The Perfect Comfort Food

Needing a little warmth and comfort? This Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Raisins, Walnuts, and Pecans is the perfect answer.

Taking a moment for yourself, your loved ones, your family can be easy and tasty with this recipe! Spending a little bit of time to create a comforting meal can bring a smile for sure.

My friends at The Kitchen Table in Sacramento gave me the inspiration for this recipe. What a great idea! When I’m in town I like to stop by her shop and check out her amazing household, baking, and kitchen items. You’ve probably seen some of the items I’ve found in her shop on my Instagram or Facebook posts! If you’re near East Sacramento, be sure to stop by her shop and be inspired! and follow them on Instagram, too: @kitchentablesac

Stay healthy, stay happy, and keep baking!

Povitica, anyone?

Povitica. Say it with me: Poh-vih-teetz-a.

This traditional Eastern European swirled walnut and chocolate bread is one of my favorite treats!

Not exactly the easiest bread to make, but the results are worth the effort.

I’m still on my quest to bake every recipe from the Great British Bake Off Big Book of Recipes, and this was a little intimidating…until I made it!

You’ll need a large worktop or kitchen table to carefully s-t-r-e-t-c-h the soft and delicate dough to the right size.

I tried this recipe twice: once by following the instructions as listed, and once by trying a cool trick for the filling. The trick is to use large strips of plastic wrap to press out the walnut mixture and spread it even and thin on the plastic wrap before flipping that onto the stretched out dough. Voila! Something that seemed impossible and was a little frustrating, became quite easy. I’ll be making it a third time, in a smaller loaf pan to get the roll to stack better and rise higher.

Give it a try! and say it with me again: Poh-vih-teetz-ah

Booze in your bakes? Yes, please.

When you add just the right amount of booze to your baking, it sure tastes AMAZING, and these Glazed Fruitcake Cookies have become one of my absolute new favorite holiday treats because of the rum factor.

From my previous post, you’ll know that I was not a fan of fruitcake growing up, or even into my adult life. Then, I created a fruitcake from scratch using dried fruits I liked, and now I’ve tried a revamped Fruitcake Cookie recipe that I liked, and I think the secret is the fruit you choose, and the booze you choose of course.

I used to not like alcohol in my food, either. I guess the secret is being the one creating the food and being the one choosing the amount and the type of booze!

The balance of the flavors of the booze and the spices you choose are key, and the only way to figure that out is by trial and error. If you don’t like the flavor of the booze before you bake with it, you won’t like the final product. Don’t cheap out on the quality of alcohol you use because you think it’s going to be baked off and it just won’t matter. In my opinion, cheap booze tastes cheap, plain and simply. It doesn’t need to be the most expensive, but it definitely shouldn’t be the least expensive either. If you aren’t sure, I generally go for the bottle that is in between the high/low priced bottles and I’ve never been disappointed.

I started with the Glazed Fruitcake Cookies recipe from Bake From Scratch Magazine, but I didn’t stick to it exactly and I switched it up to my taste and tweaked the recipe to my liking. So, I definitely didn’t use the fruits as listed! They didn’t sound like a good combo to me (remember, I hate traditional fruitcake), so I used dried sour cherries, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and dried candied orange peel, and bumped up some of the spices and a few other minor changes. (please contact me if you want my version of this recipe!)

I used Sailor Jerry Rum…because I liked the price and I liked the tattoo artwork on the label. I don’t drink much alcohol, so it was a gamble, but it paid off. It’s really good, and the warm spices are well balanced and it’s not too harsh or weirdly artificial flavored like some other spiced rums I’ve tried, which shall remain nameless. If you prefer another brand, by all means, use it!

The dried fruit is soaked in booze, and then is also added straight into the glaze, so if you’re avoiding alcohol, these cookies should be avoided. They definitely have the aroma of warm spices and taste of the warmth of the spiced rum, without that ‘alcohol’ taste. I’m pretty sure kids won’t like them…I wouldn’t have liked these as a kid, so I can only assume your kids won’t either!

