Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Decadent Chocolate Pound Cake

My favorite Chocolate Cake recipe is actually from the "Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor" Cookbook.  An absolute favorite cookbook of mine that has kept me company since my kids were small.  With 3 kids in the house a quick easy way to make an amazing cake was a good trick up Mom's sleeve.  I've even produced a cake within an hour with the help of this book and my kitchen aid after my oldest walked in the door from school and announced she needed a cake for a fundraiser- in an hour. Boy, I felt like I won the "Mommy" award when she walked out with a full cake!

So here's my secret to my most moist cake with lots of healthy things snuck into it. I won't pretend it's healthy- but every ingredient that is better for you than an unhealthy one is a good thing.

For this recipe I use Oil- usually Canola.  Lots of eggs (protein!) and yogurt!

A Lighter Chocolate Pound Cake

Preheat oven 350 degrees (now my ovens have always run on the hot side, if this is true for you set it to 325 degrees).

First using a butter wrapper or wax paper butter a 12 cup Bundt Pan and flour this lightly, knock off the excess in the sink by rapping the side.

1 pkg. Plain Devil's Food Mix 18.25oz. (no pudding in it)
1 small pkg. (3.9 oz.) Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix (not the cooked type)
opt- 1/4 flour (for High Altitude and to make up for the cake mixes getting smaller- see note below)
1 cp yogurt (the original recipe is 1 vanilla yogurt, but I like less sugar)
1/2 water
1/2 Veg. Oil (Canola is the healthiest to bake with)
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

I place all the wet together first in a bowl and mix with a whisk, starting with the eggs and adding the water, then oil and then yogurt.

Then I dump the cake mix on top and add the pudding mix on top of that.  To avoid lumps I mix the pudding mix into the cake mix below it with a fork just a bit.  Then add flour and mix also with a fork into the dry.  Now all of this could be done in a separate bowl- but I like to cheat and just dump the dry in and lightly mix it in while it sits on top of the wet. 

When the dry is mixed a bit up top- use a large spoon to roughly mix it all together so dry ingredients doesn't fly into your face later.

Use your mixer and beat for 3 minutes (if at High Altitude beat 4 minutes)

Why the additional Flour? We're so high up here in Colorado our baking has to be adjusted because things rise too fast.  Add 1/4 cup flour to your mix and also mix it in with a fork.  Now I have to do this to get good results at my altitude, but the cake mixes have over the past decade changed in size, so it is possible even at low altitude you might need to add this 1/4 cup flour to make the mix the same volume as it used to be.  This was a suggestion from the author Anne Byrn and since I do not live at low altitude I have no way to test it.  I have a feeling adding it would be a good idea though.

Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour. I start testing with a toothpick about 50 mins in and bake until it comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 15 mins. and then loosen with a butter knife around the edges.  Place a plate over the top and invert and hopefully the cake comes out in tact (when it doesn't frosting comes to the rescue- it covers all imperfections!).

I actually prefer this cake without frosting, but my family likes frosting, so I lost the frosting wars this time. But, I find it a tad too sweet with frosting and it's amazing plain with only a dusting of confectioner sugar or cocoa (sifted gently) on top.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Vanilla Pound Cake

For Easter this year I wanted to have a light pound cake to celebrate Spring. This has been my go-to recipe for a few years. Once I made it for a gathering at a Chef's house and they wanted the recipe now- online! I kind of was embarrassed because it was an adaption of a cake mix by The Cake Doctor. I've had her cookbooks for over a decade using them for quick and delicious cakes for a large family. I knew I could whip a cake up quick if one of the kids asked for one within hours and they would be delicious!

Vanilla Pound Cake

4 Large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable oil like Canola
2 tsp. Vanilla (my own addition)
1 Box Plain Yellow Cake Mix
1 3.4 oz vanilla instant pudding mix (the small box)
1/4 cup All Purpose flour (for high altitude- please see note below)

-Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add milk and oil and vanilla and whisk a bit more. 
-Add cake mix and then the pudding on top. The pudding I mix into the cake mix with a fork to avoid lumps and the same with the flour if you add it.
-Use an electric blender and beat for 3 - 4 minutes (more if you are at High Altitude).
-Butter and then flour a Bundt pan (after adding a bit of flour-roll it around the insides- then rap onto the bundt pan over the sink to dislodge any extra flour).
-Add your whipped ingredients to your pan.

