Troubleshooting Quick Breads

(Updated from May 22, 2014) FREE! The “Best Banana Bread” Ever! Guaranteed! Get this Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread Mix! Free with code “ZBAN” at checkout. Limit 1. Be sure to add it to your cart. It is truly awesome!This is a dessert bread that really surprised me! I wouldn’t have thought to put cinnamon chips in banana bread, but WOW? Definitely worth trying!” Melody Knopf (customer review) Quick breads make for a fast and tasty treat, and they can be really easy to make. But it’s common to run into some issues along the way. The most common causes for these …

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Cinnamon Dutch Almond Refrigerator Cookies

This is an unusual refrigerator cookie and one of our favorites. We like it so much that several years ago, we determined to make a mix based on this recipe. It was one of those projects that never made it out of the gate but in so doing, we felt like we perfected the cookie. We reverse-engineered the mix to create this recipe. This is a hard, crisp cookie that is served in Europe with a beverage. It’s sort of like having biscotti at the corner café. This is an easy cookie to make. Unlike other recipes, do not underbake …

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The Blondies and the Baking Lessons

What You can Learn from a Blondie? These blondies are really good, so good that a major company commissioned us to make them a blondie mix.  The original Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Blondies are thick and moist and chewy, loaded with chocolate.  They’re made in a dark, nonstick 9 x 9-inch baking pan. These good folks wanted a blondie that would work in 9 x 9-inch and 8 x 8-inch pans and in both glass and metal pans.  Now that would take some doing. See what you can learn from our journey. Different Size Pans Require Different Baking Times It’s …

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What Can You Make with a Syrup?

Syrups are easy to make.  They’re a mixture of water, sugar, a flavor, and maybe a thickener.  Juice can be substituted for the water. You can use the syrup on your pancakes.  We have often used a syrup and added fruit to make a fruited syrup to put over pancakes or a dessert. See how to make a syrup. You can also take a favorite pancake syrup especially a flavored syrup–and use it over a dessert or ice cream.  We’ve taken pancake syrups and made candy popcorn. Linde, who manages our store, pours pancake syrup over her popcorn to make a simple candy popcorn. (It’s a bit sticky because it hasn’t been cooked as much.) …

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The Secret to Buttermilk Syrup

The local school district was sponsoring a science fair and they asked me to do a kitchen demonstration; one that demonstrated a principle of science.  I chose buttermilk syrup. They set up a long table for me in front of a class and loaded it with a hot plate.  I brought fresh buttermilk and some buttermilk syrup mixes along with utensils and a pitcher of water. The room was nearly full with parents and children, young children.  I asked for a couple volunteers.  They were boys, age ten or so. “Do you like buttermilk,” I asked?  “Would you like to …

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How to Make the Best Chunky Monkey Cupcakes Ever

Dennis Weaver We have a store in Rigby, Idaho. Most of our business is online but the store is such a great way for us to connect with customers and get suggestions. We serve samples to our customers and learn what they love and what they aren’t so crazy about. They love Chunky Monkey Cupcakes. One sweet lady picked up a Chunky Monkey Cupcake to eat on the way home. I chatted with her for a few minutes before she left. She was back to the store in about fifteen minutes. “Give me everything I need to make those cupcakes,” she …

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How to Make Candy Popcorn with Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup is sugar syrup made with flavors, juice, or maple. Candy popcorn is made with a sugar syrup cooked to the softball stage.    Why not cook a pancake syrup to the softball stage and make candy popcorn? We’ve done that.  We’ve cooked pancake syrups to the softball stage and made terrific candy popcorn.  Linde, in our store, doesn’t even bother doing that.  She simply pours the syrup over her popcorn. And now that we carry syrup mixes, they make perfect candy popcorn mixes.  Make it just like you’re making pancake syrup but cook it another five minutes or so, …

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A Father’s Secrets to Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note:  This article was edited from A Baker’s Guide to Chocolate, a volume from The Free Kitchen Library.  Click to see how to get your Free Kitchen Library with ten books.  No purchase is required. My parents are gone now, but I think of them every day.  They lived high on a ridge overlooking the Tanana Valley and the town of Fairbanks, Alaska. On a clear day, from their porch, you could see across the mountain ranges to the massive mountain, Denali. For years, Dad took care of my sweet mother who was confined to a wheelchair. At that latitude …

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5-Minute Fudge

5-Minute Fudge from the Prepared Pantry

This fudge is so easy that it’s ridiculous. Just mix it up in a bowl, stick it in the microwave to melt the chocolate, and pour it into a pan. What’s really ridiculous is that it tastes like stovetop, from scratch fudge. It has great flavor and a nice texture. Where’s the breakthrough? The combination of the baking soda and cocoa changes the character of the fudge. The baking soda is a base and the cocoa is slightly acidic. Together they create a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide and reduces acidity. The change in acidity alters the flavor and the reaction …

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Understanding Baking: Banana Nut Bread

There are two major methods for mixing quick breads, muffins, and other batters: The muffin method and the creaming method. With the muffin method, the liquid ingredients are mixed together, the dry ingredients are mixed separately, and then the dry and liquid ingredients are combined with a minimum of stirring. The other major make-up method for quick breads is the creaming method.  In the creaming method, the butter or shortening is creamed with the sugar to entrain air in the batter and make the bread light and tender.  The sugar crystals cut into the butter or shortening creating tiny air …

