The Winners

Thank you all so much for participating in my giveaway. I was so pleasantly suprised to find that I received 80 comments – a new record! :D

And now, for the winners. Using, I randomly selected these two comments:


Winner 1:   Commenter #14, Jamie

“I have never had real maple syrup! It sounds amazing, and maybe it wouldn’t make me sick like the fake stuff in the stores! This looks like a great giveaway!”

Winner 2:   Commenter #17, Rebekah

“I haven’t eaten “fake” maple syrup for years– fortunately for me, my parents really like the real stuff. :) It’s great for baking too.”


I will e-mail Jamie and Rebekah, announcing their winnings. Thanks again, and if you would like to check out the wonderful maple products featured in this giveaway, just drop byCoombs Family Farms.


Daring Bakers, July 2009: Milan Cookies

This is my very first Daring Bakers Challenge! I am very excited.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

The host gave us the option of choosing only one of the two to make. I was feeling a little daunted at the thought of homemade marshmallows, so I decided to just make the Milans.

They were absolutely delicious. And so cute! I decided to only make half a recipe, so every one disappeared the same day.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of lemon extract. This seemed like an awful lot to me, so I downsized to just 1 teaspoon. This was a mistake as the cookies were not quite “lemony” enough. Also, the recipe called for orange zest in the chocolate filling. Since I didn’t have any on hand, I substituted orange extract. I thought it gave it wonderful flavor.

I’ll definitely keep this recipe…it would be perfect for a Girls-only Party or an Afternoon Tea.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website


• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested


1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cookies sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies


5 Responses to “Daring Bakers, July 2009: Milan Cookies”

  1. Lauren says:

    Yum!! Your cookies look amazing =D. Beautiful job on your first challenge – I’m glad you enjoyed them!!

  2. anda says:

    Congrats on your first challenge. They look verrrry good.

  3. Christina says:

    Wlecome! You did a wonderful job on your first challenge!

  4. isa says:

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers!
    Your cookies look delicious!
    Nicely done!

  5. Michelle says:

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers! You did a great job with your first challenge!!

Maple Syrup Review and a Giveaway!


Ever since I was a very little girl, I have known what it is like to produce maple syrup. Trudging through the melting snow, hauling buckets heavy with the collected sap, and the pleasure of having your dad assure you that you are doing a good job.

I have never ever liked the horrid imitation syrups. If it’s not the real deal, I’d rather eat my pancakes with just butter.

Last week, the wonderful folks over at Coombs Family Farms sent me a sample of their maple syrup products. What initially impressed me was that they have produced 100% pure maple syrup since 1840, and have been producing certified organic maple syrup since 1988.


When I tasted the syrup, I knew it was the real deal. It was rich and flavorful and reminded me of our own maple syrup. Their syrup has been described as a “deep, dark syrup evocative of a New England fall” and as “Deep, earthy, complex, the essence of spring in maple country (Gourmet, March 2006).”

Wouldn’t you like to try some for yourself?

Those very kind folks have sent me extra maple syrup products so that two lucky readers will win the following items:



1 Jar of 100% Pure Coombs Family Maple Syrup

1 Jar of Maple Sugar

1 Maple Man Maple Sugar Candy


Here’s how you can enter to win:

Leave a comment telling me whether or not you have ever tasted real maple syrup.  Make sure to leave a valid e-mail address in the comment forum.

Only one comment per person.

No comments will be accepted after Wednesday, July 29th at 11:59 p.m. Central Time.Using, I will pick two (2) winners. I will then contact the winners and post the results. If the winners do now reply in 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen and contacted. Good luck!

Contest has now ended. No further comments will be accepted for consideration. Thanks to all who participated!


249 Responses to “Maple Syrup Review and a Giveaway!”

  1. We are just a like. I grew up on a large Canadian farm in the mild of no-where..beautiful! Every year we made our own maple syrup from our own trees…gallon and after of sweetness. I put it on everything…even eggs! LOVE it. That imitation maple “syrup” at the grocery stores makes me sick to think about!

    Wonderful giveaway! I’ve not seen that company before! I love maple candy!!

