Monday, October 1, 2012

A Look Back at September

An Everyday Cake with a delicious butter glaze meant to be baked anytime of the year, a batch of tasty Fig Cookies made entirely from scratch or a list of the Essential Baking Pans, are but a few of the topics I brought to you this past September.  The month seems to have gone by rather quickly for me and in actuality I'm quite glad.  I do hope, however, that many of you took advantage of the warm, sunny weather this past month wherever you happen to live and enjoyed the last of the season's tastiest fruits & vegetables at a get-together or perhaps at a barbecue with friends and family.  October is already here with the promise of cooler weather, beautiful colors and delicious flavors most of us seem to crave, so I expect all of you to be in 'baking mode' soon.

Here on the blog I finally got around to some of the stories I wanted to cover.  The Fig Cookies I mentioned were just waiting to be shared with all of you as were the additional images from that popular Vintage Wilton Yearbook (there will be a third 'installment' of images in the near future).  The list of Essential Baking Pans every baker should have in their kitchens was compiled so that a broad range of treats could be made with ease.  When I was just beginning to put my kitchen together many years ago, I turned to my favorite baking books for guidance on the must-have essentials for a good batterie de cuisine (I thank those master bakers for the information!).  Let's not forget the Specialty Baking Pans or that adorable Martha by Mail Chicken Cake Mold that is very collectible.   

The photographs of my surroundings as they were mid-September served a reminder to me to have certain things in check around the house.  The method I use to dry my clothes at home is one that many of you should take advantage of because it saves money and is good for the environment in the long run.  Rather than list everything I covered, why don't we have a quick glance at the Good Things I shared this past September?  This way we can make room for October!   




I don't think I would be baking & blogging today if it weren't for my mother's guidance and Wilton.  It's a shame I don't have other Wilton Yearbooks from the 1970s and 1980s when my mother was using them & ordering from them, but at least I have this one from 1973.  There is so much information packed into these Yearbooks that I still go back to mine every once in awhile.
 
This cake was used for the cover of the yearbook I happen to own.  The Fostoria glass cake stand pops up at antique stores from time to time and I'm always tempted to get one.  Don't you think the little charming house would be a perfect cake for any little Princess?  Actually, one could make this cake into a gingerbread house for Christmas using different colors and lots of candy.


Halloween cakelets shaped into charming jack-o-lanterns surrounding a much larger one can be made for all the little ghouls & goblins celebrating the holiday.  Why not attempt some in the coming weeks?


Dried figs can be found just about anywhere.  The choices of figs (Turkish, Calimyrna, Mission, etc.) seem to be endless, so I encourage you to experiment with the ones you enjoy eating.  I happened to use Black Mission figs for this recipe because I wanted to approximate the Newtons I grew up eating. 

Here I am slicing up the logs into individual cookies before glazing & baking them.

Tasty nibbles to enjoy right out of the oven, I much prefer them the next day, however, when they soften up and develop their flavor.  They're perfect with afternoon tea!  Don't tell anyone, but these are a lot better than store bought.

I know a lot of you probably have cups that look like this in your cupboards.  They shouldn't have to sit there piling on that unsightly film of coffee and/or tea that even the dishwasher can't remove.  If you follow the easy steps I laid out for you the problem can be solved in no time.


The next time you reach into the cabinet for a cup, I hope they look like this instead.  Get into the habit of keeping them clean!


Who wouldn't be happy with this cake?  I call it an Everyday Cake because it's the type of cake that can be whipped up during the week or weekend, whether you're having a celebration or not.  If you feel like a bit of cake and can't stand the lack of flavor found in most store bought cakes, then bake the cake and enjoy every bite.

The butter glaze is simple, delicious and quick to make.  The cake itself can be whatever you happen to love, such as chocolate or red velvet. 

Here is a look at the essentials for any baker's pantry.  These pans are undoubtedly the most used in cookbooks or any other type of baking publication.  If you like to bake and don't already have these pans, put them on your wish list. 

Although I didn't include deep dish quiche pans in the post, I like to use them sometimes instead of pie pans because they give a wonderful fluted edge and because I can unmold the pie and set it on a nice cake stand or plate.  Look for them at any baking supply store.

I love this antique Savarin mold from the 1800s.  Savarin molds are meant to hold an entire batch of baba au rhum dough, but any type of cake batter could easily be baked in one.  The center space is meant to hold the whipped cream, pastry cream or Chantilly cream.

If you've never made a steamed pudding, get yourself one of these molds or a pudding bowl and make one this Fall or Winter.  The dense cakes are exceedingly moist and flavorful.  My favorites include chocolate, persimmon, pumpkin, cranberry and of course, Christmas pudding.

An antique copper Charlotte mold.

Copper cannele (pronounced can-eh-lay) molds can be a bit expensive; I've seen them for about $25 a piece.  They are available in silicone and in heavy gauge aluminum, making them much cheaper than their copper counterparts. 


One of my favorite cake molds happens to come from the former Martha by Mail catalog.  This is such a charming cake to make for anyone who's an aficionado of chickens.  Although it looks complicated it doesn't take much time to decorate one of these cakes.  Follow the recipe provided by Martha and bake one or two if you happen to own the mold already.



I smile whenever I see the pictures I took on this particular day.  When I was walking around the grounds in mid-September I was amazed at the sight of the bees & butterflies all around the Joe's Pie Weed.  I'm so glad that countless animals use our home as their source of food & shelter.


I miss these tomatoes.  They were so tasty & so sweet that I served them with just a small amount of olive oil & balsamic vinegar to enhance them.  Infinitely edible! 


This isn't technically using a line to dry, but it is still an environmentally sound way to do laundry.  I have three racks that are transportable & collapsible; there isn't a day that goes by without my using one.  At night when I'm done cleaning the kitchen after dinner and I've put away the dishes and dried off the countertops, I always place my damp kitchen towels over one of the racks in order to dry them.  Once they've dried, I then put them in the laundry bin meant for kitchen towels only (I never put anything damp into laundry bins because it encourages mold & mildew). 


This pumpkin was roasted a week ago, but just this past weekend, I roasted another one.  I probably have at least 6 to 8 cups of pumpkin puree at my my disposal now.  With just a few minutes of preparation over the weekend I'm now ready for the holiday baking for the weeks to come. 

Some of this delicious puree was used to make a new recipe for pumpkin custards.  I can't wait to share the recipe for them later this week. 


Stay tuned!

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