Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

          

               I wanted to take a brief moment to wish all of my readers..my friends really, a very Merry Christmas! It's dark and stormy over here..We've got wind gusts and rain..but it doesn't matter. I'm with the ones I love the most and tomorrow we'll be waking up to a present filled christmas tree. We'll be enjoying a breakfast of eggs that were provided by still only one hen..but I've been saving them up for us to enjoy. There will be a variety of different things to eat and gifts to enjoy..but I want to thank you all for taking the time to stop by and say Hello and look forward to another year with you.

Merry Christmas!!!! 



Friday, December 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers December Cake: Streusel Squares















                 

                     Here we are again..the 20th of each month I will be showing you the latest cake that we, at The Cake Slice Bakers, have whipped up.
                 

         This cake..The streusel square is basically a coffee cake. I love coffee cake. I did not love this one though. I liked it but didn't love it and because of that, I won't be sharing this recipe. It was moist and the streusel topping was the best bit. So why didn't I love it? Well to be honest, I found it a bit boring..and this is coming from a girl who loves plain vanilla cake and cookies. I guess I want more in my coffee cake. The flavor was helped along by adding in some almond extract and there are loads of things I could do to make it more to our liking, but at the end of the day, I wouldn't make it again. Check out what everyone else thought about it!

 








Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Take A Peek Wednesday: Hens and A Christmas Market

             

                     We are so close to Christmas now and I still only have one hen laying..just one! I had a chat with Mabel about it all and just like always, she gave me her classic look of just not caring. 
                 
 
         Belle is also doing a very good job of pretending like she has no clue as to what needs to be happening..Lay an egg? what? more treats,please!
                 
 
        They did all come over to wish you a very good morning though..how super nice of them :)
                   
   
           We went to our yearly,German Christmas Market and headed over to Osnabruck :) I just love that you can buy a drink with an annual mug they put out each year. I see lots of coffee and cocoa drinking in this cup. I was a bit surprised how commercial it's become and was a little sad to see this. It was my first year coming home without an ornament. The beautiful painted ones I love so much were no where to be found but the price of everything else seemed to really climb since last year.

What have the rest of you been up to over the course of a week?
 

                       

                               













Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Braided Pesto Wreath

                 

                As much as I wish it were otherwise, I can not craft to save my life. I can not knit,crochet,sew, or glue anything together without managing to glue my own fingers together. I can not draw,paint,sculpt or build anything with wood. I can however, bake bread. I sometimes get envious when I see everyone posting pictures of their holiday wreathes they made...especially since I can't join in along with them. So I had enough and decided to bake a holiday wreath! Not just anything wreath..but a red and green pesto wreath.
              
 

           Can you see the red and the green? I sure hope so because in person it looked so neat! lets look a little closer...
             


           There..that's a bit better. I needed to make two batches in order to combine the colors into a wreath..so if you go this route you will end up with two..one to eat now, one to either share or eat later.
                 


               The best advice I can give you, is to go slow and not worry about the mess you are making..because you will make a mess when you braid the dough. The process is really easy..you roll the dough up cinnamon roll style, split down the middle to expose the inside, and then braid it with the inside split side facing up..I mean, you WANT to show off the pretty inside so make sure you turn the dough over. I used the first wreath as a learning curve and found some things out; stretch the dough slightly when you go to braid it. It's going to get smaller as you braid and then curl it so make sure you give yourself enough dough to work with.

This is almost a two person job. My husband stood in as the official "Don't freak out,it's going to turn out beautiful" person. Because we worked together I wasn't able to get step by step photos..if anyone should ever need something like that then please let me know. I will make anything you need help with and post a photo tutorial. I'm just not one of those fancy food bloggers that has steps of everything. However, Confessions of A Foodie Bride has a bunch of photos,so head over there if you need some extra help.

Braided Pesto Wreath

1 cup Warm Water
2 tsp. Yeast 
2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt

For the Pesto middle:

1/2 cup Pesto..any flavor
2 TBS or more of Grated Parmesan Cheese

Pour the warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top; stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients for the bread and mix until combined..if the dough is sticky,add more flour,a tablespoon at a time, and if the dough is to dry, add water a tablespoon at a time, until it all comes together.

Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic..5-10 minutes. Place dough ball into a lightly greased bowl,turn to coat, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 18x12 rectangle. Spread pesto all over the top but making sure to leave a clean 1/2 inch border around the edges.
           


             Roll the long side of the dough up and pinch the seam closed.

Cut the dough in half down the middle using a pizza cutter and then transfer the two pieces either onto a parchment lined or cornmeal dusted cookie sheet, pinch top ends together. Working in a very confident manner ( you can do this!),braid the two pieces,trying to keep the pieces twisted so that the cut ends remain on top..you wanna show that pretty design :) When you get to the bottom pinch the ends together and wrap into a wreath.
                   


          Once you have made the wreath shape, pinch and tuck the combined ends the best you can. Turn to your partner and shake hands on a job well done! Cover the wreath with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven while it rises to 400 or 200 celsius ( the original recipe says to go higher but my oven is slightly on the hotter side and bakes things up way quicker than stated so I always adjust both temp and bake time). Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Cool slightly and then dig in!

