Stay tuned for Halloween Cookies/Biscuits I made with my kids and will be posting pictures soon. We're decorating them after dinner!! Hope everyone has a fun and safe night!!!

resource: picture found here.

Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa Brownies
 from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks or 172.5g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached flour (plain flour)
1/2 tsp salt

Grease a 9 inch x 9 inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Pre-heat the oven 350*F or 180*C. All of Patricia Helding's recipes use a 9x9 baking pan. The only one I could find at the time was a silicon one. I hate it. It's wobbly and has to be on a baking sheet anyway to keep it from wrecking the baked goods it holds. Annoying. So, if you need to go out and purchase a new baking pan avoid silicon.

~Heat the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Do not brown. ~Cool for 5 minutes.
~Add the cocoa powder (I had to sift mine as it was lumpy) and sugar into the saucepan and whisk until blended. ~Whisk in the eggs one at a time (this step it's crucial for the butter to be cooled you wouldn't want the eggs to cook blah!) until smooth and shiny. ~Add the vanilla, mix.
~Sift the flour and salt into the batter and mix gently until there is no trace of the dry ingredients.
~Now you can add whatever you'd like. I had some odds and ends so I added marshmallows and white chocolate chips.
~Spread into your prepared baking pan and ~bake for 30 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean, no batter, crumbs acceptable.
~Cool for 1 hour. If you can wait that long!

Mini-Baker was invited to a friends for lunch so I whipped these up quickly for a treat. It was so easy. I don't know if I'll ever use another brownie recipe. (I joke) But this will definitely be my go-to brownie recipe when I need something quick. Everything was sitting in my fridge and cupboard waiting to be used! They were very good.

For those of you who remember yes I am on a "diet". I lost 1 1/2 lbs last week and am looking forward to this weeks weigh-in! One little brownie doesn't hurt as much as scarfing the whole pan does. So I'm told. If I was Nigella I would tell you "Everything in moderation, even moderation."  :0)

Resource: Fat Witch

Book Signing!!

 by David Muniz, David Lesniak

Saturday, 12 November 2011, 2:00PM

Join us in store with owners of the fabulous London Bakery sensation ‘Outsider Tart’. David Muniz and David Lesniak are spearheading a welcome revival of the humble home-baked American cake and brownie, and muffin and cookie! Baked In America is every Baker’s dream. And Yes there will be free cake!

I am so excited about this that if it wasn't in the middle of November I would totally camp out in front of the store! That might be a bit extreme but that just shows how excited I am!! I will try to be there as early as I possibly can be! When I went for the Nigella signing I went an hour early and was the first one there. The difference being that signing was in the middle of the week and a lot of people were probably at work. This one is on a Saturday. So, I want to be early just in case!!
My Copy that will soon be signed!! ;0)
If you don't already own the book this is good excuse as any to get yourself a copy!! Plus all the fabulous recipes I've already made from it Cinnamon LoafSnickers Brownies, Chocolate Snickerdoodles, Sugar Saucers, and (the best so far) The Blackout Cake.

I have a problem. It includes footnotes.

It's a well known fact that the first step to healing is admitting you have a problem. My problem is that I have an obsession with baking books. It's a silly problem, but a problem none-the-less.

I don't need any new books- of any kind really, my bookcases are over flowing! Yet, I can't stop myself from looking at Amazon or The Book People through out the day. My Waterstone's App is also forever being used.^ Every time I go to my local grocery store I always go by the book section. Why? Just to cruise by and see if there is anything new.

I read cookbooks cover to cover. When I've finished one I need another book within days because the withdrawal is not pretty!

It gets worse. Oh yes.

I have several books that have a recipe for the same thing it causes me so much stress and anxiety because I don't know which one to use! I mean what's up with that? Causing myself  unnecessary stress!

I need help or... more books

Babycakes by Erin McKenna
Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart by Samanth Blears
Home Bake by Eric Lanyard
The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adore

The Book People have provided me with my recent fix. This site has amazing books at amazing prices! Two of these titles were only 4.99 GBP*! 

I'm slowly reading my way through them. For those of you who don't know about one of New York's most popular bakeries, Babycakes, cater to people with allergies, food sensitivities and vegans. My only concern is sourcing some of the ingredients. Everything is available online, but I like being able to bake spontaneously! The only another annoying thing, just reading it, is the celebrity name-dropping. I don't need to know nor do I care that Pamela Anderson likes your cakes. Just because she does doesn't mean I will. It actually makes me not want to like them.**  Despite that I have already earmarked a few recipes to try!

