Friday, July 3, 2015

4th of July Pie: Happy Birthday, America!

The 4th of July is a great time to celebrate freedom, independence and our nation's birthday. It's also a great time to bust out the fireworks (where legal), barbecues and patriotic baked goods!

As it turns out, I actually started out just planning a baked good to celebrate the July birthdays of two of my coworkers. When one requested cherry pie, I could not help adding one more birthday to the mix.


My, my, this American pie

Instead of the typical lattice top, I simply added three full dough stripes across the bottom of the pie and three half stripes across the top. I added white sugar to the stripes to make them extra white and tossed it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

(If you're looking for a good crust recipe, by the way, check out Pie Crust V on Allrecipes.com. It's my go-to crust recipe for most of the pies I make.)

The stars were baked separately on a cookie sheet (also topped with white sugar) for about six minutes. Once both the pie and stars were done, I placed the stars in the stripeless corner of the pie and surrounded them with fresh blueberries for the final patriotic touch. 

Happy birthday, America!

For more exciting pie ideas, tips and recipes, check out the LydMc blog post Pi r delicious!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Heart Muffins: Happy Valentine's Day!

I <3 Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to celebrate with sweet, pink treats full of love and deliciousness. As it turns out, you can make just about anything heart-shaped, and muffins are no exception. 

Instant yum

While I originally just intended to make some of my favorite go to muffins as part of a low-key brunch, inspiration and timing got the better of me and made for a fun, new creation.

Think outside the box...

By following the "What if" recipe option listed on the back of the box, you can transform these already tasty muffins into allegedly "guilt free baked donuts." The only main difference in the process involved putting the batter into a plastic bag and piping it out onto a pan.

The shape of my heart

Since it was <3 day anyway, I decided to take it one step further and make Valentine's Day themed, heart-shaped donut muffins. 

Circles, hearts and triforces, oh my!

Along with the fun heart muffins, I made a few traditional round and bar donuts, as well. I even went so far as to make a triforce because that's just who I am.

Think pink!

The icing for these special Valentine's Day donuts was as simple as it was tasty, made from just powdered sugar and the remaining juice saved from the boxed mix's enclosed cranberry tin.

Love at first taste

The naturally pink hue of the resulting icing was perfect for the Valentine's Day theme of the heart-shaped donut muffins and made for a wonderfully sweet addition to our special brunch. 

Cranberry orange donut muffins - yum!

While this neat muffin transforming technique is perfect for hearts on Valentine's Day, you can just as easily make traditional donuts or other shapes for any time of the year. Muffins will never be the same again!

For other Valentine's Day fun, check out the series of nerdy valentines in all your favorite fandoms: Love is in the Cards.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Novel Baking: The Book Cake!

Edible fiction

One of the few things I enjoy more than baking is reading - especially a good, old-fashioned book. Fiction, nonfiction, tomes, novellas... stories of all kinds are welcome on my bookcases. So, when I found a baking pan in the shape of an open book, I simply could not resist. 

Book armor (+42)

My test run with the new pan began with an already hungry audience, so I decided to go the quick route of boxed cake mix. I also decided to sweeten the deal by making a few modifications. 

Going bananas!

Taking a simple yellow cake box mix, I followed all the directions as listed, but added to the concoction two ripe bananas and...

Chocolate makes everything better.

...Chocolate chips! This way, instead of having a run of the mill boxed cake, you have a delicious semi-homemade banana chocolate chip cake. Yum! 

This story isn't even half baked.

After mixing everything thoroughly, I poured the batter into the book pan and set it to bake, again following the box directions for time but checking intermittently to test for doneness.

A cooked book!

You can't tell it's a chocolate chip cake from this angle, but flip the cake out of the pan and voila!

Chips ahoy!

Leaving this cake unfrosted would undoubtedly taste delicious given the extra moisture and density from the banana. But, since this was my first go using the elusive book pan, I wanted to make it look the part.

Tabula rasa

Vanilla frosting is not always my top choice, but I had to admit it was ideal for the bookish look I was aiming for. For extra effect, I used a specialized frosting tube tip to give the illusion of pages on the edges.

Short and sweet, literally!

Unfortunately, I was not able to give much time or thought to the icing job (or the story line) as I had an eager audience chomping at the bit. So while this literary baked good was admittedly one of my less polished creations, let's just call it a first draft. 

Taking a page from this book.

As expected, the banana chocolate chip book cake was a hit, and will definitely be added to my library.  

To be continued!