Baking for Birthright Israel NEXT Shabbat

I hosted a picnic in Alta Plaza park in San Francisco via Birthright Israel NEXT Shabbat. It’s a great program that allows alumni to host Shabbat meals and get reimbursed based on the number of people that attend the event (up to 16 people). This was my second Shabbat meal this year. This time I got catered food from Beautifull and made cupcakes. The cupcakes I made were chocolate and vanilla marbled cake, with vanilla frosting as well as some topped with slivered almonds covered in cinnamon sugar.

Homemade “Funfetti” Cake

For those of you who don’t know what Funfetti is: http://www.pillsburybaking.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?catID=297&prodID=701

Since I needed a good way to use up the sprinkles that were given to me after the  holiday cookie party my friend had about a week ago, I decided to make a Funfetti cake. I used a basic yellow cake/vanilla cake recipe and added the sprinkles typically found in the cake batter-the “crunchy” bigger ones…if you do know Funfetti cakes…you know what I’m talking about…if you don’t know…go to your local grocery store and pick up a box. Now, I would not normally say that Pillsbury makes good products, or that you should make cake from a box, but I see it as the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese of cake. (Not that I would advise to buy/eat that either) but my point is that it is a cake that I grew up knowing from attending various birthday parties. It’s all about the nostalgia for this overly sugared cake.

Anyway, I made the frosting from scratch as well, and used blue (smaller, sugary) sprinkles to help “dye” it green because it is the holidays after all. Then I frosted and added the final layer of sprinkles. Like I said before, a sugary cake (typically made for kids). Continue reading

What September Means To Me…

…was the theme of this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Since sugar cookies should not really be a challenge for anyone to make, the challenger set it up so that we had to bake/decorate the cookies with the theme of what September means to us.

The Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippor, the day of atonement) both fall in September, so I made shofar, torah, and Jewish star (star of David) shaped cookies. I made them with just white royal icing because:

1) I did not have time to go out and buy food coloring

2) It was Yom Kippor when I made them, so I thought that white was appropriate, since it is the color that you wear to show your respect for the day of reflection…or something like that.

Anyway, I brought the cookies to the Break-the-fast dinner I went to and they seemed to be well-received since they were gone by the end of the night. (Not sure if they were all eaten that night, or someone took them home.)

Although they were simple, and easy to make, I enjoyed this challenge. It was a nice way to celebrate the holidays. Continue reading

cinnamon buns

I am starting to work on using up my leftovers. This week I used some of the vanilla instant pudding mix for the dough for these cinnamon buns.

I can’t remember where I got the recipe from, but it makes a lot of really good dough. It is a super easy recipe, but it is a little bit sticky. But why make cinnamon buns if you don’t want to get a little bit sticky?

Continue reading

sugar cookies

Yesterday, I made sugar cookies for the last day of Hanukkah party I helped Benjie host. I made two different recipes, one was (I think) the recipe from the back of the Domino’s sugar bag, and is a regular sugar cookie recipe, which used only white granulated sugar. The other one I have saved from Gourmet magazine, and it is a brown sugar cookie recipe. The first one can be rolled and shaped and cut out and decorated. The other can be scooped, and is more like a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe without the chocolate chips. I decorated with sprinkles and blue icing. Many people like to use royal icing for decorating cookies, but with everything else going on for the party (we made latkes, too) I didn’t want to make royal icing. However, I will include the recipe just in case you want it for your sugar cookies. The royal icing is from A Field Guide To Cookies, which is written by another food blogger; her site is called Dessert First.

So, here are the recipes, in order they were mentioned:

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar or 1- 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

Heat oven to 375º. Sift together the dry ingredients; set aside. Cream together butter and vanilla. Add either 3/4 cup sugar or 1-1/2 cups for chewy cookies. Beat in the egg. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Roll out and cut to desired shapes. You can add sprinkles right into the dough, and/or you can add sprinkles to the top of the cookies. The colder the dough, the easier it is to handle. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 1-1/2 dozen large cookies.

(Almond) Brown sugar cookies (from Gourmet magazine)

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

(1/2 cup whole blanched almonds = 2-1/2 oz)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. (Stir in almonds) Roll into logs and chill or freeze dough or scoop onto baking sheets. If you rolled the dough into logs, you will slice the dough less than 1/8 inch thick. If you scooped them, use the back of a wet spoon or wet the palm of your hand, and press down. Bake cookies 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 100 to 120 sliced cookies. I think I made about 12-18 3 inch scooped cookies.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 cups powdered sugar

food coloring

Whisk all ingredients except for the coloring in a clean bowl on high speed. They should be shiny and an opaque white. It should be a glue-like consistency. Divide into bowls and mix in the coloring as desired. Keep covered with a damp towel so it does not dry out.

So, those are the recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing for decorating. I really liked the brown sugar cookies, and I think that was everyone’s favorite as well.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! (though I am sure I’ll bake something else before New Year’s.)

it’s all about what I have on hand…

okay, so another baking-with-what-I-have-on-hand-post post. This time, I am waiting for a chocolate, chocolate chip bundt cake to come out of the oven. (yes, somehow, I always have some chocolate on-hand.) This recipe is slightly changed from the “Mocha Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake” recipe from Gourmet that I saved. Since I didn’t have instant espresso powder on hand, and I didn’t feel like making icing, this cake isn’t mocha, and it doesn’t have icing. If you look closely at the ingredients, and then at the directions, you will notice the changes I made. I also had regular-sized chocolate chips at home, so that’s what I used.
Here is the full recipe:

so, as you can see, to imitate the cake that I made, you just take out the butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and the espresso powder used to make the icing and the flavor mocha. Also, I just used a whisk, and my (wo)man power to mix all of the ingredients together. I think it turned out okay. There will, of course, be pictures of the cake posted later.

*EDIT* I just added the photos, sorry for the very long delay.*

decorating

Since I haven’t worked in a bakery, or have done any cake decorating since I graduated school, I decided it was time to practice my piping skills again. So, I made some cupcakes to give me a nice “canvas” for my decorating skills.

I only had a large pastry bag, so I was only able to use the star tip and the bigger size of the straight tip that I have, but still, some practice is better than none. I used a combination of the “shell” design and the “pearl” design for these cupcakes.

Next time, I will have another bag that I can use with my smaller tips, and I will practice making buttercream roses, and other flowers. I will also get some food coloring, so there will be no boring, really ugly, brownish chocolate frosting.

Also, now that I have a piping bag, I can make other desserts that require piping, such as eclairs, and macaroons. I also just bought some new cake and tart pans that I can’t wait to try!