"" What's She Eating Now?: Learning to Bake

Friday, March 19, 2010

Learning to Bake

Growing up my mother never baked sweets. Bread, if I was around to knead it for what seemed liked forever, yes, but sweets no. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining necessarily, only mentioning as a possible explanation of why I have always cooked and seldom baked. (In other words, Mom, no complaints about how I "vilify" you on my blog.) I decided recently, however, that I must learn to do some baking. Nothing touches that inner child in all of us like a visually tantalizing, aroma wafting, luscious dessert and I felt inadequate not knowing how to make one.

My baking endeavors began some time ago when Dan had requested I procure a cake of a tombstone for something work related. When I found out how much that would cost I said to myself, "I have watched hours of Ace of Cakes, I'll be damned if some of that didn't sink in." I marched off to the baking supply store and out this bizarre cake came. Like Duff, I don't choose my clients either. Since then I have been going through more butter, sugar and flour than I ever imagined I would use in a lifetime and have been loving every second of it.

Last night I threw some fruit into the mix and I highly recommend this easy Italian recipe for my kindred budding bakers out there. It doesn't require any unusual ingredients, equipment or technique and it will make your house smell great. (NB, that torte is most certainly not burnt, blame that on my camera and the brownish black baking round.)

  • 1/2 cup butter softened (note, not melted, just leave it out for a while)
  • 2/3 granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tspn baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tspn grated lemon rind
  • 2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious and Northern Spy recommended)
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Butter and flour a 10 inch spring form pan or torte pan (I hope this doesn't qualify as "unusual equipment" for you. If you don't have one they are easy to find, reasonably inexpensive, and you'll use it many times)
  • Arrange all your ingredients (This is often not a step listed in directions but I find it critical so like to include as a little reminder.)
  • Peel, core and slice thinly the apples (I squeezed a little lemon over them to add a little flavor and preserve color because even though we are cooking them I dislike looking at brown raw apples)
  • Using an electric hand mixer take 1/4 cup of the softened butter and 2 Tbspns of the sugar and beat together in a large bowl, you may also use the back of a spoon to help.
  • Beat in 1 egg at a time
  • Stir together the flour and baking powder
  • Alternating some flour mixture and some milk, beat these into the bowl
  • Stir in the lemon rind
  • Add the batter to the pan
  • Arrange the apples around the pan, you may need half pieces to fill in some holes and the center
  • Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and dot the entire thing with pieces of the remaining butter
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until top has lightly browned (my oven is slow, this took a bit longer for me)
  • Cool before cutting (I re-warmed the pieces for serving slightly in the toaster oven and served with good vanilla ice cream but this is also great at room temperature by itself. I know, I had it for breakfast)
Buon Appetito! 
Recipe adapted from an adaptation of Anna Gosetti della Salda's Le Ricette Regionali Italiane for Torta di Mele.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely worth a try. I'm with you - I don't bake much. My mom did bake quite a bit (you might remember the gingerbread houses), but still it has always seemed a little intimidating to me. My baking at the moment has really been mainly banana bread. But I now have a spring form pan and two 9-inch square cake pans. I need to break them in. (Oh, and I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, that definitely needs to be used a ton more.) Keep the baking recipes coming so I can start baking!!