Pound Cake for the New Year: everything is better with cake!

 

20161231_213053004_ios

Hubby’s favorite cake is pound cake.I wanted to bake something. We ran our Saturday morning errands, spent a bit of money on pet food, took the dog to a play date at the local dog park, and came home. We will not go out this New Year’s Eve. But I will bake a cake.

The latest King Arthur Flour’s sales flyer has a recipe: King Arthur Flour’s Original Pound Cake. (They probably have it on their website as well, but I did not look for it.) Heat oven to 350 F and grease or cooking spray your Bundt pan.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar; I use the organic fair trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Beat butter until very light. I softened my butter by putting it in a bowl and in the microwave for 30 seconds. I know this is a cake-baking “no, no”. But that is what I did. Then gradually add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

  • 2 cups flour; with all respect I changed this up to 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour; we had just been talking about adding fiber to our diet. I did notice that the high end pet food we bought features “no grain”
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk these ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 1/2 cup milk; I did not want to use almond milk so I used 1/4 cup half-and -half diluted with water to make 1/2 cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon your choice liquor such as brandy, sherry, rum; (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hubby brought home a bottle of Jim Beam maple bourbon, pure Kentucky whisky! I am not much for the drinking of spirits but this has been an exception! Just a finger of this to sip on while watching some good, some bad, TV…yum! But nights kept awake with heartburn (both of us) made us put this back on the shelf. But it sounded like the perfect “liquor of my choice” for the pound cake.

Whisk these three ingredients together in a small bowl. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture, stirring after each addition. End with the flour. Well I stirred quite a bit with the “stir” setting on the KitchenAid. Pour into the prepared pan smoothing the top. Bake 60-65 minutes. You can tent with foil for the last bit of baking if you think it is browning too fast.

Remove cake from oven and loosen the sides. Wait five minutes and turn out onto rack to cool. The recipe says to wrap in plastic wrap and store for a day or two before serving. I’m not doing that! Why bake a cake if you are not going to eat it?

Now my cake does not look as pretty as the one in the KAF flyer. I decide to add a glaze using maple syrup and the bourbon. This is an adaptation of a glaze for the cake I made in September. Take one tablespoon of butter, 1/8 cup bourbon, and 1/8 cup maple syrup and bring to boil. Keep boiling for 5-8 minutes until reduced to syrup consistency. Brush this over the warm cake.

We did not wait for the cake to cool completely before having a taste. I whipped up some cream with a touch of maple syrup for the topping. Delish!

Happy and blessed new year to all. Thanks for reading my food rantings this past year. I plan to keep them coming: I hope you do too! And may God bless us, everyone.

“Daddy” cookies

The second batch of cookies I made this year was the last batch. I was going to make a chocolate chip cookie with dark chocolate and dried cherries but never got around to it. Maybe next year…which is right around the corner!

The fully loaded oatmeal cookie was a request of Hubby several years ago. Last year I did not make any so I thought I should make them this year. Cook’s Illustrated magazine (September&October 2016) published an Oatmeal Cookie recipe claiming it was chewier, moister, and easier to make than the standard from the Quaker canister. So I decide to give it a try.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional); okay, so I put in one cup M&Ms, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup peanut butter chips! This may have affected the outcome…

375 degrees F. Line pans with parchment paper.

Whisk the first three ingredients together and set aside. Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat until foaming subsides and scrape and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Stir in cinnamon. Add the sugars until combined. Add the egg, the yolk, and the vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then oats and raisins. Stir until evenly distributed. Mixture will be stiff.

Divide dough into 20 pieces. Flatten them slightly with a flat bottomed glass. At this point I made a dozen cookies with the intent of making more later. So I put the remaining dough in the refrigerator. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8-10 minutes. They do not spread out much during baking.

20161216_165855490_ios

These tasted great and were perfect per Hubby. I baked another batch a few days later and had to mash the dough between my palms to get it to form balls. The dough seemed more like an oatmeal cookie granola. They baked up pretty well with a few cracks. It is possible, in all fairness to Cook’s Illustrated, that the triple amount of additives (chips, fruit, etc) was the cause of the granola effect. The melting of the butter made the mixing possible without a mixer and added a butterscotch-y taste to the batter, what batter there was. Will I use this recipe again? Probably, but not as a favorite. I find the Quaker canister recipe perfectly good and simple enough.