** If you want to make a red and green pesto wreath like I did then you need to make up two doughs..one with green pesto and one with red. Once you split the rolled up dough in half,patch a red with a green and start the braiding process and then do the same with the remaining two pieces. Again, you will end up with two if you do the multiple colored one.**

Yield: One beautiful braid
Source: Confessions of A Foodie Bride



    






Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Cookie Cake

             
         Happy Friday! Another week has come to an end and we are one step closer to Christmas :) Guess what I'm doing as I type this blog entry up? I'm sitting here eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Tree that a friend sent to me from back home. I know this doesn't really mean anything to alot of you..some of you may not even like them or will say, I can get those anytime I want! Well, I can't so eating one of these sends me straight back home. Sure I could make a home version of it..but it's not the same. I can't help it. I want the prepackaged peanut butter tree goodness. It's salty and almost tastes like a Butterfinger! good golly, I can't remember the last time I had one of those. I also can't believe I just said, good golly! 
   
           
             It's the simple things in life that bring me the most amount of joy. It makes me happy knowing someone out there thought enough of me to send the family and I peanut butter trees. You know what else I love? this cookie cake. It fills every single need I have in a dessert; It's big,thick,soft,cakey,full of flavor, and can double as a present for someone...Just imagine this wrapped up in cellophane on  a pretty plate? no one will be sad to receive this as a gift.

I had to use blackstrap molasses because I have yet to find anything other than this and even that takes some detective work. I'm officially out and I won't lie..I am panicking. I want to make this again along with other molasses based cookies and unless I find more that won't break the bank cost wise, I'm going to have to go on a molasses detox program. I have to say that the more I use the blackstrap, the more I love it. I can't use it in large quantities because of how strong it is, but in small amounts,it's kinda delicious.

This cookie cake lasted all of one hour. I sent my husband an e-mail showing him what I made and wouldn't you know it, the man showed up 20 minutes later to eat some of it. You have to love a man who leaves work early because of how excited he is to sample something you made. The boys came home shortly after that..and well,it was gone after that. We loved it. Go make it.

Gingerbread Cookie Cake

1/2 cup Butter,softened
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Molasses
2 Eggs..freshly laid by your hens if possible :)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Cloves
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Salt..my addition
2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

For The Drizzle:

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp. Vanilla..I bet lemon would also be nice
1 TBS Milk
Sprinkles,for decorating;optional

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Line a 9 inch round cake pan ( I used a springform pan) with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl,cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in molasses and mix until it's smooth and completely combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the baking soda,cinnamon,ginger,cloves,nutmeg,salt, and flour ( you can also mix those items together and then pour into the wet mixture..which is what I did).

Form the dough into a ball with your hands and then gently press it into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake it no more than 19-22 minutes. You want the top to be barely golden brown and is no longer shiny looking. I go nuts over a super soft,slightly raw middle cookie cake but if that't not your thing, then bake it a little longer..BUT not by much. You really want this to be soft and delicious.

Allow it to completely cool in the pan (it's really soft) and then take it out,peel the foil off and put it on something you can drizzle the topping all over ( I put it on a wire rack and then onto a cake platter after the drizzle had set).

In a small bowl,whisk together the drizzle ingredients. Pour into a plastic sandwich bag and snip one of the ends off. Drizzle your desired pattern onto the cookie cake and decorate in anyway that your heart desires. My heart desired a hot pink and greenish drizzle :)

Yield: 9 inch cookie cake
Source: Crazy for Crust








Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Take A Peak Wednesday: It's Kinda Cold

        I know it's not polite to complain about the cold weather when there are so many other people who are dealing with some severe conditions right now. So I won't complain. I will just say that it's getting kinda cold around here.
                                
 
        It's going to get colder at some point so I know this is nothing compared to what will be..but again, it's getting kinda cold around here. What is it like where you are? I am so thankful for our wood burning stove..We have it going as often as possible and it makes such a huge difference. 

P.S. I can't believe how quickly Christmas is coming. I have bought exactly one gift so far..just one! Sadly,the rest won't be taken care of until around the 23rd..but we always manage to pull it off. How is Christmas coming along at your house?




Monday, December 9, 2013

Giant Chocolate Snickerdoodles

           

                   A few weeks ago I decided to bake something big for the guy who took Hyacinth,the rooster. It was important to me to say thanks for giving him a forever home and the best way I knew how to do that, was to bake something really big..like realllly big...because sometimes you just need to give a big ol' thanks. I've noticed we have become way to slack on thanking people in general. I notice it more and more each day. People are getting to busy to stop and help someone, to say thank you, to smile, to really look into someone's eyes and just say, I appreciate you. It's considered old fashioned to hold the door open for someone, to drop a hand written card in the mail to someone you thought of today and wishing them well, or dropping flowers off to someone, just because.

