Using a Pastry Cloth

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Until recently, I had never used a pastry cloth before. I had used plastic pastry mats before but never a pastry cloth. But I was curious.

Years ago, I had a very large Tupperware brand plastic pastry mat. It had circles printed on it for guidence in making the correct size of pie crusts. There were several problems with this mat. The mat had to be rolled to store, hence making it curl up when trying to use it. It needed to be weighed down or it would move around. It was a handful to turn when flipping the rolled dough into the tin as it was so big and awkward. To make things more frustrating, if I did not flour the mat enough, the dough would stick to it.

Vintage Tupperware Pastry Dough Tart Pie Sizing Mat Sheet 1965 Dart Ind. Red
Image of Tupperware Pastry Mat from collectiblesonlinedaily.com

I have a similar sort of mat now but it lies flat. It is too small to roll out a regular pie crust on. Same problem with moving around the counter and dough sticking to it as the larger version. This mat does work well for stamping out biscuits though.

Small mat

Tired of my too small mat, I decided to research my options. From reviews, it looked like the old fashioned pastry cloth was the tried and true choice. Let’s face it, sometimes things can not be improved on too much. After looking around for a pastry cloth, I decided I did not have anything to lose as the pastry cloths were cheaper than the mats. I would not be out much if I did not like it.

Upon reading the reviews, I took the advice of hand washing my cloth in cold water and line drying. This is to avoid an shrinkage that may occur. My pastry cloth came out just fine by following these guidelines.

I have used my pastry cloth several times now. All times were successful. I really like the pastry cloth. In my oppinion it is a much better tool than the plastic mats. I used much less flour on the surface of the cloth than I had on the mats which is supposed to result in a more tender crust and the dough DID NOT STICK! Being a cloth, it was very flexible and easy to turn onto my pie tin. The clean-up was easy. I just shook out the excess flour over the trash and hand washed it in cold water and hung it to dry. I store it folded in a bag to keep it clean and ready to use. It hardly takes up any space. The only negative being that it still does move on the counter, but not too much. Apparently, it can be wrapped around a bread board or a non-stick mat can be placed under it. I am still working on that. However, I LOVE the pastry cloth and would not go back to the other version.

As always, Happy Baking!

Paczki – Baked Polish Filled Donuts

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I am back to baking donuts again. This time it is Paczki, a baked Polish donut. But instead of filling this donut with jelly, I chose to fill it with custard.

These donuts rose and puffed up very nicely. I brushed them with melted butter and rolled them in sugar and they looked so yummy and I had not even filled them yet. I chose to fill them right before eating them. I made the custard ahead of time and kept it in a container in the fridge to chill.

Not even filled and see how yummy they look!
Custard filling

I poked a hole in the side of the donut with a wooden skewer and then inserted the tip of a decorating tube into the side of the donut and gave it a good squeeze. Custard donuts are a favorite of mine at the local donut shop. Now I can make them at home myself. They are very easy to make. They just take a bit of time for the rising.

Poking hole in side with skewer.
Filling with custard. This little pastry filler would not be my choice…hard to see when enough filling is inserted.
The standard pastry bag and tube worked well at filling the donuts.
Voila! The finished Paczki. Ready to eat.

For the recipe: https://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/custard-filled-paczki/ There is even a video to watch.

Quick version of the recipe with a few minor changes…

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet = 7 grams) yeast (instant or regular)

Mix dry ingredients in stand mixer then add:

  • 2/3 cup 2% milk – warmed to 120°F for instant/110°F for regular yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and beat for about 2 minutes then add

  • about 1/2 cup extra flour

Beat until thick and kneadable. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 10 minutes.

Roll dough to 1/2″ thick and cut into circles using a 2 1/2″ round biscuit cutter. Lift the cut doughnuts onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 45 minutes.

(While this is rising make the custard filling.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pop the doughnuts into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

Brush cool donuts with:

  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter

Then roll in:

  • 1/3 cup sugar for coating

Fill with custard. Make a small hole in side of donut. Using a pastry bag, squeeze custard into the side of donut.

Recipe for custard:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk, low fat or whole
  • one egg yolk

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Slowly stir in milk and egg yolk. Bring to a boil at medium high heat. Cook & stir about a minute on low heat. (it thickens more as it cools)
  3. Spread onto a dinner plate and let it stand, undisturbed, to cool thoroughly before using or refrigerate to cool.

As always, Happy Baking!

Another Day With Julie… The Donut Maker

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I have been trying my hand at doughnuts lately. I’m not really into the fried kind right now. Although I do like the fried kind, I find them time consuming and sometimes difficult to fry perfectly. So the baked doughnut is what I have been exploring.

Un-baked jam donuts
Glazed jam filled donuts ready to eat

These jam filled baked donuts were easy enough to put together although they did take a bit of time for rising. They were yummy. The recipe can be found in the cookbook: English Tea & Cakes (ISBN: 978-1-4351-4632-7). This cookbook has a lot of other yummy recipes as well.

