two skinny jenkins

100210 – Joe’s Birthday (cup) Cakes
100212, 3:20 pm
Filed under: DESSERT | Tags:

Red Velvet Cake

This has been Joe’s birthday cake every year for the past 20-some years.  This was the first year that I have taken on the task of baking the cake for him.  His mom  reassured me that the recipe impossible to mess up.  This was meant to allay my fears – but it mostly added to them.  I would be the first one to mess it up… especially on a weeknight… especially being just my third cake baking endeavor ever.  In the end, it turned out that my MIL (mother in law) was right, and the cupcakes were DELICIOUS.

  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz. red food coloring [this is 2 bottles, I only use 1 bottle and then fill the bottle with water and add to make up for the liquid]
  • 2 T. cocoa
  • 2 1/4 c. plain flour [not cake flour]
  • 1 scant t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. buttermilk (I used 4T dried buttermilk and it came out fine – just add it and water as you would regular buttermilk)
  • 1 t. baking soda [try to get the lumps out before you add it]
  • 1 T. vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease and flour two 8″ pans [or use cupcake papers if you make cupcakes, or a sheet pan]
  3. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs in your mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. Mix together coloring and cocoa and add to mixture.    This stuff is a mess.  My white mixing bowl is now a pretty pink mixing bowl.
  5. Add salt and flour with buttermilk and vanilla (do not mix any longer than necessary or it will toughen the cake).
  6. Alternately add soda and vinegar and don’t beat hard, just blend. Bake in two 8″ greased and floured pans. Layers may be split to make 4.
  7. Fill two baking pans or muffin tins.  Bake for 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, 30-40 minutes for cakes.  Cool completely before icing.

Frosting for red velvet cake:

  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  1. Cook flour and milk on low heat until thick. Cool completely.
  2. Cream sugar and butter and vanilla until fluffy. [You can’t really overdo this stage]
  3. Add flour/milk mixture.
  4. Beat until mixture is like whipped cream.
  5. Spread on layer. Sprinkle with coconut or chopped nuts if desired.
  6. Keep cake cool (the icing is best cold).

091028 – Panettone | BBA #24
091029, 10:15 pm
Filed under: BBA Challenge, BREAKFAST, DESSERT, SNACK | Tags: , , , ,

Baby Panetonne

FINALLY!  I got back in the kitchen and made some bread!  It feels like ages.  I have been away the last two (three?) weekends and just couldn’t wait till this weekend to get back into it.  I have been doing more cooking than the blog suggests, but it takes more than i have these days to post every good thing i eat.  Maybe this weekend i will get around to retro-posting some highlights.

This was not a good recipe to choose to make during the week after work.  Especially not while making dinner, trying to bike on the trainer for an hour, and getting up at 6 to run before work the next morning.  I think the bread came out pretty well, but I sacrificed the run.

My experience of this bread was ruined from the start by the perfectly delicious Panettone that I ate last Christmas.  It was my first ever panettone experience.  One of our consultants shelled out hundreds of dollars to ship us (us = the architecture firm i was working in) – a REAL Milanese Panettone.  Despite it’s massive size, the crumb was as airy like a croissant with a perfect distribution of candied fruits and nuts.

My first panettone probably weighed 20 lbs. and I can only imagine that it had baked for hours.  My petit panettone on the other hand, took roughly 40 minutes.   I checked at 20, 25, and 30 waiting for the tops to be golden brown, and i think 40 minutes was a bit too long and dried them out too much.  The big one (below) took about 1:20 and seems just right (texture-wise, i know it isn’t pretty).  I don’t have a thermometer for it yet, but I know my oven is on the cool side.    I was VERY glad i chose to use my mixer for the whole kneading process on this one.  It was sticky, tacky dough (I may have been heavy handed with the rum) and i would have added too much flour had i kneaded by hand.

Panetonne Grande

This bread in particular has made me appreciate the amount of quality control that goes into professional baking.  To make this bread come out consistently good WHILE making a profit on the effort must be a real challenge.

091017 – Red Bean Pastry
091019, 7:25 pm
Filed under: DESSERT | Tags:

Red Bean Pastry

Yum, yum – dim sum!  I have been craving these since going grocery shopping down in China Town last week.  I was first introduced to red bean pastries by a friend in college, and have gotten sporadic cravings ever since.  I used sweetened, canned red bean paste for the filling, but have seen recipes to make your own red bean paste online.

  • 1/2 C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 T granulated yeast
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 C  all purpose flour
  • egg wash (a bit of beaten egg with 1 t water)
  1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with water in a bowl.
  2. Mix in the flour without kneading using a wooden spoon or your hands.
  3. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses, approx 2 hours.
  4. Dust the dough with flour and then shape into a ball. Divide into 8 equal portions.
  5. Shape each portion into a ball, flatten into a circle and add 1 tbs of red bean paste at the center. Fold over and re-shape into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.
  6. Allow to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the crust with egg wash, sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

091003 – Pumpkin Gingerbread | BOM
091004, 10:33 am
Filed under: BREAKFAST, DESSERT, SNACK | Tags: ,

Pumpkin Ginger Muffin

This is my first experience with the ‘Bread of the Month‘ (BOM) group on Facebook.  Based on this experience, it will not be my last. This pumpkin gingerbread was so easy and good!  And festive!

  • 3 C sugar (that’s right)
  • 1 C canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 C water
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 t ginger
  • 1 t allspice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 3 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. combine oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Add water, stir in water, then pumpkin, then spices.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until they are mixed through.
  4. Pour into greased (spray oiled) loaf pan + muffin tin, sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired, and bake until a cooked all the way through – about 50 min. for muffins, 70 minutes for the loaf.

