Friday, February 14, 2014

I Baked - And My House Didn't Burn Down!

Not the prettiest but it's my first try!

I have a confession to make. I’m scared of baking. I can never get it right and I don’t know why. I’m intimidated by the fact that you must be exact in you measurements and if the recipe says to use water that is a specific temperature, you’d better listen. The word “pastry blender” makes me shudder. Inserting a toothpick into a cake to see if it’s done makes me break out in a cold sweat. I never think it’s done and end up burning it.  Cookies end up like hockey pucks. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m a confident cook when it comes to savory things, but I have issues with the sweet stuff.

I’m trying very hard to get over this. My first baby step into the world of baking was Nigella’s Everyday Brownies. I was blown away by how easy they are and I have successfully made them many times since I first tried them in October. Woo hoo! I even got adventurous and added half a cup of pureed pumpkin to them around Thanksgiving and piece of candy cane at Christmas. My advice to you if you decide to try them: do all your mixing and measuring before you start. For example, Nigella tells you to combine various dry ingredients, eggs and vanilla, measure out sugar, etc. If you do all of this before you start and have four bowls at the ready (sugar measured out, cocoa powder mix, eggs and vanilla, chopped chocolate) things will go much better for you as all must be added in quick succession to prevent the mixture from sticking.

I’ll be taking my second baking baby step this weekend with Chocolate Cherry Cake (recipe below.) I had this at a party last weekend and had two slices. It has more processed ingredients than I would like and down the line I might try my hand and at making homemade replacements for the cake mix and cherry pie filling. But for the moment, I’m taking it slow and following the recipe as is.

Coming up next week: my menu plan for the week, a book review, and my adventures with slow cooking.

Chocolate Cherry Cake

1 package fudge cake mix
1 21-oz can cherry pie filling
2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs, beaten

1 cup white sugar
5 Tbs butter
1/3 cup milk
1 6-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 cake pan.  

In large bowl, combine the cake ingredients. Stir until well mixed.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  

Directions for Frosting:

In small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and milk.   Bring to a boil and stir constantly for one minute.   Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth.   Pour over cake. 

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