15 May 2012

Baking Amateur Questions

Some questions I've had as an amateur baker, and have found answers to!

+ What TPT is --

Meaning "half for half" in French, tant pour tant (abbreviated TPT) is a pastry cooking term for a mix of equal parts almond flour and icing sugar.  Many times it is found in macaron shell recipes, listed as an ingredient.

+ The difference between granulated, confectioners, powdered, and icing sugars --

Sugars are differentiated by how finely they are granulated, which affects how they are dissolved.  The finer they are, the faster they dissolve.  Coarse sugar is very un-granulated, followed in crystal size by the slightly more fine table ("regular") sugar, then icing sugar, and then confectioners (powdered) sugar.

+ The difference between all-purpose, bread, pastry and cake flours --

I could not give a better explanation better than the one at The Kitchn...
"First, what's actually the same about all these flours is that they are made from wheat. What makes them different is how they're milled, what kind of wheat they're made from, and even what time of year the wheat was harvested. But what it really all boils down to is protein content.

Protein content is directly related to how much gluten can be formed using that particular flour. Gluten helps create structure and determine texture in your final baked good. Flours with low protein contents will generate less gluten and flours with high protein content will create more.  To get the light and airy structure of cakes, you want a flour with very little protein. But to form the dense chewy structure of bread, you want a flour with a lot of protein so that you can create as much gluten as possible.

Here is the approximate protein content of all the common types of flour: 
Bread Flour: 14 - 16%
All-Purpose (AP) Flour: 10 - 12%
Pastry Flour: 9%
Cake Flour: 7-8%

The exact protein content varies by brand, by region, and also by country. However, the name given to the flour is usually an indication of how it's intended to be used. If you're having trouble with a recipe written by someone in another country, try to figure out the protein content of the flour they're using and then find your local equivalent."
 + How to make ice cubes cloudy or clear --

To make clear ice cubes, freeze water that has just been boiled, and to make cloudy ice cubes, freeze water straight from the tap!

Stay Sweet,

10 May 2012

Trix Krispies

+ why --
Trix are for kids!  And I am very much still a child.  Jokes, but I do love me some Trix, and putting them in krispie form is refreshing after years of milk and just fishing them with my hand from the box.
+ recipe --
Trix Krispies as from Cravings of a Lunatic
1 x 400g bag of mini marshmallows (about 2 cups)
10 cups Trix cereal
1/4 cup butter 
- Place the butter and marshmallows in a glass bowl and pop in the microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes to melt.
- Stir well.
- Mix in your trix and stir.
- Pour into a large greased pan (9 x 13 or 11 x 11) and press down with a spoon.
- Cut into squares.
- Serve with a colorful smile!    
+ notes & tips --
These are so easy!  Perfect for a dorm room (or sorority house) (or any college living space, really) kitchenette with only a microwave.
Keep an eye on the marshmallows in the microwave with the butter.  I heated them in small batches and stirred them together afterwards, because they will bubble up and overflow in to a sticky mess VERY quickly.
♥ ♥ ♥  
+ just how sweet --

+ a sorority sister -- 4; "Why Trix?"

+ another sorority sister -- 5; "So clever!!"

+ my boyfriend -- 5; "!!!"

Stay Sweet,

Lemon Cupcakes with Black Tea Frosting

+ why --
Whoever voted below picked these!  The lemon recipe got the most votes, so that's what I made.  Anyways, lemons are my favorite fruit.  And this recipe includes candied lemon slices... I loved candying lemon rinds as a kid, but I've never candied a whole lemon slice before...
+ recipe --
Lemon Cake with Black Tea Frosting as taken from honey & jam ( I adapted this recipe to to be cupcakes, see my notes below this recipe...)
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
- Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
- Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
- Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
- Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
- Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
- While still warm, poke each layer all over with a fork, and pour over lemon glaze (recipe follows). When cool, frost cake with black tea frosting & garnish with candied lemon slices. 
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice, stir with a fork. 
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup strongly brewed black tea
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup strongly brewed black tea
- Beat egg whites in a mixing bowl until foamy & thick, they should mound, but not peak.
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cream of tartar, black tea & salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 242 degrees F and all sugar is dissolved.
- Begin beating the egg whites again and slowly pour in boiling sugar syrup in a slow steam. Continue to beat on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- Add 1/4 black tea by the tablespoon, beating after each addition.
- Continue beating until frosting reaches desired consistency, about 2 minutes. Use immediately. 
candied lemon slices
1 large lemon
1 cup sugar
- Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut lemon into 12 paper-thin slices; discard seeds and ends of rind.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and add lemon slices; stir until softened, about 1 minute. Drain, and immediately plunge slices into ice-water bath.
- Drain.
- Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium skillet, swirling to dissolve sugar. When liquid is clear and bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low. Add lemon slices, arranging them in one layer with tongs. Simmer (do not let boil) until rinds are translucent, about 1 hour.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let stand until ready to serve.

+ notes & tips --
Cupcakes are easier to share, so I adapted this recipe to a cupcake pan!  I did all of the above... but used a cupcake pan.  The batter made for about 30 cupcakes, and they were done in 18 - 20 minutes.  
This frosting is really difficult to make.  No matter what I did, I just couldn't get it to the right consistency, at all.  So I just added a lot more sugar and made a somewhat second glaze, then used it as a sort of dipping sauce for ripped up cupcakes.
♥  I thought these were good, but VERY sugary.  Almost too sugary.  
+ just how sweet --

+ my sorority sister -- 5; "These cupcakes are amazing!!"

+ my boyfriend -- 3; "They're okay."  (I get that a lot from you!)

+ another sorority sister -- 5; "Ugh! Yum!"

Stay Sweet,

08 May 2012

Ezra's UMD Blog Hop!

+ 1. Where are you right now? (You can answer literally, or you can stop giving boring answers to every question you’re asked, and think outside the box.)
I am in anticipation.  I am a junior, bittersweet about the fact that graduation is somewhere in the distance not too far off.  I want to enjoy the time I have left as a college student, but I am excited for life after graduation.  Teaching English in Japan, and then France, is the plan, along with travelling wherever I feel like (and can afford), and sometimes, I just can't wait!
+ 2. What keeps you blogging? Your pride? Your mom? Wanting someone other than your cat to tell you that you’re awesome?
Honestly, I love looking through other people's blogs, getting different and interesting perspectives on all things life- maybe someone appreciates mine.
+ 3. What blogs or bloggers do you look to for inspiration, ideas, or just to get the blog side of your brain turned on?
de vous a moi -- such a beautifully designed blog, and I love the way she combines her love of travel and recipes in to posts that aren't cliche! 
Honestly... WTF -- just gets me in the blogging mood, written with attitude and very informative on all things cool
Honey & Jam -- good recipes and gorgeous photos 
+  4. What is your most Terp-like quality? Is you’re not a Terp, well, I’m sorry, but you should be. Go out and get Terpy. Then report back with your newly acquired Terp quality.
I'm determined.  One of the things I like best about people here at Maryland is that the students are ambitious.  They're passionate about ideas, and relentless about bringing their visions to life. 
+ 5. If you could pick any celebrity or politician to give your blog a shout out via Twitter, who would it be?
Gwen Stefani.  I LOVE HER.   
 + 6. Congrats. Wallace Loh stumbled upon your blog and wants to host an all-night party to celebrate your genius. You get to pick the campus building and the two professors who will be in charge of DJ-ing and food/drinks. Go:
The Bio-Psych building, because some crazy things go on in there.  I highly recommend checking out some of the labs.  Dr. Murnane is perfectly eccentric and so am I, so I trust his party-throwing abilities.
+ 7. And finally, a serious question. What have you learned from blogging? Did you learn about writing? Did you learn about people? Did you learn how easy it is to get distracted on the internet? (But jk on the last one; you already knew that, of course.)
Blogging has taught me about both- about what people want to read about.  What makes my writing attractive, and not attractive, to readers.

02 May 2012

How to Get An Amateur Kitchen to the Next Level

Well, I don't have a kitchen of my own, but I do have my own supplies and ingredients.  And the ingredients and supplies I have right now, very much limit what I can bake.  Other than what I have, I borrow from friends or my mother (which is annoying to everyone involved I'm sure).
my current kitchen
basic ingredients (i.e. flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, etc...)
adzuki beans
rice syrup
basic equipment (i.e. measuring spoons, etc..)
cupcake pan
Now, I'd like to update my baking supplies and ingredients, as I'd like to bake more involved recipes, and next month I am moving in to my sorority's satellite house- real life kitchen included!  So I've made up a wish list of things I'd like to get to update my kitchen :)
my Pinterest wish list for my kitchen-to-be! 
All my wish list items have been found through other, much more experienced, baking blogs, my lovely mother, or my expert google-ing skills.

30 April 2012

What Treat Should I Make Next?

Too many sweets, too little time.  Help me!

Stay Sweet,

Cherry Coke Cupcakes

+ why --
Cherry coke is the best kind of coke.  And cupcakes are great.  Perfect combination- thanks to my partner-in-crime Melissa, I found the recipe for these sweet treats!
+ recipe --
Cherry Coke Cupcakes as taken from Annie's Eats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
¾ cup Coca-Cola
¼ tsp. maraschino cherry juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Maraschino cherries, stemless
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. Coca-Cola
2/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. powdered sugar
Maraschino cherries
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line  a muffin pan with foil or paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter.  Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.   Mix in the egg until incorporated.   In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, Coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract; stir to combine.  (This mixture may look disgusting and/or curdled – it’s okay!)
- Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.  Drop 4 or 5 stemless maraschino cherries into each cupcake well and push them down into the batter.  Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the optional glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and Coke in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Spoon or drizzle a small amount of the top of each cupcake. Allow to set.
- To make the whipped cream topping, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Begin whipping on medium speed, slowly adding the confectioners’ sugar and gradually increasing the speed to high as the cream holds soft peaks.  Whip until the cream holds stiff peaks, being careful not to overbeat.  Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the cupcakes and top each with a maraschino cherry.
recipe yields 12 cupcakes

+ notes & tips --
The recipe includes frosting, but I didn't have enough heavy cream left, so... yeah.  But the cupcakes alone with the glaze were still great!!  
♥ These were good, but not great.  At least to me.  Making a cupcake as good as cherry coke though is a very high standard!
+ just how sweet --

+ my 6-year-old brother -- 5; "Mmm so good... leave all these at home, Mimi.  I'm going to put lemons on them, so good, so good." (I think that's a 5?)

+ my mother -- 2; "Ooh... maraschino cherries :/"

+ my boyfriend -- 4; "Pretty good- the Nutella Shooters were the best things you've made so far."

Stay Sweet,