Bake for 50 - 60 mins. in a 325 degree oven till a wooden skewer comes out clean. Don't overbake.
Let cool 12 mins. or so and loosen the sides with a butter knife and put a plate on top of your bundt pan. Using potholders turn it all upside down and gently tap on your baking tin. It should loosen unto the plate that you are holding right underneath (I always hold my breath until I see the whole thing pop out!). This cake tastes great anytime- but I love the deep vanilla taste when it's cooled.
Enjoy- my husband loves it for breakfast.


A note about the flour- I add it because I am living at over 6,000 ft. and it keeps the batter from falling. But in recent years the size of the box mix has changed making them smaller and I came across a tip from the author- Anne Byrn to add a 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour to her recipes to bring the volume up to what it used to be. I don't live at sea level and I'm unable to test this. So it's up to you. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Amazing Cinnamon Rolls

I feel like I should title this- "How To Make The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls". I finally got it! I watched a Chef at Chefs Cooking Classes make Cinnamon Rolls in his bread class so many times I could roll them in my sleep- but I never could quite do it and get a good enough recipe. I then came across a video from FOOD52 Your Guide to the Best Cinnamon Rolls of Your Life.

This article tells you to use a brioche like dough and I found an amazing recipe for Cinnamon Rolls in my Breville Bread Machine Recipe book and perfection came together! You can use this recipe or find a brioche or sweet dough to make by hand.

I threw this recipe together into my machine-
Put all ingredients in order as it is listed. I did it the same day as making my rolls, but next time I will make it a day ahead and chill it overnight wrapped in wax paper and put in a bag.

Dough Recipe-
1 cp Milk (warm, not hot)
2 Eggs (room temp. or soak them in warm water for a bit)
1/4 cp Unsalted Butter- in 1/2" pieces
1/4 cp Coconut Oil (soft, not liquid. You can melt it in the microwave and stir it as it cools and use it  in a soft whipped stage). Note I added this Coconut Oil to the recipe because it's healthy and I wanted the rolls richer tasting with more fat like a brioche.
1 tsp. Salt
1/3 Sugar
4 cps. Bread Flour I did a health switch by using 2 cps. Bread Flour, 1 cp. All purpose (to keep it light) and 1 cp White Whole Wheat and I got an awesome dough! If you use any Whole Wheat Flour add at least a 1 tsp. to 1 Tbl. of  Gluten per cup
2 1/4 tsp. Active Yeast

Add all the ingredients as listed in order making sure the salt is on the bottom with the liquid and the yeast on top of the flour (salt kills yeast). Put it on the dough cycle and watch it kneed. If you need to add more flour- add up to a 1/4 of a cup slowly if the dough seems too wet. It probably will be because I added that additional Coconut Oil and I needed to add more flour- I added 1/4 cp bread flour. But I am at High Altitude, in a very dry climate (Colorado's desert Plains are East of us, beyond the city of Colorado Springs). So what your dough will do is a bit too much of a guess for me. It's easy to figure out out and make adjustments- adding flour or water depending on what your dough looks like. You don't want it dry with flour patches. You don't want it to wet and sticky. Squeeze it real fast. Does it stick or feel too mushy? Then add more flour slowly while the kneading cycle is still working, scrape the sides with a silicone spatula.

It'll probably be done in 90 mins. depending on your machine. You can let it sit to rise a little longer in the bread pan (20- 30 mins.) and then shape it into a rough rectangle, roll it up in wax paper and put it in a plastic bag for the night. If you are making it the same day- refrigerate it for an hour or freeze it for 15 mins.

