I made it back to Atlanta Monday night via a long bus ride (13 hours!), and woke up the next morning to a chilly and damp Tuesday. And what’s better for dinner on a cold rainy day than stew?
…and what’s better than stew, than stew and dumplings?
That’s right – I can’t think of anything either.
Whenever I make stew I always grab for my copy of Jaimie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver. It’s built to teach people to make easy, delicious meals and encourage them to eat better and be healthier as opposed to picking up easy junk food (a sin we’re all at fault for). Food Revolution has a great recipe for basic stew and includes 4 variations, each using a different meat/herb/alcohol combination. I always go for beef, beer, and bay leaves, and this time was no different. I’d actually considered heading to the store to pick up some wine and rosemary to shake things up a bit, but I decided to go with my tried’n'true…especially since someone had left beer in our fridge, meaning I wouldn’t have to venture out into the cold dreariness.
As a new little personal challenge I decided to add dumplings, a suggestion also from Food Revolution. The only problem was that it called for self-rising flour, not what I typically keep in my pantry (we’re more of an all-purpose household). That being said, I knew there was a way to make the self-rising flour out of my AP, and a quick Google search gave me the answers I sought. Bring on the stew, I said to myself!
One of the things I love about stew is how soothing it is to make. There’s a lot of chopping and stirring, and while you wait for it to cook down, its lovely savory aroma permeates your whole kitchen and, if you’re lucky, your entire home. It’s warm and comforting, and for a makes everything alright for awhile. It always surprises me when I see that this stew recipe doesn’t call for garlic, only salt, pepper, and bay leaves. And, of course, beer. I was a little concerned that the beer from our fridge wouldn’t mesh well with stew – it was a special holiday flavor – but it ended up being great.
So…thanks to whoever left this behind!
Anyway, the self-rising flour and dumplings were a breeze to make; I don’t see any reason why I would keep a bag of SR flour around when I always have AP, baking powder, and salt (the only 3 ingredients required to make SR). These dumplings required you to cut cold butter into flour, not unlike a pie crust, and while many of you know my dislike for pie crusts and the cutting of butter, these were easy enough that even my clumsy hands couldn’t screw them up too badly. Let’s take a look!
I know this stew looks a touch dry, but trust me when I say it wasn’t. A few of the dumplings were admittedly a bit dry inside, but dousing them in the lovely stew gravy made everything alright. In fact, it made everything perfect.
These dumplings turned out so well that I’m pretty sure I’ll be making them a requirement in all of my future stew excursions. The gluteny-savoriness they added was delicious, and perfect for sopping up any remaining bits of sauce left in my bowl.
I hope you make some stew’n'dumplins, and I hope you share it with friends. And I hope you get it all over your face.
Dumpling recipe from Jamie’s Food Revolution (it’s a great cookbook, I highly recommend it).
Sift/whisk all 3 ingredients together. YOU’RE DONE!
Hello friends! Happiest of pre-Thanksgivings to you (of the American variety, that is)!
For the past few years I’ve done the “Thanksgiving Dessert Bonanza” here at n00bcakes, but this year, for the first time in a long time, my Thanksgiving is not being held in my home state of Georgia. Instead, it’s being held in Virginia, the home of my brother and new sister-in-law. While this is awesome (I love visiting them) it also means that my baking time is drastically shorter, and that I’m fighting with a lot more people over the oven.
Suffice it to say, this year’s Thanksgiving Dessert Bonanza has been shortened to a single recipe: the Gingerbread Roll Cake.
I have considerable mixed feeling about this recipe, which I have now made twice.
The good news is that it’s a genuinely tasty dessert, and it throws some great variety into what can sometimes be a pretty cookie-cutter variety of Thanksgiving (or other holiday) desserts. Not only is it a fancy roll-em-up cake, but it also has dominant flavors that are less common: ginger cinnamon. Sure, you get a tablespoon of them here and there in your pumpkin pies, but it’s not often that they’re the star of their own show.
