Happy 4th of July! Red and Blue Velvet Layer Cake

Monday is the 4th of July, so it’s time to break out the red, white and blue! I’ve been focusing so much on bread baking lately that I was really excited to make this layer cake for independence day.  While looking for inspiration, I had a hard time finding cakes that didn’t hurt my eyes with over the top colors or cakes that didn’t  resemble a large flag. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the flag cake, but I wanted to try something a little different and a bit more subtle.

I wanted more of a “vintage Americana” look, so  I used fondant in red, white and blue to make these millinery inspired flowers with little button centers. To make these flowers, cut 2-3 circles of different sizes and use the end of a ball tool to frill the edges. Place the circle on a piece of soft foam, or in the palm of your hand, and roll the ball tool along the edge of the fondant. This will help it ruffle up. Use a drop of water to connect the pieces together and then a bit of frosting to attach the flower to your cake. For the button holes, I just pressed the tip of a small piping tip into small rounds of fondant. It’s been a little while since I’ve done fondant work, so forgive me for starting small.

This cake desperately needed something on top. I can’t decide if these are pinwheels or abstract fireworks…. Either way, for the toppers, I cut 2 medium sized rectangles from blue striped paper, and red tissue paper. Accordion fold the paper then tie the middle. Fan out the edges and connect them to each other to form the pinwheel/starburst design. I wrapped some small popsicle sticks with red and blue bakers twine and hot glued them to the paper. Easy!

I couldn’t let the inside of the cake be plain! This is to celebrate the birth of a nation forgoodnesssake. I made this cake with my treasured red velvet cake recipe and used blue coloring in half the batter. If I were to make this cake again,  I would omit the cocoa powder from the blue portion because it didn’t turn out the bright blue color I was hoping for. Also, I used a cooked buttercream frosting. I’m against cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake. I’ve been eating red velvet cake long before it was trendy and I really think the cream cheese is too strong of a flavor. Proper red velvet cake is made with buttermilk and a little cocoa powder. A thick slab of cream cheese frosting completely obliterates the subtle tang and the delicate chocolate flavor of the cake. I hope you trust me and try red velvet with this frosting instead one day, it really accents the flavor of the cake rather than hiding it.

Proper Red Velvet Cake (From Grandma Cupcake, written on an index card much older than I am. That’s how you know it’s a winner.)

Makes one 8″ cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1oz red food coloring (or 1/2 oz red and 1/2 oz blue for this striped version)
  • 10z water (some call for 2 oz coloring, but I think this is overkill and substitute half with water. Also, red color can have a bitter cake when overused)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Pre heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8″ cake pans and set aside. Cream the shortening and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. In a very small bowl, mix the coloring, water and cocoa powder together to smooth out any lumps from the cocoa. Add the the creamed mixture. Add the salt and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer running on low, add half the flour, followed by half the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, then the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. mix the baking soda and vinegar together and quickly add the foamy mixture the the batter. Fold it in with a rubber spatula.

Proper Frosting for Red Velvet Cake

This recipe looks very strange, but you’re just going to have to trust me and try it. It’s delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (that’s 4 sticks – I told you this was good frosting!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour (10 Tablespoons total)
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole)

Combine the flour and milk in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook this over medium heat stirring constantly until very thick. Let the flour/milk mixture cool completely. This may take an hour or so, stir it occasionally to speed up the process but do not proceed until it is completely cool. If you don’t wait long enough your frosting will melt – not a good thing. Once everything is cool, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, around five minutes. Add the milk mixture and keep beating until everything is well combined and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and you’re ready to frost your cake! Also, always make sure your cake layers are really truly cool all the way to the center before frosting. You can refrigerate them to speed this up. Once again, warm cake layers will make your frosting melt.

Then, you can frost and decorate your cake any way you like! This cake is deliciously moist with a truly classic flavor. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has!

Happy Independence Day from Jillian Cupcake!!!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Centers and Whipped Ganache

“I want chocolate”.  That’s all he had to say and instantly, my mind began churning out ideas for sinfully chocolate desserts to make. Considering this blog is called “Jillian Cupcake” and I hadn’t posted any cupcakes yet, I knew what had to be done.

