Category: “Lola”

Happy birthday, Cupcake Rehab.

Happy birthday, Cupcake Rehab!

Happy 8th birthday, Cupcake Rehab!

Wow. I cannot believe it’s been EIGHT YEARS. Insane! Yes, I know, it’s unbelievable but this past Saturday, September 12th, was Cupcake Rehab‘s 8th birthday. Eight. 8. Ocho. I’m kinda in shock. It really does seem just like yesterday that I started this blog over at, way back in 2007. Since then, so many things have changed.

Jay and I adopted Indy. Jay got me a KitchenAid mixer which I named Lola (the Cook For the Cure pink one, of course) and a much better camera (Canon EOS Rebel t4i). We bought a house. We got married. We lost our Arwyn just a few weeks ago. And my mom- one of the main impetus for me even starting to bake & cook at all, and back then when I started this blog was still undergoing treatment- is now a NINE YEAR SURVIVOR of breast cancer, and a volunteer with the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Program.

I’d like to think my photography has gotten a lot better. And I think my recipe development has too. I’ve grown in both my cooking and my baking, and I’ve started canning and preserving as well. I’ve matured, and so has the blog. It’s shaped me, just as I’ve shaped it.

It's Cupcake Rehab's 8th birthday! Make these adorable vanilla cupcakes for two.

And the people I’ve met? Oh wow. From fellow bloggers to the people who “like” Cupcake Rehab on Facebook, to my Instagram and Twitter followers. They are all AMAZING. I’ve made some fantastic friends through having this blog. I’ve been exposed to things I never thought possible. I’ve made contacts and networked and enjoyed every single minute of it.

Every single day has been fun & exciting.

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Another year older (and deeper in debt) …plus donuts.

Happy birthday to me! So, I am officially 34 years old! Holy balls. Time fucking flies, man. All you youngin’s out there, take heed. The years begin to move by so quickly you won’t have time to even comprehend it. Yes- another year has passed, and what a year it was! As the song says “Another year (day) older and deeper in debt…”

We faced illness and overcame it. We got married, and we bought a house. Here’s Lola (one of my favorite birthday gifts ever) at home, in her natural habitat: the kitchen.

Lola the mixer, at home.(Painting by the lovely and talented Mrs. Christine Comis-Villareal)


Lots of things can happen in one year, clearly. Lots of good, maybe some bad. But it all balances out in the end. I decided to skip the “Life List” this year, because honestly? After all the bullshit this year I’m just glad to be here- literally and figuratively. I’m thankful for so many things & people, thankful that I’m healthy and here to celebrate another birthday.

I’m also thankful for donuts.

Baked chocolate donuts with pink icing!

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Sweet little s’mores meringues.

I love making meringue. Ever since Lola came into my life, it’s been easier than ever. But even with my hand mixer (better known as He Who Must Not Be Named), it’s pretty simple. And fast. I haven’t made them in years, though. I figured it was time. And now that I have a new oven… Well, it doesn’t matter the reason. There’s never a bad reason for cookies.

So yeah, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a while: meringues.

Meringues turned into s'mores? YES.

And meringues- or meringue in general- is extremely easy to make, if you have a mixer. Even a not-so-strong mixer can handle making meringue. I do recommend a stand mixer, however. Mainly because you can walk away & just let the mixer do its thing, without standing there with your arm feeling like it might fall off. I will say, though, that meringue has been made in France & Switzerland since before 1692, and they didn’t have stand (or hand) mixers. So it’s definitely possible… it just isn’t as easy.

But its still easier than mixing cheesecake by hand. Did I ever tell you about the time I broke a mixer on cheesecake batter? It was cray x 100.

Okay, anyway. Back to the subject at hand. Yep. These are meringues. However… not just any meringues:

S'mores meringues: vanilla meringues dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs.

Meringue cookies are actually quite simple. Even more simple than your average chocolate chip cookie, really. They require 3 ingredients, the mixing is 1-2-3 and the baking time isn’t very important to get perfect since they need to be “dried” in the oven anyway. The roughest part is the mixing- or the creation of the foamy egg whites (or worse yet, the notorious “stiff peaks”). And the chocolate sauce is really easy too, I swear.

