Archive for June, 2014

How to Fake a Birthday Party (Spoiler Alert: Sparkler Cupcakes)

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What starts as a real birthday party can sometimes turn into a fake birthday party. It’s ok. It happens. It’ll make lovely photos for a this-is-my-fake-beautiful-life blog post.

I learned a few significant lessons on this day, one of them in reverse:

  1. Fake parties are just as enjoyable as real parties.
  2. Any fake party can be turned into a real party immediately with the addition of sparklers.

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Sparklers are so amazing. They fix everything. They are the best.

Tip on sparkler cupcake cakes: Get a few volunteers to help light the sparklers. They take a while to catch, and you don’t want half of them to burn out while you’re lighting the rest.

Another tip on sparkler cupcake cakes: Don’t use too many sparklers. Or you might start your cake on fire.

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These are my real, beautiful friends in my fake beautiful life. HI GUYS.

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Stay tuned for the cupcake recipe tomorrow.

 

You’re my,

L

Favorite Shots: This Please, Every Day

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Amirite?

All I ever post about is sugar and flowers. This is it. This is the blog in summer.

Who am I kidding? This is always the blog. The blog is this always. This is how the blog always is.

L

Pipe Dream #288: To Get Het Up – Ham n’ Cheese Cornbread

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Het: dialect past of heat
First known use: 1909

But which dialect? I am asking myself.

Possibly a Southern dialect? Why do I think that? Because this is a cornbread recipe? Because it sounds like a phrase from To Kill a Mockingbird?

I don’t know how politically correct I am in saying “het up,” and I am actually deeply sorry if I am offending anyone with my words, but that phrase just keeps repeating itself in my mind when I think of this amazingly wonderful savory gooey crispy spicy flavorful cornbread that features chunks of honey-baked ham, gobs of melty cheese and a healthy dose of red pepper flakes for interest.

Mam, I’m gettin’ het up with emotion just remembering it now. It is in my dialect past palate.

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This is like a turbo version of those ham n’ cheese oven sandwiches you used to get in school lunch. I think I forgot those existed, and that I loved them until this moment. Most school lunches were terrible. Just another reason I am glad to be an adult. Do you remember chicken patties? Ok, I can’t even talk about that right now. Haha, processed meat is so touchy for me. Good thing this is a baking blog that only features meat occasionally. If you want, you can focus on the CHEESE aspect of this bread/blog instead. See below:

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Don’t underbake this if you can help it. I did, and it wasn’t the worst, but it would have looked less sunken and sliced far better if I had minded the times in the recipe and let it cool properly. It’s my second underbaked item this week, sorry guys. It’s like I’ve never baked anything before.

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All het up one last time, and now I’ve used up my quota,

L

Ham n’ Cheese Cornbread

Adapted from smitten kitchen

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (145 grams) yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream (you could likely sub greek yogurt thinned with a bit of milk)
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces diced ham
4 ounces shredded cheese (I used a “Mexican blend” from Target)

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Generously butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, red pepper flakes and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the ham and cheese. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, buttermilk and olive oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing until just barely combined. Spread the batter in your prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Pipe Dream #277: To Resist Hyperbole – This World’s Best Cake, Apparently

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Guys, I try not to hyperbolize…wait, who am I kidding right now? I went through a phase last year when I would say things like, “Your shoes! I’m dying!” So don’t mind me.

But guys, this cake actually is really wonderful. The Huffington Post informed me that Norway declared it the world’s best cake. I haven’t eaten all the cakes in the world (I imagine that would turn out like this), so I can’t confirm, but I really enjoyed it. Like many European cakes, this isn’t your fancy, frilled  buttercream creation, decked to the nines with fondant and jewels. It does have layers, but only because you cut the cake-tangle (new word-cake that is rectangular) in half, spoon on some lightly whipped vanilla cream and stack it.

The first layer is a moist yellow cake made with egg yolks. Before baking, the remaining egg whites are whipped into a meringue and sprinkled with sliced almonds, which creates a lovely soft and crispity top layer to the cake. After sitting in the fridge for an hour or two, the whole thing melds together like a freestanding trifle or a meringue cake. The flavors are so simple, but sooooo addicting. Much addict. Many addict. Maybe it is the texture combination that does it. Either way, this is my most favorite cake that I’ve done in an age.

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Word to the wise, though, don’t underbake it. It’s kind of hard to tell with the meringue layer on top, but I definitely underbaked mine and had cake batter oozing out the sides, which I promptly scooped up and ate with a spoon because cake batter so it would still look pretty. Bake it according to the directions and let it cool in the pan, and you likely won’t have the same problem.