The second batch was sent to my favorite Airman, fresh out of Basic Training!

20161222_175548264_ios

 

Back to the beginning…

Cheesecake. I started this blog with my favorite cheesecake recipe. I have now made it without the chocolate marble. And in my shiny new 8-inch round pan with the removable bottom and three inch sides.

Voila!

20161222_124329967_ios

This got rave reviews from my co-workers. As you can see, I did overcook it a bit as evidenced by the crack in the top. That crack is just too big. I was uncertain on how to test doneness in this new pan. But it was gobbled up just the same with several people wanting the recipe. I baked this on the spur of the moment after a colleague was complaining about how his in-law puts the sour cream layer on top of cheesecake which makes it unpalatable for him. I don’t particularly like the sour cream layer either and I knew this recipe is super simple and tasty. Bake therapy for the holiday stress!

  • 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your pan with cooking spray or butter. I lined the bottom with parchment paper just to be sure it could come off the bottom so I could take it to work without forgetting an essential part of the pan! I had one molasses cookie leftover so I crushed it by rolling it with the rolling pin. I spread this on the sides only to add color. Roll the pan on the edge and the crumbs roll around and stick to the buttered side. This is optional if you don’t have a cookie. This cheesecake does not require a crust.

Cream the cheese with the sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. It rises up over the edge so I was not sure if it needed more time to bake so I left it to bake for another ten minutes. Don’t do that!

Enjoy! Happy Christmas and holidays to all!

Jacques’ Mama’s Apple Tart

20161216_222230989_ios
That’s my handiwork on the home sewn place-mat!
I love Jacques Pepin. I am reading his autobiography as recommended by my sister. The few recipes offered are fabulous. They are rarely fussy and sound delicious. So…on page 132-133 we have this recipe: Maman’s Apple Tart.

With no offense toward Maman or Jacques I made it my way! Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a fork in a bowl
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons shortening such as Crisco. Those of you who know me know that I do not ever have shortening in the house. So I use Coconut oil. It’s solid in my pantry at this winter temperature.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot milk; all I have is almond milk so that is what I heat in small pyrex bowl to nuke

Make the dough by putting all ingredients but the hot milk in a bowl and stirring all together. Then add the hot milk. Do not overwork the dough; it will be soft. Press the dough into the 9 inch pie tin with floured fingers so the dough covers the bottom and reaches up the sides.

  • 4 large Golden Delicious apples (about 2 pounds); I use three Empire apples because that is what is in my produce drawer
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut up in bits

While making the dough I add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. In afterthought I could have used cinnamon sugar in the topping.

Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/1/2 inch wedges. Oops! I cut mine into tiny slices about 1/8-1/4 inch thick! My bad! Arrange the wedges on the dough like the spokes of a wheel. Sprinkle with the sugar and top with the butter.

Bake approximately one hour until the crust is golden. Well…my crust is a bit on the brown side! I think I used the 8 inch pan as well. It’s my kitchen; I do it my way!

20161216_220137316_ios

The crust is crisp. The apples are soft and flavorful. Very nice and easy to make. This is a keeper. Yum!

Dinner in a flash: frozen pirogi

This is one of my favorite dinners to prepare. The ingredients do not have to be measured and you can add or subtract as desired. This dinner starts with a package of frozen pirogi.

Dice one onion and mince 2 garlic cloves. Saute these in a large sauce pan or skillet with a little olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the aroma is enticing stir in the frozen pirogi and stir to the bottom of the pan so they will lightly brown. Brown is not an accurate description. They turn golden with a few brown spots. Turn them over from time to time so they color on both sides. Your kitchen will smell wonderful. Add a pinch or two of salt or celery salt if you salt your food. The pirogi package said to saute for about  8 minutes per side but just do them until nicely colored.

Now add 1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I always have the standard mixed bag with corn, carrots, green beans. I suppose you could be inventive and add other mixes as well. Then add 1 can of stewed tomatoes. The stewed tomatoes I use have seasoning in them. (I did not read the ingredients and there is also sugar and calcium chloride, natural flavors, and salt. But they are $0.59 a can at my discount grocery store.) For more color and vitamins I add about one cup of frozen spinach. Stir this and cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. That is, what, 8-10 minutes?

