Archive for the ‘Bake 52’ Category

Bake 52 Week 39: Spiced Pumpkin Bread

September 26, 2012

What better way to kick off autumn than spiced pumpkin bread? Mmmmm!! I could smell it baking as soon as this week’s host make her pick. This recipe was a snap to whip up, and I was especially excited because it was a bit of a gloomy day…perfect for a bread like this. It smelled soooo yummy while it baked, and the toothpick came out practically clean when the timer went off. I left the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turned it out on a cooling rack. I had followed the recipe to a tee. So, imagine my nervousness when, as I turned it out onto the cooling rack, the center of the bread wiggled a bit like jello and then started to sag. I left it a few minutes more to cool, and then, as I attempted to flip the bread over, my worst fears were confirmed. The edges of the bread pulled away to reveal that entire middle had not baked fully. My heart sunk. Utter diasppointment filled my soul. My beautiful, delicious-smelling bread was nothing short of a disaster. Nothing like having your day ruined by 10 am.

I’m not sure why my toothpick came out clean, because the middle of my bread was clearly unbaked.  I’ve never had that happen before.  I was able to eat around the edges of the bread, where it had  baked fully, and it was yummy, but a little less spicy than I would have liked.  I think when I try this one again, I’ll up the spice content a bit.

Thanks Talesha for such a fun fall recipe….I can’t believe I ruined it!  Can’t wait to try it again!



Bake 52 Week 38: Make Ahead French Toast

September 19, 2012

On paper, this recipe looked pretty good, especially since I love French toast.  But like our host, Valerie, I anticipated a more traditional French toast as the end product.  As soon as I started scooping it out to put on plates, I knew there was no way on this green earth that I would be putting any of this casserole in my mouth.  It smelled good, but the soggy texture made my stomach turn.  Joseph grew up eating bread and milk and the kids love it too.  The thought of eating soggy bread makes me want to gag.  I had hoped that the kids’ affinity for bread and milk would influence their response to this casserole, but unfortunately, it didn’t.  None of them liked it, and I was just glad that the school serves breakfast in the classroom each morning, so I knew that they wouldn’t starve.  I tried to bribe them to finish eating by saying that they could ride their scooters to school–which is a big deal for my kids–and they still didn’t finish.

I had high hopes for this recipe, and I’m sad that it didn’t meet my expectations.  If it sounds like something you’d like to try, head on over to Valerie’s blog for the recipe.


Bake 52 Week 36: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

September 5, 2012

I nearly skipped this week.  I felt about as much excitement to make this cake as I did the Chocolate Blackout Cake back in week 15.  I can’t help it…I just don’t like chocolate that much.  Plus, when I looked at the picture included with this recipe, I was sure that it was going to be a pretty involved process.  Thankfully, I was wrong on that point.  It was not much more involved than baking a regular cake….the amazing thing is that somehow, the middle stays all fudgy after it bakes (which I didn’t take a picture of…you’ll have to bake it to see it!).  And isn’t it pretty??

I was glad to have procrastinated this time around because Janet mentioned in her post that she used semisweet chocolate for the glaze and was happy with how that worked out.  When I got to the store to buy my ingredients, I discovered that semisweet chocolate was 1/3 the price of bittersweet.  Since I’m all for saving a buck, I bought the bittersweet for the cake and the semisweet for the glaze.  She also mentioned that she would leave the nuts out next time….and you all know I would have left them out regardless!

In spite of my dislike for chocolate, I did have a couple of bites of the finished product and it was actually pretty good.  Joseph loved it (and he’s not huge on chocolate either).  If you are a chocolate lover, this is the recipe for you!  Thanks Janet for such a fun pick….check out her blog for the recipe!



Bake 52 Week 35: Crunchy Granola Bars

August 29, 2012

Granola bars are something I never really thought about ever being homemade, so I was curious how this recipe would turn out.  But…

1 1/2 cups of nuts!  Yikes!  I wasn’t very excited when I saw that on the ingredient list.  I can usually just leave the nuts out of a recipe, but 1 1/2 cups is a pretty significant exemption, so I opted to chop them up really good to hopefully disguise them.  I went with almonds because if I had to eat a nut, that’s the one I would choose.

This was a pretty darn easy recipe to put together.  I decided to try the cranberry variation, minus the crystallized ginger because I didn’t have any.  My bars turned very crunchy…in spite of the name of the recipe, I’m not sure if they were supposed to be as crunchy as they were, or if it was due to the fact that I was in the middle of feeding a baby when my timer went off and I had to bake them 5 minutes longer (which still put it within the 35-40 minute cooking time).  Either way, I hope nobody breaks a tooth on them!

