As the end of another year quickly comes upon us it is time for some reflection. Perhaps you're wondering what decisions you made over the course of the year and if these were good or bad. Maybe you're already putting the year behind you and looking forward. Perhaps you're just gorging this month and are certain you'll make up for all this holiday gluttony once the clock strikes midnight bringing us into January 1, 2011. Or maybe this has been the crappiest year ever and you just need to move on already. Either way, I think it's a good time to reflect on baking efforts (good and bad) this year and hope for some more deliciousness as we get further into the twenty-first century. Yeah, food heals if only for a bit.
And with that I bring you my baking for 2010! Don't be surprised to see many pumpkin entries. You know I have a thing for that tasty veg.
Pumpkin Bread a la Food Network.
Well the first baked goody of the new year was a bit of a bust. I had buttermilk and aimed to use it. The result was a pumpkin bread that was not very sweet, but had the taste of pumpkin due to puree and the traditional pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice/cloves, and ginger).
Since I had left over buttermilk and pumpkin and was going to be bringing a dessert for friends I decided to take another crack at a recipe that evening, meaning I put in an all-nighter.
The second dessert was pumpkin muffins and instead of pecans I used left over walnuts. I was very happy with the muffins as they were sweeter and just all-around tastier for me. So this recipe from Food Network was a win!
I was forwarded or simply saw a recipe in the New York Times and decided to go all out. Usually I stick with simple recipes, but decided to try something more difficult. A buttermilk poundcake with lemon glaze. I know! Tres fancy.
I made a brown sugar poundcake last year that was darn tasty. But nothing compares to the moisture and delicacy of this buttermilk poundcake. It's a lot of work in the beating, but well worth it in the end. While the edges browned a bit more than I would've liked from my bundt pan the taste was not affected whatsoever.
Next up was a marble orange tea bread. I'm not a huge fan of orange outside of juice and maybe some orange-flavored chicken a la my local Chinese restaurant or Trader Joe's frozen orange chicken, but dang it all this marbled chocolate and orange tea bread was tasty!
The orange was not too heavy, but very pungent with the zest. The chocolate taste was quite light in the swirls and I was shocked I made it look close to how it did in the Cakes and Bakes cookbook I used. So, this was good. I tried the same recipe another time and the center sunk, so I know not to peak at it while baking next time. My bad.
Cakes and Bakes was instrumental in another tasty treat that my husband loves and is addicted to and is our go-to dessert for when we go to people's houses the cinnamon blondie!
Goodness, the picture just doesn't do it justice.
Dependent on mixing you may get a couple of results texture-wise. You can get the dense-ness of a true bar or more cakey. My husband prefers the former and I don't care because it tastes amazing! The cinnamon is the star but not overpowering and within a blondie it's a perfect combination making it taste like a cookie in bar form. Good stuff.
Giada DeLaurentiis has never steered me wrong and in a recipe of hers I found my new favorite cookie (and a fave of co-workers as well): lemon ricotta cookie (with lemon glaze, though I tend to go without it.)
This cookie can do no wrong. It's light, fluffy, and as some have told me "refreshing." That's the power of lemon zest, baby! The dough is just as good, trust me. I can eat a dozen of these and not feel full (both a good and bad thing). I strongly encourage you to make this cookie, ASAP. You'll thank me. (You're welcome.)
And we are officially in spring! Ah, warmer temps and less layers. Good times. This recipe from Cakes and Bakes seemed simple enough and, as already stated, I love simple. I made ginger-topped fingers. A shortbread with ginger inside and on top in a syrup that was made with simple corn starch and ground ginger.
My husband is the ginger fan in our household. I like it in small doses and it wasn't too much in this recipe. The cookie was incredibly buttery and crisp, not crumbly which I enjoyed and the ginger syrup atop it made it a bit more moist. Delightful.
You and I both know that pumpkin is good year-round, year-round!, so I tackled it again as we approached summer. This recipe is from the grand dame herself of all things domestic, Martha Stewart! Pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing.
I made these for a friend's baby shower of sorts and it was a hit! I made a few dozen with the brown butter icing (not really brown in color, mind you) and a few without. Everyone loved this cakey, moist cookie with the icing. Without icing it was still loved, just not as much. I'd say that evaporated milk added to the moisture for this cake. It's in the method and also ingredients of course. The more dairy the better, I say!
We get back to basics with the help of good ole reliable, Cakes and Bakes! This is a basic sugar cookie recipe with the addition of lemon zest. This is more a hard, crunchy cookie rather than a chewy one. I'm still in search of the perfect sugar cookie, much like many may be looking for the perfect chocolate chip recipe. These were tasty and good. The dough is meant to be cut and/or shaped rather than a drop cookie, so it'll pay to have cookie cutters for this one.
Another Cakes and Bakes recipe was chocolate caramel bars. The bar part, which includes oats, was too thin so it was pretty crispy. The caramel was made from (yum) sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar over an open flame as the next layer and add on some melted chocolate and you've got yourself a bar! Very tasty. Compliments noted.
Well, that's it for the first half of the year. I'll be back with the latter half. This past week was a baking bonanza for me! December is my busiest month it turns out.