I decided to bake Christmas cookies rather than Netflix away the day! (If you’re curious, though, I’m currently watching Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time and Black Mirror, two shows which, truly, could not be more different).
Honestly, though, they were just an excuse to dance around my apartment all day while singing along to the Michael Buble holiday album over and over and over. And over.
I love baking and blogging, but sometimes when you really think about the whole process, it’s kind of weird. I mean, arranging food and setting up shots is one thing if you’re a professional food stylist, but I have to admit I felt a little silly stacking cookies next to Christmas baubles in front of my sad little fake Christmas tree… But at least the photos look decent!
I’m heading home for the holidays and although I’ll be baking a bunch, I probably won’t have my fancy camera with me (plus the light in my parents’ house is pretty bad), so there won’t be any new posts for a while. But, if you’re nebby, you can follow me on Instagram to see all my baking adventures in Pittsburgh!
(Sorry folks, I know it’s overdone, but I just couldn’t resist ending the post with some Christmas tree bokeh.)
I’m in baking redux mode.
Last time, my favorite molasses cookies — this week, my favorite scone recipe.
Not much to say here. It’s a gray, cold, rainy day in Milwaukee–perfect for Netflix (I’m rewatching Sherlock at the moment, in case you’re curious), coffee, tidying your apartment, and of course, baking!
(And also seeing the new Hunger Games movie. What can I say, you can’t stay inside ALL day.)
These scones are tried-and-true. Unless you’re a purist like me, you can add countless toppings or flavors to this recipe (nuts, dried fruit, extracts, spices…). I often make them with pearl sugar on top for texture, but this time I made a quick icing. It does need something sweet on top.
Butter is an essential part of a good scone recipe, so splurge on the good European stuff–I like Kerrygold. It’s a bit more malleable, which means you can knead it into the batter easily without overworking it. You want chunks of butter in your scone dough, so that when they bake, the bits of butter melt and leave it flaky and light.
Confession: These might be my favorite cookies of all time.
Second confession: This is basically just a rebake of a recipe that’s already on this blog (sans my beloved pearl sugar, which I’m running low on).
I know it’s kind of bad food-blogger-practice to re-do a recipe… but I just LOVE these cookies.
In fact, I love them so much that even though I actually very rarely ever bake the same recipe twice…
…I bake these at least three or four times a year (and that’s a lot when you have a food blog and feel like you need to create new content on the regular).
So forgive me, blog world, for repeating a recipe, but I’m just keeping it real. Let the record show: these cookies are so good I’ve baked, and now blogged, them more than once.
Sometimes, you just have to make cupcakes, even if you have no good reason to.
It might begin with one of your friends sending you a recipe for an “autumnal birthday cake.”
I tried for a few weeks to come up with an excuse to bake this cake, then finally threw caution to the wind, bought a ridiculous amount of maple syrup (1 1/2 cups, for the record, is a RIDICULOUS amount of maple syrup), and went for it.
I didn’t feel like making cakes (and I got my cupcake tin back, in case you were on the edge of your seat from my previous post), so cupcakes it was!
This recipe makes a great cake with a lot of maple flavor–1 1/2 cups of maple syrup will do that, I suppose (can you tell I’m completely flabbergasted that this recipe used ONE AND A HALF CUPS of maple syrup? because I am). I’m not keen on meringue frosting since I don’t like eggs, so I swapped that out for an incredible whipped cinnamon frosting from Sweetapolita, one of my favorite cake blogs.
The overall effect is basically a brunch cupcake. They taste exactly like pancakes with cinnamon butter. For that reason, I deeply believe these would be dynamite with bacon sprinkled on top. Sadly, I am currently a reluctant vegetarian, so alas, no bacon for me.
Happily, I ended up making these just in time for a friend’s birthday! It all comes full circle in this blog (recall: we began with “autumnal birthday cake”). Sometimes procrastinating on baker-blogging gets you places in the end, folks. That’s your lesson for today–now go bake these, put bacon on top, and have yourself a brunch snack.
It is officially autumn.
I’m living in giant sweaters and boots, and just got a new coat.
I painted my nails red this weekend and settled in for a Gilmore Girls marathon (that burgundy pre-Instagram filter on the opening credits just instantly puts you in the fall mood).
And I’ve had my favorite Christmas-y smelling candle lit all weekend.
So obviously this weekend when I settled in for some baking, I knew I needed cinnamon and browned butter involved, and it seemed the logical next step to throw in some other winter/autumn spices: cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger. They are crisp on the outside and cakey on the inside–the perfect snickerdoodle.
