Posts Tagged ‘baking’


It’s become sort of a habit of ours to take a Sunday morning drive from Saratoga Springs to Cambridge, NY to pick up a box of freshly made King’s Donuts. The King’s are second generation bakers who have been selling their homemade donuts from a cart in front of their house since 1997. They start selling their donuts around 8am and by 11am, they are usually sold out.

We have, on more than one occasion, excitedly hopped out of the car only to be disappointed that they were sold out of our favorite donut, the Bismark. I usually pick out other donuts but I am a creature of habit and there’s nothing sadder than looking forward to a special treat and not being able to get it. (OK, there are a lot sadder things than running out of my favorite donuts but this is a food blog so let’s focus)

Luckily, if you call ahead, the King’s will kindly set aside the donuts you want, so you never have to face the heartbreaking devastation of a missing donut. Last Sunday, though we called ahead, they must have been really busy because no one answered the phone. Deciding to try anyway, we drove to Cambridge and pulled up just as the empty cart was being unloaded at the back if the house.
The boyfriend, sensing that there might be some sullen grumpiness (I never claimed to be a paragon of maturity) decided to call anyway and this time they picked up the phone when they saw it was us. I wasn’t expecting much but then the BF started smiling and put the phone on speaker so I could hear them say that they felt so bad that they ran out of our favorite donut and not wanting to see anyone disappointed they improvised a new kind of donut just for us!

They took six of their jelly donuts, scraped out the jelly and squirted Bismark cream inside. They called them special Jellymarks and said we could be their taste testers. I shoved money at the BF and pushed him out of the car and waited while he went to the back of the house. The BF came back to the car, money still in hand and said they wanted us to have the donuts for free since they were an experiment.

Well, I hate to be too jaded but 28 years of growing up in Brooklyn gave me some thick skin and little belief in the kindness of my fellow humans, but that morning, my two sizes too small Grinch like heart truly did grow three sizes larger.

And the donuts? Though I remain a Bismark Purist, they were fantastic!


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Despite the many sweet focused posts on this blog, I don’t actually eat that many sweets. When I crave, it’s usually more along the lines of pasta and well, pasta. But recently at work I made a batch of chocolate sugar cookie dough that was a little off. It wasn’t bad, it just was a little too buttery. We baked off some of the cookies as a test batch and when everyone tried them, they thought they tasted exactly like the cookie part of an Oreo…only better.

The next day I decided to bake a few of the cookies as Oreo circles. When they were cool I piped our vanilla buttercream on half of the cookies and sandwiched them with the other half of the cookies. And voila we had Oreos…only a thousand times better. I had to break my month long no sweets at the bakery fast to try one. They were OMG good.

When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about those cookies. Luckily, the internet abounds with homemade Oreo recipes of which the Smitten Kitchen’s are among the most well known and oft copied. I decided to hop on the very old Oreo cookie making band wagon and with my trusty kitchen helper by my side, we made Oreos.


In the Smitten Kitchen recipe, the cookies are dropped by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. When I made the dough I thought it was sturdy enough to roll out, so that’s what we did. We rolled the cookies to a 1/4″ thickness and then used a circle cookie to make rounds which we baked on Silpat lined cookie sheets. We baked our cookies for 11 minutes instead of 9 because I wanted a crisper cookie. They turned out perfect.


I used my own very simple buttercream recipe that I made in the food processor because I was too lazy to take the KitchenAid out again and the food processor is lighter. I put 2 cups of powdered sugar in the food processor and sliced a stick of slightly softened butter on top and gave it a whirl until it was smooth. I then scraped the seeds of a vanilla bean into the mixer and drizzled in a teensy (less than a tablespoon) bit of coconut milk and whizzed it again. It made a gorgeous filling all speckled with delicately scented vanilla beans. So pretty. I used a disposable pastry bag from AC Moore to pipe my filling but you can always use a Ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.