Dinner in a bowl. And filling. This could actually feed 4 people but the two of us eat the whole thing!

20161213_221449584_ios

Cookie baking time…Molasses Sugar Cookies

20161211_133025064_ios

One weekend morning I got out stuff to bake cookies. There are chocolate chips, dried cherries, oats and much more. What cookies to bake? Without much thought I pick three recipes. Here’s the first.

This is on a half sheet of paper I put in my recipe notebook to try. It is from some person, somewhere, in some HR department, in some company, that submitted it most likely for one of those promotional cookbook fundraisers. But it seems like the cookbook never materialized.

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Melt the butter. Let cool. Add the sugar, molasses, and egg, beating well.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until combined (I just read a kitchen hint that said not to over-mix cookie dough or the cookies will end up tough).

Chill the batter for 1-2 hours or overnight. Roll into balls. Be sure these are even in size. The size will determine the baking time as well, smaller is shorter. Roll each ball in sugar and place on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. press flat with a flat bottomed glass. Not too flat. 1/4 inch is suggested. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 F.

20161213_221345298_ios

I baked these for 8 minutes. They are crisp but bendable out of the oven. These will go nicely with hot cocoa or a tall glass of milk. One could even make them into sandwich cookies with a good buttercream…or ice cream!

I thought I might roll this dough up into logs and slice them for baking for ease but that would mean they would not be rolled in the sugar. So after baking one pan of cookies I rolled the remaining dough in a log and put it in the freezer. I could have formed a bunch of dough balls and froze them but I was in the middle of making dinner. I think I will roll the log in colored sugar and slice for baking the next batch.

Everyday Table Bread…

On this cold New England winter-ish day, I bake bread. I also made a nice supper in the crock pot. Tomorrow I may even bake cookies.

20161210_220421418_ios

I sat at my kitchen table early this morning and wrote out my Christmas cards. Hubby has put the wreath on the front door and we play Christmas music. I have been looking at my cookbooks, not in them, just at them wondering about doing any Christmas baking. We did purchase Red and Green M&Ms so that is Christmas-y! We take the dog to a dog park. It is not crowded and is in a wooded area. Leo (our new old dog) is great. There was one other dog and Leo put up with the puppy’s antics. We also stopped at the Home Depot to buy a kitchen trash can with a lid because “you know who” thinks “dumpster diving” is productive daytime activity!

Back to bread. I have made this bread before but don’t remember how long ago. It has good stuff in it like cornmeal and oats. It is from the Soulard Market cookbook.

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast; I use 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2-3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • rolled oats

In the large mixer bowl, I combine the first five ingredients. In a glass quart measuring bowl I put the water, butter, and molasses. I microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, 30 seconds at a time, until the mixture is about 125 degrees F. Between 120 and 125 was close enough for me. Stir that into the flour mixture. Add enough of the all-purpose flour to make a stiff dough. I then kneaded this with my bread hook for 5 minutes.The dough was not very stiff so I kneaded in about 1/2 cup more white flour. Still none to stiff but I did not want it to be too dry so I pushed the dough around the bowl while I sprayed with cooking spray so it would rise in a greased bowl. Cover this with a tea towel and let rise until double. In just one hour it had reached the top of the mixing bowl.

In reading the recipe it says to punch dough down and shape into round loaves. I don’t remember  these as being free form loaves, so I spray my two loaf pans and shape into loaves. Now let these rise for another hour or so.

20161210_205447339_ios
These have risen above the rims.

These are nicely risen. Make an egg wash with the egg and tablespoon of water. Brush this on top and sprinkle oats on top. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes. If making round loaves check after 35 minutes for doneness (is that a word?).

20161210_223333876_ios
A good and hearty bread.

Questions:

  • Why does my bread not stay as high and risen as before baking?
  • Do I use too much yeast?
  • Did brushing on the egg wash deflate them?

I suppose I could call the baking hotline or I’ll just internet search it. I could even look in some of my bread-baking cookbooks. Meanwhile we enjoyed this bread with supper and then for toast at breakfast.