Sally’s Baking Addiction: November, 2018 Challenge: Savory Vegetable Cheese Tart🍠🍅🧀

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Once again, I am getting this done just under the wire! 😬 It’s the last day of November and Sally will be revealing the December challenge tomorrow. Perhaps I will challenge myself to get that done BEFORE December 31st😁!

Sally loves pies!! Like, really loves them. And, every year in November, she dedicates her blog to all things pie related. This time, she went with a savory tart, which is just a flat pie😂

Sally’s savory vegetable cheese tart recipe begins with a choice of crust. I went with her All butter pie crust, so glad I did! I don’t make a lot of pies, and have never had the best of luck with these types of crusts. Usually I make them too dry, because I am worried about it turning out too wet. But I went for it anyway!

The concept is pretty straightforward. Mix the flour, salt and a little sugar together. Cut in the cold butter.

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Until it is the size of peas

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Why does every recipe say that? the size of peas…? How big is that really?🧐 my “pea size” is actually quite a bit larger 😉

Then add the ice water until it is not dry, but not too wet either 😳 Whatever.

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This recipe will make two crusts, one is needed for this tart. I let it rest in the fridge overnight. The next day I rolled it out.

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This was the best roll out I have ever made, hopefully I can replicate it again!

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The dough went into the tart pan

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Then I blind baked it for 15 minutes at 350F. I don’t have pie weights, so I went with the dried beans!

While the tart was blind baking, I mixed the second element of this dish, the ricotta filling. The cheese filling went into the warm tart shell.

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Now came the creative part! We could use whatever vegetables we liked to top the tart. Sally provided lots of great ideas, and I went back and forth as to what to choose. Finally, I settled on sweet potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini. I was worried that the tomatoes might be too wet, but I cut them thin and blotted with a paper towel, just to be safe.

I tried to do something creative 😂

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This was brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and thyme.

And, baked until the veggies were tender, for about 40 minutes in my oven.

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And then we feasted!!😋

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My hubby really liked it. And what about the other crust that was left over?

I have always wanted to try a sweet potato pie recipe. I chose one from Alton Brown, and yeah, it was great!

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November was a good month at our house 👩🏻‍🍳❤️!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: October, 2018 Challenge: Pumpkin Spice Toffee🍬🎃

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I know, I know, EVERYTHING is pumpkin spice right now. And, people often fall into the “hate” or “love” group when it comes to pumpkin spice. I happen to love it❤️ If you do too, then this is a great, easy recipe.

Sally’s Baking Addiction Challenge this month does involve candy making. Many people are a little intimidated by this process, but as usual, Sally has some great tips to make it simple.

The essential tools will be a candy thermometer, a heavy bottom sauce pan and a wooden spoon. Sally also recommends a silicon mat to pour the candy mixture onto. I am sure that this would be helpful, but I just used parchment paper coated with non-stick cooking spray.

There are only 5 ingredients  needed to make the toffee: butter, warm water, light corn syrup, salt and sugar. All these go into the heavy bottom and pan and stirred with the wooden spoon. This does take some patience as you wait for the color to develop.

Initially, the mixture is pale and thin

 

While the sugar mixture is boiling, you will need to periodically brush down the hardened sugar crystals that collect on the sides of the pan with cool water and a pastry brush. Sally has a video showing what this looks like.

In the video below you can see the color and consistency changing as it nears the recommended 290F degrees.

This is removed from the heat and the pecans are stirred in, and you need to immediately pour the hot mix onto the prepared pan.

IMG_7388 It will be thick and requires about 5 minutes to set before adding the melted white chocolate.

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This is topped with the rest of the chopped pecans and sugar/pumpkin spice mix

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And that is it!!😊 give it some time in the fridge to set and then break into pieces. 😋

 

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This is the easiest toffee I have ever made, and the flavors can be changed to whatever YOU like💕 Give this one a try👻🎃🍬

Sally’s Baking Addiction, October Challenge, Pumpkin Roll Cake

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This month Sally challenged us to make a pumpkin roll cake. We had a roll cake challenge back in May. At that time I talked about how my roll cakes always crack and I have to cover it up with icing or flowers or some type of decoration.

