pizza Oven Box Kit

Really want to splurge? Grab this pizza oven that Oprah says is a must. Oprah can’t be wrong, can she?

NY Cake 18″ Disposable Pastry Bag, Piping Bag-100 pack

While making a hot mess of my coffee chocolate mousse last week I wished I had disposable bags. Now these are on sale. Coincidence?

USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel 6 Piece Set

If you’re just starting out, or know someone who is, this set is perfect. You could also order now, since the price is awesome, and save them for that next upcoming wedding or birthday you have to go to. At 39% off you win.

Estilo Multifunctional Cake and Serving Stand, Clear

I have a cake stand that is identical to this and it is awesome. Turn the base one way and it is a cake stand, flip that bad boy over and you’ve got a nifty serving tray. For real I use this at least once a month to store a cake or keep some snacks fresh. The $14 price tag is quite a bit less than what I paid, so buy this one for yourself and a friend.

Messermeister Cheflamme Culinary Torch

I probably shouldn’t be trusted with a torch yet, but man I can’t wait to toast some stuff and brown some meringues .

Flexible Cake Pan, Magic Bake Snake DIY Baking Mold Tools

Interested in making cool shaped cakes without buying a thousand different pans? I haven’t tried these yet, but I love the idea of having total control of your cake shape. The set is only $8.79, instead of the retail $39.99. For less than nine bucks this set is probably worth experimenting with.

If you really want to pick up a lot of things at a dirt cheap price for yourself a a frugal appreciating friend check out their open box and used kitchen items.


Happy Baking and Shopping!



Roasted Tomatoes and Prosciutto: A Savory Pie

This week I’m trying to keep my non holiday related cooking and budget to a minimum. What with the turkey to smoke and the sweet potatoes to bake and green beans to… casserole (?) there is plenty of cooking to be had. My daughter and I are also making cookies as thank you gifts for her teachers and our doctors. To ease the load I spent Sunday making the crust for my pecan pie. Thankfully my favorite crust recipe produces enough dough for two crusts.

Dinner and dessert. Score.

I haven’t done much savory baking, aside from an attempt at some disastrous breadsticks that tasted like 100% baking soda. So so so nasty. If I want to consider myself a reasonably accomplished home baker I need to up my comfort with savory bakes however, so here is my attempt at a Roasted Tomato Pie.

The recipe comes from my much beloved Great British Bake Off: Everyday book. They call for a short crust tart base, but seeing as I already had a pie crust ready to go I made the call and went for the swap. To make the pie a more substantial dinner I also added the prosciutto, as it suggested in the recipe.

My husband and I devoured 3/4 of the pie, and I polished off the last bit for lunch while breastfeeding my son this afternoon. For me the flavors were spot on, and I am sure proud of that pastry case-I’ll write more about my adventures in pie crust later this week.

If I could go back and change anything in the recipe it would be to cut the prosciutto up instead of just placing the slices down. Yes, the layer of meat was a nice barrier between the base layer of cheese and the top layer of tomatoes, but it was hard to get nice sized bites of prosciutto. Unless you really cut each piece up thoroughly, the meat seemed to come out in whole chunks. Still tasty but it caused each bite to lose its integrity.

Anyway, if you’ve got some unsweetened pie crust just clogging up your freeze this is a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table with minimal clean up.

Have any decent dinner recipes that use pie crusts?

Happy Baking!


Slightly Better Blondie

To say I make a slightly healthier blondie is like saying I only drink a little wine. It’s still wine. This twist on my favorite recipe from the Taste of Home website still has a whole mess of chocolate chips, and sugar, but little things can help assuage some of that dessert guilt you may be harboring in the weeks before the holidays. The recipe is here and it is worth trying, with healthier swaps, or as is.

My favorite hack of all time is to swap a half of cup of applesauce for an egg (some places say a quarter cup, so play with what works best for your altitude, oven, taste buds, and recipe). Or if you’ve got little kids just grab the ever present applesauce pouch. I kid you not you can just squirt that bad boy into your batter instead of cracking an egg.

To make this applesauce magic work just treat the recipe EXACTLY the same. Same measurements, same technique, less egg. Nervous? Use one egg and one measure of applesauce. It will work out, promise.

Another swap would be to use one of those handy single serve Greek yogurt cups in place of one egg. Still tasty, but I personally find they make things a bit denser than applesauce.

If you want to be ballsy, or only have the apple and peach applesauce at home like I do right now, you can add some nifty flavored combos to your blondies without doing any extra work. The peach ones add a subtle tang that works well with the sweetness.

