I like making bread. It’s a bad habit really since when I make the bread, I usually eat the bread. But fresh, homemade bread is SO yummy and nothing like the kind you get in stores. I’ve been experimenting with bread for a while now. From the easy (beer bread) to the more difficult (honey whole wheat bread), it’s been a big adventure.
For our wedding, we got a bread maker. And Q was hesitant. Why make our bread in a machine when you do it so well without one? And I said, let’s give it a whirl. So we did and we loved it.
It’s definitely a different experience than doing your own by hand. There isn’t any kneading or forming loaves (which sometimes is the fun part), but it sure was easy! All you do is measure your ingredients precisely, layer them in the exact order the recipe calls for, hit ON and in 2-3 hours you have a fancy looking loaf of delicious bread.
We started with the easiest loaf in the recipe book (why challenge ourselves first thing?) and although there was a little learning curve (lots of new parts, measuring just right, new ingredients like milk powder), it was pretty simple.
I always think homemade bread tastes best just out of the oven (with a little rest time to cool down) and then the next few days reheated in the toaster oven. I also am a big fan of freezing half my loaves immediately after they come out of the oven. This keeps them nice and fresh when I defrost them! This also prevents me from gobbling up the whole loaf all at once…
So this is the simple bread maker recipe that we used for our first loaf (basic white bread). And this is the fancy bread maker we got (I highly recommend it!).
Do you have a bread maker? What is your favorite loaf to make? I’m eager to experiment with things like cinnamon raisin bread and sourdough!
Q and I are currently on a ferry headed from Alaska to Washington with no internet or cell service. I will respond to comments as soon as I can!
This is the first cake I’ve ever made from scratch. Can you believe it? I mean I’ve done my fair share of Funfetti and boxed mixes, but this is my first real cake! I wanted to surprise Q when he came home from his training in Georgia with all of his favorite things: cake, whiskey, cheese and crackers and Riesens.
I got started early in the day (cakes take time!) and got all my mise en place (prep work) ready. To begin you have to grease your cake pans and line them with parchment paper. There is a great little tutorial on TheKitchn on how to do this here. Then you make your cake batter, pour it into two pans, let it cool and frost! I know this sounds so easy, but if you’ve baked anything before (bread, loaves, muffins), you are going through the same motions, it just is a little bit more complex and time consuming!
So the consensus? Q loved it. I loved it. And then we immediately gave it all away (it helps when you have a company of hungry Army men not too far away). With this wedding coming our way in 3+ weeks, we couldn’t be tempted with that cake in the house! It is delicious, moist, just coconutty enough without going overboard. After the first day, the best way to eat it is after a quick 20-second nuke in the microwave. The frosting begins to melt and the cake comes back to life! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 45-55 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours (with a little cooling in between)
For the cake:
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
- 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (If you don’t have a sifter, use a whisk and mix together for at least a minute). With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. (I like to bang my pans on the countertop so the batter spreads evenly.) Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling. (Be careful and use your hand to catch the cake as you turn it over).
- For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth, about 1 minute (don’t whip!).
- To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe based on Ina Garten
So ya, I made my first cake. And it was so delicious!