Baking Organization 101 and Caramel-Glazed Apple Bread

For this post, I want to share about how I keep all of my baking supplies organized. I have one of those husbands who might be classified as “OCD.” He needs things around him to be organized or he can’t sit still. I realize this is kind of a strange quality in a man, but I do love it most of the time. My baking supplies used to be in two overhead cabinets above the stove, crammed in with no space and no way to find anything. When Maddy Lu started, things started getting even messier. That’s when I decided I needed to do something- for my marriage and cleanliness :). My baking life after organizing has been so much easier! I will share how I keep my supplies and where I got the ideas along with some pictures:

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All of my baking supplies are organized in a large basket from Target. It was around $20 for the basket. It just so happened that everything fits perfectly!

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If you notice inside of my basket I have home made vanilla. You can use any container, but I fin one with a spout is best. Use 4 vanilla beans for every one cup of alcohol you us (I used cheap Vodka that I bought at a liquor store when I was almost 8 months pregnant. No, the cashier did not bat an eye to sell it to me). Shake the bottle a couple of times a week and in a few months you will have your own vanilla... Great packaged in smaller bottles as gifts as well! If you peek ehind the vanilla you will see a bit of my container garden I have growing on the back deck. It got a little swamped with the rain we had this weekend.

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You can make a mason jar into anything (just look up 'mason jars' on pinterest... it will prove my theory.) I fitted the lid of a salt container under the ring of the mason jar and it pours just like normal, but can be filled with anything. I have several of these in my pantry. Great for grains like rice or cous cous. Also keeps humidity out of salt in the summer.

Since today was a cool rainy day, I felt like it would be a great day to bake something delicious. I saw a recipe for apple bread a while back, and it caught my eye so I figured I’d give it a try and then share with our Maddy Lu readers (do we have those?). Here are some pictures of the journey, and the recipe below. 

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Start with some good apples. We buy organic through Suburban Organics and it saves us some money.You only need two medium sized for this recipe.

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Here's my apple peeler! It isn't an ancient torture device, though it may look like it. Yard sale find last year for $2, but it's saved me tons of time and energy peeling and slicing apples.

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There goes that apple peeler working it's magic. Anyone have an good ideas for what to do with the long strings of apple skin you get? Maybe a pretty pie topper.

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Oh yes. And it is so good, not to mention good looking. And this recipe makes two loaves which is nice for freezer cooking!

Recipe comes from Passthesushi.com (http://passthesushi.com/caramel-glazed-apple-bread)

Bread:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking apples (2 large)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray or shortening.

In large bowl, stir together apples, 1 cup brown sugar, the buttermilk, oil and eggs. Stir in remaining bread ingredients just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into pans.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on cooling rack. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top sides up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir powdered sugar into glaze mixture. Place saucepan of glaze in bowl of cold water. Beat with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. If glaze becomes too stiff, stir in additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, or heat over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle glaze over loaves. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

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Martha’s Cookie of the Month

I’m a Martha person. Are you? Her recipes are usually simple enough, well tested, and tasty. She only makes me feel like the most disorganized person on the planet some of the time. What a woman. When I get too discouraged I just remember she spent time behind bars and it makes me like her again.

This month the special cookie in her magazine is the “Nutty Butter.” This really isn’t a “throw it in the mixer and forget it” type of recipe. There are a few steps involved, so make sure you have about 45 minutes. You can find the recipe for these cookies after the pictures.

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Recipe can be found on page 56 of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, April 2012.

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Mix Mix Mixing up the butter and sugars.

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Thank you to my back yard chickens for making this egg and these cookies possible!

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Highly recommend investing in a full sized sheet pan. It takes up the entire oven and you can bake all of your cookies in one huge batch. Cuts a lot of time and energy...

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Here they are! And they were awesome. Not just because I'm pregnant.

Ingredients:

  • I 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (If that sounds too healthy, substitute chocolate chips. That’s what I did.)
  1. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5-7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat together the remaining stick of butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add nut butter (I used peanut butter but you can also use almond or cashew), and beat until combined on medium speed.
  3. Add oat mixture and chopped nuts (or chocolate chips), and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets, can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week. But they won’t last that long.

Buying Local Produce and Using Fresh Ingredients…

I have been thinking a lot about how important fresh ingredients are. They make all the difference in taste, texture, and the over all appeal of whatever you’re making. It is so important to me to buy local produce for a few reasons-
1. You know where it’s coming from
2. You know the people who are benefiting from the profit
3. It improves your community
Buying local has been something on my mind since Kelsey and I started our business. Paying a little extra seems worth the trouble when you consider the benefits. It excited me that the Austins were able to get a fig tree! Since I don’t have a yard with direct sunlight, I love that my mother in law grows vegetables we will be able to eat this summer and fall. I especially love the idea of CHICKENS! Donna, a friend of mine who owns her own farm (www.wrangleborofarm.com), has given me quite a few tips for raising these little guys. I am so excited to set out on a new adventure raising chickens for eggs and meat. You may wonder what the benefits are to eating free range eggs. The birds that we get our eggs from in the grocery store are fed a terrible diet. Fresh eggs have 1/3 more protein, 25% less saturated fat, more vitamins A and E, and they taste so much better! Plus you can be sure they are not given any growth hormones. My father in law will be helping by building the coop and housing them since Andrew and I live within city limits and we don’t have any room of our own.

Check out this pretty little hen house!


This video is so interesting! Check out what this man does…

When we use fresh ingredients, you benefit!

Fresh Eggs from Donna's Farm

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