Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tarte Fine (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious: Tarte Fine. I loved baked apples.... apple pie, apple crumble, apple tarts,... you name it, I love it! So I was thrilled when I saw that Leslie had chosen this recipe!

I love how quick and easy this one is! Seriously... just thaw some store bought puff pastry and then throw some sliced apples on top and you're done! Well, there are a few more steps in between, but really, you can make this in no time! I've already made it twice in one week, and the lengthiest step involved is peeling and slicing the apples.

The first time I made this tarte, I made the full fat, super sweet version that Dorie talks about in the "Playing Around" section :) I added bits of butter, cinnamon, and sugar to the puff pastry before layering the sliced apples on top.  Then, I brushed melted butter and sprinkled more cinnamon and sugar on top! It was delicious.  The extra cinnamon (not sure why Dorie doesn't use any? maybe because the French don't?) is perfect in this recipe.  I am sure if you sift your cinnamon onto the apples (or mix it in a bowl with the sugar first) it looks much better, but I was in a rush and just sprinkled it on straight from the container, resulting in a more "rustic" looking tarte :)

The second time I made this tarte, I decided to cut back on the sugar and butter a little bit, but I still didn't make the healthiest option Dorie gives (in the original recipe).  I did not put any pieces of butter on the bottom layer, and I added much less sugar and melted butter on top (exact quantities noted below).  Honestly, the tarte still tasted just as great and I could not tell the difference... so, when I make this again (and I definitely will!), I will go with the middle-of-the road option.

Thanks Leslie, for hosting this week.  If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this fall treat! As a reminder, if you'd like to meet Dorie during her current book tour, see if she will be visiting your city here.  If you'd like to join us at her cooking class here in Dallas on October 24th, sign up here.

* Recipe notes:
- If you are using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, then no need to roll out the dough... it already comes premade in the perfect size for this tarte.  So just thaw it and then unfold it directly onto your baking sheet.
- Before arranging the apple layer on the puff pastry, I sprinkled 1 tablespoon of sugar as well as a generous sprinkling of cinnamon (sorry, I didn't measure it out, just eyeballed it) on top (I omitted the extra butter Dorie recommends in the Playing Around section the second time I made this and still loved it).
- Once the apples are layered on, brush the top with 2 tablespoons of melted butter (I found that 3-4 was way too much) and another 1.5-2 tablespoons of sugar.  Sprinkle with cinnamon again.  Alternatively, you could make a cinnamon and sugar mixture to sprinkle on top and your tart would look less "rustic" than mine did :)
- My tarte was done a few minutes early.  I definitely had to cover the edges with some foil to prevent it from burning, in order to get my apples lightly browned.
- For more recipe tips, click here

Monday, September 27, 2010

Decorated Sugar Cookies (DB)

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.  The theme for this challenge was "September" - we were to decorate these cookies based on whatever happens in our lives during September.

For me, September conjures up fond memories of Hawaii... because it is the month in which we celebrate our wedding anniversary! My husband and I just celebrated our 5 year anniversary this month! Hard to believe that 5 years ago we were in Hawaii, saying our vows.  Now here we are today, getting ready to plan our baby girl's first birthday party! So, in honor of the September theme, I decided to make sugar cookies in the shape of flowers, decorated using our wedding colors of pink and green.

To make these cookies, I first created the outline of the petals in green.  After the green outline was dry, I flooded the petals with pink, allowed the pink icing to dry, and then topped it all with a yellow dot for the center (some of the cookies were decorated with a yellow star in the center instead).  I have also seen similar cookies made where the entire cookie is decorated one color first, and after the icing has dried, the outline of the petals is made with a second color.  That just seems like more work to me, though, because you end up having to outline the petals twice (once before flooding the cookie and then a second time with the contrasting color).

I also made a batch of pink snowflake cookies to send to my friend, Laura, who recently gave birth to her second daughter.  While she was still in her mommy's belly, they called the baby "snowflake."  So I thought it would only be fitting to send her pink snowflake cookies to celebrate her daughter's arrival :)

To make these cookies, I used the same flower cookie cutter I used for the cookies above, but this time I outlined and flooded the entire cookie with pink.  After allowing the icing to dry, I then went back in with white royal icing and created the snowflake pattern on them.

I've been asked a few times for my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  If you like the soft, melt-in-your mouth type of cookie, you should try these (though they are not good for decorating with royal icing you can still do some fun things with them).  These sugar cookies were great for decorating, too, but it's been so long that it's hard for me to compare that recipe to this one.  I may have to make them again, just so I can figure out which one I like better.  Regardless, I found that this sugar cookie dough was very easy to work with.  Even better, it took almost no time to come together (not counting refrigeration time) and was so good that these cookies did not last more than 2 days in our house! (Almost a shame, considering how long it took me to decorate them all!)

