Thursday, April 26, 2012


I brought these Snickerdoodles to work and I was happy when people said how much they loved them, how they tried to stop at one but couldn't.  As a baker, this is a huge, very welcome compliment.
What I wasn't expecting was having multiple people say days and days afterwards, "So, I heard you made Snickerdoodles..."  
It's kind of hilarious, because these experimental Snickerdoodles have no butter or cream of tartar (two key components of this type of cookie). 
I used vegetable shortening in place of the butter, added a little milk for the dairy, and used vinegar instead of cream of tartar.
Bake these and people will spread really great rumors about you.

Combine the shortening, light brown sugar, and granulated white sugar in a mixing bowl.  Sticks of Crisco are much, much easier because they don't get all over your hands, and trust me, you don't want that to happen.  It's an oil slick for your hands that will not come off with anything but Dawn dishwashing soap. Please don't try to just wash it off with warm'll fry your hands. Not that I would know...

Cream the sugars and the shortening together.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, the milk, and the vinegar, and whisk until fluffy.

In my first post--Banana Bread--I told you that I never sift my dry ingredients.  Well this time I did--I wanted to impress you.  
Actually, this was the first recipe I ever shot, and I didn't know what I was doing.  I say that if you don't want to sift the dry ingredients, don't.  
So sift the flour, salt, and the baking soda. If you want.

Add the flour gradually...

Combine all the flour until the dough looks like this!

Combine the additional sugar and cinnamon to make some cinnamon sugar! If you have any extra, make some cinnamon toast...or more of these.

Roll the dough into a ball a little larger than this--my first batch didn't go over so well because the cookies were too small.  They may seem really large, but trust me, you'll love how they turn out when you use more dough.
And yes, I'm a hand model.

Now, this part's important:
When you roll the cookies in the cinnamon sugar, only roll one side in the cinnamon sugar.  With my first batch, I rolled the whole little bundle of dough in it because I was so excited.  The bottoms of the cookies turned out a little burnt because the sugar caramelized on the bottom while they were baking.  Not so great. So, only put cinnamon sugar on one side of the little ball of dough.

Grease a cookie sheet, any size will do. Place the non-Cinnamon-sugared (?) sides down on the cookie sheet.  This is from my failed first batch, so please note the little balls of dough should be bigger than this.

Now, press the dough down with your fingers, because these guys don't spread too much.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on whether or not your oven is the temperature of the sun, like mine.

Basically, you want them to look like this:

Voila! Beautiful snickerdoodles that everyone will love. 

By the way, AllRecipes has this fantastic little link where you can see the substitutes for all major cooking/baking ingredients--it's how I got the idea to put vinegar in these!
Here's the website:

Enjoy, guys! Hopefully all those good rumors will be buzzing around your office, classroom, kitchen, etc. 



Here's the recipe:

1 cup vegetable shortening (or two sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp milk
4 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

For the cinnamon sugar:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400.
Cream shortening and both sugars together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the milk, vinegar, and vanilla, whisking until fluffy.
Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add the flour to the wet sugar/shortening/egg mixture in gradually until fully incorporated.
Combine the half cup of sugar and the cinnamon to make some cinnamon sugar.
Roll a generous portion of dough into a ball and roll half of it in the cinnamon sugar, and place the sugared side up on a greased baking sheet.
Flatten the little balls of dough with your fingers so the cookies look nice when you take them out of the oven.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how how your oven is. You want them to be golden brown on the edges.
Let them cool, give them away, and wait for the rumors to start!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Perfect Banana Bread

Banana Bread is a beautiful thing.  You take fruit that no one in their right mind would eat because it's so old, mash it up, mix it with a few choice baking ingredients, and then turn it into something...well, beautiful. This banana bread is sweet and incredibly moist, and everyone you bake it for will love you.  

I bake about two or three of these a week, and I almost never bake them in my kitchen.  I prefer to eat bananas that are green--mutant green--so they get used up in my kitchen immediately.  I do not want to risk having a brown-spotted banana in my kitchen.  The thought sickens me.

However, I love finding overly ripe ones in other kitchens, because that means I get to bake one of these babies.  

The bananas you use in banana bread are the opposite of the kind I like--they need to be black.  You need to look at them and think, "There is no possible way I am going to use these, they are too old and gross."  That, my friends, is when you know that they are perfect for making banana bread.  

These bananas aren't quite ripe enough, but I used them anyway because I was desperate to get my banana bread on. Do as I say, not as I do. Ahem.

So, let's get started.
Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350.

First, mash up two old bananas with a fork.  

Crack a couple of eggs into the bowl, and whisk them into the mashed banana until it looks ever weirder than the mashed banana by itself.

**Usually, at this point, you'll need to add a tsp. of vanilla, but I don't have a picture of that because I am imperfect and forgot the vanilla.  I realized it about 5 minutes into baking time, so naturally I pulled the pan out and put a teaspoon of vanilla in it and stirred.  Obviously this is normal. But it's okay if you forget stuff and add it in later--it makes it your own creation, and that's the fun part of baking.**

Next you add a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of light brown sugar and whisk it all together.   

Then add 1/2 a cup of canola oil and 1/2 cup of milk and whisk again.

Here's something you need to know about me if we are going to make this work: I generally don't sift all my dry ingredients together.  I understand this is a baking sin, but let me tell you: my banana bread, cookies, brownies, whatever they are, all turn out fine.  It also cuts down on the dishes...

So, add a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of salt.  If you really want to, you can add it with the two cups of flour we'll be adding in a bit--that's fine too.

Measure out two cups of flour and whisk those in as well.

The batter will be fairly thin; the really wet batter makes the bread super moist.  
If you feel so inclined and want to go the more traditional route, you can add 1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans at this point.  No one in my family likes nuts in their breads, cookies, etc., so I tend to leave them out. However, I happen to know that pecans are really tasty in this bread. Feel free to add Chocolate chips, nuts, coconut shavings...The world is your oyster.

Grease an 8 inch loaf pan and pour the batter in. 

Bake the bread for about an hour and twenty minutes.  If your oven runs hot, you might have to reduce the bake time by about ten minutes.
Take it out when it looks like this:

Tah-Dah! I told you it would be beautiful!

Your bread might look a little darker than you expect, but that's perfect.  There's a lot of sugar in this guy and it caramelizes really nicely.


Because this is my first blog post, I'll explain the whole "lekker" thing to you guys.  Lekker is Dutch (and German, for that matter, but I'm half Dutch) for "yummy" or delicious.  My wonderful Oma (you'll be hearing a lot about my Dutch grandmother) used to ask me every time she cooked something for me if what she made was "lekker." It's what you say when you think something is just delicious.  

I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this.  

So, is it lekker?


The Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2 mashed, ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1/4 cup pecans *optional

 Mash ripe banana with a fork. Whisk in two eggs until combined. Don't forget the vanilla.  I almost forgot to write it here...again. 
Add the sugars and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in the oil and milk and then add the salt and baking soda (salt and baking soda can be sifted together with the flour and added later if desired).
Combine the flour with the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
Grease an 8 inch loaf pan, pour the batter in, and bake for about an hour and twenty minutes! If your oven runs really hot, you might need to decrease the baking time by about ten minutes.
Take it out of the oven and enjoy!