Baking Week

We’ve got two back-to-back birthdays in the first week of May. This means a lot of treats getting made this week. This year, it was a cake and some tarts.

We used our favorite cook book, Rosanna Pansino’s Baking All Year Round. Grammy’s cake used the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Mini Easter Egg Cupcakes, poured into two 8 inch round cake pans but cooked according to the instructions in the recipe, and the vegan buttercream icing. We added some peppermint extract into the cake and made this cookie dough frosting to go between the cake layers. And, of course, the chocolate pen made its appearance in writing on top.

Despite my baking assistant’s mother’s birthday coming before his grandmother’s, her treats came next, on her actual birthday, since Grammy was only here for the weekend. We made the Daisy Lemon Tarts over two days so we could make it in secret. Well, mostly secret.


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Vegan Baking

Recently, through some self-experimentation, I discovered that my body does not like dairy. Which is pretty bad, because I kind of love dairy. And have a really tough time not eating it, despite knowing it will give me a rash and an upset stomach. So I have spent way too many nights up late browsing Pinterest to find recipes for my favorite foods that have been veganized.

Our first find was this vegan cherry-filled chocolate cake the six-year-old helped me make for his dad’s birthday. I actually used the vegan chocolate cupcake recipe in Rosanaa Pansino’s Baking All Year Round, just split into two round cake pans instead of a cupcake tin. I typically bake without eggs anyway, because I don’t tend to like to eat eggs and never had them on hand for baking in college. Flaxseed meal mixed 1:3 with water is my preferred “egg” anytime it’s called for in a recipe. And, since I already quit drinking cow milk and only ever have almond on hand, that’s not much of a change either.

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Happy pi day!

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One thing I had seen a lot in vegan recipes but had not yet tried was avocado in chocolate things. So, for Pi day, I made this chocolate pie from coconut milk, avocados, and those new “allergen free” chocolate chips by Tollhouse, with this crust that I just baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. I’m also a big fan of the chocolate chips by Enjoy Life, and I’ve found that Trader Joe’s semisweet chocolate chips also are dairy-free.

For my birthday, I want tres leches cake. Problem is, there are literally no vegan bakeries around here that make them. Or at least none that list it on their website. So I had to resort to making my own from this recipe which was really good (though I did substitute almond milk for the soy milk since I don’t keep soy milk on hand and had to start the process at about 8am and didn’t want to run to the store). Best find of this recipe was the So Delicious Coco whip, right next to the Cool Whip in the freezer section. I didn’t have time to get the coconut cream and refrigerate it overnight to make my own whipped cream, so that was a handy solution.

Most recently, I’ve tried this tomato soup recipe (which even the six-year-old approved of) with this grilled cheese recipe made with the white bean option and my usual staple of Julia Child’s white sandwich bread. Wins all around. Not necessarily sure if the “grilled cheese” really passes as a grilled cheese or not, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

Sometimes I manage to get something great, sometimes it’s a dud. But all of these recipes worked amazingly, so I’ll keep trying more to find what’s good and what’s not.


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Super Special Cookies

I went a little overboard in the mini-candies aisle at Ralphs a couple weeks ago. After eating a bag of mini stuffed Reeses and a bag of Hugs, I decided that the dark chocolate mini Reeses were going to become cookies. Well, be baked into cookies.

Using this recipe, the tiny chef (“I’m gonna help, because I’m a good chef!”) and I made 35 out of the predicted 40 cookies. We had a bag of 37 cups, one was lost to the tiny chef in the unwrapping process and another was crushed so I ate it, and somehow we lost the appropriate amount of dough as well…

These are super simple. You just mix up the batter, roll it into balls, cook those in mini muffin tins, and then you press the cups in right when you take it out of the oven. We unwrapped all the cups and put them in a bowl in the freezer to make that part a little easier, so they wouldn’t melt immediately on impact.

I’ve made these before with regular peanut butter cups, but the dark chocolate are way better. Maybe next time we will have to try the stuffed ones.