Thanks Mandy, for hosting this month's challenge.  I had fun decorating the cookies for our anniversary and you gave me the nudge I needed to finally make the decorated sugar cookies I had already been planning (since June) to send to my friend! I have found that making decorated sugar cookies, while at first may seem intimidating, is actually quite easy (just very time consuming!)

Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed these lovely treats.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:
315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Decorating Your Cookies: Flooding
“Flooding” a cookie is a technique used when covering a cookie with Royal Icing.
1. You outline the area you want to flood which helps create a dam
2. Then fill or flood inside the area you’ve outlined

Decorating Your Cookies: What You'll Need
- Piping bags / Parchment Cones / Ziplock Bags
- Elastic bands
- Piping tips (between sizes 1 & 5)
- Couplers
- Glasses (handy for standing your piping bags in)
- Clean clothes, dry & damp
- Toothpicks
- Gel or paste food colouring

Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.
There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

The Same Consistency Method
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions
• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10
• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test

Two Different Consistencies Method
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.
• Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.
• For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.
• For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test.

• Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each colour you plan on using.
Tip: Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps
• Using a toothpick, add gel or paste colouring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired colour is reached
Tip: You can use liquid food colouring but you might not be able to get the desired strength of colour, liquid colouring will also thin out the icing so you’ll need to add more icing sugar to thicken it again.

Prepping and Filling Your Bag
• Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers
Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5.
Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise.
• Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.
• Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.
• Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.

Decorating: Outlining
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.
Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a parchment cone or Ziploc bag
• Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.
• Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.
• Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.
• As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.
Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie.
• If you’re doing a different colour border, eg a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.

Decorating: Flooding
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.
Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening.
• Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.
Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly.
• Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.
• Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.

Decorating: Melding Colours
• If you would like to add lines or dots to the base colour that you flooded the cookie with so that they meld and dry as a smooth surface, you need to add the lines/dots/patterns as quickly as possible after flooding and smoothing the surface of the cookie.
Tip: Make sure to have all the colours you’re planning on using ready and close by so that you can switch between colours quickly
• Simply pipe other colours onto the flooded surface in patterns or lines which you can either leave as that or then drag a toothpick through to make marbling patterns.

Decorating: On top of flooding
• If you’d like to do other patterns/outlines or writing on top of the flooded surface so that they are raised above the flooded background, simply allow the icing to dry, preferably over night.
• Fit the piping bag with tip sizes 1-3.
• Pipe patterns or write on top of the dry icing
Tip: For writing, the consistency of your icing should be thicker rather than thinner, drag a knife through your icing and when the surface smoothes around 12-15 seconds, the consistency is correct.
Packaging and Storing
• Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.
• Stack cookies in an airtight container, from largest cookies at the bottom, to smallest and more intricate at the top, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers.
• Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed.
• Will last for about a month if stored this way.

General Baking Tips
• When measuring by volume (cup) always shift/aerate your flour/icing sugar in the container/bag before measuring because it settles as it sits and so you end up with more flour/icing sugar in your cup. I do this by moving the ingredient around with a spoon, whisk or fork.
• When measuring flour or icing sugar by volume (cup) never scoop the flour/icing sugar up with the cup otherwise you compress the contents and this can make a big difference in the amount you’re using. Rather, spoon the ingredient into the cup until level with the top.
• When measuring baking powder or baking soda, always level off the top of the measuring spoon with something flat (like the back of a knife) as these ingredients need to be accurately measured.
• When mixing your ingredients, always follow the recipe instructions, especially when it comes to beating in eggs and flour, so if it specifies to mix until just combined or to beat for 4 minutes, follow the instructions to get best results.
• Unless otherwise specified, always have your ingredients at room temperature.
• It’s always best to invest in an oven thermometer so that you know exactly the temperature you’re baking at then you can also find out if you have cold or hot spots in your oven.
• If you need to rotate your trays midst baking, always allow at least half the baking time to lapse before opening your oven to move baking trays around, this allows time for your baked goods to form a good structure so that they won’t flop.

General Royal Icing Tips
• Keep a damp cloth handy while decorating your cookies so that if you’re switching between different icing bags, you can keep the tips covered with the damp cloth so that the icing doesn’t dry and clog them.
• If your icing tips do clog, use a toothpick or pin to unclog them.
• Always pipe a little bit of royal icing onto a board/paper towel before you begin to make sure there are no air bubbles.
• Remember to always cover bowls containing royal icing wither cling wrap, a damp cloth or sealable lid so that the surface doesn’t dry.
• Don’t store anything decorated with royal icing in the fridge otherwise the royal icing will
become tacky.

