No Fry Doughnut

One of the sweet things that we used to do at my old job was on anyone’s birthday, they got to choose what special treat everyone in the office got to share. It was usually a particular kind of cake or cupcake or the one guy that really like Corona beer (ironic) and every one had a beer before we left for the day. On my birthday – it was doughnuts. Donuts from Duck Donuts to be exact. There is little in life that’s better than a soft warm doughnut with a sugary glaze on top.

And when it comes to doughnuts – there is no competition– yeasted and fried. I’ve had my fair share of cake doughnuts…but that’s just it…they are CAKE. Yeast. Fried. End of conversation.

However, I’m always up for a challenge and quite frankly just couldn’t be bothered to fry anything today. So, let’s give it a shot.

No Fry Donut

Let’s Bake

With the exception of warming up the milk and hot water, everything about this was sort of a ‘dump and mix’ situation. The shortening threw me off, as I’ve never made a doughnut with shortening before, but since the challenge is to follow the recipe exactly, we’ll stick with it.

I also thought the instructions to “mix for 1/2 minute” was interesting. When you add shortening to a shed load of wet ingredients you get big chunks of shortening….and half a minute is nothing. Once you start to mix in the remaining flour, everything started to come together – except HOLY STICKINESS! This wasn’t dough, it was goo. It took at least another 1/2 cup to get anywhere close to “smooth”.

Not to be a too much of a stickler for the rules, but no where in this recipe does it say to transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise. It says to just cover and let rise. The bowl is a mess! There’s little bits everywhere – especially because it’s so sticky. Leaving this in the mixing bowl to rise goes against everything I’ve ever done.

Also – just for the record – it never says to use a dough hook. Was I supposed to use the regular mixing attachment? That’s bizarre.

I decided to meet the recipe half way and I didn’t oil my bowl, but I did transfer to a clean container. I left it for an hour and argued with the guy that knocked on my door to sell me siding.

We have lift off! Look at that bubbly goodness!

Everything from this point was smooth sailing for the most part. I rolled out to about a 1/2 inch thickness and used a biscuit cutter to cut the rounds. They were placed on baking sheets and left to rise for a second time.

This is where it sort of fell off the rails. I left these bad boys for almost an hour and they just never rose again. Maybe not warm enough in my house? It’s like 9000 degrees outside today, so that seems unlikely. But dough is a tricky thing and has a mind of it’s own. Also, brushing the doughnuts with melted butter felt wrong before baking. Like somehow I was hurting the rise – which is a good possitbility.

After finally giving up on these suckers not rising – I just pushed forward and baked ’em.

Final Result

The only way I can explain these is that it’s a cross between a yeasted doughnut, a cake doughnut, and a biscuit. There IS a doughnut in there, I’m just not sure what’s wrong with it.

It browned like a biscuit, and the bottom that was touching the baking sheet browned too much. It has the air filled yeasted pockets a normal yeasted doughnut would, but has the mouth feel of a cake doughnut.

But a doughnut, even a baked one is better than a Kale salad any day.

So, in summary: A doughnut that has some serious conflicting personality issues.

If you are going to go to all the trouble of making home made doughnuts, just fry the suckers.

No Fry Donut

Ca-Ca Balls

Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. This is truly what the recipe is called. Naturally I had to make it.

You get a couple chances in your life to name something. Children, Pets, plants – or maybe even a recipe. There is quite a bit of thought that can go into picking the perfect name. This is, after all, the name that it will have forever. Personally, I think it’s a big responsibility to make sure it’s a good, strong name – something you know they can live with. The other side of the coin, you can go full tilt-balls to wall and name your newborn X Æ A-12.

Or title your recipe Ca Ca Balls.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cube butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 8 oz coconut
  • 2 cups nuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla

There was some research that I needed to put into this before I got going. A “cube” of butter isn’t something I’m familiar with. Annoyingly, Google gave me two different answers. A “cube” of butter is either a tablespoon OR a whole stick. Huge difference there – certainly something that can make or break my balls. I went over Google’s head and texted Mom directly. Logic leaned us towards using a tablespoon. Easier to add butter later, rather than take butter away.

Let’s Cook

There aren’t too many steps here. Mix the liquids, and then add all the dry. After it’s all mixed well, chill for two hours. It was here that I realized that maybe the full stick of butter is what I should have done. It’s very thick and it would be just as easy to roll into balls – so why chill for two hours? But is adding the butter now a mistake? After chilling for two hours this stuff was like spackle. I got it all rolled out and tucked into the freezer for the night.

This morning I tackled the second part- the chocolate coating! I assume this is what puts the “Ca Ca” into the balls! However, I am sure as hell not going to melt chocolate with 1/3 block of paraffin! I had no idea this was something people did. And I certainly didn’t realize that this is something that people STILL do. Is the paraffin used to make the chocolate harden and create a shell? A present day substitute would be those candy melts, don’t you think? Either way – I don’t have candy melts in stock and I certainly don’t have paraffin!

