Becki Bakes!

I bake, I blog, I raise babies….and this is where I tell you all about it!

I MOVED! May 8, 2010

Filed under: Life Changing Events — beckid987 @ 10:46 pm

Heyyy guys – I moved!  New blog posts (as well as all the old ones) are at http://www.beckibakes.com .


See you there! <3

 

Easy As Pie….?!?! April 19, 2010

Filed under: Baking Goodness! — beckid987 @ 10:33 pm

What a stupid saying!  I’m here to tell ya, there’s nothing easy about pie!  Well, nothing easy about pie dough, anyway.

I need to take this time to let you know that I do not care for baked fruit.  No apple pie, peach cobbler, or blueberry crumble for me, thanks.  So what possessed me to spend many hours of my life making miniature strawberry pies, you ask?

  1. I saw them over at Rainy Day Gal‘s site, and fell in love with their cuteness.
  2. David loves strawberries, and he IS a fan of baked fruit – so much that he would rather have that than a chocolate dessert almost any day.  Total weirdo, I know.
  3. I really wanted to take Lauren to the local strawberry farm and pick berries, so I needed to have something creative to do with all those strawberries once I got them home.

The strawberry hunting picking was an absolutely great time for Lauren and her little cousin.  I highly recommend it for those with toddlers!

Snacking incognito!

I could post a million pictures of my kid being adorable with strawberries, but I shall refrain.  For now.

So without further ado, I give you miniature strawberry pies!  Here again is the link to RDG’s post: mini strawberry pies.

Miniature Strawberry Pies by Rainy Day Gal

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs

Crust Instructions:

  • Mix the flours and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (I do not own a stand mixer – just my trusty hand mixer, which only has the beaters.  So I improvised on the next step and used a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.  It got me by.)

Old school tool.

  • Add the cold butter cubes and mix on low for 1 minute, then add the eggs and mix on medium low until the dough forms a cohesive mass.
  • Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in cellophane and place in the fridge.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh strawberries, to yield about 4 cups halved strawberries

My vote: perfect just like this!

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 dash cinnamon (If I make these again, I will probably use several dashes of cinnamon.  Maybe even a tablespoon!)
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • I went ahead and added 1/2 cup sour cream to the mixture, too.  Why?  Because I saw sour cream in another strawberry pie recipe and thought it sounded good, that’s why!

Filling Instructions:

  • In a small bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
  • In a larger bowl, toss the strawberries with the vanilla extract (and the sour cream, if you’re like me) and then toss with the dry ingredients.

Assembling The Pies:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Place a cupcake pan in the freezer.
  • On a clean surface, roll out 3/4 of your pie dough until it is about 1/8″ thick.  (The whole “clean surface” thing did not work out for me.  AT ALL!  I had to flour, flour, flour my rolling surface so the dough would not stick.  And then I kept putting it in the fridge to let it firm back up, anyway.  Like I said, me and pie doe = not good friends.  Ah well.)
  • Return the remaining 1/4 of the dough to the fridge.
  • Cut circles in the rolled-out dough using a round that is approximately 3″ in diameter to make a total of 9 circles. (I wanted to fill a whole cupcake pan, so I made my dough stretch and made 12 circles.  However, this did not leave me with much dough leftover for criss-cross decorations on top of the pies.)
  • Remove cupcake pan from fridge and lightly grease 9 of the cups with butter.
  • Gently press each dough round into greased cups, coming all the way up the edges and leaving a small rim of dough at the top.
  • Patch any holes with a pinch of extra dough from the refrigerator.
  • If at any time you’re working with the dough and it becomes sticky, wrap and place in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before continuing.  (Again, this happened to me many times.  And I floured my surface.  Good luck to you!)
  • Overfill each pie with strawberry mixture.
  • Roll out remaining dough and slice into 1/4″ to 1/3″ strips.
  • Lay strips of dough across each pie in a criss-cross pattern, pinching each seam together as you go along.
  • Place cupcake pan on top of baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • If the crust is ever becoming too brown, cover pies with aluminum foil and continue baking. (I did end up covering mine with foil for the last 10 minutes.  No big deal!)
  • Let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then remove and let pies cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
  • Makes 9 pies.  (Or 12, if you do like me.)

Messy, but still CUTE!

Very good with coffee, much better with the (not pictured) whipped cream!

The verdict?  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t in love with the pies, but my family sure was!  My brother likes them the best of anything I’ve tried out on him so far! David really liked the filling, but he said the crust needed to be a little sweeter. So if you know how to do that, you might want to take his recommendation into consideration. All in all, I’m definitely glad I tried them out, and I really appreciated all the compliments these little guys won me, so thank you, Jenny!