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This time I thought I would really challenge myself and put a pattern in my pumpkin sponge cake. I saw this, for the first time, on The Great British Baking Show. Since this was a pumpkin sponge I wanted a pumpkin patch pattern but couldn’t find anything I liked or could put on the cake, so I made my own template using stickers from a craft store. Sally recommends a 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan, so I made my template that size. I cut a paper to the same size and measured to find the exact center. I knew I would be rolling the cake from the short side so made my pattern such that it would repeat in that direction. I also knew that the edges would most likely be trimmed away so I left a good sized border along both sides. I used a pencil to draw in, roughly, where the vines would connect the pumpkins.

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I then layer a parchment paper over the template, securing it with tape, so I would be able to pipe the batter onto the parchment.

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Now I needed to mix up a cake batter that would be denser than the pumpkin sponge so that the pattern would not mix into the cake batter and disappear. I used this mixture:

50g butter, room temperature

50g powdered sugar (or icing sugar)

50g egg whites

50g flour, all purpose

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Using a hand mixer, combine the sugar and butter until smooth, then add the egg whites and finally the flour and stir to make a strong paste. You want this pretty thick, you need to be able to pipe it but still want it to hold a firm shape. I needed two colors, orange and leaf green.

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I used gel food colors and a number 1 piping tip to make the pumpkins

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Another portion was colored green, and using a number 3 tip, I piped the vines.

 

This went into the freezer for, at least 30 minutes, while I prepared the Pumpkin sponge cake as per Sally’s recipe. Once the mixture was ready I had to remove the template from the pan and replace the frozen pattern. Then I spread the pumpkin batter, carefully, over the design.

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Sally’s recipe stated that the baking time would be ~17 minutes, but mine was done in 10 minutes. It is important to not over bake the cake or it will crack when it is rolled (I should know, this is my big problem with roll cakes!). I had to flip my cake twice when it was done. The first time I turned the cake out onto a sheet pan covered with powdered sugar and removed the parchment paper-carefully, so the design would stay intact.

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The prepared pan

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The cake after I removed the paper. It worked!

To my surprise the patten was intact! From here I followed Sally’s instructions and flipped the cake onto a tea towel that had been generously sprinkled with more powdered sugar. Now the pattern side was down and I could roll the cake up, while it was still warm, to allow it to cool in the final shape. I was so busy doing all this while the cake was still warm that I did not get a picture of it this time. Here is what the process looked like from May, when I did the last roll cake.

 

The rolled cake needs to chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator before adding the filling.

The cream cheese icing was also from Sally’s recipe. I did make one small change and added 30g of finely chopped crystallized ginger for some extra flavor and texture.

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The cake is unrolled, the filling spread out leaving a 1/2 inch border, then tightly rolled back up

This was the first time that my cake did not crack! And, the pattern is pretty good. There is some powdered sugar still on the cake, but that does disappear after a little time has passed.

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The cake and filling are delicious! Sally has another winner recipe on her hands!

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I had fun working this out and challenging myself a little bit. It is a great cake for Halloween and I am really looking forward to what Sally comes up with next month!

 

 

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Kaiserschmarren! Hard to pronounce, easy to eat!

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The lovely and talented Karin from The Austrian Dish posted this recipe for a sweet pancake called Kaiserschmarren. I was already thinking about making breakfast for dinner one night since the weather has turned decidedly fall like around here. When I saw Karin’s recipe I had to go for it, even though I had no idea how to pronounce it!

I contacted Karin and asked a few questions which she graciously answered, then set to work! The first step was to rehydrate raisins in either rum, bourbon or water. I chose cranberries because we prefer them, and let them soak in water for 30 minutes while I worked on the next step. I separated the eggs and whipped the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until stiff peaks formed. The yolks were combined with the sugars and mixed until light, fluffy and pale yellow.

The flour and milk were added to the yolk mixture, alternating between the dry and liquid and mixing between additions. The melted butter was next.

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The egg whites were then folded into the mixture.

So far, this is a fairly straight forward pancake recipe. Until now! The batter is poured into hot pans with tight fitting lids. Karin told me to make sure that the batter was not deeper than 3cm to allow room for puffing up! Which they do, quite a bit. I wanted to use a cast iron pan because that was what I had! I added the batter and scattered the cranberries over the top. I watched them cook, until the bubbles formed to indicate it was time to flip. Karin recommended that they be cut into quarters to make them easier to turn, so that is what I did!

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The flip went okish!

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The cast iron pan did cook a little faster, but we were ok with that. I decided to add some maple sausage and berries to make a full breakfast/dinner.

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We had some whiskey syrup that we received as a Christmas gift last year. This was delicious on the Kaiserschmarren.