I heated heavy cream on the stove and added it to bittersweet chocolate and a touch of corn syrup. It’s a very thin glaze, so I ended up having to coat these bastards twice. Good Lord what a big honkin’ mess. I put them in the fridge to set as best as possible.

End Result

I give you – – crap on a plate. If there was anything named literally – it’s this. I’m quite sure that the look of them is entirely my fault. Choosing to go with a thin glaze instead of candle wax takes away from the professional finish I guess.

They taste sickeningly sweet. If you’ve got a sweet tooth – and like coconut – this ball of ca-ca is for you! It’s like an almond joy and macaroon pooped out a baby. Oddly enough, my daughter has had two…So not a total failure?

I would love to say I’ve closed the book on this – – but I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to until I try again with a stick of butter and a better chocolate shell. Damnit.

Sour Cream Chess Pie

Chess Pie, from what I understand, is a very old and southern custard pie. Where it came from, no one knows for sure. Wikipedia says that it could be from a piece of furniture called a pie chest. Or that it could be from the mangling of the words “It’s Just Pie/It’s Jes Pie”. Which honestly has to be the dumbest way anything has gotten it’s name.

If you google ‘sour cream chess pie’, it will ask you “Did you mean Sour Cream CHEESE pie?” No, Google, I didn’t. Regardless if this is a real thing or not, it’s on the docket for today.

Let’s Cook

Once again there is some interpretation needed for this guy.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Mace
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream

Had no idea what ground mace was and learned that nutmeg was a suitable substitute. Also, the recipe never tells you when to add the mace or cornmeal, but I didn’t think that was really going to screw things up too much.

After making my pastry dough and chilling it, I got down to putting the pie together. The whole time thinking “This really isn’t much of anything”. When you cream together just half a stick of butter and 3/4 cup sugar – nothing truly magical happens. It never really got “light and fluffy”. To me, it seems like the ratio is off…Or maybe I was supposed to do it with a hand mixer? Maybe the stand mixer is too big? All of these are good questions – with no answers.

Let’s keep going.

Add it all together and pour into your pie shell. I have seen enough baking competitions and shows to know that for some pies, you should blind bake the shell. For others you don’t. I have NO idea if this is one of those times. Maybe back then this was all inherently understood and why waste time putting it into the recipe. I did not blind bake the shell. I’m thinking that maybe I should have?

This sat in the oven for 70 minutes and came out looking like the moment in Alien when it comes bursting through that poor mans chest. It was this huge mound of puffed up custard in the middle. But within minutes it had flattened down.

Left it to cool.

End Result

It’s good. Or rather, it’s not gross. It honestly didn’t taste like much at all. Not overly sweet, but not an overwhelming taste of sour cream, which is what I was afraid of. My pastry was a bit soggy on the bottom – but that wasn’t the fault of the recipe. No one likes a soggy bottom.

I think maybe some good whipped cream or maybe a powdered sugar top could be nice. I understand now that the corn meal is supposed to rise to the top and create sort of a darker crunch topping. Every picture I see of chess pie on has that dark crust on top. However, there are only 266 reviews of that recipe. I don’t think that’s enough high praise for me to try again.

But all in all – not a failure.

Lastly, if you noticed that this recipe said “Serves 6”. That’s a big ass piece of pie y’all.

Lemon Delight

There is nothing that scares my family more than Jello. After the Lime Crab Mold debacle of 2019, they fear the Jello. Intense fear. I spend most evenings going through all the recipes that my Mom gave me and picking the ones that sound interesting – and I thought that just maybe this one would be okay…even if it has Jello.

Full disclosure at the beginning at this post. I did this wrong. Like, horribly wrong. I’ve always tried to interpret the recipes written in front of me instead of doing any sort of research first. I don’t want to know what it’s supposed to look like or how it’s supposed to be made. I want to see if I can follow the recipe as written. Now that I’ve looked online I clearly see that this was supposed to be Jello PUDDING. Not Jello gelatin. Rereading the recipe, it’s SO clear now.

However, even if I had replaced the gelatin for pudding – this shit still wasn’t going to ‘thicken’ over a double boiler. What exactly does “thick” mean? Thick like a pastry cream – or just thicker than water? I cooked this over a double boiler for 25 minutes and there was little to no change. It was thicker than water – so I went with that.

Next: “…then add the egg whites beaten stiff with the rest of the sugar”. Do I beat the egg whites with the sugar? Or do I beat the eggs and then add that and the sugar separately? When I add it, am I suppose to mix it? Or am I suppose to just layer it on top? I have so many questions!!

What made the most sense to me was to beat the sugar in with the eggs whites and make a basic meringue and mixed the whole thing together.