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The Baking Bug

Leave me home alone long enough and I will just start baking anything and everything.

Ok, wait. That sounds bad. I’m not saying I start putting random things in the oven. I’m saying I start making an overabundance of random food.

This time, it even extended beyond baked goods to cold foods as I made way too much “salsa” (sans peppers which I didn’t know were already moldy).

All together I have made a loaf of banana bread (in July), two loaves of honey wheat bread, about a gallon of salsa (may be slightly exaggerated, but only slightly), and 48 zucchini muffins in the month of August. And there’s still a week to go.

Pups Save A Cake, The Remix

Last year I made a Paw Patrol cake for a certain little nugget’s third birthday, using frozen buttercream transfers to make the pups. This year, we did it again, but I decided to do it a little differently.

This time I made royal icing transfers. I also added a non-ghosty Marshall (“I want the ghost, too!”) and Ryder. At first I tried to make letters, but i kept smashing them with my hand as I was writing so i gave up and decided just to write it on the cake the right way around.

We used this strawberry cake recipe. Since the birthday boy loves to bake, he got to help make it. And, since his school was out that week, he also got to help shop for the ingredients. Which wasn’t all that exciting except we went to the grocery store with a Starbucks inside and got our drinks first.

He was very happy with the final outcome, and so were his friends at his impromptu birthday at the park playdate they were having anyway. Then again, you can’t go wrong with sugar on a birthday.

You Can Do Anything With The Internet

Lately we have been watching a lot of YouTube videos involving surprise eggs, PlayDoh, and food. We inevitably ended up on videos of people making those Japanese candy kits, which prompted a, “I wanna try that!” from the little one. So yesterday I went to the mall in search of some.

I started at the Tokyo Lifestyle store, where I tried to find the kit that looked the easiest to do, considering I was making it with a three-year-old, and none of us can read Japanese. I decided on the pudding, and also the chocolate and Oreo Pocky (the bottom row). Then I decided to try the Lolli and Pops store downstairs, since they have a pretty good international selection. I was also on the lookout for some cinnamon jelly beans and potentially some surprise eggs. They didn’t have only the cinnamon jelly beans and only had the Kinder Joys, not the plain chocolate eggs. But they did have gummies, another different flavor of Pocky, and my Pandas (which were also at the other store, but I was trying to be good). And, of course, I got taken in by the caramels hanging near the register.

Anyway, enough about the way too much candy I ended up buying. On to our adventures trying to make this kit. As you can see, the whole box is written in Japanese. My first thought was to re-download the Google translate app and just take pictures of each step. That turned out to be less than helpful. It translated well, but as often happens with straight translation, it wasn’t very understandable. After looking all over for pre-translated instructions, I finally just found this video on YouTube.

It took a lot of pausing and rewinding, but we managed to pull it together. It didn’t look quite like the picture, but it tasted really good. And isn’t that what making candy is all about?

I Rainbowed Bread

Sunday I decided to make bread. I made this decision around 1pm, went to the store, then came home and laid down until around 6pm. Which left me finishing the bread about 10:30pm. Because I’m good at planning like that. Oh well.

Anyway, I used this white sandwich bread recipe from Julia Child which created two loaves of bread. I only rainbowed the one because getting this:

took about thirty minutes and was only one loaf. Next time I will split the whole thing into seven and dye it before splitting for the two loaves.

Another thing I learned doing this is that, while the glass storage container is roughly the same size as the bread tin and is oven safe, it doesn’t exactly let go of the bread very easily. Even with cooking spray. So I’ll probably be better off just getting a second bread tin like I contemplated at the grocery store.

Overall, the rainbowing process was really simple. After the first rise, I added food coloring to the dough by making a little dimple in the ball and dropping the food coloring in before kneading it with my fingers. It does get a little messy, so I would lay down a cutting board or maybe even parchment paper, and possibly consider gloves. The food coloring will wash off, but it will take a few washings. I’m just saying, if you make this bread in the middle of the day and are planning to go places afterward, probably best to protect your hands.