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We will certainly be making and eating this again! Thanks for a great recipe Karin!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, September Challenge: Sunflower cupcakes

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I made sunflower cupcakes for the first time a couple years ago, in culinary school. The are so sweet and adorable! I was excited to see that Sally had chosen these for the September challenge because I had been looking for a reason to make them again. This time I combined the two versions of the recipes that I had to, hopefully, put together the best part of each process.

I started by baking spice cupcakes from Sally’s recipes. After baking and cooling the cupcakes, I made the vanilla frosting recipe that she recommended for the piping of the sunflower pedals and leaves. I colored one small batch leaf green, and the larger portion lemon yellow, using gel colors in order to maintain the overall consistency of the frosting. I always save some white portion of the frosting, just in case I need more of one color later on. My original recipe called for Oreo cookies for the center of the flower and red candies, which could be made into lady bugs. Sally used frosting and chocolate sprinkles to make her center (you can see how she did it and how she piped the flower pedals in the video embedded in the vanilla frosting link from above).

I took a short cut with the lady bugs by purchasing black gel icing. This worked ok, but royal icing is really better. I should have taken the time to make some, next time I will!

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I pulled everything together and loaded up two disposable piping bags, each with a #352 leaf tip.

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The first step was to lightly frost the top of the cupcakes to provide a base for the Oreo to sit, and for the pedals to have something to adhere to.

 

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There are two options for the Oreo. You can use a whole cookie which will make a tall sunflower with a fair amount of icing or you can split the cookie to make a shorter flower. I made some of each just for variety.

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A whole cookie from the side,

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And from the top view

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From here I just added some leaves in various spots to fill in the flower. I used the black gel icing to draw a line and spots on the red candies to create the bugs.

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It appears to be quite the infestation! The finished cupcakes will stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days, according to Sally’s recipe.

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These were really simple to make. Once you get the hang of the piping tip it goes quite fast. Perfect for a fall dessert table, especially for the kids. I have a feeling Sally’s next challenge may have something to do with pumpkin! Cant wait 🙂

Sally’s Baking Addiction, August Challenge: The Checkerboard Cake

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The Seahawks won last week!! Probably because I made this checkerboard cake in their honor, because it’s all about me right? Well, maybe their success is not so much about me, but I did enjoy making this cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction Monthly Challenge. I barely got it finished in time as we have been traveling so much and did not return until August 29th. That left me two, jet lagged days, to complete the challenge before month’s end. I finished baking, photographing and tasting then posted to her Facebook at 2pm on August 31st. I think I was the last one done, fortunately, this project was easy enough for a sleep deprived zombie to bake!

Sally has wonderful recipes for both the vanilla cake and frosting, and a step-by-step video to successfully pull this together. Click on the link above for all the details. Since I missed the first 3 preseason football games this year, I decided to use Seahawk colors for the batter and icing. The first step was to make Sally’s vanilla cake batter, which was very straightforward, and divide into two equal portions. Yes, I used my scale for this! ~26 oz. (1 lb.  10 oz.) of batter into two bowls.

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This part was a little tricky. Matching the neon green was simple as I had that gel color on hand, but dark blue was tougher. I used sky blue and a little black to get the “Seahawk blue” I desired.

 

I still wasn’t sure how the colors would translate after baking, but this was how they looked at this point. Each color had to be split into two 9 inch baking pans, for a total of 4 layers. Yes, I used my scale and ~13 oz. went into each pan. Even with a scale it is hard to get it just right, but I poured the batter as best I could into the greased and floured pans. These baked at 350°F for 25 minutes. Once they were cooled completely, I wrapped them in plastic and stored them in the refrigerator overnight, which for me was from 6pm to 3am (jet lag, remember).

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The next (very early) morning I prepared the vanilla frosting, as per Sally’s instructions. It was time to assemble the checkerboard. Sally recommended two ring cutters, one 6 inch and one 3 inches in diameter. I had the 3 inch already but had to make a paper pattern for the larger one. I traced around a 6 inch plate to create that template.

The cakes are easier to cut when cold, so you don’t have to wait overnight, but do make sure the cake is chilled well ahead of time.

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I was happy with the final color of the baked cakes

I placed the paper template on the darker cake, taking care to center it as best as I could, and cut around the circumference with a sharp knife. Then, flipping the template to avoid color contamination, did the same for the green cake. I then used the 3 inch cutter to remove the center of both layers.

