Posts Tagged With: Baking
Today’s a sweet holiday if you’re a party of one. October 18 is National Chocolate Cupcake Day!
Cupcakes are miniature cakes designed to serve one person. In other words, they’re a marvel of modern baking! They are baked in thin paper cups or an aluminum muffin pan. Cupcakes were first mentioned in 1796 in Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery cookbook; one recipe called for “a cake to be baked in small cups.” They were originally baked in individual ramekins or molds, such as tea cups, from where they took their name. In England, they were (and still are) called fairy cakes due to their diminutive size (they tend to be smaller than American cupcakes). Australians refer to them as patty cakes. Cupcakes have been popular for decades, but in the past few years have become especially trendy thanks to Americans’ thirst for nostalgia, and their appearance on the popular television show Sex And The City. Which I’ve never seen, because I’m a guy, even though it’s got the word “sex” in the title. I’ll just trust that cupcakes played a role and move right along.
To celebrate, we picked up some two-bite miniature chocolate cupcakes from WinCo. They made a perfect after dinner palate cleanser!
You’ll be toast if you don’t take advantage of today’s food holiday. September 16 is National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day!
OK, you don’t have to toast cinnamon-raisin bread in order to enjoy it. But it sure helps! Especially with a pat of butter on top; the toast makes the butter melt, where it seeps into every little crevice, filling them with its rich goodness.
YES! YES! YES!
Oops, sorry. Cinnamon raisin bread is classified as a sweet bread; different versions have existed since the 15th century, but oddly enough, raisin bread was invented by Henry David Thoreau, the famed author, poet, and philosopher best known for Walden. According to historical accounts, while baking bread at his home on Walden Pond one day, Thoreau tossed a handful of raisins into the dough. Hardly a culinary stretch, but the housewives of Concord, Massachusetts were used to baking in a very particular manner, and this breach of protocol was quite scandalous at the time. Stunned though they were, one taste was enough to convince them that ol’ Henry was onto something good.
Our brief honeymoon ended today, and it was back to reality for us. We picked up a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, and toasted it (with butter, of course) for dessert this evening. Yum!
April 13 is a lucky day for you if you enjoy peaches and sweet desserts. It’s National Peach Cobbler Day!
Cobblers have existed for as long as there have been shoes in need of repair. But alas, today’s holiday celebrates a dessert, not a shoemaker. Sorry, hardworking Nike and Adidas folk. We still appreciate you, though. Dessert cobblers originated in colonial America when early English settlers were unable to find the ingredients to make a proper steamed suet pudding. Instead, they took a stewed filling (usually fruit) and topped it with uncooked biscuits or dumplings. After baking, the surface resembled a cobbled street. There are many variations on the cobbler, going by names like the Betty, the Buckle, the Sonker, the Pandowdy, the Grump, the Slump, the Dump, Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. Just kidding about those last six – don’t get your knickers in a bunch, Walt. Cobblers are often topped with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream and served warm.
We found an upscale peach cobbler in the frozen section of New Season’s Market. By “upscale” I mean it cost nine bucks. Nobody said this food challenge would be cheap! Which is why we’re doing it this year, as opposed to last year, when both Tara and I were looking for jobs. We baked it in the oven at 350F for a little over an hour. Sadly, we didn’t have any whipped cream or ice cream, and that made me a real grump. Ha-ha. But the cobbler was excellent!
February 23rd is an a-peeling day: we celebrate banana bread! We also have it ruff, too: in addition to National Banana Bread Day, it’s National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. Because it’s the weekend and we were feeling adventurous, we celebrated both holidays!
And, no. We do not own a dog.
The first recipe for banana bread appeared in a Pillsbury cookbook in 1933. When baking soda and baking powder became popular in the ’30s, they gave rise (ha-ha, a little baking humor for you!) to quick breads that didn’t require yeast. The use of these ingredients makes banana bread more like a cake than a loaf of bread: it’s moist and sweet. Banana bread’s popularity skyrocketed in the ’60s (ha-ha, a little “space age” humor for you!) when home baking became all the rage. Cookbooks of that era featured many different bread recipes made with fruits and nuts, and banana bread took off like John, Paul, George, and Ringo (ha-ha, a little Fab Four humor for you!). It quickly became a staple at bake sales. It’s also a very popular breakfast entree in Australia, where hungry dingo hunters often stop in at cafes for a cup o’ joe and a slice o’ banana bread.
Banana bread is one of those baked delicacies that is so easy to make, even I can do it! And I wanted to, because every challenge so far that has required baking, Tara has done. So I did the banana bread. Used a new recipe out of Bon Apetit magazine, and it was pretty basic, but I added crushed macadamia nuts to give it a Hawaiian flair. It turned out really good!
Treats for dogs have existed since as long as dogs have been domesticated, but often included stale, moldy bread and rotten leftovers. That’s an arf-ul way to treat “man’s best friend!” In the mid-1800s James Spratt (no relation to Jack) was traveling abroad and felt sorry for the stray dogs in England scavenging for leftover food, so when he returned home to America he was inspired to create “Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes,” hearty treats consisting of meat, grains, and vegetables. Dogs everywhere howled with approval. In 1908, the F.H. Bennett Biscuit Company in New York developed a crunchy, bone-shaped biscuit for dogs, made with milk, minerals, and meat. They called it the Milk Bone. The rest is canine history.
Now, I suppose this holiday is for the dogs. Literally. But we are also nothing if not literal, so Tara and I stopped by a pet store, where we bought a couple of dog biscuits. And proceeded to eat them ourselves.
Oh, yes we did.
PetCo sells a variety of dog biscuits in bulk. They’re set out in bins and come in a pretty big selection of flavors. Some of them resemble chocolate chip cookies (and actually taste like chocolate chip cookies). There were also pretzel varieties, cinnamon cookie flavors, etc. But I wanted a couple of plain, old-fashioned dog biscuits. Boy oh boy, I don’t know what I was thinking. They tasted horrible. Hard and chewy and dry and grainy. It took every last ounce of willpower (and a big glass of milk) to choke mine down. And then, Tara followed suit. Pretty bad stuff…definitely my least favorite “food” in this challenge. Then again, they were never meant for human consumption! But that just goes to show you the lengths we are willing to go to in the name of fun.
- bon appétit : best banana bread ever (bonjourjacqueline.com)