    My email: :)

  2. Mireya says:

    I have not tried real maple syrup. Thanks for the giveaway! I’ve never heard of maple candy or sugar!

  3. Rebekah says:

    I don’t think I have ever had “real” maple syrup. Unless the stuff at Cracker Barrel counts, because I’ve had that a few times. I live in Texas, so we don’t exactly have maple trees for making syrup. I have been wanting to get some real syrup though, as I don’t like the really bad for you stuff they put in the kind at the grocery store.

  4. Valerie says:

    My husband and I are a household divided! I grew up on the “real stuff” and can’t bring myself to use anything else. My mom and I get our supply from a local family here in West Michigan — this last year I’ve been substituting maple syrup left and right in recipes because I can’t get through two gallons on my own. D thinks pure maple syrup is too sweet; he prefers the stuff that comes in the injection-molded log cabin bottle. *Grin* I have to admit I had an affinity for Aunt Jemima when I was little…but only because I thought the bottle really could talk. Blessed to be a child of the 80’s!

    I entered your drawing, but I don’t need to win. Today is my first visit to your site. I read The Pioneer Woman and she recently launched “Tasty Kitchen.” While perusing the recipes and other members, I found “The Noshery.” She had your blog bookmarked and the title caught my attention so I came on over. I’m happy to say I will be back, but this time I’ll use the front door!

    My first try is going to be Maple & Pecan Banana Cake. Maple for me, bananas for my D. A perfect compromise! Then, your sweet onion dip. I gave my own try at it over the 4th of July —- I love Dean’s in the store…..and wanted something that tasted similar, but could be made at home. I came up with an “Ehhh” result — something’s missing. I’m curious about the addition of white wine vinegar…

  5. Camille says:


    I started following you after seeing one of your lovely recipes on Tastespotting. Your blog is awesome—I’m impressed at how well you do for still being in high school!

    I have never tried real maple syrup, even though I have lived in CANADA for the past two years. Pathetic, I know. I’d like to try it sometime, hence, entering the contest. Thanks for hosting it!

  6. LadySnow says:

    Yes, I have tasted real maple syrup…maybe twice…little bit each time. it is so much better. I have tasted maple sugar though at the “local” maple syrup festival. :-)

  7. Jenna Z says:

    Mmmm, our wonderful neighbors from Canada brought us a jug of Maple Syrup as a thank you for watching their cat while they visited family. Our local Forest Preserve also does maple sugaring every fall and I love to buy a piece of two of maple syrup candy then! Yum!

  8. Tara Belland says:

    I love maple syrup, and use it often to sweeten things naturally, for my toddlers and myself. One of my favorite uses this summer has been to make frozen yogurt and sweeten it with a bit of maple syrup. MMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

    Love your blog!

  9. Memoria says:

    I have never tried maple syrup. I really want to, though. I’ve been debating on whether I should I buy some. Now I really hope I win. :)

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Holly says:

    I’ve tried it a time or two.. I think? =o)

  11. I have had what is supposed to be real maple syrup, but being born in raised in Texas I am not positive that it was. It was the organic kind from WalMart. I have had maple candy at the Ren Faire. Love it.

  12. Anna says:

    I buy mine from a co-op here in PA. I also stock up on yearly trips to VT. I use it in so many things. We make a lot of ice cream in my house and I sweeten it with maple syrup rather than sugar. It is amazing. I’d be happy to share my recipe if anyone is interested!

  13. Pippa says:

    I have had real maple syrup a number of times in my life, but unfortunately, the cost of it keeps me eating the fake stuff. :/ Maple candy is one of my very favorites, and I’ve never had maple sugar!

    Thanks for the generous giveaway!

  14. Jamie says:

    I have never had real maple syrup! It sounds amazing, and maybe it wouldn’t make me sick like the fake stuff in the stores! This looks like a great giveaway!

  15. Deborah says:

    Real maple syrup is all I buy. I bake with it as much as I can and we enjoy putting it on whole wheat pancakes! I buy maple sugar a couple times per year. Maple sugar candy is a little to sweet for me :)
    I enjoy your blog.
    Cooking for eight (down from ten!)

  16. Trisha says:

    I lived in Quebec for two years and left with a true appreciation for real maple syrup (and my husband picked up a regular hankering for Quebec sugar pie). Now I’m sure to keep my fridge stocked with the stuff, no matter the cost.

