Created to chronicle Baking with Julia adventures; hopefully to conquer new adventures from there!

Buttermilk crumb muffins

After months of baking the monthly assignments on the wrong date, baking and not having time to blog, or not baking at all, Buttermilk Crumb Muffins called me to jump back in with whispers of “we’re easy….not like the 4 pages of instructions for our friends the bagels.  We’re made with real shortening so you know we will be moist and delicious…Paula Deen would be proud.”  I could not resist.  And they WERE easy, moist and delicious.  I was proud.  Took them to a brunch over the weekend and  did not reveal the secret artery clogging ingredient that made them such a hit.  We ate them again the next day re-warmed with apple butter. YUM!  Thanks for easing me back in, beautiful muffins.  For the recipe, check out


Catch up post: Pizza Rustica and Sticky Buns

TWD’s  first recipe for April was this quiche-like pie with a savory filling of ricotta and proschutio and a somewhat sweet crust.   I baked this on schedule, just never had the time to post the results.  The combination of flavors was interesting but did take a few minutes for the palatte to adjust to.  The dough for the crust seemed almost too buttery and I had to scrape it all out of the food processor bowl instead of it forming a nice ball on its own.  It rolled out pretty easily, though, and the filling and lattice top were quick to assemble. 

Into the oven it went, and it stayed and stayed and stayed.  Well past the 35-40 minutes, the lattice top crust just did not want to brown.  The edges were nicely browned and fearing they would burn, I finally took it out and accepted the too-pale crust on top.

My next tardy entry was both assembled and baked well past the posting date with posting derailed  yet again by life duties. Sticky buns nearly did my Kitchen Aid mixer and myself in. Wow, what alot of prep work.  And then, the Brioche dough “incident”.  While my mixer churned away with the goal of the dough “slapping” the sides of the bowl, I turned my back to the opposite kitchen counter and lightly tapped the butter required for the recipe with a rolling pin to render it the desired consistency. The tapping appears to have been enough to ricochet the mixer off of the counter and onto the floor. The next hour was spent in mix repair – trying to bend the bowl back into a circular shape and get the on/off handle back into it’s track instead of imbedded in our hardwood floors.

Damaged ego and mixer later, I had to wonder if this recipe was worth it. It looked very enticing as it was rising in the pan. But the finished product just did not measure up to the imagined results based on how good it looked prior to baking and ALL of the prep work that went into it. It was not nearly as moist or fluffy asI had imaged.  I think I’ll try it again to see where I went wrong on the inaguaral run.  Look for the posting in 2014.

Moon rocks, shamrocks and Irish Soda Bread

This simple recipe was so appealing to me this weekend. It seemed to represent the idea of earthiness, simplicity and a utilitarian “making do.”   I had visions of shamrocks dancing in my head as I started.  Leave it to me to have more difficulty with this recipe than with the detailed chocolate tart recipe.  Long story short, I believe that I did not whisk the ingredients well enough for the dough to “come together” OR I used a tad too much buttermilk.  Whichever the culprit may have been, my dough was close the consistency of sticky painters putty or plaster.  I had to call in a set of extra hands (as mine were coated in this plaster dough) to keep adding flour to the kneading surface so it was even semi-manageable. I had a sinking feeling just putting it into the oven that this bread was doomed.  It did look hard and crusty when it came out, though not is a good way.  More in a large moon rock sculpture way.   To my surprise, it proved edible. The bread had a nice texture, a little dense, but soft and moist. We ate it warm from the oven with a nice roast chicken dinner.   By the next afternoon, the entire loaf was as hard and crusty as a moon rock.  No shamrock luck here, just simple, short-lived goodness!

Love thy neighbor,Chocolate Truffle Tartlets and the Serotonin Peace Prize

Wishing I had tackled this recipe last weekend; it would have been a great Valentines Day treat. Dense, rich and oh so chocolatey, it would have put all the candy hearts to shame.  No wonder February is for chocolate, right?  It seems that reality ruled over this month of  floating hearts and swooning Cupids, though, and brought with it news of struggles and sadness from neighbors and friends.  No Hallmark movie material here, just stories of harsh reality of economic and family struggles.

Buying Ghiradelli chocolate chips while questioning who really is “my neighbor” when so many around me are struggling turned out to be a recipe for mood disorder.  How easy is it to turn one’s back on the neighbor that one really doesn’t know, just knows that they are in need?  So when I did finally dive in on Saturday, it was not with a floating, fluttering heart.   But dive in I did, looking for distraction and knowing that guilt is best assuaged by chocolate. I was not nearly as apprehensive as I was with the first  TWD (Tuesdays with Dorie)/Baking with Julia recipe. I do admit to “You Tubing ” David Ogonowski’s segment with Julia on this recipe, though. The cast of characters for the chocolate crust is above, and no, I did not mix this by hand as David did.  Too much hand crumbling of butter bits!

