Friday, December 31, 2010

day 31 - crumb top apple pie

Today is it. The last day of my challenge.  Just 31 days ago I challenged myself to bake and blog every day.  I figured December would be an easy month to do this, with Christmas and parties, and baked gifts for all.  It started out tough, I mean really tough.  Fun to make something new every day, but eye-opening to realize just how much butter I was going to use!

I started out making plans, cookies one day, fudge another, etc.  Unfortunately I am not one who does well with plans.  Some days there was something I just had to make, for myself, for my family and certainly for my friends.  Other days it was what the boys voted for.  Finally, it was what did I have in the house?  I had some high hopes that never materialized, but I certainly feel like the month was a success.

So what did I make for my final day?  My family's favorite, the first thing I made for my husband when we were only dating, and I was trying to woo him... Apple Pie.  Mind you this apple pie has gone through some modifications in the past 10 years, but it remains the all-time favorite desert for my family.

We start off with a fantastic home-made crust.  I have only purchased a crust on very rare occasions, and have been scolded each and every time.  Not to worry, I will include the recipes.  My crust is a shortening crust.  Now I've tried butter crusts, but always go back to the shortening crust I learned when I was a kid.  It is a mixture of flour, salt, vinegar, egg, water and shortening.  It never fails me, and I'm sure that is why I'm so un-willing to try something new.  There is a second crust, not as good as my first, but it is a better stand-in than purchased crust.  It is on the tub of Crisco I buy at costco.  It makes only 2 discs of dough as opposed to 5 like my favorite recipe.  It works.

On to the pie.  I have only one cookbook I use for pies.  Even when I'm looking for a new recipe, I turn to only one.  Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook 1965. The very first pie in the book: Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.  This is what I started with. Double crust, traditional pie.  Not much added to the apples other than sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and a dash of salt.  The type of apple used in a pie varies widely, some use a combination of apples, some are just one variety.   I grew up with Granny Smith apples in my pies, and I still love that flavor.  The only modification to this recipe I've made, is the addition of orange zest to the apples.

There are several variations of apple pies.  After much taste testing, we all agree that a crumb top apple pie is our favorite.  Traditional apple pie filling, topped with a combination of brown sugar, flour, butter and a touch of orange zest.  The combination is fantastic and perfect.

You'll notice the pictures are only of a whole pie.  Unfortunately my husband would not let me cut into the pie just for a picture.  You can imagine what it would look like: flaky crust, layers of sweet apples, crumbly topping of sugar and butter topped off with a scoop of Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream . That is perfection, and the perfect way to end 2010.

Happy New Year!

Stay tuned, there is a new challenge for 2011, and I think you'll like it!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

day 30 - ultimate chocolate chip cookies

So today I finally decided to attempt the chocolate chip cookie.  It is one of those things that when you find the {perfect} recipe, you keep it forever.  Today's was pretty darn good and probably would have been perfect for me with the addition of walnuts, however, I kept my family in mind, and left them out.

The cookies were chewy with a crisp edge.  Full of chocolate chips (and butterscotch chips in this case).  Best of all... they were huge! 

I started off with 1 cup of softened butter - I left mine out last night so I could get an early start today.  I put that in the mixer, and let it get super creamy and fluffy all on it's own.  Once the butter was well creamed, I added 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar.  The brown sugar helps with the chewy factor of the cookies.  Let that mix for a while, scraping down the sides as needed.  Into a glass measuring cup went 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla and a mixture of hot water, baking soda and salt.  By dissolving the baking soda in hot water, it ensured it was evenly distributed throughout the cookies.  This got poured in slowly, allowing all the ingredients to fully combine.  Finally 3 cups of flour were added one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Lastly, 2 cups of chocolate chips, or a combination, were added.  If desired, an additional cup of chopped walnuts can be added.  I scooped these out with a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to make super big cookies.  On some of the cookies, I put a caramel in the middle, just to add to the decadence.  Bake in a 350* oven for about 15 minutes  - 10 minutes if you make smaller cookies.  Let them cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. 

They are great on their own, with a glass of milk, cup of coffee, whatever you like.  Give them a try!

Jimmy even approves!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

day 29 - beignets

This morning I felt myself getting into a rut.  Grabbing the same cookbooks, looking on the same web sites, and going for the same old simple treat.  No more!  Out came Joy of Cooking.

I started in the candies and confections section, but unfortunately Jimmy has found the stash of chocolate a few too many times in the past month, so there wasn't much I could make from there.

Onto the cookies and bars... I know, I just said I needed to do something different, I thought Pfeffernussen, once again thwarted, this recipe called for brandy, seriously, brandy?

Flip through quick breads, I have a ton of bananas... nope, too boring.

Then I found doughnuts.  Yummy hot, fresh doughnuts!  Earlier in the year I made doughnuts with a bunch of teenage girls, it was a blast.  In the doughnut section was beignets.  A French deep friend confection from New Orleans.  Now I've never been to New Orleans, and the only time I've had a beignet, was when our neighbors brought back a mix from their trip.  I think I was around 10.  I remembered them with fondness.  As I perused the recipe, it seemed simple, I had everything in the house, and they would certainly kick me out of my rut!

First, get your frying liquid ready.  I hauled out my huge enameled cast iron pot circa 1968.  It is that burnt orange color of the era.  I didn't have enough oil to fry in, so I grabbed my Costco sized tub of Crisco.  Why do I have that much Crisco?  I use it for my pie dough... just wait until Friday!  Anyways, I nearly emptied a full container of Crisco into the pot, clipped on my thermometer, and turned up the heat.  The recipe called for a temp of 365*F.

