Friday, June 29, 2012

English Muffins - Yes, they can be made from scratch!

My daughter's wedding day has come and gone! Everything went perfectly and things back at my house are almost back to normal.  It was a beautiful day that was enjoyed by all.

A few days before the wedding, I needed to do something relaxing, so I decided to make these muffins.

I was pleasantly surprised  at how fun it was make and to watch those little rounds of dough puff up to be delicious muffins that looked so much like those in the store.

I adapted the below recipe from Allrecipes for those who wish to use the bread machine. If you don't have a bread machine follow this: 

Gadgets used:  Bread machine; rolling pin, cutting board (Cooks Illustrated recommended), fish spatula, biscuit cutter, cast iron griddle.

Ingredients in bread machine order:

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp canola oil

3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Add the above ingredients to bread machine.  Set on "Dough".  

Heat cast iron skillet or griddle to medium heat.

When the dough is ready, place dough on very lightly floured surface.
Roll dough into a circle, rectangle or square.  Roll dough to  1/2 inch thickness. 
Cut muffins with a 3 1/2 or 4 inch biscuit cutter, empty tuna can, or top of a glass. The biscuit cutter I used was 3 inches. I thought the biscuits were too small.  They shrunk a bit when they cooked.

Lightly oil or spray the griddle, get it to a medium heat so when the muffins go down they'll toast.  Cook about 10 minutes on each side.

Simple, pantry ingredients.
Add these ingredients, liquids first, in your
bread machine; set on "Dough".

Remove the soft, pliable dough from the bread machine.
The dough feels as beautiful as it looks.
Roll and cut. Roll in whatever shape you desire.
Place cut muffins onto hot, oiled griddle or skillet;
preferably cast iron.
Check muffins and turn when lightly toasted.
You will see the muffins puff up!

This is what they should look like.

Toasted, puffy & ready for the toaster or freezer!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Time To Make The (low fat) Baked Doughnuts!

Friday Post on Monday?  Yes.

I'm posting this a bit early because I'll probably be have my mind elsewhere this coming Friday as my daughter is getting married on Saturday (June 23rd). The formal reception for almost 200 people will be in our back yard under an enormous white tent. It's going to be an exciting time and this week is going to fly by!

Back to the doughnuts.   I've had these doughnut trays for a while and haven't yet used them. They are made by Wilton and can be purchased at Michael's Craft stores. They are $10. You can almost always find a 40% off one item coupon online or in your local Sunday newspaper inserts.

Several recipes came up when I did a "baked doughnut" search.  I found one on King Arthur that I had all the ingredients for, so I went with that one.  I did, however, use wheat instead of white pastry flour.

Being baked, gives the doughnut a cake like taste. Using wheat flour makes it taste "healthy" (good, but not as good as using white pastry flour - IMHO). Just about all of the doughnuts disappeared shortly after taking them out of the oven. I had guests and they ate them before I had a chance to put a glaze on them!

I also used my batter pen and nutmeg grater.

Here is the recipe & step by step photos:

  • 1 cup Round Table Unbleached Pastry flour or 7/8 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dried buttermilk powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1) Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
    2) In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and water (or buttermilk or yogurt) until foamy.
    3) Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
    4) Butter or grease the doughnut pan; non-stick pan spray works well here. Note: even though the pan is non-stick, since the doughnuts are low-fat they may stick unless you grease the pan first. Fill each doughnut form half full.
    5) Bake the doughnuts in a preheated 375°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. When done, they'll spring back when touched lightly, and will be quite brown on the top.
    6) Remove the doughnuts from the oven, remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on rack. Glaze with icing, or coat with cinnamon-sugar or any non-melting sugar.

    tips from our bakers

    • Using pastry flour will make a more tender doughnut.
    • If you don't have buttermilk powder on hand, substitute 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt for the water.
Wilton Doughnut Pan & Ingredients

Batter will be slightly thick & grainy if using wheat pastry flour.

Batter Pen & Baker's Joy. Liberally spray pan.

Batter is a bit thick for the batter pen.
 I may cut a corner of a zip lock bag to pipe this batter in next time.

I really filled the pan and had batter left for two more.


What the doughnuts look like when you flip them out.
Cut one shows cake texture.

Extra batter.

