Procrastibake: Streusel Coffee Cake

So my house needed cleaning. I did eventually get around to it but not before I found lots of other things to pay attention to. And baking is one of those things that is easy to get lost in especially when the weather in Southern New England switches from summer to winter every other day! This past week seems to have alternated rainy cold days with warm sunny “sit in the backyard with a cocktail” days.

This recipe is from my standard 1978/1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook. I chose not to make the sour cream coffee cake because I had cow’s milk in the fridge that needed to be used. This can be made in a 9-inch square pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. I chose the 9-inch square.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raisins (my addition)

First of all, I only had 1/3 cup butter in the fridge. I did not want to wait for the frozen butter to thaw. And I will need 3 more tablespoons of butter for the streusel. What to do? I have a handy dandy jar of coconut oil in the pantry. It really is not an appropriate substitute for butter but for oil, but I have used in for cookies in the past, so went for it anyway. So I used 2 Tablespoons coconut oil with 3 Tablespoons butter in the cake.

Make the streusel by mixing all together the following:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I may have added some to the cake as well)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (I had 2 of butter and 1 of coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I had used all the nuts earlier in the week so left these out)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the cake beat all of the first list of ingredients in a mixing bowl for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Lightly grease the pan and spread 1/2 the batter in the pan. Sprinkle on half the streusel. Spread the remaining batter on top and then sprinkle with the rest of the streusel. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Oh, and I mixed in a quarter cup of oats with the streusel.

The 9 inch square pan needed 45-50 minutes to bake completely.

The amount of streusel was barely enough. I don’t think it would have worked at all as layering in a 9 x 13 inch pan. In future make twice the amount for either sized cake.

This is a nice moist cake. I will make it again. I may have actually made it a long time ago as I vaguely remember having the same thoughts about the amount of streusel.

 

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Honey Gingerbread

Another recipe adapted from Eating Well Magazine Spring 2004.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (This is because I did not have ground cloves and I figured this would take place of the 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1 1/2 t. cinnamon, and 1/2 t. cloves. Now, in hindsight, I could have used my Gingerbread Spice Mix. Live and learn!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar ( I had light brown)
  • 1/2 cup honey (I had a wildflower honey not the dark honey of the original recipe which also called for 2/3 cup. I used all that I had.)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (instead of lemon zest; again I used what I had.)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional but I love crystallized ginger so I have thi in the house. It is wonderful to chew on a small piece for a snack.)

Prepare a 9 x 13 inch pan by spraying with cooking spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk dry ingredients. Beat together the eggs, oil, honey, and brown sugar. Blend the dry ingredients with the egg mixture and zest. Add boiling water as you go along. Mix just until fully blended. I used my stand mixer and this took a very short time.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. The top should spring back lightly when touched. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Our first piece we ate warm. It is a light version. The honey does not give quite the same flavor as molasses. I could taste the orange zest which surprised me. I would call this a honey ginger cake. The bits of crystallized ginger were very tasty. Hubby liked it a lot. He said an addition of raisins would have put it over the top. I would make this again.

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Cinnamon Bread

Quite a while ago Hubby asked if I could make Cinnamon Bread, or at least I think he did, but I did not make any. King Arthur Flour’s website is a gold mine of baking recipes for us home cooks. I saw this and thought I would make this. I used to bake breads all winter long but not this winter. Not sure why? Here is the link to the original recipe from KAF: Cinnamon Bread. I made a few adjustments.

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups warm tap water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl of stand mixer. Put butter and water together in Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Add the liquid to the dry, stir to combine, and then knead for 7 minutes at Speed 2. I first used the lesser amount of water but the recipe said the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl. With the lesser amount the dough cleaned the sides right away so I added the extra 1/4 cup. This made a more sticky dough that seemed to match the description from the recipe.

Place the dough in a greased bowl. To do this I scrape the dough to one side of the mixing bowl, spray with cooking spray, then scrape the dough to the sprayed side, and spray the rest of the bowl and the top of the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled. This took about an hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased work surface. I did this. I had never not used a floured work surface for bread making. And this worked out well. Pat the dough into a 6 inch by 20 inch rectangle. Lucky for me my butcher block work surface has a pattern of 2 inch squares all over the top. So measuring the rectangle was to perfection!

Make the filling: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons flour. Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush this on the dough before sprinkling on the cinnamon mixture. This is to keep the swirl from making gaps in the bread while baking. Roll into a log starting with the short end. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal. Place in your lightly greased or sprayed loaf pan. Tent loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch over the rim of the pan.

The size of your loaf pan will matter. I spent my morning measuring the three I have and they are all 9″ x 5″ pans. This loaf, per KAF, will rise more nicely in an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan. In the 9″ x 5″ pan it will rise to the rim. Mine rose very slightly above the rim in 1 hour and 20 minutes time.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven. “Allow the bread to completely cool before slicing.” Yeah right!

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Perfect swirls!

This was yummy and makes a nice toast with my coffee. I just have to be sure I don’t eat it all in one day; that would wreak havoc with my goal of losing a few pounds!

