Tag Archives: bake

Mesh Ball Tea Infuser Repurposed

SNAP TEA DIFFUSERA number of you attempted to make a roux (fat+flour sauce base) this weekend. Some of you started to add flour to the warm milk and butter and it clumped up like gummy balls.  Others experienced grittiness.  Most of us have a snap style mesh ball tea infuser rattling around inside a drawer.  Try adding the flour using the mesh ball infuser.  For instance, if you are making mac-n-cheese with a Béchamel (milk+butter+flour)fill the infuser with flour and gently tap the infuser against the side of the pan to disperse a gentle dusting.  No clumps.  Need an even sprinkle of  powdered sugar on cookies?  Try administering the sweet sugarfrost with the infuser.  Sifters can be unwieldy, with an infuser you better control the mess.   Making a meringue or angel food cake?  This is a great technique for adding sugar without collapsing your eggy fluff.  SIFT

Monday’s Muffin

Who doesn’t love a Muffin Monday?  Save yourself the expense – both monetarily and calorically – by avoiding the glass cases and bake your own reasonably nutritious and tasty muffs.  I promise you this ain’t no GOOP shit.  We’re just jshooshing up a box recipe for real.  I like the Krusteaz Fat Free Wild Blueberry mix because you don’t need to add anything but water.  In a pinch, this mix is super easy and crowd-pleasing without further embellishment.  But if you want your muffins to be more, and I know you do, consider these simple additions.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of those annoyingly ubiquitous health food items that everyone with a mason jar must have to perfect their temple.  And yeah, we are talking about the same stuff from the sprouting Chia Pet commercials, “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia.” Rich in Omega-3, manganese, calcium, and phosphorus these seeds will also add some fiber to your muffins without fucking up the texture. 

Multiply and Diversify the Berries

The puny limp-dick berries in that little sad tin scream box mix.  Add some fresh blubes, blackberries, or any kind of berry you like hunny.  More berries = a more magnificent Muffin Monday.  

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

For some muffy glamour, create a sparkly crunchy top.  Mix cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle on top of your muffins before baking.  I can’t defend the sugar, but we all know cinnamon has a number of valuable anti-cancer and blood-sugar stabilizing properties.  This step adds an interesting textural difference that makes for memorable Monday Muffins. 

warm buns

Until very recently, I found baking with yeast really intimidating.  As the astute among you have noticed, precision isn’t my thing, so I was daunted by yeast’s narrow activation temperature window.  Lately, I’ve been on a “from scratch” kick, and so why not bake classic yeast rolls to overcome my irrational rising-dough baking anxiety?  I found a highly-rated quick yeast roll recipe off allrecipes.com, and hoped for warm fluffy buns.

2 tablespoons shortening

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 cup hot water

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease 8 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix the shortening, sugar, and hot water. Allow to cool until lukewarm. Mix in the yeast until dissolved. Mix in the egg, salt, and flour. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.  Divide the dough into the prepared muffin cups, and allow to rise again until doubled in size.  Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a bun comes out clean.

Since this recipe doesn’t require kneading, it is surprisingly easy.  It doesn’t take forever for the dough to rise either which I appreciate since I get impatient with lengthy rising times.  These rolls arrived from the oven comforting,  soft, and fluffy.  A true crowd-pleasing delight.  

on pies

Over the last few years I’ve baked pies from scratch.  Like quilting, it is easy to understand why preparing dough by hand could easily become a lost art for the amateur baker.  If a holiday pie is on the menu, instead of store bought, consider wowing the crowd by bringing a homemade pie. 

After creating several decent-but-mediocre pies, I’ve learned a few tricks that have dramatically improved my results.  A self-proclaimed baking neophyte, I humbly offer you the following advice based on personal trial and error.  Going against popular modern instruction (including Martha), I declare the food processor the foe of flaky crust.  Cut the fat into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter and a little effort.  Most beginner pie makers overwork the dough which results in a shortbread-like crust consistency.  Since switching to the cutter from the processor, the previously illusive flaky texture is now literally within my grasp.  The recipe for pie crust only requires 3-5 simple ingredients:  3 cups flour +  1 cup butter and/or shortening (I use 1/2 cup of each) + as little ice cold water as possible (1/8-1/4 of a cup) , a pinch of salt and a skosh of sugar (about 2 tbsps). Cut abut half the water into the dough with the pastry cutter and reserve the other half to dribble on as needed once the crumbly dough is transferred to the location where you plan to roll it.  Add water conservatively, keeping in mind the fat should hold it together.  It took me quite awhile to get comfortable with the relative dryness of the dough.   Immediately after forming the dough into a mound, use a greased fondant roller to roll an 1/8 inch thin round.  Form into a shape that generously exceeds the diameter of your intended pie pan.  Not sure?  Turn the pan upside down and use a knife to cut around it, leaving yourself at least a 3 inches all the way around the circumference.  For the lattice, cut strips from the remaining dough.  Some strips should exceed the diameter of the pie pan.  Refrigerate the crust after it’s rolled and formed rather than chilling the dough and then trying to roll it.   If you choose apple filling, I learned you really don’t have to pre-cook the apples as is generally recommended.  As for type of apple, the cheap and ubiquitous organic Granny Smith works great.  Peel and thinly slice the apples.  In a large bowl, bathe the sliced apples in sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  Let the mixtures stand for a half hour and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the filling into the pie. 

Weave a lattice with strips of dough you cut while rolling out the pie.  Dot the top with butter.  Use a foil lined catch pan in the likely event the pie juice simmers over.  Try the lowest rack of the oven for a crispier bottom crust.