These cupcakes are over the top with devil’s food cake, Nutella filling and whipped chocolate ganache on top.  Surprisingly, they were super easy to make and will satisfy even the most extreme chocolate craving.

I started by preparing a devil’s food cake mix. Yes, I use cake mix sometimes. No, I am not ashamed. Please, don’t call the food police. The secret to making a chocolate cake mix delicious is to add a little bit of a complementary flavoring, such as cooled coffee instead of the water, a pinch of red pepper, or like I chose this time, a pinch of cinnamon in the batter.

I just added a dash, maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon if you like to measure. It’s not enough to be a strong cinnamon flavor, but it adds a complexity to the chocolate that makes it more dimensional or even a bit more sophisticated. After the cupcakes cool, use a small spoon to scoop out a bit of the center. Fill the hole with Nutella, then put the little bit of cake you scooped out back on top press it down so the top is nearly smooth. Sorry, I couldn’t get any clear photos of this process.

The whipped ganache tastes outrageously decadent, but really couldn’t be easier and only has two ingredients. Measure (by weight!) equal parts heavy cream and semi sweet chocolate chips.  Heat the cream until it just begins to boil then immediately turn off the heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until they are completely melted. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and set it in a larger bowl of ice water. Whisk the cooling chocolate every five minutes. You’ll be able to see it thickening as it cools, whisking will help it cool evenly so you don’t end up with a hard layer around the bowl and a liquid center. As the mixture approaches the consistency of pudding, whisk vigorously to incorporate air. The ganache will turn a slightly lighter color. I prefer to whisk this by hand instead of in a mixer because the mixer can easily over-beat it and it will separate, like cream, into chocolate butter, which sounds much better than it is.  You can’t fix it if you whip it too far, but you won’t have to worry if you whisk by hand.  Load the whipped ganache into a piping bag with a closed star tip. Starting at the outer edge of the cupcake, pipe a spiral towards the center. Or you can just dollop some onto each cupcake with a spoon then use a small knife to spread it out. They will be just as delicious.

If you love dark chocolate, you will love this frosting. Whipping it gives it a lighter texture, compared to normal ganache which has more of a fudgy consistency.

Cinnamon scented chocolate cake, rich Nutella centers and airy whipped chocolate ganache on top. These cupcakes are a chocoholic’s dream come true.

Rosemary Focaccia and The Baker’s Percentage

I had serious doubts about this bread.  I was anxious as I measured the ingredients down to the exact gram into the bowl of my mixer. You see, this bread dough has more water than flour.  My hands got clammy as I switched it on and watched the mixture slosh around. “No way is this ever going to turn into dough”, I thought to myself as I set a timer for 20 minutes. All of the recipes in The Bread Bible have worked perfectly up to this point, but I just didn’t see a way for that soupy mixture to ever turn into a shiny ball of bread dough. 15 minutes passed with very few changes and I began to give up hope.

Then it happened. Right around minute 18, as if by magic, the strands of gluten began to catch onto one another and gather around the spinning paddle. By minute 20 I had a perfectly smooth ball of dough. I had never been more shocked in all my life. I just stood there, eyes popping out of my head, staring in amazement and wonder at this mysterious dough.  I turned off the mixer and reached in to see if I could pick it up, and I could. It slowly stretched and did not tear as I gently dropped it back into an oiled bowl to allow it to rise for several hours. I was fascinated. Despite having over 100% water, this still became dough.

Oh, what do I mean over 100%? How can something be over 100%? Well, it’s this strange thing called the baker’s percentage, which I only learned about recently, but is incredibly helpful when scaling recipes. The baker’s percentage assigns the value of 100% to the quantity of flour in a recipe, then all the other percentages are in relation to the flour. For example, let’s say we have a recipe that calls for 200g of flour, 100g water, 20g yeast, and 10g salt. Baker’s percentage would read as, 100% flour, 50% water, 10% yeast, and 5% salt.  This way you can measure out any quantity of flour, and as long as you use half as much water, 10% as much yeast and 5% as much salt, the recipe stays in proportion. Of course all of these measurements must be weights (like grams) not volume (like cups). This doesn’t have a great impact of your day to day baking, but you might find it helpful to know if you are trying to scale a recipe, or if you come across a bread recipe written in percentages and have no idea how to begin.

