I've been on a baking kick for the last couple of weeks. When I'm stressed, getting in the kitchen and working with my hands can be very soothing. So can the smells of freshly-baked-goodness wafting through the air after all the effort.
This past week we've had zucchini bread and applesauce breads made with my chunky spiced applesauce. (The batch I made for last Christmas turned out a little strong so it works perfectly to add texture and spice to these sweet breads.) I made some modifications to these recipes, omitting oil and nuts and changing spice amounts but they're great recipes to start with.
I've also tried two new chocolate chip cookie recipes, one fairly straight forward and one using vanilla pudding mix. Both are excellent but I'm working on merging them to get the perfect flavor of one with the structure of the other.
For the baptism party I made a wonderful bundt called Too Much Chocolate Cake. Instead of topping it with a glaze or frosting I opted for cool whip (Kool Wheep!) and fresh strawberries and it was a perfect compliment.
Last Thursday I made a batch of pull apart dinner rolls but they did not turn out as well as I would have hoped. I like my rolls to be light and buttery but these were quite dense and the flavor wasn't quite right. (Though it could also have been in my conversions, I cut the recipe by a 1/3 but some ingredients aren't easily converted, like the 2 eggs. uhh....)
Yesterday was my first attempt at soft pretzels. The dough came together easily and I decided to try a few different ideas with it. I believe the total weight of dough was just over 2 lbs and with that I made 3 hoagie rolls, 6 pretzels and 3 wrapped hot dogs. They cooked up easily and tasted great, though not anything I would normally consider as a pretzel. We also didn't have kosher salt to top them with so they were just brushed with melted butter. Next time I will be trying a recipe from my Bakers Dozen cookbook.
It's been busy in the kitchen lately, but baking is something I really enjoy. It allows me to channel some of my need to be creative and productive and also give something useful and enjoyable to my family. Next on my list are pizza bread, bagels and cinnamon buns.