Perfect for your holiday table, or sharing with friends, I hope these Glazed Fruitcake Cookies become a holiday favorite for you, too!

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Not your Grandmother’s Fruit Cake

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Fruit cake. When I hear those words, I immediately flash back to a horrible, store bought, holiday fruit cake that looked like it would be delicious…but instead made me barf. (literally)

I was sooooo excited to try that holiday sweet bread when I was young. From a kid’s perspective it looked like it would be sweet and filled with candy! But what looked like candy soon turned out to be gross hyper green and red fake cherries strewn about in a dense, dry bread-thing, full of other mysterious, dark fruit bits, and it was terribly disappointing and I’ve avoided all fruit cakes ever since. I assumed that all fruit cake, no matter who made it including my dear Grandmother, was disgusting.

That was over 48 years ago.

Irish Brack (traditional Irish Barmbrack)

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

As most of you know, I’m baking my way through The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking, and I’m baking things I would never even consider because it’s in the book. Some are new favorites, some are just an item to check off the list of ‘to do’. I figured the Irish Brack would be CHECK, done. But…instead…I love it.

I have no idea what that THING was that I ate when I was a kid…but, that thing they called a fruit cake ruined my perception of something that is really quite glorious.

The GBBO cookbook has some gems. This little Brack feels like it’s thrown in there amidst some pretty fancy raised/plaited loaves, so I didn’t think much of it, and I made it only because it was in the book.

My oh my, this little ‘quick’ (not so quick) bread is DELICIOUS! I didn’t think much about or shop specifically for the dried fruit I added, it was what I had in the cupboard. But, the combination of golden raisins (sultanas), dried sour cherries, blueberries and apricots is a winner.

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Try it, you might like it

If you’ve had really bad fruit cake experience, or if you hate fruit cake, I dare you to try this recipe. You could be sweetly surprised like I was!

I hope you try it, and if you do, let me know what you think!

The Perfect Fall Dessert: Molasses Toffee Apple Upside Down Cake

Seriously delicious.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I love fall, and how much I love all the flavors of fall. Apples, ginger, and molasses are some of my all-time favorites. Put them all together in a delicious and lovely way, and it’s the most perfect flavor combination!

Moist. Fluffy. Sweet. Gingery.

I found this recipe in the Bake From Scratch Magazine (which I highly highly recommend getting a subscription!) but this recipe is not listed on their site. Find the Fall 2019 Magazine, trust me. It’s worth it!

It’s a ginger bread cake, with a molasses and brown sugar toffee, and thin (but not too thin) granny smith apple slices, baked ‘upside down’ and then turned out right side up with the apples and toffee on top. Be careful with the topping, the edges can burn and the middle won’t melt if the topping isn’t spread evenly, just fyi!

Here’s a little video of making this cake, my new favorite and definitely a new staple for holiday gatherings, friend-get-togethers, and any other event I can find an excuse to make it and share it!

Delicious! Keep following…this recipe could very well show up on my blog after a few tries of creating my own version!

It’s Fall, Y’all! Time for Fall flavors: Pumpkin Spice, and everything nice.

I love everything about Fall. Since I was a little kid, the arrival of fall weather meant the holidays were almost here and that meant my favorite Pumpkin Pie was on the way!

Fast forward to present day Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING, it’s no longer just for holiday gatherings or family get-togethers. If you love it like I do, we can find something with the flavor of pumpkin spice all day, every day!

Make your own Pumpkin Spice mix

I’ve usually relied on store bought pumpkin spice mixes and flavorings, but it’s really easy to make your own. For this post I bought new McCormick spices, but you can use whatever you prefer. The key is making sure your spices are as fresh as they can be.

Some of my favorite ways to use Pumpkin Spice:

  • Pumpkin or Apple pies
  • Yeasted rolls, yeasted breads or quick breads
  • Cookies and bars
  • Cakes, cupcakes
  • Pancakes!
  • Syrup
  • American buttercream frosting
  • whipped cream
  • Coffee drinks, or add as a syrup in your Latte
  • Breakfast oats
  • roasted fall veggies

Thanks for following! I hope you find time to enjoy your own blend of pumpkin spice in a latte!

