Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Santa Must Really Love My Christmas Cookies!

You know what's fabulous about being a baker? If you make awesome cookies for Santa, he'll bring you awesome presents!

Thanks, Santa (AKA mom, dad, boyfriend, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc...)! This was truly the best Christmas ever! <3 <3 <3

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Crunchy Cookie Experiment

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I have a reputation to keep, so before you go and start getting funky ideas about me in your head, I do NOT like crunchy cookies! I'd prefer to eat a bowl of raw cookie dough, but if they must be baked I say the chewier the better! This experiment is for my dad. He loooves him some crunchy cookies (I'm so glad I didn't inherit that psychotic gene). A few days ago over dinner he requested crunchy cookies. Not just any crunchy cookies. He described cookies with white chocolate chips and cranberries. Then he went on to specify the ratio of white chocolate to cranberries that he'd prefer. My dad makes it so easy to bake for him! So anyway, I woke up this morning and my brain was on cookies. I hopped on the internet and googled about this strange phenomenon that is the "crunchy cookie lover." I found there are actually a lot of people who enjoy their cookies burnt, excuse me, crunchy! I came upon a forum discussing the elusive perfect crunchy cookie recipe (kinda like how us cake people are always looking for the perfect vanilla cake recipe ...hmmm). I decided to compare the first three recipes I found. I started with King Arthur Flour's Classic Crunchy Cookie from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. The other two recipes come from this article about making the perfect cookie. I used the Thin & Crispy recipe and the Thick & Crunchy recipe.

Let's get started with the process, and I'll let you in on the results at the end of the post.

First, we have three bowls of add-ins, because what good is cookie dough with nothing in it???
White chocolate chips and cranberries (for dad), semi-sweet and peanut butter chips, and mini semi-sweet chips and pecans.Cookie dough for KAF's Crunchy Cookies, Thin & Crispy Cookies, and Thick & Chewy Cookies...

Scooped and ready for the oven...

Each cookie after 6 minutes of baking...

Cooling and looking gross... I mean yummy... if you're weird...

And that's the Crunchy Cookie Experiment!
And the results are in! Surprisingly none of these cookies are the kind of "crunchy" both I and my dad were expecting. Dad says in order to be the perfect crunchy cookie, they have to snap when you break them. These cookies merely bend then break softly. My opinion is that KAF's Classic Crunchy has potential to be the crunchiest cookie. A few minutes added to the baking time could equal success. My mom thinks the Thick & Crunchy is the best cookie she's ever eaten. That's probably because it has the most butter, and she was born in North Carolina! Dad thinks the Thin & Crispy is the crunchiest... But when I tasted it, it was almost stick-to-your-teeth chewy. Maybe keeping them in an airtight container is softening them... Hmmm?? I guess the conclusion I must come to is that my dad needs a burnt cookie in order to be satisfied. Or at least a package of Keebler Chips Deluxe! Now if I could only wrangle the recipe from that little elf......

* = my adaptations
  • King Arthur Flour’s Classic Crunchy Cookies (halved)(I got 15 cookies using a #30 disher)
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) white or cider vinegar
    1/2 egg (mix a whole egg with a fork and use half of it)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup (6 oz.) white chocolate chips*
    1/2 cup dried cranberries*

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt and vinegar. Beat in egg until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add baking soda and flour, and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
    Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. (I baked 2 pans at a time in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. I rotated them at 6 and 12 minutes. My total baking time was 17 minutes!) Remove cookies from oven, cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Thin & Crispy Cookies - (I got 14 cookies using a #30 disher. The cookies were HUGE. Next time I’d use a tablespoon to measure them.)
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    3 tablespoons water
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (3 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips*
    1/2 cup (3 oz.) peanut butter chips*

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
    In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well blended. Beat in 3 tablespoons water and the vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
    In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries.
    Drop dough in 1-tablespoon portions, 2 inches apart.
    Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. (I baked 2 pans at a time in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. I rotated them at 6 and 12 minutes. My total baking time was 19 minutes.)
    Let stand on pans to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes; then transfer to racks to cool completely.

