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To view a Q&A from the author please visit part 2 of the blog tour.
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A guest post by Dinah Corley, author of Gourmet Gifts
Since baking boxes are a favorite project of mine, I am so happy to be posting on them for Jen’s fantastic blog!
My book is all about making edible gifts as attractive as they are delicious. Foil baking pans and flimsy paper plates just don’t fit the bill in my book! But wooden baking-ware certainly does. These ingenious little wonders not only make whatever you bake and give look special, but they are real time savers as well. The balsa wood bakers come in a range of shapes and sizes and they are so good-looking that you need little more than a sheet of cellophane and some ribbon to complete the gift. I think the natural wood lends itself well to autumn and holiday—I decorate the wrapped boxes with everything from acorns and silk fall foliage to pinecones and holiday ribbons. You can find wooden baking boxes and baskets at gourmet and craft stores, as well as online through retailers like TechnoBakes.com or Fantes.Com. Best part about them is that they come with parchment liners and therefore do not need to be buttered!
My recipe for Sticky Butterscotch Cakes is just one of many things well suited for baking box gifts. I hope you enjoy this project and will be inspired to take it to the next level with recipes and wraps of your own that feature baking boxes. If you have any questions about the project or the recipe, you can always find me at Amazon.com.
For the cakes:
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-3 cups cake flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1 tablespoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 large eggs
-3 cups light brown sugar
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-3 cups buttermilk
For the glazing sauce:
-1 cup half-and-half or light cream
-1 cup dark brown sugar
-⅓ cup unsalted butter
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To make the cakes, in a large bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and use a wire whisk to blend and aerate the dry ingredients. Combine the eggs, brown sugar, melted butter, and buttermilk in a separate bowl and blend them with a wooden spoon.
2. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients with the wooden spoon and beat the ingredients very briefly, just until the mixture is evenly moist. Do not overbeat the batter.
3. Arrange 14 Panibois basket molds or boxes with their liners on two large sheet pans. Divide the batter among the pans and bake them on the middle racks of the oven for 20 minutes. Switch and rotate the baking sheets and bake the cakes for another 30 minutes, or until they test clean when a wooden skewer is inserted in the centers of the cakes.
4. To make the glazing sauce: While the cakes are baking, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer (but do not boil) over low heat, stirring frequently, for 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Pour the hot glazing sauce slowly over the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. Cool the glazed cakes on the baking sheets and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap (still in their wooden baking baskets/boxes). Store at room temperature; if you are not planning to assemble and deliver the gift within 8 hours, store the cakes in a very large airtight container until you are ready to proceed.
Accentuate the natural look of the wooden baking baskets and the deep brown of the cakes by choosing “natural” materials like craft paper or unbleached parchment paper, raffia, waxed string, and twine, along with acorns, nuts, or pine cones, for gift wrapping.
-14 rectangles (3¼ x 4¼ inches each) clear cellophane
-14 rectangles (4¼ x 11 inches each) parchment or craft paper
-Large acorns or tiny pine cones
-Twine, waxed string, or raffia
-14 small gift cards
How to put a cake in a sleeve and an acorn on a string
Remove the plastic wrap and cover the top of each cake with a cellophane square. Wrap each cake in a rectangle of paper, joining the edges and taping them on the bottom of each basket or box. Use a handheld power craft drill to make small holes in the acorns or pine cones. String up to three of the drilled embellishments onto 4-inch lengths of the twine, string, or raffia and double-knot both ends. Wind twine, string, or raffia around all 4 sides of each paper-sleeved cake and tie a double knot to the front and center of each cake, keeping the long ends free. Add a few of the “strung” embellishments to the center of the knot and tie a small bow or looped knot over them. Slip a gift card under each bow.
When I was approached by The Harvard Common Press to participate in this blog tour I was very honored. (One of my favorite books that I had from them was lost in my move and was called New England Home Cooking) Not only are they based out of Boston, one of my favorite cities which I miss very much, they are a publisher I really respect and admire. I was given a digital preview of the book and I was blown away by the gorgeous pictures and ingenious craft/food gift creations. My awe was increased when I received a hard copy of the book. I really enjoy this book and I look forward to all the cool, awe inspiring, gifts I will be making in the future!
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