April 9, 2014
Guys, I’m on a scone jag.
A couple weeks ago I had an incredibly disappointing scone from (sigh) Starbucks. It was so unsatisfying, such an affront to the good name of moist, flavorful scones, that I made three different kinds of scones that weekend alone – making my pastry-loving friends and colleagues very happy. And my freezer very full.
This recipe is a variation of the very first scone recipe I fell in love with, back in high school when I first discovered the magic of the oven. Rich with the mahogany sweetness of brown sugar, bumped even higher with a bit of molasses, and loaded with toasted pecans and brown butter, this is a far cry from the sad, dry scones in the coffee shop pastry case.
October 18, 2013
Sometimes, life hands you lemons. Other times, though, it hands you figs.
So check it out: I go to this greasy spoon diner called Rae’s every weekend. I’m a regular. I have a “usual,” and I get slightly annoyed when someone else is sitting in my spot on the bar. (I’m short, and my favorite chair is a little bit taller than all the rest.)
But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realized that the big tree growing just to the left of the building is, in fact, a fig tree. A fact I learned by stepping (and almost slipping) on an overripe fig on the ground. I took a few photos, then a nice old lady came out to tell me that I could take some of the ripe ones if I wanted, since they would just go to waste anyway. So I did! Because despite figs being the sexiest fruit, beautiful just torn apart and eaten raw, I had a recipe I wanted to try up my sleeve.
I love a snacking cake. The kind of cake that you feel like you can eat for breakfast, or with a cup of tea, or as dessert. This cake is rustic and sturdy, requiring no creaming of butter or careful folding-in of ingredients. Just a quick mix of dry and wet ingredients, some pretty figs plopped on top, and half an hour in the oven. What a simple way to be happy.
May 2, 2013
As you may know, I’ve been hopping around a lot. My friends in Paris have a tendency to travel, and when they do, I’ve been raising my hand to volunteer to cat-sit/house-sit/whatever-sit for them. It’s a win-win: their pet gets fed, their house looks lived-in so it doesn’t get robbed, I get to see lots of different parts of Paris, and I leave freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies when I leave.
Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite thing to bake, so naturally I’ve gone through lots of recipes. But no matter how much I might mess around with ground oatmeal or brown butter or pumpkin purée or what-have-you, this is the recipe I go back to. Good ol’ Alton‘s got it right, as he so often has.
These cookies, like all chocolate chip cookies, are fantastic straight out of the oven. But the special thing about them is that they continue to be good, nay, I would even say better, for days after they’ve been baked. If you like a toothsome chew in your cookie, this is where it’s at.
I’ve recently learned that there are people in this world who will wake up in the middle of the night, hungry, and actually get out of bed searching for a snack. I have it on good authority that these cookies are excellent for those kinds of people, too.
December 5, 2012
You know how I can tell I’m an adult? I wanted carrot cake for my birthday.
Not just any carrot cake. That Carrot Cake. I received the recipe for That Carrot Cake from a friend during college. He’d gotten it from his mom, who’d gotten it from a neighbor, who’d gotten it from her aunt, etc. etc. etc. I ended up passing it on to HR Director at work a year or so ago, and now I’m passing it on to you.
It’s That Carrot Cake because I’ve been fiddling with the ratios in this recipe for years and years, and I’ve got the balance of moisture level and cinnamon batter flavor and carrot/walnut/coconut bits just right; that is, exactly how I like it. The original recipe came from a friend, but now it’s mine.
That Carrot Cake is so moist that it’s hard to ice; little moist chunks and crumbs keep wanting to fall off, and I used to need to ice it with an inordinate amount of cream cheese frosting that never actually got eaten. Now I don’t even try to ice the whole thing — just a slip of frosting between each layer will do.
That Carrot Cake has so much walnut in it that it might as well be called a walnut cake. The carrots aren’t shredded or puréed, but shaved with a vegetable peeler then diced, so that some smaller pieces melt into the batter while other, larger pieces hang around like flakes of carrot confetti. A good amount of coconut provides more chewy texture. Oh, and there’s pineapple in there. You don’t taste it, and I have no idea how it works, but that pineapple might be the secret ingredient that brings it all together, with just enough batter to hold everything in one piece.