Category Archives: Equipment and Gadgets

My new muffin pan

I got a few food related gifts for my bridal shower and wedding. One of them was a crown muffin pan. I was registering at Williams-Sonoma with my Maid of Honour and I went on about how cool it would be to get those lovely crowns on my cupcakes and muffins like you see in bakeries. So I was ecstatic when I received these as a gift from her.

I used a Williams-Sonoma blueberry muffin mix my sister gave me, lined the pan and (here’s the mistake) filled the muffin liners mostly full. What resulted were muffins that did not have a crown. At least they were still tasty.

Blueberry muffin

After demolishing all the muffins in 2 days, my muffin craving still existed. Every now and then I crave corn muffins and will have to make a batch 2 or 3 times a year. I love them, especially with a lot of butter on it. Yum. I decided to do an experiment and see what would happen if I used the liner but went past the top part. Logic says they’ll just spill over the top and I’ll have batter stuck between the liner and the pan. But is it possible the batter would push all the way to the sides so there would be no unfortunate batter seepage?

Quintessential corn muffins

Recipe is quintessential muffins from The Bread Bible. The batter is really thick so there wasn’t really any seepage, I’ll have to test this out with a runnier batter.

I filled the cups at various levels to see what the results would be. I think for really full crowns I’ll need to make sure the batter is to the very top. This recipe should make 6, but with the more generous serving, makes 3. Mmm…twice the calories in a single muffin.

Quintessential corn muffins
For a crunchier top, you can sprinkle extra cornmeal

These were the fluffiest corn muffins I have ever made. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the sour cream. I am trying very hard not to eat the remaining 2 muffins.

Recipe here, just use sour cream instead of yogurt.

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My new love

Waffles for breakfast

Waffles with peach preserves from the future father-in-law and crème fraîche

Movie Man and I got a gift card to Williams-Sonoma as an engagement present from our lovely friends. Instead of using it on something practical such as a blender or a food processor, we used it on a waffle maker. I have to admit that we’ve probably used this waffle maker more than we would use a blender or food processor. I love making a batch of waffles and then freezing them ready to be put into the toaster for a quick breakfast. I’ve worked my way through the recipe book and I’ve also made seasonal waffles (pumpkin with cardamom — yum!).

The waffle iron is awesome with the catch tray and it beeps whenever it’s ready. The waffles come out nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Even the Aunt Jemima mix came out great when all I did was add water (I know, blasphemy, but I brought it along to our friend’s cottage and I wanted something simple).

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Cupcake Courier

This is one of the gadgets that Movie Man brought back. Truth be told, I’m not much of a cupcake gal. I am however a huge kitchen gadget freak and I knew I wanted this the moment I saw it. It holds up to 36 cupcakes and you can remove the trays to carry cookies, tall cakes, or anything else (stuff I actually do bake). To justify the purchase, I’ll just make more cupcakes. I’m starting to see the appeal of them — they can be light and fluffy or fudgy and dense, you can get real creative with them much more easily than a cookie, and the frosting allows you to have a teeny tiny piece and somehow it doesn’t feel as guilty eating 4 cupcakes than a 1/4 of the cake.

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I used Flo Braker’s Devil’s Foodcake recipe and a simple chocolate buttercream frosting for half and a bittersweet chocolate glaze for the other. (Similar recipe here the original recipe requires you to sift the dry ingredients 3 times and used 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of brown).

The courier itself is big and bulky. If you have limited space you may want something different. The cupcake holder is deep, I find it is a bit too deep if your cupcakes don’t rise a lot and you have frosting all over it — you’ll get a bit of frosting on your hands trying to get it out of the holder. The holder is also pretty heavy for me so if you have to travel via walking, it may be too heavy and I found the handle not that comfortable. Short trips should be fine.This is officially the last baked good before I move into my new place. I can’t wait to set up my stand mixer (fingers crossed it will fit under the cabinet) and there will be a lot more baking done after life settles down a bit.

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Butcher Block

One of the items that Movie Man brought home was this absolutely gorgeous butcher block. I wanted a big one so I can roll out and knead dough. The size is also handy for when we cut up all the veggies needed when prepping a meal. I was tired of using too small cutting boards and having my carrots roll off onto the counter. This big guy is 16″ x 22″. I don’t think this will be fitting my future countertop at all, but it was bought so it can stay on my currently non-existent kitchen island.

For scale:

The board is from The BoardSMITH in a beautiful maple. This is one of his most popular boards so he usually has a couple in stock. The in stock ones come with feet and I wanted a board with no feet so I can use both sides of it and he was nice enough to make one for me. David is a really nice guy and answered my e-mails and questions very quickly. The craftsmanship on these is incredible. All the blocks come pre-treated with mineral oil and then buffed with a mineral oil bees wax top coat ready to use right out of the box if you wish. They are almost too nice to be used. But like with most things, seeing signs of wear and tear means it is being well used and loved. Just get in there and get it dirty, don’t be afraid. My cook books are starting to get like that, stained with various sauces and flours. Like a favourite worn out t-shirt.

Back to the block. What’s the difference between a butcher’s block and a cutting board? Butcher’s block uses end-grain which makes it more durable than edge-grain ones. As the knife comes down and between the wood fibres, leaving little if any knife marks. Kind of like a self-healing Wolverine effect. This also means your knives stay sharper longer (note: a good way to dull your knives is a glass cutting board. Don’t get one, they’re garbage.). As it’s end-grain, it takes longer to place and glue the blocks of wood. David does a great job of putting the pieces together to make a lovely design. Check out this thread to see some other photos of BoardSMITH boards.

I can’t wait to be able to use this board. I have a feeling that my future children will be bickering over who gets to keep this when I’m gone.

More links:
Caring for your board
Troubleshooting your board
A clip I found of David. Great to put a face to the name.

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The Dutch Oven

Movie Man will be coming home for good in a week. During his time in the States, I’ve gotten him to buy a ridiculous amount of things as shipping is cheaper as well as the prices. Ever since I saw the No-Knead bread recipe I’ve wanted a dutch oven. As we bought some fancy cookware at Bed Bath and Beyond, we received a gift card that helped pay for the beauty you see above.

Feeling a bit guilty about solely getting cookware to make one recipe, I searched for other things I could make:

Beef Bourginon by Anthony Bourdain
Poulet Roti which I found surfing through the Le Creuset group on Flickr
Poulet de Muriel (from Chocolate and Zucchini)
Short Ribs with Coffee and Chilies by Mark Bittman (from The Toronto Star)

I also came across Glorious One Pot Meals that makes me covet a wee dutch oven. The gist of this technique is that you stuff all the ingredients in layers in a small (2 quart dutch oven to feeds 2) and under a high heat you cook it. Once it’s done you have a full meal with all the vegetables in tact, so it’s not like a slow cooker where everything melds together. There’s also this book which I would definitely get to accompany the 2 quart dutch oven.

As for No-Knead bread recipes, there are a ton of no-knead bread recipes out there, so those links will come later.

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