  17. Rebekah says:

    I haven’t eaten “fake” maple syrup for years– fortunately for me, my parents really like the real stuff. :) It’s great for baking too.

  18. Lisa says:

    Love your description of making syrup yourself! Thanks for offering a give-away.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I have probably never had real maple syrup. I live in California and dare I say, Log Cabin is what is sold in our store for on top of our pancakes. And that is why I put jam on top of my flapjacks! LOL! But now I am going to search for the real stuff online, I have to try it!!!

  20. Julie says:

    My grandparents sent us maple syrup every year from Vermont, so that’s all my mom used.

  21. Melissa says:

    I have and I love it. I get a great organic at Trader Joes, but would love to try this brand.

  22. Kristin O’Rear says:

    Real maple syrup is the best. It’s an acquired taste though if you’re a kids who’s used to the regular store bought syrup. As I kid I didn’t like maple syrup because it was so different from the syrup I was used to…now I love it and only wish it wasn’t so much more expensive than regular syrup!

  23. Samantha says:

    I will only use real maple syrup, no matter what. I’d rather spend 20$ on a bottle then save myself the money and buy the imitation syrup. I’m staring down some maple candies right now…oh the temptation…

  24. Dee says:

    I’ve never tried real maple syrup. I’ve tried the candy made from it though & thought that was delicious.

  25. Oh yes. I, too, did the Maple Syrup and Sap shuffle with my family. We used to make enough to last us all year long. Now I’m relegated to purchasing it. But it’s worth a King’s ransom. I wouldn’t eat the caramel colored nonsense if you paid me. Well, maybe I’d eat a little if you paid me…

  26. Jess says:

    I grew up on the fake syrup (ie ms. butterworths) but once i tried the real stuff i’ve never gone back!

  27. Megan says:

    I have never tried real maple syrup. My boyfriend, who was lucky enough to live in many different places as a child, constantly bemoans the lack of “the good stuff” here in Texas. I’d love to be able to see what his hype is all about and to let him relive a little part of his childhood.

  28. Kristina says:

    Oh yes! We know what the real stuff is and refuse to eat anything else!
    My Mom was born and raised up where the real stuff comes from.

  29. Brad says:

    I haven’t had real syrup before but the maple sugar candy is delicious

  30. Diane says:

    We love maple syrup in our house. We used to buy the fake syrups, but no more! Whole wheat pancakes drenched in butter and maple syrup is a favorite in our house. I must say I have never tasted maple sugar. I would love to be entered in your give away! Thank you!

  31. Anne-Laure says:

    I love maple syrup… I gobbled more than my fair share of it when I spent a year studying in Montreal, Quebec.
    I haven’t had any maple syrup ever since I came back to France, 4 years ago. I’d love to, but it is so expensive here!

  32. Donalyn says:

    This isn’t an entry, since I live a stone’s throw from several syrup producers, and I would not want to take the chance away from someone who hasn’t ever had the real stuff before. I just wanted to say what lovely blog you have and how much I enjoy your photos – beautiful!

  33. Heidi says:

    I just discovered you website about a week ago. It’s great!

    I absolutely love maple syrup. About 5 years ago I decided to give up refined sugars, and maple syrup was a fabulous alternative. I bake often with it, or maple sugar, and the results are always very well received.

    I live in Canada, and I have had the opportunity to visit a Cabane à sucre (Sugar Shack) in Quebec a few times. They are a great opportunity to taste the local cuisine that is filled with pure maple syrup, made right there! I would highly recommend visiting one.

  34. Elliott says:

    Yes, I have tasted the real thing and there is no going back. Accept no substitutes!

  35. Tom says:

    I LOVE maple syrup! For those who really like the maple flavor, keep on the lookout for “Grade B” syrup. It’s cheaper, and tastes more “maple-y.” Grade A is too delicate for my tastes. (Historical trivia: Back in the olden days, people wanted a cheaper substitute for white sugar. So the maple grades were based on how LITTLE maple flavor is in the syrup. Grade A is closest to pure sugar water!)

