Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gifts for the Greedy Baker

It's that time of year when the world falls in love and eats its face off...

I guess it's also the time when people buy stuff for each other...and that's pretty awesome, too. So I've compiled a fun little list of gifts for the baker in your life! Enjoy!

And yeah...that's me in half a polar bear costume. Respect.

1) Pastry cutter! Great for making pie dough AND mashing potatoes. Who doesn't love a multi-tasker?

2) Spiffy metal mixing bowls! Economical and UBER-usable!

3) A Digital Scale! This is for those recipes that call for 7 ounces of flour and ca-ca like that. No more, 'Sorry, British lady, I don't have a 37.2 ounce measuring cup so I can't make your recipe.' That just opens up a whole world of recipes!

4) Silicone spatulas! Essentials for any baker and look at the pretty colors!!!
(Sur la Table...I think)

5) Unless you're Mr. or Ms. Moneybags this ain't in your budget but...ain't it pretty to look at?

6) Tart pan with removable bottom! Perfect for those holiday Sugar Plum Tarte Tataines :) or whatever...

7) Decorative accessories! Pastry tips AND candy cane shaped sprinkles! Frickin' cute, right??!!!!!

8) A lovely alternative to Gingerbread men are:
I'm just trying to keep your holidays hilarious...

9) For the more traditional bakers out there: Cute ornament shaped cookie cutters :)

10) A Candy Thermometer! This one is for the more ambitious baker in your life.

11) A Silicone Baking mat! This is a pretty good match for the baker who is starting to experiment with caramel or hard candies.

12) A Cake Stand! Somethin to put all those pretty holiday treats on. I found this one on It's pretty affordable and kinda pretty, too, doncha think?

13) An even fancier cake stand! This one is from Williams-Sonoma and it's a multi-tasker. Not only is it a lovely cake plate with dome, but it can also be a punch (or egg nog) bowl!

14) Yet another cake/cookie display thingie!! It's pattern is based on classic Christmas carols and will be used by your gift-ee for...ever. Williams-Sonoma.

15 a) For the fancy dancy baker: Cute dishtowels and a matching apron!

15 b) Cute huh? I found these on

16a) This is a 2 parter, too. A cookbook stand with festive cookbook. The stand was pretty dang affordable (

16b) I mean...who doesn't love Nigella?

17) Personal favorite...the Horta Champagne glass, Small from Anthropologie. $12. I cute...real rrrrreal cute...just sayin'...*cough cough* cute...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Sensible Thanksgiving Tiramisu

Way-yull ('well'),

Oh Boy! After missing the past 4 family Thanksgivings I finally got to head to Birmingham to enjoy some mad tasty fried turkey and dressing. The food wasn't the only thing to be excited about- the making of the food was bound to be totally entertaining, too.

Mom (Mama Wynn) usually contributes a dessert to the festivities and it's always somethin'...non-traditional. There's been chocolate ganache cake (crazy tasty but different), some lemon lady finger thingie with raspberry coulis (crazy tasty but different) and a whole bunch of other 'tasty-but-different' stuff. This year she decided to bust out the old trusty 'Barefoot Contessa' cookbook and get all Italian on us: she decided to make a tiramisu.

You: 'But Laura...y'all are FAR from Italian. Where's the pumpkin pie? Apple pie? How can you be so unAmerican on Thanksgiving?'
Me: 'Easily. Now hush up and eat.'

Here's the recipe:

6 extra large egg yolks, at room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum (but we used Kahlua...ommmmmmmmmmnomnom), Divided
1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, Divided
16-17 oz mascarpone cheese
about 30 ladyfingers (any kind will do but Mom got the 'naaaaahce' (nice) ones)
a bar of dark chocolate (to shave on top before serving)

-put half the kahlua and espresso in a bowl and set aside
-put the other half in...somethin else and set aside

-in a mixer, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Beat on high for about 5 mins.
-when the mixture is thick and pale yellow, lower the speed on the mixer and add half the espresso and kahlua (or rum)
-add the mascarpone
-turn off mixer and scrape down sides of the bowl

-dip ladyfingers individually in dish of espresso and kahlua and place in a 9'x13'x2' dish til the bottom is covered
-cover that layer with 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture
-repeat the ladyfinger dip-age layer then top with remaining mascarpone
-cover and refrigerate overnight

-before serving shave the dark chocolate over the top and VOILA!

