Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baking To-Dos

I have a bit of a problem with to-do lists. The issue is not that I am forgetting important tasks or appointments, or that I never know what needs to be done around the apartment or picked up from the store. It is hardly that my life is not managed; the problem lies on the opposite spectrum, in that I feel, at times, that my life is micro-managed. I have task lists for absolutely everything, sprinkled everywhere that I would possibly be on any given day. There are scribbled Post-its on my desk, in my calender, and in my bag, hanging from the bulletin board, and next to my bed. I have a computerized to-do list, a list of books I must read, vacations I must take, and another list of long-term to-dos in a special notebook of mine. Everything is written down, even the things I know I will never forget: “Tuesday, cereal for breakfast.”

It goes without saying, then, that I also have a list of baking to-dos: “Desserts To Bake.” Like many of my lists, it seems to grow faster than I can cross items off, and it doesn't help when I pick up a new cookbook, and then go wild marking pages with even more Post-its.

Since I've been spending most of my baking time lately putting together older favorite recipes, I thought I would expunge myself of a portion of my baking to-do list, and let someone else have fun with some of the recipes that I may, or may not, try at some point in the future.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake
from Bob's Red Mill Baking Book

1 cup white rice flour
1 ¼ cups white bean flour
2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. grated orange peel
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup milk
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan or loaf pan.In a mixing bowl combine the first 8 ingredients (rice flour through cinnamon), set aside.In another bowl cream together the butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time and vanilla extract, orange peel and zucchini. Stir in, alternately, the flour mixture and milk (or water); add nuts and stir. Pour batter into prepared pan.Bake for approximately 1-1/2 hours; cool with oven door open for 30 minutes. Turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. May be served with or without frosting.

Hazelnut Butter Cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy unsalted hazelnut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce package semisweet mini chocolate chips (2 cups)

Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, hazelnut butter, and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Soften dough slightly at room temperature before shaping.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 level tablespoon for each cookie, roll dough between palms of hands into 1-inch balls. Arrange 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)

Peach Cobbler
from The Food Network

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup milk
4 cups peeled, pitted and thinly sliced fresh peaches (5 to 6 medium peaches)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Several dashes ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour the melted butter into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking powder, and the salt and mix well. Stir in the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour this batter over the butter but do not stir them together.
In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, lemon juice, and remaining cup of sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour the peaches over the batter but do not stir them together. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. Serve warm or cold.

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