Look at that texture! The reason I bring up baker’s percentage is because this recipe is famous for having over 100% water. the very long kneading time in the mixer developed the gluten while still preserving a very wet dough. When the bread went in the hot over, all that water began converting to steam, which caused the bubbles on top and the large open structure inside.

This bread is wonderfully chewy with a crisp crust sprinkled with rosemary and sea salt, holding pockets of fragrant olive oil. I truly never believed that a dough with so much water could turn into such a beautiful and delicious bread, but I also know that I am just dipping my toe into understanding bread baking. I’m glad I gave this infamous recipe a chance.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Caramel Wrapped Marshmallows

These were my gift to my Dad for Father’s Day. When in doubt, delicious foods or desserts always make wonderful gifts for men. I have a slight problem with baking for my father, he lives several thousand miles away. So, anything I make cannot require refrigeration and must be able to withstand the extraordinary abuse dished out by the postal system.  His favorite candies are the Scotch Kisses from See’s Candies so I set out to recreate them.

I have not always had the greatest success with candy making. I would find a recipe and set off to make it with great enthusiasm, then swear off candy making forever. A year or so later, when the burns had healed, I would start the process over, once again causing burns, property damage and personal shame at having to throw away entire pots encased in hardened sugar.  Candy making is not for the faint of heart. However, this year something magical has happened. This is the second candy recipe that has turned out perfectly. This is strange and wonderful, but I’m not complaining.

The key to candy making is to be wildly vigilant when it comes to monitoring the temperature of the boiling sugar. Just five degrees too hot or too cold can completely wreck the final product, so watch that sugar like a hawk! Also, please be careful and wear long sleeves, jeans, shoes and sometimes oven mits (see above burn comments – hot sticky sugar is a dangerous thing).

Caramel Wrapped Marshmallows (From Not So Humble Pie, found on Pinterest)

Caramel:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, reduce added salt to 1/4 teaspoon)

Begin by buttering a rimmed sheet pan or a marble slab (if you are fortunate enough to have one. Do this first because you won’t have time once the hot caramel is ready!

Get a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. The cooking caramel will triple in volume during cooking and you do not want this suff on your stove! Combine the sugar, cream, and ONE CUP of the heavy cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and slowly pour in the remaining cup of cream. If you dump it all in at once the temperature will suddenly drop and you can end up with a giant lump of hard sugar welded to your pan. Turn the heat down to medium low and let it boil for 5 minutes without stirring, but don’t walk away from it. Now, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring and letting it melt after each addition. Go slow again to avoid sudden temperature drops. Clip on your candy thermometer (making sure the end of the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan – that will give an inaccurately hot reading) and let it boil until it reaches exactly 250F. This will take 30-40 minutes but please, don’t walk away from a molten pot of sugar in your kitchen. Just hang out and watch it, if the temperature is rising too quickly, turn the heat down. But if you’re still not at 250F in 40 minutes, turn it up a bit. The very moment the caramel reaches 250F, pour it into your waiting buttered pan. Do not scrape it out of the pot, just pour. you can scrape the leftovers into a separate dish, but they might crystallize and that would ruin your entire caramel sheet. Let it cool for several hours and work on your marshmallows.

Marshmallows:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 4 envelopes (1oz total) of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided

Spray a 9×13 glass pan with cooking spray or lightly oil it. Once again, do this first so your pan will be waiting when the hot marshmallow is ready.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites to stiff but not dry peaks (Kitchenaid level 4 for approximately 6 minutes). Add the vanilla and turn the mixer off.

Pour the gelatin into 3/4 cup cold water in a heatproof bowl and let it bloom for five minutes. fill a pan that is slightly smaller than the bowl half full with water and bring it to a simmer.

In a large saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, sugar and corn syrup over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and put in your candy thermometer. Let it reach 260F, this will take approximately ten minutes. While it is boiling, place the bowl with the gelatin over the pan of simmering water and whisk until all the gelatin dissolves.

