Monday, July 30, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 26 (Late!) - Gluten Free - Three-Ingredient Cookies

'Tis the saddest cookie picture ever, I know.  But the recipe only makes twelve, and we did actually get all the way down to the last one before I realized there was no evidence I'd ever made them at all.

I've heard rave reviews about three-ingredient cookies in the past, how tasty and simple they are--and it's all true.

Three-Ingredient Cookies
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth is okay too, but I like crunchy better)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg 
Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until smooth.  Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto a baking sheet, two inches apart.*  Flatten the cookies slightly.

Bake 8-10 minutes, until dry on top and nearly set.  Allow to cool on the sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

*My recipe specifies an ungreased sheet, but I found they stuck very badly.  They also sagged into the spaces in my wire rack, leaving dimpled bottoms.  Next time I intend to bake these on foil-lined sheets so I can lift the foil off to cool them all at once and avoid the misshapen bottoms.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooking Challenge Week 26 (Late!) - Pizza - Bacon and Portobello Mushrooms on a Spent-Grain Crust


The general how-to is easy.  Be a homebrewer, have spent grain from your last batch of beer, and mix some in your favorite pizza crust recipe.

The actual how-to is a little more complicated.  I like this recipe, but a single batch isn't enough to cover my baking sheet, so I've taken to making a quadruple batch but only dividing the dough into thirds to get the right coverage.  (I freeze the other two for later.)  Judging by other spent-grain pizza crust recipes, they mostly use less than half as much grain by volume as flour, so I added 2/3 cup per 'batch', for a total of 2 2/3 cups grain.  The texture seemed good, I don't think it really needs more.

Top with sauce, cheese, and fixin's, and bake at 450 F for 16-18 minutes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 25 (Late!) - Coffee Cake - Cardamom-Pecan Coffee Cake

It's hard to bake when you don't have a working oven.

I went to put something in the oven, and I saw a spark and heard an awful hissing/buzzing noise.  Then there was an incredibly tiny fire in the back of my oven, which actually put itself out, it was so small.

I thought I had just gotten lazy and let my oven get too dirty, and something had built up on the bottom and caught on fire.

As I discovered the next day when I went to clean it, that is not, in fact, what the problem was.  The spark had come from the lower heating element when it snapped clean through.

My landlady is a lovely woman, who promptly ordered a replacement, which didn't get here until our resident handyman was on vacation....of course.  Hence, the delay.

Not that I missed baking much in that heat wave, so I suppose that was the best time of year to have the oven break!

Time to catch up, though.  Here's my coffee cake, based on the yabluchnyk I made for the Russian week of the cooking challenge.  I liked it enough to play with some variations...

Cardamom-Pecan Coffee Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp cold butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans 
Preheat the oven to 375 F, and lightly grease an 8x8" baking pan.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  In a separate bowl, stir together the egg and milk, then add to the flour mixture and combine thoroughly.

In another bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients except the butter and pecans.  Cut in the butter until crumbly, then stir in the pecans.

Press half the cake dough into the prepared pan.  Sprinkled half the struesel mixture on top, then repeat with the rest of both.  (As the dough is quite sticky, getting even layers is challenging, so don't worry too much if the top is a bit rough.)

Bake 25 minutes, or until the struesel is crisp and brown, and a cake tester stuck in the middle comes out clean.