090921 – Fall Fruit Crumble
090921, 2:12 pm
Filed under: DESSERT | Tags: , , , ,

Crumble Elevation

This is an adaptation of the ‘Fall Fruit Crumble’ recipe featured recently on  I almost made this last week, but made a pear tart instead.  Compared to that – this felt like a break!


I used the four fall fruits that I had around the kitchen and were on the verge of expiration.  The tart apples nicely countered the sweetness of the figs and plums.  I think i could have used just 1 t lemon juice.

Fruit Filling:

  • 3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 5 Italian plums, pitted and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 6 black figs, quartered
  • 1 Bosc pear (leftover from my pear tart experiment), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 t lemon juice


  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 425F and mix together cut fruits, 1/2 C sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch in a baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all the dry topping ingredients, then use your fingers to blend in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  3. Bake for 20-30 min (depending on your oven – mine took closer to 30), or until fruit is bubbling and topping turning golden brown.

090917 – Pear Tart
090918, 10:29 pm
Filed under: DESSERT | Tags:

Pear Tart

Or should i call it, ‘Pain in the Tush Pear Tart’?

This was without a doubt the most involved recipe i have ever made – thank you ‘New Basics’ cookbook.   As part of my continuing quest to actually use the cookbooks we own,  I spent hours in the kitchen yesterday.


I decided it would be a festive fall thing to do/ make and a good way to use up the uneaten pears i bought at the market last week.  What I got was just desserts!  sorry.

MY pear tart

Pear Sauce Tart


  • 2/3 C all purpose flour
  • 1/3 C ground walnuts (or hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 T butter (chilled and chopped up)
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • 1 T cold water
  • 1 T sugar

Pear Sauce:

  • 6 Bosc pears, slightly under-ripe, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 T Poire Williams (pear liqueur – i substituted butterscotch schnapps)

Pears + Topping:

  • 1 slice fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 C champagne (i used white wine)
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C applesauce
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 ripe but firm Bosc Pears
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 2 T Poire Williams (or butterscotch schnapps =)
  1. Prepare the pastry shell: Combine flour, walnuts, and salt in a food processor and process for 15-20 sec.  Add butter and lemon and process for 15 addt’l sec.  Gradually add cold water through feeder tube, 1/2 t at a time – ONLY ADDING ENOUGH FOR THE DOUGH TO COME TOGETHER.  Gather the dough into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 min.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F.  Butter a 9″ tart pan.  After the dough is chilled, roll it out into an ~11″ circle on a lightly floured counter.  Transfer to the buttered pan
    and crimp the edges.  Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork, cover with aluminum foil (shiny side down) and bake for 15 min.  Remove foil and bake addt’l 8-10 min. or until golden brown.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare the sauce (start while pastry is chillin): Combine half the pear quarters and 1 T lemon juice in the food processor and process for ~30 sec.  Transfer the mixture to a heavy saucepan and then repeat with remaining pears.
  4. Stir the sugar and Poire Williams into the pot and cook over low heart until the mixture begins to turn color ~30 min.  Then increase to medium low heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until it becomes the consistency of applesauce.  Set it aside to cool.
  5. To make the topping, first prepare the poaching liquid: Cut the ginger into 1/8″ julienne strips and combine with champagne, water, lemon juice, sugar, applesauce, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set aside.
  6. Peel the pears, reserving the peel, and cut them in half longways.  Core them as neatly as possible with a knife or melon baller.  Place them in a large bowl and water to cover.  Add the vinegar to prevent discoloring.
  7. Combine the peeled pears, remaining 1/2 C water, remaining 1/2 C sugar, and Poire Williams in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain and set the liquid aside. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the poaching liquid, add pear peel liquid, bring to a boil, simmer for 8 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool in the liquid.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a shallow dish.  Bring poaching liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 1/2 C (about 15 minutes).
  9. Pour reduced poaching liquid over pears and refrigerate till completely cooled – about 4 hours.
  10. Assemble the tart:  Spread sauce into the prepared pie crust.  Slice cooled pear halves crosswise into half moons and arrange to cover the whole surface.
  11. Preheat the broiler on high with a rack at the top shelf.
  12. Cover the edge of the crust with aluminum foil (really – do this) and place the tart under the broiler until the pears turn golden brown – about 5 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered sugar.  I thought it was even better cold the next day.

090829 – Broiled Pineapple w/ Coconut
090829, 9:57 am
Filed under: DESSERT, DINNER | Tags: ,

Fresh Killed Sign

Joe made some of his delicious thai peanut chicken for dinner.  he picked up the chicken at a really cool butcher shop we found while biking the other day.  The Mayflower Poultry Company’s meat is antibiotic and hormone free, and they have organic and free range meat in addition.  After watching the movie Food Inc. a couple weeks ago, we have decided not to support large, national meat companies like Perdue  and Tyson that represent the majority of meat in grocery stores today.

Pineapple Dessert

For dessert he made pineapple that we bought earlier that day at Haymarket for ¢75.

  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 1/2 C coconut flakes
  • 1/3 C dark brown sugar
  1. Trim the pineapple by snapping off the top, cutting off the bottom, quartering it, cutting off the core, cutting each quarter away from the roughage, and then dividing each quarter into 1/2″ slices.
  2. Set oven to broil with a rack on the second from top shelf.
  3. Sprinkle pineapple with brown sugar (it may take a little patting to get it to stick) and then coconut flakes.
  4. Broil for 4 minutes, or until the pineapple begins to soften and the brown sugar is gooey.