Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sugar Cookies

A couple nights ago, around 10:00 pm, we decided that it was time to bake a sweet treat or confection. We brainstormed a bit before deciding that we wanted to make sugar cookies, not for the pure joy of eating them, but for the fun in rolling them out and cutting out funny shapes. A while later, we realized that the dough we had made was not really the roll-out type and so we ended up with plain old circles. Still, the cookies were chewy, soft and delicious. Also, we were both shocked at how easy and convenient they were to make.

Sugar Cookies
from The Best Light Recipe cookbook

3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces) cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cup (9 1/3 ounces) sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and hear the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line 2 baking pans with tin foil or parchment paper.
2. Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside. Cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together using an electric mixer, at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mix. Add the flour mixture and continue to beat at low speed.
3. Place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a bow. Take 1 tablespoon of dough and roll in the sugar. Place on the baking pan.
4. Bake the cookies, one tray at a time. About 9-11 minutes later, check if the cookies edges are light golden and the centers are just set. Let cool for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Byrne rolls the dough into balls.

Dough balls are almost ready to bake!

Don't worry, that cookie does not have a bite out of it. The piece was falling off, so we ripped it away and ate it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Individual Pizzas!

Oh hello there. Thanks for returning for the third official post of BCBites! The other night, we (Charlotte and Byrne, of course!) made pizza for dinner. Individual pizzas that is. It was incredibly easy and absolutely delicious. We have both been talking about making it again ever since. Shared with two more friends, it was the perfect meal. The dough takes a little while to rise, but we entertained ourselves in Byrne's backyard, inventing the newest Olympic sport. Expect to see intense games of Xiamabough, a four-square type game with a tennis ball, in the 2012 Summer Games!

Pizza Dough
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook - edited by Ruth Reichl
makes four individual pizzas

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons or 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading (we needed to add quite a bit extra in order to get the right consistency)

3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing bowl

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes.

This is our yeast-water-flour solution. Sort of gross-looking.

Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and oil. Stir until smooth. Stir in remaining flour (about 1/2 cup) so dough comes away from sides of bowl. The dough will be wetter than other pizza doughs you have made. Knead dough on a dry surface with lightly floured hands until smooth, soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. Grease a bowl with olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for 1 1/4 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When dough has risen, divide into four parts (Charlotte and Byrne made two larger individual pizzas). Roll out each ball of dough into a circle, .5 cm- 1 cm thick. Top with desired toppings and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool pizzas until they can be comfortably handled, then cut into slices and enjoy!

Charlotte made a classic pizza with cheese, tomato sauce and red peppers. Byrne opted for a thinner, less cheesy pizza with artichoke sauce, olives and no tomato sauce. Both were enjoyed by everybody. Below is Byrne's pizza because Charlotte's disappeared too quickly to photograph!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Coolest Picnic Table Cake Ever!

Hi everybody! (All three people reading this- Charlotte, Byrne and hopefully Helen, our very first follower/commenter! Hi Helen!)
A magazine came in the mail a few weeks ago. Something completely random that I did not subscribe to. Normally it would make its journey to the recycling bin rather quickly. However, it was not immediately tossed because the watermelon shaped cake on the cover was simply too cute to throw out. Turns out the magazine, Woman's Day, is having a July 4th themed cake contest. Send in your coolest cake and win $150 worth of baking supplies, that is, if you have the best cake. So, I told Charlotte and we immediately began brainstorming. The first plan was a Liberty Bell shaped cake. While mulling this over in the hot tub, it was decided that a Liberty Bell was not a champion.
Our brilliant friend, Madison, came up with the fabulous idea to make a cake shaped like a picnic table. Now this, we loved. For weeks we planned and sketched and made shopping lists (okay, maybe just for a few days), and as soon as school ended for summer vacation, we were off to work on our masterpiece. So, I'll admit it, we used cake mix. I know you are thinking that we are terrible bakers. We used Pillsbury dough last time and Betty Crocker cake mix this time! But next time we will put something real up. For our first recipe, we were just lazy. Here, we decided it would be faster and more convenient, especially considering it was the decorating that was the real challenge. The taste of the cake really didn't matter.
The whole set up required four 9 x 13 cakes, but we ended up with tons of extra scraps. Two were used for the table, one for the benches and one for the "food" on top of the cake. I've seen tons of recipes for "cake balls" which use up the extra pieces, but we were completely exhausted after finishing this up and disposing of the scraps seemed like a better idea. Maybe another time.

