Amish Fail

I don't even want to talk about the Amish Bread. It was a disaster. Something went horribly, horribly wrong, and I was so despondent (and busy learning the mystical ways of the tambourine so I could perform at CMJ and go on tour with my dear friend Neon Hitch) that I couldn't blog for months.

Honestly, the Amish Bread experiment turned into more of a crash course on how to brew your own moonshine rather than how to make your own sweet and delicious cake-like cinnamon-sugar bread to share with your favorite friends.


So I scrapped the entire project and moved onto bigger and better things: namely, another collaboration with Urban Outfitters! I can't divulge details just yet, but keep your eyes on the UO Blog in the upcoming weeks for an exclusive holiday treat from yours truly!

Until we eat again,



I made my own starter for GF Amish Friendship Bread this evening. Back in high school my friends and I were obsessed with Amish bread. We'd swap bags, dream up decadent variations, constantly ask, "What day are you on?!" then spend a week and a half dying of anticipation before gorging ourselves on the rustic, cake-like treat that is Amish bread. It's incredibly simple to make--the waiting is the hardest part!

(For those of you not familiar with the stuff, it's this fantastic, moist, dense, cinnamon-sugary bread made in a ziploc bag with yeast, milk and sugar over the course of a week and a half. It's like babysitting...only just when you get sick of coddling the thing, burping it and feeding it sugar, you're rewarded for all your hard work with sweet, sweet gluttony.)

This little guy has to ferment ten days before the action even starts; then ten more days of bag-kneading, yeast-feeding, delicious suspense.

Make your own starter like I did by following the directions from my high school BFF's mom's handwritten, photocopied recipe (adapted into a GF version by referencing the celiac.com forums). You will be greatly rewarded!

Starter ingredients:
1 TBSP dry active yeast
2 C warm water
1 C gluten free flour mix (I was feeling lazy so I just grabbed this)
1 C sugar
1 C milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water in glass or plastic bowl. With a non-metal spoon stir in the rest of the ingredients and beat till smooth. Pour into a 1 gallon ziploc bag. Put somewhere warm and out of the way, then let ferment for TEN DAYS. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!

This is my first attempt at a gluten-free version, so I'll keep you posted on how it works out. Further instruction will come in ten days, so stay tuned...



I know. Finally!

I adapted the recipe from smitten kitchen.
(I know they mention a celiac version, but when it comes to doing it myself, I'm a real maverick if you know what I mean. Plus I wanted to halve it so I wouldn't eat 25-30 Oreos by myself.)

For the cookies:
1/3 C cocoa powder (preferably unsweetened Dutch-processed, but don't sweat it if you only have Hershey's)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
5 TBSP butter, room temp.
1/2 an egg (crack it in a bowl, stir it a little, only use half. Easy.)

For the filling*:
1/2 C nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 butter, room temp.
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C milk

In a food processor (or bowl + electric mixer), thoroughly mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pulse in butter and egg (or mix in on low speed). Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Spray a cookie sheet with some Pam and spray a little on your hands. I like to make tiny cookies so I can eat 13 of them and not feel bad, so I form the balls of dough so they're a little bigger than the width of a quarter. But feel free to make them Big Stuf sized if you're feeling super 1987.

Don't smush them down too much because they flatten out plenty on their own. Bake for 7ish minutes at 350°F.

While your precious chocolate wafers are baking, beat shortening and butter together with a handheld mixer till fluffy. Add sugar and beat 3 more minutes. Add vanilla and milk, then beat till fluffy, gorgeous, and perfect. When the cookies are fully cool, pile on and sandwich them up real proper-like. Get a huge glass of milk and get gluttonous!

*The glorious thing about making your own oreos is what I like to call FFC--full frosting control. You can be endlessly creative with your filling in a way that would make Nabisco burn with envy. Try these twists on the classic by simply modifying your frosting recipe:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich
Substitute 1/4 C shortening with creamy peanut butter.

Chocolate Creamsicle
Add zest of an orange or clementine, and use OJ or tangerine juice instead of the milk. Bonus option: substitute the vanilla extract with Fiori di Sicilia.

Double Chocolate O
1/4 C butter, room temp.
1/4 C shortening
1/2 C cocoa powder
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
3 TBSP milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Et la pièce de résistance...
German Chocolate Oreos
1/4 C milk
2 TBSP cornstarch
a weeny pinch of salt
3/4 C coconut milk
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C shredded coconut
1/2 C pecans, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP bourbon or whiskey

Whisk milk, cornstarch, and salt. Then stir coconut milk and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook till mixture starts to boil. Cook five more minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Re-whisk milk/c-starch/salt mixture and add to coconut milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Cook 6 or 7 more minutes--stirring constantly (it's a workout)--then remove from heat. Beat in your vanilla, booze, pecans, and coconut. Stir till everything's coated and combined. Pop in the fridge till it's cooled to room temp. Sandwich as usual. Everyone will be wildly impressed, I assure you.