The moment the sugar hits 260F, turn off the heat and start whisking with all your might. Slowly drizzle in the gelatin. It will get huge so for the love of everything keep whisking if you don’t want to be up all night cleaning sugar off the stove. The moment all the gelatin is in, turn the mixer with the egg whites back on and slowly drizzle in the hot sugar/gelatin mixture. It will look a bit soupy, but that’s ok, it will get better. Keep that mixer roaring away on level 6 for 7-8 minutes.

Quickly pour all the marshmallow into the oiled pan. It’s ok to scrape it all out with a rubber spatula. Gently smooth the top of the marshmallow and let it cool for several hours until it sets.

Don’t worry, you’ll have leftover marshmallow for hot chocolate.

Once everything is cool (you can leave it overnight if you like), un-mold the marshmallow from the pan onto a piece of oiled parchement. Cut a strip of marshmallow about 1 1/2 inches wide from the shorter side. Now, place that strip of marshmallow at the end of the shorter side of the sheet of caramel and roll the marshmallow until it is encased in the caramel, Use a pizza cutter to cut it free from the rest of the caramel. Repeat this process until you run out of caramel. You will have long logs of caramel wrapped marshmallow. Refridgerate them for 1 hour, this will make them easier to cut. Once they are cool, use a sharp knife to cut the logs into bite sized pieces. Don’t over chill them or they will be hard as rocks and you will just have to wait for them to warm up a little. Wrap each piece in waxed paper and store in an airtight container. Wrapping them is important, because caramel is a liquid. Even though they look lovely after you cut them, the caramel will slowly start to run off the sides.

Pack them all up and mail them to your father. Or pack some up and take them to work, or give them to the babysitter, but you will want to share them because they are delicious and this recipie makes a lot of them!

If you don’t have a sufficient sugar high yet, I have an idea for the leftover marshmallows.

It starts like this.

 Impale a marshmallow on a chopstick and carefully toast it over your stove, grill or campfire. I think you know what to do next.

Yum! The homemade marshmallows melt so much more evenly than the storebought variety and make for wonderfully gooey s’mores.

Devour, repeat as needed.

Basic White Bread/French Toast

I’ve finally made my first real loaf of bread from The Bread Bible. Muffins and bagels are fantastic, but they’re not really what I think of as bread. I started off with a basic white sandwich bread, and I’ve already learned things from this loaf that will change the way I bake bread forever. Before, when making bread, I would mix all the ingredients, let the dough rise, shape it, let it rise again, then bake it. Rose’s method involves more time and considerably more steps, but it makes a big difference in the taste and the structure of the bread. First, you start by mixing all of the water with about half of the flour and yeast. Then you mix the remaining flour with the salt and sugar and sprinkle this flour mixture over the flour/water mixture. Do not stir! Let this begin to go to work for around 4 hours or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. This allows the water to absorb more evenly into the flour and the longer rising time contributes to the flavor from the yeast. Then, you must knead the bread. I like to do this in my stand mixer but you can also knead by hand. Kneading is to develop the gluten in the flour into a strong network that will support the carbon dioxide from the yeast as the bread rises. Gluten is the protein present in wheat, and the manual kneading action gets the proteins to join with each other and develop long strands, that join into a network. You can see the result of this gluten network if you stretch a piece of well kneaded dough, like this.
See how thin I can stretch the dough without any tearing? This means the dough is ready to rise and then be shaped. This bread rose high above the pan to give it a nice domed top. The inside had a very fine and even crumb without any big holes.

This bread is perfect for toast or sandwiches, but I thought I would make something a little sweeter. I’d love to show you how easy it is to make french toast! It’s wonderful with bread you can slice thickly, but of course you can make this with normal sandwich bread from the store. You will need: bread, milk, eggs, and vanilla.

Mix them all together and toss in your thick sliced bread. Let the mixture soak in for a few minutes then turn the bread over to it’s evenly saturated.

Then gently fry the slices in a buttered pan, turning them so they are evenly brown. Make sure you cook them over a medium low heat so the inside of the bread will be cooked before the outside burns. Now all they need is some fruit, powdered sugar, and maple syrup.

Yum! Dig right in!

Sweet crispy outside and creamy vanilla scented insides. So delicious. Go ahead and make french toast on a weekday morning, it won’t take more than 15 minutes, and it feels so decadent. Enjoy!

