Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sourdough Bread (Naturally Leavened)


I've been making this sourdough bread for over a year now, and I usually just go back to the recipe at and make the modifications based on the tips from Mike at Pro Home Cooks. The internet is filled with recipes and tips about making sourdough bread, so I'm not really trying to compete in that pool. I really just want to close the KAF tab on my phone so I can just go to my blog for the recipe when I want to bake some loaves. Yes, I still consult the written recipe when making this so I don't mess it up.

If you're new to sourdough baking, you really do need to watch the Pro Home Cooks video. I have not reached the point where I weigh my ingredients, so if you are looking for a recipe that avoids that, this is the recipe for you.

When I started baking sourdough, I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven, and that bread was great. Then I decided to spend the $39.99 for the Lodge Combo Cooker, and it's been fantastic. I get a nicer crust, crisp and bubbly. Plus, I think the oven spring is better and I have a better change of getting that pro-looking ear on my loaf. 

So there. That's all I have to say right now about this recipe. I hope you find it useful.

Sourdough Bread

Adapted from with help from Mike at Pro Home Cooks


  • 2 cups fed active sourdough starter
  • 5 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour (or KAF All Purpose), plus more for dusting and such
  • 2 1/3 cups room temperature water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Special Equipment Needed


Once your sourdough starter is ready (watch Mike at Pro Home Cooks to know what this means), thoroughly mix the flour and water in a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to "autolyse" for about 30 minutes (it just sits there).

Add the salt and starter to the autolysed flour/water mixture. Try to incorporate the starter as much as possible, but it may not get completely smooth at this point. That's okay. Once mixed, cover with plastic wrap again.

You will fold the dough for a total of 4 times over the next two hours. After folding four times, you have a choice: refrigerate the dough for 8-12 hours, and form the loaves after that or allow the dough to rise until very puffy, form the loaves, and then refrigerate the formed loaves in the fridge for the final rise. Both ways do the job. I'm going to describe the second method (first rise at room temperature and then second rise in fridge).

When dough has risen once, turn it out onto a floured surface and cut in half. Working with one of the halves at a time, pull sides up to form a dough "purse," pinching it all up on the top in the center so the bottom is smooth and the top is pursed and pinched. Turn dough so pinched side is down and smooth side is up. Cover the loaves and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before forming.

Form your loaves. There are several methods of doing this which you can search up on Google or Instagram, but here's a video that shows a nice basic technique. I set mine in a brotform liberally dusted with a gluten-free flour blend that is mostly rice flour. I hear rice flour is good, better than wheat flour for this. Cover loaves in the brotform (or a floured tea cloth lined colander will work in a pinch) with a floured tea towel and place each in a plastic bag (like a grocery bag) and place in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. 

When ready to bake, take the loaves out of the fridge and turn your oven on to 500-550 degrees (550 is preferred, but my current oven only goes to 500). Place the cast iron Dutch oven or the combo cooker in there to preheat with your oven. This is important. Both the oven and the baking vessel must be screaming hot.

Working with one loaf at a time, turn the risen loaf out onto a piece of parchment. When using the Dutch oven you can leave the parchment in a large square. If using the combo cooker, trip the corners to avoid having burned paper in your oven.

Dust off the loaf and score with the sharp razor or lame. Take the Dutch oven or combo cooker out of the hot oven, remove the lid (the deeper of the two pieces). Lift the scored loaf onto the bottom of the combo cooker or place inside the Dutch oven. Cover and place in oven.

Bake covered like this at 500 or 550 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the top/lid, place the bottom onto a baking sheet, turn the oven down to 450 degrees, and continue to bake the loaf for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf is a nice, relatively deep brown color.

Remove loaf and place on a wire rack to cool. Turn the oven back to 500 or 550 and put the Dutch oven or combo cooker back in to reheat as well.

Repeat the scoring and baking process with the second loaf.

Allow bread to cool completely and enjoy.

Freeze leftovers at the end of the day. I like to slice mine before freezing so it's ready for my son to make paninis at the drop of a hat.

Makes 2 nice sized boules

The Lodge Combo Cooker is a must-have.
The Lodge Combo Cooker is a must-have.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Topping Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6-7 slices canned pineapple
  • 12 maraschino cherries, sliced in half

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour/meal*
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium eggs or 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Caramel Sauce (if the cake isn't sweet enough already):