As the shortening was coming up to temp, I started on the batter.  Into a saucepan went 1 Tablespoon butter, 6 Tablespoons water & 6 Tablespoons flour.  It called for bringing to a boil and stirring for 5 minutes.  There was no way I could get this to boil, and stirring for 5 minutes? Maybe it is because I used a whisk - I didn't want flour lumps after all - and it was all stuck inside.  Needless to say, I did stir long enough to cook out the raw flour taste.  Off the heat I added 4 eggs, one at a time and stirring to combine.  Now I don't know what it is about older recipes, but this one did not make sense.  It said to remove the pan from the heat, and add the eggs... you don't want scrambled eggs. But it never said to return to heat to cook the eggs, and if I didn't cook the dough, it was only a runny mess... certainly not any sort of batter that could be fried.  So after adding all 4 eggs, I returned the pan to a low heat and stirred constantly with my whisk until I felt it was thickened enough.  Lastly add 1 tsp of vanilla.

Once the fryer was ready, I dropped a teaspoon full of batter into the pot.  I was able to fit about 5 beignets into my pot, just be sure to not let the temperature drop too much, otherwise they will absorb more oil.  It didn't take long for them to fry up and turn a golden brown.  Once they are cooked, place on a stack of paper towels to absorb the excess fat and dust with powdered sugar.  Repeat with the remaining batter until all gone.

I quickly piled my warm sugary beignets into a bowl, took a couple pictures, then handed them out.  They are history.  Resting comfortably in the bellies of my family.

Here are a few more pictures... just to make you drool!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

day 28 - scotcheroos

Today I spent the entire day out of the house.  I left at 10am and didn't return until 4pm.  It was very productive because I was without kids, but I came home exhausted.  While I was making dinner, it crossed my mind that I hadn't yet blogged today.  There is no way I could let 27 days of consistency fall apart now!  So once burritos were done, I started on desert.

Earlier in the week we were visiting with some friends and got talking about scotcheroos.  How good they were, how easy they were, and especially how hard it is to eat just one. So today, after a very long day, and without much time to bake, I made scotcheroos.

For the uninitiated, they are similar to rice krispie treats, but oh so much better.  The sticky base is much easier to make, and the combo chocolate topping is just perfect.  You start by combining 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup smooth peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for about 30 seconds, then stir to combine.  Return to the microwave and heat for another 30 seconds just until the sugar is dissolved.  In a large bowl, put 6 cups of rice krispies, pour the peanut butter mixture over, and stir to combine.  Press this into a greased 9x13 pan.  Set aside.  In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips.  Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring until melted.  Pour this over the rice krispie mixture and spread evenly with an off-set spatula.  Let stand at room temperature for several hours, or refrigerate for 2 hours until chocolate is set.  Cut into small pieces.

See... super simple, very doable after dinner - or even in the middle of dinner like I did.  The kids will love it, and if you are so inclined, can certainly help as well!

Monday, December 27, 2010

day 27 - morning glory muffins

If you can't tell, I've had my limits of sweets.  So this morning when I thought about making something, I figured muffins had to be better than dessert!  I found this recipe when going through some January/February light issues of Everyday Food.  This muffin is a contrast between oatmeal muffins and carrot cake.  It is full of healthy ingredients and not many fattening things.  It is full of flavor and approved by husband and kids.  It is a winner!

I started by shredding carrots and mashing bananas.  The recipe called for raisins, but craisins were all I had, so those went in.  I added 1/3 cup skim milk, 3 T oil, 1 egg & 1 tsp of vanilla.  That was it for the moist ingredients.  In a large bowl I whisked together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, oats & salt.  Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine.  These were baked at 400*F for about 25 minutes.  Out came 12 warm muffins that tasted even better with a little bit of butter.

What a great way to start our morning.  Enjoy!

Morning Glory Muffins (Everyday Food Jan 2010)
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c craisins
3 Tbsp oil
1 lg egg
1/3 c skim milk
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium banana, mashed

Preheat oven to 400*F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats and craisins.  Add oil, egg, milk, carrots, and banana, stir until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, 23-25 minutes.
per muffin: 186 cal; 4.7 g fat; 3.6 g protein; 33.9g carbs; 2.2g fiber

Sunday, December 26, 2010

day 26 - peanut butter cup brownies

Today was one of those days I wanted to make something from what was in the house.  I didn't want to go out of the house, I didn't want to work too hard, I wanted to be lazy.  So what did I make?  Brownies. No, not from a mix, from scratch, duh!  But plain old brownies just aren't that exciting to me.  However, once you add peanut butter?  Ooooh, now that is good!

So out comes my cocoa powder.  I prefer to make brownies with cocoa powder, only because I don't ALWAYS have a variety of chocolate in the house to use.  If you have chocolate sitting around, those are great too.  Today I used the recipe on the back, simple standard ingredients.  Melted butter, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and salt.  That is the batter.  Now for the peanut butter filling.  I mixed together creamy peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar and some vanilla until it was smooth.  I choose to use muffin cups - only because my 8x8 pan was in the freezer with a casserole - but they are also easy for the kids too.  In the bottom put just a dolop of brownie, then top it with some of the peanut butter and finally more brownie.  Bake in a 350*F oven for about 30 minutes.  The peanut butter seemed to ooze out of my brownies, so they look a little funny, but they certainly taste great.    If you have any vanilla ice cream left over from Christmas, it would be delicious on these warmed up.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

day 25 - baked omelet

,First, you are surprised I am posting today... i did say every day! Second you are thinking how on earth could I post before 8am on Christmas? Well, truth be told, I didn't do much today. Last night before bed I prepped breakfast, put it in the fridge and went to bed.

