Monday, February 28, 2022

Abbey the Pup's Second Birthday

My good friend Paula has an adorable puppy, Abbey. She just had her second birthday, so we made her a cake! Of course she didn't get to eat any of it, but I did since we made it with non-dairy ingredients, from scratch.

It was a delicious vanilla white cake with confectioners sugar icing and coconut. I made a bone shape from edible paper and decorated it with Abbey's name in pink royal icing, dolled up with some gold dragees around the edges, anchored with more pink royal icing. We had so much fun baking together and the cake was very moist and good. Abbey did get some vanilla ice cream, but I passed on that!

I'll have to get the recipe from Paula for the cake and icing. Both use coconut milk or coconut cream which helps keep it moist. Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

About Feeding My Enthusiasms Index

Two years ago I posted a note about how to use the dates in the Index to go to the desired recipe.

I've been trying hard to make sure that each new post get put into the Index...but may have slipped up a couple of times.

To get to the Index, use Web Version and on the right hand column, near but not at the top, there is a photo of a table set on a rust colored cloth (like the photo above). If you click on that photo, it takes you to the Index.

The Index is broken up by alphabet. There are also focused collections for bread, cake and cookies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Babes Do An Italian Bake

This has been a very social week, probably because of my birthday...was treated to breakfast, lunch, and dinner by different neighbors on the actual birthday, plus have been taken out to lunch a few days before. Partly because of that, I'm posting last minute...but it's worth the wait.

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is our fabulous Kitchen of the Month and she chose a layered bread from Italy, Sfincione Bagharese, for February. I made half the recipe given because we've already indulged quite a bit, so didn't need to be tempted by too much delicious freshly baked bread. I also left out all the cheese and added in some chopped walnuts to the bread crumb topping, plus used almond milk ricotta instead of the regular dairy based ricotta cheese. Having an extreme allergy to dairy can be a trial with this kind of recipe which uses a number of different cheeses. My bread probably tastes nothing like the real thing, but it's still a great bread. Sweetie had two pieces, I had one, and the rest went to a neighbor because, hello, we have had an indulgent weekend.

I made my dough fairly hydrated since it was going to go into a flat pan and didn't need to hold it's shape on its own. Even so, the crumb had small holes not large ones like you sometimes get with wet dough, but it is moist. I used all-purpose flour and bread flour and topped it with the onions, the ricotta and a bread crumb mixture that included Greek herb mix instead of oregano, plus chopped walnuts and a touch of olive oil since there is no cheese... the oil will helped the crumbs hold together and would have browned nicely if I had been watching. Instead, the top burned a bit, but still tasted great. It was a fragrant as well as delicious bread so I encourage you to make it. 

Do consider becoming a Buddy. Bake your version of this bread, then send Aparna the URL of your post, a brief description of the bake and a photo. She'll send you a badge and will post your bread in the round-up. Deadline to email Aparna is Feb. 28th.

Be sure to check out the breads baked by the other Bread Baking Babes, too. There are always inventive takes on our monthly bread challenge.


(Partly adapted from here and other sources on the net)


For the Poolish :

150 g plain flour

150 ml water

1 tsp dry active yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

For the Dough :

All the Poolish from above

150 gm all-purpose flour

250 gm semolina flour (I used bread flour)

300 ml water (more or less)

30 ml olive oil

15 gm salt

For the Onion Layer :

4 to 5 medium sized onions

20 to 30 ml olive oil

Salt to taste

For the Cheese Layer : I skipped most of this layer due to dairy allergies

10 to 12 anchovies in oil

300 gm Tuma or Primo Sale cheese, sliced

400 gm Ricotta, sliced

For the Breadcrumbs Layer :

Some chopped scallions (if you can find them)

4 to 6 slices of fresh bread

100 gm grated Caciocavallo cheese (left out)

Salt to taste

Red chilli flakes or crushed pepper to taste

1 tsp dried oregano


Also two very well oiled round 23cm trays



Make the Poolish by mixing together in a medium sized bowl the flour, dry yeast, sugar, and water until a sticky dough is obtained. Add more water if necessary to achieve this. Cover loosely with a plastic film and leave to rise for about 2 hours. The polish should be somewhat bubbly and have doubled in size.


Make the dough by hand or use a kneading machine. Mix together the flours, water (more or less as required), oil and the poolish. The dough will be sticky. Add the salt and knead till it is soft, very pliable and smooth. Shape it into a round and place it in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it to rise till double in volume. Mine took about 2 hours.

Cook the onions.
 While the dough is rising, get the toppings ready. Heat the oil in a pan and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle a little salt and cook the onions on low to medium heat until they turn translucent and soft. Do not brown or caramelize them. If they turn too dry, sprinkle a little water while cooking them. Take the pan off heat and let them cool to room temperature.

Prepare the breadcrumb mixture.
 Run the bread slices (with or without crusts) in a food processor to make the crumbs. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix together with the oil, salt, red chilli flakes (or crushed pepper) chopped scallions/ spring onions, oregano and grated cheese. The texture should be of loose but moist crumbs.

