Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Busy Oven... it is...the first day back to work after vacation...though between you and me, I'd prefer to spend my time in the kitchen baking...but as it stands right now, that won't pay the rent and back to work I go.

I did a fair amount of baking, but it doesn't seem that way.  Maybe because it was spread out over the week, and it wasn't as much as I hoped.  You know the list you make in your head is always so much longer that what actually happens (in my case, at least!).

I tried my hand at oreos and was happy with the results for the most part.  I'm going to do a little tweaking with both the cookies and the filling.  Let me tell you how dangerous it is to have the recipe for oreo filling since I'm a Eat-The-Filling-Before-The-Cookie kind of girl.  I won't even admit to eating it by a spoonful or two before piping it onto the cookies.  I'm going to make them smaller on the next go-round, use clear vanilla extract (the Mexican vanilla extract tinted the filling a tiny bit), and drop the baking time down a minute or two to see if I can get a slightly softer cookie.  I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and think it's pretty darn fabulous.

Fall makes me crave Jewish Apple Cake and for the second year, I made one of the recipes mom gave me.  I even went and looked to find out why its called 'Jewish Apple Cake' and found a good explanation from Philadelphia's City Paper from a few years ago.  I'm happy I was able to share some of this cake with a couple of friends, otherwise I'd be in trouble.  I'm still in a bit of trouble as I have half a loaf left and this cake with coffee makes a morning for me.

While I was visiting my friend, Jill, this week and sharing Jewish Apple Cake, we talked about baking bread.  I made a comment about wanting to make soft pretzels and that put the idea back to the forefront of my brain.  I'm still a little intimidated when it comes to baking with yeast.  I need a lot of practice in this area and Jill let me borrow her copy of 'The Bread Bible' by Beth Hensperger.  The book doesn't have a pretzel recipe, but there are loads that I want to try.  Fingers crossed, I'll get better at this!  I found a great recipe for pretzel bites from The Curvy Carrot and will be using this all the time.  I love soft pretzels and how cool to not have to buy them anymore???  Seriously, when you pop one of these little guys into your mouth as they've just come out of the's heavenly.

Jewish Apple Cake
(Adapted from a recipe by Our Mother of Sorrows Ladies Guild in Bridgeport, PA via Mom)

Note:  This cake is supposed to be made in either a tube pan or a Bundt pan.  I have neither, so I make them into loaves.  This recipe will give you two.  I'll note what the original recipe calls for in parenthesis.

3-4 apples, peeled and cut into cubes [I used Jonagold and Granny Smith]
      (original recipe calls for 5-6 apples)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar (original calls for 2 cups)

1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice 
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour cake pans.  In a separate bowl, mix the apples, cinnamon, and sugar.  Toss to coat and set aside.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until batter is smooth.  Pour some of the batter into pans and spoon some of the apple mixture on top.  Pour remaining batter into pans and top with rest of the apple mixture.  

Bake for one hour or until golden brown.  (Original recipe says to bake for an hour and a half.  I began checking on the status of the cakes at the 50 minute mark and they were finished by the hour mark.  If you use loaf pans, they definitely won't need the full hour and a half baking time).  Once out of the oven, let cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans.  

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