Sticky Toffee Pudding

List of things I need to do right now:

  1. study for finals
  2. apply to internships
  3. study for finals
  4. apply to jobs
  5. study for finals

List of things that I am doing right now:

  1. Thoughtfully listening to Justin Bieber…?
  2. Watching stupid movies on Netflix with the Hughs (Jackman and Grant)
  3. Crafting a blog post
  4. Thinking about dessert

Clearly I have my priorities sorted

Anyway, last week I spent a few days at home to study for finals and of course I ended up procrastinating by baking!

Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas I was really in the mood to make something that reminded me of London and was holiday themed, so I made sticky toffee pudding!

The first time I ate sticky toffee pudding was at the home of a family in North London. I had never met these people before- I was sent there for Shabbat dinner by my cousin. I think it was my first or second week in London and I was still getting adjusted to the weather and the people and generally just being alone in a new city, and this family was so warm and welcoming to me, a complete stranger. They had about 20 people over for dinner that night, but I was never left without someone to talk to despite being an outsider. At the end of a lovely evening, the woman brought out a pan of what I thought looked like heaven in dessert form. It’s difficult to describe ‘pudding’ if you’ve never had it, but it’s a bit like a cross between sponge cake and souffle.

This sticky toffee pudding was divine. It’s essentially a brown sugar, carmel cake with dates in it. Who knew fruit cake could be so delicious?

I had plenty of sticky toffee pudding throughout my time in the UK, but none could match the flavor of that one I tried in January… until now.

This Martha Stewart recipe literally blew my mind. Instead of soaking the dates in water as per usual, she has you soak them in coffee.

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dates soaking in coffee

Let me tell you, I think that actually made a huge difference!  But only if you like coffee. You can definitely taste the coffee flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering to me.

Granted, I drink around 4 cups of coffee a day  so maybe I’m not the right judge. I’m a senior in college! I need the caffeine. I won’t function without it.

 

Anyway, I’ve made plenty of desserts for my parents before and they’re always very supportive and often really enjoy them. But they’ll be honest if they think the cookies are too crumbly or the frosting is too sweet, and the moment I set the plate of warm sticky toffee pudding in their hands they were hooked. The aroma alone was enough, but at the first bite my dad exclaimed “when did you train at the CIA? This could be served at a 5 star restaurant!”

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I really think this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. I was so proud of myself, too, because the entire time I was making it I thought I had messed up each step. The caramel sauce was extremely difficult to make until I finished it and realized that I had done it correctly. Definitely one of those “Look what you can do if you just believe!” type of moments that I really need to hear right now.

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butter melting in caramel sauce
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absorbing the sauce
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The finished product

Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/964319/sticky-toffee-pudding-toffee-sauce

 

Blueberry Muffins

Yummmmmm

Hi there!

I guess my goal of posting once a week went down the drain when midterms began… I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post a few times over Thanksgiving break to make up for it!

Last week I wanted to bake something, and needed to use up the buttermilk that I bought to make the scones. I wanted to make cheesecake, but my housemates are my food critics and when polled seemed very opposed to this idea. I don’t know why… who doesn’t like cheesecake? Because I can, but shouldn’t, eat an entire cheesecake on my own, I found this amazing recipe for blueberry oatmeal muffins (link below) and got rave reviews on them.

“You’ve really outdone yourself!” One housemate said.

“I don’t even like blueberries! Give me one more” said another.

“mmmmmmmmmmmm” was the unanimous response.

The last time I made muffins in this house they went so fast I didn’t even get a chance to taste one myself, so these reactions mean these blueberry muffins were really a hit.

Soaking Oats

As you can see from this picture, you have to soak the oats in the buttermilk for a while. I don’t actually know much about chemistry, but I’m going to venture a guess and say this process makes the muffins fluffier?

Everything about these muffins constituted perfection: they are great as a snack or as breakfast- I may have eaten one with each meal one day…

They are fluffy, moist, and semi-dense on the inside, but with kind of a crunchy top. I know people have different preferences for muffins, but I’m a fan of this combination, just like I like brownies with edges. I used frozen blueberriesIMG_0732 2because fresh ones are outrageously expensive right now, and they worked just as well. For the week we spent eating the muffins, the blueberries remained juicy and tangy-sweet.

10/10 would recommend this recipe!

http://www.yummyhealthyeasy.com/2014/02/blueberry-oatmeal-muffins.html

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Scones

May 31st, 2015. It was a blustery day in London, complete with torrential downpours and delayed public transport. But there was no late 176 bus that could keep this girl from exploring the city on my last day as a student there. That day, I spent hours wandering around the city I called home for five months and reflected on the once in a lifetime experience I was fortunate enough to enjoy. I lived about 45 minutes south of the city, in a small town called Camberwell, but attended classes at King’s College in Central London.

It would be impossible to sum up everything that I learned while studying there. I can say without a smidgen of a doubt that there is nowhere else in this world I would rather be than London. Some people call this phenomenon “post study abroad depression,” but I’m under the impression that my calling is over there across the Pond sitting in the window of my favorite coffee shop, Timberyard.

