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The Baking Topic

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I (usually) travel for Christmas, and I have a list of foods I must eat on my trip each year.  I'm doing what I can to replicate some of them, so I'm baking bagels. I just did the first rise, shaped them and put them in the fridge for overnight.   It's a lot of work, with several more steps in the morning. But what the hell else do I have to do?

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Well, they look good. But they have to cool for 30 minutes (the Hell? I always eat them straight from the oven in NYC). So I'll get my workout in before breakfast.

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I hadn't made this specific recipe before 

New York bagels

but realized after I had made half of them that boiling them in water with baking soda creates a pretzel crust, which is not authentic.  I froze half before boiling, so I will boil those in plain water before baking.  Otherwise, they are pretty good.  Time consuming, but not complicated.

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I'm probably the last person on the banana bread train. My husband eats a banana on his cereal everyday. Since I've cut down on grocery shopping, I've been freezing over-ripe bananas and used them to make banana bread today.

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I've never been a big fan of banana bread, I view it as something to make when (1) there are no sweets in the house and (2) your bananas are going bad.  Occasionally, I will bake up a banana chocolate chip sour cream strusel topped coffee cake.  Otherwise, I throw bad bananas in the freezer and use them to make overnight oatmeal.    

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I used an ATK recipe that had good reviews - Ultimate Banana Bread. It was a lot of work - draining the thawed bananas, collecting the liquid from them, and reducing it down on the stove. I had so many dirty bowls and pans, I ended up running my dishwasher for a second time today. It's good, but I'm not sure it was worth the time and labor good.

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44 minutes ago, chessiegal said:

I used an ATK recipe that had good reviews - Ultimate Banana Bread. It was a lot of work - draining the thawed bananas, collecting the liquid from them, and reducing it down on the stove. I had so many dirty bowls and pans, I ended up running my dishwasher for a second time today. It's good, but I'm not sure it was worth the time and labor good.

My theory is that the more strenuous the recipe, the less chance it has of being a winner. Wow...draining thawed bananas. That's intimidating!!

 

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I’ve set a goal of baking one thing every week this year. Today was King Arthur’s Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls which is their recipe of the year. I overproofed them, so they didn’t turn out as well. The flavor was fine, but I think the dough could have used a bit more salt. They were very soft, which is how I like my cinnamon rolls. I made 10 rolls instead of the 8 in the recipe so they wouldn’t be quite so big, and baked them in a 9x13 pan (instead of on a sheet pan) so that the sides would be soft. I also used the KA baker’s cinnamon filling (just because I had some on hand) and didn’t find it as cinnamon-y as I expected. I would make again, but keep my eye on the dough and make the cinnamon filling in the recipe. 
 

(Edit - Baking one thing every week this year, not day.)

Edited by MargeGunderson
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Tyler Florence's banana bread recipe is pretty good. I think the main difference from others is that he mashs up some of the banana and sets it aside.  Then, he beats the rest of the banana with the sugar and butter.  This really incorporates the banana flavor into the batter (you mix in the rest of the mashed banana near the end, so that you have some 'texture' to the bread). Maybe there are other recipes that do it this way, but most of mine just say to add the mashed-up bananas to the batter.  I've also tried other recipes that add other fruits, such as blueberries or cranberries to the banana bread mixture.  They are pretty good and keep it from being bland (I just googled ingredients to find recipes.  I know the one with the cranberries was on the Ocean Spray site).

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My husband asked for banana bread because I was freezing over ripe bananas. He's enjoying it. I'll make it again if I have more frozen bananas, but not the ATK recipe. The Pillsbury flour I bought had a recipe on the bag. It's probably as good as anything.

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For a NYE/NYD treat, I made lemon curd tartlets with homegrown Meyer lemons, using Alice Medrich’s recipe (but note that per the cookbook, you need to make a double recipe of the lemon curd to fill a 9-inch tart, with some left over). This is my go-to lemon curd and my go-to sweet tart crust, whether used together or with other things. They’re easy and have great texture and flavor. 

AF6A4CAE-18B0-4B62-8C39-6B41AF5D6D0E.jpeg

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I also only make banana bread because I've frozen the overripe ones.  Then I freeze the banana bread in slices because I'm single and can't eat 2 loaves (because I always have more than 1 loaf's worth of bananas!), so it will thaw quickly and easily just by popping it in the toaster or just microwaving for 30 seconds or so.  

I like the King Arthur recipe, it's pretty solid.  Ina Garten's Banana Crunch muffins are also a great way to use up those bananas, but allow me to caution you to cut her recipe in half unless you want eleventy million muffins.

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On 3/7/2021 at 3:56 PM, MargeGunderson said:

I made a brioche loaf and 12 mini brioche buns with pearl sugar:

 

9AA7E12B-758D-4906-A6E3-99D5BC877469.jpeg

BEDA7324-059A-4D23-BDD8-30FD6404453A.jpeg

Looks delicious!!

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Made a sour cream coffee cake with a brown sugar glaze using my new faux-Kitchen Aid stand mixer ($130 vs $350). Aucma is the actual brand.