The bad news is that doggone it if I have a hard time (1) making these look good and (2) getting the texture of the cake right! The process of making this cake isn’t too crazy: you have an egg yolk/molasses mixture, a meringue mixture, and your dry ingredient mixture. You fold them all together and bake them in a jelly roll pan. Once baked, you roll the cake up in a tea towel so it will cool in a spiral shape. Then you unroll it, add filling, and re-roll. Pretty simple, yeah?
Here’s the problem: you have a lot of ingredients to fold together, and all that folding always makes the cake go a little flatter than I think it’s supposed to. The cake keeps turning out a little dense and, while not hard, just stiffer than I’d like. And what’s annoying is after each step that requires folding the recipe has the stones to remind you to “be careful” when folding in the ingredients. Look man, sometimes I might be an impatient baker, but I’m not a magician! Three meringued egg whites cannot compensate for an additional 2-cup wet mixture and an additional 1-cup dry mixture! Being “careful” is not something that’s going to keep this batter from deflating! Thanks for the pro tip, HOSS.
…But let me reiterate: the cake is very good. I simply can’t seem to get the batter as light as it’s supposed to be; despite my best efforts the cake always ends up dense. Anybody have some good folding tips for me?
Anyway, aside from the annoyance with all the darn folding, the other issue is the prettiness; I get the feeling that’s the sort of thing that comes with practice, though. Once I get the density worked out I think it’ll probably be easier to spread, and thus bake evenly as opposed to being thicker in some areas and thinner in others.
My first try didn’t actually look too bad when sliced up. Check it out:
This first try I had to make in a smaller pan, so you can see that the cake itself is thicker than the one above. Still, it’s slices turned out more uniform and the spiral was clear. My second attempt – the one today – was a little more anemic.
Anyway, I know it sounds like I’m giving this cake a lot of flack, but that’s mainly due to my frustration at not being able to do it proper justice from an implementation perspective. Damn and blast my untalented baking skills!
However, if you have gingerbread and cinnamon lovers in your house, I highly recommend this recipe – it’s a little time-consuming, what with the mixing of separate yolk, egg white, dry ingredient, and then whipped cream mixtures, but the flavor (and if you do it right, the presentation) is wonderful!
I wish everybody the best Thanksgiving – enjoy some family, friends, and good, good food!
From Roxana’s Home Baking.
You didn’t think I’d just do that lame round-up post for Halloween recipes did you?
Actually, I did for awhile. >.> But in the end I decided to damn the torpedoes (and my removed wisdom teeth – good times) to try an idea that popped into my head. This one in particular, there being Halloween candy everywhere, was something I thought sounded like a lot of fun.
Remember back when I used to hide delicious things inside other delicious things? Like these Surprise Easter Brownies, hiding different flavors of candy Easter eggs?
I used to love to do that a lot. Who doesn’t want a delicious thing with MORE delicious things inside? That’s right – NOBODY.
Hiding goodies seemed like a good theme for Halloween, so I went with it and it actually turned out really well. I grabbed a general bag of chocolate candies (Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers) and randomly dropped one of each into my cupcake batter – surprisingly, they almost all turned out beautifully!
One other departure for me that you may or may not have noted is the fact that these cupcakes are not, in fact, chocolate. It’s a rare thing for me to bake something that’s not predominantly made of chocolate, but I think that recently I’ve been stagnating a little bit in my baking breadth. Funfetti Cookies aside, the only cake I ever bake is chocolate, and any time I make cookies it’s consistently a requirement for them to have chocolate as well. I felt like it was time for me do something new. Hence, some yellow, vanilla-y cake!
The recipe I found is great, though, and I plan on trying it out again. It’s from a trusted source – Joy the Baker – and with both vanilla extract and vanilla seeds in it, it’s delicious; even the batter tastes great. This with some extra-sugary chocolate buttercream (not meringue! Look at me!) makes for a diabetes-inducing dessert, but it’s worth every bite. These cupcakes are fun, and a good surprise (as long as nobody’s dead-set against any particular kind of candy).
Hiding delicious food in other delicious food will never go wrong, friends. Never.
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Use your favorite chocolate buttecream recipe! I used the one from Savory Sweet Life.