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Back-to-School Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

The William-Sonoma Baking Book's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is a success!

The William-Sonoma Baking Book’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is a success! I love how these turned out, chewy inside and crisp outside. A perfect lunch box treat!

It’s that time again, back to school for lots of kids today. Even though I am not in school, I still feel that new-beginnings energy and love this time of year. Fall is my favourite season, and it is upon us very quickly.

Heading off to school for me always meant new school gear, stationery (my favourite part), clothes, and packed lunches. If I were going back to school today, I’d enjoy having a classic chocolate chip cookie in my lunch as a treat sometimes.

And I have just the recipe for those of you at home looking for a new one to try.

Recently I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe for me, and rather than searching the internet, I went back to my library of baking books. I selected the trusted Williams-Sonoma Baking Book [Amazon.ca], on page 14, I found their Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, it was too my liking so now I must share it with you.

My review of the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book (and why I love this book):

  • It is full of the right balance of photos (i.e. enough that you know what to aim for and select an appropriate recipe for your baking occasion).
  • The sidebars are filled with tips related to the adjacent recipes, and make for a sturdy baking-basics cookbook.
  • Many of the recipes are similar to the array we baked our way through in pastry school too, making this a great essentials resource for home bakers (just as their sub-title indicates).
  • I also like the design of the book, from it’s hardcover, to the recipe formatting which includes both metric and imperial measurements – appealing to a broader baking audience.

If you don’t have a copy of this cookbook and are looking for one that is a reliable resource for classic recipes, then this is your book.

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The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book (published 2009)

This book has you covered from a basic recipes summary in the back, a glossary of terms, baking tips & techniques to help you brush up on the fundamentals, basic cake decorating tips, and a handy metric conversion table, measurement quick guides, and a table of ingredient substitutions and equivalents that are relevant to the recipes in the book and will help you in times of buttermilk shortage, etc.

So, onward to sharing the recipe.

A few tips first:

  1. Inventory that you have all the ingredients, and measure them out before you start mixing. For example, make sure your butter is room temperature.
  2. If you plan to bake them right away, then prepare your cookie sheets and pre-heat your oven to 350F.
  3. If you plan to store some cookie dough in the freezer then have some plastic wrap ready for storing the dough.

The Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (with my own notes)

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (use the good stuff!)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (as this is optional, I chose to add 3/4 cup rolled oats instead – I love the taste of oats in a cookie)

*I used half white chocolate, and hale semi-sweet for a black & white look

Recipe Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Have ready 2 ungreased baking sheets
  3. Sift your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
  4. In another large bowl with a hand mixer, or use a stand mixer, cream your butter until it’s pale in colour and noticeably fluffy. Scrape the sides of your bowl down.
  5. Add the sugars and continue to beat until the mixture is well combined and fluffy. Scrape the sides of your bowl again.
  6. Add the egg and vanilla and beat slowly until blended, and scrape the bowl at this point again – ensuring everything is well combined.
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture and combine on a low speed so you don’t end up with a cloud of flour all over your kitchen (trust me, i’ve done it before!)
  8. At this point you can continue to mix by hand with a good wooden spoon, or just keep your mixer on (but the dough is thicker now and takes a little muscle).
  9. Add your rolled oats, or nuts, and chocolate chips, and mix just until it’s combined.
  10. Now I chose to pack my dough in the freezer and divided it into two portions. Then you can take it out and bake it as needed. You can also choose to scoop your dough now and bake right away. It’s nice to let the dough rest in the fridge over night, well covered in a bowl, as this allows the butter to chill and the ingredients to combine and bake nicely for a chewy thicker cookie.
  11. When you’re ready to bake, you can roll into small balls, and bake on baking sheets a couple inches apart, and bake for about 12 minutes until golden edges appear.
  12. Let them cool and enjoy (you can also bake them all and freeze too)

Cookie dough can stay in your freezer for a couple months, and if raw, it can stay in your fridge for 1-2 days before baking.

I enjoy rolling the dough in packs like the store-bought cookie dough, so it’s easy to slice and bake right away. Or you can allow the dough to come to room temperature and roll into balls.

How to make evenly sized cookies?

For consistent cookie sizes, you can use dough scoops, whatever size you want, and scoop the dough into portions and freeze, or bake right away. Here is a few of my scoops. You can also weigh your dough, a medium-small cookie is about 15g in weight, and a larger cookie is about 30g in weight.  Weighing the dough is tedious, but if you want really consistent sizes then it’s the best route to go, dough scoops are the next best option.

Where to buy dough scoops?

In Vancouver, BC, you can buy them at Gourmet Warehouse, Ming Wo, Russells Food Equipment, and generally most cooking stores will have them but these stores have multiple options.

Baking scoops - different sizes for your baking needs.

Dough scoops – good for all sorts of baking, from cupcakes to cookie dough.

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Review: A Double Butter Book Review of @ButterBakedCafe to Butter Celebrates!

 

This has to be one of my favourite book series for sure, because it’s local! Rosie Daykin is the owner of Butter Baked Gods and now author of two baking books: Butter Baked Goods & Butter Celebrates!

For so many reasons, I love these books. I’ll begin with how much I love the name of her shop: BUTTER! It’s simple, and a key ingredient for all things delicious in the land of baking. Next to sugar, I’d say it’s the top ingredient on the majority of bakers’ grocery lists.

As you may suspect, with a shop name like Butter, all of the goods I’ve tasted fall nothing short of lip-smacking deliciousness. Most of you are likely familiar with her fluffy marshmallows which are also sold at places like WholeFoods, etc. She also sells them in her shop in south Dunbar, Vancouver, BC — the sweetest and prettiest shop! Her background in interior decorating is apparent after you see her decor choices, making this delicious bakery a dainty one too.

And I could probably go on, but I am actually wanting to tell you about her books! Yes, plural. Rosie published her first book in 2013. I remember when I first learned about it – I knew instantly it would be a great book and needed to get my hands on a copy. It’s been a great book, and I will get into what I like about it below. After I introduce her second book, which was recently released this fall.  Like the first book, I knew right away that I’d want her second book too.

Recently, I had the fortune and pleasure of attending a private booking signing event with Rosie, at Appetite RandomHouse here in Vancouver. I was able to mingle with some of my fellow members of Food Bloggers of Canada, meet Rosie and receive a signed-copy of her new book Butter Celebrates!  Given the timing of my book review series, her first book was on my list to review, and then I won the chance to attend this event. So, for this review I wanted to talk double-Butter and review them both because many of my pros apply to both books.

Let’s get to it… Continue reading

The Cake Book, by Cupcake Jemma of Jamie Oliver's FoodTube

Book Review: The Cake Book by @CupcakeJemma

This next book is the smallest book on my shelf, by far, but as they say – good things come in small packages! As many of my friends can attest, I have been a fan of Jamie Oliver for a long time, decades-long.

Naturally, when he endorses other Chef’s I have paid close attention. When those endorsements involve baking, I am even more attentive. So when Cupcake Jemma appeared on his FoodTube and other programming, I instantly fell in love. She is so FUN!

Now she has her own cookbook, which I have had for the past year and baked several recipes from. It’s the next book in my review series.

The Cake Book, by Cupcake Jemma of Jamie Oliver's FoodTubeBook:  The Cake Book
Author: Cupcake Jemma, of Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube
Publication date: 2014
Baking skill level: Beginner

  

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Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook 2011

Book Review: Momofuku Milk Bar by Chef Christina Tosi

I own a lot of cookbooks and it’s time I share some of them with you. This is my new series for the month, sharing my favourite baking books with you and why I love them! There is a book out there for every level of baking skill out there. First up….

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook 2011Book:  Momofuku MilkBar
Author: Chef Christina Tosi
Publication date: 2011
Baking skill level: Intermediate to advanced

My story for this cookbook begins when I first visited New York a few years ago on an Easter long weekend. Among the many recommendations received, Momofuku’s Milkbar was a hot my list!

Momofuku Milkbar did not disappoint at all! Even though I was tragically recovering from a case of food poisoning the day before, I put on my big-girl-pants and forced myself to make it to MilkBar before leaving New York.

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Chocolate chip cookie dough balls

My new favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe

As you likely know by now, I spent a lot of time looking at food websites in my spare time, whether it’s through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter each of these channels brings me new ideas every time. Well, recently, I came across the NYTimes Cooking best chocolate chip recipe. I was intrigued because generally NYTimes Cooking is a great source for quality recipes, and I wanted to try this one.

I was immediately in love with the recipe, after reviewing the ingredients and method. I had to made a few small tweaks based on ingredients I had at home though, and in the end, accidentally didn’t include the granulated sugar #bakingfail (I was feeling a bit under the weather and just plain old forgot). Their original recipe is linked above, but I’ve listed the adjustments/error I made below.

Quickly though, I want to highlight why I love this cookie: 1) It’s not too sweet, just the right sweet, because I forgot one of the sugars; 2) it’s a nice texture, not chewy (although I do like chewy) it’s a bit more crumbly – perfect for a sandwich; 3) there is a high chocolate to cookie ratio so you get chocolate in every bite; and 4) I liked the method they used, simply following the creaming method (The Pastry Chef online defines it well) to letting the dough rest overnight.

Here is my version of the recipe.

Perfect with a cup of tea or glass of milk, a mini chocolate chip cookie sandwich

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour** (see note, I used all-purpose flour)
1 ⅔ cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour**(I used all-purpose flour)
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces)granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate (I used 54% chocolate chips, or use your favourite)
Sea salt (for garnishing on top, flake salt is ideal) Continue reading

Pinkie Pie, My Little Pony kids birthday cake theme

Fun with Kids Birthday Themed Cakes

I have had the pleasure of decorating a number of cakes for kids birthdays, and I have come to realize that they are my favourite kind of cake to decorate. I mean, I love all cakes, but kids cakes are the most fun because they are full of colour, happiness, and generally very cute themes.

Below is a photo summary of the cakes I have made. Each cake was really fun to make and each taught me something different about my style, which evolves over time. I frequently search for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, and from some of my favourite cookbooks. Most themes come to me by request and then I come up with a way to make it in cake form…. That is my favourite part, coming up with the ideas!

From a cat themed birthday, to Thomas the Train, My Little Pony, to a Titanic themed birthday, I have come a long way since cake week in pastry school, just take a look.

The Cat Themed Birthday:

This cake was fun, and the ears were the tricky part. I wanted the ears to be sculpted cake, so that part i worked on right away so they had time to set before fitting on top. I used a large grass tip to pipe the hair onto the cake, and I used swiss meringue buttercream too, my go-to frosting!

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My Cake Fail Stories & Life Lessons Learned

This past year, I have made countless cakes and desserts, and I while I still have much to learn, I know I become a better baker each time I bake. I have also learned a lot about life from baking. It might sound simple, but it is true, there is a lot to learn from cake and baking in general.

Recently, I realized there are a few tips for baking and life that I would like to share with you. To the budding bakers out there who aspire to be better, this is how I recommend you approach your baking efforts.

Life lessons learned from cake fails: MY 5 tips to bake better

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Voila!

My Perfectly Imperfect Nostalgic Chocolate Chip Cookie [Recipe]

[Warning: this post may induce intense cookie dough cravings. Read at your own risk.]

The other week I was seriously craving some cookie dough. Like, Cookie Monster craving. I could have eaten an entire batch if it was before me at the time. I have no shame in admitting this because I know some of you have likely had a similar craving!

Cravings happen. You know you want to eat some of this…

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Why I am not following my dream

Around this time last year I was full-swing in the midst of my pastry school experience and I cannot deny that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Seriously.  You can read in my previous posts about why I chose to go, and how intensely I am passionate about baking. I love both the science of it and the artistic elements required to make beautiful desserts. I have grown particularly fond of cake decorating, as you may have noticed in my Instagram feed.

Julia Child says, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

I have to admit, this quote still rings true for me but I view it differently than I did last year.

Last year, I believed very strongly that if you follow your heart and do what you love, the rest will follow. I thought if I just rocked the pastry program (which I did, by the way) and headed out into the pastry world that I would be able to make a career of it, eventually (I was realistic enough to believe it would take a while though). A few things that I did not realize about working in the food industry included needing better transportation, i.e. a car, to get to the early early baking shifts (when public transit is not an option). The places I wanted to work would be impossible for me to get to, so I basically couldn’t (and didn’t) apply. I have managed to live in Vancouver for the past 16 years without a car because transit is actually a pretty good system. But, not if you want to be a baker… I also knew that the wages were not very good (compared to other jobs I’ve had), but it wasn’t about the money, it was about doing what I love, right? I was willing to try and see if I could live off of a pastry cook’s wage. It’s not easy.

Here is a great article about the cost of cooking for love. One of my Chef’s from school recently shared it on social media, The High Cost of Cooking for Love.

There is a bit of a culture in the food industry that chefs are fuelled by passion and don’t need a personal life or to make money (or very little anyway). This lifestyle can be endured and succeeded-in by very few. Food TV popularity and media seems to have increased everyone’s belief that it’s a glamorous industry to work in, and celebrity chefs make lots of money. Just because a food business is in the media, doesn’t mean they are thriving necessarily, profit margins are very tight for food business owners. This heightened awareness of the industry has increased the the number of people who fantasize about quitting their day job and one day opening a cafe or a restaurant one day, becoming a Chef / or Pastry Chef.

