Archive for February, 2010

Paczki Day!

This past Tuesday, February 16th was Paczki Day! For those of you who don’t know what Paczki are, they’re a wonderful Polish donut! While they look like a traditional Jelly Bismark, They’re actually very different! They’re made of a rich egg dough and are filled with a variety of different fillings and dusted in powdered sugar! Traditionally in Poland Paczki Day is the the last Thursday before Lent. In America it is traditional to celebrate Paczki Day on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The tradition started because making Paczki was a good way to use up the sugar and fats before fasting for Lent. Many other cultures also celebrate and overindulge on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. For example, Mardi Gras and Carnival. 

At the bakery where I work, Paczki Day is one of our busiest days of the year rivaling Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving! We are fully staffed in the morning to help serve all the hungry customers waiting inline out the front door at 6am. This year  our baker made 480 dozen. Thats a lot of Paczki!!! Just think about it… 480 times 12…. thats a lot! Actually, it’s 5,760 Paczki! He makes 10 different flavors. Apple, apricot, blueberry, cherry, custard, cheese, lemon, prune, raspberry and strawberry! And it isn’t unusual for us to sell out in the morning!  But that doesn’t mean the work stops once the store is sold out! We still have a full day of customers picking up their orders. This has to be my most favorite day of the year to work. But one important key to working on Paczki day is to wear white! I remember my first Paczki Day I wore black and by the end of the day I was totally covered in white powdered sugar!

So, for those of you who have never had a Paczki before,  pick some up next Fat Tuesday! But make sure you go to the bakery and get the good stuff… none of that icky mass produced grocery store kind. Or even better, If you’re in the area, place your order with Sauer’s! Just be sure to place it early, don’t count on any being left when you come in!

 

Racks of Paczki in the kitchen waiting to be rolled out front and be sold! YUMMY!

Racks of Paczki in the kitchen waiting to be rolled out front and be sold! YUMMY!

Posted by on February 21st, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope everyone had the chance to spend the day with someone special! I know I did! I spent the day with my family and went out to eat with my special valentine. We had a great time! 

This year I made some beautiful Valentine cookies! I made these for a dear friend of ours who then shared them with her family and co-workers. 

Valentines2

Valentines1

 

I also made some little Valentine cookies to send to Miss Amy from California! She is a very sophisticated fashionista and when I found this darling box at the craft store I knew I had to make some sweet cookies to match! I hope they made it to California unbroken!

Valentines3

Valentines4

Posted by on February 14th, 2010

The World’s Best Dinner Rolls

My very good friend Miss Amy from California introduced me to these wonderful buttery rolls last November. They’re Buttered Rosemary Rolls. I made them for the very  first time for our Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone fell in love with them! I then made over 50 of them for my family for our Christmas Eve party, and again today for my brother’s birthday. They’re so addicting, you can’t just eat one! Amy found this wonderful recipe in The Pioneer Woman’s blog.  You can click on the link and read her recipe, or you can keep reading and learn my twist on this amazingly simple recipe!

You can either make your dough from scratch, or you can use raw frozen dough. I like using Rhodes frozen dough as the Pioneer Woman suggests. They come in nifty zip top bags, so you can just make as many as you need and then save the rest for another time. But trust me, after your first taste you might want to consider making them all next time! You can find Rhodes rolls in the frozen dough section of most grocery stores.

Now, the Pioneer Woman baked her rolls in an iron skillet. I for one, do not have an iron skillet. If you don’t have an iron skillet, you could make 12 rolls in a 9×13 pan. But, being a Pampered Chef consultant, I have my fair share of awesome stoneware! I’ve made these rolls in the round baker, the rectangle bar pan, and my personal favorite, the stoneware muffin pan! 

Raw Clover Leaf Rolls in Pampered Chef Stoneware Muffin Pan

Raw Clover Leaf Rolls in Pampered Chef Stoneware Muffin Pan

First, you need to let your dough defrost. The instructions are on the package, but letting them defrost and rise can take 3-5 hours. If you microwave the balls of dough on a plate, covered for about 15 seconds, then turn over and microwave another 15 seconds it will help speed them up to being ready 1-2 hours. I then put them in my pan, brush them with some melted butter, and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Now it’s time to let them rise. Your rolls will rise best in a warm humid place, or just do your best to keep them away from a draft. I made mine into clover leaf rolls. It’s really easy to get this fancy look. After you defrost your dough in the microwave, cut the ball into 3 pieces, roll them back into balls and place in your pan. Easy!

Once your rolls have doubled in size, brush them with more melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and fresh chopped rosemary. Bake them 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees or until they are golden on top. Like so:

 

Golden Rolls

While they’re still hot, sprinkle them one last time with melted butter. I hope you’re really hungry, and I hope you’ve made enough because you’re going to want seconds, and thirds, and….