5 Minute Banana Dulce De Leche Pie

Are you going to a BBQ or potluck this weekend? Bring this pie. Not sure what to give your “has everything” dad for Father’s Day? Men love this pie. It’s fantastic, will only take you five minutes to make and you won’t have to turn on a single heat producing appliance. Great right? Let’s stop wasting those precious summer minutes and learn how to make this pie!

Start with a store bought gram cracker pie crust. If you want to get fancy you can make your own, but I don’t have a food processor so I just bought one.

Just take the plastic off the top. Pretty easy so far. Now, peel four ripe bananas and slice them. Dump them unceremoniously into the crust.

Fantastic. Now, acquire a can of dulce de leche. You can just buy this at the store (either with the condensed milk or in the Hispanic foods section) or you can make it yourself. If you want to get fancy and make it yourself, all you need to do is boil a can of sweetened condensed milk (the entire unopened can – minus the label) for several hours. WARNING – doing this has a small chance of detonating a small grenade of hot sugar in your kitchen, make sure the entire can is completely covered with water the entire time. I cooked four cans at once in my slow cooker a few months ago, and they last unopened for a long time. Once again, I have never had a can explode but it can happen! If you don’t want to live dangerously, or if you really are making this pie tomorrow, just buy some dulce de leche and call it a day. However you get the dulce de leche, now is the time to open it and pour the entire can of sticky goodness on top of the banana slices.

Almost done! Now, get Cool Whip and top off the pie. Personally, I prefer to pour 2 cups of whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar into my mixer and let it whip while I run around and finish getting ready for the BBQ I’m taking this to. If this is for Father’s Day, don’t forget to write your dad a card and tell him how much you love him. Bringing him a pie is good proof that you love him, but it’s always nice to have it in writing.

Don’t make the top look perfect, it’s going to taste so fantastic you want it to look homemade so people will believe you when you tell them you made it. Finally, I like to garnish the top by sprinkling some cocoa powder over the top. you hardly taste it, but I think it looks nice.

Done! Carry it carefully if you’re taking it somewhere because the dulce de leche can spill out the sides. That stuff is delicious, you don’t want to lose any.

This is the easiest and most delicious pie I’ve ever made. It’s perfect for summer events (or you can eat it all yourself, I won’t tell) and all of the ingredients can be bought pre-made.

Let’s review.

Banana Dulce De Leche Pie  (I saw a photo of this pie on Pinterest that links to Brooklyn Limestone)

Ingredients

  • Gram cracker pie crust
  • 4 ripe (not brown) bananas
  • 1 can dulce de leche
  • Cool Whip or whipped cream
  • Coca powder (optional – garnish)
  1. Slice bananas and put them in the bottom of the crust.
  2. Pour dulce de leche over banana slices
  3. Cover top of pie with whipped cream or Cool Whip
  4. Garnish top with cocoa powder if desired.

I really hope you make this pie, it’s too easy not to. If you’re going to a cookout this weekend, you can make this in the time it would take you to stop at the store on the way there to buy chips and salsa, and everyone knows there are always way too many chips at potlucks anyway.

 

 

Carrot Bread with Raisins

Finally, a healthy post! It’s summer, so I try to make sure to eat lots of fruits and veggies to stay slim in my bathing suit. What? This has carrots and raisins in it! That’s at least two servings of fruits and vegetables right there to start your day with. Just ignore the fact that carrot bread, like banana bread, occupies that culinary gray area between cake and bread. It has very similar ingredients to cake, in fact this carrot bread has all the same ingredients as carrot cake but with more carrot, less oil and less leavening so it creates a hearty and slightly less sweet loaf rather than a fluffy cake. However, it does taste delicious with cream cheese frosting.

The raisins are optional, because those little dried grapes are very polarizing.  You’d be amazed how many people detest raisins. Personally, they remind me of those cute little snack boxes of raisins that would show up in lunchboxes from time to time. Maybe raisin haters just associate them with the bitter disappointment of getting raisins on Halloween instead of chocolate. I’m not here to make anyone relive such traumatic dried fruit related incidents, so include or exclude them at your discretion.

