Category Archives: baking

Of course I’m calling them David S Pumpkins muffins. Any questions?

It is decorative gourd season, mighty friendlies, and I got my October off to a properly spooky start by walking straight into a dangling spider in the garage this morning. Later this evening Rockford will be figuring out where we put all of the Halloween decor when we moved in some 10 months ago, and then we will commence with the spookyfication of hearth and home.

In further autumnal news, today I made some pumpkin muffins with a lot of chocolate chips and every fall-evoking spice in the cabinet. They were delicious, and they tasted like break-apart chocolate oranges because I also put an orange’s worth of zest in them.

The children, naturally, did not care for them.


David S Pumpkins Muffins
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
zest of one orange
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pop paper liners into a muffin pan.

Mix sugar, maple syrup, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, zest and salt. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20.

And here, friends, is what we’ll be having for dinner this week.

Monday: Chili

I made chili for a church thing yesterday, and I far overestimated how much I’d need. So the “spare chili,” as Pete calls it, will be appearing on our table this evening.

Tuesday: Meatball soup
I used to make Rachael Ray recipes all the time, and then I just stopped for no particular reason. Rachael fatigue, I guess. But lately I’ve been very enthusiastic about soup and meatballs — because I am about to turn 40 and that’s what happens, kids — and when I googled “meatball soup” this popped up.

Wednesday: KFC?
I don’t know. These busy Wednesday nights are wearing on me.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner
Maybe I’ll let the kids make their own eggs this week.

Friday: Tacos
Poppy is volunteering at a fundraiser for a friend’s non-profit, but the rest of us will be at home eating tacos.

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.

My Paris-Brest pastry had a flat tire

Cream-filled pastries and feats of athleticism go together like peas and carrots, so the history behind November’s Daring Bakers Challenge recipe makes perfect sense.

The Paris–Brest-Paris bicycle race was first run in 1891 and is the oldest open-road bicycle race that’s still being run. It’s held every four years now, and it isn’t open to professionals. It’s 1,200 kilometers from Paris to Brest and back again, and PBP participants have 90 hours to complete the course. An equivalent distance in the U.S. would be from Kansas City to Detroit. That’s a pretty long bike ride.

The Paris-Brest pastry was created in 1910 to commemorate the PBP race. It’s piped into a circle to look like a bicycle tire, and it’s filled with a fluffy praline-flavored pastry cream because… ummm… I guess just because praline pastry cream is delicious.

The Paris-Brest is made with a pâte à choux dough, which I’ve made successfully in the past. It didn’t go so well this time around, though, and I think it’s because I didn’t cook it quite long enough and didn’t get enough air into the dough. My bicycle tires were pretty well flat. I decided to make the pastry cream with cookie butter rather than praline, mainly because I didn’t want to make praline. Poppy — who often prefers a very subtle flavor — thought I should have used less cookie butter, but the rest of the household was pleased with the result. It was a little bit grainy, but it tasted nice.

Since my pastry was more cracker-ring than pastry, I wasn’t able to cut them in half to fill them. Instead, we piled the cookie butter cream into the centers and called it a day.
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Continue reading My Paris-Brest pastry had a flat tire

It’s my birthday! Let’s talk about cake.

Count von Count and his little sachertorte, the Countess.
Count von Count and his little sachertorte.
“My little Sachertorte” is a term of endearment that I could’ve sworn Count von Count used for The Countess, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence to support such a claim. A Sachertorte is also a cake that originated in Austria in the 1800s, when Prince Wenzel von Metternich ordered a special dessert. Metternich’s chef was ill, though, and so a young apprentice named Franz Sacher took on the task and lo, the Sachertorte was born. It was a two-layer chocolate cake with a layer of apricot in the center and a coating of chocolate glaze, which sounds so delicious and yet didn’t really make any waves at Metternich’s dinner party.

Metternich, however, made lots of waves in his time,[ref]”The Diplomacy of Metternich“[/ref] as my in-laws informed me when I told them the story of the Sachertorte. I’ve been aware for some time that my in-laws are the type of people who know about the exploits of a 19th-century Austrian prince, but it’s still amusing when they bring such things up in conversation.

Anyway, Young Sacher eventually became Old Sacher. His eldest son opened a hotel, and that’s where the Sachertorte began to gain fame. People loved it then, and they love it now, and you can buy a 4.5-inch Sachertorte for only 21,90 €, which Google tells me is about $28. Or you could make your own, which is what I did last month when the Daring Bakers issued the challenge.

A goal for the future: Improving my food photography.
I need to work on improving my food photography.

I used Lidia Bastinich’s Sachertorte recipe, but I didn’t follow the instructions very carefully. Rather than putting the cake in the refrigerator to set after putting the apricot glaze on, I charged straight onward into applying the chocolate glaze. And so the cake slowly absorbed the chocolate glaze, so that when I revisited it awhile later it looked like I hadn’t glazed it at all. Naturally, I blamed Lidia Bastinich’s glaze rather than user error, so I made a batch of chocolate glaze from Kitchen Lane and reapplied it. That one set up nicely, and the double-glazing led to a pretty great taste and texture.

I don’t know enough about Metternich’s diplomatic efforts to form an opinion on them, but I do know that his chef’s apprentice created a rather tasty dessert.