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Salted Peanut Brittle Recipe

“Best peanut brittle ever,” is what several customers in the store said.  Of course, “free” makes it go a long ways toward “best” but it is very good brittle.  The salt makes it a sweet, salty treat.  We made several batches of this to serve to customers in the store one Saturday.  We made it on parchment paper.  Since we were in a hurry to serve it and it had to be hard to crack, we slipped the parchment paper off the pan onto a shelf in the freezer.  It was hard enough to break and serve in a half …

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Really Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

On Sundays, we invite our children and their families over for dinner.  Last Sunday, Merri Ann and I made pulled pork sandwiches.  They were very good and very easy.  Here’s how she did it.  She bought five pounds of carnitas which is boneless and inexpensive but any pork roast will do.  Five pounds was more than enough and Ben and Paige, our youngest son and his bride, took extras home. She put the meat in the crock-pot before church and added enough root beer soda pop to make sure it was well covered.  (Don’t worry about adding too much.)  She …

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Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

This is a traditional gingerbread made with robust spices—most notably, ginger—and molasses.  We think the flavor is just right but you can reduce the ginger if you like. A tangy lemon sauce is the perfect complement to the rich flavor of dark gingerbread. Though this dessert is richly flavored, it is not heavy—perfect when a lighter finishing touch is desired. Baker’s note:  This was made in a ten-inch springform pan with a glass base. (Learn more about these springform pans.) Ingredients 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground …

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5-Minute Fudge

5-Minute Fudge from the Prepared Pantry

This fudge is so easy that it’s ridiculous. Just mix it up in a bowl, stick it in the microwave to melt the chocolate, and pour it into a pan. What’s really ridiculous is that it tastes like stovetop, from scratch fudge. It has great flavor and a nice texture. Where’s the breakthrough? The combination of the baking soda and cocoa changes the character of the fudge. The baking soda is a base and the cocoa is slightly acidic. Together they create a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide and reduces acidity. The change in acidity alters the flavor and the reaction …

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Great drinks. Good times. Great Summer.

Steps to making a soda float

GET THESE SYRUPS! Make the best drinks of the summer. Fill a tall glass with ice cream, add little soda pop, then drizzle a dessert syrup on top. Make the best drinks of the summer with ice cream, your favorite sodas, and designer ice cream and dessert sauces. Add chocolate syrup to a root beer float and create the best root beer float of the summer. Easy. Try raspberry syrup with black raspberry pop and vanilla ice cream. Fabulous! 1,000 flavors! 3 easy steps!              1.  Pile some ice cream into a tall chilled glass. …

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Patriotic Popcorn

By Casey Archibald The 4th of July is filled with memories for most people. For me, the memories that flash through my mind include the time when I accidentally shot a bottle rocket at my high school boyfriend (don’t worry, he was fine), when I went out on my good friend’s boat to the middle of Lake Washington to watch fireworks, and when I rode my bike with my cousins at our annual family 4th party. The 4th is coming and it’s time to make new memories with these fun and delicious red, white and blue treats. It’s gotten me …

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From Crisp and Thin to Thick and Chewy to Soft and Cake-Like

Why are some cookies then and crisp and others, thick and cake-like? It’s a structural question and cookie structure is primarily determined by: The sugar The flour The eggs There are other contributing factors, of course. The amount and type of fat will affect structure. (A cookie made with shortening instead of butter will tend to be crisper.) A non-stick, well-greased sheet will cause more spread. But if you understand the function of sugar, flour, and eggs, you’ll largely understand what is going on in your oven. The Sugar Sugar melts. Sugar in your recipe acts like a liquid in …

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How to Make Homemade Soda Pop

It’s fun to make homemade soda pop! Soda pop is just carbonated punch but you can do better than that. Try carbonating your favorite lemonade or frozen fruit juice concentrate. Carbonating Beverages: You Can Do So Much! When we were kids, we made homemade root beer with yeast. The yeast created the carbon dioxide bubbles in the beverage. There is an easier way—dry ice which you can buy at many grocery stores. With dry ice, you can carbonate: Juice beverages made with frozen fruit juice concentrates. Kool-Aid® and other beverages (not unlike many commercial soda pops). Fresh fruit beverages like …

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Cream Cheese and Fruit Coffeecake

If fruit in a coffeecake is good then fruit and cream cheese should be even better, right? We decided to find out. We took our coffeecake recipe with fruit pie filling and added a layer of cream cheese filling. The results were scrumptious. A little on the rich side, maybe even more of a dessert than a coffeecake—but you decide. Ingredients 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup butter 1 1/2 packages (12 ounces) cream cheese 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 large egg 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons sour cream 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon …

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Cheese and Chive Biscuits

These rich biscuits are quick and easy to make.  The secret ingredient is cottage cheese. The addition of fresh chives gives the biscuit a full-bodied flavor. Ingredients 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup snipped chives 1/3 cup cold butter 3/4 cup cottage cheese 1/2 to 2/3 cup buttermilk Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet. 1. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives.  Cut the cold butter into chunks and then cut the …

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