Besides using my own buttercream recipe, I made a few changes to the cookie recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog. I used white wheat flour in place of all purpose flour because it’s so finely milled that you don’t notice it’s whole wheat and I often substitute it in recipes. I used the 1 cup of sugar instead of 1 and 1/2 cups and I used a scant 1 tsp. of salt because boosting the salt makes the cookies a little less sweet and more grown up tasting. For the cocoa, I used Hershey’s Special Dark which gave my cookies that signature almost black look.

I don’t praise lightly but these cookies were phenomenal. One is enough to satisfy but it’s really hard not to eat more.


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A few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a baking class at the Battenkill Kitchen in my adopted town of Salem, NY. The class was taught by Zoe Francois of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day fame, a book that I have and love. The class I chose to take was using recipes from the newer book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Same principal as the first book but using whole grains.

The Battenkill Kitchen  http://www.battenkillkitchen.org/index.html is a non profit 800 square foot commercial kitchen facility that is available to the community on an hourly basis and also available to host events. And they have an awesome Garland restaurant stove that I totally covet.

Oh yeah- 6 burners, 2 ovens and a griddle on the side. I want. I yearn for one of those like some women do for designer handbags and Manolos. Sigh. One day.

I learned a lot from taking the class, some of it was about bread but some of it was about myself as a blogger. It’s nerve wracking going into a situation like this and asking if you can take pictures to document it for your blog. I found myself really hesitant and nervous about snapping pics even though I had asked permission and everyone seemed okay with it. As a result, I didn’t get very good pictures. My action shots always managed to capture someone with a funny look on their face. I’m not sure how to handle that in the future. But I’m supposed to be talking about bread! So let’s do so…

The class started out with Zoe giving a talk and explaining how the whole book project came about and then morphed into a second book. She demonstrated some techniques for mixing the dough and shaping loaves and then we were given a list of things to make and divided into groups of 4.

The members of my group watching as Zoe demonstrates stretching pizza dough with chef Suvir Saran in the back doing a little photo documentation of his own. The older gentleman to the right of Zoe is Jerry, he’s taken TEN classes at King Arthur flour and had a love of baking that was admirable. I wish I’d had more of a chance to hear his story.

Our group was assigned four things to make. We mixed a batch of dough to get a feel for what it should be like and then from dough that was premade my Zoe and friends, we made a baguette (and I made a Pain d’Epi), made bagels, pizzas and doughnuts! The doughnuts were made from a whole wheat brioche dough which was fabulous. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from them, I mean…whole wheat doughnuts? But they were good! Though, if I knew we were going to be filling them with jam, I would have brought some of my homemade jam. Smuckers has nothing on my jam.

See that sexy pizza bubble on there? I ate that. Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and pepperoni. I don’t know who sourced out all the ingredients for pizza toppings but everything was top notch and delicious. One of the pizzas we made even had olives on it and I normally loathe olives but I inadvertently ate one and it was delicious.

Pesto, goat cheese, sweet yellow peppers, caramelized onions from Suvir Saran (what do I have to do to get that recipe???) and the aforementioned black olives. Obviously so delicious that it was almost gone before I thought to get a picture.

and the class gets interesting…I won’t blame my drinking three glasses of wine on Zoe telling us to let the dough relax and stop fiddling with it but I had to do something while the dough was relaxing! That’s my pain d’Epi that I almost forgot in the oven. It was lovely, I love how the bread breaks off into individual pieces. Beauty and function.

Panzanella, a fabulous way to use up leftover bread. There were lots of goodies to eat and snack on. Aside from the things we made ourselves, there was soup from Suvir Suran along with a lovely, silky hummus. By the end of the class I was quite full and maybe a little drunk. We all took home small bowls of dough from the class and I took home my pain d’Epi.

I was thinking the kitchen would be fabulous to rent out with a group of interested foodies and maybe have a cooking class or demonstration from a local chef. Such a great space, so many possibilities…

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