Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I feel like it's been so long that I don't know how to write anymore. But it's only been two weeks, and it's good to back--I've missed you all. I'm settling in to my new place fairly well--thank you to all of you for your support in my move! The move went well, nothing broken and no injuries in the process, which is always a good thing. For a couple of days I felt lost because my internet and cable were not set up (it's amazing how dependent I am on the internet and TV) and I didn't know what to do with myself except, well, unpack, which I guess is productive--but not appealing given all the packing I had just done prior to the move. My internet is up and running now (hooray!) but my little TV is still sitting in a dark corner of my living room, unplugged, lifeless and lonely.

I think while I was busy with my move, Spring must have crept up on me. Because I am suddenly surrounded by blooming flowers and bright green trees. There are some cherry trees nearby, and they're full of cherry blossoms, which make me want to stroll among them and breathe in their sweet scent. As much as I loved the rainy cold weather, I think I am now ready for Spring to arrive, when I don't have to leave the house with four layers of clothing and when I can get out of work and still be able to see the sun.

So in honor of Spring's arrival, when all things are new again, and to celebrate being back here again with you (!), I thought I'd try out my new oven (which is actually a little risky because an oven can be unpredictable at first and it can take a few tries to see what works) and my new bundt cake pan (which a friend gave to me fairly recently and I've never made a bundt cake before!) to make a blueberry bundt cake--although I cheated and used frozen blueberries, but only because I was told to use them so they wouldn't sink!

Prior to making my first very own bundt cake, my memories of bundt cakes have been from potlucks or church social gatherings. (Bundt cakes also remind me of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", when the parents meet for the first time, and the Greek mother could not understand what a bundt cake was!) I've always liked how they looked, pretty just on its own and round with the soft ridges and the hole in the middle--kind of like a really fancy giant donut though not really. My friend who bought me the pan summed up bundt cakes in two (well, three) words: "moist and delicious" (and didn't I say I'd come back with something delicious?).

Blueberry Bundt Cake
Adapted from
Serves about 12

Preheat the ovent to 350F and grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

1. Using a wire whisk, mix together in a bowl:
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. salt

2. In a separate bowl, cream together on low to medium until light and fluffy:
- 1-1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 1-2/3 cups sugar

3. Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add in, one at a time, until just mixed:
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature

- 2 t. vanilla extract

4. Continue mixing on on low, adding the following and alternating between each, beginning and ending with the flour mixture:
- Flour mixture from #1
- 1 cup buttermilk

5. Fold in by hand:
- 2 cups frozen blueberries

6. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan, then allow to cool completely on a rack. Transfer the cake to a plate and dust with powdered sugar (which I forgot to do because I a little eager to try the cake!).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looking forward.

This post is going to be a little short, because I'm in the midst of packing and getting ready to move. I'm not even moving very far from where I am now, but moving in and of itself takes both physical and mental energy. Sometimes it can be really exciting--like there is something new and wonderful ahead, which was definitely how moving away to college was like. There was a whole new world to discover, a new beginning, new things to learn and new people to meet. But sometimes I get really comfortable where I'm at, and making any change is a huge mental hurdle even if it's a good change. Whatever the circumstances, I feel like I'm leaving behind a part of me when I move--maybe because of the memories made at that place; and when I look back at my time living at some place, I can see how that place, and the people who have come in and out of that place, have shaped me in some way. So this Sunday, I'll be moving almost just around the corner because it is time for a change, still looking back, but also looking forward to the unknown that comes with new surroundings. (I'm hopeful my new place will have better lighting for pictures, too.)

The other reason this post is a little short is because on Monday, I baked a cake for a friend's birthday and it was very very disappointing. Disappointing in a way that makes you sigh really deeply and wish you could start all over--with something else. I was ambitious and wanted to try a sachertorte because my friend loves chocolate. I should have stuck with cupcakes. My friends in general think I'm a perfectionist--and I probably am, though that is one character trait I am working on changing--but in this case, I really believe I am speaking the truth when I say that this cake I made for my friend was ugly. Not only was it ugly, it didn't rise enough and I overbaked it, so I knew it must have been dry, possibly bitter, because I could see that some of the edges were black (you can't see it in the picture because I deliberately only took pictures of the side that looked okay). She was very kind and even said it was delectable, but I think I know when something is bad. I won't even bother posting pictures of the final product, but I'll post pictures of the chocolate (mmm) and the cake when it was still in the pan, which looks kind of like the surface of a planet (not Earth, but some other one with lots of craters and bumps).