Love Bakery's layout is so similar to Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery that I had to keep checking what book I was reading. It's a basic cupcake book with a few new flavors, which I'm not going to lie, eager to try!*** 

Home Bake is a classic, down-to-earth baking book that if you don’t own any get this one! It is full of everything you'd ever want to bake. I'm looking forward to baking from it! 

The Vintage Tea Party Book has not been read at the time of this post being written.

Resources: Babycakes, Love Bakery, Cake Boy, and Angel Adoree

^I have yet to really get into book readers and the like. I'm sure I will succumb sooner or later.
*I'm using my American laptop and I don't know how to get a GBP sign. I really dislike UK keyboards. I spent 8 years of typing up school papers so I type properly and hate that on a UK keyboard the keys are in different places. My petty rant is over.
**I don't mind celebrities. I just don't like the power they have because it's stupid. Now my childish rant is over!
***I can rhyme!!

Note: I have purchased these books and the opinions and views are my own.  

Girls Night Out!

I went out with a few of my girl friends to The Cunning Man A Traditional Country Pub!!
We went for drinks and dinner and of course dessert!

I couldn't decide between the Raspberry Creme' Brulee or their special Toffee Cheesecake! 
Well, at the last minute I decided on the Toffee Cheesecake and was glad I did. (Although, honestly, I probably would have been happy with either!) It was a light yet creamy cheesecake, perfect for a late night dessert!  

A Traditional Country Pub in Burghfield, Reading.
Burghfield Road, Burghfield Bridge, Reading, RG30 3RB
Tel: 01189 598067

The Beginning

My obsession with bakery books actually started with cookbooks.
A couple of my first ever cookbooks were, Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals, still a favorite.

Betty Crocker’s: everything you need to know how to cook and Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka.

I even picked up A Cook’s Tour of Scotland by Sue Lawrence because my husband’s Scottish and I thought it would be very clever of me to make Scottish food.

I’ve never learned how to make a single thing from this book, but I have learned that I have a thing for Scottish men. Didn’t know it, but not only is my husband Scottish, but so are my three boy-friends.

Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy and Jared Butler.

My obsession went to a new level when I started reading Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. My cookbook collection is way bigger then my baking book collection, but the gap is closing! On my other blog, Pages of the Mind, I posted about my book signing with Nigella. That was an experience and I made a new friend! Hi Himmi! :0)
I love reading cookbooks and as I once said to my sister it’s because they are like spell/potion books you mix stuff together and you get something amazing. I’m waiting for the perfect cookbook I can’t live without. Annabel Karmel’s Fussy Eaters’ Recipe Book is very close.

So, many of our family favorites come from this book, but I might have to write my own book some day.
If I want it to be perfect for me, it might be the only way.
Do you like cookbooks? If so what’s your favorite one?
 Please tell me I love hearing of titles I’ve not yet heard of!!

note: None of the above mentioned men, Ewan, James, or Jared, are actually my boyfriends. Not only are they not my boyfriends, but I've never met any of them. Shame really. ;0)

Auntie Anne's Pretzels!

Auntie Anne's have arrived in Reading!!
The Oracle has been looking a little more American every time I go there!
They just opened an Ambercrombie and Finch too!

Auntie Anne's was pretty popular last Saturday when we went and had to settle for a cinnamon pretzel. It was good, but we were hoping for a savory pepperoni one!
It's funny as I was just thinking of big soft doughy pretzel's the other day. Maybe I have some weird mystic physic powers? I do have a theory that I can control the weather.

That's a story for another place and time! But if I do have some weird power I wonder if I ask nicely they will bring me a local Cold Stone Creamery?

FYI for my fellow Americans living in England Mission is a great place to get a burritto!!

Note: Both Pictures are from the world wide web I do not own them.

Look what my Mom sent me!!

Candy Corn pot holder with matching towel!!
I love getting packages from my mom and dad in the mail! It's usually filled with stuff for my girls but there is usually a random something or another in it for me!!

Caramel Buttercream Icing

taken from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

Makes enough to ice
12 regular cupcakes or
24 mini cupcakes and
12 regular cupcakes!