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Cookie jars, pink cookies, and a giveaway.


Okay everyone… the winner is… SARAH! Comment #73 (the last comment)! Congrats Sarah! I’m e-mailing you now. Thanks everyone for entering.


I have a kind of obsession with cupcake cookie jars. I love all cookie jars, actually, and one of my favorites- not to mention my pride & joy in this particular arena- is a vintage 1930’s Minnie/Mickey Mouse one that belonged to my great grandmother Mary (whom I’m named for, kinda sorta). But I really love ones shaped like cupcakes, for obvious reasons. I’ve got four so far: one pink & blue, one black/orange/white for Halloween, one that’s all patriotic & red/white/blue and then this, my newest addition from Sourpuss Clothing.

So… you wanna see my new addition?

HOW CUTE IS THAT. Adorable. I’ve been lusting over a cupcake cookie jar with a skull on top forever now! And one that isn’t in Halloween colors. That’s kinda hard to find, ’cause for some strange reason people associate skulls just with Halloween. Weird. Oh, and you see those super cute little pink gingham cupcake towels underneath it? Yeah, I got those too. And an apron to match! CCO. Crazy cuteness overload.

Me & Sourpuss Clothing go back a long way, back to when Cupcake Rehab was just a baby blog. They have the most unique housewares for the most unique homebodies among us. I love them. So much so, in fact, that in addition to a Cupcake Rehab sticker, Lola actually sports a Sourpuss sticker too!

So yeah, they’re pretty freakin’ awesome. And they sent me this awesome cookie jar. And when I get a new cookie jar, it makes me want to make cookies to fill it with. And what cookies would I fill it with but pink cookies!? And what’s better than cookies with M&M’s? And how about if they’re coconut M&M’s? Pretty much makes them automatically awesome. Yep, I braved the high humidity & to make cookies just to fill my new cookie jar. I’m kinda insane. But you knew that.


Now, you probably don’t need another cookie recipe (but I’m gonna give you one anyway). Come on. THEY’RE PINK.



  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • a dash of Wilton Rose or Christmas Red food coloring gel, or another color if desired
  • 1 small bag coconut M&M’s (for these I only used the white & brown colored ones) or regular M&M’s, or chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips… or whatever the hell you want!


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Prepare baking sheets by covering them with parchment.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars and vanilla in a seperate, larger bowl until creamy. Add egg whites, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add food coloring, mix until combined. Adjust until you get the desired color. Stir in M&M’s.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonful on to greased baking sheets. Add more M&M’s on top, if desired.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden on the bottoms & puffy. Cool cookies on sheets on wire rack for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Side note: striped paper straws make everything, including milk, taste better. True story. Thanks Yoyo for sending me a bunch, I love them.

So maybe you didn’t need that cookie recipe.

What you do need, however, is that cookie jar. Amirite? You totally, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt need that cookie jar in your life. And I want to give it to you. I really do. ‘Cause I’m nice like that. And Sourpuss Clothing is nice, too, which is why they’re making it possible that one of you lucky dogs out there will in fact end up with a cookie jar.

You will not, sadly, get the cookies too. Those you have to make yourself. So… what do you have to do to get this cookie jar?

  • First, and most important, you have to tell me something: if you were to win this cookie jar, would you like it in aqua or pink? And why? ‘Cause it matches your mixer? Your kitchen? It’s your favorite color? Do tell.
  • Finally… tell everyone in your social network about it! Copy and paste the following into a tweet or post it on your Facebook page for an extra entry (then come back & let me know)-

I just entered to win a cupcake cookie jar from @SourpussBrand at @CupcakeRehab! And guess what? You can too:

And that’s it. Super easy peasy. Two different chances to win for each of you. I’ll select a winner at midnight via This little giveaway ends at midnight on June 19th. I’ll announce the winner here and also e-mail them right away to let ’em know the awesome news- so make sure you leave a valid e-mail address with your comments. ‘Cause I know you’ll be having trouble sleeping with excitement.

