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tollhouse barsChocolate chip cookies were created in 1930, in Massachusetts. The woman who owned the Toll House Inn developed the recipe, which was later publicized in the Toll House cookbook. Those little icons of domestic comfort didn’t find their way into American homes until around the 1940s. Jim learned this fact early on in our precious courtship and responded with hilariously authentic horror. Imagining a time without these cookies clearly shattered his ideals of American history, as he would ask in all seriousness, then what did people eat before chocolate chip cookies? Life was a culinary dust bowl. He still brings it up to people emphatically, looking for someone to share his passion of history’s great social suffering. It’s pretty cute.

tollhouse barstollhouse bars

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homemade butterBeta-carotene is one of hundreds of carotenoids. It’s the one everyone knows because of its intense and familiar pigment (i.e. carrots and sweet potatoes). Some carotenoids act as antioxidants and are essential in vitamin A production.  But all carotenoids serve as pigment, whether in plants or algae.
Why do I care?
Because they make butter yellow.

homemade butter

homemade butter

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key ime coconutKey lime pie might seem exotic due to its tropical origins and bright perfumey flavor. But like the humble Tollhouse cookie, it’s an American classic that ranks high on most people’s favorites-list. And like that unintimidating little fail-safe, the Tollhouse cookie, key lime bars can be incredibly quick and simple to prepare. God bless America.

key ime coconut

key ime coconut

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Rose Cake

06.27.2013, 1 Comment, lemon, by .

ombre rose cakeThe internet is a little terrifying. I get defeated when I have what I think is an exciting and original idea and then the internet acts like a douche-b by showing me how unoriginal my idea is and how it’s been done many times before. I find people that have thought it, and done it, and shared it with the world already – and better than I could have done. I don’t know these people, they don’t live on my street, and they likely don’t even live in my state. Nonetheless, it leaves me feeling creatively deflated. It makes me long for when I was a teenager who didn’t know what Google was. My endeavors felt unique because I had no idea what the rest of the population was up to. At least I have those memories. You poor bastards that grew up with the internet…woof.

ombre rose cake

ombre rose cake

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spring garden cakeHere is a little tale of serendipity (replete with a photo avalanche).

On a rare lazy afternoon, Beverly and I were watching some old episodes of From Martha’s Kitchen on Hulu, when we struck cooking show gold, with this episode starring Michelle Bommarito and her spring garden cake. My four-year-old daughter and I were equally mesmerized. Now fast forward about six weeks to when my dear friend asked if I would make a cake for her son’s first birthday party. Oh, and this friend happens to own and operate an organic vegetable farm with her husband. Shwing.

“What did you have in mind?”  I asked, doing my best to play it cool as the garden cake was flashing through my head and my inner-freak was trying to keep my excitement in check in an attempt to not alienate my poor unsuspecting friend.

She responded, “Well…probably just chocolate on chocolate”.

My excitement bordered on mania. But I think you’d agree it was well directed because this cake was a real beaut.

spring garden cake

spring garden cake

spring garden cake

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brown sugar lime curdThis is a simple recipe – as curd recipes tend to be. The most challenging step in making curd is acquiring all the citrus. A bowl spilling over with limes, that indicated a low-key Cinco de Mayo, inspired this one. Methods for this little treat are pretty standard; a little less sugar vs. a little more, all yolks vs. a combination of whole eggs and yolks. There aren’t glaring differences among recipes. So deciding to make a lime curd with brown sugar was about as creative as my little pea-brain could get.

brown sugar lime curd

brown sugar lime curd

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coconut rum poundcakePound cake is quite adaptable. Served with whipped cream and strawberries it becomes strawberry shortcake. Drowned in pastry cream and booze, you’ve got trifle. Petit fours, rum cakes, even bread pudding, are basically pound cake in a makeover montage. In this instance I was looking for the experience of a coconut cake. I wanted to avoid the fuss and bustle of a showy layer cake, but still wanted to have a coconut-scented moist crumb, a creamy white icing, and plenty of toasted coconut texture. So without getting into buttercreams and taking out my cake pans, I decided to try to condense the coconut cake experience into a loaf pan. By taking the path of the pound cake I was able to meet all that criteria while keeping it simple and substantial. And here I go getting psychological again, but I believe anything baked in a loaf pan makes people feel at ease.

coconut rum poundcakecoconut rum poundcake

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lemon meringue pieThis is not a centerfold “mile high” pie that you use to impress all of your friends with its billowy sex appeal. This pie has a better proportion of lemon to meringue. It’s the pie you want to take home to mom and start a family with. A thick meringue topping might be the defining characteristic of this pie, but the lemon filling is why we even bother.

lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pie

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triple chocolate layer cakeLike most people-pleasing show-offs, I love when people make specific dessert requests. Right away I know that they like the fundamentals of the requested item, and all I have to do is use my superlative skills to serve them the best one they’ve ever had, then they will know that I am a genuinely good person and love me forever. So before our most recent get together with my in-laws, I asked them to make a request. I got Monkey’s Pawed when they responded with chocolate layer cake.

triple chocolate layer cake

triple chocolate layer cake

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molasses carrot cakeTo those of you out there who can’t stop putting molasses in everything – let’s do this.

The winter workshare that I’ve been volunteering for has supplied me with more fresh carrots than my family can eat in a week – and we are aggressive snackers. My intention was to come up with a carrot cake that would not be heavily sweetened, since winter carrots have the most natural sugar already. Customarily, carrot cake recipes have a 1:1 ratio of flour and sugar. Although that seems like a sickening amount of sweetener (and often tastes like it), it contributes to the wonderful moist quality of carrot cake. In an effort to avoid drowning these beautiful carrots in large amounts of white sugar, I turn to the dark (bitter and satiny) side.

molasses carrot cake

molasses carrot cake

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