Hope you all have a great week!

Becki

From me, to you!

 

Baking Outside The Box April 14, 2010

Filed under: Baking Goodness! — beckid987 @ 10:42 pm

Fact: I love me some brownies. Always have, always will.  However, I was quite satisfied with brownies from the box.  Simple, easy, delicious.  I’ve had homemade brownies from time to time at potlucks and whatnot, and have never felt inclined to make them myself.  In fact, most homemade brownies I had in the past were rather cake-y, and I like my brownies to be fudge-y, thank you very much.

Well.  WELL.  All that boxed stuff is out the window now.  I just made the best brownies of my LIFE, thanks to Shauna at Piece of Cake.  These brownies are so good, that I’m blogging about them ON THE SAME DAY THAT I MADE THEM. When’s the last time THAT happened?  Never, that’s when!

So, in case you didn’t catch it in that last paragraph, here’s the link to the recipe: Best Cocoa Brownies EVER!!

I pretty much followed all the instructions, except for melting the first 3 ingredients over simmering water.  I just put them in a glass bowl and put that directly on the burner over medium heat.  I’m a rebel, I know.

I also added 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips to the batter.  Why?  Because I’m pregnant and I can, that’s why!  I would have also added 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, but David doesn’t really care for nuts in his baked goods, and I also didn’t have any walnuts.  So instead I added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, sprinkled over the top (so Dave could easily scrape them off) about halfway through the baking process.  Which took a lot longer than the 25 minutes that Shauna claims.  Mine were done in about 40 minutes.

Perfection!

Oh, and did I mention how rich these bad boys are??  I, the choco-holic brownie fanatic was well and truly satisfied after one small brownie.  (Small for me, anyway.  Shauna said this makes 16 brownies.  I made it into 12.)

You know you want a bite!

What’s that you say?  No wonder I was full, seeing as how I added a scoop of ice cream?  Huh.

Say goodbye to the box!

Becki

 

Easter Review! April 6, 2010

Filed under: Baking Goodness! — beckid987 @ 12:23 pm

Happy Easter, everybody!

What’s that?  I’m a little late on the Easter wishes?  Well, I still hope you had a great holiday, and that you continue to have a lovely spring.  With the weather we’ve been having here, it’s hard not to fall in love with life again.  Hope blooms anew with the flowers and green things!  Weren’t seasons a great idea?!

The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March. -Robert Frost

So let me tell you about my Easter celebrations and baking.  If you’re into cute food, you will love the baking!

Dave’s Mom courageously volunteered to have Easter dinner (lunch) at her house – and invited my Dad, my brother and his family to come over, too.   That’s a lot of cooking, cleaning, and hosting that she signed up for!  Have I ever mentioned how awesome my Mother-In-Law is??  Super awesome, that’s how!

Knowing that I have this little baking obsession, she went ahead and asked me to handle the dessert.  As if she could have stopped me from bringing one!

Thanks to Bakerella, I am totally consumed with the idea of home-made “pops.”  They’re just so stinking cute, crafty, and different!  I also happen to LOVE the white fudge Oreos that come out for a limited time each winter, so when I found this recipe by Jenny at Picky Palate, my little brain wheels started turning!

People gag-gifted Oreos to David over Christmas because if you know my hubby, you know that Oreos are one of the only sweets that he really enjoys.  And since he’s not a big sweet eater, even of Oreos, and because I would rather make my own treats than dig into the Oreos, we have a ridiculously huge stash of them in our Pantry.  Everything from bite-sized to traditional to double stuff!

Because everything is cuter in miniature, and also because I had found a really cute, springy-themed plastic cup that I wanted to use for my pops at Wal-Mart, I knew I wanted to make the pops out of the miniature Oreos, and so I did the following:

Miniature Oreos do not come with enough filling to accomodate a lollipop stick on their own, so I opened up a few Double Stuf cookies, scraped out their guts and nuked ‘em so they’d be spreadable.  Then I opened up the minis, added some extra Stuf, squished a stick  into ‘em, and closed them back up, like so:

This is what the assembly line would have looked like if my Grandmother made Oreo Pops. And took pictures. And shared them with me.

You didn’t need that in color, did you?  They are black and white cookies, after all.  And I’m a little fascinated with PW’s Vintage Action at the moment.  Bear with me.  Anyway, after you’ve got as many Oreos as you’d like on sticks, let them set for about half an hour or so – that way your melted Stuf will unmelt.  Got that?