  • Thick & Crunchy Cookies (I got 29 small cookies)
    2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup (6 oz.) mini chocolate chips*
    1/2 cup chopped pecans*

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
    In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until well blended and smooth; scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
    In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries.
    Dough will be crumbly; pinch into 1-­tablespoon lumps and drop about 2 inches apart. (I scooped mine out with a tablespoon and rolled them into balls.)
    Bake until cookies are an even golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (I baked 2 pans at a time in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. I rotated them at 6 and 12 minutes. My total baking time was 18 minutes.)
    Let stand on pans to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes; then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

The winners of last week's poll with 270 votes were Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes! These are very different from the chocolate mint cupcakes I've done before. Instead of being flavored with peppermint extract, these cupcakes get their minty kick from peppermint tea! The recipe comes from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman. The cupcakes are good. They're moist and chocolatey with a hint of peppermint. You don't notice the tea flavor at first, but if you knew it was there you could definitely pick it out. The frosting that was supposed to go with them was a peppermint cream cheese frosting. But I was in the mood for some Swiss meringue buttercream. Peppermint SMBC is Josh's FAVORITE, so he was very happy that he showed up to my house just as I was frosting the cupcakes. He kept asking if eating all that frosting was bad for him. Hahaha, I told him it might be unhealthy but there was no way it could be bad! :D I garnished the cupcakes with some crushed up candy canes. I didn't eat a cupcake with the frosting and garnish, but I tasted them separately and they were both great. Everyone at Wing Night loved them too!

Steeping the tea Ingredients... Aren't the egg whites pretty???
Melt the tea, butter, sugar, and chocolate together.
Heat until smooth and whisk in the egg yolks.
The finished batter ready to go!
They look like Christmas!
Cupcake recipe from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman.
Frosting recipe by me!

Chocolate Peppermint Tea Cupcakes
Makes: 18-22 CUPCAKES

1 cup water
4 peppermint tea bags
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, plus pinch for the egg whites
3 ounces dark chocolate (I used unsweetened chocolate)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Boil water in a small pan and add tea bags. Let steep for about 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
3. While tea is steeping, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
4. ln the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, place mint tea, chocolate, sugar, and butter. Stir until chocolate and butter have melted and mixture is smooth (you can use a microwave, if you prefer). Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolks, beating well. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream or buttermilk and beat until batter is smooth.
5. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff but not dry and gently fold into batter.
6. Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.

Peppermint Frosting (my own recipe)

Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but cool
2 teaspoons peppermint extractRed food coloring (optional)

1. Put egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees on a candy thermometer).
2. Pour heated egg mixture into a clean bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes (It's very important to beat it for the whole 6 minutes, or until mixture is room temperature).
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears soupy or separated after all butter has been added, beat on high speed until smooth again, 2 to 5 minutes more.)
4. Beat in extract. Reduce speed to low; beat 1 minute to eliminate air bubbles.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 4
Tenderness: 4
Frosting: 5

Sunday, December 14, 2008

There's Always Time For Pie!

I've been busy... really REALLY busy. Did I mention how busy I've been? Over the span of 3 days last week, I made 4 pies and a birthday cake for our family's annual get-together at my great aunt Christy and uncle Charlie's house. We've accurately dubbed the holiday "Thanksmas." It's between Thanksgiving and Christmas... get it??? It's a holiday we made up in order to see family we don't get to see during the other holidays. I digress. This is about pies. Lately, I've been on a make-my-own-pie-crust kick. It's been fun so far. No major disasters as of yet (One went in the trash, but I'm learning from my mistakes). Anywho, while shopping at Michael's about a month ago, I found the neatest ceramic pie plates. Each plate has a recipe stamped on the inside of it. I thought it would be really nice if I made the pies according to those recipes and gave them the pie plates as a gift! So I did it. And I'm going to post all the photos and recipes in this post. Because last week when I posted all of those cookie recipes separately, I had a lot of unsubscribers saying I update too frequently...... whatever weirdos.

Wednesday evening I cranked out six, count 'em, SIX pie crusts! I was quite proud of myself. One lesson I definitely learned is to make sure the pieces of butter in the pie crust are small! Some of my pieces were as big as [small] marbles. They melted while baking resulting in holes in the crust and a burnt butter smell in the oven. No good at all! Don't stop cutting in the butter until the biggest lumps are the size of peas.

Thursday I got started on the baking. The first pie crust I rolled out was picture perfect. That is, until it went into the oven to be pre-baked. The instructions said just to prick it with a fork, didn't mention a thing about pie weights. The crust shrunk down into the pie pan. I tried to save it as best I could, but it was still kinda ugly. My boyfriend tried to make me feel better by saying it looked more homemade that way. I prefer to say "rustic." The first pie was the pumpkin pie. The recipe made a little too much filling, so I poured the extra into two small ramekins and baked them alongside the pie. Since the pie was going to be given away I couldn't exactly steal a bite, so I used the ramekins as my tasting portions. The filling was definitely delicious. The ginger flavor was my favorite part. (What's with me and ginger this season??) I recently got word from the recipients of this pie that my uncle Lanny ate ALL of it! My aunt Sherry and my cousins, Stephanie and Samantha, didn't even get a taste! I guess I'm flattered... Lol.