I took the left-over challah from Monday and tore it into pieces and put it in a baking dish. Onto that, I sprinkled onion powder to give it some flavor. Then I added a combination of cheddar, swiss and cream cheese. Time for the eggs. A total of 10 eggs and two cups of milk all mixed together. A little seasoning - mustard powder, salt and cayenne added in for flavor. Cover it up and put it in the fridge until the next morning!

After making coffee this morning, I got the casserole out of the fridge and put it in a 325* oven for 45 minutes. An additional 15 minutes uncovered and breakfast is done!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

day 24 - pumpkin cheesecake

I'm not sure why, but cheesecake isn't my thing.  I know, that and chocolate, how can I survive?  My husband feels the same way... about the how can I survive part, he LOVES cheesecake.  So whenever I really want to get on his good side, I make sure I have a cheesecake waiting for him.  A couple years ago we started a tradition of having Thanksgiving with some friends of mine from college.  We rarely go home for that holiday, and they would always have family come visit.  Of course I brought the desert.  Their number one request? Pumpkin Cheesecake.

So the first year I made one from a recipe they provided, it was good, but still didn't wow me.  One of their family visiting had read a recipe from the Food Network magazine that was a remake of the Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin cheesecake, 2 years ago I tried that one, and I was SOLD!  Delicious.  Now I'm not saying I love all cheesecake, I still don't, but this one, oh man is it good.  This year we didn't spend Thanksgiving with them, and were planning on having a quiet Christmas at home as well, until we got a last minute invitation from them to come over... as long as I could bring Pumpkin Cheesecake again!

Of course I obliged.  This morning I got my ingredients out of the fridge - cream cheese, eggs & sour cream - these had to get to room temperature before I could start the cheesecake.  Once everything was at room temperature, I was able to get started.  First, make the crust.  This is a traditional graham cracker crust, graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and a little sugar all whirled together.  Press this into a springform pan on the bottom and all the way up the sides.  This gets baked for about 15-20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, it is time to mix the filling.  Two whole pounds of cream cheese gets mixed until it is light and fluffy, then over 2 cups of sugar gets added.  Can you tell why this was so good?  Once that is all mixed, in goes a can of pumpkin puree, 6 eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger & cloves.  This gets mixed well.

Once the crust has cooled, you need to line the bottom and half-way up the sides with foil. The foil lined pan then gets placed inside a roasting pan.  Once the filling is mixed, the roasting pan is placed in the oven, the crust is filled with cheesecake filling all the way to the top, then the roasting pan is filled with hot water about half-way up the springform pan.  Sounds complicated, but the moisture from the water will help prevent the cheesecake from cracking after it is baked.

The cheesecake is baked in a 325* oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  The filling should be set but still wiggle in the middle.  When the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and open the oven door.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven like this to cool for another hour before removing.  This will also help prevent the cheesecake from cracking.  Once the cheesecake is completely cooled, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight before eating.

I always feel lucky when I make this cheesecake.  The recipe calls for a 10" pan, mine is 9.5". Doesn't seem like a big difference, but it does mean that the entire recipe will not fit in my pan.  So what am I to do with the leftovers?  I take my muffin pan, line the bottom with the remaining crumb crust, and fill it with the cheesecake.  I bake these in the same oven for only 30 minutes.  When they are cool, run a knife around the edge to loosen, then pop them out.  Of course I had to try one today, just so you could get a picture, and I could remind myself how wonderful this cheesecake really is...

Pumpkin Cheesecake
12 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 c sugar
2 lbs cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sour cream
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
6 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 325*F. Stir the crumbs with the melted butter, 1/4 c sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Cool, then wrap the outside of the pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.  Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 c sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla 1 tsp salt and the spices. beat until just combined. Pour into the cool crust. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven and pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets, but the center is still loose. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes prior to serving.  Top with whipped cream.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

day 23 - mocha-chip meringues

My favorite magazine (Everyday Food) puts out a light issue every year.  In it they have all those 'new years resolution' type recipes, including a light cookie.  Today I thought I'd try out one of those, goodness knows after this past month, I'm going to need to go on a strict diet to get back into my jeans!

Mocha-chip Meringues are light and airy, but full of decadent flavor so they feel indulgent.  At only 23 calories each, they certainly fit within the acceptable range!  Meringues may seem daunting to make, lots of egg whites, needing to get all fluffy so they turn out.  Really, they are simple, with a few precise steps, they will turn out and look impressive.  First it is important to make sure all ingredients are room temperature that way everything will combine well.  Also your bowl and whisk need to be clean and free of any residue, otherwise the egg whites will not whip fully.

So, in a large mixing bowl combine egg whites and salt. Whip until fluffy, then add a combination of sugar and cornstarch very slowly and beat until glossy and stiff peaks.  At this point you add in cocoa powder and espresso powder and mix until combined.  DO NOT let your 5yr old turn on the mixer at this stage, otherwise you will have a chocolate cloud explode all over your kitchen!  Once these ingredients are fully incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips.  Using a tablespoon measure, place mounds of the batter onto cookie sheets, and placed in a 300*F oven for about 40 minutes.  Let cool completely on the sheet pan before removing to a rack.  That is it!  Light, crispy, and super chocolatey!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

day 22 - spicy orange molasses cookies

So yesterday we spent the evening at our friends, playing cards, eating lots of food, and having an all around good time.  I brought over my caramel popcorn from yesterday to share. She had made her own batch the day before, and we wanted to compare recipies... same ingredients, mine had less popcorn, so it was a bit more caramel-y. 