Then you can either be like Jenny, and use white melting chips to make some pretty colors for your pops, or be lazy like me and use already colored melting chips to dunk your pops.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.  Be bold, be creative, have fun!

The front of the bouquet...and the back!

Like I said, I love pops.  But we needed to have something a little more substantial to satisfy our (my) sweet teeth, so I also made some cupcakes.  And not just ANY cupcakes, but ones inspired by the fabulous Bakerella, of course!  Not only are these guys completely adorable, but I also loved the idea that everybody – adults (particularly ME) included – would get their own Easter basket.  Because let’s be honest…I’m not the only one who misses waking up to a basket full of goodies on Easter morning, am I?

I’m not normally a huge fan of carrot cake, but I had used this recipe a few months ago to make my Dad’s birthday cake and it was fabulous.  So, because it’s Easter, and there’s the whole bunny thing going on, and bunnies love carrots, I made carrot cupcakes ala my favorite PW.

Sadly, this time around the carrot cake recipe and I did not get along.  I don’t know what the problem was, but the first batch I made, I overfilled the cupcake liners, which made a huge mess in my oven and almost caused me to give up on the carrot cake from scratch idea altogether.  However, I tried again because my sweet David volunteered (OK, I asked and he acquiesced) to go buy more sugar AND grate the next batch of carrots.  Side note:  I.Hate.Grating.

'Nuff said.

The second batch looked beautiful, so I continued on my merry way.  Little did I know that they actually turned out rather dry – I did not taste test any until Easter dinner.  Sooo – sorry for the second-rate cupcakes, guys!  Still, I totally loved how they looked, and I will probably be making these little baskets again next year, but with a different cake recipe.  Apparently most of the guys (my husband, my brother, my father-in-law…) aren’t crazy about carrot cake, either.  Works for me!

I’m not posting any recipes, since I included the links to the originals above.  And for the baskets, you can use pretty much any candy your heart desires.  Here’s what I used:

Do you see those adorable little animal jellies in the center back, there?  Oh yeah.  PRECIOUS.  And of all the places, I found them at the dreaded Wal-Mart!  $1/pack!  Totally awesome.

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for:


Me to finally end this post.  Ha!

Love ya,

Becki

 

Worth Hearing. March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — beckid987 @ 9:21 am

Boehner: ‘Shame on Us’.

I usually keep my head in the sand when it comes to politics and the like, but this is one worth hearing and thinking about.
That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

 

Let Them Eat Cake! March 21, 2010

Filed under: Baking Goodness! — beckid987 @ 9:37 pm

I know I still haven’t posted the long-promised sticky bun recipe, but I’m gonna skip that for now and go straight to some fantastic CAKE.

David’s cake request for the past 3 or so years in a row now has been a chocolate cake with FRESH strawberries incorporated somehow.  My first several attempts were not that great.  It’s hard to put fresh strawberries into baked goods!

But this year I hit the jackpot, my friends.  I combined elements from several different cakes that I found intriguing/delectable.  I made a chocolate genoise cake, with a mascarpone cream and fresh strawberry filling, topped with a white chocolate icing.  Then I went ahead and used fresh chocolate covered strawberries and a dark chocolate ganache to decorate it.  Hellooooo, little slices of heaven!

I had never had mascarpone anything before, but it sounded pretty amazing and I have been into trying new things lately.  Boy am I glad I did!  I don’t know how to describe it exactly…maybe something like fresh whipped cream meets sour cream and cream cheese.  Kind of.  It’s a very delicate, fresh taste.  You just gotta try it yourself to see what the heck I’m talking about.

And after making Dave’s cake, I had plenty of mascarpone cream and chocolate ganache leftover, as well as some of the white chocolate icing, so today I went ahead and used my favorite mocha cupcake recipe to make MORE fabulous treats.  I think I like the cupcakes even better than the cake!  The cake was VERY good, but the white chocolate icing and the fresh strawberries in the filling don’t do well after a day or two.  That cake is made to be eaten same-day.

So here’s some recipes for ya:

David’s Chocolate Genoise Strawberry Mascarpone Cream and White Chocolate Icing Cake

(yes, I am aware I will need to come up with a shorter title for that one.  Later, my friends…later.)

Le Cake!

Chocolate Genoise Cake Ingredients:

-3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1/2 cup cake flour

-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

-4 large eggs

-2/3 cup white sugar

Cake Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350°

-Spray 9″ round pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

-In small bowl, combine butter and vanilla

-In medium bowl, sift flour and cocoa (yes, I did actually sift it this time.  It’s not much flour, the sifting goes quickly!)

