Saturday, August 29, 2009

The 2009 Parade of State Fair Baking Entries

My schedule was really tight this year for State Fair baking. I was working in my new classroom the week prior to the drop-off Sunday, and returned home Thursday night, just in time to bake all day on Friday and Saturday. Somehow, I managed to get all 21 entries finished.

The ingredient line-up on Day 1.

Works in progress on Day 2.

The completed entries at 12:30 am, ready for the 8:00 am drop-off at the fairgrounds on Sunday morning.

The Entries:
Apple pie, Peach pie, Pound cake, Sponge cake, Angel Food Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Ethnic Bread, Sweet Rolls, White bread, Fruit Bread (Blueberry Almond), Fruit type cake (Strawberry - my own experiment), Raisin bread, Herb bread, Coffee cake (yeast bread type), Brownies plain, Chocolate chip cookies, Oatmeal cookies, Icebox cookies (chocolate), Ball cookie (gingersnaps), Peanut butter cookies, and Brownies with nuts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I have been spending the majority of my summer working on teaching job applications and traveling about the state of Minnesota for interviews, so there hasn't been much time or energy to bake. Ironic too, that we're having one of the coolest summers on record. I've had the air conditioning on for about a total of 6 days this year. It's the perfect time to have the oven on.

Anyway, I plan to work on some entries this weekend. I have some baking to do for my cousin's wedding shower, so I will be working on some goodies by Friday.

I did bake my mom's birthday cake this month. She requested all chocolate. I didn't have buttermilk on hand, so I couldn't make my favorite, Cocoa Fudge Cake. I made my next chocolate favorite, Devil's Food Cake. I frosted it with French Silk Frosting. Chocoholics around the world rejoiced.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2009 State Fair Registration Time!

May 1 marked the first day of 2009 State Fair online registration. I gathered all my recipes and notes together and completed my registration today. The final tally: 21 entries. I'm hoping to win at least 8 ribbons. I am challenging myself and trying some new recipes and entering difficult categories, so I may not reach my goal, but I'm excited to try!

If anyone out there likes to bake, I hope you enter the competition! The minimum age for entry is 14, and you can have up to 25 entries.

Be proud of what you can create!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some cakes are better upside down.

The dessert of tradition on Easter in the Findlay family was pineapple upside-down cake. It's also another one of Mr. Findlay-Lampkin's favorite desserts. During our courting stage, I decided to make it for him, only to find out I had no more than crushed pineapple in my cupboard. I decided to try it, and discovered I like it better than the pineapple rings. I also will add a little coconut, and sometimes pecans, to jazz it up a little bit. Watch your baking time - this cake can take as long as 40 minutes to bake.

I set my pans in the oven while it preheats to melt the butter.

Dark brown sugar is great for the topping. Mix the butter, brown sugar, and water (or substitute pineapple juice, if you're so inclined).

Spread out the butter/sugar mixture, and garnish with maraschino cherries (make sure the round side is down in the pan). I like to add a little coconut to the pan.

Use a fork to evenly set the pineapple in the pan.

Spoon the batter on top of the pineapple mixture CAREFULLY.

I spread the batter from the center to the sides of the pan.

The pans are ready for the oven.

The baked cakes, still in their pans.

Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a thin metal spatula or a knife.

Now it's time to flip. Place the serving plate upside down over the top of the cake pan.

With one hand on top and one on the bottom, flip the cake pan and plate over.

The cake pan should easily lift off of the plate, and the cake should come right out.

The finished pineapple upside down cakes! The best part about this cake is you eat it warm, so it's instant cake gratification.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Triple Berry Cobbler

It's no secret that Mr. Findlay-Lampkin is a huge fan of any kind of fruit cobbler. Being from Mississippi, he usually prefers peach cobbler. Unfortunately, winter is a terrible time to find good peaches in Minnesota. However, we did have a container of blackberries and some frozen raspberries in the refrigerator. I picked up some strawberries to make a triple berry cobbler.

This is the peach cobbler recipe that I found online that I usually make. I changed it a little bit, and did half brown sugar and half white to mix with the berries. I also used about a cup of sugar - berries need more sugar added than peaches do, and omitted the cinnamon. Otherwise, I made the crust as it is shown in the recipe.

Starting with the raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

The fruit is cut, and the sugar mixture is added.

The crust is a similar process to making biscuits. First, I cut the butter into the flour mixture.

As I added the buttermilk, I stirred the mixture with a fork.

Spoon the crust on top of the fruit mixture.

I spread the crust out a bit after I spooned it on top of the fruit. I sprinkled some brown sugar over the top before baking.

