Friday, April 23, 2010

Homemade Pizza (dough recipe from: Martha Stewart)

Pizza Dough
Makes four 12-inch pizzas. Make the night before and let it rise in the fridge so it's ready to go the next day.

-2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce envelope)
-2 cups warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
-5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
-2 teaspoons fine sea salt
-Extra-virgin olive oil, for bowl
-toppings (sauce, cheese, meat/veggies of your choosing....see below for our favs)

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour; continue adding flour (up to 1/2 cup), 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead with lightly floured hands. Start by slapping the dough onto the counter, pulling it toward you with one hand and pushing it away from you with the other. Fold the dough back over itself (use a bench scraper or a wide knife to help scrape dough from surface). Repeat until it's easier to handle, about 10 times.

3. Finish kneading normally until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but a little tacky, about 10 minutes.

4. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, 2 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it's done; an indent should remain.

5. Scrape dough out of the bowl onto floured surface, and cut it into 4 pieces. Shape into balls. Dust with flour, and cover with plastic. Transfer to refrigerator, let rise overnight.

When ready to bake:

6. Place a pizza stone (these range from really expensive to mine which is ~$10 from Target) on floor of a gas oven (remove racks) or bottom rack of electric oven. Preheat oven to at least 500 degrees.

7. Shape dough into a round. Holding top edge of dough round in both hands, let bottom edge touch work surface. Carefully move hands around edge to form a circle, as if turning a wheel.

Hold dough on back of your hand, letting its weight stretch it into a 12-inch round. Transfer dough to a pizza peel (or an inverted baking sheet) lightly dusted with semolina flour (I've used all-purpose flour instead and it works fine, but the bottom of the crust is floured). Press out edges using your fingers. Jerk peel; if dough sticks, lift, and dust more flour underneath.

8. This is where the toppings come in! My favorite is a blend of Martha's Oven-Dried Heirloom Tomato Pizza and Margherita pizza and for Mike, a BBQ Hawaiian Pizza.

9. For my pizza: Drizzle olive oil over pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange soft mozzarella cheese evenly over olive oil. Top with tomatoes (slice and roast in the oven first until slightly dried) and basil leaves; season with salt and pepper. I like to add prosciutto to Martha's recipe and sprinkle Italian seasoning blend over the top.

10. Heat oven to broil. Align edge of peel with edge of stone. Tilt peel, jerking it gently to move pizza. When edge of pizza touches stone, quickly pull back peel to transfer pizza to stone. (Do not move pizza). Bake until crust is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pizza from oven using peel; drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired. Slice and serve.

Drizzle w/ olive oil just after taking out of the oven.

11. For Mike's BBQ Hawaiian Chicken Pizza: Spread your favorite BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's or my homemade version) over the crust. Top with chopped chicken, chopped pineapple, and sliced red onion. Cover with shredded cheese (Michael likes his cheese over his toppings; personally, I like it the other way around, but doesn't really matter) and sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend. Finish the same as above.

printable recipe

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Michael's 2nd Birthday Cake - The Sailboat

Since I was eager to use my new pans, I decided to make Michael another birthday cake to have with our neighbors.

1. Grease pan by brushing with Crisco.

2. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour and shake to cover.

3. Bake for 40-45 min until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

5. Frost the sides and background space of the cake first.

6. Outline the edges of the picture.

7. Frost the inside of the picture.
8. Frost along the edge of the cake.

9. Add the writing.

My New Cake Pans!

I've always said that when I retire, I'd like to open a bakery, and maybe even do some baking for people on the side in the meantime (in addition to what I do already just for fun). Well, I recently took a big step in that direction after a call from my dear friend, Shawna, asking me if I would want any of her Grandma's old aluminum cake pans. (Turns out, her Grandma was a professional baker and had acquired quite the collection of pans. ) Obviously, I couldn't even begin to turn down the opportunity, and I am now the owner of over 130 character/shaped cake pans. I feel so blessed that Shawna thought of me, and that her family allowed me to be a part of something that was so special to their Mom/Grandma. I can't even begin to thank you all enough. :)

So, this is not my usual post, but one dedicated to showing off my new pan collection, so that you can all see what I have and start making requests! (And it's just fun to see all the old cartoon characters and such.)