Hey there, (peanut butter chocolate with a pretzel on top) cupcake.

It’s been a long time since I made anything with peanut butter. Yeah, I’ve made peanut butter chocolate fudge about a year ago, and some peanut butter ice cream, but I haven’t actually baked with it since April of 2010! And I had some really yummy Trader Joe’s peanut butter hangin’ around. So of course, I started thinking about what I could bake with it. Ahhh… cupcakes! I hadn’t made ’em in a while. Not with frosting, anyway. And the last time I made peanut butter cupcakes, they were Fluffernutter cupcakes. Kid stuff. So how about a fancier, more grown-up peanut butter cupcake, made with organic sea salt peanut butter? Mmm hmm. Maybe some pretty peanut butter frosting? Maybe chocolate chips, or a chocolate sauce?

And… what about throwin’ a pretzel on top? Just because. Just because I can, really.

I haven’t broken Lola out for a baking task in quite some time. So, I thought we’d bond a little over some frosting. That’s Lola *points to the photo to the right* Pretty, pretty Lola. Lola is one of the loves of my life that doesn’t have a heartbeat, but a motor. Seriously, getting her changed my baking life 100%. I didn’t know how deficient I was until she entered my world. Or rather, until my man gifted me with her. If you don’t have a stand mixer, and you bake a lot, you need one. Yes, hand mixers are great, and I love mine tons. But stand mixers are a different animal. Once you get one you’ll never want to use anything else and you’ll even try to stuff your pillow and blanket in the bowl to sleep in it. Or maybe not. I don’t really know anybody that crazy. Hah. Anyway. If you do not have one, and you’d like a chance at winning one (in a beautiful bright blue called ‘Crystal Blue’) then head on over to She’s Becoming DoughMessTic and enter to win it. You can’t really live without one, if you love to bake. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “It’s just a mixer” then you really have no freakin’ idea, buddy.

Okay, what was I saying? Oh. Cupcakes. Yah. Anyway… I wanted to get some baking done before the weather got crazy hot. Things have been so bizarre weather-wise; snow in October, practically no winter, then 80˚ degree temps in March, then almost two weeks of pouring rain straight. I can’t predict how the summer will be but just in case it’s hot as balls, I wanted to bake up some pretty cupcakes.


Makes from 12-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans & how much you fill them


  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ degrees F.
  2. Combine milk and vanilla in small bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in another small bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter, then oil, until combined. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly.
  4. When fully incorporated, add milk mixture. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Scoop into 12 lined baking cups and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I could’ve left it at this… but no…




  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk.
  2. Mix well, adding more milk as needed to make a fluffy spreadable frosting.

For the cupcakes, just be sure to fill the liners more than halfway so you get a nice rise. I could’ve filled mine more, clearly. You can use whatever kind of peanut butter you want. I obviously used an organic, natural one with a bit of grit. You can use super thick, smooth, crunchy, whatever. The frosting is a bit different. If you use crunchy peanut butter, you can’t really pipe it nicely, so you’ll want to use something smoother unless you want to slap it in a food processor. This frosting is so extremely creamy and soft, and perfectly peanut-ty. Some of the best ever. It pipes into big ol’ swirls of soft-serve-ice-cream looking frosting. Oh, how delicious it is. But no, I didn’t leave it at that, although I could have. And you can too. No. I went further.

So clearly, I made both of these recipes, then when the cupcakes were cooled, I frosted them with a large star tip. Then… then… then, I added the ganache. Yes, ganache. And then topped ’em with a little pretzel stick. And that was when they were done. My “ganache” is basically 2 tablespoons shortening with ½ cup -1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted until smooth (either in a microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between… or in a double boiler, or just very carefully in a saucepan, and I stress carefully because it will scorch). Ta-da! After being used, the ganache or sauce will harden into a firm, but not too hard layer of chocolate-y goodness. You could also frost on top of it once it’s firmed up, if you prefer. You can use this sauce hardened or in liquid form, it’s very versatile. If you let it harden, it will become the consistency of a soft truffle, almost. You can roll it into balls and dust it with cocoa powder and use it that way. However, it does melt easily in high humidity or heat. It’s the perfect chocolate sauce for topping a creamy peanut butter cupcake.