  36. Tuggie says:

    I am one of those people that thought the dark stuff in a bottle shaped like a woman was the real maple syrup. Recently though I came across a recipe for maple vinegar and decided to make it, well when I went to grab the bottle of “maple syrup” and decided to read the ingredient label. Well I was shocked when there was no mention of maple anywhere on that list. So I went to the grocery store and bought the real stuff. Well I just had to make waffles to try this new liquid out. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this stuff. Sooo darn tasty, sweet at the beginning with a slightly bitter earthy note at the end. I am never going to buy the fakple syrup again.

  37. Berna says:

    I have never tasted pure maple syrup and I never liked the fake stuff much. I’d love to try the real thing; I’m sure it must be delicious.

  38. Tiffani says:

    I haven’t had the real deal but I would love to try it.

  39. Cherie M says:

    I first had real maple syrup after my parents brought back a bottle from a vacation to New England. It was wonderful – sweet, rich and far beyond the imitation stuff. My brother heartily disagreed and stuck to Aunt Jemima, but I’ve been a devoted maple syrup fan ever since. I was also able to introduce my Australian husband to it on our honeymoon to Vermont – and that’s where I discovered I like the dark amber best. The maple flavor is so much more intense than with the standard and light grades.

    I love using mine to sweeten sweet potatoe or yam dishes and a touch in the pan when roasting carrots is to die for as well.

  40. Brandi says:

    I have indeed had real maple syrup, YUM. I have a great recipe for a maple syrup dijon mustard dressing that is to die for. Maybe we can trade?

  41. Rox says:

    Yes I have had it and absolutely love it.

  42. zarpandit says:

    look delicious :)
    Maple syrup not in Turkey :(((

  43. Ingrid says:

    Ahhhh, the taste of real maple syrup. I love it! My cousins produced it when they lived in VT, and we looked forward to getting a nice discount on the final product.

    Very generous giveaway! I don’t think the winners will be disappointed. :)

  44. Jenn says:

    We love Love LOVE real maple syrup in our house. Hope we win.

  45. I have had real maple syrup!! My cousin makes it every winter, they have a huge set up on their land for making the syrup. Oh and it is so good!!! I need to get some more from them.

  46. Sara says:

    I stumbled onto your blog when I was looking for a recipe to use my fresh picked raspberries! I am so excited to find your site! I can’t wait to start trying some of your recipes – they all sound so good!!

    As for the Maple syrup – I just recently tried it and have been reading up on how much better the real thing is than all that watery-sugar mixes that we see in the store. I just recently found a granola recipe that calls for real maple syrup and am ready to try it but need to buy the maple syrup – maybe I will wait a few days in hopes that I win!! :)

  47. Percilla says:

    Thanks for the the chance to win a bottle of real maple syrup. I only have tried the “real maple syrup” from supermarkets, not from the location that produces the fresh syrup. I live in the foothills of Kentucky and have often wondered if I could tap our maple trees and make fresh syrup, but winning a bottle would be just as nice.

  48. Oh yes we have had REAL maple syrup before. We lived in Michigan before Texas, and our neighbors tapped the trees on our road for syrup! It is SOOOO much better then that Mrs. Butterworths “stuff” ( I won’t ever call that syrup!)

    Love your blog of course!

    The Del sisters

  49. Julie says:

    yes, I have tasted real maple syrup:) I was born and raised in New York state where every year the small town in which I grew up has a Maple Festival…

  50. Betty says:

    Yes – I’ve had real maple syrup. We had friends in New Hampshire who used to send a jug for the holidays.

  51. Peggy in Alaska says:

    Ah, maple syrup! We love it!!! My husband grew up on real maple syrup which came from their own trees (some of the time.) I however grew up on the imitation stuff… ugh! At present we live in the Interior of Alaska and the cost to have maple syrup shipped up here is astronomical but it is still cheaper than buying in the stores. Our children are willing to eat imitaion maple syrup but I absolutely refuse!
    By the way, I can’t wait to make the maple banana cake once I have a working kitchen back.

  52. Janelle says:

    I have tried it – had a bottle once and we really enjoyed it, but more in recipes than straight.

