Friday, April 5, 2013

Orange Spiced Scones...or What Have You

I've got a confession to make, here, folks.  I have always wanted to like scones.  I really have.  I load them up with jam and whipped cream and tell myself I like them, but usually they are just too dry for me.  Then I tried this recipe out for St. Patrick's day and it was scone redemption.  I guess to some purists these may not technically be scones.  Their texture is closer to coffee cake than it is to the dry biscuit texture that I'm used to in scones, but whatever they are--scones, slices of coffee cake, or something else entirely, this won our family over.

Orange Spiced Scones

3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 c. heavy cream
zest of two oranges

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and orange zest.  Using a cheese grater, grate 1/2 c. butter into bowl and toss lightly until mixed evenly (be careful not to over-mix--you want the mixture to be crumbly).  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add them to the flour and butter mixture until evenly absorbed.  Add cream and mix until combined.  Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide in two and shape each into a round "loaf."  Place on cookie sheet. 
Mix together sugar, flour, and cinnamon for topping.  Grate 4 Tbsp. butter into this mixture and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle over both scone rounds.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Cut rounds into wedges and serve.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cabbage and Beef Soup

Now, I'll admit that when people hear the words "cabbage soup," shivers of excitement don't start running up and down their spine.  I'm posting this recipe anyway because, folks, I love this soup.  It's hands down my favorite way to eat cabbage.  It is packed with flavor and is such a nice way to warm up on a chilly spring evening.  Try it with soda bread and it's the perfect easy meal for St. Patrick's day season.  Try it and you may really, really like it.  Try it and you may, I say.

Cabbage and Beef Soup
Printable Recipe

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans (undrained)
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can water
4 beef bouillon cubes

Brown beef; add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Soup can be frozen in serving size portions.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I hope your March was lovely, everyone!  I've been baking and cooking up a storm this month, and here's the first recipe I want to share with you:  Irish Soda Bread.  I love this bread because you can make it in under an hour, start to finish, which is great if you're like me and forget that you wanted homemade bread for dinner until it's about an hour till you eat.  Ahem.  Also, you can get in touch with your Irish roots while you make it, or just pretend to be Irish if you don't have any Irish roots.
The key to successful soda bread is to not knead it too much.  Knead it just long enough to get everything to stick together and then call it good.  This is known as having a "soft hand" and will result in the best soda bread.
Irish Soda Bread
4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine the dry ingredients and add buttermilk to make a soft dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly until it just sticks together.  Form into a thick round loaf (about as thick as your fist).  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and place loaf on sheet.  Cut an "x" into the top of the loaf and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  When done, remove loaf from oven and wrap in a dishtowel to soften the crust.  Serve warm, dipped in a good bowl of soup (recipe to come).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hello Again!

Hello, my friends, hello. Once upon a time I decided to combine my two blogs--one a baking blog, one a family blog, into one. I tried that for a while, but I've come to realize I kind of miss having one blog designated to my baking adventures. Also, my Google stats tell me that Baking Becca has continued to get consistent traffic despite not being updated in so long. So, I've decided to resurrect Baking Becca and once more use it as my designated baking blog. For those of you (mostly family) who have been following my combined blog, I'm still going to be posting there too, this one will just be the one I post the most food on. I hope you visit frequently and leave comments. I've got some fun stuff planned in the not-too-distant future!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

Several years ago I was visiting my friend, Lynette, in Washington, D.C. and she made an amazing pumpkin roll for dessert. I remember her saying it wasn't that hard to do, but I was seriously impressed by the look of it and I loved the taste of it. It's taken me all these years to finally remember to try making one, but an ad and recipe for this Libby's pumpkin roll got me cooking, and boy am I glad. I loved it so much I made it for dessert for the past two Sundays. It really isn't hard to make, and it tastes soooo good. How do you like that? It looks good, tastes good, and isn't difficult. Sort of like a good looking, sweet, low-maintenance boyfriend. Only in my case I married that boyfriend, but you really shouldn't try to marry this pumpkin roll. Just eat it. Much less messy. So if you've been searching for something delicious and fall-alicious to bake, try this out. You won't be sorry.

Pumpkin Roll:
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on dish towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

For Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts (I left the nuts out).
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel.

Carefully peel off paper (I used a butter knife to gently ease it off in the sticky spots).

Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

For filling: Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake.
Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. I did this by gently using my hand to start it rolling and then lifting the towel to help it roll onto itself as shown in the following pictures:

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Baking tip: Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Not Dead. I Think I'll Go for a Walk.