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Now it was just a matter of inserting the cut outs to form an alternate color scheme. This is where it is helpful to have chilled cake in order to manipulate the pieces together.

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Then  just repeat the process for the other two layers. At this point I noticed that my green layers were slightly higher than the dark blue, but oh well!

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Time to frost! I chose my bottom layer to have a darker outside ring, spread on a layer of frosting. The next layer was one of the lime green outside layers, and so on.

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This creates the alternate layering affect shown below.

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The final cake was frosted completely, and I reserved a small amount of the white frosting which was divided and tinted neon green and dark blueish to be use for the final decorations.

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I kept the finishing touches simple as I was still too groggy to do anything too spectacular. A simple shell border for the bottom, dots around the top, a few mounds of green, blue and stripped icing and a dusting of Seahawk sprinkles completed the cake.

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This was a fun challenge, and most importantly the flavors from Sally’s recipes are wonderful!  It is a really easy technique execute and a fun option for a special occasion cake. Next month is already posted and I am already looking forward to making some cupcakes in September.

GO HAWKS!!

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Strawberry Basil Shortbread

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A really good friend was recently in town for just a couple days. He lives in California and has never been to our current home (which we have been living in for 12 years!) Yes, he is a good friend but, like all of us, has a very busy life and just has not had the time to visit as much as we all would like. So, when he told us he was coming up for a business meeting, we had to have him over for dinner. I was planning the menu when I realized he would be here on one of the hottest days of the summer (so far). I wanted a light and easy meal but still wanted to make some effort in honor of our buddy. I settled on rosemary mustard roasted pork loin with bacon, roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and asparagus), homemade ciabatta bread and limoncello ice cream. I got to thinking that it would be nice to have something to go with the ice cream, you know a little something crunchy that would complement the lemon flavor. Strawberry basil shortbread just popped into my head and I had to try to make it happen. And that is how this recipe was born!

The trick is getting all the strawberry flavor and not all the moisture that comes with fresh fruit. I used freeze died strawberries from Trader Joe’s. The same brand that I used when making strawberry frosting for one of Sally’s baking challenges (the roll cake).

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I decided to grind the dried strawberries with the granulated to sugar to incorporate the berry flavor into the shortbread dough. My recipe was 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup dried strawberries which I then combined with my food processor.

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I wanted a course texture so the dough would have specks of strawberry

From here on it was a pretty straightforward shortbread recipe. I creamed the butter and strawberry sugar and added lemon extract. The flour and salt were added and mixed until just combined. I then added the finely chopped basil and mixed until thoroughly incorporated. The dough was chilled for 30 minutes and then I rolled it into a square roughly 6 in. X 6 in. 1/2 inch-3/4 in thickness.

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You can see specks of basil and strawberry and the dough has a pinkish hue

I used a ruler (because I am anal and a control freak) and cut 3 inch bars.

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These went on a parchment lined pan and were sprinkled with Demerara sugar for sparkle and crunch. This shortbread is not overly sweet but I wanted it to pair with the limoncello ice cream, so I resisted the urge to add a glaze. If it was to be served solo then I would add a glaze that would boost the strawberry flavor.

 

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Into the oven at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes

And voila!

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I am happy with how well these complemented the lemon in the ice cream. I would like to perhaps enhance the strawberry flavor in the future. Maybe more than 1 cup of dried berries? Is there a strawberry extract that could be used? I am happy with the basil and don’t want to alter that as I am worried it could overpower the cookie. If any of you try this recipe please give me your thoughts and critiques, I would love your input!

Strawberry Basil Shortbread

  • Servings: about 30, 3 inch bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This tender, savory shortbread pairs well with citrus notes or is delicious on its own. A unique item for your brunch guests!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 cup dried strawberries (fresh will not work as they contain too much moisture)

-3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

-1 teaspoon lemon extract

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a flat blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely ground and well incorporated with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Be aware that this will create some dust.
  2. Cream the sugar mixture and room temperature butter-it must be room temp. I leave my butter out the night before to make sure it is soft, if the butter is too cold the dough will not come together.  Add the lemon extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed, just until the dough come together. Add the basil and mix until well distributed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes. You may chill for longer but allow the dough to warm a bit before rolling out as it may be crumbly if it is too cold.
  4. Work with 1/2 or 1/3 portion of the dough at a time. Roll or pat into a 6 in X 6 in square. Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut bars or desired shape. Place on paper lined pan, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a baking rack.