Posted by on February 3rd, 2010

The Monster Book of Monsters

Happy Birthday Brian! Today is my brother’s birthday! I always love making my brother birthday cakes because he has such a wide variety of odd interests that make for fun cakes! I typically ask him what kind of cake he wants, or I take suggestions from my other brother. But this year I came up with the cake all on my own! I recreated the Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter! I had so much fun making it! It is German chocolate cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream filling. I iced it in regular white buttercream. For the leather cover, I used Chocolate Clay.

To make Chocolate Clay, you microwave 10 ounces of chocolate chips stirring ever 20 seconds until it is melted smooth. Then stir in 1/3 Cup of corn syrup. I line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper and spread the chocolate over it to cool. It must sit for a couple of hours, then it will become pliable. you can use it to make chocolate decorations such as roses for your cakes. For the book I just spread my chocolate clay over the sheet pan making sure it was the right dimensions to cover my cake.

Before covering the cake, I used a log shape of fondant on the top for where the eyes would go. Once covered in the chocolate clay, this area would be popped up. When my chocolate clay became pliable, I draped it over my cake covering the “spine” of the book and the top cover. Using a pizza cutter I cut off extra clay where the cake met the board. Then I used kitchen scissors I cut the edge to look like the jagged edge of the book!

I used fondant to create the mouth and teeth and dusted them with a terracotta dust to give it an old dirty look. I finished off the bottom border of the book with more strips of chocolate clay that I cut jagged with the scissors. On the top I wrote The Monster Book of Monsters with a paint brush. To make the gold paint, I used edible gold luster dust and mixed it with a tiny bit of vodka. You can substitute the vodka with lemon extract or anything edible with a high alcohol content. This will ensure that the paint dries quickly and doesn’t soak into the chocolate or fondant making it sticky. I prefer vodka because it is tasteless.

Take a look at my Monster Book of Monsters and let me know what you think!

Monster Book

Posted by on February 3rd, 2010

Lavender Heaven!

So my wonderful friend Amy from California sent me this marvelous package for Christmas from Lavender Hollow Farm. Before I even opened the box I could smell it’s wonderfulness. In the package were some lovely lavender bath salts, hand cream, lavender scone mix and a piece of lavender chocolate! YES, lavender chocolate! I’m sad to say that I received this generous gift before Christmas and it took me until the second of February to unwrap this fragrant treat. I’ve never had anything flavored lavender before other than tea. Which I’m  also embarrassed to say that I haven’t baked the lavender scones yet, but I’m really excited to try it! I’m saving them for one of those cold rainy days, so I can just wake up, bake up the lovely scones and enjoy with a cup of tea in the pajamas. I wonder if it’s going to rain tomorrow? Hmmmmm…..

Lavender chocolate

Now, to really enjoy a delicious piece of lavender chocolate, you really need to enjoy lavender. Now, I’m not talking about the vanilla lavender candle I have on the shelf, I’m talking real lavender. Fresh lavender. And oh boy do I. But it’s not meant for everyone, like my boyfriend for example. He sits down next to me while I’m typing this blog and savoring a bite of my chocolate, and  he took one sniff of me and walked away. At least I don’t have to worry about sharing with him!

lavender

From the moment I unwrapped the pretty wrapper, I knew it was special. The smell was delicate and at the same time it just filled the room. It was then that I discovered that my puppy Miss Lola enjoys the scent of lavender too! She trotted over to the end table next to me and nearly swiped my chocolate! Sorry Miss Lola! No chocolate for puppies! 

Lola loves lavender

 

THANKS AMY!

Posted by on February 2nd, 2010

Boofy Cakes, responding to the Call of Duty!

This past weekend we celebrated my cousin’s birthday! He is really into the Call of Duty video games and he wanted me to make him a Call of Duty cake! Last year I made him an Army themed cake that was camouflage with army men on it. So this year I wanted to make something more specifically Call of Duty.

 

I took this opportunity to try out a new recipe for a fondant substitute. I love the way fondant looks, but my family doesn’t care too much for the taste. I found this recipe online for Marshmallow Creme Fondant. I decided to try it out! Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped. It was a pain to make, incredibly sticky to roll out, and it tore while I tried covering my cake.

Ouch!

See? I had to patch the sagging torn fondant and it looked terrible. This fondant never really set or stiffened like normal fondant, so it continued to pull, sag and bubble. ARG! And I was so excited to try this new recipe! I should have known it sounded too good to be true. Luckily, the cake looked good enough, but I won’t be trying this one again.

Call of Duty Cake

I turned the cake around so that the damaged side was on the back. I used some regular fondant that I had left over from a previous cake to make the logo and name plate. To make the decorations I printed out the Call of Duty logo and cut it out of paper. Then I dyed my fondant a light grey and rolled it out. I placed my template on the fondant and used a small sharp knife to cut around the logo. Once I had the logo cut out, I used a soft brush to cover it in a fine metallic powder called luster dust. This gave it a metallic look. I buy soft make up brushes to cover large areas with powder. Then I used a small brush that I purchased from the painting supplies to dust a black powder to shade the top and bottom of the logo. These dusts and powders can be ordered online from cake decorating websites. They’re cheap and they last a long time since it doesn’t take much. Then I outlined the logo with a black food coloring marker. Wilton makes markers that are filled with food coloring that you can purchase at many craft stores. You can use these to draw on fondant, cookies, etc. Then I just placed it on to the cake! I was really happy with how the logo turned out that it made up for all the trouble I had covering the cake with the Marshmallow Creme Fondant.

Posted by on February 2nd, 2010

Second Annual Chili Cook Off- Super Bowl Themed!

This year was the second annual Chili Cook Off at the church! Being the weekend before the Super bowl, it was all football themed! I was really excited to enter my vegetarian chili again this year. Last year I placed 4th out of 13 chilis. I was rather surprised and flattered that my meatless chili did so well. Unfortunately this year I didn’t  place that high but all of the chilis came really close with the same amount of votes. 

Just like last year they had a bake sale at the cook off. Only this year, instead of benefiting the local firefighters, the bake sale was for the church’s youth group. The bakery where I worked donated all of their leftovers to the bake sale again this year. I stopped by the bakery before the cook off to pack up the sweets to deliver to the church. I donated a chocolate football cake covered in fudge that I made special for the occasion. I was excited to see that it sold fast!

 

Football cake

Football cake

I used the Wilton football cake pan to make this cake. Most of the Wilton pans are designed to use just one cake mix. If you’re using a scratch recipe, it may need to be adjusted for this size pan. Make sure to rotate the cake a couple times in your oven. Since the middle is deeper, the points will bake much faster. Rotating the cake will help prevent the points from burning before the middle is done. After the cake was completely cooled, I covered it with a fudge buttercream. I made a half recipe which was perfect with this size cake. I creamed one cup of butter in my mixer. While the butter beats I combined 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I used a tiny whisk to combine to a smooth paste. I added the chocolate mixture to the butter along with a teaspoon of vanilla and combined. Then I slowly added one pound of powdered sugar on a slow speed. You can add a table spoon here and there of milk until it is the desired consistency. I used a small offset spatula to spread the fudge over my football. Make sure it goes all the way down the sides to the board. It doesn’t need to be a perfect icing job. When you’re done, take a paper towel to wipe off the extra icing that piles up at the base of the cake on the board. Let the cake sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. While it sits the fudge develops a very thin crust. You can then take a paper towel and lay it over the cake. Gently rub your hand over the towel without moving the towel around. This will help smooth out lines and bumps to give you a smooth finish that almost looks like it was covered in fondant! To make the lines on the football, I used some fondant that was leftover from a previous cake. But you can pipe on the lines using some white frosting too! You can color the frosting or fondant so that it matches your team colors! You can also show team spirit by writing the team name on the cake!

If you don’t have the football pan, you can get them at the craft stores. Michael’s and JoAnn’s both have 40% off coupons in the Sunday paper or you can get them on their websites online and print them. You can also use the football pan as a Jello mold, you can bake bread in it to make a football shaped sub sandwich, all kinds of fun treats for your Super Bowl party!

Don’t want to buy the pan? You can carve your own football out of cake. I would suggest using two cake mixes in a 9×13 pan and bake. Once it’s cooled, cut the cake in half so that you have two 9×6.5 pieces. Spread some of the fudge on one of the pieces and then place the second on top. Freeze the cake for an hour or two. Carving cakes are much easier when the cake is cold. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the corners off to make a sort of diamond shape. Slowly cut away at the cake until it starts to resemble a football. It’s better to take off not enough than too much! Once you have your desired shape, put back into the freezer for an hour. Next you will apply a thin layer of frosting called a crumb coat, or dirty icing. This thin layer of icing will lock in the crumbs so that they don’t show through in your final layer of icing. Once you’ve applied your thin layer of icing, you’ll want to pt it back in the fridge or freezer for about 1 minutes or so until the icing has stiffened. Then you’re set to finish icing your cake as I described above. 

It will be the highlight of your super bowl party!

Happy baking!

Posted by on February 2nd, 2010