31 days of baking

Sweet and Spicy Oven Fries


Christmas was both quiet and warm.

Warm enough that Christmas Eve was spent with thunderstorms heavy enough to shake the windows. I went without a coat yesterday, and while I definitely needed one for the walk I took in the morning it was still over 40.

This is coming after a November where the Southtowns got seven feet of snow before Thanksgiving.

And of course the heater is going so it’s about a thousand degrees in the apartment. I’m not complaining, not too much anyway, we’ve had plenty of very cold winters in here.

[There are all sorts of weird noises coming from outside. I’m not sure what’s going on out there.]

With Yule falling before Christmas and my normal inability to go home for holidays (it’s been that way since I’ve been on my own, this is nothing new) our holiday ‘stuff’ is almost always done before Christmas proper so Christmas Day was spent doing not much of anything.

I know that ‘baking’ normally implies ‘sweets’ or maybe ‘bread’ but these fries were made in the oven so I’m counting them.

These are based on a recipe from All Recipes; this time on top of my normal lack of following the recipe I didn’t even read it. I read the blurb for the spices listed and the baking instructions and went from there.

Sweet and Spicy Oven Baked Fries

2 large white baking potatoes, cut into equal sized slices

1-2 tablespoons chili powder, preferably salt free

1-2 tablespoons sugar

1-2 teaspoons table salt

1 pinch dried rosemary

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450

Line a cookie tray with foil and spray or wipe with oil

In a large bowl, toss everything

Spread in a single layer on the sheet

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring about halfway through


Souring Milk For Baking



My winter project is going to be going through old photos on this blog-retaking project photos if I can, finding holder images on Pixabay if I have to, or resorting to making images in Picmonkey if it really comes down to it.

I have been going through the 2012 entries, especially, and noticing just how dark a lot of them are. I don’t know if this is just a ‘march of time’ issue or if it’s just that my current camera is that much clearer-but I’m trying to at least run photos through an editing software to see if they’re salvageable.

They might not be. I don’t know. But if anything it gives me something to do when the snow machine kicks in.


Buttermilk is a weird baking staple in that a lot of recipes call for it, but rarely in the quantities that it’s sold in.

I do hope that you enjoy pancakes.

In theory, there’s no reason that you couldn’t split the container and freeze it-I know plenty of people who do it and if you have the space for it, I think that it’s a fine idea. However, I don’t have the space for it.

Souring milk for cooking is extremely simple and doesn’t take up space.

Add about a tablespoon of regular white or cider vinegar to a liquid measuring cup, then measure out milk to make up the volume of buttermilk needed in the recipe. Let it sit for about five minutes.

You should be able to see where the top of the milk looks like it’s slightly curdled.

Use in your recipe in place of buttermilk.


Chilied Corn Bread

Pixabay.  As normal, I baked after dark.

Pixabay. As normal, I baked after dark.

A lot of the food bloggers I follow sing the praises of 84% or higher milk fat butter.

I’ve never actually been able to find it that high. But Tops has started selling a local Amish brand-and it was on sale for close enough to the price of regular store brand butter that I decided to try it.

I normally bake with unsalted butter but all they had was salted, so I cut back on the salt in the recipe. The change is acknowledged in the recipe.

This is a recipe from The Taylor Made Ranch, and I made a few slight changes. I used buttermilk in the place of milk, and the butter in place of oil. I like how it came out-firm but still nice and crumbly like I think that cornbread should be. We had this with steak, and it held its own against red meat.

*To cool the butter enough to avoid curdling the egg, measure your milk first and then add the butter to the milk. The milk cools the butter enough not to cook the egg.

Chilied Corn Bread

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup corn meal

1 egg

1 stick of butter, melted

4 tea baking powder

2 chilis, diced very, very fine

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tea salt (1/4 if you’re using salted butter)

1 cup flour.

Pre heat oven to 425.

Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, or grease well.

*I baked this as a ‘dump’ recipe-I literally put everything in the bowl at once and stirred. Mix very well, and it should come out fine.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.


MYO Pumpkin Pie Spice




I ran out of cloves.

This is a bad thing.

Because I was also running out of pumpkin pie spice.

I have blogged this mix before, but it still holds true-I use pumpkin pie spice in just about everything. About the only thing that I don’t like it in is was cinnamon rolls-because I don’t think that cinnamon rolls should taste like cloves and ginger.

My kitchen ate my cloves and for whatever reason clove prices went through the roof. I finally found some in the Goya section (one of my main money saving tips for spices-look in the Goya section) for a seventh of the price of what Wegmans wanted for cloves.

You’re not reading that wrong, I spent $1 on cloves from a brand I use all the time and like the quality of, instead of the $7 that Wegmans wanted for McCormick’s.

Seriously. Look in the Goya section for spices.

I also ran out of butter…so between the lack of pumpkin spice and the butter, baking sort of crawled to a halt this week.