  53. Judy says:

    I grew up savoring the real Maple syrup. A small farm nearby made it yearly. I can only eat the real Maple Syrup, still. This is a special treat!

    judy7885 at gmail dot com

  54. emily says:

    It was love at first bite for me and REAL maple syrup. I haven’t been able to find any real syrup this summer in Tucson, though. Sad day!

  55. Nancy says:

    I have tasted real maple syrup.
    After you have tasted the real thing, nothing else ever tastes quite right! What a great giveaway! Thanks!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  56. Janet F says:

    I have had real maple syrup and I love it! It is so delicious. I can just taste it now on pancakes and French Toast!

    Thank you!

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

  57. Katherine says:

    I HATE tasted real maple syrup! My grandpa buys it for me from someone who makes it in his neighborhood! Nothing better! :)

  58. Diann says:

    Yes I have. My husbancd and I went to the Maple syrup Festival here in Michigan back in April. It is so awesome. I also got some whipped maple butter…Oh my, talk about total yummy!!

  59. Linn says:

    I have not had real honest to goodness Maple Syrup since I was about 12 years old, I can a;most taste it now. What a great giveaway! Thanks!

  60. Kristy says:

    I have never tried real Maple syrup, but I bet it is delicious! I would love to try it, hope I win!

  61. Debbie says:

    Yeah!! I am originally from NH so any opportunity to get the real stuff is wonderful. Thanks!!

  62. Michele says:

    Just this morning after a nice long walk I drenched my whole wheat pancakes in maple syrup … there is nothing like it :) I would love to try this brand!

    P.S. Just found your website and I LOVE it … am making your whole wheat pizza dough right now.

  63. Sylwia says:

    I moved here from Poland a few years ago and we simply do not use maple syrup or any other maple products where I come from. I have tried some imitation maple syrup before but I don’t believe I’ve ever had REAL maple syrup. I’d love to try some!!!

    By the way, I love your blog!


  64. Lynne says:

    I have never had “real” maple syrup before. I only eat the imitation syrup if it is warmed up and I can pour a small amount on my plate to dip my pancakes, waffles, bacon, etc in. I would really like to try some real maple syrup! Thanks for the giveaway.

  65. April Howell says:

    My parents would have us help them drill the holes into the maple trees and help gather the buckets. I always loved the smell of the maple syrup cooking growing up. My mom would make pancakes and waffles for dinner after we had the first jar done. I miss those days. I cant do it where I live at now.

  66. Ann Marie says:

    I have never tasted “real” maple syrup. Being originally from the West Coast, then moved to the South – I’ve just been brought up with store bought syrups. Just the way you describe the flavor makes my mouth water in anticipation!!!!

  67. Patti albright says:

    I have never tasted “real” maple syrup, but have always wanted to. I have read about the maple syrup from Vermont. Just looking at your pictures of the real thing, makes me want to try it.

  68. Lacey says:

    Real maple syrup? It’s what I buy so that even my six children will know the original flavor.
    Every year in march my family growing uo would travel north to Highland County Virginia to attend the annual Maple Festival where we would overdose on maple candy, maple syrup and incredible maple donuts.

  69. Reena says:

    I’ve only heard of how incredible real maple syrup is….I want to taste it!


  70. Rachel says:

    PURE MAPLE SYRUP… YUM!! I have tasted pure maple syrup =)

  71. Dan Raub says:

    It has been AGES since I had real maple syrup! When I was a little girl, my girl scout troop went to see how it was made and we got to tap a tree and try to collect the sap. It was freezing cold but it was a wonderful time! A great memory! The maple candy was always a face of mine when I was little as well. Nothing beats the fresh flavors!

  72. Raelena says:

    I have tasted real maple syrup before and it was delicious!

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  73. Sue says:

    I grew up in New England, and loved maple syrup and candies. I am now lactose intolerant, and gluten free.

    A few drops of maple syrup on my gf oatmeal….have you tried it??? It’s happiness in a bowl.

    I would love to win a package….will ensure many more days of happiness for breakfast!

  74. Lee says:

    My mom LOVES pure maple syrup, so yes, I’ve tasted it before.
    I’m hoping to win this for her, because she deserves it.