And you could top them with roasted peanuts if you want, but honestly, pretzels just go so well with peanut butter and chocolate.

While I’m on my way out: congratulations to Tim & Jana who got married yesterday, and a belated happy birthday to my “sister-in-law” Jen (also yesterday!). Cupcakes all around!

Eye of newt & toe of frog.

This year for Halloween, when it came to edibles, I was 100% inspired by Martha’s Halloween issue. Literally, 100%. I found the perfect cupcakes for Halloween, not to mention other treats & ideas that I just had to make (see picture on the right). Some of them you’ve already seen (like the pumpkin cupcakes, or the candy apples with witches’ attached!), but these are the pièce de résistance, if you will. Gorgeous green pistachio eye-of-newt & toe-of-frog cupcakes, complete with chocolate frogs! As soon as I saw them I just knew they’d be absolutely amazing, not to mention they’d look perfect on my table for Halloween. I told you I was completely inspired *ahem* by Queen Martha’s Halloween issue this year, didn’t I? I know I must have. Like I said, I haven’t had an original cupcaking thought in my pretty head all season, sadly. I’ve also been nursing a wicked painful back lately, which is actually most inopportune for a lot of reasons- but such is life when you get old like me you’ve got a chronic back problem, and on top of that I’ve been fighting (and losing) a battle with a hardcore cold. Bottom line is I needed some ideas. These cupcakes jumped out at me; regardless of what plans I had for Halloween these babies were going to be on the menu. Ghastly, ghostly, sickly green cupcakes accompanied by my lovely skull (with his friend The Rat & Mr. Tarantula), not to mention some extra (kinda cute) edible ‘croaking’ friends. I usually make cupcakes frosted high with tufts of perfectly piped buttercream… but not this time.

This time I wasn’t going to be frosting the little green-ish cakes, but glazing them in two different shades of green goo. Sounds yummy, right? Haha. At Halloween, anything is acceptable! And honestly, how could I possibly name them anything other than ‘Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog‘ cupcakes? I could not. I would be doing a disservice to my literary education as well as underestimating (or rather under-using) my quick wit.

So like any good witch would do, I took a break from drinking Egyptian Licorice tea, blowing my nose & rubbing Tylenol Precise on my back (sexy, I know), took out my magical mixer, Lola, and started to create some evil, er, delicious cupcakes. Lola may be pink, but she’s pretty diabolical. Together we whipped up some rather eerie yet delicious green-tinted pistachio cakes with green glaze & little frogs. The chocolate frogs are made from frog-shaped candy molds. I used chocolate Candy Melts (and Spooky Green colored melts to make the dots on them) and then brushed them with green pearl dust when they were cooled.

The irony is, my dad’s birthday is the 29th of October, so every year I try to make a big batch of cupcakes & use half for his birthday, half for Halloween. Some years it doesn’t quite work out, and I end up making two batches anyway. But it just so happens that this year he requested pistachio cupcakes weeks before Halloween, and I never mentioned the fact I had planned on making these. So killing two birds with one stone made everyone a happy camper this year. And who wouldn’t love chocolate frogs!? Even Harry Potter likes chocolate frogs! They’re clearly magical.

What an amazing looking set of cupcakes these turned out to be! And moist. And tasty. Who doesn’t love pistachio? I admittedly amped up the ‘nut’ flavor with some almond extract myself (which I included in the recipe below), but if you’re a purist you can just use a full 2 teaspoons vanilla.