Carrot Cake Donuts

These Carrot Cake Donuts were super easy to make and tasty as well. The recipe can be found at: https://www.piesandtacos.com/carrot-cake-donuts/ . I only have a mini doughnut pan. This recipe called for a regular size donut pan. I googled for some advise and found that one can crumple parchment paper into a ball and put in the center of a muffin tin to make a faux doughnut pan. Well….it kinda worked. However, getting the parchment balls out were another matter. I ended up cutting a slit in the doughnuts to get the parchment balls out. So, in the end, I do not recommend this method. I also found another bit of advice when googling. This is to put the doughnut batter in a cake decorating bag and squeeze it into the molds. Perfect! Much less mess than any other way I have tried.

Both recipes were keepers! But I’m not done yet. A custard filled donut has my mouth watering. I hope to have a post for that soon. Until then, Happy Baking!

DIY Pot Lid Pot-Holders

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While I love my pots, I do not like the fact that the lid handles get hot. I have felt the heat more times than I care to remember. A potholder seems a bit big. I just want to grab the lid and carry on. What to do?

I did not see any patterns for pot lid protectors so I made my own to custom fit my lid handles. I cut-out one long rectangle of fabric and folded it right sides together and one piece Insul-Bright insulation and placed it on top of the fabric. I sewed it together leaving space to turn. Then I turned the fabric and top-stitched all around.

Cut 1 piece of material on fold
cut 1 piece of Insul-Bright and place on top of folded fabric (right sides of fabric together)
Sew from folded edge down and across bottom stop to leave opening start across bottom and back up to fold (sewing on 3 sides only). Cut corners.
Turn and pin opening shut.
topstitch around all four sides.
Fit around pan lid to find where to place snaps. Sew on Snaps. I used 2 snaps per pot holder.

At first, I thought I would use a velcro closure, however, I did not have velcro on hand. Also, washing things with velcro can be a pain. I rummaged through my sewing box and found some tiny sew-on snaps. Bingo! This was just the ticket. I then fitted the pot-holders to the handle to see where the snaps should be sewn. Voila! My pot lid pot-holders were complete.

Do I like these? YES! Do they work? YES! Are they washable? Yes! How I like to use them is to snap them on the handle of the lid and then cook. I can grab the lid at any time without getting burned. After I am finished I have the choice of either storing them in the pot holder drawer or snapping them back on the clean lid so it is ready to go for next time.

So, the moral of my story…if you can not find what you want…MAKE IT. As always…Happy crafting!

Gluten-Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

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Another gluten-free recipe review. This recipe for Carrot Zucchini muffins from flippindelicious.com was a keeper. I like this recipe because it was very moist (not dry or crumbly) and did not need to be washed down with a beverage like some gluten-free recipes I have tried. The zucchini is obviously the source of moisture in this muffin. They also had a good flavor.

Getting started
Mixing together ingredients.
Ready to eat.

I followed this recipe per the ingredients. However, since these are muffins, I did not use the whipped cream chesse on top. In my opinion, they did not need a topping, so I just left it off. Do be careful of the cook time. The recipe calls for 30-35 minutes. This (at least for my oven) would be too long. I would check these muffins at 20 minutes.

To find the recipe, visit: https://flippindelicious.com/wp-json/mv-create/v1/creations/57/print?ajax=true

Gluten-Free Biscuit Review

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I gave gluten-free biscuits another try. These were indeed pretty good. They were delicate and could crumble if not careful but were not dry or grainy. A thumbs-up from the family. I liked them so well I have made them twice.

What did I change to the recipe? I did not use the brown rice flour mix as suggested in the recipe because I did not have all the ingredients on hand. I just used plain brown rice flour instead. The only other thing I changed was that I used Rice Milk instead of coconut milk.

The recipe for these Yankee Doodle Biscuits can be found at: https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/blog/flaky-biscuits-recipe-dairy-free-egg-free-wheat-gluten-free

As always, Happy Baking!

Gluten-Free Brownie Review

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Last year my family tried making gluten-free recipes for a while. I must say most were a miss. The baked goods tended to turn out dry, crumbly, or in some way not as appealing as our regular recipes. Since there is a shortage of flour in my area right now, I thought I would re-visit the gluten-free options as I still have some other types of flour in my pantry.

I searched for dessert recipes using brown rice flour, as this is one of the types I had on hand. I came across a recipe for ‘Fabulously Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies’. The recipe received good reviews, I had all the ingredients, so I gave them a try. They were really very good. Not dry or crumbly! I did not tell the family that they were gluten-free until afterwards. They all liked them! Hurray!

Did I follow the recipe exactly? Well….pretty much. I used tapioca flour instead of tapioca starch. Is there a difference? Not sure…but that is what I had and it seemed to work. I used the 1 cup of chocolate chips as suggested would work. I also used less vanilla extract. The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of vanilla! That seemed excessive. Maybe a typo? In any case, I only used 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Here is the link to the recipe for Fabulously Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies: https://www.adayinthekitchen.com/chocolate-brownies/

As always, Happy Baking!