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice from the can of sliced pineapples
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray
  •  Prepare the topping:
    • Melt the 5 1/2 tablespoons butter and then stir in the brown sugar. Stir until smooth.
    • Evenly distribute the brown sugar/butter mixture into the bottoms of the sprayed muffin pans.
    • Cut the pineapple slices into small pieces, about 12 pieces per slice. Arrange 3-4 pieces of pineapple and half of a maraschino cherry on top of the brown sugar/butter mixture in each muffin cup. Set aside.
  •  Prepare the cake:
    • In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar, salt, & baking powder.
    • Whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
    • Combine the wet with the dry ingredients with a silicone/rubber spatula.
    •  Spoon,scoop, or otherwise distribute batter into the muffin cups.
  • Place a sheet of foil under each muffin pan in case there is overflow.
  • Bake muffins at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 16-18 minutes, or until done and browned around the edges.
  • While cakes bake, heat the pineapple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the juice is boiling, add the 1/2 cup brown sugar, stir, and continue to boil over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces a bit thickens. It will be the consistence of a thin caramel sauce. Turn off the heat and add the 2 tablespoons butter and stir to melt and incorporate.
  • This is the hard part: once cupcakes are baked, allow to cool just a few minutes. use a sharp, thin knife to loosen the edges of the cupcakes form the sides of the pans.Then place a baking sheet over the top of the pan and carefully flip. Best of luck to you getting them to come out pretty. Let me know if you have a trick I can try.
 Makes about 24 cupcakes

Reality. The pineapple stuck to the bottoms of almost all of the muffin tins.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Almond Brioche

Almond Brioche

Almond Brioche
   --Adapted from Oh Crumb!

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (from blanched almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf brioche bread sliced into 12 slices
  • 1 cup (approx) sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the butter with the white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. 
  • Add the almond flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add cornstarch and flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add egg and almond and vanilla extracts and mix on medium speed until completely incorporated.
  • Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the almond cream onto each slice of brioche and place on the prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds evenly onto each slide and press lightly so almonds stick.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes, or until almond cream is puffed.
  • Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with some powdered sugar.
  • Tastes best after cooled to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate any leftover almond cream and seal leftover almond brioche in an airtight container or zip top bag.
Makes 12 servings

Finished almond cream

I portioned the almond cream with a cookie scoop.

A little almond cream left over

Monday, April 20, 2020

Olive Oil Brownie Cookies

Olive Oil Cookies

These awesome cookies by are an Instagram find. They're one of those rare food items that tastes just as good as it looks on Instagram. The recipe is simple enough (and small enough) to try on the spot since people like me who enjoy baking generally have all of the ingredients on hand.
These cookies are just what they sound like: brownie cookies made with olive oil. They taste like deliciously chocolatey, chewy brownies. I've made these three times so far: the first time with Ghirardelli cocoa powder and Nestle dark chocolate chips--which produced slightly thicker cookies and not quite as deep dark chocolate taste as this time (the third time); the second time with the same ingredients, but I forgot to beat the sugar with the eggs so they ended up tasting overly sweet and grainy--no bueno; and then this, the third time, with Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder and Dove Dark Chocolate chopped up. I know that last sentence is completely structured incorrectly, but hopefully you get what I'm saying: Dutch process cocoa, Dove Dark Chocolate, and correct mixing technique produced the tastiest results.
Give these a try. Why not? What else have you got to do today?

P.S. I used light tasting olive oil and could not taste any off flavors in the finished cookies-- in case you were wondering.

P.P.S. For a good read on cocoa powder, the differences and which to buy, check out this Cooks Illustrated Article. I think the first article or two are free.

Olive Oil Brownie Cookies
     --Adapted from

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup light tasting olive oil
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch process recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

  • Place chocolate chips and olive oil in a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl.
  • Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir. If it seems hot enough to finish melting chocolate, keep stirring until the chocolate is melted. Otherwise, microwave for another 15-20 seconds and then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool.
  • In a medium size bowl, sift together (I did it through a strainer) flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed until eggs are fluffy and light yellow (about 4-5 minutes). 
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the cooled chocolate & olive oil mixture to the whipped egg & sugar mixture. Fold the chocolate into the eggs.
  • Gently stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Do not skip this step because it allows the dough to firm up.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • After dough is set, scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into a ball. Place six balls on the baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. If desired, roll the balls in the chopped pecans before placing on the baking sheet.
  • Smoosh each ball to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, or just until cookies are puffed and no longer wet in the middle.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a baking sheet to finish cooling.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Makes 12 large-ish cookies

Chocolate and olive oil after 30 seconds + 20 seconds in the microwave and some stirring

Dough just mixed before resting

Dough after a 40 minute rest

Flattened dough balls ready to go into the oven

Same dough balls after baking


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

My parents recently moved into a great assisted living community. The food there is pretty delicious, from what I've tasted--particularly the food they serve for their Sunday brunch. Oh my goodness, that brunch is awesome. The dessert table is almost always stunning.

One Sunday when my husband and I were there, we shared a slice of carrot cake cheesecake that was so creamy and so flavorful, I can't get it out of my head.

So, we have a post-Thanksgiving gathering to go to this Saturday, and I decided to give this cheesecake a try. I did not get a recipe...all I have is the pic I took of our half-eaten piece with my mom in the background.

This cake is everything delicious about carrot cake and cheesecake all in one slice. There's the sweet creaminess of the cream cheese frosting next to the light spiced cake with a few nuts, and then there's the dense not-too-sweet creaminess of the cheesecake. The kicker is really the speculoos cookie crust. It just adds a deep caramelized spiced and a little bit salty element to the whole thing. Honestly, it's one of the better things I think I've ever made.