Other tip: when slicing, use a sharp, serrated knife, letting the weight of the knife slice the cake rather than pressing down too hard and making the whipped cream squish out.

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This World’s Best Cake, Apparently

Adapted slightly from Sweet Paul Eat and Make

I cut this into 16 small pieces, but you’d be safer with 12.

10 1/2 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. Line an 9-x-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well on low speed. Mix in the egg yolks and milk. Scrape the batter into the baking pan.

In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining 1 cup sugar to soft peaks. Spread on top of the cake layer. Sprinkle with the almond slices. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown and puffed. Cool on a wire rack in the pan. Transfer to a cutting board.

When the cake is cool, put the cream in a medium bowl. Beat to soft peaks with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes, beating in the vanilla at the end.

Gently cut the cake in half down the middle with a serrated knife. Place one half of the cake on a serving tray and cover with the cream. Place the other half, meringue side up, on top. Let the cake sit for 1 hour in the fridge before serving.

The Anatomy of a Summer Swing

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Wishing you much summer love.

L

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Pipe Dream #276: To Be Chunkless – Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

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Tip of the day: The key to banana bakes is to use really brown bananas, mashed up fine like…you know–no chunks. Like, the bananas that are no longer peel-able. Better yet, bananas that have been frozen and revived in a microwave. Because bananas can be used as a sort-of replacement for oil and even sugar in recipes, having a smooth puree is key. Until I figured out chunklessness, my banana bread suffered.

This banana bread recipe was passed along by my roommate, pictured below looking like a hot model. She makes it, like, every week, and it is so good that obv I had to try it for myself.

I have a gripe with the original recipe, as it doesn’t specify how to mix in the ingredients. I read it, and was like, “When do I add the butter?” Every muffin recipe with butter I know says to cream the butter and sugar, add the wet ingredients, then mix in the dry. But this one just said to mix the dry and chuck in the wet, so I tried throwing  in the softened butter to the wet ingredients. It left chunks, so next time I’m going to try creaming the butter into the flour mixture first, then adding the wet ingredients. I should really just ask my roomie how she does it.

How do you do it?

autumn

Further thoughts, these regarding chocolate: My dream for these was that each would have a huge pocket of chocolate erupting from the middle. I saw this recipe for banana bread a while back that had a massive sunken fudge ripple down the center. It was so beautiful, and if I had a Pinterest account, I would have immediately pinned it. Because I don’t, I can’ find the recipe now, so I tried to recreate as best I could.

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Unfortunately, I scorched the chocolate a little because I wasn’t watching carefully enough, so I think it turned out a little dry on the actual cupcake. So I turned to the best failsafe mechanism this world has to offer a baker–peanut butter. Because let’s be real: What situation isn’t remedied by a peanut butter glaze? I challenge you to think of one. I thought about it for approximately 10 seconds and couldn’t come up with anything.

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Chunkless in Seattle,

L

Banana Muffins with Chocolate Center and Peanut Butter Glaze

Adapted from Chiquitamoms.com

3 small bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, very soft

1/4 cup milk

For the chocolate center:

heaping 1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

1/2 tablespoon butter

For the peanut butter glaze:

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar

milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat in the butter, egg, milk and mashed banana until just combined. Divide batter between the muffin cups.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave, being careful not to scorch the chocolate. I recommend stirring every 15 seconds or so. Drop even dollops of the chocolate mixture onto the center of each muffin cup.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from tin and let cool. When cool (or almost cool), soften the peanut butter for a few seconds in the microwave, then mix in the powdered sugar and milk to make a glaze. Spoon onto the muffins.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mash 3 ripe bananas. Mix in mashed bananas, egg, butter and milk to the dry ingredients until smooth. Don’t over mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. – See more at: http://www.chiquitamoms.com/2012/11/chocolate-chip-chiquita-banana-muffins/#sthash.r4whXjS9.dpu
3 Ripe Chiquita Bananas 1 1/2 Cup Flour 2/3 Cup Sugar 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder 1/4 Tsp Salt 1 Tsp Cinnamon 1 Egg 1/2 Cup Butter 1/4 Cup Milk (or Almond Milk, Goat Milk, etc.) 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips – See more at: http://www.chiquitamoms.com/2012/11/chocolate-chip-chiquita-banana-muffins/#sthash.r4whXjS9

Favorite Shots: Eating Indoors

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Guys, this is what it’s like to eat inside. Have you ever even done that before??

Lauren

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