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Late….

No time…..

Gotta rush…..

Oh, I had plans for this post, my house has become a 2 Daring Baker joint and I thought I would have a lot to say about it all.  I envisioned myself as a teacher assisting the newbie yet also a (not so) Iron Chef competitor firing up dueling ovens!  Didn’t happen!!!!!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen.   Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

Celiac disease is not something that affects me closely, if at all  but I applaud Lauren for what she is doing for herself and others in converting recipes to fit her needs.  With that being said, I apologize to her for not following her challenge 100% but sorghum and rice flours were simply not in the budget, which has as of late tightened considerably.  I did, however, make the wheat version of the graham crackers…..and I am really glad that I did…they are fantastic!!!

Before I take you on a quick pictorial of my progress and my thoughts on the challenge, let me first give you a glimpse into the state of my mind and how very very acute my powers of observation were this month.  As I was rolling out the dough, I was inundated with the scent of GRAHAM CRACKERS…it was as if my entire kitchen were filled from floor to ceiling with GRAHAM CRACKERS.  As I rolled, I kept thinking to myself (in complete amazement), “wow! this stuff smells just like GRAHAM CRACKERS!!”.  Really John???  GRAHAM CRACKER dough that smells like GRAHAM CRACKERS and not a bacon cheeseburger, who’da thunk it?!?!?!?  Apparently, nothing gets by me!!!

Hey!!! This stuff smells just like GRAHAM CRACKERS!!!

No Bake chewy ooey brownie-esque base!

Yummy Nutella filling layer!

The icing on the cake...so to speak!

The icing on the cake...so to speak!

As for the Nanaimo Bars, I have heard of them,  have wanted to try them and now can say I have.  As a complete package they were a little over the top for me…..just too rich for my taste.   As individual components, well that’s a different story.  The topping,  that is something I have used often in candy making and it is a pretty straightforward taste.  The base, with all the GRAHAM CRACKERS, was like a luscious dense no bake brownie and I have plans for working with it again!  The filling, oh the divine filling!!!!! I initially intended to follow the recipe with no additions but as I was reaching for the vanilla pudding I spied none other than my jar of Nutella.  Yes, that one thing that makes my world go round!!!!!  So of course I had to add a tablespoon or 3 of my silky friend to the filling…do I need to say more????  Truly, the Angels sang!!!!

So again, I gotta rush but I highly recommend giving these a shot, if not as a whole as individual components.  However, if I were one to know what a small portion were, these might have not been so overwhelming……so cut em small and enjoy!!!!!

Thank You Lauren!!!

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For quite some time I have wanted to try a baking project, a baking project based soley upon love.  However, time and life always got in the way and it was easier to get this via our weekly trips to the store.  The other day, however, I saw something that….well, frankly….made me think to hell with time constraits and a busy life!!  The “master” of the house was making his way up the steps and I saw a slower, slightly more hesitant ascent than I am used to.  The trip was made and there are no signs which could cause worry but it is apparent that time, once again, is having an effect.  It became evident that this project would wait no longer , I would make the time and today was the day!!!

Dog Biscuits
(in our house they are called cookies)

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
    1/2 cup lukewarm water
    3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 cups whole wheat flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in the peanut butter, garlic, broth, honey, and egg. Gradually blend in flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Using small bone-shaped cookie cutters, make biscuits! Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on both sides. Let cool.


Aside from being way too easy and, truthfully, divine smelling while baking, these “cookies” are a definite hit!!  The “master” and his (not so) little brother LOVE em!!!

If I may offer a bit of advice…..you bake for your family, you bake for your friends….now bake for your pets, as they are both family and friends!!!!


Yea, I know that “afeared” is not a word but nothing else describes how I felt, when I was asked to do a wedding cake (scared sh*tless, runs a close second!).  A wedding cake with 8 days notice, with Christmas falling on the day before delivery!!!  Oh and I have failed to mention that this was my FIRST wedding cake!!!  Anyone that makes cakes knows a wedding cake is much more than just a cake.  It is a focal point on a tense bride’s big day, many people will (hopefully) “oooh and ahhh” over it, as well as taste it…..so it must be PERFECT!!!  If you know me, you may also know I have a tendency to be a little too hard on myself as far as my cakes go.  I never seem to be 100% satisfied with the end result, regardless of the raves it may receive, I always think I could have taken it a little further. So again, combine the fact it was my first one, I had 8 days notice and a major holiday fell in the mix as well and…..you guessed it….I was “afeared”!!!!

I am not going to bore anyone with a recitation of recipes but for one, the fondant, as everything was pretty standard but the fondant.  The cake was a vanilla Genoise (Italian sponge), with an ivory Italian buttercream (vanilla), the cake was “soaked” with a vanilla simple syrup and the layers filled with a vanilla raspberry coulis.  Pretty vanilla, huh??

On to the fondant.  I love to work with fondant, I love the look of a fondant covered cake, I love the possibilities fondant offers and I absolutely……HATE…. the taste of fondant, classic fondant, that is.  A few years back I was searching for a fondant recipe that might be better than the norm and I ran across Marshmallow Fondant.  Now as I said classic fondant just gives me the willies in the taste department, so I typically peel it off and discard it like a banana peel.  MM fondant has a bit more flavor and now I only peel off 50-75% of the covering….less waste….and I hate to waste!!!   For those of you who have worked with fondant but never MM fondant here is the recipe, for those who have never worked with any type of fondant and think MM might work for you, follow the above link, as it has some good pointers on working with fondant.

Marshmallow Fondant

  • 1lb. miniature marshmallows
  • 2-5 Tbs. water
  • 2lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (min) Crisco (shortening)

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave by putting the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, repeat this until the marshmallows are melted.  Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix and stir to combine lightly.

Now grease your hands and counter GENEROUSLY and turn out the marshmallow mix and begin kneading it,  like you would bread dough.  Continue kneading and adding more sugar as you go, if the mix sticks to counter, add more crisco to the counter.  Continue till all sugar is incorporated and you get a smooth elastic dough (if the fondant tears easily when stretched it is too dry, add a few drops water and knead, continue this till you get a very elastic dough).

It is best to let the fondant rest overnight, this helps ensure that all the sugar has been absorbed.  Coat the fondant with a bit of crisco and wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest.  When ready to roll the fondant give it another good kneading and then proceed with rolling.

All in all the cake worked out well.  It did have a few “moments”……like the top tier was a bitch and it took me (much) longer to finish  than the other 2 tiers combined.  Another “moment” happened when we arrived at the venue only to realize that the piping bag, tips and extra buttercream were still at home!!!!  Aside from those few incidents it wasn’t as bad an experience as I had anticipated, the Bride and Groom seemed pleased, the guests “ooooh’d and ahhh’d” and the cake did not topple in any way shape or form.

I highly recommend to anyone that has a desire to make a wedding cake and has never done so….give it a go, it was definitely worth the trauma.  And to all those wedding cake veterans out there, I ask, when does the fear of the cake go away???

Keeping the Flour Flying!!!


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