Daring Bakers: I'm crying inside, and out!

After 12 months and a huge variety of recipes, it finally happened. I am missing a challenge. Not just "a" challenge, but Mary and Sara's Ultimate Challenge, Julia Child's French Bread!

And am I happy about it?


You see, when the ladies announced this challenge, I was a bit intimidated but excited. Who wouldn't be intimidated by 18 pages for a recipe? The first recipe since I started not to make it on to my cupboards. Not because I didn't want to make it, but because I don't have enough cupboard space to hold 18 pages! Instead I carried the recipe back and forth to work with me, reading and rereading it, until I felt comfortable enough to dive in. I even held off on the one day I had free to make the recipe so I could join in with Mary and the other Daring Baker's to make this on line together!

Which was one of my mistakes.

My other mistake was getting out of bed one Friday morning, and walking, in a snow storm, through the park on my way to work. Then I bent over at some point in the morning to pick up a small toy car.

Did you hear the whimper from me as I pulled that muscle? Did you hear me wincing as I spent the next week on prescription muscle relaxants and was under doctor's orders not to do anything to aggravate my back? Did you hear me cry when he said kneading bread was probably not a good idea? How about when Mary confirmed this doom?

I still joined in on the IM chat this last weekend, to hear how the others were fairing with their own breads. But still no bread for me.

Fear not, however, as I will make this bread. But not just yet, and not until I can go a few consecutive days without some kind of back pain. As yesterday was my first day back at swimming since I pulled the muscle, I can tell you that I still have some "resting" to do before I can pull out the yeast and bake those loaves.

And now, I'm off to work, with plans to spend my afternoon reading about the hundreds of other Daring Baker's who were able to make their loaves. No wine for me, but I do have some cheese, and a box of kleenex, just in case. And my 18 pages of the recipe, with a red pen, in case I need to add a few more notes along the way.

Click! Flour!

Well it has taken me months, but I finally have a photo to enter into Click! I've wanted to do this all along, so am so excited!

This month's theme is flour, something that is so important to my kitchen. I go through alot of it. And I do mean ALOT!

While I am sure many people will chose to showcase flour in it's baked form, and I could probably do that as well, but instead the sun was shining, a rare thing this winter, and I could not resist the temptation to show flour 'au natural'.

Now, the sun has gone down, and there is no way of escaping the fact that it is cold outside. Sigh.

Cupcakes from Outter Space?

What else would you make for a bunch of 9 year old boys? Cream scones just don't seem appropriate for that type of crowd.

Aside from the demographic of my intended cupcake eaters, I had one other requirement in mind for these cupcakes, being made for my son's birthday party. They had to be white. White so they would glow in the dark!

Ah, I've got your attention now, do I? Well, just wait, and you will see!

These cupcakes are very rustic looking, but then I wasn't worried about impressing the boys with my wonderful pipping skills, which aren't so wonderful when you are using extra thick icing on a tender cupcake. The icing had to be stiff, otherwise the tentacles would not have stood up as well as they did!

Each "alien" was an individual, with different lengths of tentacles, colored eyes, and even number of eyes!

They were very well received by the birthday boy and his friends!

Alright, now to the glowing: The party was held at a glow in the dark mini-putt facility nearby, where all the guests were encouraged to wear white clothing so they would "glow" along with the artwork on the walls and their golf balls. Or in our case, with their birthday cupcakes!

It seemed to work for the cupcakes, and made them just a tiny bit more fun for the boys!

Sorry, no recipe. I've made several more batches of cupcakes since I made these several weeks ago, and I have no idea what recipe I used for these! They were vanilla. With mini M&M candies mixed in.

More donuts!

This is coming a few days later than I had intended, but still coming.

My lovely little balls of dough were actually my second attempt at making donuts, even though they were my first for frying. My first attempt came from a recipe for baked donuts that I begged and borrowed off of Mary.

Seriously folks, everyone should have a Mary in their life! What an amazing woman, so patient and helpful and generous! I can't even count how many times I have run off an email to her in panic and had her calm "voice" coming back to me, making things better again. The time and effort she has put into helping me discover a part of baking I didn't know I liked until I did it, bread baking, is HUGE! I love her, she's great, and yes, I mean it, everyone should have a Mary in their life!

Now, back to donuts....

They look like donuts, don't they? Kid friendly, full of candy, kind of donuts? I assume they tasted like donuts too, since my kids pounced on and inhaled them quickly enough, and I don't think there was so much chocolate and sprinkles on them that anything would have tasted good. Personally, I passed at eating them though. They didn't "feel" right to me as a donut. Okay, and I'm not a huge donut fan to begin with. I like apple fritters and plain cake donuts, beyond that, I'll usually pass. Which isn't a bad thing, and not something I feel a need to change.

However, after making and dipping a dozen of these, I felt that there were sufficient donuts there for the kids and I needed to do something more grown up with the rest of the dough.

This is what I came out with... Cinnamon Twists.

Instead of cutting out circles of the dough, I simply made some strips instead, and dipped them in a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg before twisting them onto the cookie sheet. Simple and homey, the kids ignored them. I, on the other hand, ate two while they were still a little too warm. Not these two, but some much smaller ones. Honestly! I really did eat the two little small ones and not the biggest ones from the batch! Do you think you could have resisted, with the smell of yeast, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg surrounding you? No? I didn't think so!

