Wordless Wednsday



Crockpot Wednsday: Apple Cake

I decided to join some interesting memes today, out of lack of ideas to a.) write about and b) a cooking ideas funk.  Don't we all need new ideas of things to do and cook?  The first one I'm joining is the Crock Pot Wednsdays meme started by Debbie at Dining With Debbie.

I pulled out my copy of the Fix It and Forget It cookbook to find an idea for a dessert, since I had already planned tacos for dinner tonight. The Apple Cake recipe jumped out at me since I have some apples to use and the ingredient list isn't too long.  Let me tell you, this is a cinch to put together! First, grab an assistant:

Then grab some apples.  I used Granny Smith:

Chop them and set aside, then chop some pecans or walnuts:


Instead of the oil in this recipe I used applesauce because I'm fat and 1 cup of oil seemed excessive. I keep the little mini cups for this purpose because I have a super small fridge (thank you Navy Housing) and this keeps a lot longer in the pantry:

Mix the sugar (again, I'm fat, so I used 1 cup of splenda/sugar blend)  eggs, applesauce (or oil), vanilla and eggs.  I love the dutch eggs we get at the commissary here, they are such a lovely bright orange:


Add the apples to the wet mix, which I forgot to photograph.

Then put your flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg in a sifter and sift into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Your helper comes in really handy here if you're taking pictures, plus I think this was the most fun part for Sam:


Then add the nuts and mix up the whole mess:

Put this into a bread or cake pan that will fit into your crock pot.  I have a large crock pot, but the only pan that I had that would fit was a bread loaf pan so that's what I used:

Then you just sit it into the crockpot, cover and set it to high and let her rip for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

When time is up, take out pan and let cool for 5 minutes.  Try to resist cutting or pulling pieces off if you can. If you can, you're a stronger person than I...

OH MY.  Please pass the ice cream.

Apple Cake
by Esther Becker and Wanda S. Curtin
Makes 8-10 servings

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped apples
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Beat together sugar, oil and eggs.  Add vanilla.
2. Add apples. Mix well.
3. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg.
4. Pour batter into greased and floured bread or cake pan that fits into your slow cooker.  Cover with pan's lid, or greased tin foil.  Place pan in slow cooker.  Cover cooker.
5. Bake on High 3 1/2-4 hours.  Let cake stand in pan for 5 minutes after removing from slow cooker.
6. Remove cake from pan, slice and serve.

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Today Sam and I made sandwich cookies...our fingers are red and stained from the food coloring, but we had a blast!

First we mixed the butter and sugar together with our stand mixer, then back away as the machine spits out sparks and then smokes.  Toss cheap proctor silex mixer into the trash and proceed to mix in the egg whites, applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring by hand.  I added lots more food coloring to the mix, as I wanted a dark red.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Then add to the wet ingredients and mix until there are no more flour streaks.  Sam enjoyed this part the best!

Make circles of batter on parchment paper-lined pan..2 tablespoons each.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees or until set. Place cookies on cooling rack and cool completely.

For the filling, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, vanilla, milk and confectioners sugar...this stuff is EXCELLENT for spoon licking, just leave some for the cookies!

Frost flat side of cookie with frosting, then top with another cookie...enjoy!

Here is the recipe that I used, from the very yummy blog Baking Bites :

Red Velvet Cake Sandwich Cookies
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp red food coloring (more, if necessary)
Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg whites, followed by the applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add additional coloring, if needed, to reach desired color. Keep in mind that the color will dim slightly with baking, but I try to shoot for a burgundy/brown color. Stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
Drop batter two tablespoonfuls at a time onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 2-inch in diameter rounds.
Bake for 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Cookies should spring back when lightly touched, like a cake.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely
Makes about 40 cookies.
Mascarpone Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla paste is even better)
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Beat together mascarpone and cream cheese until well combined. Beat in vanilla and milk. Add in confectioners sugar, scraping down the bowl as you go. When it has all been incorporated, beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until icing is very smooth and thick, but not stiff. Add more confectioners sugar, if necessary.
Spread filling between pairs of cooled cookies.
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies according to Baking bites, but I may have made mine too big as the recipe only made 8 sandwich cookies.

Now back to the treadmill...

BBA Challenge: Casatiello

So next up was supposed to be brioche, but I wanted to skip it for the moment because I'm making spaghetti and meatballs tonight and make the casatiello instead today.  As Peter Reinhart states in his book, its an Italian variation on brioche, blending the immense amounts of butter with the new additions of meat and cheese.  This is sure to go well with the rich sauce that I will serve with the spaghetti!

First, I made a sponge with bread flour, instant yeast and lukewarm milk.


Let that sit and ferment for an hour or so until bubbly.  While that is working it's magic, saute some Italian meat of your choice...the recipe calls for salami, but I had pepperoni, so that's what I used.  Crisp it slightly then remove and let cool.

After about an hour, I took out the sponge and added to it more flour and some salt, sugar and eggs.

