Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Why, hello blogging world! It’s been a minute… or a year and a half!? Goodness gracious!

bakeAlthough not lately, this blog has seen me through many changes in my life. I started this blog shortly after getting married, documented what I was baking while serving lattes at Starbucks, waxed poetic about healthy eating and cake decorating simultaneously while baking at Whole Foods. The last post I wrote on here was an attempt to keep up with the blog just a little since I had put it on my resume for Arizmendi! (apparently they didn’t look at it anyway… haha!)

This morning, I am coming to this abandoned-but-not-forgotten space with a head full of decisions to make and a heart full of gratitude for the time I had with my amazing co-owners/co-bakers/friends at Arizmendi. My time as a co-owner and baker at Arizmendi Bakery has been enriching, challenging, fun, freeing, and wonderful in so many ways, but it is drawing to a close.

bakersI hope to write a longer post about Arizmendi soon, but for right now, I need to figure out what I have learned about myself from my time at Arizmendi that will give me a clue as to what to do next. I have two very different possibilities on the table right now: I go in for a tryout at the Sacramento bakery of my dreams tomorrow. The position I am trying out for is for a swing shift (11pm to 7 am!) cake decorator. It will probably be a pay cut for me. BUT it will be a quick commute, my cake decorating skills will soar, and it is a place I would like to be able to stay and work my way up and around in. It is in line with my current long-term goals of decorating wedding cakes.

The second opportunity is to work for a larger company with awesome pay, benefits, and schedule, but I would be sacrificing the development of my skills as a baker as they only make about 20% of their product from scratch. I would gain management skills, as it is a supervisor position.

ladiesWhat have I loved about Arizmendi? I love the people… I love not having a boss and being equal to everyone I work with despite age, experience, or seniority. I love working with my hands every day and creating something delicious and amazing. I love seeing something that’s not working well or could work better and finding a solution or a system for it. I love that every day is the same and different all at the same time.

What I haven’t loved… being tired all the time. Having very little time with Mr. Webb or friends outside of the bakery. Commuting and traffic.

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Just a mini ramble trying to sort out my thoughts! I am a tumble of emotion right now between thinking about leaving a job and people I love but knowing it’s the right thing to do… feeling excited about the next job but unsure about which is the best choice… excitement about a new adventure in a new town and a new house with Mr. Webb… being closer to hubby’s family and some friends!

I need to remember to not be afraid of making the wrong choice, because it doesn’t have to be forever. Our actions have consequences, but we also have the power to change our lives at any time.

<3, Mrs. Webb

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A Bride and Groom Cake

wilcoxcake1A couple of our friends are getting married in a little over a week. (!!!) For some crazy reason, they are trusting me with making their wedding cake. The only reason I’m not completely hyperventilating is because it is their wedding cake, but it’s not the wedding cake. They ordered a plethora of cupcakes from a professional bakery for their guests, and they asked me to make a cake just for the two of them to cut into. Of course, when they asked, I jumped at the chance, as making wedding cakes is a dream of mine! And what an honor! Thanks Matt and Cassandra!

The bride is a super sweet second year teacher and about as far from a “bridezilla” as can be. Working off of her request for strawberry shortcake, which is traditionally more of a biscuit with whipped cream, I made a buttery yellow cake, stuffed it with fresh strawberries, and frosted it with a super light vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. As whipped cream wouldn’t have survived the Fresno heat, I think this cake is a pretty good stand-in. Strawberry shortcake all dressed up for her wedding day, perhaps? I just hope the bride and groom love it as much as I loved making it!

Carrot & Pineapple Cake for Dad

creamcheesecakedad2Hello blogging world!