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp milk, at room temperature
220g light, soft brown sugar
240g icing sugar sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract

Place butter, milk and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over a high heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stir continuously, and boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in half of the icing sugar. Leave the mixture to cool a little before adding the remaining icing sugar and the vanilla. Stir until it thickens to the desired consistency. I used a good ol’ fashioned whisk for this.
This icing is best used right away, but the author’s suggest that if you need to make it ahead of time, when it comes time to frost just add a little double cream and beat well. Or they suggest heating it in a microwave for 10 seconds!

Use on top of any chocolate cupcakes or carmel cupcakes or any other type of cupcake you think would taste nice with a caramel frosting! I used Toffee Crisps to top my cupcakes, but you could use Twix, Snickers and many more! Happy Frosting!!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

With it being National Chocolate Week I knew I had to do something chocolate!! After the Birthday Blackout Cake there was no way I could face another cake like that without feeling horribly guilty! I mentioned before in another post that I am trying to lose a few (*ahem*) pounds. So, after the above-mentioned cake and then a weekend in London eating cake I vowed this week I was going to be good! I had a brilliant idea chocolate covered fruit! More specific strawberries!

It was a good idea.

‘Was’ being the operative word. 

The chocolate seized up. I was distracted and it over heated basically. The other thing that makes chocolate seize up when melting it is water. So, make sure your utensils are completely dry and make sure you don’t over heat it! I managed 3 strawberries that Mini-baker gobbled up as soon as I was done getting a few pictures. She loves strawberries. Who doesn’t?

seized up chocolate

To make Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:
~100 or so grams of chocolate (depends completely on how many strawberries you want to dip)
~Strawberries as many as you want!

Melt chocolate I used a mix of milk and dark chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water. One could use a microwave. If you melt it in the microwave do it slowly in 10 sec increments. Wash and dry your strawberries. Dip in chocolate. Leave on wax paper to harden. Might want to stick in fridge if not eating right away. 

When I was around 13, or a bit older, my mom took my sisters and me to Indianapolis to the Circle Center Mall. It was there that I had my first chocolate dipped strawberry from Godiva. For those of you who might not know what Godiva is, it is probably one of the best chocolates in America!! Back to the story...I also had some sort of truffle, but I don’t remember that at all because the strawberry was amazing! I remember it to this day and that’s saying a lot. (Not really as I tend to remember a lot of random things, much to the annoyance of IN Baker)  To find a Godiva boutique that has strawberry dipping (sounds like something naughty!) visit their site! Godiva Chocolate can be found in the UK too!! I've seen it at Harrods but I am sure there are other places to find it!!

I also remember getting a Peace Frog t-shirt during that mall visit. It was very cool. At least I thought so at the time. If I had access to my childhood photos I would try to locate one of me in this shirt. I figure there must be one as I wore it a lot. Alas those photos are in boxes at my parent’s house millions of miles away. :0)  You’ll have to settle for this image I found on the world wide web!

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies: 

adapted from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
the recipe can also be found here!

·       125g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
·       150g flour
·       30g cocoa, sieved
·       1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
·       1/2 teaspoon salt
·       125g soft butter
·       75g light brown sugar
·       50g white sugar
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·       1 egg, cold from the fridge
·       350g (2 bags) semi-sweet chocolate morsels or dark chocolate chips (I used a mix of white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chunks)
Makes 12

1.    Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Melt the 125g dark chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water.
2.    Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
3.    Cream the butter and sugars in another bowl. (I use my freestanding mixer, itself an odd source of comfort to me.) Add the melted chocolate and mix together.
4.    Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate morsels or chips.
5.    Scoop out 12 equal-sized mounds - an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job - and place on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them.
6.    Cook for 18 minutes, testing with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
7.    Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

It's the 6th day of National Chocolate Week! It was/is also National Curry Week and thought maybe I should combine the two, but then thought better of it! I also had an idea of making chocolate covered strawberries and I did but, that story will have to wait until tomorrow! For now enjoy another fantastic recipe from The Domestic Goddess Nigella!!

Last Note: Sorry I haven't been around much this week!! After a weekend of cake eating I've been watching my waist by not baking! This week you'll see me on another blog and you'll see my attempt at chocolate covered strawberries as mentioned above! If you have been busy this week making things with chocolate I'd love to see them email me at unitedcakedom@gmail.com or send a message on facebook! If I get enough I'll do a post featuring all of your lovely bakes!!
Hope you have a great weekend!!

Cream Filled Chocolate Sandwiches

taken from Martha Stewart's Cookies
guest post by IN Baker

1 1/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 C unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 C sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg, room temp

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.  Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt.