Owen and Emmy were both big fans.  Ryan, not so much.  Joseph liked them, but did comment on how hard they were.  I might try these again sometime, maybe with some chocolate chips to entice Ryan a little more….I think they’d make a great snack to put in lunchboxes!

Emily was this week’s host.  Check out her blog for the recipe.

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Bake 52 Week 34: Glazed Lemon Cookies

August 22, 2012

I love tart things.  However, when it comes to lemon-flavored baked goods, I think it’s hard to find the perfect balance between perfect and overwhelming.  I was really unsure where these cookies would fall on the scale.

It was another easy recipe week (I’m loving these simpler, less time-consuming recipes lately!).  Again, no off-the-wall ingredients (unless you count cream cheese 😉 ).  There is a 2 hour chilling time, but these were easy to whip up first thing in the morning, and then let chill while we had breakfast and got ready for the day.

They baked up nicely, though the recipe said to let them bake for 13-16 minutes, or until the edges started turning brown.  After 20 minutes in the oven and no sign of brown edges, I just took them out, hoping that they’d be OK.  Thankfully, they were!

In the past, I’ve opted for alternate recipes when frosting or glaze calls for cream cheese.  Since this one called for only 1 TB of cream cheese, I decided to stay true to the recipe.  I’m glad I did because the lemon and sugar pretty much drown out the cream cheese flavor for me, so it wasn’t a problem.

As for whether these cookies were too overwhelming for me…NO!  They were SOOOO yummy!  The cookie itself had a nice lemon flavor to it, but more subtle.  The glaze is where the flavor really stood out, but just enough to give you the full lemony impact without going over the edge.  The only problem for me?  Heartburn.  At T-minus I-can’t-believe-this-baby-still-isn’t-here, pretty much everything I eat gives me serious heartburn.  Now that baby is here (and since I’m writing this prior to baby day, it’s kind of weird to know that she WILL be here by the time this recipe is posted!), I’m going to have to make these again so I can enjoy them just a little bit more.

And to top it off, I think the presentation of these cookies, while very simple, is quite pleasing.  The glaze spread perfectly and they just looked pretty!  This was a great pick by Michelle….check out her blog for the recipe!

Bake 52 Week 33: Raspberry Streusal Bars

August 15, 2012

I LOVE raspberries….but I don’t always love them in the form of ice cream or baked goods, so I was a little unsure how I’d like this recipe.  It was a pretty easy and quick one to make, with no crazy ingredients or instructions.  I decided to leave out the pecans on the topping.  I had planned to put them over half of the bars and leave the other half untainted, until I went to the store and saw that a little bag cost over $5….I’m a cheapskate, what can I say?

Once they came out of the oven, it occured to me that they actually looked and smelled quite a bit like Nutri-Grain Bars, which I quite like.  I had high hopes that they would taste like them too.  They didn’t quite live up to that expectation, but they were yummy.  Joseph LOVED them!  Couldn’t get enough of them…ate most of the pan himself.  Emmy was also a big fan.

One thing I like about this recipe is that these bars can be frozen for up to a month.  I think I’ll definitely be making some to freeze and use for school lunches.  I’m excited to try the strawberry and blueberry variations as well!

Jen O. was this week’s host, so check out her blog for a fun and easy recipe!

Bake 52 Week 32 1/2: The Ultimate Recipe

August 13, 2012

I wrapped up last week by baking up something extra special!

My babies are usually born quite doughy in the middle, so we were thrilled to get this bun out of the oven fully cooked!  No NICU time for us…woohoo!  Quincy Beth came after a quick 2 1/2 hour labor with a head FULL of dark hair.  She weighed in at a whopping 7 lbs. 5 oz. (yeah, I know…totally average…but considering my biggest baby up to this point was only 4 lbs. 15 oz. it feels whopping to us).  She has the most delicious cheeks and smells pretty yummy most of the time 😉  We’ve loved every minute of the last 3 days and can’t wait to watch her grow and change!


*I’ve baked a couple of recipes ahead for Bake 52, so I should still have regular posts coming, assuming my recovery goes well enough to get back into the kitchen in a couple of weeks.

Bake 52 Week 32: Cheddar Cheese Bread

August 8, 2012

As far as recipes go, this was a really easy one to put together.  No off-the-wall ingredients (though not all things that I typically keep in my fridge either…but at least knew where to find them in the store), and no time consuming directions.  Since this isn’t a yeast bread, there’s no rising involved, so the bulk of the prep is the 45 minute baking time.

Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the praise goes in my house.  Nobody was really a fan.  I could tell while it was baking that it was going to put my taste buds into overdrive….I love parmesan, but extra sharp cheddar is a little lot strong for me.  Just the smell of that extra sharp cheddar combined with the parmesan nearly knocked me over.