When we got there she was making molasses cookies.  I love the flavor of molasses cookies, and was already planning on sharing my favorite recipe for them today, however, after tasting hers, I made a slight modification to mine, and think they are even more fantabulous!

So, here goes, spicy molasses cookies, with a hint of orange!

You'll need: shortening, sugar, molasses, egg, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt (cardamom if you have it - I never do) and some orange zest.  In a large bowl combine the shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.  If you are feeling especially lazy, you can grab a mixer, or if you are so lazy you haven't been to the gym yet, you can use your own muscles to blend the ingredients (my choice today... yep, no gym yet!).

In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients plus the zest of one orange.  Be sure to mix it well so the orange will be in every bite!  Once the wet ingredients are well combined, toss in the dry, and mix away.  It seemed tough to do by hand at first, but that is probably because I'm so used to relying on my stand mixer, this was good practice.

Once all the ingredients are combined, roll into walnut sized balls.  Now, you have 2 choices - roll in orange sugar (more zest mixed with sugar) or leave as is.  I don't feel they need the extra sugar, however it does give a little more orange kick.  Your choice.  Bake at 350*F for about 10 minutes.  Eat them plain, coat with white chocolate, sandwich with ice cream.  Anyways you eat them, I think they are great.  And the orange adds something unexpected, and super great!

Spicy Orange Molasses Cookies (Adapted from PWs cookies)
1 c sugar
3/4 c shortening
1/4 c molasses
1 egg
2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grd cloves
1 tsp grd ginger
1/4 tsp gr cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
zest of 1 orange
sugar & zest for rolling

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix sugar, shortening, molasses, and egg together until well combined. Dump in dry ingredients, stirring dry ingredients together lightly. Mix together until dough is combined. In your hands, roll dough into walnut-sized balls, then generously coat each ball with sugar. Place balls on baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, allowing to bake for about a minute after cookies begin to crack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

day 21 - caramel popcorn

Today was kid's choice.  They got to help make today's treat, and they got to choose who we gave it away to (their first choice was each other!).  Of course they chose Caramel Popcorn.  They have been asking for this since the first time I made it back in September.

First thing first, grab the trusty old air popper and start making popcorn.  Mine is a hand-me-down that I'm sure was purchased used by the person that passed it to me.  It is missing a part, but I still make it work.  I use about 1/2 to 2/3 cup kernels.  If you like your popcorn super coated, then stick with the 1/2 cup, if you like some un-coated pieces, the 2/3 cup is a good amount.  Once you have all the popcorn popped, it is a good idea to sift through it for un-popped kernels. The first time I made this I didn't take the extra time for that step, and my teeth suffered.  Set aside the popcorn in a large bowl, time to make the syrup!

In a large sauce pan on the stove, melt 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), once that is melted, stir in 2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup and 1 tsp salt.  Bring this entire mixture to a rolling boil, and boil for about 4 minutes without stirring.  One of these days I"ll clip on my candy thermometer and give you a precise temp, but 4 minutes is good.  At this point it should be quite foamy and have expanded in size.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  The mixture will sputter, so please stand back. 

Pour the caramel over the popped popcorn and start stirring. Continue mixing the popcorn until it is evenly coated.  Spread the coated popcorn out onto 2 rimmed baking sheets, and place in a 250* oven for 45 minutes.  Every 15 minutes take the pans out, stir them and rotate.  After 45 minutes remove the pans from the oven and let cool.  As the popcorn cools, it will harden.  Once it is hardened and cool enough to handle, break up into pieces.

And only because we just visited the dentist this morning, please go brush your teeth after eating this!


Caramel Popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 qts popcorn

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on the stove. Once melted add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir to combine.  When the mixture has come to a boil, boil without stirring for 4 minutes.  While sugar mixture is cooking, put popped popcorn in a large mixing bowl.  Once sugar has cooked for 4 minutes, remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla, stir to combine. Drizzle sugar mixture over the popcorn and mix thoroughly.  Spread the coated popcorn onto two rimmed baking sheets and place in a 250* F oven.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Popcorn will harden as it cools.

Monday, December 20, 2010

day 20 - challah

When I first started this challenge, I asked some people what they would like to see me make, and one person mentioned Challah.  I've made lots of bread before, so I thought, why not? I'll try out Challah and see how it turns out.  Worst case, I"ll make french toast a few days later with the left-overs!

Let me just say, this was a lot of work.  As I said, I'm used to bread making. But this, seriously, I had to leave the house several times just so I wasn't bothered by the long rises (2+ hours each!).  So, in looking for a challah recipe, I turned my trusty Baking cookbook.  This was a gift last year from my mother, and I LOVE it.  That first night I read it for hours, not wanting to put it down, engrossed in the education it was providing me.  This book consists of your basics, as well as several advanced baked goods.  The goal of Baking, is to give you the ground-work and let you make adjustments as desired.

So this morning I got out the cookbook, and read through the recipe a few times before getting started.  First things first, warm the eggs and proof the yeast.    Proofing the yeast is a simple process, mix yeast with some flour and some liquid, just to get it bubbling, and ensure it is still live.  It is an important one, and when making yeasted doughs, I recommend.  So as my yeast proofed, the eggs sat in a pot of warm water to take the chill from the refrigerator off.  This was then all mixed together along with an additional cup of flour and the sugar.  And so begins wait #1. 