Coffee Cake3.jpg

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I’m practicing for my department’s bake off. Since we are remote, the presentation is key. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

5BCF50D6-032B-4C89-AC3F-651A6675F402.jpeg

ADD17B7F-C908-4C05-8C88-FF70587B338F.jpeg

I’m attempting a cake next weekend (I’m not good at decorating). Maybe you guys can help me decide which one to submit.

Edited by MargeGunderson
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Both look great but I would submit the tarte soleil because it has more of a wow factor, particularly for those who haven’t made one. 

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Yeah, both look good. The second is a slightly better photo.

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I would also submit the tart.  However, the photo has a bit of a yellow cast.  Any chance you can utilize more natural light to get a cleaner shot?

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Thanks, everyone! The tarte definitely has more visual appeal. The yellow cast is the reflection from the light in the room off of the marble board. I’m going to try to correct it in Photoshop if I can. Anyone who thinks being a good food blogger is easy has not ever tried to photograph food.

The tarte soleil was easier than I expected. I followed this recipe, but used sundries tomato pesto and grated Parmesan for the filling. After the cut all of the “rays” I put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes so it wasn’t quite as soft when I made the twists. 

Edited by MargeGunderson
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9 hours ago, MargeGunderson said:

tarte soleil was easier than I expected.

I meant no disrespect when I said people who haven’t made it think it’s harder than it is, the cookies you showed  probably took longer and required more skill than the tarte but it seems impossible until you do it. Sorry your coworkers don’t get to taste your lovely goodies!

Edited by biakbiak

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On 4/18/2021 at 3:14 PM, MargeGunderson said:

I’m practicing for my department’s bake off. Since we are remote, the presentation is key. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

5BCF50D6-032B-4C89-AC3F-651A6675F402.jpeg

ADD17B7F-C908-4C05-8C88-FF70587B338F.jpeg

I’m attempting a cake next weekend (I’m not good at decorating). Maybe you guys can help me decide which one to submit.

If those are the Neapolitan cookies from 100 Cookies (as it appears), you got great saturated color. Did you add food coloring to the red part and/or use black cocoa for the chocolate?

I agree with others that the tarte soleil has more wow factor for a strictly visual judging.

 

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I've got to ask - How does one have a baking contest when you can't eat the entries?    It's like Ace of Cakes , where the focus is on what the food looks like rather than how it tastes.  What's to stop people from entering modelling clay shaped as food?

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5 hours ago, caitmcg said:

If those are the Neapolitan cookies from 100 Cookies (as it appears), you got great saturated color. Did you add food coloring to the red part and/or use black cocoa for the chocolate?

They are! They had been on my to-do list for a long time. I used black cocoa from King Arthur Flour. The red was a mistake - I used too much gel coloring. I want to try again to get the right shade of pink, and to make them all striped instead of some striped/some blobs of color. 

4 hours ago, Quof said:

I've got to ask - How does one have a baking contest when you can't eat the entries?    It's like Ace of Cakes , where the focus is on what the food looks like rather than how it tastes.  What's to stop people from entering modelling clay shaped as food?

Yeah, it’s really more about aesthetics. I want to improve my decorating skills, so this is an opportunity. I’m definitely making real cake - I’m not going to put the time in if I can’t eat it!

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My university cafeteria did catering and apparently charged a lot for it. We would see them doing photo shoots, with the food carefully waxed and beautified for their advertising. That was not the pig slop they served us. 

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On 4/19/2021 at 1:01 PM, MargeGunderson said:

Thanks, everyone! The tarte definitely has more visual appeal. The yellow cast is the reflection from the light in the room off of the marble board. I’m going to try to correct it in Photoshop if I can. Anyone who thinks being a good food blogger is easy has not ever tried to photograph food.

 

I have to photograph food frequently for work, and it is NEVER easy.  We utilize professional photographers and food stylists for certain shoots, but often do recipe concepts blogger style, where you don't get to use tricks or professional studio lighting to get perfect shots.  It's just me, a nearby window, and my best attempt at presentation and angles.

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The cake is going to be my submission:

30B07CD1-96B9-4FE9-94C7-E401B4EA2C2F.jpeg

7213EDB8-3768-43B9-9C64-F8C1FA3C476D.jpeg
(but not these pictures. My husband took some better ones)

Edited by MargeGunderson
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Oooh! Nice job with the marble frosting!

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I made devil’s food cupcakes with brown butter cream cheese frosting, and you guys, I may never make plain cream cheese frosting again. Brown butter really does make everything better.

658168F9-DDCF-4398-9A8F-4F06F30505BC.jpeg

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On 4/27/2021 at 5:14 PM, MargeGunderson said:

The cake is going to be my submission:

30B07CD1-96B9-4FE9-94C7-E401B4EA2C2F.jpeg

7213EDB8-3768-43B9-9C64-F8C1FA3C476D.jpeg
(but not these pictures. My husband took some better ones)

How did your bake off competition go? They’re crazy if you didn’t win!

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