There are so many reasons to love London, including the fact that afternoon tea is literally an every day thing there. Here, in America, afternoon tea is either a ceremony little girls conduct with their stuffed animals or an outing saved for a special occasion. In London, you can’t walk a block without seeing a tea room, the best of which being the Jubilee Tea Room at Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly Circus. F&M’s tea is world renowned, its store a haven for tea lovers and foodies alike. On the top floor of this luxury department store lies the Jubilee Tea Room, a wonderland of Tiffany blue walls and china patterns, with a pianist playing classical music in the corner.  For me, heaven.

Before eating there, I wondered why the afternoon tea was £49/$75 per person. After eating there, I wonder how I can get away with paying that little to eat unlimited tea sandwiches and melt-in-your-mouth scones. I’m not kidding. You can sit in the Jubilee Tea Room for hours and they will just keep bringing out little piles of their pillowy, creamy scones for as long as you like. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever encountered, honestly.

So this past Thursday, I came home from that P.E. of Russia and Eurasia midterm and really felt like baking something to counter the long day of classes. My roommates, who also studied abroad in London and Florence, respectively, had been blowing up my phone all day about how much they wanted scones. I should probably tell you, as an aside, that a recurring conversation within our household regards our utmost desire to return to Europe and live the fabulous lives we were meant to lead. So naturally, when they say they want scones what they really mean is that they’d like to take an Uber to LAX, hop on to the last British Airways flight of the day, and land in London just in time for some nice piping hot scones for brekkie. Barring winning the lottery, there’s a solid 100% chance that this isn’t happening anytime soon for us, so I decided to surf Pinterest to find an amazing scone recipe to make.

Low and behold, what do I find, but a copycat Fortnum and Mason scone recipe (see link below)! Elation would not even begin to describe the level of excitement I experienced! “Tomorrow,” I thought, “I will bake these scones and the world will be restored to its natural order.” Lucky for me, I was also tasked with bringing dessert to the Back to the Future party I would be attending on Friday night, so making scones was the perfect plan.

I had to work on Friday as well, so I was in a bit of a rush while making these scones. Thus, the horrible photography you are about to witness. But despite the hurry, I think they turned out pretty well!

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Two things that I need to change next time I make these delectable morsels:

  1. I did not want to buy self-rising flour because it isn’t useful for anything else besides scones and biscuits, so I attempted to make my own using a recipe I found on Google involving baking powder and salt. I don’t really think it worked as a substitute, so next time I will definitely use self-rising flour.
  2. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup buttermilk, but I added extra and they were still a bit dry. Definitely amend the recipe to stir in at least one cup, if not more.

The end result tasted absolutely nothing like the F&M scones I revere and love so much, but my scones tasted wonderful, especially with a slather of honey butter. I love that they bring back such great memories of such an amazing experience, but mostly I hope that I can taste the real deal again soon.

Until next week,

Aliza

Recipe:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/fortnum-masons-scones-52822691

What I Love About Food: Part 1

Hello!

For the first time this week, I have time to sit down and write a bit! I sat a midterm on Russian and Eurasian political economy today, and I think it went pretty well; probably owing heavily to the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies a girl in my study group made for us last night. One thing I love about food is that it can really bring people together even under extreme circumstances, such as attempting to memorize the exact spelling of the names of Soviet leaders. Trust me, its much more difficult than it sounds. Too many consonants!

A guy in the study group actually noted how well freshly baked cookies go with studying- that he felt like he actually enjoyed the material more when he was enjoying that chewy, chocolatey goodness. I can’t say I had thought about it that way before, but he brings up an interesting point! I wonder if anyone has ever conducted a study to understand the effects of food on concentration and emotions. Let me know if you have any information on this!

xx

Aliza

Hello!

Thanks for visiting my baking blog!

Here, I will chronicle my baking adventures and the amazing roller coaster that is my life. If you’d like to read more about me, please visit my “About Me” page (https://bakingbeez.wordpress.com/about-me/)!

As a busy student in the midst of midterms, I am setting my sights on a realistic posting schedule of once per week. On holidays, breaks, and after graduation, I hope to be baking a lot more than that and will update you along the way.

I know what you’re thinking… “what is a beez?

Well. Let me tell you a story.

I was born two months early, and no one was prepared. It was a very early Saturday morning in Van Nuys, California, just a few months after the horrific Northridge earthquake of 1994. Regardless of the timing and the fact that my dad almost got pulled over for speeding through what might be the most windy road in the country, I’m told it was a very happy occasion and everyone in the land rejoiced! My mom’s friend, Linda, came to visit me and my family in the hospital that day, and blessed me with a nickname that was quite similar to the one she gave my sister when she was born. My sister, Shira, is known as Shira Bira, and I now had the pleasure of being called Aliza Biza. Linda still calls me this, but she is the only one.

Here’s why. Somewhere along the way, people got bored of using a nickname that was longer than my actual name. I think it was my sister. She was six at the time and shortened it to “Beez.”

I don’t know whether Shira is clairvoyant or not, but I do know that this nickname ended up being explanatory of my character. I’ve come to the realization that my “spirit animal” is, in fact, a bee. There’s no detailed explanation for this, just that bees bring sweetness to the world in the form of honey, but they are also capable of stinging. In the same way, I’ve been told I have a sweet personality, but am sassy and I definitely don’t take no for an answer.

So there you have it. I’m a Beez, and I love to bake.

Stay tuned for my first post coming soon!