Just checking in to say that Mrs. Webb is still indeed in the kitchen! (she’s just not been at the computer or behind her camera in a while)

Maybe you recall last year, if you’ve been with me for a while, when I made and sent my Dad carrot cake cookies in the mail. This year, I also was not able to see my Dad for his birthday, as he and my Mom were on a one-month road trip around the United States. Lucky them! However, as soon as they returned and I had an excuse to visit, I busted out my cake pans, grabbed a pound of carrots and a heap of cream cheese, and created my Dad’s favorite treat in honor of his missed birthday.

creamcheesecakedadI used an Ina Garten recipe, which called for a whole pound of carrots and had the interesting addition of diced pineapple. It resulted in very moist and flavorful cake that was still very toothy due to the cup each of walnuts and raisins inside. My Dad swore that this was the best carrot cake he’d ever had!

I envisioned a cake completely covered in rosettes (great how-to video here!), but as I ran out of frosting, I had to improvise a bit. Before I added the mini pearl candies around the border, the cake looked rather off-balance and top-heavy, but the border seemed to do the trick. These photos make it a little bit difficult to see, but I also added clusters of pearl candies on some of the rosette centers and sprinkled crystal sugar for extra sparkle. Don’t tell my Dad, but that gingerbread square that Happy Birthday was written on? That may or may not have been left over from a ginger bread house that never came to be back when my friend Amy and I got together in December! This cake was made in April, but still… it’s amazing how long gingerbread lasts!

I highly recommend making this carrot cake next time someone you love in your life requires a carrot cake. As for me, this may be the last recipe I ever need to try!

Check out the recipe here!

creamcheesecakedad3PS- Click here to see what I made for Mom this year! I didn’t get out my camera in time, but I snapped an instagram shot! It’s a tribute to her favorite childhood dessert, the Hostess Snoball!

Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two: Valentine’s Day Blog Swap!

heart shaped french toast - photo 1Valentine’s Day is almost here! As a special treat, today my humble little blog is being visited by my good friend Amy of Foods For the Soul!

Amy is a stellar photographer and baker, and has me salivating over every post with her healthier takes on meals and desserts. Not only does this girl have some serious blogger style, but we were also friends in high school! We had a lot in common then, and after a recent reconnection, have found that we still do. Back in the day, we looked up funny words in the back of our French textbooks, roomed together during at least one marching band trip, and even dated the same guy (but not at the same time). Nowadays, we share a love of running, baking, and food blogging.

Without further ado, I bring you my sweet friend Amy of Foods For the Soul and her heart-shaped french toast for two!

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After dessert, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I have a huge weakness for the baked treats—blueberry scones and cinnamon rolls and streusel-topped coffee cake. What girl wouldn’t, with a sweet tooth as big as mine?

But then there’s my guy, who skips breakfast nearly every day. He prefers eating a second lunch or extra savory snack, unless I toss him a fresh bagel as he heads out the door. Even then, it better not be sweet! Try poppy seed, onion, or—for the indecisive days—an everything bagel.

So I thought it’d be impossible to cook a breakfast we could both enjoy for Valentine’s Day (let alone have it be romantic!). But when I cracked eggs into a bowl to make french toast last weekend, he moseyed into the kitchen and snuck a taste while I flipped the second round of bread in the pan. He even asked me to pass the maple syrup when I handed him a plate!

February 14th just might start out on a sweet note after all!

heart shaped french toast - photo 2Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two
serves 2

You can make French toast bites out of the extra bread! Just slice into rectangular shapes and cook like normal.

6 slices wheat bread
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
¼ c. skim milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

  1. Cut each slice of bread into a heart shape using a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a large pan with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat for 1-2 min on the stove over medium-low heat. While the pan heats, whisk together the remaining ingredients (egg through nutmeg, if using) in a pie tin or bowl with a flat bottom.
  3. Dip both sides of one slice of the prepared bread in the egg wash, and cook for 2 min on each side in the preheated pan, or until browned. Repeat with the remaining bread. Serve hot with butter, syrup, jam, or powdered sugar.

heart shaped french toast - photo 3Mrs. Webb says…

If that doesn’t have you frantically heating up a skillet and digging out your heart shaped cookie cutters, I don’t know what will! For more sweet and healthy treats, I recommend checking out Amy’s Fudgy Beet Brownies and her Peanut Butter Nutella Popcorn Balls, the latter of which I actually got to taste!