-this is foolproof just...ya know...follow the recipe.

Copy and paste the link below for a little video of the silliness that happens with Mom in the kitchen and the silliness that happens at our family's Thanksgiving. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

[Brown] Velvet if you pleeeeeeeease...

What do you get when you choose not to add the red food coloring to a buttermilk chocolate cake? BROWN velvet cake...which I actually think could be 'nom-ier' than red velvet.

Now...I had no clue that red velvet cake was southern or whatever til I moved to NYC. I guess I've always been aware of it but...never really thought about it as a 'traditional' southern thing. Birthdays were celebrated with 1,2,3,4 cakes and there was always caramel cake at Thanksgiving, so uh yeah. But i'm all jazzed it's in my life now...if for no other reason than the cream cheese frosting. Be honest with yourself...that's really the reason you like this cake, isn't it?

Anyhoo, it was my bestest friend's b-day this past weekend and, hating the idea of someone being birthday cake-less on her birthday, I decided to make her one.

Now, I make a pretty good cookie and can even whip out a stunning profiterole from time to time but cake...kinda intimidates me...particularly whole cakes and not little cuppie cakie cakes.* (*although delicious, cuppie cakes are kinda for sissies.)

So I used my brain and a pretty spiffy recipe (borrowed from and deliciousness was produced! Here's the recipe:

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.


-it says it yields 3 cake layers...but i just u sed 2 9" cake pans and that was fine.

-instead of waiting for the oven to preheat and melting the butter in the cake pans, just melt some

butter in the microwave and brush it onto the bottom and sides of the pan. it's easier.

-for the parchment cake pan liners: lay the cake pan on the parchment paper and trace with a pencil. cut out the circles. (just turn the pencil marking side down...lead is not good eats)

-buy buttermilk. just do it.

-the more you sift your flour/cocoa mixture the lighter the cake will be. tedious, yes. super awesome deliciousness, yes.

suck it up and do it!


-for every 1 cup of all purpose flour, remove 2 T from the cup and replace

with 2 T of corn starch.


-just like any other cake, DO NOT over mix this bad boy! When you start alternately adding the buttermilk and flour mixture, do it by hand and mix til JUUUUUUUUST combined. you're welcome.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.


-the recipe says it yields 6 cups...i ain't so sure about that but it's enough to frost a 2 layer cake. yeah.

-i prefer a cream cheesier frosting to this's still pretty good. it'll be something to work on later in life.

-make sure all your ingredients are at room temp!

Frosting/Assembly notes

-after the cakes come out of the oven, let them rest for about 20 mins in their pans

-to remove them place a platter or cutting board or whatever on top of the cake pan and turn over. the cake should easily come out of the pan. Then just peel off the parchment.

-rip about 4 long strips of wax paper/parchment paper and arrange them on the edges of your cake plate.

-place the bottom cake layer flat side UP onto the cake plate and strips of paper

-put a big old dollop of frosting in the center of the cake and spread to a little before the edge (you gotta give it room to squidge out when the top layer is placed on top)

-place the top cake layer flat side UP (again) on the bottom layer and frost your face off

-don't be afraid to take your time frosting the cake. slow and steady wins the race (and also makes it so your white frosting doesn't have brown crumbs laced throughout)

-when you're done frosting, slowly pull out the strips of paper and you have a lovely edge. lovely.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

and now...The Snickerdoodle

I don't tend to discriminate when it comes to cookies. I'm an equal opportunity muncher. Oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, oreos, sugar, and of course chocolate chip are all pretty equal in my mind...or in my belly. I'd like to think that I make all these cookies with equal deliciousness but there's ONE cookie that drives people smack into their happy place: the snickerdoodle.

'What is it, Laura, about this particular cookie that makes folks so happy?' you ask.
well maybe...