To distract myself I went to the gym. I figured why not? I hadn't been since my birthday in November and I am scheduled to run a half-marathon in May... maybe I should start doing something about that!

Back from the gym, I uncovered the bowl, and in a larger bowl I combined the remaining flour and salt. Then I poured the egg mixture over that and mixed well.  The dough 'rested' prior to kneading.  I choose the mixer version of kneading instead of the hand method.  Once the dough was well mixed, it was time for wait #2.  Off to the shower for me, and several loads of laundry

Finally I could start the fun part, forming the traditional braided loaf.  I took the dough, and separated it into 3 even balls, then rolled each ball into a long rope. Sounds easy. This took at least an additional 30 minutes. The dough is very elastic, and needs to rest for it to get to the full length.  I did manage to take some pictures of this process.

Now time to braid.  Getting started was the hard part. once the first few turns were done, it reminded me of braiding my own hair as a girl, and I was able to finish easily.  This was transferred to a baking sheet and... wait #3.  Once the final rise was complete, I brushed it with an egg wash and put it into a moist oven (pan with water at the bottom to create moisture while the bread was cooking) and baked for about 45 minutes.

Out came a beautifully golden loaf of bread, that I instantly cut into and slathered butter all over it (I did go to the gym didn't I?).


 I'm not sure if this loaf will last for breakfast on Christmas (an omelet casserole is scheduled for the left-overs).  Needless to say, I'm sure I"ll make challah again, probably just in time for a Sunday morning breakfast of french toast!

Challah (Baking by James Peterson)
5 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c milk, barely warmed
5 eggs, warmed in the shell
2 egg yolks
1 tsp active dry yeast, proofed in 1 Tbsp warm water and 1 tsp flour
1 tsp salt
butter for pan
egg wash

in a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, milk, eggs, egg yolks, and yeast.  Stir lightly with a whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 hour at room temperature.  In a large bowl, combine the remaining 4 cups flour with the salt. Pour the egg mixture over the flour-salt mixture and mix for about 2 minutes, or long enough to moisten. Cover with an inverted bowl or with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes or with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hood on medium speed for about 7 minutes, or until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in volume.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each ball of dough into a rope about 24" long. Since the dough is very elastic, you'll need to stretch the dough in several stages, allowing it to rest for 10 minutes between each stretching and rolling.  Butter a sheet pan. Braid the ropes and transfer to the sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 400*F and set a sheet pan, about 1/4 full of water, on the floor or bottom rack of the oven. Brush the loaf with egg wash. Put the pan with the loaf into the oven. Turn down the temperature to 375*F and bake for about 45 minutes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

day 19 - gingerbread

In my 36 years, I have never made gingerbread.  I'm not sure why, so I thought I'd make it today.  Just so you know, it turns out to be so good I really need it to disappear quickly!  Unfortunately, I think the only way that is going to happen is for me to eat it.

Today's recipe comes from one of my favorite sources, Everyday Food.  I love the magazine that they produce. It has really good food that isn't too fancy and well liked by my whole family.  I also have the 2 cookbooks they have published.  The original recipe for gingerbread included a swirl of chocolate, but as you know I'm not a big fan of chocolate, so I left it out today.  I really did make this for myself!

The beautiful dark color in gingerbread comes from the molasses.  I have a love for the flavor of molasses, I remember pouring it over my pancakes as a kid, such a deep and complex flavor.  There is a bit of spiciness as well in this cake that comes from a generous amount of ginger as well as cloves and black pepper. 

Another quick and easy recipe for me today. I have a couple big projects on my list for the coming week, so stay tuned!

Chocolate Swirl Gingerbread (Martha Stewart Everyday Food)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

day 18 - almond balls

This afternoon I made the final cookie for the cookie tray (I'll post pictures of the tray later), and another one from my childhood. Almond Balls.  You know those crumbly balls of butter, flour and nuts? rolled in powered sugar? They are sooo good, and so easy to make!  Truly they can be made with any nuts, today I made mine with walnuts because that is what I had on hand.  I personally like the flavor of almond extract, so I still add that even if I use a different nut.

As I said, super easy. You cream the butter, add the sugar (not much remember, it is rolled in sugar too), mix that, add flour nuts and extract.  Scoop into small balls, roll in additional powdered sugar (I like to get as much extra as possible) bake very low for 35 minutes.  Let them cool a bit before rolling in more sugar, or it will start to melt.  Then... try not to eat all of them!  Enjoy!

Almond Balls
1 c butter
2 c flour
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 c ground nuts
1 tsp almond extract

Cream butter. Add sugar and mix well. Add flour, nuts and extract. Mix until combined. Form into small balls. Roll in powered sugar. Bake at 300* for 35 minutes.  Cool slightly on rack, then roll in additional powdered sugar.

Friday, December 17, 2010

day 17 - chocolate espresso snowcaps

Earlier this week I was asked to provide cookies for a youth event at our church Saturday evening.  Of course I said yes, another few days of baking and giving it away!  So today is cookie #2 for the cookie tray tomorrow night.  Yesterday's sugar cookies were #1 by the way.

As with most cookie trays, you want to provide a variety of tastes, crunchy, chocolatey, simple.  Yesterday's sugar cookies are the simple offering.  I made 2 more batches of the english toffee for my husband's work as well as the cookie tray.  Tomorrow will be cookie #4.