Let me know how they turn out,


in case you missed it...

I ain't no one trick pony.

For instance, if you're into marginally ok hipster photography that has a lot of personal meaning, head over to my other blog, thebellecollection, for some non-baking goodies. Gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free too. Tite.

And while I'm shamelessly self promoting, allow me to direct you here, here, and here on mtv.com, where you may behold my video vixenry (or vixenry-to-be).

Finally there is my "About a Girl" debut for Urban Outfitters, where I get my Julia Childs on, wear clothes, bare my soul, etc. Sidenote: they didn't discuss it in the feature, but all the little drawings are taken from comics I've done!

Next up: Cinco de Mayo feasting escapades, those promised sandwich cookies, and more. Stay tuned!



For you, Mr. Fünke.

Blue Cornbread

1 C blue cornmeal (I used Arrowhead Mills)
1/2 C [gluten-free] flour of your choice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1 C milk
2-4 TBSP maple syrup, honey or agave

Sift dry mix into wet. Grease up an 8x8" pan or a bunch of these guys, slop in the batter, then sprinkle with loads of brown sugar and little chunks of butter that will melt and become divine resevoirs of crispy sweet heaven. Bake for 15ish minutes at 425F.

(They're best with lots of butter.)

Don't leave your Uncle T-bag hangin'...whip up your own batch today!

Yours bluely,
Miss Melanie

New obsession:

The woman makes bacon caramel for god's sake.



how embarrassing.

Boy are my cheeks red.

It's been eons since I've put up anything remotely titillating. But I want to change, I really do. I want to treat you right, baby. And I will. I've been baking hard and experimenting with some succulent little treats and I have the thick, semi-permanent powdered sugar coating on my tongue to prove it.

In the meantime, get yourself addicted to Smitten Kitchen, which I am now happily hooked on thanks to my dear friend and gorgeous gastronome Marina (who docks her boat here).

Anyway, prep yourself now because I've got a thing for sandwich cookies that just won't quit.



a few of my favorite things.

1. Fiori di Sicilia Extract
AKA liquid sunshine. Adds a delicate, mysterious, intoxicatingly delicious hint of lemon blossoms and vanilla. Super next-level. I wish I could bathe in it (and probably should). Get it from King Arthur Flour.

2. Silicone Spatualas and "Spoonula"
Candy-colored and a cinch to clean. They also withstand heat like a dream, so they won't become melty wrecks if you accidently leave them sitting in a hot pan.

Plus Spoonula makes it sound like Dracula and your favorite stirring spoon were having a torrid affair and accidently sired the best tool ever. Williams Sonoma.

3. ISI Silicone mixing bowl
A miracle of the modern age. Folds, bends, pours, drizzles, and withstands heat up to 450°F (so you can even stick it in the oven). It's also dishwasher safe and stink-proof. I got mine at the Bowery Whole Foods but you can also grab one here for the same price. Mine is blood red.

4. Ball jars
Classy, classic and cheap. I store all my flours, sugars, nuts, rice, garlic and gear in these guys. Pick them up at Fishs Eddy (19th & Broadway in Manhattan) or go to their website and stock up.

5. Santoku knife
Supersharp, precise, and practically eternal? Yes please. And for every one of these babies sold, Kyocera donates $5 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation with a guaranteed minimum donation of $10,000. Good for your kitchen and your karma.

Happy feasting,
Miss Muffet


curioser and curioser.

I recently re-read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and I'm so taken with it. I'd forgotten how bizarre and droll and darkly hilarious Alice's adventures actually are! Not to mention delicious...as soon as she's down the rabbit-hole, our pedantic, treat-loving little heroine is already sipping magic cordials and nibbling petit-fours like there's no tomorrow:

Alice ventured to taste [the drink], and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off...

Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants. "Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door: so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!"

She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself "Which way? Which way?", holding her hand on the top of her head to feel which way it was growing; and she was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size. To be sure, this is what generally happens when one eats cake; but Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.

So she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.

In fact, Adventures in Wonderland engages itself entirely with indulgence; at the very least, the adventure of eating and drinking. In Wonderland, a potion or poundcake has the power to change you (and it tastes good too). That's my kind of story!

Needless to say, I'm both jealous of Alice and inspired by her escapades. So I set to work making a whimsical treat fit for a mad tea party. I'm sure Lewis Carroll wouldn't object to me making it gluten-free...

(Gluten-Free!) Currant Cream Cake
with European Buttercream
Better than a fairy tale...

Illustrations: Arthur Rackham (top), Gwynned M. Hudson (middle).