2. Cream, sugar and butter until light and fluffy, but about 2 min. Add egg; beat to combine.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; continue beating until well combined.

3. Using 1 1/4 in ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about 2 in apart.  Dip bottom of glass in sugar; press to flatten cookies to about 1/8 in thick. 

4. Bake until cookies are firm, 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Cool completely.

5. Place cream filling in a pastry bag and pipe about 1 tbsp filling on flat side of cookie. Place remaining cookie on top, and gently press on each to squeeze filling to edges.

Vanilla Cream filling
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 C solid vegetable shortening
3 1/2 C confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and shortening until well combined. On low, gradually add confectioners sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine

Thought we'd start off National Chocolate Week with some yummy chocolate sandwiches from my sister IN Baker!!

American Baker in England presents Bakery Tour London 2011

What a busy weekend!! This weekend a friend and I went to London to indulge in it’s over abundance of bakeries!
Our first stop was Bea’s of Bloomsbury! There is some conflicting information that I should have checked on before we left, the website says that they open at 12 (true) however the facebook page says 11. We were running a little behind due to going the wrong direction down a road and got there at 1150. Which was probably perfect as they weren't open yet! The ladies inside looked a bit rushed, but were still friendly enough to seat and serve us. The actual location was perfect, it was exactly what I would expect a tea shop to look like!

There was so much to choose from. This is what I choose…

Vanilla Cheesecake
And this is what my friend chose…
praline chocolate layer cake
 They were both very good! The cheesecake was very creamy and a perfect vanilla flavor. If I ever get there again I will book an afternoon tea I think!

We both got some meringues to go!!

With that we were off to our next location Johnny’s Cupcake! It was a very cool shop with the t-shirts and merchandise in bakery window casings. I bought a t-shirt for my hubby and one for myself! Along with a few buttons! The t-shirts are wrapped up and put into a box that looks exactly like a cupcake carrier. So, much fun!! Staff were super friendly and helpful!

As we were making our way to The Hummingbird Bakery we spotted a Ben’s Cookie’s and had to stop! They are like the best commercially bought cookies ever!! I choose an Oatmeal and Raisin one! Which I ate for breakfast this morning! It was very yummy! 

At the Hummingbird Bakery I choose two cupcakes the special of the day Toffee Apple and the Black Bottom. We took them to go as we had more stops to make! I shared them with my little ones and the husband when I got home that night. The Toffee Apple is a part of the Carnival range, which has been running for several weeks now.

I wasn’t very impressed with this one. The actual cupcake seemed to be just a regular old vanilla cupcake with some apple flavoring in the icing decorated with a toffee covered apple slice. I guess I was expecting something more from the flavor of the day. However the Black Bottom was very moist and delicious!!

That one saved the day for the Hummingbird Bakery for me. I have had such success with their books and had high expectations that may or may not have been unrealistic.

Next was lunchtime at Ed’s Diner! I love a good American diner meal! Chili hotdog combo with fries, onion rings and coleslaw, but the best part was the peanut butter shake!! The first time I ever had a peanut butter shake was while visiting my aunt and uncle in San Francisco and it was amazing. The Ed’s Diner one was good, but not as good as the one I had over 10 years ago on the west coast! Of course sometimes memories are exaggerated or not as clear as I’d like them to be so maybe they were the same?

Even though we were stuffed I had one more place to visit. Outsider Tart from where we were I didn’t want to travel all the way to Chiswick (probably not that far really) but with the South Bank Royal Food Festival Hall so close we went there instead. The woman running the stall was very lovely and complimented us on our choices! I like a sales person who likes the product they sell!

I picked a Hepburn Brownie and a cranberry crumble cake. As we got them to go I had them today! The crumble cake I had with coffee late this afternoon and shared the brownie with my girls after lunch. Both were very good the brownie perfectly gooey and a hint of espresso flavor that is perfect mixed with chocolate.
crumble cake and hepburn brownie
 It was a very good day out and about in London! I have, what seems to be, an unending list of bakeries to visit and hope to go again in the spring! Are there any bakeries you’ve visited recently that you need to recommend or to warn against?
all the goodies I brought back
It is the start of National Chocolate Week tomorrow!! At the end of the week I’ll be posting pictures of chocolate goodies sent to me by readers! So, if you make anything with chocolate this week send me a picture! Email me at americanbakerinengland@gmail.com or upload it to the facebook page! I have a few things I’m thinking of making!! I am still working on a logo picture I hope to have something to show soon!