Recipe Source
Basic Sugar Cookie recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen
Royal Icing recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee-Break Muffins (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous: Coffee-Break Muffins. Instead of using milk as the liquid in these muffins, Dorie uses coffee. I'll be honest, I don't drink coffee. I love coffee ice cream, but I don't like coffee.  Most of the time it is way too bitter for my taste.  I'll have a little bit of coffee with my cream and sugar, but you'll never catch me having a cup of black coffee! So I was going to skip this week, but since muffins are quick and easy and my husband LOVES coffee, I went ahead and made these for him :)

Since the man has also been known to go into the cupboard, open up my bag of chocolate chips and just grab a handful to snack on, I decided to throw some chocolate chips into these muffins as well.  I ended up with 10, not 12, muffins with this recipe.  I made 6 without chocolate chips and 4 with chocolate chips.  I sampled a bit of both and found that the muffins with the chocolate chips were much better.  The plain muffins were, well... too plain.  You could definitely taste the flavor of coffee in these muffins, and while these were just okay in my book, I am sure coffee lovers would love this breakfast treat.  (Other bakers noted a lack of coffee flavor, but perhaps that was due to the type of coffee used? I used some pretty strong Chocolate Macadamia Nut Kona Coffee.)

Thanks Rhiani, for hosting this week.  If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this breakfast treat!

* Recipe notes:
- I used a regular sized muffin pan and ended up with 10 muffins.
- These muffins bake up way faster than the indicated 20 minutes! Mine were done in about 14 minutes, so keep a close eye on yours to avoid dried out, over baked muffins.
- Wrapped airtight, these can be frozen for up to 2 months.  Rewarm in a 350-degree-F oven, or split and toast them.
- For more recipe tips, click here

* Update: I just found out that Dorie will be hosting a cooking class right here in Dallas on Sunday, October 24th!!! If anyone would like to attend this event, I would love to meet up with you (and Dorie!!!).  Just leave me a comment here, or shoot me an email (it's along the left side of my blog).  The class will be between 4-6:30pm and will feature Salmon Rillettes; Tuna-Mozzarella and Fresh Basil Pizzas; Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine; Cauliflower Gratin; Sable Breton Galette.  Sign up here. To see if Dorie will be visiting your city on her book tour, click here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blueberry Upside-Downer (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Sabrina of Superfluous: Cranberry Upside-Downer.  I've actually wanted to make this cake from the moment I got this cookbook! The photograph in the book is just so scrumptious looking.  Somehow year after year, I always end up making some other type of cranberry goodie instead because surprisingly, no one has picked this cake... until now! :)

This cake took almost no time to make, allowing me to throw it together in a matter of minutes, before my little girl lost interest in the miscellaneous items I handed to her as I set her down in the kitchen to play while I baked ;) (Unfortunately, it was getting dark by the time I got to photograph it and with my hubby rushing me to finish so he could eat some, I neglected to change the settings on my camera so my pictures aren't the best.)

The only problem I had with this cake was flipping it right side up.  Be careful, as it's a very juicy cake and I had scorching hot, juicy butter splatter onto my arm as I flipped it onto the plate!!! Thankfully aloe vera is amazing and I went from having a splatter shaped first degree burn on my arm to virtually no trace of any burns whatsoever there now!

This cake was delicious.  It's nice and moist and not overly sweet.  Perfect for dessert, or breakfast.  I couldn't find any cranberries at my grocery store (fresh or frozen), so I used frozen blueberries instead. I definitely plan to make this again once it gets closer to Thanksgiving and cranberries are more readily available. 

I also like to think of this cake as "healthy." I remember hearing somewhere that one teaspoon of cinnamon has as many antioxidants as one half cup of blueberries.  Well, this cake has one teaspoon of cinnamon and two cups of blueberries in it so it has to be good for you, right? ;)

Thanks Sabrina, for hosting this week.  I loved this cake. I can't wait to make it again, with cranberries! If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this wonderful, fall treat!

* Recipe notes:
- I did not place my cake pan on a baking sheet; I put it directly into the oven.
- I found that my cake was done five minutes earlier, at 35 minutes, so keep a close eye on your cake.
- Be very, very careful flipping your cake over, and do it over the sink, as some of the juices may spill over.
- For more recipe tips, click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

It's really hard for me to believe that it's September already and we're leaving summer behind us.  Here in Dallas, we've finally seen the temperatures drop from triple digit heat to the 90's and it's amazing how it feels like it's 70 degrees outside! I think it will be a while before it truly feels like autumn, so in the meantime I am going to continue enjoying lots of homemade ice cream :)

I bring to you today another great ice cream recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  I particularly like that this one is a non-custard based ice cream, so it only takes a few minutes to prep.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together, and this ice cream is sure to satisfy any chocolate/peanut butter craving.  I'm sure it would be even better with some chopped up pieces of Reese's peanut butter cups mixed in at the end, too.  Don't have an ice cream maker? No problem. Check out this post here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2 cups (500ml) half and half
1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (130g) smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the half and half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.

