December 14, 2008

Baking Frenzy

I've been in a baking mood lately...not sure why...maybe it's the season. I try to make some goodies during the holidays that I can share with friends, but I haven't started that yet. I like being in the kitchen, cooking and creating, but I've had a heck of a time with baking since moving to a higher altitude. My flopped batch of pralines our first Christmas in Colorado still makes me cringe. How difficult are pralines, you ask? Well, if you are below or just barely above sea level, as in Louisiana, pralines are a snap. If you are 6,000 feet above sea level, thing aren't so easy. A Louisiana batch of pralines will set up when poured onto waxed paper within minutes. A Colorado batch of pralines, done the Louisiana way, never sets...just never..which I learned the hard way. So, instead of wasting all that sugar, butter and pecan goodness, we used the goo as an ice cream topper. When life give you lemons, you know? I have not had the courage to attempt another batch of pralines since, but maybe when I become more confident in high altitude baking. Maybe, but don't hold your breath.

Today, we started our morning with homemade cheddar thyme biscuits, made by Neal. After breakfast, I made a blackberry cobbler with berries my friend Susan gave us yesterday, then I made old fashioned tea cakes using my great Aunt Nora's recipe. I was really quite pleased with both the cobbler and the tea cakes, and the biscuits have yet to flop no matter how we make them. During the week, I plan to make some of my mom's fudge to give away and six dozen crispy oat cookies to take to a cookie and ornament swap. I'll share both recipes here after I make them. And because I'm in such a festive mood, I thought I'd share today's three recipes with you. Enjoy!

Cheddar Thyme Flaky Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cream of tartar. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or a fork until it is the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the mixture and measure the milk, cheese and thyme into the bowl. Gently mix until a soft dough forms. Roll or pat out on a floured surface to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into circles and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown.

Bread and cheese - what more could you want?

Aunt Nora's Tea Cakes

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3-4 Tablespoons buttermilk (I used regular whole milk and it worked fine)
a pinch of baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Flour (approximately 2 cups)

Cream shortening and sugar. Add other ingredients and mix well. Add flour to make a stiff dough. Put on floured board and work up by hand. Pinch off small balls, about 1 inch in diameter, and put on greased pan. Pat down.

Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

These are probably larger than most people make teacakes, but I'm on the lazy side when it comes to rolling or spooning cookie dough!

Blackberry Cobbler

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained)
blackberries (do not use blueberries)
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
Cream, whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

In medium bowl, stir together blackberries and sugar. Let stand about 20 minutes or until fruit syrup forms. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Stir in melted butter until blended. Spread in ungreased 8-inch square pan. Spoon blackberry mixture over batter. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until dough rises and is golden. Serve warm with cream.

I forgot to take a picture of the cobbler before dishing up a spoonful!


Anonymous said...

arnetta gave me aunt nora's tea cake recipe and we love them over here!!

it is one of jons favorite recipes and a common cookie standard in our house :)

Lilla said...

They are very good, aren't they? Do you make yours as big as I made mine? Arnetta recently shared the recipe with me, although I'm sure my mom had it and I'll come across it in her things some day.

You know, I just had a thought...I could refrigerate the dough in a log and slice it into rounds so I wouldn't have to spoon or roll. I'll have to try that next time!

Anonymous said...

no, mine are smaller but i go the lazy womans way :)
i refrigerate the dough for a while and then roll it into small balls... then i use two fingers to press the balls down until they are slightly flattened and then bake...
they are irregularly shaped and more domed then flat but that is we like them :)
the log idea sounds good too...