1. rocking horse
2. swan
3. umbrella w/ bow
4. butterfly
5. hot air balloon
6. Eleroo (from Wuzzles)

7. star (big) - Shawna, there are two, so I kept the other out for ya
8. star (small)
9. cheeseburger
10. question mark (for all life's questionable moments)
11. American flag (13 stars)
12. gumball machine
14. contiguous USA map

15. Mickey Mouse
16. Minnie Mouse
17. Goofy
18. Donald Duck w/ cake
19. Donald Duck
20. Donald Duck w/ gift

21. A Ghost! (Friends fans will appreciate that one)
22. Jack-o-lantern
23. scarecrow
24. turkey
25. witch on broom

26. Noel candle
27. Frosty w/ broom
28. snowman
29. toy soldier
30. xmas tree
31. gingerbread man
32. large bells (could also be wedding bells)

33. Santa in sleigh
34. Santa face
35. Santa w/ bag
36. small bells
37. Rudolph
38. wreath
39. xmas tree shape (small)
40. bell shape (small)

41. angel
42. Easter basket w/ eggs
43. baby chick hatching from egg
44. lamb
45 Easter bunny

46. Cabbage Patch baby
47. Be Mine heart
48. cupid w/ heart
49. I heart you
50. stork w/ package
51. teddy bear

52. Snoopy (Red Barron)
53. Ziggy (from comic strip)
54. Garfield
55. Garfield w/ piece of cake
56. Bumblelion (from Wuzzles)
57. Charlie Brown w/ baseball mit
58. Smurfette
59. Popple w/ heart

60. Pink Panther w/ saxophone
61. Pink Panther w/ sign
62. Popeye w/ spinach
63. Yogi Bear
64. Fred Flintstone
65. Scooby-Doo

66. Big Bird w/ blocks or gifts
67. Bert and Earnie
68. Big Bird in nest
69. Cookie Monster
70. Oscar the Grouch
71. Big Bird face

72. T Rex
73. dog
74. fish
75. lobster (small)
76. cat
77. kitten w/ ball
78. puppy w/ ball

79. Braveheart Lion (from Care Bears)
80. Bugs Bunny w/ carrot
81. Porky Pig in plane
82. Yosimete Sam
83. Jiminy Cricket (small)
84. Pluto (small)
85. Bugs Bunny (small, w/ faceplate)

86. cartoon bear (small)
87. mouse (can decorate to look like Mickey)
88. Alf
89. Moose on skates
90. Barney
91. cheerleader dog
92. My Little Pony

93. football player
94. football helmet
95. golf clubs
96. tennis shoe
97. bowling pins (2)
98. spade (small)
99. club (small)
100. diamond (small)

101. C-3PO
102. R2-D2
103. astronaut
104. Star Wars Boba Fett
105. wizzard w/ crystal ball

106. He-Man
107. Ninja Turtle
108. Power Ranger
109. Ninja Turtle face

110. Doll (small)
111. # 4
112. #3
113. house (small)
114. ballerina bear
115. doll (big)
116. graduation owl

117. boxer / superhero
118. Hulk Hogan
119. Handsom Man
120. Pretty Lady

121. van
122. truck w/ cap
123. car
124. jeep
125. semi truck
126. VW beetle
127. old car (small)

128. space shuttle
129. sailboat
130. small train
131. train (2 pans, 3D cake)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Michael's Chocolate Strawberry Checkerboard Cake

The first of Michael's two birthday cakes - he requested a chocolate and strawberry checkerboard cake with chocolate fudge icing. So here it is:

Chocolate Strawberry Checkerboard Cake

-1 chocolate cake
-1 strawberry cake
(These can be from scratch or a box mix. For this one, I made the chocolate cake from scratch per my Betty Crocker Cookbook and the Strawberry cake from a mix. I did, however, add some flour to the strawberry cake so that it was closer to the consistency of the other cake. This is important for the checkerboard method since each layer will consist of both kinds of cake.)
-Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Icing (recipe from:
-fresh strawberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9" cake pans. (I like to use parchment paper along the bottoms so the cakes release easier.)

2. Prepare cakes according to package or recipe directions.

3. To create the checkerboard appearence when cut, make two posterboard circles per pan (1-19" and 1-10" circumference) and use as a guide to make 3 concentric circles in each pan. The middle layer should be Strawberry-Chocolate-Strawberry, and the outside layers Chocolate-Strawberry-Chocolate. Using gallon ziplock bags, pipe the cake into the pans, trying to make each layer about even in depth.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Be sure to test both cake flavors since they may not cook exactly even.)

5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. In the meantime, make the icing. Once cooled, cut the rounded tops off each layer to prevent the cakes from cracking and help keep the cake from being uneven when assembled.

6. Assemble the cake by placing the C-S-C layer on the bottom, spreading with icing, and covering with the S-C-S layer. Again, cover with a layer of icing and place the final layer on top. (I like to place the top layer upside-down so that the bottom is on top. This makes for a nice flat surface on the top of the cake and makes it easier to spread the icing.)

7. Spread remaining icing over the cake and decorate with fresh strawberries.

(here is the checkerboard effect when you cut it)

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Icing


-1 cup butter
-1/2 cup shortening
-2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-4 cups confectioners' sugar
-4 tablespoons milk
-2 cups hot fudge topping
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Cream together the butter or margarine with the shortening.

2. Sift the cocoa with the confectioners' sugar and add to the creamed mixture. Mix together adding 1 tablespoon at a time of milk to keep mixture smooth. Don't add more than 1/4 cup of milk.

3. Add the hot fudge topping and the vanilla extract. Blend until smooth and creamy.