Monday, August 16, 2010

Introductions are in order

Hello there!  Welcome to my baking blog, The Flour Pile!

I am by no means a professional baker, but I do love it, and I bake every chance that I get.  Here I will share with you my baking successes, as well as the failures, and the pile of flour that almost always ends up on the floor when I bake. 

So, without further delay, here is my first recipe!

Classic Brownies

This recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, and it is my go-to recipe for brownies.  While they are delicious as printed in the recipe, I like to add things to them to make them a little more fun.  The picture above has tiny peanut butter cups in them, like these:

I have also added chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, various candies, or whatever I had on hand that sounded good.  I don't, however, recommend that you add marshmallows.  I tried that, thinking I would get yummy chocolate brownies with chunks of marshmallow, and this is what I got:

That is a sticky, gooey mess that tastes great, but has no discernable bits of marshmallow, and does not cut nicely. 

You can also add swirls of other things on top, like peanut butter (have you notice yet that I really like chocolate and peanut butter together?).  Just put dollops on the top of the uncooked brownies and swirl it around with a toothpick or butter knife and stick it in the oven like usual.  So good!

It is really important that you use cake flour in this, and not all purpose flour.  I did that once, and they came out really dense and not as good.

So, here's the recipe!

Classic Brownies
makes twenty-four 2-inch-square brownies

1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

[flour pile note: if you have a food scale, use that for the measurements, but don't feel like you have to run out and buy one.  i sucessfully made these brownies many times without a scale, just using the volume measurements.]

1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width.  Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges.  Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet.  Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4.  Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn [flour pile note: I can't melt chocolate in the microwave -- i ALWAYS burn it]) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in vanilla.  Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous. [flour pile note: if you want to add something fun, like peanut butter cups, do it now.  just not nuts.  those go on later]

5.  Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface.  Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang.  Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

* I don't like nuts in my brownies, so I always omit them.

I am experimenting to see how well these babies freeze.  I will report back later.  

And, since I promised it, here is my disappointing flour pile picture:

That's right, it's just a marshmallow.  That's the only thing I dropped on the floor.  Looks like the marshmallow brownies were a disappointment all around.


  1. I always burn chocolate in the microwave as well so I stick with the double boiler method!

  2. These things are delicious. Had some last weekend. Good call on leaving out the nuts.