A Week of Baking

Right on the heels of Sunday’s gummy class (about which I’ll post separately later) came a week of baking goodies for my husband’s workplace, Enthought, which was hosting some training seminars for which they needed some desserts.

They offered to pay me, but since that’s not legal with a home kitchen until the new Texas cottage food law bill kicks in on September 1, I instead took it as an excuse to try a bunch of new recipes and be allowed to reserve some of each for our household enjoyment. That way I could try lots of stuff without having to eat lots of stuff. I did suggest that if they felt it absolutely necessary to spend money, they could donate to Capital Confectioners or The Biscuit Brothers since I volunteer for those organizations.

For Tuesday and Wednesday I tried two new cookie recipes each day, then for Thursday I sent in some cake balls, and on Friday a cake.

I selected two cookie recipes from my ever-growing list of tasty things I find online while researching my posts at CapitalConfectioners.com, and two others from a book I recently got called, “Rosie’s Bakery Chocolate-Packed Jam-Filled Butter-Rich No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book” by Judy Rosenberg. It is out of print but I found a used copy online after getting it out of the library and determining that I wanted to try well over half of the recipes. That’s unusual since most of the time when I look at recipe books my various food issues exclude the majority of the contents immediately.

In order to avoid the ever-present temptation to make everything chocolatey, I deliberately chose two lemon-based recipes, a cinnamon-spice type of recipe, and only one chocolate one. I also deliberately chose one that needed to be refrigerated for a time after mixing so I could mix three things on Monday then only have to do one thing each day after that. Having found a lemon cookie that fit that, it made it an easy decision to do all of the citric work at one time to save time and dishes.

Thus on Monday I mixed the following recipes:

I began with a large pile of lemons and limes.

Lemons and Limes

Always wash citrus fruit if you're going to use the zest. This removes most of the pesticides, dust, dirt, and food-grade wax that you don't want in your baking.

I bought lots, because although my previous testing has shown that a “small lemon” as purchased from my neighbourhood grocery store yields about a tablespoon’s worth of juice, I hadn’t actually determined how much zest comes off of them, and the latter two recipes required both juice and zest. I’d never worked with limes at all before and had no clue of the yield of zest and juice of those either. This is why I wish recipe writers would state approximate requirements for fruit and veg and I make an effort do to so myself, such as, “1 cup chopped parsnips (about 3 medium)”.

It turned out that all 8 lemons were needed for their zest but I have quite a lot of juice leftover, while only two limes were needed for their zest and they produced much more juice than the lemons. One lime yielded almost three tablespoons of juice while the other was about one and a half. As always, I used our microplane grater for the zesting.

Zested lemons and limes

Don't you wish your monitor was scratch'n'sniff right now?

I then mixed everything (including the optional glaze) for Bakingdom’s Citrus Sparkles. While those were baking, I mixed everything for Brown Eyed Baker’s Snickerdoodle Blondies (my only variation there was using a parchment sling in the pan instead of spraying it). When those were in the oven, I mixed the dough for the Rosenberg Lovely Lemon Crisps and set it in the fridge overnight.

Bakingdom's Citrus Sparkle Cookies

As advertised, the Citrus Sparkle cookies do indeed sparkle!

Brown Eyed Baker's Snickerdoodle Blondies

These taste as scrumptious as they look!

I tasted the recipes as they came out and both were delicious. The Citrus Sparkle cookies have a great aroma and aren’t overly sweet, and have enough heft to satisfy while still being a reasonably light cookie. The outside is pleasantly crisp and the interiors are moist. Splendid.

The Snickerdoodle Blondies are heavenly. I couldn’t stop eating them. Hot out of the oven, they were soft and warm and comforting as they permeated my whole head with their cinnamon and nutmeg goodness. The next day, they were stiffer but the topping was wonderfully crisped. Of all the things I made this week, these were my favourite, and everything was good so that’s really saying something. As of writing this post, there are leftovers from everything except these because I ATE THEM NOM NOM NOM. Must try them again soon and see how they are with walnuts in them, 1) because I like walnuts, 2) because I can pretend they’re healthy if they have walnuts, and most importantly 3) I like walnuts more than the other members of my household so it’ll mean there’ll be more for me! Which is good since they’d be so darned healthy at that point. Yes. Go with it.

I packed up a bunch of them and left them for my husband to take in on Tuesday morning.

Citrus sparkles and snickerdoodle blondies

I stacked them as high as I could. No, really. I wasn't at all influenced by how many I wanted to keep for myself. Ourselves! Ourselves! Yes, my whole family. Yes. *nomnomnom* What?