Oh, and be sure to check out my Valentine’s guest post on Foods For the Soul today, where I show you how to make Truffle Stuffed Strawberries- a fun spin on a classic dessert!

Grapefruit Mini Scones for Two

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For as long as I can remember, my Dad had a grapefruit with his breakfast daily. Cut in half and sprinkled with a little blue packet of Equal, it was a part of his morning ritual and a fond memory of my childhood.

Occasionally, he would prepare one for me the same way as he prepared his, except he would sprinkle real sugar on top rather than the imitation stuff. If I wasn’t having a grapefruit of my own, he would sometimes squeeze a bit of the juice at the end into a large spoon and let me drink it. The best part, in my opinion!

All grown up and in my own kitchen, I still eat grapefruit occasionally. Today, I decided to do so in the form of a scone. Last year, I posted a recipe for a small batch of strawberry scones. Over the year, not much has changed: Mr. Webb still doesn’t love breakfast, but he will get out of bed for a scone (or three!).

Grapefruit Mini Scones

makes 6 mini scones

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grapefruit zest
  • 1/6 cup COLD butter
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeeze grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 T fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. grapefruit zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Sift together the first six ingredients, and then cut in the butter using a pastry blender or a hand mixer on low speed. The butter should be combined into the dry ingredients only to the point where the texture still looks coarse and there are still pea-sized chunks of butter.
  3. Combine the remaining three wet ingredients, and mix into the butter mixture just until everything is wet. Do not over-mix: I usually do this step with a spoon rather than a hand mixer to ensure that the dough does not become too smooth. The beauty of the scone is the flaky, buttery texture that is a result of the butter not being fully incorporated.
  4. Form the dough into a 3/4 inch tall disk, and then cut into six triangles. Spread the triangles out onto a parchment-covered sheetpan, and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk all glaze ingredients together, and after the scones have cooled for about five minutes, drop a spoonful of glaze onto each.

Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies!

pbcookies2Mmm… double. Double can be good, double can be bad.

Double scoop of ice cream? Good. Double shift at work because someone called out sick? Probably bad. Double date? Well, that’s just awkward…

Throw aside any and all preconceptions you carry of things that are double, and allow yourself to embrace the peanutbutter on peanutbutter goodness that is these little sandwich cookies!

pbcookies1Inspired by these cookies, I’ve scaled down the size of the cookie and swapped out the marshmallow creme for a luscious peanutbutter buttercream found in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I normally stay far away from buttercream, as it tastes a little too much like pure butter for my taste (imagine that! buttercream tasting like butter! ha!), but I could not stop stealing swipes of this stuff straight from the bowl.

To sum this cookie up further, all I can say is: good thing I run!

This is the first of my Fancy Friday posts. And I had so much fun doing it! True, peanut butter cookies are probably the least fancy dessert I could have come up with- but that’s the beauty of these babies. They are simple at heart, but the filling takes them to the next level. Be sure to read my note about these cookies the very bottom of the page before you are ready to make them!

pbcookies3Peanutbutter Cookies*

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural, worked great)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Or, if you’re old-school, mix with a large wooden spoon until incorporated.
  2. Make 48 balls of dough, about 10 grams per piece. Spread out on a couple of cookie sheets, and press down with a fork.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F, or until edges are crispy. Mine were done at ten minutes.