I'm hoping the folks at the post-Thanksgiving party enjoy it too. I cannot bring this home with me. (And yes, I did slice it and try it BEFORE taking it to the party. These folks understand that I'm quirky like that.)

Carrot Cake Cheesecake


Carrot Cake (Adapted from
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts tossed in 1/8 teaspoon flour
  • 1 cup speculoos cookie crumbs or graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 -8 cups of hot water (for water bath--not for the cheesecake)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened but cool
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cup (1 pound) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) toasted chopped pecans for garnish
Particular Equipment and Materials needed
  • 7-inch spring form pan 
  • plastic roasting bag
  • roasting pan
  • mixer
  • spatula
  • measuring tools
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • First make the carrot cake layer.
    • Line the bottom of a 7-inch spring form pan with a parchment circle, and then butter and flour the sides.
    • In a small bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
    • Add the dry ingredients and the carrots. Stir just until combined. Then fold in the walnuts.
    • Pour and evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs.
    • Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then remove the sides and bottom of the pan.
    • When the cake is cooled completely, wrap in plastic wrap.
    • Wash and dry the pan.
  • Next make the cheesecake.
    • Again line the springform pan with a parchment circle.
    • Mix the cookie crumbs and butter and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.
    • In a large bowl, or in the bowl if a standing mixer, mix the 16 ounces of cream cheese until smooth.
    • Add the sugar and mix until smooth again.
    • Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until smooth.
    • Add the sour cream and heavy cream, mix until incorporated.
    • Pour batter over the prepared crust.
    • Place the pan in a roasting bag and gather up excess in one or two places, and secure the excess with a twist tie. (You need to basically water-proof your spring form pan so you don't soak your cheesecake. Watch this video for a basic tutorial on another way of doing a water bath. Here's another good idea.)
    • Place the cheesecake pan in a roasting pan that is at least 2 inches wider than cheesecake pan on all sides.
    • Place the pan in the 350 degree oven and carefully pour water in the roasting pan to create a water bath for the cheesecake while it bakes. Water should come up about halfway up the side of the cheesecake ingredients in the pan.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until center is completely set and only gently jiggles like set Jell-O when tapped on the side of the pan.
    • Remove from oven and remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath. Place the cheesecake pan on a cooling rack and carefully remove the plastic roasting bag.
    • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Assemble the cake.
    • Unwrap the carrot cake layer and carefully place top on the cooled cheesecake in the pan. 
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably over night.
  • Making frosting and putting it on the cake.
    • Beat the 8 ounces of cream cheese and the 1/4 cup butter until smooth.
    • Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
    • Mix on low until sugar is incorporated, and then beat on medium speed until frosting is completely smooth and creamy. Try not to whip air into the frosting.
    • You will probably only use 1/2 to 2/3 of the frosting, depending on how thick you like frosting.
    • Frost the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting. 
    • Using a large spoon, scoop up some chopped pecans and gently press the pecans into the bottom edge of the frosted cake. Pick up and place any fallen pieces onto the cake.
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. I like to put cocktail umbrellas into my cake so the plastic wrap does not stick.

Makes about 8-12 servings

A pic of Mom with the original at Celebration Village 
 Water bath

Carrot cake and cheesecake layers ready to join forces
Just drop that cake on top.
Ready for frosting
I generally start frosting from the top, but I'm no pro cake decorator.
I've found this is the best (and cutest) way to keep frosting intact.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rice Krispie & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats

Rice Krispies & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats

These are good. I don't feel like writing more about them. This is what's become of me.

Rice Krispie & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (16 oz) bag marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows today)
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
  • 2 more tablespoons butter for pan and hands
  • Grease a 9x13 inch pan with one tablespoon butter.
  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. When butter is melted, add the marshmallows.
  • Measure out the cereal and keep it in a large measuring cup/bowl, or other bowl.
  • Stir marshmallows occasionally until almost completely melted. Then turn off the stove and continue stirring until marshmallows are completely melted.
  • Add all of the cereal all at once. 
  • Gently stir and fold cereal into the marshmallow mixture until incorporated.
  • Using a silicone spatula, pour and scrape the cereal into the prepared pan. 
  • Butter your (clean) hands with the last tablespoon of butter and press the cereal down evenly into the pan. Pack the cereal in pretty tight but try not to break the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
  • Allow to cool for at least half an hour before cutting and serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Makes 12 good sized servings

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Strawberry Milk

Strawberry Milk

I made this recipe up several years ago one night when I was hungry but didn't want to eat food food because it was too late, and I didn't want that ate-too-late-stomach-ache.

It's refreshing, satisfying, and just filling enough. It tastes similar to Nestle Strawberry Quik, but without that artificial flavor aspect--tastes like fresh strawberries.

I'm not even a huge strawberry fan, but for some reason, every once in a while, this hits the spot.

Strawberry Milk


  • 1/2 cup (approximately) frozen sliced strawberries
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like your milk)
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender or a tall plastic cup (if you're using a hand blender). Blend until strawberries are completely pureed into the milk.

Pour into a glass and drink with a straw.

Makes 1 serving

Recipe is easily doubled

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