The next day, I cut and baked the Lovely Lemon Crisps:

Lovely Lemon Crisps

These have a lot of zest, enough that you can see it in the cookies.

These were exploding with lemon flavour, which is a good thing. I did find them slightly dry compared to the Citrus Sparkles, but the intense flavour mostly made up for that. Of everything I made this week these were my least favourite and yet I’m still happily eating them, so that’s a win! But if I was craving a lemony cookie in the future, I’d be more likely to go for the Sparkles even though they’re more work, because the texture is better with the thicker cookie.

On this day I also made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from page 45 of the Rosenberg book.

Chocolate chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Oatmeal makes 'em healthy, right?

These were awesome! They have the great tooth-tenderness of an oatmeal cookie but since they use unsweetened chocolate (as opposed to cocoa powder), the flavour is dark and rich, intensified by the oatmeal. I think the chocolate’s fat was absorbed into the oats to combine as a really fantastic texture. Hot out of the oven they were muffiny and soft, cooled the next day they are dense but not quite fudgy, which is a good thing. Wonderful cookies and I’ll definitely make them again! Hey, if I add walnuts to these, that would surely combine with the oats to make them MEGA-HEALTHY, right? For the record, I can only hear those of you who are shouting, “Yes!” at your screens. It’s hearing problem I have.

Chocolate oatmeal and lemon crisps

All ready to go! And is it just me or does it look like the chocolate ones are trying to devour the lemon ones?

On Wednesday, I made my own Ugly Cake Balls recipe, except to prettify them, I added sprinkles. Two kinds!

Sprinkle cake balls

We feel pretty! Oh so pretty! Oh so pretty and witty and gay! And we'd love you to eat this very fine treat today!

More sprinkle cake balls

These sprinkles always look like extra fun to me. There's something about them that evokes that "Thunder and Blazes" circus clown music.

I let my daughter help put some of the sprinkles on until she got bored with the process, especially since I kept making her go wash her hands every time she snagged a stray sprinkle and ate it, because she’d always stick a finger in her mouth when she did so. It’s one think to overlook that kind of food play when you’re baking for your own family, but when it’s going out to other people, all health rules must be strictly observed! I explained this to her repeatedly but the lure of those sprinkles was too much for her five-year-old heart. And that was just the first set! When she beheld the second ones, her eyes were bigger than a an anime heroine doing a Marty Feldman impersonation. Oh the bargaining that she attempted all through dinner that night trying to rush her way to getting one of those into her hands! Which she did, after eating a reasonable amount of dinner first.

They’re very rich and we already had a lot of scrumptious stuff in the house at this point, so I sent most of them to the office and only reserved a small number for us.

Cake balls

What haggis would look like if it were made out of clowns instead of sheep, and also delicious instead of haggis.

The next day I combined a French vanilla cake mix and a Chocolate Fudge cake mix in my 14″ pan to make a side-by-side vanilla-chocolate cake with homemade extra-chocolatey buttercream. I’ve been meaning to post tips on how I make these double 14″ cakes for some time but it keeps being pushed to the side. Eventually, eventually…

I carved it and covered it with fondant to look like the logo for the Python programming language which, as stated on the official site, is encouraged to be included on “websites, brochures, packaging, and elsewhere to indicate suitability for use with Python or implementation in Python.” Funny, they didn’t mention baked goods. I’m sure that’s an oversight, because behold the glory of the Python logo cake-ified (and slightly pudgier, but we’ll go with it):

Python cake 1

Possibly the fastest cake I ever made, including when I screwed up and accidentally put the yellow on across the middle instead of on an angle and had to do some cutting and patching.

Python cake 2

From this angle you can see the seam line from the patch job on the yellow side. Wonder if it was even noticed?

My husband says it was a hit at the office full of Python programmers. It was posted to G+ earlier today by one of my husband’s colleagues so I’ll count that as a win!

Now pardon me while I go nom some leftovers. No more snickerdoodle blondies left so I’ll just gorge nibble my way through some citric cookies for a bit.

Evidence being consumed. NOM NOM NOM

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3 Responses to A Week of Baking

  1. liz says:

    I LOVE citrus, especially when baked! Those cake balls look pretty amazing, though.

    For some reason, citrus cookies just seem like they aren't as bad for you. 🙂

  2. Margo says:

    I'm with Liz, put a lemon in it and it cuts calories! I really appreciate your posts, as I'm a self proclaimed "food hoarder". I buy too much and then wind up throwing a lot out. I'm getting better though!

  3. midnitechef says:

    I love the Python cake! Seeing as I bake and program, that was extra nerdy to me 🙂 Hmm… I have some vanilla buttercream leftover, I should try making cake balls again. The first ones I made were horrible.

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