Being decent towards one another should be an everyday occurrence in my humble opinion..even when you don't feel like it. I hope you will inspired to bake something for someone..because I know by doing it, you will also get a selfish high from it. It will make you feel good when you see a smile on their face. Everyone wants to feel special once and awhile. So go bake something.

These giant chocolate snickerdoodles pretty much rock..and are a complete meal in itself. The funny thing is, I didn't even make them as big as they could have been. I stopped just shy of 5 ounces but could have gone all the way up to 6. They are soft and chewy and they aren't all that sweet considering how much sugar is in there. You can make these smaller if you want..but why would you want to??

On a side note, these cookies come with a large quantity of cinnamon and sugar to roll them into. You will have a lot left over. You can use the leftovers in anything you want..maybe a swirl quick bread, or sprinkled over muffins,pancakes or waffles. You can also skip the recipe and just use a simple cinnamon-sugar mixture to roll your cookies into. It will be delicious no matter which road you take.

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

2-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter,softened
1-1/2 cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla

Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture

1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 or 190 celsius ( the original recipe states a 400 degree or 200 celsius oven, but I found that to be way to hot). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl,combine the cinnamon-sugar mixture together and set aside.

In a medium bowl,whisk together the flour,cocoa,cream of tartar,baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl,cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for around 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs,one at a time, and beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute,until everything is combined. On low speed,slowly add the dry ingredients and continue mixing only until the flour disappears.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon,divide the dough into balls weighing around 5-6 ounces. Roll the dough balls into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place onto prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. With damp fingers, flatten the dough balls slightly until they are 1 inch thick.

Bake the cookies 12-15 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and set in the middle. They will appear to be slightly undone in the middle..but that is ok..you want this! Allow them to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before removing to a wire rack.

** Store remaining cinnamon-mixture in an airtight container. It will keep indefinitely.**

Yield: 8 Ginormous Cookies,24 small or make a combination of both sizes
Source: Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple           





Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Birthday,Christmas Tree,Eggs,Oh My!

     

             Dec 1st was my birthday. I turned 39! I'm really not sure how I feel about this. It feels odd to say that I am now very very close to turning 40..which if you can hear the voice in my head,you'd think I was telling you all I was about to take my final walk out to pasture and would be calling it a day after that. I find I have a hard time dealing with the whole number factor because I never see myself as being 39 or 40 or 50. I'm just me..and so far, I'm doing alright. Last year I posted about my BIG weight loss..So this year, I have another big announcement: Daisy my delightful hen,laid her very first egg..on the morning of my birthday. Does it get any dang cooler then that?
                                 
 
            Isn't it cute?? It was tiny and perfect..and she has laid one every day since. She is one of those proud hens..which means she squawks at the top of her lungs..and let me tell you, that is one of the most unladylike sounds you could ever possibly make. It's going to get really loud when all 7 decide to lay at the same time.
                   
           

                          As part of my birthday we always decorate the christmas tree. I've been doing that for so long that I can't imagine not having that tradition. We put the christmas music on and take a trip down memory lane with each bulb and personalized ornament we unwrap.
                      


              I was also able to finally buy LED colored lights. I can't begin to tell you how happy that made me. I've only been able to buy white lights here and dearly missed the colored lights. I actually jumped up and down in the store when I saw them. I wake up early each morning and come downstairs and turn them on right away. I drink my coffee while sitting in front of the tree and listening to christmas music. I can't think of a better way to start the morning..











Monday, December 2, 2013

Stuffing Bread

      

          I love leftovers from Thanksgiving..if I'm totally honest, I prefer it over the actual day of eating it while it's all hot and fresh. There is something about thick pieces of cold turkey layered in a sandwich with some salt and may..love,love, love it! What made this years turkey taste even better was this bread. I baked it about a week before we had our meal and tucked it away all nicely wrapped in the freezer. I just knew it was going to go great with the turkey..And I was right.

We loved this bread..kind of hard not to when it tastes just like stuffing. We enjoyed it as a hot turkey sandwich,ate it with fried eggs, and as a regular sandwich. The bread is moist and is a real keeper..even when it isn't Thanksgiving. So make it no matter what time of the year it is!

Stuffing Bread

3 cups (12-3/4 ounces) All-purpose Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Sugar
3 TBS Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) Yellow Cornmeal
1/3 cup (3/4ounc) Potato Flakes
2 TBS Nonfat Dry Milk
2 tsp. Instant Yeast
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Toasted Sesame Seeds
2 tsp. Poultry Seasoning,or 2 tsp. Ground Sage
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and knead by hand or electric mixer until the dough is smooth and supple,adding any additional liquid or flour as needed ( I didn't need extras of anything)..this will take about 5 minutes by mixer or 8 minutes by hand. Grease a bowl with some oil and place the dough into the bowl,turning once to coat. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pick your shape. I went with a single round loaf but it can also be shaped into a log and placed in a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes,or until it's crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan is using. If making just a round loaf, rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Bake the bread for 35 minutes, until it's golden brown and sounds hollow when taped on the bottom. Cool out of the pan on a wire rack.

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion