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Cookies, Cakes, and Pies…Oh My…

September 27, 2010

The cooler weather has indeed made all of my pants a little snug around the waist. Cooler weather means using the oven and not being afraid of melting in the heat or suffering through night in a sweaty puddle. We have been baking, and for me, any baking is more baking than I normally do. Its been hard to resist all of the cakes, cookies and pies around, made even more tempting knowing that I sifted, measured, mixed and baked those creations.  To be honest, I am not much of a baker. There is something about having to be so exact and so careful that causes my impatience to flare up and get the best of me.  But, I have been better; gritting my teeth while carefully leveling off 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking power instead if just scooping it up and tossing it in. Despite the internal struggle, the delightful smell of baking and the homey feeling of having freshly baked goods on hand is very rewarding.

I have been wanting to try Katie’s cookies since she posted- any cookie boasting to be the best deserves to be cooked. I love cookies that have the texture she mouth-wateringly described; a crisp bite on the outside and a chewy middle, the sensation of both crunch and chew almost allows you to better taste the cookie; picking up on the melding of butter, brown sugar and of course, rich chocolate. These cookies were just as good as she described. We also made a double batch and added 1/4 cup of coco powder to make a chocolate chocolate chip cookie- very rich and very chocolaty. This is a recipe to remember and share. A keeper for cookie jars. See Katie’s post for the recipe and add 1/4 cup of good coco powder to make the double chocolate cookies.

In my second baking adventure I was merely an observer, but I had my hand in procuring the produce. A week ago, when fall’s subtle touch could be felt on cool noses and ears and seen in the orange painted tips of leaves on the trees along the highway, we drove to Tougas Farm to pick some apples. The farm itself was very large and packed with people all seeking to fill their sacks with the perfect apple. The farm carried cortlands, honey crisps, gala, macintosh, acknes, golden delicious and other varieties coming later in the season. At first we got a little apple-happy- plucking every beautiful red orb within eyesight, but once the initial excitement became manageable, we hunted for the varieties best for baking. We went home with 20 pounds of apples and stomach aches- between the apple cider donuts and the sampling of too many apples along the way, we felt a little sick. That night, Adam, an experience pie baker, baked a perfect apple pie with a few new modifications. We had seen on the new cooking channel a baker who used a French mandolin to thinly slice the apples and the layered the slivers tightly in her pie. We tried this method and what ensued was a dense, apple packed pie. Each bite was pure apple and no goo. Once a slice was removed from the pie, the stacked apples could be seen. While this was a little more work as you cant just throw the apples in the crust, it really made helped the texture, taste and appearance of the pie.

Last Tuesday’s supper club was cancelled since Margaux was away, so Ashley and I instead settled on appetizers from trader Joe’s and a little baking. I have been curious to try Melissa Clark’s chocolate pecan snacking cake after reading her book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, it seemed easy enough, with ingredients I normally have on hand and delicious; described as tasting like a chocolate chip cookie in cake form. After seeing the amateur gourmet’s post on the cake, I decided to go for it. After our smorgasbord of delicious Trader Joes dumplings, artichoke dip, Mexican dip and chicken and lemon grass egg roll things (hey, sometimes it is nice to unwrap and reheat) , Ashley and I pushed up our sleeves and baked three delicious snacking cakes. If you take a look at the amateur gourmet’s post, he has the recipe easily explained and pictures of the process. One note, this cake does require the entire cooking time or more. The top of the cake needs to be fairly brown before the inside is cooked, as seen when a toothpick was inserted. The cake came out nicely, buttery and rich, but the slight tang of the yogurt still detectable to keep it from being too cloying. Its one of those cakes the you will find yourself sampling small teeny slices, trying to not devour the entire thing in one sitting, and before you know it, you have eaten half the cake. This is another recipe to keep on hand, easy enough to make on a whim when craving cake and chocolate, yet delicious enough to bring along to friend’s or a work breakfast.

While I may need to hit the gym a little more (okay, actually go to the gym) if this new baking habit continues, I’m looking forward to new recipes and new baked goods to try and recreate in my own little kitchen.  Maybe I can kick this impatience bug after all.

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