Sweet Leaf

Finding Beauty through Baking ~by Susan Baxter-Peace

Baking Class Fundraiser June 10, 2013

I recently led a baking class at my workplace as a fundraiser for a trip they are planning. I have never taught a baking class before, and felt a bit intimidated by it at first, but they were a pretty easy-going and eager crowd so it ended up being a great experience.

We had two hours and one oven, so when I started planning I knew that there would not be enough oven space for everyone to bake several things at the same time. But I also wanted to make it worth their while. I picked three recipes that were very easy, and titled the class “Easy Baking.” Two of the recipes required baking, so I opted to just demonstrate those ones, and one was a no-cook, no-bake recipe, which allowed for everyone to participate in actually making something, instead of just watching.

We started with a mandarin orange cake, which has just five ingredients that you quickly stir together, pour into a pan and bake for 40 minutes. While the cake baked, we made the no-cook recipe, everyone working in teams of two. They were three ingredient apricot coconut balls. Once the cake came out of the oven, we moved onto the last recipe, peanut butter cookies, which also only had three ingredients. And when all was said and done we had time to sample everything.

I’m really happy with how it all went, and although the recipes were simple, the results were delicious. You can find the recipes for the apricot coconut balls and peanut butter cookies below the photos.

No-Bake Apricot Coconut Balls

  • 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups coconut, unsweetened,shredded
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (about half a can)
  • powdered sugar
  1. Mix apricots and coconut.
  2. Add condensed milk, combine thoroughly.
  3. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls and roll in powdered sugar.
  4. Let stand until firm.

Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Roll into balls and flatten with fork on ungreased baking sheet (dough rolls more easily if left to sit for a few minutes, otherwise it is quite sticky).
  3. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes; do not overbake.
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Blitz Puff Pastry May 21, 2012

Anyone who has ever tried to make an authentic laminated dough knows that it is a lot of work, requiring time, muscles and patience. It’s not something you want to do everyday, but for special occasions it is a treat to have those croissants or danishes, so light and crispy (light in weight, not calories!) But we don’t always have the time or energy to devote to the whole process for laminated doughs.

A few weeks ago I took a class at King Arthur Flour on blitz puff pastry, a short-cut when you need a laminated dough in a hurry. It’s not quite as effective as a true laminate dough, or as pleasing to the mouth in my opinion, but it’s a reasonable subsitute. Instead of making the dough and folding the fat in, the butter is simply cut into the dough like a pie dough, except the butter is left in bigger chunks. As the pastry bakes those chunks of butter melt and create steam, which helps the dough to rise and creates the effect of puffy, crispy pastry.

The dough has 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 c. cold unsalted butter (cubed) and 1/2 c. sour cream. (more…)

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart ~ Sophisticated, Succulent and Simple! April 16, 2012

Having taken the Indulgences class at King Arthur Flour (about which I posted last week) just before Easter, I thought I would use the momentum to make one of the recipes as dessert for Easter dinner with my family. And with all the hype about chocolate at Easter, I thought the best choice would be the Bittersweet Chocolate Tart. It is pretty easy to make, but a rich and impressive finish for a special meal. Basically, it’s like a dark chocolate truffle in a shortbread crust.

Here is the recipe, which can be found in Sarah Copeland’s cookbook, The Newlywed Cookbook, and can also be found on her blogpost from February 1, 2012 at www.edibleliving.com.

(more…)

 

King Arthur Flour Indulgences April 9, 2012

I have the great fortune this year of living just down the road from a renowned American baking supply store, King Arthur Flour. They sell baking utensils, equipment and ingredients, as well as running a cafe and classes. I recently attended a demo and hands-on class called Indulgences taught by guest instructor Sarah Copeland of the Food Network. The recipes she covered are from her new cookbook, The Newlywed Cookbook. At the demo class we got to see and sample four of her recipes: Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Smoked Sea Salt, Olive Oil Cake with Tangerine Marmalade, Thousand Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Black and White Cookies. The next day we got to make and take home the Thousand Layer and Black and White cookies she had demonstrated, as well as a Lazy Chef’s Fruit Torte. Everything was very straightforward, made from basic, but delicious ingredients, and usually with a little something unexpected to surprise your tastebuds. (more…)

 

 
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