  75. Carol says:

    I tasted it once, and never forgot it! My kids and I accompanied my husband on a trip to Burlington, VT, and I really could not believe the wonderful taste. Great prize, hope I win!

  76. Paula Myers says:

    I’ve never tried it! It sounds really good!

  77. Jena says:

    I prefer real maple syrup, but lately we’ve been using un-gelled jellies (apple and blackberry) as our syrup. I’m looking forward to going back to my maple syrup.

  78. Roxie says:

    Yum we love real maple syrup….

  79. latrisha says:

    Actually I don’t believe I have ever tasted real maple syrup before. I do make homemade choke cherry and blueberry syrup however. I would love to try real maple syrup to see what the fuss could possibly be all about.

  80. Hope says:

    I have never tasted real Maple Syrup. I have never thought that it could be much better than Mrs. Butterworth. But hearing you describe your adventures in gathering the sap and whatnot intrigued me. This also happens to be my first time visiting your website. I was looking up Soft White Wheat for something I am doing and happened upon your website. I love it!! I am anxious also to purchase some Sucanat.
    Anyways, win the drawing or not, I was wondering if you would be okay if I put a link to your site on my Food Storage Blog? I love your tips. Very informational!!

Pizza Dough

Can you believe that this dough is 100% whole wheat? Can you? It is! Yet it handles so well – better than any pizza dough recipe I’ve ever tried. It is so easily manipulated, yet it doesn’t tear easily.


What’s the secret? I really couldn’t say. Perhaps the method of mixing. Perhaps the perfect combination of ingredients (thanks, Cook’s Illustrated!). Perhaps the type of whole wheat flour I use (white whole wheat flour). All I know is, my search for a whole wheat pizza dough recipe ended when I found this one. Maybe someday I’ll try a different pizza dough recipe, but for now I’m content.


Care for some ideas for pizza?

~ Why not spread it with some homemade pizza sauce and sprinkle it with homemade Italian sausage?
~ Or you could drizzle it with Smoky BBQ sauce and add chicken (perhaps some bacon) and cheddar cheese for a BBQ Chicken Pizza.

~ The other day, I made pizza on the grill. It’s a great way to beat the heat and it is so delicious. Here is an excellent article and video with the instructions.

How do you like to fix your pizza?


Pizza Dough

Adapted from The New Best Recipe


  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110°
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) white whole wheat flour (aka white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Olive oil or butter, for greasing the bowl


1) Place the 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to swell. Add to the room temperature water and oil and stir.

2) Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly until combined. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the liquid ingredients. Mix just until a cohesive dough forms. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3) Change to the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.

4) Oil or butter a medium-sized bowl. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 1 ½-2 hours, or until double in volume. The dough is now ready to be used in your recipe.

Makes enough dough for approximately 3 large thin-crust pizzas

Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

Last weekend, we went camping. When we returned, I found three VERY ripe bananas in the refrigerator. I knew something needed to be done with them before they were completely useless, but I just didn’t feel like baking banana bread.

So I made banana cake instead! I knew from the get-go that I wanted the cake slightly more healthy (surprise surprise!) than the original recipe. So I swapped whole wheat flour for the AP flour and used maple syrup in place of the brown and white sugar. To compensate for the maple syrup, I increased the flour by 1/4 cup.

This recipe was very forgiving, even with all of my crazy substitutions. The cake was moist and flavorful and rose beautifully in the oven.

The original recipe instructed me to serve the cake with slightly sweetened whipped cream. Since I don’t take orders from recipes very readily, I just served it with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkled it with some toasted pecans.


Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri


For the Cake

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 3.4 cups (11 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup mashed, not pureed, bananas
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1 eight-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened but still firm
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, for garnish


To make the cake:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13×9-inch glass baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand beater, cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually add the maple syrup and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes more, or until very light. The butter and maple syrup may separate slightly.

3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beaters occasionally. Beat in the vanilla.

4) In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture along with the milk and bananas. Beat on low speed just until combined.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, removing the paper, and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

1) In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

2) Store in the refrigerator until serving. If the frosting becomes too hard, let it sit a room temperature until spreadable.

To serve the cake:

Cut the cake into desired sized pieces. Spread with frosting. Garnish with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately twenty-four 2-inch squares