The baked cobbler! As you can see, the crust sits on top of the fruit mixture. The fruit juice cooked out of the berries, so the cobbler was a little soupy. Next time I try this, I think I will add some cornstarch to make it more like a jelly filling.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cookies, anyone?

I had another productive Sunday a few weeks ago, and made 3 batches of cookies so I could bring some to my Family Education Strategies class. I'm planning to enter all three of these recipes in the State Fair this year, so it was also good practice forming those perfect round blobs of dough.

The first batch I made was plain oatmeal cookies. I'm using a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Cookie Book.

I'm working on the shape of these cookies, trying to make them round and evenly sized. Also, I want to maintain a chewy consistency.

I'm still working on the shape of the chocolate chip cookies. I am not sure if I'm going to use this recipe for the fair. I don't think they taste rich enough. I'm going to try a new recipe soon from the newest issue of Everyday Food magazine.

It was quite a productive and caloric day! The third type of cookies is gingersnaps that I've made many, many times.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ridiculously Large Brownies

I was reminded at the best time (8:45 PM) that I had offered to bring goodies to my Strategies in Family Education class the next day. When I checked my email I found a message from Jo-Ann stores, advertising a new brownie book from Wilton, with a recipe link. I decided to make these Cake Brownies to bring in, even though I had to run to the grocery store to get eggs. (Most of the eggs in the previous post were already used.) Because the recipe only made a smaller square pan, I decided to go ahead and double it for a 9 x 13 pan.

The pan of brownies could have anchored a boat. They were, without a doubt, the biggest brownies I have made. Of course, in a Chocolate Emergency type of situation, this would definitely be an attribute.

Here's a better view of the thickness of the brownies. The recipe used cake flour, which may have had an effect.

Instead of frosting the brownies, I gave them a good dusting of powdered sugar.

The brownies were a hit at class. I believe I am going to add this recipe to the list of State Fair entries for this year. The flavor is a good balance of chocolate and sweet. However, I've found that one recipe makes more than enough brownies to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Egg Cake Practice

When it comes to egg cakes....BE PREPARED!

Last year at the fair I entered the Angel Food Cake category. I have not made an angel food cake very much, so it was a learning experience. I scored a 90 out of 100, not too bad, so I think I have a good start. This weekend was my grandma's birthday, and angel food is one of her favorites, so I took the opportunity to practice the cake for this year. The recipe I used is from my 1969 version of Betty Crocker, called Deluxe Angel Food Cake (another version is Supreme Angel Food Cake). This same recipe is on the Betty Crocker web site as Heavenly Angel Food Cake.
I like beating the egg whites with my trusty partner-in-crime, the KA. Twelve egg whites have a LOT of volume when beaten!

The egg whites are ready when they form stiff peaks.

Next I sprinkle in the cake flour mixed with powdered sugar. I should be sifting this into the mixture. Next time I will not be so lazy.

Folding the flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture.

It's ready for the ungreased tube pan (again, nix the non-stick stuff). My pan is by Wilton.

I'm cutting through the mixture with a knife to eliminate any air pockets. They are my foes in this cake, causing those unsightly holes that are found in unpleasant ways (such as when the judges are slicing into the cake at the fair).

Cracks, cracks everywhere! These weren't terrible, but there IS room for improvement.

IMMEDIATELY after removing the cake from the oven, it must be inverted in order for it to cool without collapsing. I saved a glass Coke bottle just for this purpose. I bought the Coke just for this purpose of cooling foam type cakes.

The cooled cake, extracted from the pan. Not too shabby, but more test runs are needed. Those blasted air pockets get me every time! I think I need to push the batter into the pan more than I do. We'll see what happens next time.
The next experiment was an Orange Sponge Cake. I'd never made a sponge cake at all, so this task was a little more daunting. It's pretty similar to the Angel Food Cake, so I had an idea of how it should look. Still, it was a test run, so I had to buckle down and not slack on any part of the procedure. The recipe is from the 1953 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

I'm whipping up the egg yolks and orange juice in the KA first.

The cake flour is sifted, then folded into the egg yolk mixture. (I did sift the flour for this cake.)

Next I beat the egg whites with my hand mixer.

This is how voluminous six egg whites become!

The eggs whites are folded into the other mixture.

Pushing the batter into the tube pan, same as the angel food cake.

My heart sank, much as the cake sank. I do not think I beat the egg yolks long enough. Next time the egg whites are going into the stand mixer, and the yolks will be beat by the hand mixer. I don't think my whisk attachment reached enough of the yolks in the initial beating process.

I placed the cake top side down on a cardboard cake round and drizzled an orange glaze over it. It was a little low in the middle, but it had good flavor. I may try a new recipe, to compare the results with this one.