Makes 1 quart.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses.  I actually made these almost two years ago, during the holiday season of 2008.  Hard to believe that it's really been that long - seems like yesterday that I made them.  If you'd like to know what I thought of these cookies, you can read about them here.

Be sure to come back later this week, as I'll be sharing another ice cream recipe as we say goodbye to summer! And in the meantime, be sure to check out the delicious (and super easy) crepes I just posted about.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mom's French Pancakes (SMS)

This week's Sweet Melissa Sundays (SMS) recipe was chosen by... me! After joining this baking group in April 2009, I had the honor of hosting back in May 2009 (I chose the Bee Stings).  I have to admit that I often feel guilty that I am not able to bake along every week like some of the others in this group do.  However, I love that the group only requires once monthly participation so that bakers like me can still join in.  So, I am delighted to be hosting again!

There were still quite a few recipes to choose from, but this one stood out to me because I love crepes! I figured this recipe would be quick and easy for everyone (I know many are busy because of the back to school period), and crepes lend themselves to a huge variety of fillings so everyone had the freedom to get a little creative.

I thought it was really interesting that Melissa calls these crepes "French pancakes," especially because my mom used to make crepes for me all the time.... and she never made them from scratch like this.  How did she make them? She used Bisquick pancake mix and simply added extra milk to the pancake batter to thin it out! So, the name "French pancakes" seems particularly fitting.  Who knew that making crepes was so easy?

The crepe batter comes together in literally minutes.  Simply add the ingredients to your blender, give it a whirl, and then refrigerate for one hour or more.  It can be a little tricky getting your crepes to be perfectly round... tilt your skillet too quickly and your batter goes all to one side and you end up with a lopsided crepe... tilt too slowly and you end up with a crepe that is too small and too thick.  It takes a little bit of practice, but after a little trial and error, you can easily master this technique! And truthfully, a lopsided crepe still tastes just as delicious as a perfectly round crepe ;)

I made a few different kinds of crepes.  I started out with your most basic type of crepe - cinnamon and sugar.  Simply remove your crepe from the skillet and immediately spread a small pad of butter around the crepe (I prefer to just take the stick of butter and "paint" the surface of the crepe with melted butter while it is still warm).  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and then fold the crepe into quarters. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with some more cinnamon on top, and enjoy.

The second type of crepe I made was a caramelized apple crepe.  I added about 2 tablespoons of butter to a hot skillet.  After the butter was melted I added about 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 diced apples.  I sauteed the apples for a few minutes, until the apples were soft and the sugar was beginning to caramelize.  I also added about 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the apples.  I then filled my crepes with the apples, rolled them up, topped them with more apples, whipped cream, and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.

The third type of crepe I made was a Nutella crepe.  Simply spread a thin layer of your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread onto the crepe and then roll it up.  Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.  I loved all the different crepes I made, but this one was my favorite!

Thank you to all the SMS bakers who joined me in making these "pancakes" this week.  I hope that after seeing how simple it is to make crepes, you'll make them more regularly.  I can't wait to see how creative everyone got with these. Make sure you check out the Sweet Melissa Sundays Blog Roll to see what everyone else did with their crepes!

Mom's French Pancakes
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

1-1/2 cups whole milk (learn how to make your own with low fat or skim milk here)
4 large eggs
1 tsp canola oil or melted butter, plus more for the skillet
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, and oil and pulse for a few seconds to blend.  Add the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse again until the batter is smooth. Do not over-mix.  The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream.  For the best results, let it rest covered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight before using.

Preheat a 12-inch skillet (a seasoned cast-iron one works well, or a crepe pan, if you have one).  Rub the pan with a few drops of oil.  Repeat between pancakes if the skillet looks dry.  When the skillet is hot (drop a tiny dot of batter on the skillet to check - if it sizzles, it's ready), pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan, then quickly pick up the pan and swirl the batter around, aiming for a round shape (this takes practice, but it is not that difficult).

When the surface of the crepe appears dry, use an angled offset spatula to loosen it around the edges (I have used a metal cake server in a pinch).  Quickly slip the spatula under the crepe, flip it, and remove it from the pan almost immediately.  Repeat as desired.  (You can freeze unused batter in an airtight container for up to 1 month.  Whisk together until smooth once defrosted.)

Serve warm filled with jam, fresh fruit, ice cream, or whipped cream and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.  Enjoy!

Crepes can be frozen between layers of wax paper and wrapped in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks.  Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.