Peanutbutter Buttercream Filling

  • 1 egg white (from an extra large egg)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 4 oz butter (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup + 3 T creamy peanut butter
  • dash of salt
  1. Place the first measurement of sugar in a saucepan with the water. Stir to moisten the sugar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. While sugar water is simmering, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with its whisk attachment. Start whipping at medium speed, and gradually add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites are beginning to form loose peaks.
  3. (back to the stove!) When the sugar has dissolved into the water (should be at 248 F), remove the pan from the heat and begin adding the syrup to the whites, whipping on medium-low speed. Be sure to add the hot syrup slowly and to add it between the side of the bowl and the whites- so as not to cook the egg!
  4. When all the syrup is added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and allow to whip for 15 minutes, or until the whites are holding stiff peaks.
  5. Add the butter, in cut pieces, a few pieces at a time while the mixer is on medium speed.
  6. After all the butter is added, turn it up to top speed for a few second until it looks emulsified.
  7. Scrape all of the buttercream into a smaller container, and then measure 1 cup + 3 T back into the mixer bowl. Add the peanut butter and the salt, and use the paddle attachment to combine.
  8. Pipe the finished peanutbutter buttercream on top of the underside of one cookie and sandwich another half on top. Enjoy!

*Note: Mr. Webb and I agreed- this cookie was better the second day after spending the night at room temp in a covered container! They got softer overnight, preventing the buttercream from squishing out between the crispy cookies and making a mess. If you are going to bring these to a party or to a friend’s house, make them ahead!

Vitamin C Pancakes: aka bachelor pad flapjacks.

This past weekend, I finally made the four hour drive to where my only brother goes to college to spend some quality sibling bonding time. He showed me around his beautiful campus, pointed out the spots that he likes to hang out around town on the weekends, and took me to a local burger joint overrun with students. We bowled a couple of games at the student center (the worst of my life, may I add?), and spent almost two hours wandering up and down a very long, fantastically lit and Christmas-happy street.

All that to say, it was a very fun and activity-full weekend! Sustenance was badly needed.

vitaminCpancakes1

The last morning I was there, I offered to whip up some pancakes for us. (My brother, looking surprised, asked, “Did you bring a pancake mix?” Haha, love him!) I knew that he had ingredients in his house for at least making chocolate chip cookies, so I assumed that I was going to be able to make something happen for us. After surveying his pantry and finding flour and baking soda but no baking powder, and checking his fridge to find milk but no eggs, I realized I may have more of a challenge than I had expected.

A quick google search of “pancakes without eggs” turned up a plethora of recipes for pancakes with baking powder. A google search of “pancakes without baking soda” turned up a myriad of recipes containing eggs and/or buttermilk. I thought that perhaps I should hold up the white flag and declare cereal for breakfast.

vitaminCpancakes2

The food nerd in me (and my promise to my brother) caused me to press on. I found that the difference between baking soda and baking powder is this: baking soda needs something acidic to react with to create the gas that causes the bread/pancakes to rise. Baking powder is simply comprised of 1/3 baking soda and 1/3 acidic substance, and reacts and releases gas when wet. So, I had baking soda, and I needed something acidic to put in my pancakes to get them to rise:

And it was then that I saw the near-empty container of orange juice lurking in the back of my brother’s refrigerator.

My final google search led me to a recipe that replaced all of the liquid with orange juice, but still contained eggs. With zero eggs and running low on google-search steam, I simply omitted the eggs and doubled the baking soda, hoping that they would get enough rise.

vitaminCpancakes4

To my great surprise (and my brothers’ as well, who looked at my recipe for “orange juice pancakes” and raised his eyebrows), these turned out to be some of the best tasting and fluffiest pancakes I have ever made. The orange flavor was barely detectable if noticeable at all, and thus provided a great backdrop for toppings of your choosing.

Also on the plus side: these pancakes are completely vegan, full of Vitamin C from the OJ, and can be made from the contents of a bachelor pad refrigerator! That’s a win on all accounts, I think.

Vitamin C Pancakes (Bachelor Pad Flapjacks)

serves 2, well

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 T orange juice
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  1. Heat a skillet to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients, and add orange juice and oil. Whisk until combined.
  3. Drop onto skillet by 1/4 cup, flip over once top is covered in little bubbles.
  4. Allow to cook for about two minutes more, and remove from skillet.

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The original- my brother’s plate, drenched in syrup and smothered in whipped cream. Could he have perhaps been influenced by Buddy the Elf? We watched that movie the night before…