Salted Caramel Sauce

Welcome to the 200th post on Lingonberry Jam! Although I’m just a hobbyist who’s nowhere near the 1000 posts of my favorite food blogger, it’s still fun to take a moment to reflect on these past few years and how my blog has evolved. Indulge me for a moment as I get all infographic crazy.

Lingonberry Jam Infographic

A few takeaways:

  • People like posts with hyphens in them. Oh, and being on Buzzfeed helps.
  • I wonder how many people are looking for my blog, and how many are just hoping to learn about those tart Swedish preserves they sell at Ikea.
  • My mom rocks. :)

As my 200th post neared, I found myself wondering what recipe I should post to mark the momentous occasion. Perhaps that homemade nutella that I still haven’t quite gotten right? Or a fancy dancy homemade cheese? How about a celebratory cake?

In the end, I decided to go for something simple and versatile: salted caramel sauce. It’s a recipe I’ve made many, many times. It’s something that any dessert lover should learn to master. It’s SO much better than buying caramel topping from the grocery store. And it can be made with a few ingredients you probably already have on hand.

It’s a winner.

Soon I’ll share a fantastic dessert that I topped with this sauce, but for now just enjoy this on ice cream, brownies, apple slices, or by the spoonful (guilty). And thank you SO much for following along with all my cooking adventures!

Salted caramel sauce

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Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbs. butter, cut into six pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher flake salt

In a small saucepan with tall sides, heat sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or whisk as the sugar melts. The sugar will clump up and then start to liquify and turn a dark amber color. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

When the sugar is completely melted, add the butter, stirring constantly. The mixture will become quite bubbly, so be careful. When the butter is completely melted, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream. Again, the caramel will bubble up angrily. Boil the mixture for one minute, then remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Let cool, and transfer to an airtight container. Caramel will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (If it becomes too thick to stir after refrigeration, reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds before using. You might want to store it in a microwave-safe container just in case.)

Makes about 1 cup.

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Whole Wheat Anadama Bread

Is there anything as homey as the smell of fresh bread baking? As Michael Pollan says, “Even if the bread turns out badly, the smell of it baking never fails to improve a house or mood.” The one bread that my mother baked growing up was anadama bread, following a recipe from her high school Latin club’s cookbook. I love this bread. The yeasty, molasses smell wafts through the house, hinting at a soft, doughy center that perfectly cradles a melting pat of butter. Biting into a slice, punctuated by a salty cornmeal crust, makes me sigh with pleasure. Heaven in a loaf pan.

But because I’m Krista– and I like to monkey around with recipes– I wanted to see if I could make anadama bread a bit more wholesome, something I wouldn’t feel guilty about after chowing down two huge loaves. I would only declare my experiment a success if the bread was able to maintain its signature high rise and soft texture. After a bit of online research, I added more water to the recipe and sifted all seven cups of whole-wheat flour before adding it to the dough. Miraculously, it worked!

I cried tears of joy (not really), ate way too many slices (yep), and promptly stored one loaf in the freezer. After all, if I’m going to spend several hours making bread, there better be some for later.

Whole wheat anadama bread

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Whole Wheat Anadama Bread

  • 3 3/4 cups water, divided
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2/3 cup corn meal, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2/3 cup light molasses
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. yeast
  • 7- 7 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour, sifted

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 3 1/4 cups water and salt to a boil. Gradually add corn meal, whisking constantly. Cook over high heat for one minute, whisking constantly. The cornmeal mixture will begin to boil and may splatter, so be careful. Remove from heat and whisk in molasses and butter. Set aside and let cool until just slightly warm, about 25 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water until foamy, about 5 minutes. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, stir in cooled corn meal mixture. Gradually add the sifted flour, switching to the dough hook when necessary. Knead for an additional 6-8 minutes. Dough will be sticky.

Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise until doubled a second time. After second rising, form into two loaves and place in parchment-lined bread pans. Let rise again until doubled.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F. Just before baking, brush tops with an additional 1-2 Tbs. melted butter and sprinkle lightly with additional corn meal and kosher salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom.