My last major mistake was an inaccurate count of graham crackers. I counted 13 graham crackers right out of the box. But since I’m clearly an idiot I took 13 full sheets of crackers. Each of those damn crackers is actually 2. Or maybe four? I doubled, or maybe even quadrupled, the cracker ratio.

Here’s a lesson for today. If something doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. I kept muttering to myself the entire time I was doing this, “This doesn’t feel right?”. Turns out I was correct. Trust your gut, girl!

In the end – it’s actually tastes good. It’s creamy, tart & sweet. But I can assure you that this isn’t what it’s supposed to look like. The final product looks like a piece of fried chicken on top of pudding. The graham cracker ratio is SO off it doesn’t hold together and sort of flakes off. There is graham cracker shrapnel all over my kitchen.

My husband actually likes it and plans on eating some of it – so not a total waste of food….But I’m still going to count this as a failure.

Sad Cake

I almost missed this recipe all together. It’s such a short little blurb in the middle of the page that I scanned right over it. When I finally did see it I felt like when I see puppies or babies on line. NO! Don’t be sad, cake! Why are you so sad? Cakes are supposed to be happy, why are you doing this?

Seriously, why is this cake sad? Why is it called that? It’s simple as hell to put together, so that couldn’t possibly be the reason. Is it sad because it was created during a hard time in life – is it like a depression cake? Was the creator actually unhappy? All questions I’m willing to get to the bottom of.

I have never seen a baking recipe that called for Bisquick. Also, note the ENTIRE box of brown sugar. Maybe the cake is sad because it’s causing weight gain, high blood sugar and an increased risk of heart disease! But who the hell am I to talk, my sugar cookie recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar and 3 sticks of butter! And let’s not talk about how quickly I can decimate a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream.

Feeling particularly lazy this day, I busted out the Kitchen Aid for this. Unnecessary for sure – I could have easily done this by hand. There really is nothing to it – assuming you’ve got Bisquick on hand. Also, I figured out why it’s called Sad Cake.

This thing is butt ugly when it comes out of the oven. The top of the cake sort of sinks into itself. Also, as any baker would do, I put a long tooth pick in to see if it was done and poked a big hole in the top. The entire top of this cake is crisp – like CRISP. It’s really quite odd. If a regular cake came out like this it would be a huge failure.

This thing is NOT a cake. It’s straight up Blondie. It’s gooey in the middle and crisp on the outside, and despite it’s sort of brown and boring appearance, it’s actually quite good! I think you could easily add white chocolate chips, or switch out the pecans for walnuts. A lot could be done with this I think. Not much to look at – and a weird crisp shell on top – but I recommend giving it a try!

Apple Crisp – Take 1

Seems only logical that this whole process start with my Grandmother’s Apple Crisp. From what I can remember – this thing was next level. A wonderful layer of warm and gooey sweet apples, with a layer of sweet crisp on top. And it’s important to note – the top layer was actually CRISP. Problem is – NO ONE can recreate it. There was serious Gandolf / Dumbledore sorcery going on here.

The biggest problem comes that there are no instructions; no cooking times or temperatures – no instructions at all. Just the list of ingredients. I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing this quite often in my new adventure.

That’s all we have to work with. No pastry, no crust. Just apples and some other stuff in an baking dish. Hence the title of this post : ‘Apple Crisp – Take 1’. We’ll be re-visiting this one from time to time.

My gut tells me to make some sort of crumble with the flour, sugar and butter. However, when I tried to get my Mom to remember as much as she could about Grandmommy making this – the one thing she could remember is her just plopping big blobs of butter on the top before she baked it.

This was the chain of events that lead to our first Apple Mush.

Peeled and sliced six apples and then I cooked them on the stove top for a short period of time with the sugar and cinnamon. Mistake #1

I poured everything in an 8×8 casserole dish with the water. (What the hell is the water for???) Then I proceeded to unceremoniously dump the flour and big bits of butter right on top. It just felt wrong to tell you the truth!

Unsure of what temperature I should use, I went with the classic 350 and went from there. 20 minutes later it was just a buttery uncooked flour mess.

Another 20 minutes later it was still buttery uncooked flour – but after pre-cooking on the stove, and then cooking in the oven for 40 minutes, the apples were starting to disintegrate. Best at this point to cut my losses and mark this one up as a Baking Fail.

It didn’t taste HORRIBLE. It definitely had a slight uncooked flour taste – but the apples themselves were tasty; albeit super mushy. My husband, who is a huge apple pie fan, scraped some of the top off and had some apple mush with ice cream later that evening and lives to tell the tale.

Couple thoughts for next time: I won’t be pre-cooking anything. That didn’t help or achieve anything. I also won’t cut the apples as thinly. Lastly, I’ll go with my gut and maybe use the flour, sugar and butter to make a crumble of sorts to go on top and see how that goes. If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!

I’m sure my Grandmother is having a good laugh in Heaven right now.