When you're ready to handle your dough grab your rolling pin. I have one covered with a sock-like cover and I have a pastry cloth my Mom gave me in the 80's. This one has been well used. I leave it flour covered and in warm months I actually freeze it in a bag to keep it clean. It makes rolling out dough effortless.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface using a dough scraper or your hands to make straight edges and a rectangular shape about 1/2 inch thick (thinner will make room for more filling and thicker will make it breadier- up to you). The size will depend on how much dough you made. I made a smaller rectangle and got super sized Cinnamon Rolls and I was real pleased with that. About 11" X 16".

Make the filling.

The Filling-
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use raw sugar)
1/2 cup softened Butter or a mix of 1/4 cp. Butter and 1/4 cp. softened (not liquid and whipped by hand) Coconut Oil
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (Saigon Cinnamon is what I used for a bigger punch of flavor)

When your dough is the right shape take the filling and spread it all over your rolls. I went to the very edge so no cinnamon roll would be neglected.

Forgive my glitch; my daughter erased all the shots she took of me rolling out the dough and cutting it. I discovered it's impossible to photograph yourself doing something! Yup obvious. But she thought I didn't need them (?). So I'm borrowing from FOOD52 Your Guide to the Best Cinnamon Rolls of Your Life which is an awesome guide to making Cinnamon Rolls and should be consulted anyway. 
Start at one smaller end and roll it up! Don't be overly tight so it has room to bake and expand, but not too loose either.

When done rolling your roll- pinch along the seam to keep it together as best as you can and if it gets ugly flip it down so it holds (and looks pretty). 

To cut use a sharp knife and a slight sawing motion is best. Make these rolls nice and thick- 1 1/2" to 2" thick. They'll be lovely.

I choose a pan that is big enough for all the rolls, but also makes them a bit crowded when they rise. I don't like dry cinnamon rolls and they bake moister if crowded, touching each other. Butter your pan of choice (you don't have to use this much butter- just enough to grease the pan).

I let it rise for almost an hour- yours might be 30 to 45 mins. depending on how warm your kitchen is. It's winter here and it took longer. I wait till they all crowd the pan.

I added crushed walnuts on top-

And Bake at 350 degrees (my oven runs too hot and I put it at 325 so they don't bake too quickly) for 20 - 30 minutes depending on what you want in a cinnamon roll. I like them like a Cinnabon Roll- Moist and doughy still. My son and husband like it bread like and all cooked. So I had to compromise and get an inbetween result which was around 25 mins., I worked with a chef that cooked his so undone that it looked real doughy still and I was thinking- what? But they were wonderful- a real Cinnabon experience! The Food52 Blog recommends baking till the center is still soft, and the buns are browned.

     Mine turned out sublime, perfect. I mean the most awesome Cinnamon buns! I think I got it just right. They are thick- so the extra cooking made the outer swirls bread-like, but still moist and inside is still soft and a little doughy.

Let them cool a bit and frost if desired-

     I created a simple cream cheese spread with 1/2 a brick of  softened Cream Cheese and 2 Tbls. softened butter, and about 2 Tbls. Honey (to taste). You can use confectioner sugar, but I didn't want it overly sweet. Whip by hand and you're all good to spread it on your cinnamon buns:

Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Making Josey Baker Bread- Step One: The Starter


     Making Sourdough has been a passion of mine for the past five years; ever since I assisted a cooking class on how to make your own sourdough starter. (Refer to my previous blog on how to make a starter and why sourdough is so healthy for you I Love the Smell of Sourdough Bread).  This starter is a white bread flour base starter and is good for bread and all sorts of lovely creations like sourdough muffins and pancakes.  Fun to make and keep around.


      Lately the past year I have been experimenting out of "Josey Baker's Bread" Cookbook.  He's one of  the top sourdough bakers in San Francisco and a way cool dude to boot!  His book is fun to read and is in an easy conversational style and it's meant for beginners- newbees, so no one should feel this is too hard for them.  Step by step instructions.  It's been a lovely journey this year using his recipes and I have many more of them to discover.

