The Baker Upstairs: December 2011


german pancake


About 4 years ago, I had my first-ever German pancake. It was at a birthday party for one of Geoff's friends from his German program. The student, who was from northern Germany, was completely confused as to why someone would bring "German" pancakes to her birthday brunch, since she had never seen or heard of such a thing. Authentic or no, I found the pancakes delicious! One of Geoff's co-workers gave me her mom's recipe, and I have followed it faithfully ever since. Lately, though, it seemed like my pancakes were always lumpy and uncooperative, so I decided it was time to switch things up. I found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and whipped up some pancakes. The difference was amazing! This recipe is seriously awesome and totally perfect! I've already made them twice, and I think Geoff wants them for breakfast every weekend... forever. I'm salivating just thinking about them.

German Pancake
Smitten Kitchen

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour, sifted
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons soft butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans well. Put eggs in blender container, cover and process at “stir” until light yellow in color. Push “mix” button, remove cover and add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into prepared pans and bake 20 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°F and bake 10 minutes. Slide onto hot plates.

linguine with clam sauce


When I saw this recipe on Annie's Eats, I was intrigued but also a little wary. I do like clam chowder, but I'm always a little weirded out by seafood. I was afraid the pasta would taste fishy, and that just seemed gross to me. Still, Annie explained that the recipe was one she had enjoyed as a child, and I figured it was worth a shot. I'm so glad I made it! It was easy and delicious. Abby ate every last noodle on her plate, and even licked up all the clam sauce. The clams were delicious and salty without being fishy, and the dish was light and flavorful. Yum!

Linguine with Clam Sauce
Annie's Eats

12 oz. linguine pasta
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, juices reserved
½ cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted.  Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the reserved clam juice to the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half.  With the heat on medium-low, stir in the clams and the heavy cream.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Portion the pasta into warmed serving bowls.  Spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.  Serve immediately.

quick and easy tomato soup


Geoff is a big fan of tomato soup, but I'm not super excited about the canned Campbell's stuff. I've been looking for a recipe for a long time that was easy to make, and finally I just came up with my own. We love it and have had it several times since!

Tomato Soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1 T chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
a splash of cream

Mix all ingredients except cream in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium heat 15-20 minutes. Puree using a blender, return to pot, and add cream. Continue to cook another few minutes, until soup is thick and creamy.

frosted chocolate cupcake tops


I saw this recipe on Annie's Eats a little while ago and was intrigued enough to make them the same day. They turned out exactly as promised (although the frosting was a little dryer than I expected). Abby helped me decorate them and enjoyed chowing down when we were done. They weren't my favorite cookie of all time (I like cookies a little denser and chewier) but they were fun to make and pretty tasty, too!

Frosted Chocolate Cupcake Tops
Annie's Eats

For the cupcake tops:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. espresso powder
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)

For the frosting:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.  Whisk to blend, and set aside.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water (or in short intervals in the microwave) until smooth.  Set aside and let cool until just barely warm to the touch.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg.  Blend in the vanilla.  Beat in the melted chocolate until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Add in the buttermilk and mix just until smooth.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1½ tablespoons per cookie, spacing each about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in short intervals, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the sour cream.  Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.  If necessary adjust the consistency with additional confectioners’ sugar to thicken or sour cream to thin it out.  Frost cookies as desired and decorate with sprinkles (optional).