Buttermilk Sugar Cookie: The Saga Begins

What makes a tasty sugar cookie?

The flour? The sugar? The special secrets like cream cheese, sour cream, or maybe even buttermilk?

sugar cookie dough 1

Well I am making it my mission to find out. I want my cookies to come out like the kind from the tube. Soft, chewy, sweet. Unfortunately, I am biased against prepared dough’s, mixes, and the like although I have eaten (and enjoyed) more than my fair share of these treats.

I have had issue with sugar cookies. They are so simple but mine always come out tasting a little off. I thought it might have been one of my ingredients but I have changed all of those things. I am starting to think it is my recipe so I am on a mission to find a new one.

cookie flour

In honor of my two monthiversary of this blog, I am going back to my very first post where I got the inspiration to put buttermilk in my sugar cookies. How? I ate the little cut out of dough for my pie and it was surprisingly delicious.

I am so ready for this experiment because for one it is going to be delicious (duh!). And it also happens to be just in time for baking season and prime sugar cookie eating time. Not to mention I am so beyond ready to find a good sugar cookie recipe.

cookie cutters

Another pretty important thing that is happening today is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. In order to reduce the amount of teens and adults abusing prescription drugs, there have been thousands of organized collection points across the U.S. to drop off your no longer used prescription drugs.

Feature_20110901

If you are interested you can go to this website to find out where there are collection sites near you. Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem for teens and adults. If you or someone you know is abusing prescription drugs, you can go here for a list of numbers to call for help.

So on your way back from dropping off all your unused/expired/unnecessary prescription drugs pick up some buttermilk and bake these cookies.

These cookies have some great flavor which fixed my original problem, but there will need to be some work on the texture and spreading issue.

cut cookies

Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

yields approximately 3 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of butter

1 3/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

3-4 Tablespoons of buttermilk

To make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Add enough of the buttermilk to moisten the dough and make it soft, not wet.

Flour countertop and roll dough out. Cut cookies with desired cutters and place on a ungreased cookie sheet. With a brush or fingers, moisten the top of each cookie with the remaining buttermilk. Sprinkle with raw sugar or colored sprinkles.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to cool on a rack.

Advertisements

Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

It is finally that time.

pumpkin

Pumpkins are here and they are ready to sing.

Too much? Already tired of pumpkins because pumpkin flavored everything has been out since August?

Did you know that there are even pumpkin spice m&m’s? Deliciousness.

Yes I have been indulging in pumpkin flavored items since their release this year. A pumpkin spice latte here, a bag of pumpkin m&m’s there, and maybe a scented candle…

But I have really been wanting to hold out on baking with pumpkins. Until now.

pumpkin batter

I have made muffins with freshly grated pumpkin and delicious warm cinnamon.

To be honest, I am not sure if it is the pumpkin flavor I adore or if it is actually the obscene amount of spices that go into pumpkins.

muffins in pan

*Hint: I tried the batter before I put the grated pumpkin in these muffins and I was quite content eating a spoonful or two*

Pumpkins are the perfect canvas for warm spices.

And they happen to be a very forgiving baking ingredient which is a very rare quality in a baked good. As I happen to find out while baking these little guys.

muffins finished

What is forgiving about pumpkin? The first batch I forgot to add oil. (Those are the ones in the back) The second batch (the ones in the front) have 3/4 cup of vegetable oil in the batter added to the wet ingredients before mixing together.

I personally like the ones without oil but others have enjoyed the ones with oil. The ones without oil are slightly chewy and delicious. The ones with oil are super moist.

It’s your decision!

Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Alton Brown

yields: 1 1/2 dozen muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups shredded fresh pumpkin

To bake muffins:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray and line with paper wrappers.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Combine both mixtures and fold in the shredded pumpkin. Once the ingredients are all incorporated scoop mixture with an ice cream scoop into the prepared muffin pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Coconut Cake, Act Two

Last post I made a coconut cake and a mess.

Coconut cake layer

This post I made the coconut frosting and I am cleaning up the mess.

I have a new KitchenAid on its way. (Thank goodness for warranties and amazing customer service!)

I stressed quite a bit after the machinery break down and didn’t clean my dishes, but they are clean and put away now.

I made the frosting with a hand held mixer and got a nice arm workout in the meantime.

Mess officially cleaned.

7 minute frosting

Sometimes it feels important to take a time out. Stress becomes overwhelming and there is no need to continue trudging through the mess. It becomes counterproductive.

So this post is about taking a time-out for stress reduction. Sometimes it isn’t appropriate but in this case for me it was completely appropriate.

So how do you know when you should take a time-out?

I notice that I become flooded. My brain gets a little fuzzy and I have difficulty finishing anything effectively (Read: way too many mistakes are made in a short amount of time).

I have to have the awareness to stop what I am doing no matter how much I want to finish it. It is not going to get done well and that just stresses me out even more.

imagesCA4K4M22

I really wanted to post something yesterday in honor of National Depression Screening Day, but I was still on my time out because the thought of tackling the frosting while the memory of my KitchenAid breakdown was still fresh stressed me out.