EYE OF NEWT & TOE OF FROG CUPCAKES (adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart’s Halloween magazine ‘pistachio cupcakes’, 2011)

Makes 36


  • 14 ounces unsalted shelled pistachios (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line 36 cups of standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coarsely chop ¾ cup pistachios, and reserve. In a food processor, grind remaining pistachios to a paste.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and pistachio paste until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla & almond extracts. Reduce speed to low. Add flour & salt, beating until just combined. Fold in chopped pistachios by hand.
  3. Divide batter among lined cups, filling each almost ¾ full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.)
  4. Place on wire racks that are over rimmed cookie sheets. Drizzle lighter glaze (see below) over each, let set until no longer tacky, 30 to 60 minutes. Drizzle with darker glaze, allowing the lighter to show around the edges, let set before decorating with chocolate frogs. Serve & enjoy.



  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • Gel-paste food coloring in Moss Green, Brown, Juniper Green and Royal Blue (all Wilton)


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth & combined. Transfer half to another bowl.
  2. For lighter green glaze (base color), add 4 drops Moss Green & 2 drops Brown food coloring to one bowl; stir to combine, adding more of each color until desired shade is reached.
  3. For the darker glaze (top color), add 4 drops Juniper Green, 2 drops Royal Blue and 1 drop Brown to the second bowl; stir to combine. Adjust by adding more until desired shade is reached. Use immediately (above).

I bought my pistachios at Trader Joe’s because they’re the only place that sells unshelled pistachios (other than perhaps Whole Foods, but Trader Joe’s is closer to me). The frogs Martha uses are from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. I, however, made my own. Like I said above, I bought a frog candy mold (slightly bigger than the Black Dinah “froglets”) and used Candy Melts to create the frogs. Do as you wish in that department. I also used slightly different colors of Wilton gel-paste food coloring (just the greens) for the glazes. I couldn’t find Juniper Green & didn’t want to order it online, so I used two other Wilton greens I already had. It worked just fine.

And also I carved my jack-o-lantern! I screwed up a bit, it’s supposed to be Jack Skellington but I broke two carving saws doing it & so he’s not the best. I had further plans for it, but like I said, I broke the tools & it was around midnight, so here it is. Not perfect. I’m a perfectionist, though, so it’s disappointing. Boo (pun intended). But it came out pretty decent, either way, better than a lot I’ve seen. And I roasted the seeds with Kosher salt & olive oil. Mmm. That makes up for any mistakes, right?

In case you aren’t aware, the phrase “eye of newt & toe of frog” is Shakespearean. It comes from the same text as “double, double, toil & trouble” and “something wicked this way comes”, also very popular terminology in modern vernacular… all of which just so happens to be from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m 100% certain most people who use these terms haven’t a clue what their origins are. However I do, and it’s one of my absolute favorite literary classics. Anyway, the line about newts & frogs is from the part where the Three Witches (or “Weird Sisters”) are concocting a spell in the final scene. For those of you who slept through high school English class, here’s the full excerpt:

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Those of you familiar with Shakespeare will align the image of the skull with another of his works, Hamlet. I guess these cupcakes are just totally Shakespearean! And now you know the origin of “double, double, toil and trouble.” Go impress your friends.

that ends our Halloween fare for the year (almost- bwahahahaha). I can’t believe in just 4 short days it’ll be Halloween- where the hell did the time go!? Insane. There might just be one more trick… or treat… before this month ends..

No pain, no gain.

Of course by pain I mean the French word for ‘bread.’ Duh. And by gain? I mean weight. Haha. Yeah I know, I shouldn’t quit my day job.

Don’t you just love bread? I certainly love bread. All kinds of bread. Soft white bread, dense 9-grain bread, whole wheat bread, sandwich bread, artisan bread, ciabatta bread, sourdough bread… you get the idea. I’d never go on a diet where bread was a no-no. Actually, I’d never go on a diet, period. Thankfully I’m blessed with good enough genes so I can fit into my jeans. Hah. Lately I’ve been on sort of a carb-kick, well actually a bread-kick, and the desire to make my own was upped to the highest levels possible. Especially after making some garlic knots. I have been craving homemade bread with salty, creamy butter for ages now. I just needed to get off my lazy ass and make some, which is where this post comes in.