The real reason I baked was because I have a friend coming over for a visit, but even though I normally have pretty good self-control over leaving my baking be after a taste test, I just cannot stop eating these things. (Cleverly, I made them bite-size so even though I’ve had at least half a dozen already, it looks like I’ve barely made a dent. Pro baking tip from me to you!)
I’ve had Britain on the mind lately.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know this is not an unusual occurrence.
I’m a big fan of all things British: Scones. English chocolate. Harry Potter. Sherlock. Downton Abbey (see above) and other, real English country estates. Free art museums with glorious collections. And of course, the accent. (Does anyone else sometimes get the strong urge to just start speaking in a British accent to random people? Or their cats? … Just me? Okay, then.)
My current British obsession combines nearly all of the things above: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF. Oh yes. (Minus Harry, Sherlock, and the National Gallery–can’t win ‘em all. Although, maybe they’ll have to create cakes inspired by works of art for the season finale, and Benedict Cumberbatch will cameo as a guest judge for some inexplicable reason… hey, a girl can dream.)
The Great British Bake Off is seriously awesome. A reality show where the contestants are not only incredibly talented non-professional bakers but also all actually care about each other? Dry and witty comedienne hosts? Decidedly pro-UK interludes with food historians? A judge named, I am not kidding you, MARY BERRY!? TV does not get better than this, people. Especially when you’re a baker yourself and occasionally realize you know more than the contestants (case in point: kouign-amann, best pastry ever–how had NONE of them ever heard of it before!?).
So what does GBBO, as the Brits call/hashtag it, have to do with this coffee cake? (Coffee cake is not exactly British, after all.)
Toffee! That’s how I’m bringing this full circle. (Yeah, it’s a stretch, because turns out what we in the US refer to as “English toffee” is not really anything like what toffee is in the UK. Whatever, just go with it, I really just wanted an excuse to talk about the Great British Bake Off.) I’m not the biggest fan of toffee–it’s definitely more of an English confection than American–but when you douse it in brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, it is definitely OK by me.
One of my curator pals, a fellow baker, recently told me about this recipe and I had to give it a try once she described it. And I am so glad I did. I adapted it a bit on the go (adding toffee bits and cinnamon to the batter itself) and it is pretty amazing.
If you want to make your own British connection, you can always sub your side of coffee for tea. In the meantime, I’ll be spending my Sunday catching up on past GBBO seasons with this coffee cake at my side.
Turns out life without homework is pretty… well… boring.
I’m okay with boring, though, most of the time. It’s refreshing to have nothing to do and nowhere to be on a weekend. Suddenly brunch is easier to impulsively make happen, I feel no guilt about going out shopping for hours on end, and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of TV I need to catch up on after two years of grad school.
To be honest, I have always been into the stuff that most people find boring. I almost always choose vanilla over chocolate, for example–that age-old indicator of your boringness level when judging ice cream flavors–and I love a good day at home when I don’t have to leave my apartment.
I will say, though, even for my introverted self, those sorts of days have their limits. There’s only so much Call the Midwife or Leftovers a girl can handle in 24 hours (take your pick between too many babies or too many unanswered questions). As I wondered what the heck I was going to do with myself for the holiday weekend that might, perhaps, get me off the couch, I remembered that baking stuff, taking photos of it, and writing odd little posts about them publicly for the whole internet to see is kinda my thing.
So here we are! I was going to make cupcakes. I really was. But I loaned my one cupcake tin to a friend last week (side note: what kind of food blogger only has ONE muffin tin to her name!?). Thus, a full-out cake it was. Well, a cake and two dozen mini cupcakes.
This Whiteout Cake is from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, and is a sweet, light, subtle vanilla cake with white-chocolate buttercream. The whole thing is quiet and reliable but super delicious.
So rather than celebrating the last day it’s socially acceptable to wear white pants–which admittedly would be a better connection to why I made an all-white cake for no reason this weekend–let’s say instead that this is a cake for celebrating boredom. Because as much as I love a quiet day, I’ll also admit I’m a bit of a workaholic, so spending a day doing nothing does not come easily to me. So here’s to me embracing boredom–what better way to get started than with cake?
In other news, does anyone in the Milwaukee area want a cake? ‘Cause if so, I have a whole one, minus one slice, with your name on it…
Ingredientsallspice basil blueberries browned butter brown sugar buttermilk caramel cardamom chocolate cinnamon cloves coconut cranberries cream cream cheese dark chocolate earl grey eggs fancy ingredients fruit ginger gingerbread herbs honey lavender lemon malt powder milk chocolate molasses nutmeg nuts oatmeal pearl sugar peppermint pumpkin rose water savory sea salt shortbread tasting tuesdays toffee vanilla vanilla bean walnuts white chocolate
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