I wouldn’t have done it well and I wanted to do it well. I was assessing my mental health surrounding this issue and decided this was the best route.

Would you like to assess your mental health in honor of National Depression Screening Day? Wonderful. Click here!

second layer

 

7 Minute Coconut Frosting

Recipe by Alton Brown, adapted

3 large egg whites

12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 3/4 cups

1/3 cup coconut water

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 to 10 ounces shredded coconut

To make the frosting:

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. In the meantime, place the egg whites, sugar, coconut water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin beating with an electric hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute and then increase the speed to high and continue to beat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the coconut and vanilla extracts for 1 minute. Allow the frosting to sit for 5 minutes before using.

Place approximately 3/4 cup of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Coconut Cake, Act One

Sometimes you need a stress reliever from your stress reliever…

I had that moment tonight.

I was plugging along on my coconut cake and then I wasn’t.

I killed my KitchenAid. It is done. Kaput.

IMG_2093

I had to move on to the hand held guy in order to finish my cake.

My method of relieving my stress was actually causing more stress.

What are you supposed to do now?

I took a deep breath and called whined to my boyfriend to come fix it.

He looked and said it was something about my motor. I still don’t know, but luckily it is still under warranty and I will call tomorrow to get it fixed.

Because I NEED it. Baking season is on its way/already here. I can’t manage without it right now.

But enough of that.

What can you do when your stress reliever is causing you more stress?

Scream? Cry? Punch a pillow? Use a hand held mixer and get an arm workout?

IMG_2094

Maybe.

Or maybe you can learn some grounding techniques. Or even go to this site for some guided relaxation and choose one that works best for you.

It is always a good idea to have some back up plans for you to relax.

Because unfortunately things happen that mess with your tried and true relaxation techniques.

I like deep breathing for this situation. Breathing in for 3 seconds, breathing out for 3 seconds. Continuing that until I get a handle on the extreme stress.

Yes, it has moved to extreme at this point.

In the past this situation would most likely have brought on a panic attack. Things have gotten out of my control and quickly. That would have sent me over the edge.

I want to speak on this because it is Mental Health Awareness Week. We are in the midst of it right now.

There are lots of issues that I could be addressing but I feel that it is most important to talk about stress.

Not everyone has depression or bipolar or ADHD. But everyone has stress.

I want to bring awareness to your mental health. Are you aware of your level of mental health?

Could you be doing some things differently so that you have a healthier level of mental health?

Probably. I know I could.

So think on that. Reflect on what you could be doing differently.

I will do the same and get back with you tomorrow with my assessment of my mental health and the frosting of this delicious coconut cake.

But for now reflect and bake this cake. Hopefully your mixer won’t break down on you in the first few steps.

IMG_2096

Don’t stress I will show you the finished product tomorrow/later today.

Coconut Cake

Recipe by Alton Brown (my favorite food person ever!)

Vegetable oil, for cake pan

14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut cream

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups

1 teaspoon coconut extract

4 egg whites

1/3 cup coconut water

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. (And about right in the middle of this step watch your mixer have a fit and break down) Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Place the 1/3 cup coconut water into a small spritz bottle and spray evenly onto the cut side of the 4 layers. If you do not have a spritz bottle you may brush the coconut water on with a silicone pastry brush. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.

Banana Nut Bread

What do you do when you get stressed out?

There are a few things that I do to help reduce my stress. The first is baking (and quite possibly gorging myself on my baked goods).

Bananas

Luckily the other things I do to reduce my stress are running and doing various working out type things (i.e. yoga, hiking, dancing, etc.). I would like to think it helps balance out all the stress eating I may do.

The third thing I do is clean and organize my life. Quite excessively.

52449842697ab00ee80009d2._w.540_s.fit_

In fact, I took this “Kitchn Cure Challenge” so that I can clean and organize. It gives some ideas of how to clean and where to clean. Banana bread in pan

I would like to think all these things go together perfectly. I bake and eat, run off the excess calories, and then clean up the mess I have made while baking.

Some of my favorite things to bake when stressed include my chocolate chip cookies and the following banana nut bread. These are the things I can bake with my eyes closed. They are also some of my favorite comfort foods.

Banana Batter

Which came first?

Do I like baking them because they are my comfort foods or are they my comfort foods because I like baking them?

We may never know.

The ingredients of these recipes are some of my pantry staples so that makes it very easy for me.

So why am I talking about stress and what I do to help it?

imagesCA4K4M22

It is Depression Awareness Month. Stress in itself carries a mental health risk. Unfortunately, stress can be an everyday occurrence, but luckily having things in place that you like to do and relieve stress can be a helpful deterrent of everyday stress.

While stress does not necessarily lead to depression, not having some self-care in place can lead to some rocky times.

Banana Nut Bread

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 cups)

To make the bread:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Combine the bananas, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Add pecans and fold into batter.

Pour batter in prepared pan. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until done. Let cool on wire rack.