Abby’s Sweets has a recipe for French bread from Taste of the South magazine and just looking at her pictures of it sold me. It sounded very easy, the rising times didn’t seem incomprehensible, and I figured it was worth a shot. And it really was easy. I made it and when I was finished I actually looked at the clock and was amazed; it hadn’t taken much time at all. I was sitting there, eating warm slices of delicious bread before I knew it. Therefore, I put it in the ‘quick & easy’ category, although I’m aware that those words to some people imply opening a can or defrosting something in the microwave. Those people should either close this page right now, or attempt to make something more complex than a Hungry Man dinner. YOU CAN DO IT. I promise. This bread does not involve a starter and it comes together really easily.

Okay so, I love making breads, but the thing that I hate is the kneading. Sure, I could just leave it in the mixture & have the dough hook mimic the kneading, but I think hand-kneading really makes a difference, so I always try to do it. But boy, did I get a workout with this one! 10 minutes of kneading this bread and my muscles rivaled Popeye‘s, without the benefit of spinach. It really is a stiff dough. I used 5 cups of flour and it was more than enough, but it’s one of those things, you have to play it by ear. Or uh, by hand? Add more flour as needed, if the dough is sticky, add more. If it’s not, then don’t.

Lola wanted some face-time again, and I can’t blame her. She did all the heavy-lifting & hard work. All I did was buy the ingredients, measure them out, knead the dough, grease the bowl, divide the dough, shape the loaves, bake them… hey, wait a minute. I did most of the work! Sneaky mixers, tryin’a take all the credit. She’s still beautiful though, so here she is. Love her. Appreciate her. Be jealous of her. My mixer can kick your mixer’s ass any day, and not get the slightest chip in her enamel.

(Honestly, if there’s anyone out there reading this who doesn’t have one of these & bakes a lot or is contemplating getting one but is on the fence- stop whatever you’re doing & just order one. It will change your fucking life. BUY ONE. NOW. Go. I’ll wait for you… *lengthy pause* Done? Good. You won’t be disappointed.)

FRENCH BREAD (from Abby’s Sweets/Taste of the South)

Le pain ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (.25 oz) package active-rise yeast
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 ½ -6 cups bread flour, divided
  • ¼ cup cornmeal

Le pain directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand until foamy, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a large stand mixer, combine yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and 3 cups flour. Using the dough hook attachment, beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Stir in enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, approximately 1o minutes.
  3. Grease a large bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size. About 1 ½ hours.
  4. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Shape dough into 2 (approx. 17″ x 3″ inch) loaves.
  5. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with cornmeal. Place each loaf on a prepared baking sheet. Make 4 cuts diagonally across the top of each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake until crispy and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Just a side note: Only use stainless steel, Pyrex or plastic bowl for the dough. Don’t use aluminum or any other reactive metal- it’ll mess with the rising. It’s also important to use bread flour, or a flour with a high-gluten content. That gives the bread it’s heft, and it has a higher protein content which results in the perfect texture. You could use all-purpose, and get a decent bread out of it, it just won’t be as chewy or have the right feel to it. I’d just use the bread flour if I were you. And if you do not have a KitchenAid stand mixer, or a stand mixer at all, especially one without a dough hook… I don’t recommend using a hand mixer. Even if it has a dough hook attachment. You’ll end up with a burned-out motor and a doughy mess. You’re better off using your hands if anything. But like I said- get a stand mixer!

I don’t like measuring, and I certainly don’t like being told how big or small to make my bread. So when it came to shaping them into loaves, I just winged it. No idea how long or wide they were. They were not 17″ though. I made mine more misshapen/rustic, and slightly shorter & wider. It’s an absolutely gorgeous bread when finished baking; it would make a beautiful grilled cheese (especially with this recipe), an amazing bruschetta, and a perfect hearty sandwich bread.

However… like I said, it’s fantastic alone with just butter.