January 26, 2009

Carrot Muffins

In celebration of my new cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan I chose to make muffins. Deciding where to start was a little hard since there are about 250 recipes in the book - so I took a logical approach and started in the first section of the book, Breakfast. I had a really hard time deciding between the Carrot Muffin and Almond Scone (which are next by the way) but decided that a carrot muffin sounded better at the time. We also had a lot of fresh carrots from our CSA box so I didn't have to buy new ingredients. The muffin was (as my friend Nicole would describe) divine. The muffin had just the right amount of sweet to resemble my favorite cake but did not make me feel like I was eating dessert for breakfast. They rose up beautiful and tall and had an extremely moist and flaky center. They don't need jam or butter (though my mother - a very big fan of butter - would probably slather butter all over it) since they have a decent amount of fat in them. I also enjoyed the addition of currants rather than raisins which my husband (a raisin hater) liked as well. The combination seemed perfect. I have also found that they grow more flavorful with age, like a good pumpkin bread, as long as you keep them well sealed. I will be making this muffin recipe often. Thanks Dorie for an amazing start to your cookbook!

January 25, 2009

Bundt Cake

Bunt Cake, strange name for a cake really. Surprisingly the bundt pan is the most sold pan in the US (according to Wikipedia) and I didn't have one until a few months ago. Michael's Aunt had 7 and while remodeling her kitchen decided it would be ok to let one go - Thanks Joy - so now I am part of the american trend of bundt cake pan owners. Bundt cakes are fussy. It is really easy to overcook them resulting in a dense dry cake and I surmise my first bundt cake will probably be my worst. I wanted to try a recipe from a cookbook I love Birthday Cakes for a meyer lemon pound cake. It turns out I didn't have any lemon herbal tea for the glaze at the end of baking so I switched to a different recipe I had all the ingredients on hand for (strongly suggested by my friend Emily who was hanging out that night). The cake was a buttermilk poppy lemon pound cake and the batter was much more dense than I had ever worked with. I sprayed the pan like crazy since it has more grooves than a traditional bundt pan and stuck it in the oven to bake. I think I eliminated about 5 min of baking because the pan has a dark teflon coating. The cake looked pretty but in my opinion it was too dark. I added a lemon glaze after cooling and then came the taste test.... So so in my opinion. I have made better cakes - but I think the pan is somewhat at fault. I think I'll try it again sometime and really monitor everything. Some people really liked it and though I have a tendency to be really hard on myself but I don't think I was terribly hard on myself this time. The cake had good texture and was not overly sweet or overly lemony - it was just a tad bit dry for my liking. Nothing spectacular. I am going to try that other recipe sometime soon though. I love lemon flavored desserts and am up for the challenge of this new bundt pan.

January 9, 2009

The Microplane

I will begin by saying I love this tool. It makes perfect zest and grates cheese well - the only thing I don't appreciate about the tool is that it is very dangerous. I was grating some Parmesan cheese over pasta the other night. It was a very skinny piece of cheese and it seemed much more efficient to grate it parallel to the mircoplane. Dumb mistake - because it took of a small chunk of skin from my knuckle. It didn't seem too disastrous at the time but about 30 seconds later I had a small pond of blood on my finger. Lessons learned.... always grate tiny cheeses perpendicular to the microplane AND develop some sort of hand shield (my friend Kerry suggested a small force field to encapsulate your hand). I'll let you know how it goes. Until then I will practice cautious grating/zesting.

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