Saturday, February 25, 2012

I sold 'em then ate the rest...

First, let me apologize for the lack of pictures and/or video.



Maybe it's silly and over-excited to be be so...EXCITED...but when your goal is to sell stuff and you finally DO sell's just very encouraging.

Honestly it was a weird feeling to get paid. I almost felt guilty. Like, 'No sweetheart! These are on me!' almost escaped my mouth. Was that because I've just always given away my tasty treats or because I'm just too damn 'naaaaaahce' for my little southern girl good? We could spend an hour analyzing that, but I think another couple orders and another couple months of unemployment will fix the whole 'guilt' thing.

'So what did they order, Laura?'

So glad you asked!
He ordered a dozen pecan tassies (2 bite pecan pies) for $15 ( a steal don't you think? )

It gave me a nice excuse to pay Bed Bath and Beyond a tempting visit. I mean...can YOU walk into a Bed Bath and Beyond and NOT impulse buy? No. No you can't. When I began, I needed a non-stick mini muffin pan. When I finished, I had a mini muffin pan, a complete set of pastry bags and tips, a fabric shower curtain, and 4 champagne flutes (CLEARANCE!!!!). It was thrilling.

I went home and started baking the tassies. Here's the recipe:

cream cheese crust:
3 ounces room temp cream cheese
1 stick not exactly room temp butter
1 cup flour (whole wheat flour works well!)

mix with a potato masher, forks, fingers, whatever you got, til it forms a dough. roll into balls just smaller than an even Tablespoon and refrigerate for about an hour.

pecan filling:
2/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar (i used dark brown but light brown works nicely, too)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
dash of salt
1 Tablespoon room temp. butter

mix. seriously. that's it. mix.
pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
With your fingers, pat the dough balls into the sides/bottom of the mini muffin tin (no greasing necessary). Fill with 1/2 tablespoon or so of the filling. Try not to over-fill but if you do...whatever.
Bake for 20-25 mins and enjoy!

Lucky for me (and some friends) the recipe yielded 19 mini pies. I boxed up a dozen for sale and took the remaining pies to a girlfriend's apartment. The Joy of Baking, indeed.

I'm also very proud of Maren Flagg for making this ALL BY HERSELF! My little princess is learning domestic stuff! *tear*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Coconut-less Cake

Does anyone else find cake baking a little bit intimidating?
I little slip missed incorrect measurement and


toughness or dryness or...just general ickiness.

But I've been inspired to put my fears aside by a family member. My Dad's cousin, Rick, has been my pastry hero lately by sending me a BOAT LOAD of Oldham family recipes. I couldn't wait to make the bourbon balls and the chocolate pudding, but I was especially excited about the cakes.

The first recipe he sent was for a coconut cake made by my great-aunt (i think?) Rose Phillips. There's also a sweet story (get it? 'sweet story'?) behind it:

She sold her cakes at a local farmers' market in Athens, GA during the depression to help make ends meet. After a while she kinda became known for her baking, especially for her coconut cake.

I kinda figured this was the perfect place to begin. Only...I really don't like coconut. So I decided to get all crafty and turn it into a cookies n' cream cake.

Here's the recipe and notes:

For the cake:

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups sifted flour (plain)

2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy

Add eggs - one at a time – beat well after each

Add vanilla

Beat well for 2 minutes

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together

Add in parts to butter mixture – alternating with milk, beating on low until mixed well – then beat on high for 1 minute

Pour into 3 round cake pans (I baked in 2 9" pans and increased baking time)

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (or until done)

Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove – cool completely


-sift flour more than once. it'll result in a softer...uh...happier cake...yeah

-when alternately adding the flour and milk to the egg/butter/sugar mixture begin and end with the flour!

-once you begin adding the flour and milk it's time to try a little tenderness. As soon as you start to see things looking 'mixed' * STOP * and add the next thing. Try to introduce the flour in only 3 parts.

-you can either line your pans with parchment paper or you can butter and flour your pans. pick one or these suckers might not come out.

-run a paring knife around the cakes before you remove them from the pans.

Divinity Frosting

2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup water

4 egg whites (large eggs)

½ teaspoon vanilla

Coconut – 12 oz. (moist) (OPTIONAL)

Combine sugar, cream of tartar and water

Cook over medium heat until 240 degrees

Beat egg whites until fluffy (soft peaks)

Add sugar mixture slowly over 3 pourings – beat well each time

Add vanilla and beat until fluffy


-bust out your candy thermometers, kids.

-when boiling sugar/water etc. on the stove, watch it CLOSELY and watch yourself! this stuff can burn you BAD. It also can boil quickly if you don't pay attention. Stick to a medium high heat and be patient.

-don't let your candy thermometer touch the bottom of the pan when you take the sugar's temperature. you'll get an inaccurate read. just thought i'd point out the obvious...

-egg whites


-room temp!

-it's nice to have a friend help you with the actual frosting-making part.

-SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY drizzle the 240 degree sugar into the whipped egg whites WHILE mixing.

-keep the stream of sugar away from the beater to avoid gumming up and messiness


-this frosting was a wee bit sweet by itself, but when eaten with the delicately sweet cake it really worked. Next time, though, i think i'd like to try it with a bit more vanilla.


i could add almond extract, orange extract, add mint extract and put it on a chocolate cake i mean...the possibilities are endless!!!!

-my roommate put the frosting in between chocolate chip cookies. omnom. I think it'd also be perfect for whoopie pies since it's so thick and marshmallow-like

*music used

-'If you wanna be happy...' by Jimmy Soul

-'Big Bottom' Spinal Tap

*the average american eats 50 pounds in cookies and cake a year

-i think i average about 75 pounds...fatty fatty no friends...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Cheesy Experiment: Episode 1

For all y'all from the South I don't have to explain what a cheese straw is.

For all you sadly deprived 'other people' here's the deal:

It's like a crunchy, sandy, cayenne pepper-y, sharp cheddar's not a biscuit, cookie, cracker it's a....cheese straw. Confused? Intrigued? I bet you are.

Wanna try one?


I mean...these things are more addicting (addictive?) than Cheez-Its (and we ALL know how addicting [addictive?] those things are) and I've got big plans for 'em. I plan on hooking all of New York on my oooo so tasty cheese straws. Yes! Anyone and everyone will soon be able to buy these on my website and have his/her own baggie of Laura O baked goodness.
The website is in the works as we speak and (as you'll see below) the recipe is SERIOUSLY in the works.

It's SO in the works that I'm not even gonna write the recipe for you... Cause the it was a big ole failure. The texture was COMPLETELY WRONG. And that's half the fun of eating the cheesy straws. BUT the flavor was pretty least when I tried extruding them in the cookie press and sliced them into wafers.


i just love that word...anyway...

But I tried rolling the dough into balls and baking them, too. When they were just out of the oven they were tasty but...after they'd cooled they were gnarly. Just a mess of cold cheesy blech-ness. No bueno.

So it's with a whole lotta humility that I present you the first in (HOPEFULLY) a set of 2 episodes on Cheese Straws.