Buns is where they’re going.

They’re even better than they look!

When I have jetlag coupled with time change I get up super duper early,  4:30am this morning in fact.  Horrifying since it’s my day off.  What I often do at the ass crack of predawn is bake, and today was no exception.  There’s something so satisfying about baking when not a soul is up.

This morning when it became clear that I was done sleeping I started thinking of buns.  I wanted to make some Scandinavian style coffee buns that I read about in all my favorite Scandinavian mysteries.  There are lots of coffees, cakes and buns flying around those stories, it doesn’t matter if it’s Finland, Sweden or Norway – buns unite these people.  The Swedish recipe I used today is really good, in fact these are my best buns to date.  They’re called Kanelbullar which I believe just means cinnamon buns.  The dough is liberally infused with cardamom and the cinnamon sugar is only on the inner rolled up edge.  Also, these buns aren’t super sweet or sticky like our American style cinnamon rolls, so they’re a nice treat with coffee (or tea or sparkling water or with another bun).

The recipe is from here. I weigh all my ingredients and this made a very nice enriched dough.  The only differences I found are with the timings.  I used dried instant yeast (not fresh) and my dough needed 1.5 hours on the first rise.  The second rise was about 1.25 hours and the baking time for me was 14 minutes.  My buns were a little bigger than in the recipe so my baking time was a bit more, but watch your buns to see how they’re progressing.  Also make sure you eat one as soon as they’re cool enough to handle because they’re a little bit of heaven.

Lemon love

Oh yes, it’s as good as it looks…

Although I’m trying to reduce the amount of sugar I eat, I had a hot burning to make this lemon yogurt cake that I came across the other day.  I am rather glad I did because it’s really delicious and stupidly easy to make.  This is one of those instances where the effort that went into making the cake was extremely small compared to the moist delicious lemon cake I ended up with.  If you make it, just follow the recipe and don’t reinvent the wheel.

Because none of my crafty efforts are worthy of an entry I shall post a couple of photos that cracked me up this weekend when I was at work.

This bag is sticking out 6″ from the edge of the bin. I’m almost sure that won’t work.

I saw this bag the other day and just had to take a piccie. The lady nicely put up her bag, pushed it in all the way and saw it didn’t go any further, shrugged and sat down. It’s hanging out about 6″.  There was room to turn it btw and yes I did fix it.  This cracked me up for some reason, maybe I should make this my wallpaper.  Perhaps it’s only funny to me?

Can we have class outside today Miss?

Remember when you were in grade school and you’d beg the teacher to have class outside? I assume that kids do that all over and not just here in California?  That’s what this reminded me of, that schoolkid wish.  I was walking in Kansas City to the most fabulous bbq place a mile from my hotel in the 90+ degree heat.  I wanted ribs dammit – it’s KC!  I came upon this little scene and started making up possible scenarios to explain it.  Since the chairs were outside a business that sold “security and alarm systems” I imagined a burglar gang broke in and rearranged the furniture as a definite thumbing of the nose to the security company.  Or it’s a really badly attended church service.  Or one of the six weddings (no joke that) taking place at our hotel ran out of chairs and an SOS was sent out for “more chairs STAT!”

Happy Monday!

Cake time!

CAKE CAKE CAKE!

Apparently last week I bought an roundtrip ticket on the freaky train, well that ride is mercifully over and now there’s cake on the blog.

Unbeknownst to you, I gave up (most) sweet treats about a month ago.  No reason other than my acupuncturist telling me it’d immediately help my many annoying maladies.  Well, hmm.  I don’t feel amazingly better (all my maladies are minor btw) and I’m not in any danger of losing even one pound from my badonkadonk.  So, why continue.  They only thing I can come up with is “why not”.  It’s a healthy habit and it’s really not hard to pass up sweets.  I’m not militant about it, so presumably I’ll enjoy a treat more if it’s a rare thing, right.

Well on to the cake.  It’s a birthday cake for a dear friend.  She likes chocolate and caramel so I opted for a rich, dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream.  I know the cake looks huge, but it’s really only 6″ across.  Have I mentioned before how much I adore making little cakes in my 6″ springform pan?  Most of the time you don’t need a giant cake, just enough for a few people to have dessert, so that 6″ pan is perfect.

I used my go to chocolate cake recipe (it’s for a one layer cake and fits my little pan perfectly) that is super delicious and easy.  No fancy ingredients, just honest cake building blocks.  The caramel buttercream recipe is from here and the only change I made to the frosting was to add 1T dark rum.  Who wouldn’t.

If you’re wondering why the cake is dusted with chocolate shavings (ignore the asymmetry) it’s because the recipient does NOT like jimmys!  I was all set to use jimmys and colored decorations when it came up in conversation the other day that jimmys were GROSS!  What!  Well, you love your friends despite their quirks so shaved chocolate bar it was.  And yes, we do have very deep conversations don’t we…

Sptizbuben

If this is naughty, I don’t want to be nice.