The dough mixture had a very fine crumb consistency, having mixed it in the food processor; but it came together well when I pressed out the final mix by hand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Thankfully, I did not have to do much patching or scraping to get the rolled out dough circles fitted into each mini tart pan.  I chose to post the pre-baked crusts, as the baked ones looked  embarrassingly prickly, bubbled and warped.  I must have gotten carried away with that pricking with a fork step.  But oh, did these smell good when they came out of the oven!

Now onto the filling.  My mood begged for the more layman’s Nestle, but I used Ghiradelli chips for all of this recipe’s chocolate collection:  bittersweet, milk and white.  The bittersweet melted quite nicely.  For the textured “mix in”, I did dice the milk and white chocolate chips rather than leaving them whole to mix into the filling.   I was not quite sure what size pieces to chop the biscotti  and ended up with pieces somewhat smaller than croutons.

Once the egg mixture is added to the batter, it turns the deep chocolate into a more creamy caramel color. 

The final step yields a batter that is quite chunky!   The chocolate dice and biscotti mixture are folded into this creamy caramel creation and it’s time to pour (or maybe coax) the batter into each tart pan.  Yes, coaxing works best for getting the batter into the fluted edges of the tart pan.  These bake for a short time – just 10 to 12 minutes.  Not enough time to solve the world’s problems or find a qualified therapist.

You can find the recipe for Chocolate Truffle Tartlets on one of this month’s host blogs if you’d like to try it yourself:  Mine were served to family with love, my first ” love thy neighbor” act of the day.  Chocolate definently makes people happy.  Not exactly Nobel Peace Prize worthy, but hopefully small acts of love and kindness are the first step towards making a difference.  I love serving a serotonin booster, and this tartlet delivers a triple dose.

Yeast may no longer be a dirty word

Sunday was my designated day for the Chronicles of White Loaves and I confess that I spent the day primarily holding my breath.  Well, that followed by running to re-read each recipe step, followed by running to verify that my liquid/ dough/ bread form was indeed the correct consistency and texture as said recipe step.  All this trepidation stems from a checkered past of fallen, lopsided or hopelessly chewy baked goods.   Meaning, I automatically turn the page when a recipe calls for yeast.  I can not adequately express my delight that, indeed, each stage of my White Loaves matched the recipe description and illustration.  Well, my son may have accurately summed it up, when catching me taking umpteen pictures of the finished product, smirked, “Gee, you’re not proud of those or anything are you?”

I’ll refrain from posting the twenty or so nearly identical pictures I took of the finished loaves – all at slightly different angles, of course.  I give full credit for success to the thoughtfully and thoroughly well written recipe.  I’m still in shock  that all progressed as it should have on Sunday beginning with the resting yeast mixture:

    I actually used my instant read thermometer to verify the water       temperature.  Could it be that correct temperature is key? 

My temperature obsession carried over to the addition of the butter.  Convinced that the stick was not room temperature, I cradled and carried it around for a while before getting brave enough to slice it and add by bits to the dough.  And just as the recipe indicated, the dough actually “came apart” somewhat – oddly reassuring.

Perhaps the most embarrassing confession of all is that after removing the dough to attempt half of the kneading by hand, I soon realized that I desperately need to work on my upper body strength and quickly returned the dough to the bowl of my beautiful black Kitchen Aid mixer.  Which, I might add, got enough of a work out that it was hot to the touch – yeah, baby!  And voila, I ended up with a dough ball which actually rose!  A miracle.  Really, I was afraid to pull out my biggest glass mixing bowl because I didn’t want to shame the dough when it expanded by the typically (for me) normal miniscule amount visible only under a magnifying glass.

But my dough ball DID expand and gave me the courage to continue.  Feeling strong, I  shaped my dough rectangles by hand, no rolling-pin for me.  Yes, I did measure them to see if they were close to 9 x 12.  Being this obsessed, I greatly appreciated the pictorial step by step for shaping the dough.  This step, too, turned out well and  the instructions were easy to follow and clear.  My next breath-holding dilemma occurred when I realized that my two loaf pans were different in size; one being slightly larger than recommended.  Luckily I remembered that our Wal-Mart is under reconstruction and I had sworn never to step foot in there again even under the threat of uneven loaves.


I am still amused at how happy the sight of the dough expanding over the lip of the loaf pan made me.  For this “second rise”, I had set the loaf pans on the back porch table in the sun.  45 minutes and the loaves looked as if they were “growing over the tops of the pans!”  That and a 70 degree January day in Charleston in the afternoon sun didn’t hurt.


 Final result: you are my sunshine. 

“Storing?”  Really?

Hello world!

Hello World!  “Baking with Julia” purchased and previewed, foodie blog sites perused, I am excited to start this adventure, however intimidated and daunted I may be.  Although I fancy myself an obsessed foodie and a passable cook, I have never had the time to refine my interest into either a credible art form or educate myself to a more professional level of skill!  Looking forward to a set format and time frame to take my interest one step further.

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