Source: Adapted from the Hodag Cookbook.

Cake Decor Galore

My lovely mother arrived last Friday for a weekend visit to Beantown. Apart from the usual touristy stuff, we hosted an afternoon cake decorating get-together for a handful of my girlfriends. Since my mom has mad skills and I do not, it was awesome to have her teach us how to do basket weave, cornelli lace, roses, swags, rosettes, and on and on and on. (It was also absurd how much powdered sugar and butter we went through. Yum.)

My mom’s on her way home now, but she left me with a big box of cake tips and a bunch of her guidebooks. So I basically want to spend the next week doodling with frosting. (Schoolwork and planning Thanksgiving dinner can wait, right?) I’m so excited about this whole new world that just opened up. Think of all the cupcakes and cookies and birthday cakes I can decorate!

Thanks to my mother for teaching us all, and thanks to Gabe for being such a good sport as we filled the apartment with sugar and chatter. (P.S. My boyfriend can hold his own– he makes a mean basket weave. I’m so proud.)

Honey Bee Cookies

Flipping through the pages of the Alpha-Bakery cookbook makes me smile. It’s the first cookbook I ever owned, given to me by my grandparents at the tender age of four. With uncanny prescience, my grandmother wrote, “We hope you have a lot of fun with this book as you grow up to become as good a cook as your mom!”

Over the next few months, through my mother’s careful teaching, I learned how to make turtle bread and zebra cookies, pocket pizza and kart-wheels. My favorite part of this cookbook is the handwritten date on each page, noting when Mom and I first attempted a recipe. Reimagining days I can’t remember, I wonder how it felt to bite into my first successful ice cream sandwich or slice of mud pie.

A few years ago I rediscovered this cookbook, as a college student seeking memories from home. I whipped up a batch of honey bee cookies, fifteen years after my first attempt. Sweet and buttery, flecked with cinnamon, they tasted exactly how I remembered. Like innocence. And warmth. And home.

Today, my geographic transience (four moves in two years!) makes me hold tightly to symbols of home, both old and new: my college graduation lantern, quilts made by family, a framed photo of a prayer left at the Western Wall. As Gabe and I set up yet another home– and wonder where we will end up next– I know this cookbook will stay with us, signifying the warmth of the past and our hopes for the future. With honey, butter, and love.

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Cranberry Vodka

Happy Valentine’s Day! Gabe and I have totally different schedules so I won’t see him until late tonight, but I did pack his lunch and included a sandwich in the shape of a heart. (Guess who I learned that from?)

Today’s recipe has me in good spirits. I used high quality vodka for this instead of the bug spray cheaper stuff I used for my homemade vanilla extract. Of course, the actual consumption will have to wait until the weekend, when a certain high school friend is paying us a visit. (That’s right, Sam. It’s on the blog; you can’t back out now.)

Happy V-day, everyone! Much love!

P.S. Credit goes to Gabe for the bug spray joke. He makes me giggle.

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No-Knead Bread

A year ago, my mother gave me a cast iron Dutch oven and a book called “My Bread” by Jim Lahey, introducing me to the world of no-knead bread. I’m still trying to figure out the basics of bread-making (why, oh why, do my loaves always collapse?) but this method works perfectly every time. It requires a little bit of planning ahead, but the result is a super chewy loaf with a crispy crust. Totally worth it.

Here’s a quick pictutorial. (Yeah, I’m in the business of making up words.)

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A Spoonful of Sugar

I’ve been laid up all day with a nasty cold, which is about the only thing that makes me not want to cook.  I spent most of the day wishing I had homemade chicken noodle soup in the freezer, but I haven’t had time this fall to devote an entire day to cooking the bejeezus out of fifteen pounds of chicken.  (When I make chicken soup, I really make chicken soup.  Thanks for the ginormous stockpot, Mom!)

Luckily, I did have the foresight to make vanilla/chocolate/peanut butter swirl ice cream on Saturday.  Nothing feels better on a sore throat!

I should probably have some more after supper tonight.  Doctor’s orders… right?

How cute are those mini pumpkins?