Saturday, September 3, 2011

My top 5 fav summer bakes

     When I’m home for the summer, buttons burst all around me and people seem to be growing before my eyes. This is, of course, because my parents have a full sized oven, along with a pretty big fridge to store all of my baked goods for long minutes that they last. This last summer, I seriously can’t remember a day where there wasn’t some unhealthy piece of deliciousness on the counter. Here’s the list of my favorite bakes of this summer!

1. Key Lime Pie- I’ve never been a big fan of graham cracker crust, no matter what it holds. Key lime pies are traditionally made with a graham cracker crust, but after finding the best pastry dough recipe EVER, I decided to switch the game up. The recipe is from Celebrating Cobblers and Pies, a fantastic baking book by Avner Laskin:
2 sticks very cold butter, cut into cubes
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tbs ice cold water
Pinch of salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-In a food processor, pulse the butter and sugar until crumbly (about five pulses)
-Add the egg and water and pulse two or three times until combined
-Add in the salt. Then add flour in two or three parts and pulse until dough ball forms
-Chill for a half hour before using
-If needed, you can bake off the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until golden
     If you haven’t tried key lime pie with a pastry crust, I highly recommend it. It gives the pie a new twist and a different mouth feel that I think is completely divine. This particular recipe makes a flakey and sweet crust, and it’s the best tasting crust I’ve ever had!

2. Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes (Shown above)- It tastes just like your childhood lunch favorite, but in cake form. The cake was surprisingly easy to figure out- I was initially really worried that the sticky texture of peanut butter would weigh the cake down. It definitely didn’t weigh it down, and what came of this adventure was one of the most dangerous cupcakes I’ve ever made. I now know that the biggest mystery about these cakes is how anyone else ever got to taste them! Basically, I just took a simple vanilla cake recipe and replaced the ingredient meant to make the cake moist (in my case, it was vanilla custard) with peanut butter.
     From this recipe I also learned that making your own jam is surprisingly easy. If you can spend the money on enough fruit to make a decent sized batch it’s totally worth it. I made my own strawberry jam for the frosting and it was perfect. Check out this great how-to video to making your own jam!

3. Lemon Bars- My brother got me this amazing bar pan this summer and it’s perfect for making lemon bars. If you’re any kind of lemon bar coinsurer, you probably have a favorite to any lemon bar; either the chewy, sugary, edge pieces, or the softer, gooey middle pieces. I happen to be edge piece kind of girl, and this bar pan makes every piece from the edge! If you don’t have one, check out what I’m talking about here.
     Most lemon bar recipes are pretty much the same. But add a crumb topping to it and you’ve got something golden. There’s tons of crumb topping recipes out there. I usually just fork together 1 cup flour, 1 cup powdered sugar, and ¼ cup cold butter. It will take any lemon bar recipe to a whole new level!

4. Chocolate Cupcakes- I know, I know. This sounds pretty boring to put on this list. But chocolate cupcakes were definitely my biggest adventure of the summer. I made the cupcakes for a friend’s wedding at the end of the summer, and spent the entire summer before it trying to get the recipe right.
     It turns out that being at a high altitude (this took place in Colorado) affects baking. Sure, you already knew that. But for some inexplicable reason, it affects chocolate baking pretty intensely. I went through at least twenty recipes, trying to adjust each for the altitude. I went through the sunken in cupcakes, the bubbling cupcakes, and the misshapen, hollow, cupcakes. But alas, when I made it to that perfect recipe, it was a beautiful day. Along the way I learned that all the little chocolate flavor enhancers that you hear on TV, like coffee and vanilla, really, REALLY make a big and beautiful difference!

5. Caramel Apple Cupcakes- So basically I go through baking/cooking phases. Sometimes it’s just a “take the long way and make every little thing from scratch phase. A few months ago I was in one those phases, and learned how to make caramel from scratch, applesauce from scratch, and jam, among other things. The caramel in particular was quite the journey but I found a super easy tutorial video that will change the way you feel about making caramel from scratch. Check it out here!
     Alas, the caramel apple cupcakes were born; apple cupcakes with whipped cream and caramel drizzled on top. I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t love these cupcakes. They’re homey and they always remind me of fall.

Well, that was my summer. How was yours??

1 comment:

  1. These are some of my favorites too. Great swirl on your frosting.