"Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

~ Soft & Buttery Pretzels ~

Enjoy Home-Made Warm, Soft and Buttery Pretzels 

This Recipe takes a little 'elbow grease', but well worth it!  Allow 1 hour for the dough to rise.  


4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar + 1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup sea salt, used to sprinkle on top
2 tablespoons melted butter


1.  Dissolve yeast and only 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water.  Let stand until creamy and foamy (~ 12 min)
2.  In large bowl, mix flour, remaining sugar, and salt.  Making a well in the center, add the oil and yeast mixture.
3.  Mix into a dough.  (If the mixture is dry, you can add one or two tablespoons of water).  Knead the dough until smooth.  (This is the effort part.  It usually takes about 5 - 10 minutes to get that smooth texture).
4.  Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled and turn to coat with oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place, for about 1 hour.


5.  Preheat oven to 450 F.  
6.  Turn risen dough onto a lightly floured surface.  (You can divide the dough in half and work with the first half, while storing the second half in the covered bowl).  Or,
just separate the dough into equal pieces.  Pull off about hand-full sized pieces of dough and roll into balls.  The larger the pretzels, the softer the inside.  Smaller pretzels will have a little crispness to them.  Both equally a delicious way to enjoy.  We prepare both ways!
7.  One at a time, roll balls into ropes (~ 12 inches long).  Again, depending how big you enjoy your pretzel...I say experiment and make both large and small.
8.  Shape dough into pretzels.  

     Here's How:  
          A)  Shape dough into a "U".
          B)  Cross the two ends of the rope over each other.
          C)  Press the tips into the bottom of the "U".  Pinching to make sure they stay.

9.  In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Once dissolved, dip each pretzel into this mixture and then place on a greased baking sheet.  Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  (BTW - Unrefined sea salt is best).  It is also OK to wait and sprinkle pretzel with salt, after completing step 10.
10.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until browned.  After removing from oven, brush with melted butter.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Star Studded Chocolate Cake

If you are looking for a deliciously moist cake, with a rich chocolate flavor, this is the cake for you.

It originated from allrecipes.com, but I recommend using a touch less sugar and definitely a dark chocolate ganache icing, rather than the chocolate butter-cream.  I also added some fresh raspberries, which compliment the chocolate, adding texture and a pop of tartness through the dense & moist cake.

Is your mouth watering yet?  Let's begin.

You will Need:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetended cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Fresh raspberries or strawberries (optional)

~ Chocolate Ganache Icing Recipe ~

Step One:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (175 degrees C).  Grease and flour one baking sheet or two 9 inch cake pans.  I use the Pam Baking spray.  Make sure it is the Baking sort, so it will not affect the taste or outcome.  Start water to boil.

Step  Two:
In a medium bowl, mix together the first six dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt).
In the same bowl, add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  With an electric mixer, mix for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl to get all the dry ingredients.  By hand, stir in the boiling water until completely mixed.  Now you are ready to pour evenly into the prepared baking pans (or pour the entire amount into baking sheet).

Step Three:
In the preheated oven, bake for 30 to 35 minutes for baking pans (or 20 - 25 minutes for baking sheet). Test by inserting a toothpick into center of the cake; it is done if the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans and then make sure cake is completly cooled before icing.

If you decide to use fresh berries (strawberries or rasberries, place in between the two round cakes, on top of ganach icing, then 2nd round cake on top of the ganach icing & raspberries.  Top with a final pour of ganache icing and allow to drizzle off the sides of the cake.  You can smooth the top, but don't worry about the sides.  Just let gravity work.  Set aside about 1/2 Tablespooon of ganache icing to use as a binding agent for any fondant decorations.

You can store the cake in the refrigerator, it will not dry out.  This will also allow the ganache icing to solidify before adding any fondant decorations or additional cake icing or toppings.
Tip:  When applying the fondant, use the extra ganache icing (room temperature or warm) to adhere to the cake and/or solidified ganache.  This recipe serves about 12 - 16 generous slices.  When I used the baking sheet, I served about 20+ single layer servings (vanilla or chocolate mint ice cream on the side.  So good).