I'm taking a break next week because of the move, but hopefully, I'll have something beautiful and delicious to share when I return. And to my dear friend, I hope you had a wonderful birthday yesterday, and I will bake better cakes for you in the future.

The recipe I used for the sachertorte can be found at

For what a sachertorte should look like (and to order one direct from Vienna!), you can go here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On a roll.

Ahh, I can hear the rain tapping away against the water drain outside my window now. It looks like rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, and it's a little hard to believe that Spring is just weeks away. I saw short video of a New York snow day at today, which showed kids sledding in a park, a couple cross-country skiing on the sidewalks of Manhattan, and the inside workings of a soup kitchen. Doesn't look like Spring is anywhere in sight. I think a lot of people are tiring of the weather, ready for a change in seasons, but I don't think I'm ready for it. I don't quite want to put away my turtleneck sweaters and wool coats and scarves just yet, but maybe I'm saying that because I'm not in the Midwest or on the East Coast and the worst weather we've been getting here are rain showers and a little wind.

Sunday was also one of those wet, windy, rainy days--which is always the right type of day for baking, especially baking bread, I found. The oven warms up the home and fogs up the kitchen windows just a little, and it makes me grateful that I'm inside, sheltered and dry. I had gone to the King Arthur Flour website some weeks ago,
since I almost always use King Arthur Flour (it's what my local Trader Joe's carries), and I found a nice array of yeast bread recipes that sounded so appealing. I decided then that it was time to get over any intimidation (because baking bread is intimidating, working with yeast, all the kneading, then the waiting...and all without a bread maker, and then who knew how it would turn out after all that time and effort?), and this day was going to be the day I was going to do it, to make my first yeast bread.

I chose something that could be a meal in itself, because I was planning to have it baked and ready by dinnertime. It would actually be perfect for something like a picnic lunch, though, but when I'm not cooking for other people, I think I should be entitled to have anything I'd like, any time. (This includes cereal and eggs for dinner quite frequently!) I didn't follow the recipe exactly, which is a little risky considering I've never baked a yeast bread before, but because it was raining, I also didn't want to have to go out to get some missing ingredients (truthfully, it's just me being lazy).

Using my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, I kneaded the dough and waited, then rolled the dough with the filling and waited some more, then stuck it in the oven and waited even more. My lesson on baking bread: it's a lot about patience. At the end of it all, I had a pretty nice bread roll stuffed with sliced turkey, spinach and Swiss cheese. Nothing fancy, you could probably achieve a similar effect with two slices of bread and the same fillings, but to say I made my own bread stuffed with turkey and cheese, that's pretty nifty. I think that makes it even more delicious.

Ham (or Turkey) and Cheese Roll
(Adapted from the King Arthur Flour recipe)
Serves 6 to 8

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 t. sugar
1-1/2 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
2-1/4 t. instant yeast (1 packet)
1 c. water

1/2 pound sliced deli meat (I used peppered turkey breast)
6 slices of cheese, sandwich sized (or more slices; I used Swiss, but you can use any kind of cheese you prefer)
1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves
Dijon mustard

In the bowl, mix together all dough ingredients using a dough hook (or by hand!) until ingredients are combined and the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl, and let it rise for about an hour.

Spread the dough out into a rectangle about 12" x 18" using your hand or a rolling pin. Spread mustard on the surface, leaving about 1" around the edges. Layer the spinach, cheese and deli meat, in that order, over the dough, then, starting along the long egde, roll the dough into a log. Press together the edges and seam to seal the roll. The original instructions next call for curving the roll into the shape of a horseshoe on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, but if I make this again, I might just leave it straight. Cover the roll for another hour and a half to two hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Using a scissor, make 2" long incisions, crosswise, along the roll at 3" intervals. Bake for about 35 minutes (until the roll browns), then allow to cool. You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

Lastly, I wanted to thank Donna over at My Tasty Treasures for this award she gave to me recently:

I'm so new to this blogging world that I didn't even know blog awards existed, but thank you so much, Donna! And just so you know, she's also got her own roll on her site right now--a pretty amazing looking ice cream cake roll!