Charlotte works on getting the cake out of the pan.

Unfortunately, none of our four cakes came out perfect. Frosting to the rescue!

The base of our picnic table. We stacked two 9 x 13 cakes, frosted them both and draped them in a fondant tablecloth.

Byrne and Madison knead fondant for the cooler and picnic table.

The tablecloth took forever, but Madison did a beautiful job!

After having some trouble with the blue fondant sticking to the table, we were all terrified that the tablecloth would not come up. It was a huge relief to have it safely placed on the cake.

The corn on the cob was made from a small rectangle of extra cake. It was frosted with white icing that had been tinted yellow. The kernels are jelly beans in different shades of white and yellow, cut in half. The butter is a teeny square of white melting candy wafers. To finish it off, the cobs were pricked with corn holders and sprinkled with sanding sugar to look like salt.

A semi-circle of extra cake was cut in order to make a wedge of watermelon. We laid a pink circle of fondant over the cake and adhered it with frosting. Then, we dyed frosting green and microwaved it for about 30 seconds so that it was easier to use as the rind. The slice of cake was dipped into the liquidy frosting. We allowed it to set in the freezer for a few minutes before wetting the fondant and carefully placing several black nonpareils on it to act as seeds.

What 4th of July picnic is complete without a flag cake made with blueberries and strawberries? Our mini version is really just a smaller rectangle of cake, frosted with white icing and decorated with smaller blueberries and strips of strawberries.

The burgers are really Thin Mints, citrus gummies, and cornflakes glued together with icing and sandwiched by two Nilla wafers. We shook the cornflakes with melted green frosting in a plastic baggie until they were all coated. Then, they cooled in the fridge for 15 minutes. The result looked just like lettuce!

We had many failed attempts at the pie. Originally we planned to use a cupcake as the base, but it was decided that it was silly to make just one cupcake. It would be easier to use extra cake. Byrne made the first one and minutes later Charlotte was rinsing the frosting off of each individual M&M in order to try again. She spent the next 30 minutes cutting out circles of cake and icing them, only to fail miserably time after time. Finally, she came up with a pretty decent pie! The base is a circle of cake, cut with a cookie cutter and then cut horizontally to be flatter. It is wrapped in aluminum foil. Red M&M act as the berries and thin strips of tan icing were piped to look like the lattice pattern often found on the top of pies.

Here are our "halfway point" and "finished" pictures of the cooler. It was pieced together using strips of cake and melting wafers. Then, it was covered in blue fondant. The cavity was filled with rock candy and those little wax bottles full of syrupy "soda". A piece of licorice was used for the handle and it was attached with some extra frosting.

That's it for the embellishments. The benches were plain old rectangles of cake, no frosting or anything. We thought it looked better that way than it would have if we attempted to make them look like wood. When it was finished, the cake looked absolutely incredible!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Dumplings

HELLO! Welcome to BC Bites, Charlotte and Byrne's very first blog. After almost failing all of our finals due to lack of sleep (from an addiction to tastespotting and various food blogs), we think it is time we start one ourselves.
Our very first recipe is semi-homemade and therefore super easy to make. These strawberry dumplings take less than half an hour. Our first attempt ended with half cooked, thickened pancake batter smothered in diced strawberries and smushed raspberries. Delicious, but not really what we wanted for our very first blog post. Today, they turned out golden and "radiant" (Char's new favorite word), with juicy strawberries popping out. Yum. The chocolate dipping sauce wasn't incredible, so we left out the recipe for that, but any chocolate sauce would work.

Strawberry Dumplings
makes 10-20 dumplings


- 1 package Pillsbury Crescent Seamless Dough Sheet

- 6-8 medium strawberries, diced

- 1 tablespoon sugar

1) Heat oven to 360 degrees.
2) Combine diced strawberries with sugar in a small saucepan. Put on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 7 minutes, or until strawberries are soft and have released sticky red juice.
3) Unravel Pillsbury dough and spread onto a cutting board or countertop.
4) Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough. Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with foil.
5) Spoon about a teaspoon of strawberries onto one side of each dough circle. Fold the circle in half and use a fork to seal and crimp the edge of the dumpling.
6) Bake the dumplings for 12 minutes.
7) Allow to cool and enjoy plain or with a chocolate sauce of your choice.