P.S.—I think Chickpea Whipped Cream might be a very good topping to these brownies! (see my earlier post for the recipe)

Preventing Pastry Mats From Slipping

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No need to chase that pastry mat all over the counter when rolling out pastry dough. Baking tip of the day: Take a paper towel, fold to size to fit under mat, dampen it under water, squeeze out any excess water, lay flat on counter, place pastry mat on top and roll dough as normal. The paper towel can be used to clean up afterwards. The damp paper towel keeps the pastry mat from slipping and makes rolling out dough much more enjoyable.

I have also rolled out dough inbetween two sheets of floured waxed paper. Again, this will slip like crazy. Solution: Wipe the surface of counter with a damp cloth and put waxed paper directly on the dampened surface, sprinkle with flour, place dough, sprinkle with flour, if desired…place another sheet of waxed paper on top, and roll immediately, before the surface dries. The waxed paper will stay put.

As always, Happy Baking!

Chickpea Whipped Cream

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I was scheduled to make a chocolate cream pie for my son as a reward for his straight A report card, but I forgot to buy the whipped cream to go on top. What to do? Substitute of course!

In the past, I have tried to use coconut cream as a base to make whipped cream. This method is hit or miss for me. It is very tricky to get it to work right and is not guaranteed to make it to the table.

When I informed my family that I was making whipped cream using the liquid from canned chickpeas (some may call them garbanzo beans…same thing), skepticism was in the air. However, all tried it and I must say it was a success. I was thrilled at how easy it came together and overjoyed by the outcome. The plus side to using the chickpea liquid was that it is dairy-free and costs next to nothing to make. Also, there is a great bonus in that I am not wasting anything from the can of chickpeas as I eat those on salads or as a side dish.

The recipe I found was at https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-chickpea-whipped-cream-236591

I followed the recipe except for two things… I opened the can of chickpeas the previous day and saved the liquid in the refrigerator. So my chickpea liquid was cold, making for cold whipped cream. The temperature may also affect the way it whips. The second difference was that I turned the electric mixer to high and not the medium that the recipe suggested.

I found this super easy and fast to make. It did not take the 10 to 15 minutes that the recipe said it would. It was very quick. I took the liquid from the fridge and in the same bowl added the 1/8 tsp cream of tartar and the 1 tsp of vanilla. I beat that on high with an electric hand mixer until no liquid remained and it was getting stiff. I then slowly added the 2 Tbsp of sugar while continuing to beat at high speed. The “whipped cream” came out perfect. It made a lot of whipped cream. Plenty for a whole pie and then some. Since the whipped cream settles a bit in the fridge, it needs to be re-whipped for a minute with the electric mixer on high. I re-whipped the cream the next day for the other half of the pie. The following morning, I again re-whipped the cream for a topping to my pancakes. There is still some left. That little bit of liquid made a lot of whipped cream.

Chocolate Pie Smothered in Chickpea Whipped Cream – Yum
Pancakes with Chickpea Whipped Cream (re-whipped)

As always, Happy Baking!

Baked Alaska Cupcakes

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I have a bucket list of items I want to try and make in the kitchen. Baked Alaska was on that list. It was one of the intimidating, challenging items on my list. How can ice cream be baked? Will I end up with ice cream soup? How will we eat the whole thing before it melts?

The answer was simple. Start small. I found that Baked Alaska can be made in cupcake form. Brilliant! The recipe I was looking at called for a box mix cake. I do not do box mix cakes. The family does not prefer them, and to be quite honest, I do not see the point in buying a mix if I have all the ingredients to make a cake from scratch. It is not any harder to make and it tastes better. Also, we did not need 24 cupcakes, only 3. So, I decided to make three Baked Alaska cupcakes.

First I made the cupcake batter and filled the cupcake papers in a muffin tin. I let these cool on a wire rack. Next, I placed them into a freezer safe container and then scooped ice cream on top. Into the freezer they went for a couple of hours.

I preheated my oven to 450 degrees F while making the meringue. Then I took the cupcakes out of the freezer and popped them back into the muffin tin and spread the meringue over the top.

I popped them in the oven for 2 minutes, until the meringue browned.

Then the Baked Alaska cupcakes were plated, brought to the table, and devoured.

The results were good. The family liked these tasty treats. My husband wished that I had made more. So the next time I made a bigger batch. Another successful attempt in the test kitchen. Happy baking!

To make the Baked Alaska Cupcakes:

  • Make cupcakes using paper cupcake liners (any flavor/any recipe – I used chocolate)
  • Ice Cream (any flavor – Again I used chocolate)
  • Meringue – to cover 6-12 cupcakes: 2 egg whites/ 1/4 tsp cream of tartar/ 3/4 tsp vanilla/ 1/3 cup sugar

Make cupcakes and let cool on wire rack. When cool scoop ice cream on top leaving a little border around the edge and place in freezer safe container. Freeze for at least two hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar until stiff peaks form. Take cupcakes out of freezer and place back into the muffin tin. With a knife, spread the meringue gently around the ice cream being sure to seal around the top of cupcake. Pop in the oven for 2-3 minutes. The tops should be light brown in color and firm. DO NOT over bake as the ice cream will melt. Remove from oven and plate and serve promptly. Enjoy!