Croatian Hrapoćuša Cake, from Brač Island

Excited to share this recipe! It combines my love of baking with my full-time job as a travel specialist with Adventures Croatia! I love Croatia and all of its culinary delights, but their traditional food is so amazing, happy to include this in my blog.

I hope you love Walnuts!

My favorite aspect of this cake is the almost 5 cups of walnuts it uses! I could eat the walnut praline just by itself. The 2 separate elements that make up this cake are worth the effort, and you can make the cake ahead of any special dinners and freeze.

Coming from Croatia’s island of Brač, this dense hrapoćuša cake is loaded with sticky walnuts and hints of lemon. Hrapoćuša is included on the Croatian Republic’s Ministry of Culture’s list of protected cultural heritage, and it is DELICIOUS!

Learning the science of Bread making

I’ve been avoiding making bread from scratch, and at this point, I’ve officially made bread twice in my life. It was always a bit of a mystery, seemed really daunting, time-consuming and a wee bit scary….and I thought for sure it would be really easy to mess up.

Thankfully, with a little bit of learning and a lot of watching my favorite show, The Great British Bake Off, as well as watching their “Masterclasses” and reading as many tips from Paul Hollywood himself from his book “How to Bake”…I’m not nearly as afraid of bread as I was.

I’m still a total novice, but at least I can say I’ve successfully made two loaves and some rolls, and not only were they edible, but they were also really tasty!

I’m sure I’ll have some bad results when I try some more difficult types of bread, but for now, I’m going to pat myself on the back for being able to follow instructions! I’m still on a quest to bake every recipe from the “Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking” cookbook, so the Poppyseed White Bloomer is a good one to try at first, and start to get my kneading muscles stronger!

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Read the recipe! There are hints, tips, and tricks in the GBBO cookbook, so reading those are really helpful, but the recipe itself has pretty specific instructions. Follow them.
  2. Get a thermometer, and keep the liquid at exactly the right temperature.
  3. Do not be afraid to get your hands in there. Machines are for speed, your hands are for getting the feel of the dough. Get them in there!
  4. Love the dough. Love the process.
  5. Use a good timer. I have two, and you will need them for the different bake times, and proving times.
  6. for a nice crust, I used a big roasting pan on the bottom rack and tossed a cup of cold water into it when I put the loaves into the oven, which steamed up my kitchen but also created a really nice crunch!
  7. And lastly, ENJOY the time and effort. It is so satisfying to eat the fruits of your labor!

Making Fresh Bread for the First Time

I have to admit that I have been intimidated to try baking bread from scratch, but I finally decided to try it. And now, having accomplished it, I have no idea why I was so intimidated!

It might not be perfect, but it was a really simple recipe to follow, it has very simple ingredients, and it tastes really good! (for a simple white bread)

“Do. Or do not. There is no ‘try’.”

Bread seems to be one of those things that has a mind of its own, but if you put the right things together, in the right quantity, at the right time, at the right temperature, magic happens. The recipe is from the Great British Bake Off cookbook I’ve been cooking from start to finish, and Paul Hollywood seems to be the “King of Bread”, so I thought I’d learn from the best! And, it turned out ok! AND, I’m really looking forward to the next recipe. You can find the book here.

My favorite part of the process? Punching down the dough after the first rise! You’ll see the very satisfying moment in my video.

I hope this inspires you to test a new bake, a new bread, or something you’ve always been a little intimidated by. You just might discover it’s not as hard as you think!

Savory Biscuits…not my thing.

Savory…not my thing. Biscuits (aka crackers)…not my thing. Savory Biscuits…really not my thing, and definitely not my favorite.

But, I can officially say “MISSION COMPLETE” on the first section of the Great British Bake Off Cookbook! Up next: BREAD!!

I am super excited to try all of the GBBO cookbook’s bread recipes. After my year on the keto diet (that’s a whole other blog topic, don’t get me started) now bread in small doses is a glorious thing. But biscuits…not so much.