Rose points out that oil based cakes breads such as this one improve upon standing for one day because the moisture has time to distribute evenly. I was too excited to wait a whole day to dig into this, but it did last very well at room temperature for two days without any hint of staleness. Then I wrapped it tightly in foil and plastic and froze it. A week later, it defrosted beautifully and tasted just as fresh. If you’re the type to have guests over frequently, it would be a good idea to keep a bread like this in the freezer that you can defrost and serve for an impromptu breakfast. It also makes a wonderful hostess gift. Just make sure you know your hosts feelings on raisins beforehand 🙂

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

This is the variation suggestion on the Corn Muffins I wrote about a few days ago. I would have never thought to put blueberries in with the corn muffin batter, but they are delicious! The Mr. liked these even better than the plain blueberry muffins.  The corn muffin base has only 3 tablespoons of sugar while the blueberry muffin base has half a cup of sugar, so the natural sweetness of the berry is more pronounced in the corn muffin. The texture of the cornmeal gives a pleasant contrast to the soft berries. Once again, I don’t think I’ve found either go-to blueberry muffin recipe or the perfect cornbread yet, but these are a beautiful combination of two of my favorite flavors. If you can’t get to a copy of the book, I would recommend finding a time this summer while blueberries are still ripe, to throw a handful of them into some simple cornbread batter and bake them as muffins. It’s different but I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.

 

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Bialys

Rose claims that the world can be divided into bagel lovers and bialy lovers. Well, considering I had to Google “what in the world is a bialy?” we all know where I stand in the world.  Bialys seem to be very popular in New York so that explains why I’d never seen or eaten one before.  I’m a California girl who grew up in the world’s most isolated island chain, NYC is not my style. A bialy is a breakfast bun similar to a bagel, but it has a soft chewy crust  because bailys are not boiled before they are baked.  Also, instead of a hole, a bialy has a crater in the center that is filled with a traditional onion and poppy seed filling.

I got up at four in the morning to make these. It’s not really as bad as it sounds though. At four, I mixed the dough in my stand mixer, then sleep-walked back to bed while the yeast went to work. Bialy dough is so easy to make you can do it in your sleep, I did. At six,  I got up and shaped them into buns. Then I went back to bed because I am not ok with being up that early on a weekend. At eight, I got up, stretched them slightly to make a dent in the middle that I filled with the onion/poppy seed filling and let them proof while I made coffee. Ten minutes in a hot oven later, we had freshly baked bialys for breakfast. I can’t speak from experience, but I hear that they are best fresh and don’t last for more than a day without getting stale.

Since they are similar to bagels, I cut mine in half and spread it with cream cheese.

The verdict? Am I going over to team bialy? I don’t think so. They were good ,no doubt about that, but I missed the crunch of the bagel. I found the onion taste to be very strong, which I didn’t like, but the Mr. loved (he ate an onion raw once, that was a long day…). It’s an excellent recipe, but I think that since I didn’t grow up with bialys, I’ll always be wishing they were bagels.

As you know, I have not been posting recipes from The Bread Bible, but the recipe is posted at Smitten Kitchen if you want to try them for yourself and see if you’re on team bagel or team bialy. Tell me which team you’re on in the comments! Maybe we can make t-shirts 🙂

Corn Muffins

When I was growing up in Hawaii, my mom would bring me to California every few summers to visit my Grandmother. Mom would hope that the timing of our trip would coincide with the seasons in such a way that she could have a slice of her favorite fresh peach pie from Marie Callender’s. There are no Marie Callender’s in Hawaii, so if she was going to have that pie she only had one chance every few years.  These monumental occasions went right over my six year old head, but what I remember most fondly from Marie’s was the huge slab of cornbread that seemed to accompany every entrée.  It was my favorite part, and to this day I subconsciously associate cornbread with those special family visits.

These corn muffins come together very quickly with cornmeal, flour, sour cream, melted butter and a touch of sugar. They present a very modest six muffins per batch, the perfect amount  to have with dinner then split open in the morning to toast and anoint with butter.

They’re very good. Light with a faint buttery flavor, but I think adding some fresh kernels of corn would give it a more interesting texture and a few extra pops of sweet corn flavor. Instead of fresh corn, Rose suggested a variation with an unexpected mix-in that I had never associated with corn muffins, but ended up being delicious. I’ll share that in a few days.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.