Ah, dear readers. Bless you if there are any of you still left after my embarrassingly long absence. Having a baby and ooing and awing over him has taken up most of my free time lately, but I am dipping my proverbial toe back in to the blogging pool and am about ready to take the plunge again. So, to kick things off, here is a peach pie. You see, fall has arrived here in my neck of the woods and with it a fierce craving for pie on my part. And peaches--oh heavenly peaches--are just about to disappear, so before they are completely gone I decided to turn a few into this baby:

Forgive the fluorescent lighting in this pictures and my slightly skiddy-wompus crust, but I was going more for taste than for beauty with this one. I was watching old episodes of Pushing Daisies the other day and was intrigued with the idea of a peach pie with a brown sugar crust and thought I'd play around. I added a tablespoon of brown sugar to my regular pie crust which made it a bit sweeter, but not quite as noticeably brown-sugary as I was hoping. Any tips on making a delectable brown sugar crust, friends? As for the filling, I like the one in my good old 1950s version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook which I will list below.

Now for an invitation. I know there are at least a few of you out there that read this blog, and I know more than a few of you have a great pie recipe in your book, so hows about sharing them? I am loving pie in a big way right now and would love to try out some new recipes, so if you wouldn't mind sharing them, please comment and post your recipe. And if we don't get very many, no worries, I'll just start working my way through my relatives' recipes which is where I usually go when I don't know what to cook. But I really would love to hear what pies you readers like to make, so comment away.

Peach Pie

3/4 cup sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (I used cinnamon)
5 cups sliced, peeled fresh peaches
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 recipe pie crust

Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add to peaches; mix lightly. Spread in 9-inch pastry lined piepan. Dot with butter. Adjust lattice top crust; flute edges. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F) 45 to 50 minutes.

I love the flavor of this one, but be warned--the filling is a bit runny. I'll have to play around with different thickeners. I'm thinking some peach-flavored gelatin or cornstarch, but I'll welcome any other ideas.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tiramisu from Scratch

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I have to admit, my relationship with this challenge was sort of complicated. No offense to Aparna or Deeba, but I kind of had a love/hate thing going on with this whole thing. For starters, I wasn't super excited when I read that it was the challenge this month because the tiramisu I'd tasted before (using Postum) just wasn't my very favorite, but I was willing to give it a try. I read through the ingredients and saw that it used espresso (which I kind of figured it would), but also Marsala (I can't have coffee or alcohol for religious reasons) and that they recommended just substituting more espresso for the Marsala if you didn't want to use alcohol. Yeah. Thanks for that. Then I had the idea of using raspberry syrup to replace the espresso and Marsala and started to get excited. Then I read through the directions and saw that this could take 2-3 days start to finish because you had to make your own mascarpone which had to sit overnight and chill. As did the pastry cream. And the zabaglione. And the assembled tiramisu. And we were baking our own lady fingers. Oh, brother.

I knew things were going to be frustrating when after an hour of trying to get my cream to the desired temperature to make mascarpone cheese (it was only supposed to take 15 minutes) I gave up and just added the lemon juice to try to get it to curdle. If I were the swearing type, I would probably have let a few fly during this part of the challenge. I was actually very impressed that the mixture at the end which just seemed like really thin custard was able to set up into a cream cheesy consistency as promised. I was also very glad that it tasted better than other mascarpone cheese that I have encountered in the past. This just tasted pleasantly like slightly tangy cream.

As for the pastry cream and the zabaglione, they were delicious and the lemon zest really went well with the raspberry flavor. And when you mixed them together with whipped cream and the mascarpone--oh, landy. That was the "love" part of the love/hate relationship I had with this dessert. I could have eaten that creamy concoction by the spoonful.

The lady fingers were one of the "hate" parts. I was also sorely tempted to swear because of them. They made a horrible mess of my kitchen, which might have something to do with the fact that my two-year-old was "helping," and they didn't bake up as big or as fluffy as I think they were supposed to. But what they hey, they worked well enough in the finished dessert. They were just kind of creepy, anorexic, skeletal lady fingers instead of nice plump pretty ones.

Looking back on the whole thing, it was a good challenge and my family all loved the finished product. It challenged me, which was nice, I just kind of had a bad attitude about the fact that it took three days to make and used almost every pot, pan, and cookie sheet in the house. And I wanted to swear. Several times. Way more than ten times. All I could think about as I made it was that it had better darn well be worth it in the end, and I think it was. I'm just probably never going to make it again.

If you have three days to kill and want to make this dessert (you glutton for punishment, you), you can find the recipe here. To make my non-alcoholic, caffeine free version, just use raspberry syrup wherever it calls for Marsala or espresso and put three drops of red food coloring into the zabaglione to make it look pretty. Here is my recipe for the raspberry syrup:

3 cups raspberries (I used frozen ones I got from my sister-in-law's garden this summer. Mmm.)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat slightly and allow the mixture to simmer until the berries start to break down, helping the process along my mashing them slightly with a spoon. Go ahead and think of whatever is bugging you at the moment while you squish them. It will make it more fun. When you've had enough mashing and simmering, remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Allow to cool to room temperature. I diluted some of the resulting syrup with water for the Marsala substitution because I didn't want it to be too strong, but if I were to do it again I would probably just leave it full strength and I'll bet it would be delicious.