The second pie I made was a pecan pie. This was my first time ever making a real pecan pie, so I was nervous. I baked it exactly according to the directions. I took it out when the edges were set and the center was still jiggly. It smelled SO good while it was cooling! I gave this pie to my Aunt Michelle. She loves pecan pies, so I hoped I did it right for her. She said it was baked exactly how she likes it. Still gooey in the middle, not chewey and overbaked. She was nice enough to offer her pie up to everyone at Christy's for dessert Saturday night (alongside the Boston Cream birthday cake I made for Tammy's birthday that got devoured within the hour!).

The next pie on my to-do list was the cherry lattice pie. It was my first time attemping a lattice top pie, and I was especially nervous using homemade pie crust because it's very delicate. A few of the strips broke while I was putting them on the pie. Then the warm cherry filling started to soften the strips while I was folding them into the lattice pattern. It was extremely nerve racking, but I was able to mend all the broken strips. I ended up with a very rustic looking pie. The filling was so good. I snuck a little taste while I was making it. Homemade cherry filling is the BEST! I didn't get a picture of the inside of the pie because my aunt Tammy was not in the mood to share. But that's okay, because she texted me the next day and said it was really delicious!

The fourth and final pie was the one I was most excited to make. The apple cranberry pie was a sinch to put together. The smell of fresh apples and cinnamon is one of my favorite scents in the whole wide world. It comes second in my list of favorite smells only to vanilla cake batter. Now that stuff is pure heaven. But more about the pie. You may be thinking, "Wow, that top crust looks so flaky and perfect." Well remember that pie crust I told you that took a trip to the garbage can? Yeah... It was the top crust on this pie. The one you see in the photo is a Pillsbury refrigerated roll-out crust. I'm not afraid to admit defeat. One of my pie crusts was just too crumbly to roll, so I took a little help from the Dough Boy! But the little apple cut-outs came from my own crust, so props to me for something! Another mishap reared it's head when my great aunt Christy sliced into this pie. The filling never thickened up. It was very soupy. I dunno what went wrong. I've made apple pies before, and this has never happened. Any advice? Could it have been the recipe? Nevertheless (bringing back some old school vocab!), I stole a tiny bite of the slice of pie we took home to my dad. It was really good. The cranberries added a beautiful flavor throughout the pie. And the apples were cooked perfectly. I like when they still have a little bit of texture. The only suggestion my dad gave was that if I was making that pie for him, he'd want a little less cranberry and a little more apple. Other than that, it got great reviews!

Here are all of the recipes with my suggestions in orange italics (as always!):

  • Pumpkin Pie
    1 single-crust pastry
    2 eggs
    1 can (16 oz.) solid pack pumpkin (I used a 15 oz. can)
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    1 can (10 oz.) evaporated milk (Do they come in 10 oz. cans? I used two 5 oz. cans)

    Preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry into round; press onto bottom and up sides of pie pan; trim edges and prick bottom with a fork (I suggest using pie weights). Bake 7-8 minutes (or until lightly golden).
    In large bowl, beat eggs; stir in pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and evaporated milk; pour into pie shell. Place pie on jelly roll pan; bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Continue baking 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean (I baked mine just until the outside was set and the center was slightly jiggly, about 45 minutes). Cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate.

  • Pecan Pie
    1 single-crust pastry
    1 cup light or dark corn syrup (I used King Syrup)
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted (I used salted butter)
    1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 cups pecan halves or pieces

    Preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry into circle; press onto bottom and up sides of pie pan; set aside.
    In large bowl, whisk together corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes or until edges are set and center is still slightly liquid (I had to bake mine for about 25 minutes). Remove from oven; cool completely.

  • Cherry Lattice Pie
    1 double-crust pastry
    1 can (20 oz.) pitted tart cherries (I couldn't find a 20 oz. can; I measured 20 oz. from two 14 oz. cans)
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons butter or margarine
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon almond extract
    Zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange (I used 1 lemon and only half an orange)

    Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out pastry disk into an 11” circle. Place in pie pan (Don‘t forget the pie weights). Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
    Drain cherries, reserving 1 cup liquid. In saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt; stir in cherry liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, citrus zest, and almond extract. (The recipe forgot to say this, but add the cherries now, as well.) Pour into pre-baked pie shell. Roll out second pastry disk into an 11” circle. With a knife or pastry wheel cut eight ½” strips. Place pastry strips horizontally, then vertically, across the top of the pie
    (CLICK HERE FOR ILLUSTRATED HELP) . Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool before serving.