Cinnamon makes people stupidly happy.
The slightly crispy outside and the buttery inside makes people stupidly happy.
Donut glaze makes people stupidly happy.
Free cookies make people stupidly happy.

The first time I made these was while performing in Hilton Head, SC around Christmas of '08. There was this local holiday cookie competition and I entered thinkin' 'ooo fun' and frickin won. So...yeah...these things are tasty.

I also baked these for Madison Square Eats and they sold out in a day-and for the next week of the festival everyday someone would come by saying 'Hey, do you have any snickerdoodles?' It makes a girl monstrously proud.

And also kinda giggly...I mean what's funnier than a grown man saying 'snickerdoodle'?

So here's my recipe and here's hopin' you like 'em!

Snickerdoodles w/ Donut Glaze

Stuff you'll need

set oven to 375/ use ungreased cookie sheets

2 1/4 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt 1
1 1/2 T cinnamon

2 sticks room temperature butter
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 room temperature eggs

3 T plus 1 T cinnamon for rolling

Combine first 4 ingredients in small bowl
Cream butter and sugars
Add vanilla
Add eggs one at a time
Beat in flour in 3 incorporations

About to add eggs and vanilla to creamed butter/sugars

(*optional-let dough rest for half hour in fridge*)

Roll balls of dough in cinnamon/sugar mixture
Bake for 8-10 mins

Fancy cookie scoop
All rolled in cinnamon sugar 'bout to go in the oven

Stuff you'll need
2 t hot milk
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar (10x sugar)

whisk together and let set for a sec til it's kinda room temp. (how frickin' easy was THAT?)
pour over cookies or dip cookies into the glaze.
You're welcome.

Don't forget to lick the beater!

Monday, October 17, 2011



I've been pretty busy (can't remember the last time i grocery shopped) lately and it is way past time i updated this bloggie thingie.

'What's been keeping you so busy, Laura?' you say? always.
Singing at cabarets...old favorite past-time
Breaking favorite past-time
Working at a bakery...Stupidly fun

Along with the usual baking, packaging, etc. at Hot Blondies ( I've been working at their booth for Madison Square Eats. A big ole market of spiffy restaurants and trucks, Madison Square Eats has been a joy for my mouth and an enemy to my hips.
'Lobster roll?' Why, yes, thank you.
'Prosciutto and kale pizza?' Don't mind if I do.
'Beer, beer, and more beer?' Well, you only live once, right?
And who needs grocery shopping when you've got cute guys throwing steak tacos your way? Exaaaaactly.
It's been a hell of a lot of fun AND i'm picking up little tips about running mobile food services. That could come in handy someday...

Anyhoo-attached is a little video of a pretty bad-ass day involving an audition, a haircut, baking, working the booth, some RIDICULOUSLY cool news, and singing karaoke in Queens.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Devilish Lemon Squares

Where oh where do i begin?

Sean 'Forget your troubles c'mon it's sean bell' Bell and Julius 'late twenties' 'bettywhite' Thomas came over for dinner tonight and it was kinda awesome.

Sean and I started immediately hitting the wine and cheese while Julius hit the kitchen and made some CRAZY TASTY shrimp n' grits.

Not one to let everyone else bring allllll the goodies I offered to make dessert:


Note: 10x sugar=confectioners' sugar
These are pretty gi-gundo crowd pleasers. The batch I made tonight, though, seemed a wee bit sweet. Don't know what that was about's not gonna keep me from eating 'em.

Some notes!
-Don't let the butter get quite to room temperature. Take it out of the fridge and squish it into the flour and sugar letting the heat from your hands soften it up. It'll make the crust WAY more manageable.

-No need to grease the pan

-zest the lemon before you cut and squeeze it. it's kind of a DUH thing but...ya know...

-go easy on the powdered sugar on top of the squares. these things aren't exactly crying for more sugar, ok?

-wait til the squares come just to room temp before cutting and serving. everyone loves a little squiggy dessert but...just go with me on this one.

-topping them with various berries is always a good call, too! Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, snozzberries...wait...

Super nom.
Happy Holidays...?