Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first? Me buying the BabycakesNYC bakebook because of the great photos and art direction, or me wanting to bake something yummy for my diabetic grandmother?
The world may never know the answer to either of these questions, but all that really matters is that I finally found what I’ve been looking for: something new, fun, and challenging to broaden my baking horizons. We all know I love cupcakes and will never get enough, but I can only mix together flour, sugar, and eggs so many times before it starts to lose its luster. So why not bake something WITHOUT the likes of flour, sugar, and eggs?
Enter gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and wheat-free baking! I wish I could post the recipe on here, but I really encourage you to go get Babycakes for yourself. It’s the most adorable cookbook I’ve seen in awhile, and Erin McKenna’s sassy narratives preceding each recipe make for a great and entertaining read.
Let me say one more thing about the baking in this book, especially coming from someone who works for a food magazine and has heard more than anyone’s fair share of readers complaining recipes not working out: FOLLOW THE RECIPES WORD FOR WORD! Baking is a wonderful but precise and scientific art, and when you replace regular flour with gluten- and wheat-free baking flour, sugar with agave nectar, and eggs and with coconut oil, you gotta make sure you do exactly what Erin says. She spent years developing these recipes, and there’s no need to tinker with them! I know the ingredient list is a little intimidating, but if you have a Whole Foods near you, you can get everything without a problem. I was pretty sure that Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo and Fava Bean flour would be impossible to get my hands on, but there it was, right next to his Xantham Gum!
And if something does work out exactly right, then sorry, but chances are it’s your fault For instance, you can see in the photo that my Banana Bread collapsed a little in the middle. But I know that my oven tends to bake a little uneven, so I have to own up to that one. Just pick yourself up by the apron strings and try again!
Happy vegan baking trails to you all, and thanks to Erin McKenna for such a fun book. I hope I can make it up to NYC soon so I can stop by the bakery and experience the preciousness first-hand!
P.S. Here’s a fun video from Babycakes that gives a little bit more info on how to bake up your Banana Bread just right!
Happy Fall! This is my absolute, hands-down, favorite time of year. I wanted to make something nice and fall-ish for the first meeting of the new supper club my friends and I just started doing. We had a Dinner-Breakfast theme (what could be better?), so I decided to make these donuts I found in a cookbook I borrowed from my food editor. They really and truly were so much fun to make, and they seemed to really be a hit with the girls in the supper club!
This has gotten me just all kinds of inspired to make more donuts in all kinds of fun flavors. I even bought a donut cutter at Birmingham Bake & Cook yesterday. Pomegranate donut next, perhaps?
Apple Cider Glazed Donuts
1 cup apple cider
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs cold, thin-sliced unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Canola oil for deep-frying
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the cider to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8-10 minutes. Let it cool completely. In a bowl, sift together 3 1/4 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add in the butter and beat on low speed until the mixture forms fine crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cups of the reduced cider, and the vanilla until combined. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until soft dough forms. Turn out onto a very well-floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour if needed (it will be needed!). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment flour and sprinkle some more flour onto it. Pat the dough onto the parchment to about 1/2 inch thickness (thinner if you’re making mini donuts like I did). Freeze for about 15 minutes until they firm up.
Pour oil a couple inches of oil in your skillet (I used my Lodge cast iron) and heat on med-hi to 350 F. (You’ll need your deep frying/candy thermometer!). Set a large wire rack over another baking sheet and place it near the stovetop. Using a donut cutter (or juice glass, whatever) cut out donuts and holes (I used the tube that holds my vanilla beans). You can reroll the scraps and use them.
Using your spider strainer, drop 2-3 donut in the oil at a time. Or, if you’re brave like me just drop them in there. The recipe I used says 3 minutes, but mine fried up in about 30 seconds. Turn them once at the halfway point; when they’re a nice, lovely dark golden brown they’re done. Again, your spider strainer will be your best friend. Transfer to the cooling rack and then let them cool completely. Don’t forget to the fry the donut holes too!
To make the glaze, bring the remaining 1/4 cup cider reduction back to boil, then whisk in the the sifted powdered sugar. Remove it from heat and let it cool just a little. Dunk each donut in the glaze and let the excess drip back into the saucepan. Return to wire rack till the glaze is set.
Serve ‘em up!
(Ode to Gwen Stefani…)
Last week I had the privilege of doing a photo shoot at Big Sky Bread Co. here in Birmingham for the magazine. We’re doing a feature on them in June/July 09 issue, and it’s going to be fantastic. Patti and Jeff, the owners, and Elaine, their PR gal, were so awesome in every way, and I loved hanging out with them for a couple days. Their company is such a great asset to the Magic City, and I know that they will only continue to grow and become more successful. Even in tough times like these, it’s not just the amazing bread, cookies, granola, and muffins that keep their customers coming back for more, more, more, it’s also the Southern hospitality that’s baked into every loaf. That’s what it’s all about!
Anyway, I digress, what I really want to share with you is their amazing challah bread (pronounced “HA-llah,” with a bit of a flemmy throat at the beginning). They gifted me with a loaf, that I very eagerly and gratefully accepted, that they had just baked that morning, and I knew from the moment it was in my hands that it was destined to become warm, gooey French toast the next morning. I don’t want to brag, but I make GREAT French toast. Here’s how:
Some thick slices of Big Sky challah bread (only baked on Fridays by the way)
A couple cups of milk
tablespoon of pure vanilla extract (maybe a bit less…just eyeball it)
good heapin’ amount in cinnamon
Get your cast iron skillet really hot (on medium, but just let it sit and get completely to temperature), and totally dunk the challah bread in the mixture. Slap it down in the skillet (don’t gingerly lay it down…you won’t get that good crusty-type stuff around the edges). From there, just fry it till you see fit. Cover it in syrup and DO NOT forget the powdered sugar (I almost did!).