Baking with Bertine

Playing with Flour

 

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Posted on April 30th, 2010 by Bertine

My company was having a potluck the day after I got back from vacation. I hadn’t planned ahead very well but still wanted to bring something to the potluck.

I decided on a Crockpot Chocolate Pudding Cake because it would be quick and I had been a little obsessed with it since I had read about it a few months before.

Ingredients:
1 package chocolate cake mix (any 2-layer size)
2 cups sour cream
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding (any size)
1 small bag (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. oil
4 eggs
1 c. water

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Preparation:
Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Mix all ingredients together. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours Try not to lift the lid. Serve with ice cream.

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(I didn’t get to take a picture when it was done because it went so fast)

My Tips
My tips are to tape the lid down so people don’t keep lifting it up while it is cooking in the breakroom. I also not sure it the edges over cooked because I used an oval crockpot or because all the steam was released when people opened it up. However, I just cut those edges off and it was a huge hit. It was moist and perfect with ice cream. I am pretty sure I’ll be making this at the next potluck just because it was so easy to make.

Beer Bread

Posted on April 6th, 2010 by Bertine

We happened to have a lot of not very good beers hanging around in our fridge including one left over from a Super Bowl party we gave a couple months ago.

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It was strongly hinted that beer bread would be a good way to use up this beer and since we had a post-passover* bread eating party to go to, I wanted a recipe that was easy to make a few loaves and that I could experiment with. I was able to find what I was looking for here.

Basic Beer Bread Mix:
3 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
12 ounces beer

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Heat oven to 375°. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick.

Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

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Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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I made four loaves:

  • Plain with Blacken Voodoo Beer
  • Romano Cheese Mixed In
  • Vaguely Italian Herbs with Salt on Top
  • Cracked Pepper with Black Salt on Top

 

I didn’t add an egg wash to the loaves, mostly because I didn’t have any eggs since I used them all making the Fourteen Layer Cake. However, I would have used it to hold the salt on better on two of the loaves.

This recipe was quick, easy and might just become a staple around here because it is so tasty and it so easy to play with. You can easily toss whatever you think might be good into it and see if it works without a lot of time or money commitment. Plus, I still have five or six cans of not very good beer in my fridge.

*I am not Jewish nor did I refrain from eating bread during passover but a BREAD PARTY!

Fourteen Layer Cake

Posted on April 4th, 2010 by Bertine

I have been obsessed with making a fourteen layer cake since I read about making one on Bakerella a little over a year ago. Then last summer some berries I picked with my friends turned into some Strawberry Syrup. It seemed like these two things were perfect for each other but I just didn’t have a good event to make a cake for until Easter dinner came around.

First I cut out 14 rounds of parchment paper to put in the bottom of my pans.  This turned out to be the most annoying part of the process. Then I sprayed nonstick spray on all the pans, put the parchment papers down and then sprayed them again. I didn’t want any sticking.

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Next I made the cake using The Smith Family’s 12-Layer Cake which is the same recipe that Bakerella used. It is pretty straight forward recipe, though it makes a lot of batter, which is good since you have to bake 14 short cakes!

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Filling the pans was pretty straight forward. For me it was 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of batter in each pan. Then I (with some help from my boyfriend, Zach) tried to level out the batter as much as possible with a spatula.

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After the pans were filled and the oven was to temperature, it was time to start baking. I was able to fit three pans into my oven at the same time. Two on the center rack and one on a rack right below it. I staggered them to minimized the amount of overlapping they would have. They were ready in 12 minutes.

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While the cakes were cooling, I had to thicken the strawberry syrup. I used corn starch to do this. I also forgot to buy a cake board so I had to make my own. This is all done on a rack over a jelly roll pan so any of the syrup that falls off won’t get all over the place.

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Once the syrup cooled, I could start the construction. First I put a cake layer down, then I put a couple spoonfuls of syrup on, then I spread it out.

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Finally, after you do this a few more times, you get a huge stack of layers. However, if you are me, it isn’t 14 of them, it is 13 because you needed some shims to make the cake a little more level. If I do this again, I would use something other than a syrup so the filling could make up for the inconsistent cakes. Mixing the syrup with cream cheese or making a mousse would be great.

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Since I was tired from having spent the first part of my day doing other stuff, I had to take a break. However, since Harriet is always around, I protected the cake.

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To cover the whole cake and make the layers a surprise I covered the cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. I just used the standard Chocolate Buttercream Icing from Wilton.