This chocolate cookie has it all. Bittersweet chocolate, espresso and cocoa powder.   All mixed together, then rolled in powdered sugar, they look divine.

First get out your mixer.  Mine has been through many years of use, and it is still going strong, well worth the investment if you do any sort of baking.  In the bowl combine the butter and sugar, and let it go.  You want to make sure the cookies are light and the first step is mixing the butter and sugar and they are creamy and fluffy.  While the butter and sugar and creaming, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a whisk.  In a glass measuring cup add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and heat in the microwave on short increments until melted.  Set the chocolate aside to cool

To the butter & sugar, add the egg and mix completely.  Add the cooled chocolate, then slowly add the dry ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.  Finally beat in the milk.  Turn this mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and put in the freezer to firm up, for about 45 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, roll into 1" balls and roll in powdered sugar twice.  Let the first coating of powdered sugar sit on the cookie balls before rolling a second time.  If you have kids, let them roll the cookies the second time, mine had a great time, and the mess wasn't too terrible!  Bake these in a 350* oven for 12-14 minutes.  They come out looking like snow capped mountains! 

Resist the urge to eat the tray. 
Between the chocolate and the espresso they pack quite a kick!

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps (Everyday Food)
1/2 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
 2/3 c brown sugar
1 egg
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp milk
powdered sugar for coating

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350*. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour powdered sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12-14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

day 16 - cut-out sugar cookies

Last week AJ's preschool had a sign up for their Happy Birthday Jesus party today.  One item on the list was 'unfrosted sugar cookies'. Guess what, I JUMPED on that one!  It gave me something to make and give away, perfect!

So last night as I was perusing my recipes for a sugar cookie (remember, my Christmas cookie as a kid was a Ginger Sugar Cookie - see day 1) I thought I'd keep in mind some concerns for the state of my heart.  Now I do have a few connections to great cardiologists, however, I'd rather not use them because of some crazy dare I gave to myself!  So out came the Cooking Light cookbooks.  Right in the front of the cookie section was one for a Christmas Sugar Cookie, and guess what, it only uses 1/4 cup of butter!  For me, this is huge.  I haven't even done the math on how many pounds of butter I have used in the last 16 days, but I can promise you it is over 10!  The other thing I liked about this recipe is it did not contain applesauce.  Now don't get me wrong, I understand the science behind replacing oil and other fattening ingredients with applesauce, but I just can't wrap my mind around it!

So last night I grabbed my stick of butter (I doubled the recipe, more on that later) and put it on the counter. I wanted to get a head start on the cookies so I could make them first thing in the morning.  After getting the coffee this morning, I grabbed my mixer and put in the softened butter, white sugar and brown sugar, turned the mixer on, and let it go.  Now onto the dry ingredients.  The basics: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornstarch. I was surprised by this, but my guess is it will give the dough some body to hold up to rolling and cutting without adding in a lot more flour.  Those were mixed together and set aside.  In a glass measuring cup I put my liquid ingredients.  After making marshmallows over the weekend, I had some liquid egg whites left over.  Because the recipe called for egg whites only, I decided to use those instead of my whole eggs, I'm sure I'll need them later this week!  So egg whites and vanilla extract were put in the measuring cup, then slowly added to the mixer, just a little at a time, to ensure that all the ingredients get fully combined.  Once this is all mixed, I added the flour mixture in two batches, and stirred until it all came together.

As per the recipes instructions, I separated the dough into 4 batches, on sheets of wax paper.  I put another sheet of wax paper on top, then rolled them out to desired thickness.  These discs of dough got placed in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up so I could cut out shapes.  One at a time, I took a disc of dough out, and cut out shapes.  AJ got to pick today for his class, so Snowmen were the winner.  After cutting out the shapes, I gathered the scraps, and repeated the process of forming a ball, rolling between wax paper and freezing for a bit.  My cookie sheets were full of cute little snowmen.  They went into the oven for only 6 minutes and came out a pale golden color.  Onto the cooling racks they lined up, ready and waiting for a dozen preschoolers to frost later today.

Christmas Sugar Wafers (Cooking Light)
6 T sugar
1/4 c butter
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 lg egg whites
1 1/2 c flour
3 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Place butter and sugars in large bowl, beat with a mixer until well blended, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and egg whites.  Combine dry ingredients and stir with a whisk.  Add to butter mixture and beat well.  Divide dough into four equal portions and roll between two sheets of wax paper. Freeze dough for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375*. With one portion of dough, cut out desired shapes and place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 6 minutes. Cool on racks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

day 15 - scones

Today is an extra special day.  It is Wednesday. The last week of school.  It is mailing day for all our Christmas presents.  And today is a double recipe day!  Today I made scones for a friend's work meeting tomorrow morning.  She thought scones might be better fuel for a day of work than stale Cheetos... don't you agree?  So this morning's scones are Vanilla Bean Scones (Thank you PW) and my ultimate favorite, and one I finally just had to create because I couldn't find it.... Cranberry Orange Scones with Cornmeal. 

Do you remember those Starbucks Cranberry Orange Scones they used to make with cornmeal? I don't know when they changed the recipe, and I don't know why.  I LOVED the cornmeal in the scone. It gave it texture, it cut down on the cakey feeling.  It made them extra special.  At some point they cut out the cornmeal. I keep ordering them hoping that I'll like it as much, unfortunately I'm always disappointed.  Today, I have finally found the perfect combination, and am vowing to never order a cranberry orange scone from Starbucks again... who needs to when you can make the perfect one at home?