The bread had cooled enough for us to eat with dinner.  The top crust didn’t hold together very well when I cut into it…it all just kind of crumbled off.  The bread itself wasn’t terribly flavorful, and was even a bit dry, so it was the cheese chunks that really packed the punch of flavor.  Although I cut the cubes of cheddar the size specified in the recipe, I wish I’d done them smaller so that they were better distributed throughout the bread.  The parmesan baked into the crust (especially the bottom) was probably the most enjoyable part for me, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to try this recipe again.

Betsy was this week’s host….head on over to her blog if this recipe sounds like one you want to try.

Bake 52 Week 30: Lattice-Top Peach Pie

July 25, 2012

I was bummed that this recipe didn’t come just a few weeks later than it did so that I could use fresh peaches from my tree, but was happy when I got just the perfect number of them in my Bountiful Basket the week before we were to bake this pie.  I still haven’t ventured much into pie-making and have never made a lattice-top pie, so I was excited for the chance to learn something new with this recipe.

I really should probably try the pie crust recipes in the book, but since I know that the Betty Crocker recipe Amanda uses is pretty much foolproof, I have just been sticking with that.  I made up a double batch so that I’d have enough for the top and the bottom.

My peaches were perfectly ripe and smelled so yummy while they sat in the sugar creating their juices.  In the meantime, my lattice strips were in the freezer and the pie crust in the fridge.

The assembly part of the pie wasn’t really hard, but I could definitely use some practice.  I found it funny that the recipe wanted the lattice strips frozen so they wouldn’t break….mine were VERY brittle after coming out of the freezer and I had to be really careful handling them.  Two of them snapped in half anyway.  Oh well.  And my edges….yikes!

(This post is lacking in pictures because my camera was still in the car after a quick pre-term labor trip we made to the hospital…and I was too lazy to go fetch it…so phone pics is all I’ve got.)

Thankfully, pie crust is somewhat forgiving after it bakes… pie is still not perfectly pretty, but it looks better than it did pre-baking!

The kids were very excited to dig into this one, but they were really naughty the day that I made it, so their punishment was having to wait until the next day to have a slice.  When it came time to eat, I really didn’t have the appetite for pie, but I did take a small bite and it was pretty yummy.  We didn’t finish the entire pie, so Joseph took the remainder to work.  I was worried that a two-day-old pie would be received with reluctance, but I received a text first thing that morning saying it was a big hit.  One co-worker said the only thing that would make it better would be a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Talesha was this week’s host…check out her blog for the recipe.  Thanks for picking something so fun!

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Bake 52 Week 29: Cinnamon Rolls

July 18, 2012

This was a yummy week.  While I never crave things like cake, or cookies, or pie, I do loooove bread-based baked goods.  I have yet to come across the perfect cinnamon roll recipe, but this one was close.  They were yummy!

A fun addition to the cinnamon/sugar mixture was cloves.  At first, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that.  The rolls smelled so different from traditional cinnamon rolls while they were baking and every so often I’d get a whiff of the cloves and realize that was the difference.  I was pleasantly surprised when I ate one though…the cloves were subtle, but just there enough to add a little extra punch to the flavor.  I’m not sure I’d add them every time, but it was a nice deviation from the norm.

I’ve grown tired of the amount of butter that all this baking we’ve been doing has used, so I decided to skip brushing the dough with butter before sprinkling the sugar on it….instead, I used the technique we learned with the cinnamon loaf and just sprayed it with water.

My roll turned out a little longer than the 18″ the recipe called for, and I wondered if I had maybe not made it fat enough when I wound up with three extra rolls and they still didn’t fill the pan.  They looked much better after rising, but there was still space to spare in the pan. And maybe it’s because I don’t have any good, sharp knives in my kitchen, but I don’t know why anybody would want to slice the rolls with a knife when we all know that using dental floss is such a slick little trick for slicing cinnamon rolls (we all know that, right?).

I know Amanda will probably drive all the way from California to throw tomatoes at me when I say this, but I REALLY don’t like cream cheese.  Nothing ruins frosting for me like cream cheese, and since the glaze for these cinnamon rolls called for cream cheese, I opted to use a different glaze recipe.  The end result was delicious and we all enjoyed a roll (or two) after lunch.

The recipe says to dump the rolls out of the pan to cool before adding the glaze. Unless I were going to serve these right away to enough people to eat them quickly, I’d leave them in the pan. We found that they dried out pretty fast just sitting on a cooling rack.

Valerie was this week’s host….check out her blog for this great recipe!