I had started reading the cookbook the last hour of my shift at Chefs Retail Store when all the customers were probably home making their dinner.  Wanting to pass the time profitably I read from the "Josey Baker Bread" book sitting on the shelf behind me.  Hey, I worked in a culinary focused industry and reading a cookbook was a potential future conversation with someone about some aspect of cooking or baking that you could teach someone.

 I found myself intrigued- but merely copying a recipe wasn't going to work and when I copied a page I found I was missing some steps by not owning the whole book.  So after a few weeks of this I took the plunge and bought the book!

 What a great cookbook to buy- I almost exclusively used his book all year.  And I probably will continue to use it- there are so many recipes I'm dying to try, like his Adventure Bread. This bread is made entirely of seeds and healthy stuff with no flour (so it's Vegan & gluten free) and very good for you. Adventure Bread


So my most favorite bread is his Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Loaf and I usually add walnuts to mine.

To start the recipe you need to have developed some sourdough starter and even though I showed you how to make a white bread flour based starter, this one that Josey Baker makes is 100% whole wheat and is a totally different process.  I find it's also easier when you're done to store the leftover sourdough starter in the refrigerator and simply refresh it following Josey's instructions.  (I do save all "discarded" sourdough and store it in the fridge for later use- refreshing every week after I pour off a black liquid that forms on top. Just an alcoholic by-product, safe but it'll make the SD starter bitterer if left in.)  

The starter in a small jelly jar

 To make his starter either boil some water and let it cool or use bottled water (he doesn't specify this, but the minerals and chemicals used to process water can be harsh to SD and you get a better rise if you use water boiled or bought.).

Mix together:

1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour (the best you can find- use stone ground or freshly milled) 
1/2 cup cool water

Cover loosely and let sit for 2 days out on your counter. I do stir it often because I know SD likes air.

After 2 days:
Ditch most of it (usually at the very beginning it's good to do that because it hasn't fully developed yet). Save a Tablespoon in the bottom of your jar and add:

1/2 cup cool water
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour

     Again stir, cover loosely and let sit for 2 days. (I also do my stir thing- keeps it happy!).


Repeat for 2 weeks
Your starter is ready to use after 2 weeks and there's lot of happy bubbles for baking bread and Josey Baker's instructions for keeping it healthy are to keep it in the fridge and every week or two take it out (pour off any blackish liquid) and take a tablespoons worth and add it to:

1/2 cup cool water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Mix up, cover loosely and let sit for a day, then refrigerate it.

When you want to bake bread- take it out a couple of days ahead and do the above process- discard (or use) most of it, save a Tbls. and add water and flour at above ratios.  This is a thicker batter, but it keeps well and is easier to store in such a small quantity.

     I encourage you to get a copy of Josey Baker Bread: Get Baking - Make Awesome Bread - Share the Loaves because even though I simplify his recipes and add my own tips, I can't compare to his fun banter and all his tips and recipes. Josey-Baker-Bread-Baking-Awesome

 All of his recipes require tsps. of the SD starter for recipes- so find some fun recipes to use the leftovers on (I'm really into waste-not-want-not).

 Please note: When you start to see bubbles, you can save the leftover starter in a separate jar and refrigerate it for later use for pancakes or muffins and other treats and if you don't use it in a few weeks- pour off blackish liquid and add a good dollop of WW flour and some water, stir, let it sit for 24 hrs and refridge again.  You can always google for starter recipes and King Arthur has a wonderful chocolate cake recipe customers recommended to me- King Arthur Sourdough Chocolate Cake Recipe

                                               Sourdough Pumpkin Muffins (or anything you want to make them be muffins- blueberry or apple & walnut)

These are my favorite muffins and if I didn't bake bread I would make sourdough starter just for these. These are pumpkin (which I do in the Fall), but I love adding cut up peeled apple like Gala or Fuji and I also add raisins and walnuts.  Because the whole wheat is soaked you are really getting an amazingly healthy muffin.   The muffin recipe: Kitchenstewardship- sourdough recipes

 High altitude adjustments and adjustments for a dryer climate can vary with me on this one- I usually cut back on the baking soda by 1/4 tsp and I find the soaker that you make at the beginning a bit too dry so I add a half a cup water, which inevitably leads me to add about a half a cup more WW flour to the batter at the end to thicken it up to thick pancake batter consistency.  It always works.