A second swap I make when baking for the family (not any fancy bakes or legit pasty) is to turn to my cholesterol hero Smart Balance. I swear they aren’t paying me, I’ve just seen how much swapping to their butter substitute has helped my dad’s high cholesterol. To be real, I’m genetically predisposed to this mess, so you gotta do what you gotta do to offset those deliciously bad habits. There are bakers who say margarine of any kind just doesn’t work the same as butter, and there is some validity to that. I wouldn’t use it in my pie crusts or choux. When I make a future (probably disastrous attempt) at puff pastry I will use real butter as well. If, however, you’re whipping up brownies, blondies, or cookies for around the house just use margarine. It’s fine.

One last change I made to this blondie recipe was to use 1 cup white sugar instead of 1 1/2 brown sugar. Two reasons: I’m currently out of brown sugar and that just seemed like a lot of sugar. That’s stupid for a blog entered A Little More Sugar to say, but with a decent amount of chocolate chips these blondies are sweet enough. Save your ingredients for a later day and leave that extra half cup of sugar behind. You won’t notice the difference.

These one pan wonders were whipped up in less time than it took my oven to preheat, and I topped my husband’s with some leftover chocolate coffee mousse from my choux mess (no caffeine after 3pm for this gal, sadly). My daughter loves chocolate chip cookies, so to save my sanity I cut some squares into quarters and tell her they are cookies; saves a ton of time baking a dozen cookies and she’s just as happy.

What sort of healthier (healthy-ish?) swaps do you make in your recipes? I’m game to try so let me know here or on Twitter.

Happy baking!


Holiday Baking (and More) Savings

In addition to baking I am a coupon junkie. I want the best stuff at the best price. In my quest to pinch the penny I’ve fallen madly in love with the app Ibotta. Right now you can get rebates on a lot of your Thanksgiving baking staples (pecans, karo syrup, stuffing mix, booze, and more) in addition to whatever store and manufacture coupons you’ve squirreled away.

If you want free money just for trying it use this link and get an extra $10 (the code is puouha).

Other decent rebate apps include Checkout 51 and Fetch (use code KU2WT), but I always turn to Ibotta. To prove it here is a screenshot of my savings to date. https://ibotta.com/r/puouha

They’ve got rebates for way more than food too (think amazon, Walmart, Gap, Groupon, etc). So if you want to get your money back, use a rebate app.

Happy shopping and baking!


Much Ado About Choux

Today was my second go at choux pastry. The first time around I made some decent buns, but I didn’t have the ingredients to make a filling. I had also spooned out those first buns instead of piping them out into nice looking shapes. Today I tackled the same basic recipe with a piping bag and multiple tips at the ready.

That is where the organization ended. This is also a time when I realized that pretty pictures of food just isn’t my thing. You’ll be getting the unvarnished, and often times poorly lit, photos of my bakes in progress. Learning to bake is messy. Having kids in the kitchen is messy. I am generally messy.

So I went for a cinnamon sugar variation on this basic recipe in The Great British Bake Off Everyday cookbook (it is on page 200).

So far so good. It’s shiny and smooth!

Instead of the white chocolate coffee mousse they suggested I made a chocolate coffee mousse. I’m just not a huge fan of white chocolate. That recipe is on page 198, if you’re  up for looking.

I should have known I did it wrong when I had more than the recipe said.

Right out of the oven I could tell I piped them too small. They were dried out and tasty, but filling was going to be a problem. A big problem. Also, my daughter decided that this moment was a great time to wash all of her tea set dishes-she ruined her singing tea pot but I’m not sad about that.

This is what baking with a 3 year old is like.

The mousse, like the buns, tasted great, but I failed horribly at the execution. It was all the fail. The buns were too small to get the mousse in. The tip on my piping bag was too big. And I suck at piping. I just do. I got more mousse on my hands, my stove top, and a little on my floor. After trying to fill each bun I had more left in the bag than made it into any of the pastry. The flavors were on point, but I won’t be winning any contests with the look of those beasts.

This took a lot of clorox wipes to clean up

Yummy, but not sturdy. Or well filled. Or pretty.


Cinnamon Sugar Choux Buns with Chocolate Coffee Mousse

I’ve included my variations which I applied to the GBBO recipe. You can’t go wrong with their awesome recipe, but if you want to be brave and experiment with me give my version a try. Let me know how it turns out; maybe someone can help me not suck at filling pastry. Which ever way you go, pipe the buns larger than you think you need, especially if it is your first time filling something.


Here is the place where I laud or lament my equipment. The Kitchen Aide stand mixer is must. I never used one growing up, so I thought it was superfluous. Damn it I was wrong. This mixer is my kitchen work horse and I want to hug it every day. I only wish I had one more bowl. I’ve got one bowl for the mixer and often times I have to wash it between steps. Go big, buy the second bowl.

Things I hate. My piping bag. I shouldn’t whine, I got it for free from my mom after she realized she hated making macarons. It is silicon and has all these tip attachments, and it should be awesome. It is not. It is always a mess and it is a pain to clean. Or maybe I’m just bad at using it. Who knows. Next time I try to pipe I’m just going to buy a whole bunch of those disposable ones and call it a day.

Happy Baking