I should have made a double batch but I was tired and didn’t want to go to all the work of making more frost. So, I did what my mom taught me, I made it “rustic” and threw some powdered sugar on it. I wasn’t super happy with this frosting but it was quick and easy.

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Cutting it was pretty easy, it held together much easier than I thought it would. I suppose syrup is sticky. Once it was cut open it was very pretty.

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The cake tasted wonderful but you really didn’t taste too much of the strawberry syrup. The frosting just overpowered it. However, I would call it a success.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Posted on April 1st, 2010 by Bertine

One of my favorite recipes is this Molasses Spice Cookie recipe from Simply Recipes (which they got from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe cookbook). I make this 5-10 times every winter and it is always a huge hit.

First a note on butter. Usually I am not a huge snob when it comes to ingredients, I don’t use too much imitation stuff but I don’t go out of my way to get expensive or organic items for many things because I am pretty cheapfrugal and too lazy to go to out of my way to get them. However, when I come across a recipe that starts with “Use an electric mixer and beat the butter” I invest in good butter. I go to my local co-op and get a butter with a higher fat content than regular grocery store butter. If I can’t find one or am stuck at the regular store I buy the freshest butter that indents the least when you poke it. Yes, I poke the butter at the store, I am that weirdo.

This butter will make a huge difference in the texture of the cookie. First, the dough will stay cooler longer. I don’t soften my butter ahead of time for a few reasons (mostly my cat that finds and eats any butter) but the cooler your dough is when you put it in the oven the better it will hold it’s shape when you bake it.  I also really follow the directions when it tells you to beat the butter because that is how you get lift into your cookie. You are really relying on the fat in the butter and any air you beat into it to make it chewy.

Plus I think using this sort of butter makes the cookies taste better.

I made my notes to the original recipe in italics.  The pictures in this post are of a double batch.

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed – I have used light brown sugar, it works fine, the cookies are just not as strong.
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphered molasses

Method

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

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Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for 2 minutes.

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Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed.

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Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. (Note: Since I don’t have one of these, I pour the molasses in a liquid measuring cup, then I add the egg and vanilla and mix them together. This makes it much easier to get the molasses out of the cup.) Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

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Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. (Note: I add it a little bit at a time because the flour get all over the place. This wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t always make a double batch.)

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Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. (Note: Cookie scoops are your friends)

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Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks .

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Note: do not overcook. The centers of the cookies should be somewhat soft and spongy when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry.

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Hearth Bread

Posted on March 23rd, 2010 by Bertine

Lately I have been looking for an easy bread recipe that I could mix up and bake after work. Despite my love of Craig Ferguson, I don’t really want to stay up that late waiting for my bread to bake.  So I looked around and found this recipe that I could make in about 3 hours. If it is cold in my condo I turn the oven on low to get the temperature up.

I made my notes to the original recipe in italics.  The pictures in this post are with whole wheat flour.

Hearth Bread Recipe

1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups warm water (not over 110°F)
5 1/2 to 6 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (Note: I never seem to get more than 5 before it is too dry)
cornmeal
boiling water

To mix: Mix together the first four ingredients. Let this stand until the yeast, sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually add the flour to the liquid and mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy, but don’t give up!) (Note: I use my stand mixer, that is why I have it, right?)

Knead It: Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. (Note: Stand Mixer. I do, however, finish kneading by hand after letting it rest for a couple minutes. ) Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.

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Let It Rise: Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. (This is the worst part for my boyfriend, he asks when it will be ready every hour or so.)

Shape it: Punch down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.

Bake it: Lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and brush them with cold water. (This is an important step to do. If you forget this your crust won’t expand right and your bread will be too dense.) Place on rack in a cold oven with a roasting pan full of boiling water on the oven bottom. (Note: Put the pan in the oven first, then fill with the boiling water. Remove the next day after it has cooled down. Don’t skip this because this helps make the crust so crusty.) Bake at 400°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch.

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For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500°F for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 more minutes. (I haven’t done this one since it would add make this process take more time. I usually pull this out of the oven about 10:30pm as it is).

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Remove from the oven, let cool and devour!

For a heartier, more nutritious bread, substitute 2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour for 2 cups of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

—“Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour.”

Baking Blog

Posted on January 18th, 2010 by Bertine

I have had the domain bertine.org for a long time. I used to use it to write about my anxiety and angst. However, I went to therapy and found that I don’t need that outlet any more. Once I was less anxious I rediscovered a hobby I had when I was a kid, baking. I bake pretty often since this hobby is encouraged by everyone I know.  As time has passed I find myself needing a place to document the recipes I have used and how well they turned out.

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