baking

Lincoln Peak Marquette Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Vermont has seen a wonderful explosion of vineyards in the past years.  My favorite, being a local place called Lincoln Peak Vineyards.  When I say local, I mean very local.  The owners have been farming the land for years, first as a strawberry farm and now grapes and one of them still teaches art at the school my kids go to.  It’s refreshing to walk into a place and know have the owners know your first name.  It’s even more refreshing to see them out and about and have them chat you up.  They’re just fantastic people, all around.

I’ve tried all the wines they’ve carried and the Marquette will always be my favorite.  I don’t care for dry red wines at all–never have.  If this is dry red, I’m unconvinced, but only in the most positive of ways.   Marquette is such a versatile, easy going, laid back varietal that goes well with steak, chicken, pizza, cookies and that bar piece of chocolate at the end of the day.

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I decided to stop in to the vineyard on the way home from work (I told you it was that local), and pick up a bottle of my beloved Marquette.  The owner, Chris, greeted me by name, and with a genuine smile, asked me how work was.

We chatted a bit and I told him of my newest endeavors in the blogging world.  It was at that moment that the ideas started spinning around in my head.  I was determined to use this wine for more than drinking this evening.  I assured him that I was going to use this in some sort of cupcake concoction.

As much as I enjoy chatting with the owners, I couldn’t get home fast enough.  I needed to grab this inspiration and run with it.

I finally found a recipe that looked promising but one that I could easily make into my own over at teacher-chef.com.  I didn’t have any chocolate cake mix in the house but I had just picked up a box of Red Velvet, on a whim.  Why not use that?  In my mind, it’s always been chocolate cake with a ton of red food coloring.  Red Wine, Red Velvet.  It seemed appropriate.

I recipe said to reduce “about two cups” of red wine by half.  In hindsight, I’ll do three cups next time.  The recipe said to use the reduction in place of the water in the cake recipe and my recipe called for a cup and a quarter and another quarter cup for the frosting.  Math is not my favorite subject but my “wine math” said that there wasn’t going to be enough wine.

You’re panicking, aren’t you?  It’s okay, breathe.  There’s another bottle of Marquette in my wine rack.

The recipe mentioned that I’d either have to skimp or double the batch.  Who skimps on frosting?  Not this girl.   I measured out enough reduction to make a double batch of frosting and just topped off the deficit with wine straight from the bottle.

I’ve found that my oven runs about 5-10 degrees below the controls but no matter how carefully I watch the temperature, my cupcake bottoms always burn in a metal pan.  I’ve since put it in a permanent time-out.  I have a Pampered Chef muffin pan and it’s never steered me wrong.  Downside: I only have one stone pan.  Solution: Free-standing, silicone baking cups.  We’re back in business!

Even though there was only a little over a cup of wine in the batter, it smelled right boozy.  I knew I was on to something good.

The cupcakes turned out light, fluffy and moist.  I may have tried a bite, while they were still warm.  I even talked my brother into sharing the other half.

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The frosting recipe was a simple, butter/shortening buttercream.  I much prefer using equal parts of unsalted butter and shortening in a frosting-it just holds up so much better.  You get the hold of the shortening with all the taste of butter.  The half cup of wine in the frosting turned it such a pretty shade of something between a lavender and light berry color.  The wine taste isn’t overpowering, but a nice, light hint.

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I’m doubly glad that I doubled that frosting recipe.  How else would I have filled 24 cupcakes, let alone frost them?

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Me, enjoying my delicious cupcake
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My brother, a very willing taste-tester.
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What’s better than a frosted cupcake? A filled and frosted cupcake.

 

Biting into that first miniature cake was a treat.  Fluffy, moist and the wine left such a nice taste in my mouth.  Of course, the bottle was open and I poured myself another glass.  Perfection.

I wonder how the next batch will taste with a few semi-sweet chocolate curls, perched on top…….

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Time to make the doughnuts…..

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Maple Glazed Goodness

I loved Fred the Baker and I still giggle when I hear that phrase.  I remember growing up and watching the Dunkin Donuts commercials.  “Time to make the doughnuts.  I made the doughnuts……”

In my younger days, I worked at a grocery store that had an in-house bakery.  The biggest part of my job was making the doughnuts.  Having to start work at 3:30 am often found me muttering, “It’s time to make the doughnuts…..”  Even though they were early hours, making doughnuts was a fun job.  After I got the hang of it, turning doughnuts with sticks was a blast.  It was not unlike playing drums with food–at least that’s how my imagination played out for me.

My baking adventure this weekend was actually deep fried but who’s keeping track?  It’s still a pastry, and you can bake them, but where’s the fun in that?