-In large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar.  Place over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until lukewarm.  Remove from heat and beat on high until mixture has cooled, tripled in volume and looks like softly whipped cream (approximately 5 minutes)

-Sift 1/3 of flour mixture over whipped eggs and gently fold in.  Repeat until all flour is folded in. (No, I did not sift it a second time.)

-Take 1 cup of batter and fold into butter mixture.

-Fold butter into batter and pour into prepared cake pan.  Bake approximately 20-25 minutes.

Mascarpone Cream Filling Ingredients:

-1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

-2/3 cup granulated sugar, separated

-8oz mascarpone cheese

-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling Directions:

-In a chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, beat whipping cream and 1/3 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

-In separate bowl, cream mascarpone cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla until creamy.  Combine with whipped cream.

Cake, sliced in half, with mascarpone filling topped with sliced strawberries. Then I put more filling on the other half of the cake, slapped the two halves together and iced the whole thing. Got it??

White Chocolate Icing Ingredients:

-3/4 cup white chocolate, melted over low heat

-3 tbsp flour

-1 cup milk

-1 cup sugar (I think they meant granulated sugar.  I started creaming the butter with granulated sugar and then freaked out because aren’t you always supposed to use powdered sugar for icing?  So I threw it away and started over with powdered.  It worked great with powdered sugar, but I have since found several similar icing recipes that use granulated sugar.  So it’s your call.  I can vouch that powdered sugar works….others say granulated is amazing in this recipe.)

-1 cup butter

-1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Icing Directions:

-Stir flour into melted chocolate.  Add milk gradually and blend well.  Cook over medium heat until very thick. (This takes a long time.  Like maybe 15 minutes or so.  Have patience and stir well!)

-Cool completely.

-Beat sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.

-Gradually add chocolate mixture and beat until consistency of whipped cream.

This cake did not last long! Yum!

As I mentioned before, I had plenty of leftover mascarpone cream, icing, and chocolate ganache so today I made my favorite mocha cupcakes with them!

You can find the recipe for the mocha cupcakes here.

Basically, I used a spoon to make a hollow in the cupcakes, like so:

Makin' room for some filling!

and then I put my leftover mascarpone cream in a ziploc with the end cut off and filled the hollows with deliciousness.  Then I put some of the cupcake back over the filling, like this:

Cupcake caps!

And then I microwaved my leftover ganache, and spread it over as many cupcakes as I could.  When I ran out of that, I made a vanilla sugar cookie icing out of sugar water and powdered sugar, and used it on the rest of the cupcakes, so I ended up with these:

Not so pretty, but oh, SO good!

I thought that I loved these mocha cupcakes with the white chocolate icing, but I think I love them even more with the mascarpone filling and dark chocolate ganache. They. Are.  Awe.some!

Happy baking,

Becki

 

That Peaceful, Easy Feeling March 5, 2010

Filed under: Friends & Loved Ones,Random Blathering — beckid987 @ 12:03 pm

Inner peace hasn’t come easily to me lately.  I blame it mostly on these crazy pregnancy hormones.  But there is so much to stress about right now, that I’m having trouble seeing the forest for the trees.

At first I was pretty torn up over the idea of Dad selling the house that I grew up in, but now I can’t wait for him to move to his new farm.  The old house is a wonderful and terrible place full of memories, and I think it overwhelms all of us when we’re there.  I know it does me.  I’m developing the opinion that memories are sweet, as long as they’re not too tangible.  At least in this case.

The new farm is pretty incredible.  It needs work – lots and lots of work – but Dad has already thrown himself into the task and he’s making it into HIS place, which I think is the best kind of therapy he could be getting right now.  And there is such an air of peace at that property.  It’s out in the country, and the sunsets are gorgeous.  You can hear the neighbor’s cows lowing in the distance, which I’ve discovered is an oddly comforting sound.

There are two bench swings at the farm – one in the back yard overlooking the pasture, and one on the front porch.  Lauren and I both zone out in the one in the yard…I can sit there and peace just washes over me.  No worrying about money and bills and all the annoyances of day-to-day life.  Just clear sky, open space, beautiful trees – it’s easy to see God’s hand and remember that He cares when I’m sitting out there.  It also feels like Mom is smiling down on us.  I really think she would love the place and what Dad is doing with it.

OK my next post will be a yummy one, I promise.  Caramel apple sticky buns!!

Hang in there,

Becki

 

 
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