I was one of those people, sort of. I dreamed of one day going to pastry school, for years… And I mean years. I just could never afford the time, or the cost of going to school (because going to culinary school is not cheap either) until last year it was possible. I made it happen, without missing a beat. My dream of going to pastry school and one day having my own bakery was now in present time, no longer a one-day vision. But I soon realized some of the realities in my dream, and learned it was more of a fantasy than a realistic dream. Don’t get me wrong, I actually haven’t given up necessarily, but I have quickly come to realize that working full-time in the food industry (as a baker) is not going to happen right now for me. I actually can’t afford to work in the industry and live in Vancouver. It just isn’t possible for me, at this time, nor is it possible for me to open my own business after the expense of going to culinary school (and I will fully admin I still have a bit of student loans left from my first degree).

I am fortunate that I have a strong resume of professional experience to fall back on. I am now exploring how to combine the two, using my background in marketing & communications and somehow be a part of the food industry in other ways (big or small).

Recently, I read a brilliant article by Ryan Holmes (@Invoker), of Hootsuite, When to (Not) Follow Your Heart. He raises many good points, and I particularly liked where he talked about discovering a passion within another passion.

This is where I am at now, I have come to realize that I simply enjoy creating things, and using both technical and artistic skills to do so.  I followed one dream, and learned that dreams may be refined based on experience and it’s an evolutionary process (at least for me). I am still very much interested in marketing & communications and over the last year I have learned a lot about running a small business and what entrepreneurs are up against before “overnight-success” dreams can even have a shot at coming true.

Another article I read from MindBodyGreen really spoke to me as well, How My Dream Job was Destroying My Health. This person had a job travelling around to amazing places all the time, but the conditions of the lifestyle were effecting her longterm health poorly. There needs to be a balance.

After working in the industry for just a short while, I started to have some wrist problems and needed physiotherapy to fix it but did not have the benefits to cover the treatment. I am fine now, but working in the food industry was going to require more physical conditioning for me to endure that lifestyle (read: working without much of a social life). After a long day what you really need to do is go get some exercise but I would be totally exhausted and just want to get off of my feet (i.e. nap). I know that most of my experiences were not even really intense compared to others, because I had breaks, and scheduled shifts. It was still an adjustment though, to stand all day too. I tried it, and I did not fall in love with that lifestyle.

Sitting all day in an office isn’t good for anyone either, however, at least with that routine, I was able to make room for a workout in my day that kept me in better shape. I used to run half marathons, regularly, but I basically stopped because I wanted to focus on pastry school, and I haven’t returned to run club since (but I’m working my way back now, a year later, with extra pastry to burn off!!).

After my short experience in the food industry I quickly realized I don’t want to bake on someone else’s terms, I just want to bake for myself (at least for now). I don’t want to have my own full-time business either, where I don’t actually get to do the part I love—bake—because I am consumed by other challenges of running a small business.

I ultimately do not want to lose the joy of baking because of baking too much or from dealing with people who don’t value the price of good food and quality baking (and that is a whole other topic on its own). For these reasons, I’m choosing to not follow my this dream, and that is totally okay.

This blog has been a place of passion for me for five years now, and I am thrilled that I have kept it going. I am now a member of Food Bloggers of Canada, too. Another proud achievement. I will absolutely continue to bake (don’t worry!) and enjoy the process, trying new recipes and experimenting, for me—and I’ll continue to share those experiences here, with you.

Now, I have begun to dream new dreams, and it is exciting to think of what possibilities lie ahead. I already know what taking a leap of faith requires of me, I’ve now made a few, and I will do it again, I am certain…

Wedding cupcake toppers, bride and groom.

Top 6 Tips to Know When Ordering a Wedding Cake (or any Custom Cake)

Wedding season is upon us, and many people have already planned much of their details in advance, while some maybe are still figuring out a few last-minute suppliers and vendors. In some cases, that may include hiring a baker to make your dream cake for your special day.

I have now baked cakes and cupcakes for a few weddings, made many custom cakes, and received numerous inquiries on orders as well. Planning “the perfect day” can be stressful for both the couple and the suppliers! Throughout these experiences, I have learned a number of things  to be aware of and would like to share them with you. Regardless of who you hire to create your wedding cake, or even a special custom cake, I have determined 6 things you want to be aware of and will help you hire the right baker/y.

Wedding cupcake toppers, bride and groom.

Wedding cupcake toppers, bride and groom.

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