Next blog I'll bake my favorite sourdough bread - Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread with this starter (so get going making your own so you'll be ready to bake!).

Josey Baker's Blog- lots of awesome bread pictures- Josey Baker Bread

Monday, April 15, 2013

Over-The-Top Lemon Muffins with Streusel topping

My son Jonathan loves streusel, anything I bake he says "...and put streusel on it!" And how about a lemon drizzle too?! OK, and lots of them, enough to share with friends at school. So my Sunday afternoon was spent in mass production and I'm pretty pleased with the result. I married a Lemon Muffin with Lemon Curd hidden in the inside with Jonathan's favorite streusel (from a New York Style Coffee cake, which I revised to make healthier with canola oil- instead of sticks of butter). Topping off this oh-so-not simple muffin I drizzled it with a lemon flavored paste. So the end result brought lots of: Yummmms and today he's gone off to school with a few in his belly and a bag full to share.

The original Lemon Muffin is for 12 muffins (Lemon Curd Muffins). Remember for High Altitude decrease the Baking powder to 1 1/2 tsp. and the sugar decrease by a Tbl.

Lemon Curd Muffins- Adapted Better Homes and Gardens recipe


  •                  1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Grease six muffin pan and line with paper bake cups; set aside. Stir together the all-purpose flour, sugar, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; set aside.
  2. Combine the egg, milk, and oil in a small mixing bowl. Add egg mixture all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
  3. Spoon half of the batter into prepared muffin pan (two rounded tablespoons in each popover pan). Spoon two rounded teaspoons of the lemon curd on top of the batter in each pan. (There will be some remaining lemon curd for topping). Spoon remaining batter into muffin pan filling each pan two-thirds full.
  4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in muffin pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Top with remaining lemon curd . Serve warm or cool. Makes 6 muffins.


The Streusel Topping:  New York Style Crumb Cake/3 cp 

1/3 cp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbls. Canola Oil
1 3/4 cp flour

Mix together, and pinch small balls on top of uncooked muffin, a good thick coating, then lightly press down.

After they are baked, while still warm, drizzle on some more flavor with:
1 cp of Confectioner sugar
1 Tbl. of lemon juice
and add a bit of water to make a drizzly paste

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bread Machine Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread

I have made this bread for a couple of years, but we moved and I depended on my old recipe, which is now somewhere in the cellar stored. So back to the drawing board. Last week I tried it and it was OK, but I had soaked the wheat in the sourdough first to improve the health properties of the bread (soaked wheat digests better). But it was a bit bitter, and I thought not worth the effort. Today I'm going to try and double the SD Starter. I always start with a very good online recipe by All-recipes Allrecipes Pumpernickel Recipe and add sourdough. So I usually decrease ingredients to accommodate the SD, but with a new Breville Bread machine which bakes up to 2 1/2 lbs. loafs I have plenty of room. This is about a 2 lbs. loaf w/o Sourdough.

Adapted Recipe from Allrecipes:

In order of ingredients added to bread pan for bread machine:

1 cp warm water (watch kneading cycle to see if more water needs to be added because of high altitude and/or dryer climes)

2 Tbls vegetable oil
1/3 cp molasses
3 Tbls. cocoa
1 Tbls  caraway seed
1 1/2  tsp salt
1 1/2 cps bread flour
1 cp rye flour
1 cp whole wheat flour
2 Tbls vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast (for high altitude decrease by 1/2 tsp.


  1. To make this a Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread first add 1 cp Sourdough starter to the bread machine pan with the water (I decreased the water by an 1/8 cp. and I'll check when it's kneading if it needs more water, or more flour, last time I baked it I added about 1/2 cp flour Bread Flour, I'm at High Altitude where it's also dry so this can vary by area).
  2. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. I usually select a light crust setting because the Pumpernickel can easily burn on the outside & taste strong. Use a Whole Wheat Bread setting (it's a bit longer a cooking cycle).