Both scone recipes are made from similar bases, so I'll just give you the run down on the generics, and the recipes will be on the recipe page.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, leavening (baking powder or baking soda - what ever the recipe calls for) and salt.  In the Cranberry Orange scone recipe I added orange zest at this point as well. Combine this well with a whisk.  Cut in the butter until it is small pea size pieces.  You can do this in a Cuisinart if you prefer, however, I am a fan of a pastry cutter and doing it by hand.  Combine cream and eggs, then add to dough.  Mix until just combined.  Pour onto a counter (or a rolling mat) sprinkled with flour. Shape into a rectangle about 1/2" thick.  Cut into even squares, then again on a diagonal to form triangles.  Transfer this to a lined baking sheet and bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Glaze as desired.

Vanilla Bean Scone

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Scone
Don't feel like you need to buy scones. They are easy, and very adaptable to whatever you want them to be.  Take a base recipe, and add your favorite things!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

day 14 - candy bar fudge

As I was browsing through recipes last night, I saw this one... twice!  So, I thought why not?  I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, but I know lots of people are. So for all you chocoholics out there, this one is for you!

Super simple microwave recipe.  Prep an 8x8 pan by coating with cooking spray and parchment paper and another layer of cooking spray (can never have too much!).  In a large bowl combine 1 stick of butter, 1/3 c cocoa powder, 1/4 c brown sugar & 1/4 c milk.  Microwave on high for about 3 minutes, until it is boiling.  Stir in 3 1/2 c powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread this mixture into the prepared pan. 

In a medium bowl combine 30 caramels (unwrapped of course) and 1 T water.  Microwave this on high for about 2 minutes until the caramels are all dissolved.  You may need to stir half-way through the cooking process.  Once the caramels are melted, stir in 2 cups of nuts.  I used almonds because that is what I had, but anything you like would work well.  Pour this on top of the chocolate mixture in your pan.

Finally, melt 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips.  Spread the melted chocolate on top of the entire mixture.  Cover and chill for 2-3 hours until firm.  The parchment paper (or foil) will help you take the fudge out of the pan. Cut into small pieces (this is very rich) and package up to give away to all your friends.  Trust me, you don't need a house full of this fudge!

Candy-Bar Fudge
1/2 c butter
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c milk
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
30 caramels, unwrapped
1 Tbsp water
2 cups peanuts
1/2 c semi-sweet chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

Line an 8x8 pan with foil or parchment, extending over the sides. Grease well and set aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Add in cocoa powder, brown sugar and milk. Microwave until mixture boils, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread into pan.  In another bowl, combine caramels and water. Microwave for 2-2/12 minutes until caramels are melted. Stir in nuts. Quickly spread over fudge layer.  If caramel mixture is hard to spread, microwave again for about 30 seconds.  In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine semi-sweet and milk chocolate pieces. Microwave until melted.  Spread over caramel layer.  Cover and chill for 2-3 hours, or until firm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

day 13 - eggnog cookies

Another day, another sweet treat coming from my kitchen.  My husband made a personal plea yesterday... to not have any more sweets in our house.  Well now, that posed a challenge!  I mean today is only day 13 of 31... I'm not even half-way through my challenge!  So, I kindly offered to send the treats to work with him... apparently that was out of the question as well - I'm sure he didn't ask his colleagues before making that decision by the way.  So now I'm on the hunt for households willing to be the recipient of my numerous baked goods.  Let me know if you are interested! Let me know if you have a favorite!

Today I chose to continue on the eggnog theme, but I had to change what my original plan was. I was going to make eggnog custard in cute little custard cups.  Unfortunately those aren't so easy to gift, so instead I made eggnog cookies, with a yummy eggnog glaze.  I know, all those with an aversion to eggnog are glad I didn't show up at their house this afternoon!

As soon as I pulled out the mixer this morning, my two little (not really, but I will always think of them that way) boys climbed up to the counted and anxiously awaited their opportunity to help... and maybe lick the beater!  AJ helped me put the butter in the mixer and turn it on.  As I explained to him, I had to let the mixer go for quite a while, I had forgotten to take the butter out the night before, so it was quite cold, and would take some time before reaching a creamy consistency.  Jimmy then helped me measure out the sugar and pour it into the mixer.  We turned it back on while gathering the liquid ingredients.  I like to put my liquid ingredients into a glass measuring cup. This allows for me to easily add it to the mixer while the beaters are going.  So in the measuring cup went some eggnog, 2 egg yolks, and some vanilla.  When you add the ingredients remember to do it slowly so everything has a chance to combine.  Once that was all mixed we scraped down the sides, and put in half of the flour mixture (flour, salt, baking powder & nutmeg).  Let that come together, then add the rest.  Once this is just combined you can turn of the mixer and do the final mixing by hand.  We dropped about a tablespoon of cookie dough onto a sheet lined with a silpat.  I managed to fit 16 cookies onto my cookie sheet.  Once that was full, we put them in the oven at 350* for about 10-12 minutes.  When they are done, dust them lightly with nutmeg and let cool on a rack.  I glazed my cookies with a combination of powdered sugar and eggnog.

AJ & Jimmy begged to lick the bowl and beaters, however we are limiting our sugar these days (given we've been on a high for 12 days, I thought it prudent to cut back a bit!), so they went directly into the sink full of soapy water.  Once the cookies had completely cooled and the glaze had hardened, we packaged them up and took them to our church for the staff.  The boys were slightly disappointed they didn't get to eat a cookies, but we talked about how much nicer it is to give to others... they agreed.  The next thing AJ asked? "Mom... can we bake and give things away all day?"  Almost...not all in one day, but for another 18 days we can!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

day 12 - marshmallows!