  • Apple Cranberry Pie
    6 cups sliced, peeled, and cored baking apples (about 6 large apples)
    (I used 3 Granny Smith apples and 2 Gala apples sliced ½” thick)
    ¾ cup dried cranberries
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 double-crust pastry
    1 egg white, lightly beaten
    2 tablespoons coarse sugar (optional)

    Preheat oven to 400 F. In large bowl, combine apple slices, cranberries, and lemon juice. In small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples; mix well to coat.
    Line deep dish pie plate with pie crust; fill with apple mixture. Using mini cutter, cut out vents in top pie crust. Place crust over filling; crimp and flute edges. Brush pie crust with egg white (and sprinkle with optional sugar).
    Bake 45-50 minutes or until apples are bubbly and crust is deep golden brown. Remove pie from oven. Cool pie in pan on cooling rack at least 1 hour before serving.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Cookie Caper '08: Wrap-Up!

I've already said this like a thousand times, but Christmas is seriously the BEST time to bake. The mood just feels so comfortable and perfect if you put on some Christmas music and bake with someone you love. Enough of sounding like a Halmark card, let's get onto the good stuff. My mom and I really baked our brains out this year! We baked aaaalll day and almost all night. We had the best time, as usual, and it was nice that Josh came over to help... even if all he did was keep us company and eat raw snickerdoodles! After hours and hours of baking, our laundry room was FULL of cookies!

My favorite cookies this year were the Gingerbread Women. I never really loved gingerbread until we made these cookies. Now I'll be making it much more often!

My second faves aren't really cookies, but they're freakin good anyways. The red velvet truffles are AWESOME! I made these for our Halloween party and my mom had to have them again for Christmas. They made a nice addition inside our cookie tins.

We always pack our cookies into cute Christmas tins with sparkly tissue paper. We make a list of like 15-20 people and give them all their own special container of cookies. I think this year's cookies have been the best yet! The cookie tins look so perfect. I hope everyone loves them!

And I hope all of you guys enjoy the recipes. If you make any of these cookies, or any Christmas cookies at all, feel free to e-mail me pictures and stories. I'd love to hear what you guys do during the holidays!

Christmas Cookie Caper '08: #6 - Homemade Oreos

When I saw this recipe in The Great American Bake Sale cookbook I was like "How cool will we be if we make our own Oreos??!!?" While it seemed like a great idea at the time, I don't think we'll make these again next year. They don't stay crunchy for longer than a day. But they are super delicious on the first day! Dark and chocolatey like a real Oreo. The filling is sweet and so good. We made half of them with mint filling and half plain. I didn't wanna put the mint ones into the cookie tins we were giving away because I was scared they'd make everything else taste like mint. Oh well... more for me! The recipe says to roll the dough up like a log and slice it when it's nice and cold. We definitely didn't do that. I was envisioning lopsided, totally unround Oreos... so I decided it would be better to roll it out like sugar cookies and cut them with small round cutters. We used a tiny 1 1/2" flower shaped cutter. But after they baked, the shape was indiscernable. However they were still ROUND! Mission accomplished. I recommend these, but make them in a small batch and don't plan on keeping them around for more than 2 days.

Recipe from The Great American Bake Sale
Makes 50 sandwich cookies

For the cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup light corn syrup

For the filling
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
5 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon mint extract (optional)

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda.
2. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring the entire time. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. (You may also melt the chocolate using a microwave-safe bowl, setting the microwave at half power for 1 minute; re­move the chocolate, stir, and return to the microwave for another burst, if needed. When the chocolate is half melted, stirring will complete the process.)
3. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter with the sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the melted chocolate, egg, and corn syrup; mix thoroughly. Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to blend all of the ingredients.
4. Here's where I changed things around. I divided the dough in half, wrapped each piece in plastic wrap, and threw it in the fridge overnight. The next day it took a looong time to soften up, so take it out of the fridge at least 4 hours before you're ready to roll. Roll it to 1/4" thick. Cut it into 1 1/2" circles. Everything else is the same so continue reading below...

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two or three cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
6. Slice the cookies into 1/4-inch-thick disks and arrange them on the prepared pan, leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are firm. (They won't be perceptibly darker or crispy.) Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
7. To make the filling, put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until creamy. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confection­ers' sugar, and mix until creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla and mix briefly.
8. Oh yeah we did this part different too. Don't worry about rolling the filling into a log and slicing it... that's silly. Instead roll it into balls the size of marbles (it's not sticky so it won't stick to your hands). Sandwich a ball of filling between two cookies and press. TADA! Divide the filling in half. Roll each half into a log just a bit smaller than the di­ameter of the finished cookies. Slice the logs into 1/3-inch disks, and sandwich each be­tween two of the baked cookies. Store the cookies in airtight containers.