I mixed it until it formed a rough ball and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Now comes the interesting part.  I had 3/4 cup of butter to incorporate.  Following his instructions I cut it into 4 parts, and working a part at a time kneaded it into the dough, working for about 12 minutes.  No pictures if this process, because I was alone and had greasy hands..haha. After the 12 minute kneading, I kneaded in the pepperoni and an equal amount of shredded provolone cheese.

Placed into an oiled bowl and let proof for 90 minutes exactly.

When the dough was done proofing, I cut it into two equal sections and folded and placed into loaf pans and let proof again for an hour.  They can go up to 90 minutes, but they had crested the tops of the pans so they were done.  Baked at 350 for 20 minutes, rotated pan 180 degrees and baked another 20 minutes.  Thermometer read 185 so they were done.  If you want a bread to make your kitchen smell delicious, this is the one! Resisting cutting into these babies was a superhuman effort, let me tell ya!

This is a view of all of the cheese and meat that are visible from the outside...beautiful!

This is a delicious loaf with a nice, moist crumb.  I've gotten the picture as focused as I can, I'm still really new to food photography..as much as an adventure as the baking:

Next up will be the brioche that I skipped...I'll do that in a few days, when all of the butter in my system from this bread is worked off!

BBA Challenge: Bagels

For this portion of the challenge, I decided to make the cinnamon raisin variation of the recipe.  Unfortunately, my camera didn't save all of the pictures that I took from the process.  Next time I make these, I will do so, but I can leave you with a picture of the final product and my assurances that these bagels will make you NEVER buy frozen again!

BBA Challenge: Greek Celebration Bread

My copy of Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice arrived in the mail this past week, and I decided to start with the second bread in the series since I've already made anadama.  This bread is a Greek Celebration bread and it is DIVINE, I'll tell you that for free...

The ingredients:

I mixed the dry ingredients, namely bread flour, instant yeast, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves and lemon peel.

Then the wet ingredients: poolish that I made yesterday, eggs, milk, olive oil, honey, almond extract...

I mixed with a wooden spoon until it pulled together then dumped on onto floured cutting board to knead:

After 10 minutes of kneading, the dough was ready to go for it's first proof:

 Placed in a bowl that I sprayed with oil, sprayed the top with oil, then covered with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes. My "rising place" is my oven, it's dark and an even temp. We won't talk about the times I've accentally turned it on, forgetting I had something rising in there. Here it is when I pulled it out...much larger:

Returned to cutting board, removed a portion to use later as I was making the Christopsomos pattern, and formed into a Boule' then set back into oven for second proofing:

After 90 more minutes I shaped the top parts then baked in the oven (that had been preheated during the finishing touches) at 350 degrees for 20, then I rotated the pan and baked another 20 minutes.  Mixed up the glaze and Voila!


In which I am buried in paperwork and where I bake Andama bread.

My son made it into Doddea's Sure Start preschool program.  That's a big YAY in my book..the boy really NEEDS to go to school.  There is just the problem of the mountain of paperwork.  I absolutely hate paperwork.  Knowing that I must fill it out accurately guarantees that I'll mess up and the form will be filled with scratch-outs and white outs.

Also, Skye needs physical therapy due to the fact that she is 9 months old and isn't sitting, crawling or standing. So there is more, with possibly a trip off-base to another radiology clinic to look at her hip.

All this with my husband deploying next week is causing major stress.  I need bread.  Luckily I have a fresh, delicious loaf of Andama bread.  The story about this bread, which I've found at many sources, is that way back a man named John had a wife named Anna who made him the same, boring corn mush every day.  One day, fed up with the same ole' same ole', he yelled "Anna, damn her!" and mixed some yeast and flour into the mush, creating the first loaf of Annadamnher bread, or what is pronounced now: Anadama.

This is a delicious loaf of bread.  Slightly sweet and dark, we enjoyed it with butter along with our supper of steaks and salad.

I got this recipe from Allrecipes.com...I'm waiting for my copy of Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice so I made do with this recipe for now.  When I get the book I'll start with the second bread in the series.

The Ingredients:

All purpose flour, corn meal, molasses, salt, water and yeast.  Not pictured, butter.
I mixed 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup corn meal in a pot on the stove and cooked until boiling.  When it thickens turn off heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup molasses.  Mix well, the set aside to cool.  Meanwhile proof your yeast with 1/2 c warm water in bowl for 10 minutes.  When the molasses mixture is lukewarm (this coincided with the 10 minute proofing...sometimes you win!) mix into the yeast then add 2 cups of flour.  Mix in one last cup 1/2 c at a time until dough pulls together.  Turn out onto a  well floured surface and knead:
Knead for 8-10 minutes...mine took 10 to pass the windowpane test.
Place dough in greased bowl and cover with towl or greased plastic wrap and set in a warm dark place; I had warmed up my oven and placed it in there.
Let rise until doubled....it took about an  hour.

Punch down dough, or poke a hole like I did:

Turn out onto floured surface, shape into loaf and place in loaf pan:
Cover and let rise again for another 30 minutes.  Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when knocked on.

I sort of cracked the top when I took the bread out of the pan, so it wasn't as pretty as it could have been, but  dang did it taste good!