Can you see them all nestled in the tin?  Hell ya!  Those are spitzbuben and they are delicious.  What is a spitzbub?  A cookie.  And it means naughty boy.  If you eat a bunch of them (and why wouldn’t you?) you’d be naughty too.  Actually I just thought they’d be a nice Swiss treat to celebrate the day I get my profit sharing check from the “the man” – as we used to say at Berkeley.  It’s not much money, but I’m happy to take free money whenever it’s handed out.

So let’s get to the point.  Spitzbuben are a shortbread type cookie and are filled with raspberry jam (that I thinned wit kirsch!).  How is that bad?  I used this recipe which is German and according to my Swiss mom they are a bit non-typical.  There is a bit of ground almond in there and I rolled them out too thin so they looked like my idea of sandwich cookie, not the Swiss nation’s idea of a cookie.  Wrong, yet still delish.  Apparently my recipe is German (not Swiss!) and maybe they like almonds more.  What evs.  Thick, thin, almonds or no these are tasty.

The other note here is that these are traditionally Christmas cookies, but clearly would be enjoyable on Valentine’s Day/Profit Sharing Day too!

Granola chica

I don’t love all kinds of granola, but this one is my total fave.   This is Pumpkin Spice Granola made from a recipe I came across on Everybody Likes Sandwiches.   It’s just a little bit sweet, has kicky spices and is not dry and icky.  And how cute is this batch housed in my new Daiso orange topped jar?  100 yen baby ($1.50)!

Ok, back to the recipe.  This recipe is adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods which I don’t own but will look for,  based on the yummy granola.  I make half the recipe on the Everybody Likes Sandwiches site because I only have one jelly roll size pan and half fits perfectly.  I use rough chopped almonds (not walnuts), skip the sesame seeds and use dried cranberries.  I don’t know what pumpkin pie spice is but I use 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 t cloves and 1/4 t each of nutmeg, ginger and cardamon.  I bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes stirring it around every 15 minutes until the almonds are good and toasted.  So good.

Back to my knitting now that I’m fortified with granola.

Hot cross buns!

The Easter candy has been in the stores since Valentine’s Day and for some reason I’m suddenly overcome with a craving for Hot Cross Buns.  Today.  Now.  Hurry!

Ok, there is a difference between hot cross buns I’ve had here in the U.S. and those I’ve had in the U.K.  The U.S. ones are sweeter and the cross is usually icing.  The U.K. ones aren’t very sweet and the cross is some kind of flour goo.  I wanted the U.K. kind and the google machine came up with this recipe by Nigella.  Whatever your feelings about Ms. Lawson, these buns are damn good.

I changed the recipe a bit by using Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend which is golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries.  I didn’t have cardamon pods or whole cloves so I added 1/8t of each to the list of spices.  I added 1T sugar and 1/2t salt to the dry ingredients list.  I used the microwave to heat the milk and butter and just let the dough rise for two hours until doubled instead of overnight.  The crosses were made with the flour goo that I spooned into a sandwich bag and snipped the corner off of to make a disposable pastry bag.  Super easy recipe and Yummy!  Plenty sweet with all the dried fruits and the house smells like heaven.  A win!

Raspberry cupcake afterthought

That is a mashup title and maybe I don’t have the hang of it.  Mashed thusly are (left) raspberry coat pinned together for the most part; (middle) super yum cupcakes for old folks; (right) finished Hello 80s Socks!

We shall begin with the raspberry coat, shall we.  What you see here is the body sewn up and the hems pinned in preparation for hemming then lining.  Of course I still need to sew the lining together.  I’ve decided to bag the lining rather than doing a more high brow application by hand.  I finally realized that I’d been dragging my heels on this coat construction because I didn’t want to choose the “wrong” method to construct it.  That meant I didn’t make the darn thing at all.  I resolved to just do it – it’s not going to be the coat of the century but it doesn’t really have to be.  It’ll be (hopefully) a nice warm coat for winter and I’ll have made my first coat.  I can build on my coat making knowledge next time based on this raspberry coat of today.  It’s the Nike “Just Do It” sewing philosophy.

The middle pic of a scrumptious cupcake is one of a batch I made for Mom’s xmas party with her crew.  I opted to make chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Both recipes are from Paula Deen and are delicious.  The cupcakes are dark and moist and so easy to make it’s embarrassing.  The frosting is this recipe and I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla and a bit more powdered sugar to make piping it easier.  30 cupcakes off the assembly line.  The best part was putting candy canes in a baggie and smashing them up with a meat hammer to make the festive decoration.  Gotta love a meat hammer.