The dough for these came together very quickly and with no problems. And while baking donuts seems a bit like cheating, so far I haven't dared to see what these would taste like deep fried. OMG, I can actually imagine it and think I better go find something distracting to do quickly!

Before I get on to the recipe, big Congrats need to be said to Meeta and the entire crew over at Daily Tiffin for their second anniversary, as well as to Meeta herself for the second anniversary of What's for Lunch Honey! Two great years of wonderful food, helpful advice and beautiful pictures! (It was Meeta who helped me make my own page a bit more me, for which I am extra thankful for!)

I hope Mary doesn't mind that I post the recipe here. I credit it to her, but have no idea where she got it from, or if she made it up herself. That would not surprise me, but then I think Mary could probably make anything from yeast, water and flour, and am a bit prejudiced.

Baked Donuts

1/3 c. scalded milk
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. shortening
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast
1/3 c. warm water
1 egg
2 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. lemon flavoring
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Stir sugar, shortening, and salt into hot milk. Dissolve yeast in warm
water. Beat the egg and add. Stir in the flavoring. Add the milk mixture
alternately with the flour and nutmeg. Cover the bowl and let rise until
double in size. Place on board or pastry cloth and roll until about 1/3
of inch thick. Cut with donut cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet,
then brush with melted butter. Bake about 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

** Note ** I do not have donut cutters, but do own a nice round cookie cutter, as well as a little, round cutter, which worked well together to simulate a proper cookie cutter. Oh, and I don't have lemon flavoring either, but did have lemons and lemon juice.

What is going on!?!

I think I may have accidentally made a few people worried about me recently, and I didn't intend to. Sorry!

And now that I have everyone wondering..... Relax! Nothing too major, I simply pulled a muscle in my lower back, near a nerve, and have had some very limited mobility for the last few days. A doctors visit and a prescription are seeing me on the mend, with my motion getting better each day, but still with some precautions that I need to heed. No strenuous exercise, such as running, or swimming (so I missed yesterdays swim, though hope to go tomorrow and take it easy.) No lifting or carrying things - that I can't avoid all together, but I am avoiding anything heavy. Nothing that will put a strain on the healing muscles - which includes kneading bread by hand, hence I can't join in on the Baking Buddies and make that wonderful looking loaf of bread with them! Now that makes me very sad!

So thanks for all the good thoughts and I will hopefully be back soon to bread baking (I WILL conquer the boule with Marvin!)

PS In case you are wondering about the picture above, it is the "shadow" of my husbands hand, the imprint that is left on a cool counter from the warmth of his own hand when there are "glow in the dark" lights shinning down.

I am a bad blogger

Cold, dark days. More and more snow. Rain and ice, melting, then more snow. And more. And more.

I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the blogs I love and enjoy reading. An even harder time blogging about the meals and treats I have made for my family.

To all my blogging friends out there - I am reading about your own wonderful creations, bounties of beautiful bread, Valentines treats, but have been silent for the most part. No fear, I am still there, just sticking in the background for now.

I really am DARING!!!

Two lovely women whom I call friends put out a call....

Make donuts!

Keep them sweet, but make them, and make us proud!

Helen, and Peabody, I hope I make you proud with this, my contribution to making donuts!

First off, I have always been afraid of frying at home. I could do it long ago when I worked in a fast food restaurant (where the only good thing I ever got out of it was a husband!) But at home, no, won't do it without buying a really good home deep fryer. And there have been so many other things that my money could better be spent on for my kitchen than a deep fryer, that I never bothered to get one.

At Christmas, however, my husband (yes, the one I got at a fast food restaurant, a long, long, time ago), got me a kick-butt cast iron dutch oven. It is very cute, a 3.5 qt pot, and I love it. And let me tell you, it is amazing for deep frying things! It holds the heat so well, and is deep enough that I do not feel nervous having 2 inches of hot oil in it, on my stove!

Big Dora dance now.... I did it! I did it! I did it! Yeah!

Okay, that's enough Dora. (Sorry, we play that at work after the Barney clean up song, the kids love it and it has been in my head since we last played it this morning. Ugh.)

So that is part one of the donut story. Yes, those are my little "Timbits" floating and turning golden in the oil.

Part two is a little bit about obsession. You see, thanks to Mary, I am a little bit obsessed right now with Marvin, my sour dough starter. Who is still alive and kicking and making great muffins, really good bread, wonderful cinnamon buns, pancakes, and now, yes, donuts!

It's true! I made sour dough donuts from Marvin, my spunky little starter!

And I didn't even wait to see if it would be okay to do, having not checked in with Mary first, before I did it!

See? Daring! That's me!

Aren't they a bit funny looking? Rather odd shaped "Timbits", but still yummy! Crispy on the outside, cakey on the inside, with just a hint of nutmeg.

I sprinkled the first four out of the pot with icing sugar and called up the kids. One came running.

Fortunately his brother is not a big fan of icing sugar, so he didn't scream or protest when he came up to this.

And that, for now, is my story of my daring donuts!

(PS In case you hadn't noticed above, I mentioned a few other things I have been making with my sour dough starter. Things I owe a big huge post on, with lots of pictures. Lots. After all, there has been lots of things made with it since my last post of muffins!)

And with that, there is a rack in my kitchen full of tasty little bits of fried dough, just waiting to be eaten!