 Once the dough has risen, gently knead to deflate it. Divide it into two equal portions. Press out each portion into a roughly 9-inch circle (or oval) using your fingers. If the dough feels sticky, oil your fingers lightly. Place in the oiled trays. I used a pie dish. Let the dough rise again, for about an hour till almost double in thickness and quite puffy.

Top with anchovy, then the cooked onions. Next comes the Ricotta and Tuma/ Primo Sale cheeses. Make sure to cover the surface of the dough evenly. Finish layering by spreading the breadcrumb mixture on the top.

 Bake the Sfincione at 250C (480F) on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. The underneath of the bread should become golden and crisp. Then move the pan to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until it is crisp and golden brown on the top as well. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Cut and serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Birthday Memories

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a bit of a nut about birthdays. I love to celebrate birthdays, especially other people's. I love to make birthday cakes, too. When I was a child, as soon as I was old enough to make a layer cake, I became the family birthday cake maker most of the time, which was great. Who can hate birthday cake? This past weekend was full of great birthday memories.

This is the cake I was trying for...I even wrote in what icing tips to use!

Day before yesterday my awesome daughter and I made great memories as we each decorated a chocolate cake we had baked earlier. We both have an Alexa device with screen, so she could see and hear me and I could see and hear her. There was a lot of laughter! When close ups were needed, we FaceTimed. So why did we decide to spend a Saturday morning making buttercream and decorating cakes? Well, King Arthur Baking sent out a catalog with a heart shaped cake on the cover and it was stunning. The bakers had used a variety of decorating tips and colors to cover the cake all over the top with buttercream rosettes. I immediately wanted to try my hand at that, despite the fact that my skills in that department are pretty rusty. For Kate it was a completely new experience. She even bought a thirty tip cake decorating kit so she had a wide variety of possible shapes. She got an awesome buttercream recipe from a neighbor who makes cakes all the time. I should have used that recipe.

My cake turned out to be a "Nailed It" kind of cake. You'll understand what that means if you have ever watched the Netflix show Nailed It. Bakers who are not skilled in the kitchen compete for prizes by making very complicated sweet baked creations that I think were mostly inspired by professional baked goods found on Pinterest. To make it even harder, the time allowed is much too short. The results are hilarious and each contestant says, enthusiastically, "Nailed It!" when they present their fairly strange looking approximation of the one shown at the beginning.

Not a terrible cake, but nothing like the King Arthur one or the even more beautiful one Kate made.

Why, you ask, did I have trouble? Well, this was the first time I was trying to make my favorite buttercream not using actual butter. I guess the margarine and plant based 'butter' just had too much water or something, because the buttercream broke and all the usual ways to fix it didn't work. The uncolored buttercream was OK but too soft, but once I started adding color, it was a disaster. The color only mixed partially with the icing. I did end up with something that wasn't too bad, but it was nothing like what I was going for, and nothing like the gorgeous creation my daughter made. Check it out! This is her's:

Isn't it awesome !!?

Even with my disaster with buttercream, it was a wonderful morning. I still had a cake for later, Kate created a beautiful cake and expanded her cake decorating skills,  we had the best time together, and that best time together was my birthday of the awesome kind, where memories are made.

On Sunday Sweetie and I took my cake to a birthday lunch and shared it and even though it was fairly plain looking, it was really, really delicious. Looks aren't everything, which is probably a good mantra for being a year older, too.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

She Said...

When you are little it often seems like life will be a series of should go to school, make friends, learn how to drive, graduate, get a job/career and/or get married, have kids...and maybe a dog or cat or both, buy a car, buy a house, have a hobby or volunteer or read a lot of books or watch a lot of TV/movies are all of those, in any combination, plus a few vacations.

In reality very few of us get that standard issue life. We find it hard to make friends, or we don't have a stable home life, so the rest gets off to a poor start, or we find out that we have a vision issue and can't drive, or we flunk out, or there is a recession and finding a job is hard, and so on.

Perhaps the relationship thing is the one that is most expected...but then you find that you are gay or trans or non-binary and it gets complicated. Perhaps you fall in love but it isn't returned, or the person you love dies young, or any number of other scenarios that fill books and movies and TV, or...most common I never meet the right person, the perfect fit. 

Still, sometimes it's just easier to do it the hard way, as my son would say, and so you keep on keeping on and you figure out who you are and hopefully get to like yourself, at least a little, and you get lucky. I still think that luck plays a big part in chunks of our lives.

I was lucky to meet my Sweetie. Our neighbors had a hand in it, throwing us together when they could, until we realized that we wanted to get to know each other better.

Our awesome, talented, gifted, and wonderful daughter had a winding road in the earlier part of her life, but she got lucky, too. She found her person and he found his in her. Sweetie and I like him a lot, but that's icing on the cake...what's important is that she likes him a lot, and loves him, too. And the love is returned.

At Christmas he found a few moments when he knew she wouldn't be around and when Sweetie and I were together and alone...and he asked us if we would support his asking our daughter to marry him. We were thrilled and agreed, but then had to wait and keep it a secret until he asked her. Wasn't easy.

And she said 'Yes!' this past weekend. He is her person and she is his person and at least one of those dreams from when she was little has come true. I couldn't be happier.