Life as a PhD student at MIT isn't easy. Endless problem sets, exams, sponsor visits and committee meetings result in many sleepless nights. Your research work becomes your life and you feel guilty for every moment spent not working.

One of my guilty pleasures is baking. Whenever I need to celebrate or drown my sorrows, which occurs frequently as a graduate student, I find a new recipe. Over the past couple of years, I have subjected many of my friends and neighbors to my concoctions. They haven't seen anything yet!

For Christmas, I received the Flour cookbook. For those of you who don't know what Flour is, I feel sorry for you. Flour is a fantastic bakery and cafe located close to MIT. I'll often stop off here on my way home after a bad day for a sweet, sugary pick-me-up.

After receiving the cookbook, I decided with all my copious free time (yeah right) that I was in need of another project. My mission is to bake every recipe from the Flour cookbook before I graduate. Now the race is on.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flour's Famous Pumpkin Pie

The pie shell ready for blind-baking.
 Fall in New England congers images of beautiful, colorful trees, stressed out students, and of course, pumpkin pies.  To fight the usual fall semester stresses and help out a friend, I decided to make a couple (or 8) pumpkin pies using the recipe from the Flour cookbook.  I'd been told that their recipe is to die for.
The recipe starts as most pie recipes do, with making the dough for the pie crust.  This part was handled by my friend Ahmed.  The crusts, as usual, were rich and buttery.  The filling consists of canned pumpkin, spices and 3 different type of cream (oh yes).
Cooking the filling.
The results were absolutely awesome.  The filling was sooo rich and creamy.  I absolutely loved it and I'm someone who isn't completely into pumpkin pies.  Needless to say, those 8 pumpkin pies were demolished in no time by residents of Sidney-Pacific and graduate students in Mechanical Engineering.  This recipe will definitely be used again next fall.

The final product.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Muffin batter ready for the oven.
It can be very difficult to get out of bed in the morning when you are a grad student.  You often stay up working late into the night, and there is often no set time that you need to be in the office.  One way to motivate yourself to get out of bed is to have a delicious breakfast waiting.
That was my strategy for the first week of November.  On the weekend, I decided to make the Raspberry-Rhubarb Muffins on page 52.  That way I could eat the delicious muffins all week!  I also decided to make a  small modification to match the ingredients I had on hand, and my favourite fruit.  That's right, I substituted in blueberries.
The final product.
The recipe itself was super easy to whip up.  All of the ingredients are things that you would typically have on hand (well if you like to bake like me:)) with the exception of the creme fraiche.  The results were fantastic!  The muffins were super moist on the inside (probably due to the creme fraiche) and crispy on the outside.  Because of all the moist goodness on the inside, the outside tended to also get moist fairly quickly, but with a quick five minute warmup, I had a delicious breakfast all week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baking Showdown!

Cookies fresh from the oven.

What do you when someone challenges you to a baking showdown?  Well, if you are a PhD student, you start by analyzing the situation.  You think what recipe would give me the highest probability of winning?   How can I appeal to a wide audience?  Then, if you are me, you run to the Flour cookbook.
This is exactly what I did for the baking showdown that I was challenged to for the October Sidney-Pacific house meeting.  After deciding that I would want one chocolate baked good and one fruity baked good, I ran directly to the Flour cookbook.  After leafing through the pages, I settled on baking the chocolate chunk cookies from page 108 and the apricot almond tart from page 222.  
They were definitely a winning combination!  The cookies were just fantastic, the right amount of crunchiness and chewiness.  The tart was phenomenal!  By now I've baked a lot of items from the book, and this is my second favorite (after the cranberry & pear crostata).  Definitely a winner that I'll be making again!    
So, you are probably all wondering....  Did Amy win the showdown?  Actually, we decided to just bake together rather than compete against each other...  It's more fun baking with friends anyway. 

The apricot-almond tart...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Big Brother Coming to Visit

When you live far from your family, they'll come to visit every once in a while.  Since I'd come to Boston, all of my immediate family had come to visit, except my brother.  He's married with two small (and very cute) girls, so I didn't really expect him to make the trip down.  I had a very pleasant surprise this summer when he said that he and his family would be coming for a long weekend!
So they came and we did some traditional Boston touristy things.  Since we had some small children, I adapted my normal people coming to visit plan to limit the walking.  We also made a trip to aquarium, which was super fun.  
I also decided to have them all over so I could make breakfast.  In addition to the normal bacon, eggs, and pancakes, I decided to whip up something from the Flour cookbook.  Surprise!  I made the Homemade Pop-Tarts on page 88 of the cookbook.  The pastry was buttery, flaky and delicious.  It was a perfect combination with the raspberry filling.  Even my little nieces enjoyed!

The prepared pop-tarts getting ready for the oven.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Chelsea's Birthday and I'll Bake If I Want To

Almond macaroon batter
This summer was filled with weddings, birthdays, and trips.  Sometimes these events overlap like Matt's birthday and my roommates wedding.  Another overlap happened this in July with my friend Chelsea's birthday and a trip to my home and native land (O Canada).  Of course, I decided to bake something to take my place at the party.
I decided to make almond macaroons with bittersweet chocolate ganache from page 130 in the cookbook.  They were really great!  The cookies were chewy and sweet with the perfect amount of chocolate holding them all together.  Again, another great recipe.  My only complaint is that I didn't get to try more before dropping them at the party.  Happy birthday, Chelsea!
The finished product

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Matt's Birthday and I'll Bake If I Want To

Chopped rosemary waiting
to be added to the shortbread.
 So, what do you do when a good friend of yours is having a birthday and you need to run off to your roommates wedding?  Well, perhaps some people would just say sorry I can't make it and sign a card, but not me.  I decided to....  guess what....  bake!
I decided to make rosemary shortbread cookies from page 146 in the cookbook.  I never realized how much butter goes into shortbread cookies before.  MADNESS!  Since they were sooo delicious, I've done my best to forget.  These cookies are savory and sweet at the same time.  It's really a great combination, I feel sad that I was only able to sample a few before dropping them off at the party.  I was told they all disappeared in the blink of an eye.  This recipe is fantastic and I'll be making it again soon!  Thanks Flour and Happy Birthday Matt!
Deliciousness cooling.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's My Birthday and I'll Bake If I Want To

The half-eaten results.
I'm heading back into the photo vault for this one.  I'm slowly catching up on my baking blog posts.  This particular entry dates back to this past June.  My birthday to be exact.
I'm very lucky to live in a great community with lots of great friends.  I invited them over to join me for nice wine, conversation and dessert.  It was a really great evening and of course I decided that I should bake a little something.  I decided to go with the raspberry crumb bars on page 150.  They have a great flaky shortbread base and are absolutely delicious. They were so good that I sent 2 of my friends home with the recipe.