The right picture means it’s official:  The 80s are OVER!  Yup, Hello 80s socks are done!  My first afterthought heel socks turned out well.  They also fit very nicely so I’ll have to add them to the sock knitting rotation.  They look especially nice with the striping sock yarn.  You get a bullseye heel effect with the stripes.  The socks are fraternal twins rather than identical.  They were identical pretty much up until the last heel when I guess I did one more row and ended up with smudge of purple on the last heel bit.  I could have ripped the whole heel out and started over, but NO!  It’s fine.  I do not live in Crazytown.  Vesper Sock Yarn is still yummy in case you were wondering.

Well the 80s are over so I’ll be taking down my Billy Idol and Adam Ant posters and digging out some flannel plaid for the emergence of grunge.  Later I’ll be watching Pretty in Pink on my automobile sized VCR.  Awesome!

We

Who’s hungry?

When you travel it’s really hard to find good food – not just tasty food, food that won’t make you look like a big, fat American.  Salads in many parts of our nation mean iceberg lettuce.  I don’t think so buddy.  When I get home I like to make what I want and eat it when I want it.  No more “lunch” at 10 a.m. and dinner at 9:30pm.

My collage is of a few things I’m stuck on right now:

Top left are organic tree ripe peaches (and nectarines that I already ate) from Dry Creek Peaches and yes I go to the farm to get them.  Uh, what’s that apple doing on the pile?  That is the first of the season Gravenstein apples, a local variety.  More yum.

Top right were the result of having too many blueberries leftover to eat before I go back to work tomorrow.  I found this recipe and halved it to make nine regular sized muffins.  I’ve still got enough blueberries to snack on and now I’ve got some muffin-liciousness for the freezer to enjoy when I get home.  Please don’t point out that I could have frozen the blueberries, it’s just not the same as fresh blueberry muffins.  Note on halving the recipe:  I used two eggs and a bit less milk (lowfat) to compensate; I used one small lemon since half a lemon tends to get tossed at my house.  Super yummy and not too sweet.  I skipped muffin papers and just sprayed my tins with canola oil spray and that worked fine.  Muffins need crunchy outsides!

Lower right – fooled you with this one.  I didn’t make peach jam (and probably never will) but I made the bread.  I checked The Bread Bible out of the library on a whim as it was sitting next to the book I was looking for and promptly started making bread!  I usually make my own bread using my favorite no knead wheat bread recipe, but I thought I’d give a different bread a try.  My first bread was Tyrolean Ten-Grain Torpedo bread and that was quite good – it needed more salt but that was my fault since I didn’t put enough in – dork.  My second bread is pictured with the Dry Creek Peach Jam and is Cracked Wheat Loaf and is sooooo amazingly delicious.  That will be my new house bread.  It’s that good.  I even bought the recipe book since I don’t want to be without it when the library wants it back.

Lower left is the hummingbird feeder, though not just hummingbirds enjoy the sugar water.  It’s birdy Grand Central around these parts.  My “recipe” is 1/2 c sugar and 2 c water boiled and cooled.  That seems to last for 6 or 7 days.  You should hear the squawking when that gets emptied.  Seriously demanding bird population.

What are your food faves?

Bananas

No that’s not an homage to that emaciated praying mantis stylist woman, I just think bananas are delish.  In fact my days of leisure prompted me to make a Banana Cake.  Please note this recipe is a cake, not banana bread, and is from Baking:  From My Home to Yours (D. Greenspan).  I regularly check this book out of the library and should really consider buying a copy.

If you’ve got bananas to use up this is a good candidate.  I used unsweetened coconut toasted, fat free cream and the rum (natch!).  I baked it in a bundt pan for an hour and it’s delish.  I like to cut it into nice slices, wrap in saranwrap and freeze so I can grab a slice if I’m heading to the airport at 3am.  Breakfast on the go.

Now I must go finish the fiddly bag I’m sewing.  Cute but…

This one’s hard to spell

My unbeaded version of Romi’s Celaeno is done!  It’s been pretty much done for awhile, but I just didn’t have time to finish the last of the knitting and block this.  But now that I’m back home I got on that.  I broke out the Thomas the Tank Engine blocking mat and went for it.  I even remembered to block points on this scarf (I forgot on the last scarf – Maia) and I think it’s a winner.  Romi’s patterns are just lacy enough for my taste and very wearable, plus they’re good travel projects.  This is from her 7 Small Shawls ebook, so next up is Elektra.  I guess I’ll be forced to yarn shop to find an appropriate yarn for Elektra…

What else is happening at casa de Sil?  I’m celebrating Christmas way early this year since I have to work from the 18th through the 31st with no time off for good behavior.  I’ve got to fit all my “must dos” into the next week and a half.  It can be done.  I started my “must” list with making SpindleRose’s caramels, these delicious candies are only made once a year.  This years batch came out super yummy because I finally figured out my candy thermometer is a bit slow.  This batch is chewy and rich.  Perfect!  Now I’m off to the gym to work off one or two of the pieces I had to taste test.  Had to!