This is the mix, combined from a lot of people’s versions and variations of pumpkin spice, that I like the best. I will occasionally add mace to the mix if I have it. *One of the best things about making your own spice mixes like this is that you can add or subtract anything to your heart’s content, or leave something out entirely if you have an allergy concern.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

(large batch)

5 tablespoons cinnamon

7 teaspoons nutmeg and cloves (each)

6 teaspoons allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons ginger

Mix well and add to an air tight jar. I don’t use anything fancy, I think the jar I’ve used for years held teriyaki marinade.


The 100 Year Old Cake

100 year yellow cake

[I thought that I photographed this recipe. Apparently I didn’t. That will be addressed later.]

I’m tempted to call this the cursed cake.

I tried getting this cake made for a year. Every time something happened.

It started with last year’s round of 31 Days of Baking. This was the cake that I was making when my oven burned out. Then it was a series of missteps up until I finally got it out of the oven, including walking into my kitchen and found that my stove top had gotten warm enough that my butter was sitting in a puddle of oil.

This cake has been slowly wandering around the Internet, but I found it via Food for a Hungry Soul. Lore has it that it’s a 100 year old recipe.

Group 1:

2 cups flour

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tea salt

Group 2:

1 stick butter, softened

1 tea vanilla

1 cup milk

Group 3:

2 eggs


Pre-heat oven to 350.


Add group one to a bowl and mix.

Add group two and beat for 2 minutes.

Add group three and beat for 2 minutes.


Place in a 13×9 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.


Softening Butter Quickly




We all have the best plans when it comes to baking-we take the eggs and butter out early enough that they’re at room temperature, the oven is preheated to the perfect temperature, there’s a nice shiny silpat on the pan.

Then there are those days where you’re lucky you just don’t burn the house done and whatever goes in your oven comes out edible.

If you’re like me, one of the big issues is remembering to pull the butter out early enough that it’s softened to room temperature so you can cream it for cookies (or you leave it somewhere too warm and come back to a butter flood, but that’s a different issue).

There is one tool that will help with the softening, and you can even buy it at the dollar store:



That’s right, a cheese grater.

I put my bright orange dollar store cheese grater over a bowl, wrap the end of a cold stick of butter with wax paper or the butter wrapper, and grate away. By the time I hit the end of the stick, the butter there is normally too soft to grate and I just toss it into the bowl.

You can also grate your butter for hand mixing pie dough. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve been told it works to good success. Maybe I’ll try it during the next round of the pie crust wars. Right now, the crust is winning.


Glazed Lemon Cake

Always feel free to submit a guest entry! Especially during thematic months-and you don’t need to be a full time blogger!

My friend Victoria got stuck in the Snowvember Storm-and baked a cake!

Hi there! I’m Victoria.

You may have heard about the massive snowstorm that hit parts of Buffalo starting Monday, November 17th. At the time of writing this it is Saturday, November 22nd and I’ve been snowed in for 5 days. The roads in my neighborhood are impassable. So much snow has fallen that we can’t even plow, the snow needs to be physically removed from the streets.

My fiancée and I did manage to find our way out of the house on Thursday. We walked down the road to see if we could find anything open. We managed to find a convenience store and, as is Buffalo tradition, a pizza place. Of course we made our way in to order a pizza. The wait was only 30 minutes and it’s not like we had anything else to do.

Other than the brief adventure for pizza I’ve been passing the time by sleeping, watching TV, reading, playing video games, and of course, baking. Lately I’ve been craving Katie’s glazed orange cake. Unfortunately we don’t have any oranges or orange juice in the house. However, I did have everything else I needed, along with some lemons. So I decided to tweak the recipe a bit and try a glazed lemon cake. The only changes I made we replacing the orange juice with fresh lemon juice, and replacing the vanilla with some almond extract. I was a bit short on lemon juice as I only had two lemons on hand, so I the juice from one and a half of the lemons in the cake mix. I used the juice from the half left over (along with a little bit of lemon extract and some water) for the glaze. Here’s what I ended up with.

Because there’s less juice in the batter, this cake comes out a bit more dry than the orange cake. I love all kinds of citrus, so the lemon in this cake really hit the spot. The almond extract adds something extra. The flavor reminds me of a lemon macaroon. My only regret is that I have nobody to share it with – it will be gone before we dig out!

Glazed Lemon Cake

  • 1 stick butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • Juice of 1.5-2 lemons (just under ¼ cup)

  • 2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 1/2 cup flour

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • large pinch lemon zest

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • ¼ tsp lemon extract

  • water

Preheat oven to 350. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Mix together the flour, orange zest, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add yogurt and almond extract until just mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating until mixed. Mix in lemon juice. Add dry ingredients, beat carefully until combined. Add batter to your lined pan and bake for 50-65 minutes.

Let the cake cool and remove from pan. Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Add water if needed to obtain desired consistency for the glaze. Pour over the cake and let harden a bit.