Category Archives: Adventures in Baking

Baking day

So... much... sugar...

So… much… sugar…

Today is baking day with Marc’s mom, in preparation for the Jewish holidays. It’s early in the day yet: there are only 6 types of cookies made so far. We’ve still got plenty more to go, not to mention some bar cookies and maybe some cakes. (*dies of sugar overdose*)


Bread without yeast

You wouldn't know it to look at it, but this is a 1.5-lb loaf.

You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but this is a 1.5-lb loaf.

This, friends, is what happens when you get distracted when making your bread and use baking powder instead of yeast. The containers are about the same size, about the same color, and… yeah, I mucked this up good. This is a 1 1/2 lb loaf. It looks like a hockey puck. I bet you could even use it in the NHL or something. Sigh.

Cinnamon roll in a mug

Some of you might remember a very old cooking adventure of mine, 5-minute chocolate cake, aka chocolate cake in a mug. It was an experiment using one of those email memes that have been going around forever, telling you that you can make a mini chocolate cake with just a mug and a microwave. It turned out… okay. Not so great that I ever made it again, but not so terrible that I wasn’t willing to eat it that first time.

Enter today, and a random article I found online listing 18 microwave snacks you can make in a mug. Friends, I couldn’t let this pass. I wanted to make all of them. Every single one. For science. And posterity.

Instead, I settled on the cinnamon roll in a mug. It was ridiculously simple, using only common stuff that any self-respecting baker would have in her house. (Except maybe the cream cheese for the icing and the applesauce, both of which which I did thankfully have). It was quite fast, though not quite the three minutes the article implies, at least not if you have to take down all the ingredients, measure them, and put them back. Still, quite fast, all things considered.

The only deviances I made from the recipe was using regular milk instead of buttermilk, and field-berry applesauce because I had some of the mott’s snack cups floating around. (Bonus points: eating the rest of the snack cup while the cinnamon roll “bakes.”)

I mixed up the icing inside a plastic sandwich bag (smushing it around with my hands), and snipped off the corner so that I could pipe it into the mug. It was horribly messy, not even close to the beautiful spiral in the picture, but it was tasty, and that’s the important thing.

The other important thing is that this recipe was surprisingly tasty! It might not be restaurant-quality cake, it might not even be cinnabon quality cake… but it was very tasty. Especially with the frosting. I would definitely make this again. But not too much, because there are 17 other recipes to try. *grin*

Holiday baking 2012

Holiday cookies for everyone!

Holiday cookies for everyone!

It’s that time of year again… time for more holiday baking! This year we had chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, gingerbread teddy bears, sugar cookie stars, and dark-chocolate cranberry icebox cookies. About 20 recipients got nice, full tins as their holiday presents. And now I’m wiped. Excuse me while I go collapse.


New stand mixer!

New KitchenAid stand mixer in action!

New KitchenAid stand mixer in action!

My super-awesome aunt and uncle decided that they wanted to get me a “just because we love you” present. And since they know I do a lot of baking, they wanted to get me a stand mixer. I got a really amazing KitchenAid professional-quality mixer, which is going to be so helpful during my holiday baking this year. (60-75 dozen cookies gets tiring on the arms!) To thank them, I decided to make some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies.

It was fast! It was easy! It was… unpainful on the arms! Yay for presents!

Cake decorating!

Here fishy-fishy-fishy!

Here fishy-fishy-fishy!

Today I attended my first-ever cake decorating class. Marc’s mom is an awesome cake baker and cake decorator, and I still remember the amazing cakes my mom used to make when I was growing up. Sadly, I am not the equal of either of them. I’ve made lots and lots of cookies and quite a number of muffins, but very few cakes. But this weekend was the Montreal cake show, and Marc’s mom got some complimentary tickets to an introductory cake decorating class, so I decided the time had come for me to make my baked goods look pretty.

We learned a number of things, practicing on wax paper: how to put on a base coat of icing, how to make waving lines and zigzags, how to make little stars, all those basic things you might want to know. We also got to play around with different colors and learned a nifty trick involving tracing a pattern onto a piece of wax paper with clear or lightly colored special icing, then transferring that to the cake. Cool stuff.

I decided to decorate my cake with a fish. And all I could think of while I was doing it was the old Sesame Street sketch where Ernie and Bert are in the boat fishing, and Ernie keeps calling the fish into the boat with him. “Heeeeerrrreeeee fishy-fishy-fishy!” *ka-thump!*

The quest for Grandma Eva’s mandelbread, part 1

Sadly not my Grandma Eva's mandelbread.

Sadly not my Grandma Eva’s mandelbread.

When I was a kid, my absolute favorite cookie of all time was my Great-Grandma Eva’s mandelbread. I was not alone in this: they were a family favorite that no one could get enough of. And no one could ever replicate properly. (Some family members say this is because Grandma Eva made them by hand; she always insisted it was because she stuck her thumb into the dough just before forming it into loaves.) I used to make it with her when I was little, but alas she passed away before I ever thought to get the recipe from her. No one has it that I’m aware of. It’s lost in the mists of time.

Now, the thing about Grandma Eva’s mandelbread is that, unlike most mandelbread or biscotti recipes, they were not twice-baked. This gave them a soft, crumbly texture instead of the hard, tooth-breaking texture of most of its ilk. I decided, for posterity and in homage to Grandma Eva, that I would start trying to find a replacement recipe that — I hope — might one day be as good as hers.

These are not those cookies. They’re quite tasty, but they’re not Grandma Eva’s mandelbread. More testing will be required.