What little boy doesn't love a steaming cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?  For sure the boys in my house!  So on this rainy Sunday, I thought making marshmallows would be a perfect treat.

Because marshmallows aren't exactly cooked, it is always safer to use pasteurized egg whites like those found near the liquid egg products.  In this recipe, marshmallows are made by combining a meringue with gelatin and hard ball stage sugar syrup.  Through the magic of chemistry (not really magic, but it always seems that way in baking) these liquid ingredients, mixed together with some air, form the fluffiest marshmallows out there!  This is poured into a well greased (and lined) glass pan and allowed to cool.  That is it!  I was shocked. I thought there would be more to it.  I think the hardest part is the waiting... I was supposed to wait at least 5 hours, but I wanted to let the boys have their hot chocolate and marshmallows before going to bed, so I cut the cooling time short, they still turned out great.

I tasted one out all on its own... simply divine.  There is no grit, there is no chemical taste.  Just sweet vanilla and sugar.  I'm imagining making them again and adding a dash of peppermint... how yummy for Christmas?  Thankfully, this was not one of my creations that they boys prefer out of a package, they truly like the homemade marshmallow much better.  I sent my friend home with two bags of marshmallows, and kept one just for us.

Who knows, maybe this summer I'll try peanut butter marshmallows for s'mores while we are camping!

Homemade Marshmallows (BHG Food Gifts, 2010)
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3/4 c cold water
2 c sugar
2/3 c light corn syrup
1/3 refrigerated liquid egg white
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c powdered sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch

Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with plastic wrap. Coat with nonstick spray.  In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 c cold water, set aside. In a 2-qt heavy saucepan, stir together remaining 1/4 c water, 1 3/4 c sugar and corn syrup until combined. Bring to a boil, and cook without stirring until thermometer registers 260*F, hard-ball stage. Remove from heat; pour over gelatin mixture and stir well to combine.  Meanwhile, beat egg whites, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 c sugar, until stiff peaks form.  With mixer running on high, gradually add gelatin mixture to egg white mixture, beating for 5-7 minutes, or until thick. Quickly spread mixture into prepared pan. Coat another piece of wrap with nonstick spray, place coated side down, over marshmallow mixture in pan. Chill at least 5 hours.  In a bow, combine powdered sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle about 1/4th of the mixture evenly onto a large cutting board. Remove plastic wrap from top of marshmallows, carefully invert onto cutting board. Remove wrap. Sprinkle top with some of the remaining powdered sugar. Cut marshmallows into 1" squares.  Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

day 11 - pineapple upside-down cake

When you think back to your childhood, is there just one dessert that always seemed extra special?  I remember birthdays.  One year on my dad's (the day after Christmas) we had Baked Alaska., it was a big show. Somehow I got it in my head that we had it every year, but it was just once.  For my brother's birthday in February we always had Cherry Pie - it was Washington's birthday after all!  I don't remember why, but Pineapple Upside down Cake always seemed like something special.  Was it the cast iron skillet?  Was it the maraschino cherries?  nah... mom never put those in!  I can't seem to put my finger on why this dessert has a special place in my memories, but it certainly does.

So today, a day when I make a special meal for family and friends, I thought it would be appropriate to make a special dessert as well.  I owe everyone an apology, I have only 2 pictures from this dessert.  I could take a third I guess, but it is the ugly remains of a delicious cake!  I was too busy chatting with friends while I made the cake to realize that I should be taking pictures for all my loyal followers - all 3 of you!  However, a very accomplished desperate housewife has taken several pictures of all the steps and published the recipe in a tome of down home cooking called The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Go check it out.

This is one of those unusual cakes.  The batter is a mixture of butter, shortening, milk, pineapple juice, flour, sugar, eggs and leavening.  It is a pretty runny batter, but don't be afraid.  The special part is the melted butter, brown sugar and pineapple rings that are placed on the bottom of a cast iron skillet.  THIS IS SPECIAL.  The butter melts.  The brown sugar turns into a glaze.  The pineapple is gently placed on top.  The cake batter is poured into the pan (be sure not to over-fill... I made this mistake today and spent much time cleaning).  The whole cake is then placed in the oven to bake.  Out it comes from the oven... quickly loosen the cake from the skillet, place a plate over the top of the pan, then gently, ever so gently invert the cake onto the plate.  And this, my friends, is what you get:

Honestly, I could eat all the browned bits right now... well, I think I did, and that is why the remains are so ugly!  All that brown sugar and butter, soaked into the cake, cooked to perfection... yummy!

Give this one a try, I think you might really like it!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (The Pioneer Woman Cooks)
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cup sugar
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 20-oz can sliced pineapple, 2 Tbsp juice reserved
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350*. In a large mixing bowl, place flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, 1/2 stick butter, shortening, milk, eggs, vanilla and reserved pineapple juice. Mix until well combined.  Melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a 10-12" iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl to thoroughly coat the skillet. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, making sure it's evenly distributed.  Do not stir.  As soon as the sugar dissolves, place a layer of pineapple slices over the top.  If desired, place maraschino cherries in the center of the pineapple slices.  Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple slices. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Immediately run a knife around the edge of the cake, then place a cake plate upside down on top of the skillet. Very carefully invert the skillet so that the cake is turned upside down onto the cake plate.  Let cool slightly before slicing into wedges.