Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pizza Buns

Lunch is by far the toughest meal of day...not for the kids, but for me!
They'd be happy with tuna sandwiches or homemade macaroni & cheese. Every. Single. Day.
Sure those are great, fairly healthy choices, but what happens when the day comes that they get bored of eating of them? And also, a little variety never hurt anyone.

The biggest challenge is the time it takes to make lunch. There's a small window from when we get home, usually from preschool or the park, to when the girls get out of control from being hungry and tired, so making lunch needs to be quick and easy!

Well these pizza buns meet those requirements!


Seriously these are easy as they come. Grab your favorite pizza toppings, a Pillsbury pizza crust (I've also used the crescent rolls when there were no pizza crusts available), and you're set.

And of course for those of you that are on the ball and organized (not me!), you could use homemade pizza dough.


My reasons for using premade pizza dough...




Pizza Buns:

Ingredients:

Pizza sauce
Cheese
Your favorite pizza toppings such as:
Ham*
Pepperoni
Sausage
Peppers
Onions
Pineapple

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan - I used a round 8 inch cake pan.
Roll out your pizza dough. Add sauce, toppings and cheese.
Carefully roll up the pizza dough.
With a serrated knife slice the pizza roll into 10-12 slices.
Bake 13-17 minutes or until golden brown.

These buns freeze well and can be heated up when you're short on time. Like I usually am.


*When we have ham for dinner, I try to keep some aside and then make these buns for lunch the next day.



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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Five Layers of Something...

I'm a home baker. I may not be the best baker or cake decorator, but I love doing it!
When I first started Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon?, I decided that I would post ALL of my baking projects - the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted a place to keep track of everything I made so I could look back and (hopefully) see some improvements as time went on.

Well this poor little cake falls under the 'Looks Ugly, Tastes Good' category.


As I mentioned in my last post, Dave and I both celebrated our birthdays in September. This year I baked the cakes and the girls decorated them...yes them. The math is simple - two birthdays means two cakes.
My cake looked beautiful, but Dave's cake, the one this post is about, not so much.

I made a 6 inch, 5 layer carrot cake covered with cream cheese icing and regular buttercream between the layers. The sticky, thin, somewhat runny, yet delicious icing is what made it ugly...that and my not so great torting job!
Even though I did a crumb coat, I could not get the icing to cover the cake. It was so hard to spread and pretty much slid right off.
But the girls saved it with their amazing decorating skills. And lots of sprinkles and maple french creams.

Obviously my torting needs a little work too...

I think an easy fix would've been to add more icing sugar to thicken it up. But, I didn't want the icing sugar to make it too sweet and lose the cream cheese flavor as it was quite subtle to start with. And I used up all my cream cheese.

I found the recipe in an issue of one of my Food Network Magazines.
It was a simple, not overly sweet, moist cake speckled with lots of carrot bits. The one thing it lacked was spice. I found it to be a little bland and could've used some extra cinnamon or as the recipe called for, apple pie spice. But overall we liked it.

Carrot Cake:
(Adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (I used two 6" round pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release .

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat both sugars, vegetable oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Fold in carrots with a rubber spatula.

Bake until each cake pulls away slightly from side of pan and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes (depending on size of cake pan). Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients:

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.



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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

For us, September is a busy month for birthdays. Parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and most importantly (just kidding) Dave and I celebrate our birthdays!

You'd think since we celebrate our birthdays two days apart - mine is the 17th and Dave's is the 19th, one cake would be enough right? Nope. That's not our style, plus we both wanted different types of cakes...and I really like to bake...and eat cake.

When I was younger, my mom used to make the best cakes. One of my favorites was a double layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and chocolate icing.
Mom...if you're reading this, it's still one of my favorites and if you make it, I will eat it. 

With that cake in mind, I wanted to make something similar. I decided on a chocolate cake with swiss meringue buttercream and fresh strawberries.


I never make chocolate cake so I don't have a "tried and true" recipe. I do have one that I've been wanting to try, but I was missing a few ingredients. I came across this one bowl chocolate cake recipe and decided to give it a go. Besides, only one bowl to wash is always good in my books!

As I mentioned above, this time I made swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) instead of regular buttercream. It's a little more work, but SMBC is a nice light, buttery, velvety option from the traditional, overly sweet, heavier buttercream I usually make.

Because it was my birthday cake, the deal was I would bake it and Dave and the girls would decorate it.
They did an amazing job!


Oh, and the recipe I used for the cake was really good!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake:
(Rosebakes.com)
Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (I used two 6" round pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release (recipe below).

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, then stir in the boiling water
Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip them out on a wire rack and let completely cool before frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients:

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (2 cups) butter - I used salted, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

(Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

Homemade Cake Pan Release:

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup canola oil

Directions:

Place all ingredients in medium bowl and whisk well by hand. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

When ready to use:
Dip a pastry brush into mixture and spread over bottom and sides of cake pan.



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