Two additional doughnut and 3/4 eaten doughnut on the plate!
They were cooling just as my company came in.
Once cooled you can glaze them with warmed chocolate,
confectionery sugar glaze. (Confectionery sugar, dab of milk and vanilla.)

If you have any questions, comments additional recipes, please post!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Melt In Your Mouth Almond Cake!

  I'm back and I'm making up for lost time!

 I'm posting twice this week to make up for my absence. I had good reasons.
My daughter & son in law's new baby, (Gianna d/o/b June 5, 2012 in Arizona); my other daughter & future son in law's upcoming wedding (June 23rd) here on our ten acre property in Massachusetts have had my busy in a good way.

I hope you enjoy the scrumptious almond cake on this post and the two delicious pressure cooker recipes on my other post.

This would be a great summer dessert, maybe serve some berries on the side. I really hope you try this cake.
It's easy to prepare, and takes about 45 min. to bake.  Every time I write this recipe out for some one, my mouth waters and I wish for a piece!

Gadget:  12 inch Kaiser Half Cake Pan/Scandinavian Almond Cake Pan.
Serve on a pretty rectangular bread/cake tray. (See below for both items.)
You may be able to find similar items at a Homegoods store near you.

I've made this melt in your mouth, highly addictive almond cake a few times and it has gotten rave reviews from guests. It makes a great impression when brought along for as a hostess gift too!  The cake is moist, the almond flavor is outstanding!

The Recipe: with almonds without almonds


  1. 1
    Beat sugar, egg, extract, and milk together.
  2. 2
    In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  3. 3
    Combine the two mixtures and add melted butter.
  4. 4
    Mix well.
  5. 5
    Grease loaf pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Pour in batter.
  6. 6
    Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Edges must be golden brown. Cool in pan before removing. Cake will break if removed too soon!        (NO NEED...SEE MY EASY GLIDE CAKE BELOW)
  7. 7.


As mentioned above, you can use a loaf pan, or if you want to get a bit fancy, you can use the traditional Scandinavian Almond Cake pan.  I've used both and each pan works just fine.  Be sure to spray the pan liberally with Baker's Secret, or Crisco.


Pan and Ingredients

Pan showing the almond indents.

Smooth, shiney, light batter. Whipped & whisked with a fork.
Dry ingredients, mixed in with a fork.  Melted butter incorporated slowly.

Spray liberally with Baker's Joy, you'll thank me.

Added whole almonds.

Put a dollop of batter to hold the almonds in place.
Then added the remainder of the batter.

This is about how it should look in the pan.

After 45 minutes, done!

Glided easily out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

Getting ready to liberally dust with confectionery sugar.
Added sanding sugar to center indent.

Dusted and plated.

First cut reveals almond, and buttery edges.
Almond aroma is heavenly!

Photo of the Scandinavian Almond Cake that was
given to me this past Christmas from my
daughter's future mother in law. Beautifully decorated & wrapped.
Until then, I had never had or heard of this cake.
Not sure if that was a good or bad thing!
It's so delicious! I try to find reasons to bake and take it places,
it's that good. I urge you to give it a try sometime.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know.

Pressure is on! Pressure Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup. Rich & Creamy Pork Chops

My sister in law was trying to determine what kind of pressure cooker to buy. I offered to bring the two I own up to her home for her to test.

We made Lentil Vegetable Soup in the electric Cuisinart pressure cooker, and Rich & Creamy Pork Chops in the stove top Fagor 6 qt. pressure cooker.

Both were done in less than 35 minutes & were so very flavorful.  What a great lunch we had!

She was impressed by the quality and speed of  both cookers, but for storage purposes felt that the stove top Fagor would suit her just fine.  The model she bought came with a steamer insert. (See below.)

Here are the recipes:

Rich & Creamy Pork Chops (we also added a can of mushrooms)

Fagor Pressure Cooker & Ingredients

Browning two double thick pork chops & mushrooms.

After pressure was released, a perfectly completed pair of pork chops.

The chops before we poured the gravy over them.

Lentil Vegetable Soup:

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker & Ingredients

Saute function selected to saute v.egetables

Broth added.

Set to cook, 10 minutes
 (indicator lights look like 88 but is actually 10 min.)

Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.