Putting them here so I have a copy, and in case anyone is interested. I did a lot of baking this winter.My Mother's Peasant Bread
I was looking for a bread that didn't require kneading, and this one came out beautifully. Well, the second rising was less successful because the house is heated in the winter between 57-60 degrees Fahrenheit (the first rising I put in the barely-warmed oven) but so long as you don't live in an ice cube like my family prefers, it works really well. The crust especially was super tasty with the butter lining the pan. ( abbreviated recipe ) Chantal's New York Cheesecake
Really, really easy cheesecake. But halve this recipe--one half will make a 9-inch pie pan's worth. The only problem is I have never made it without it cracking, even leaving it in the oven for hours afterwards, but it tastes really good and comes out really well in every other respect every time. Also there is no water bath. There's no difference between buying like a retail-sized cream-cheese spread and the baking spread, as far as I can tell. I also put in a little less sugar; sometimes the full amount is too much.
I recommend using actual graham crackers to make the crust. It's really painful to make the crust when you have baguette-y bread and then you toast it so it becomes somewhat akin to brittle rock and then have to crush it into tiny sandpapery rocks. (The crust also came out wayy too dense that time). Never again! Also I've made this recipe by hand, but if you do that you should either let the cream cheese warm up by letting it sit outside/use the microwave, because it is really hard to beat otherwise--there's a lot to cream with sugar. I also tried freezing the cream cheese (we bought three pounds of it, which is frankly an alarming quantity) and upon defrost it was horribly textured, but it seems not to have made a difference once baked. I think. ( recipe )
I am terrible at pastry, but I've found grating the butter helps (I don't have a pastry cutter). Basically, put the butter in the freezer, mix the dry ingredients--flour, salt, etc--, and then take out the butter and grate it into the flour mixture. Then combine. I usually do this in stages, putting the butter back in the freezer periodically while I combine flour and butter, especially as it starts melting on me.
I dream of making pastry that's nice and buttery and easy to roll out in sheets; when I do it it's horribly crumbly. It comes out tasting and flaking okay, but it is such a pain to make, and it does not make a pretty pie--the edges are Frankenstein with added lumps from bits I've cut away from elsewhere.
I mention pastry because: Chicken Pot Pie
. Holy cow. This was so tasty. It does require two saucepans going at once and pastry, so I usually make the pastry in advance--the onions one needs to be stirred almost constantly. I usually don't have to bake it for as long as half an hour. This recipe (with somewhat eyeballed "cup" of carrots and "pound" of chicken) makes EXACTLY enough to fill a 9-inch pie dish. Like every time I've done it I wonder if this is the time I will not be able to cram everything in, but it always works out and I lay the crust on top gingerly. Actually, that's true of the cheesecake too, and when it bakes the cheesecake balloons straight upwards out of the pan and comes back down as it cools...
But seriously I wanted to eat the stuff poured over the cooked chicken/vegetables, it smelled so good. ( recipe )Simple Scones
I wanted to eat alllll of them as soon as they were out of the oven. I've only had the kind of really dry supermarket scones that you must
drink some liquid with to avoid choking on and true, if you leave these out for three days they will acquire similar properties, but straight out of the oven they're divine. When shaping them up for laying them out on the tray, be careful not to over-handle them; the butter starts to warm up in your hands and they get all sticky (and that will ruin the pastry bit). Just quickly shape them into the rough shape you want. Also, this recipe makes a lot fewer scones than I expected. ( recipe )
Things I've unsuccessfully tried to make include macarons (the cookie-like sort). My mom, who I made them for, really liked them, but they were tragically un-feeted--I suspect it's because it's so damp, so they never set when I let them stand, and so they just baked like usual cookies. Also, I discovered I don't really like macarons. Also recipes that require stiff peaks scare me; it's not the separating yolks/beating part I am afraid of (with a handheld mixer, it's just standing there) but the part where they tell you to gently fold in the flour. Aaaargh. I am so afraid of squishing out all the bubbles in one fell swoop and overbeating it. I have the same problem with pastry, actually--always afraid I've overworked the dough, except then giving up and smushing it all together with extra water in a fit of frustration when it doesn't come together. I've also made many, many, many brownies and chocolate cakes (not just this winter but generally) and I've never really come across a really satisfying one. Sugar cookies--meh, okay but not really that worth the effort. Mocha cake--unsuccessful, tasted neither particularly chocolate-y nor mocha-y, so failed on two counts. I should try the kind where you make a very chocolatey cake, and then frost it with a very mocha frosting, like Smitten Kitchen recommends. I tried a sponge-cake with lemony filling; the lemon filling came out great but the sponge cake recipe was no good and also I should not have halved that recipe--the cake came out ludicrously tiny. I also made this horrible chocolate cake which had an awful aftertaste, but interestingly involved putting chocolate chips into boiling water and stirring them till they melted. I also made these sugar cookies with "baked icing"--basically, you ice the cookies and then frost them. I spent so much effort (literally, in squeezing because it's very tough icing and also the stupid piping bag had a leak in the side so it would squirt out the side) and then I baked the cookies, and the icing virtually disappeared!!
ETA: Also now that I think about it, I am actually quite hungry. Don't have a kitchen at present sadly. I'm wondering if it's worth getting up and going to the grocery store now.