I’ve never understood the fascination with Krispy Kremes.  Sure, I tried them once, fresh off the conveyor, but I just don’t think they’re “all that”.  With that as my disclaimer, I found this recipe on Instructables and decided to use it for the actual doughnut dough.

This recipe was really simple to follow and everything went according to plan until I pulled the formed doughnuts out to fry them.  I should have dusted the pans more liberally than I did because they stuck and flattened when I tried to pick them up.  Oh well.  Live and learn, right?

I had already decided that I was going to maple glaze these babies and this is the recipe that I came up with:

Maple Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 cup maple cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
Mix sugar, corn syrup, maple cream, 1/4 cup maple syrup and salt into mixer. Mix well, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more maple syrup as needed to get desired consistency.  It works well to be able to spread this frosting on the doughnut, rather than dip into.
I did cook off a pound of Bacon but didn’t think fast enough to put the crumbs on immediately upon frosting the doughnuts.  The glaze dried quick and the Bacon wouldn’t stick.
Solution: Doughnuts with a Bacon chaser.  Everybody wins!
The Rising of the Dough
The Rising of the Dough
Turned out and ready to roll.
Turned out and ready to roll.
Nesting Cutters
Nesting Cutters
They are Risen!
They are Risen!
Gone for a swim in the bubbly oil.
Gone for a swim in the bubbly oil.
Maple Glazed Goodness

Maple Glazed Goodness

Maple Glazed Goodness

Bacon Maple Walnut Pie

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I celebrated my thirty seventh birthday yesterday.  Instead of a cake, I decided to make a birthday pie.  While at the dinner table, this is the conversation that went down:

Me: Tomorrow, I’m going to make a pie. A Bacon, maple walnut pie to be exact.

Hannah: Ethan, did you hear mom? She’s going to combine two of your most favorite things in the world: Bacon and pie.

Bud: Birthday Bacon Pie?? Awesome!

I have always loved my mom’s Maple Walnut pie.  She used to make it when we had our bakery years ago and because I believe everything is better with Bacon*, I decided to kick my favorite up a notch.

While the whole walnuts were toasting in the oven, I chopped and fried up six slices of bacon.

I realized that I didn’t have any maple extract in the house.  That may have been a complete failure, if I didn’t have a whole bottle of Sapling Maple Liqueur ready to take its place.

After everything was mixed up and poured into the pan, I sprinkled chopped Bacon over the top of my pie.

The pie browned up so beautifully and the Bacon didn’t burn at all.  I did a final brush with some more maple syrup once the pie came out.

Once it’s cool, I will be enjoying some with a bit of ice cream, more chopped Bacon and Sapling drizzled over everything.

*I believe in it so much that even my phone automatically capitalizes the word. 

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Lions and Tigers and Bear Claws, Oh My!

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Oh my, indeed.

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan’s, Baking With Julia, I embarked on an a Bear Claw adventure this past weekend.

I picked the brain of one of my co-workers and he recommended that I use Danish dough for this project.  This proved to be a much easier dough to make than the croissants I made two weeks prior.

This recipe only called for two sticks of butter-half of what the croissants called for.

Day one:

I mixed up whole milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg and let it sit for a bit.

Meanwhile, I put the flour and butter into the bowl of the food processor.  This was a new technique that I am now in love with.

I mixed the liquid with the dry, just enough to moisten the dough.  I covered it and it went into the fridge, overnight.

Day Two:

I turned the dough out onto the floured counter and proceeded to roll it into a sixteen inch square.  I folded it into thirds and turned it.  Rolling it out again, this time into a rectangle, ten inches wide by twenty four inches long.  Again, it got folded into thirds.

It next gets rolled out to a twenty inch square and folded again.  I repeated these two steps, twice more.

Because the dough had less butter, it didn’t need as much chilling between turns.

The recipe said to chill for thirty minutes but I decided to give it overnight.

Day Three:

I rolled out the dough and decided to do a couple different fillings: Almond, cinnamon sugar, chocolate and raspberry.

I rolled the dough into a long tube and cut pastry scraper lengths.  I then cut “fingers” into each one and formed them into a semi-circle on the baking sheets.

After an egg wash, I let them rise until they were twice in size.

After a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, they were baked for about eighteen minutes.

Once they cooled down a bit, I drizzled a powdered sugar glaze over them.

These seemed more flaky and buttery than the croissants–if that even seems possible.

We enjoyed these with some crisp bacon and freshly ground and brewed Guatemalan coffee.

I’m sure I sighed with delight, just as much as I expected to.

The next adventure? Pecan Sticky Buns.