I like recipes from which I learn something. From this one I learned that one could substitute potato flour for instant potato flakes, using an egg wash helps the filling stay in place, and one can use a lightly oiled work surface for shaping bread dough.

Glorious Morning Glory Muffins

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I haven’t written for a few weeks. It’s not that I’m not cooking, I’m just not creatively cooking. Or I make standard fare that I have already written about, such as chicken pot pie and chocolate cake. We had a fabulous post New Year Thanksgiving dinner with a roast turkey and all the trimmings including sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and apple pie. Sometimes I just throw chicken in the oven to bake with barbecue sauce or pan sear steaks or pork chops. Frozen vegetables, in a multiple of varieties, round out the meal. And I confess, sometimes dinner is sandwiches made with frozen breaded fish fillets!

And then there is the impetus for weight loss and heart healthy cooking. Hubby and I are not getting any younger and the medical folk have been looking at our hearts regarding cholesterol levels and hypertension, and our sedentary lifestyle, a little more closely lately. So how can I bake yummy desserts with these issues in the front of my mind?

I wanted to bake something. I used to bake muffins every week so that Hubby and the Girls would have something to take along for the commute to school. The Girls are now all grown up with boyfriends and fiances and such. But a healthy muffin might take the place of cupcakes, right? I have an entire section of my recipe notebook devoted to muffins. Most of them claim to be low-fat and have whole wheat and/or oatmeal in the list of ingredients. I chose this one because it has apple butter as an ingredient and I found half a jar of good apple butter when I did a recent fridge cleaning and inventory.

Morning Glory Muffins: this is an adaptation of a recipe submitted to All Recipes.com 2005 by a Jack D. I adjusted the eggs and the amount of sugar and the raisins.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (in future I would use 1 cup all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (in future I would use 1 cup)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheatgerm (I did not remember if the wheatgerm I have is toasted already so I dry toasted it in a small skillet over high heat on top of the stove)

Oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 18 muffin cups or line with papers. I was able to make 20 muffins.

Whisk eggs, apple butter, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a larger bowl. These are the first 7 ingredients.

Add the goodies, carrots, apple, Craisins, to the dry ingredients. Then stir in the apple butter mixture just until all is moist.

Mix the wheat germ and the walnuts together in a small bowl.

Spoon into the muffin pans, sprinkle each with the wheatgerm mixture, and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will spring back when lightly pressed.

These were fabulous. I don’t remember baking these before even after printing out the recipe back in 2006. They are enjoyable warm right out of the oven, in the middle of the morning as a snack, and also the next day, and evening, and then for morning again…

Freezer Rolls

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I’ve been making freezer rolls. These were the dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving feast and the cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving breakfast. Although I had read about these on the King Arthur Flour website here, I dug out my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Bread booklet and used a recipe in it. This booklet is falling apart. My mom used this and gave it to me. The copyright is 1971. This recipe makes 4 dozen rolls. So I made 24 cinnamon rolls and 24 dinner rolls.

Pick your pans. I use a standard 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan for the cinnamon rolls. Except the picture shows a Christmas tree pan because these are for Christmas breakfast. The mini muffin pans are just to hold the rolls until they are frozen solid and then they can be popped out and put in a freezer bag. These should keep in the freezer for up to one month.

  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (on occasion I substitute 2 cups with whole wheat flour, regular or pastry)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast OR 5 teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk (any type)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature

Combine water, milk, and butter. Heat to 120-130 degrees F. I most frequently do this is a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup/bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Check after two.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

Gradually add the heated liquids to the flour mixing a you do and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead. I knead this with the bread hook for 5 minutes. By hand is 8-10. Turn out on lightly floured board or counter. Cover with plastic and a towel and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Now shape your rolls. I cut the rested dough in half with a bench scraper and cover one half with the plastic while working with the other. For rolls, I gently pull this half into a log about 12 inches long. Then with the bench scraper I cut this into 24 pieces. I placed these into a greased mini-muffin pan. You could just set them on a baking sheet but wrap them well to freeze. The second half of the dough I roll out into a rectangle, maybe 14 inches by 11 inches? Spread this with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar. I placed these in the baking pan and then wrapped it with plastic wrap to freeze.

To bake, remove from freezer and place in greased pan. Set on counter and let thaw and rise for 2 hours or so until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Truth be told, there are differences to the method of the Fleischmann’s booklet and King Arthur Flour. And it might make a difference:

  • KAF suggests using cooler liquids, not warm
  • KAF suggests not to let the dough rest before shaping

Their reasoning is to keep the yeast as dormant as possible so as not to be damaged during the freezing.

The batch of rolls I made for Thanksgiving I used Fleischmann’s recipe (as listed above) but KAF’s methodology. The dinner rolls rose nicely on the counter. The cinnamon rolls rose nicely in the refrigerator overnight. The batch you see in the picture for this blog I used the Fleischmann’s method. Thawing the rolls overnight in the fridge did not see a rise. They were soft and not frozen so additionally I put them on the stove (indirect heat) for 30 minutes before baking. They finally had a slight rise and did bake up nice and soft and tasty.

I think I will stick to the KAF method in the future. It results in a better risen roll. The thaw and rising have more eye appeal. The taste was not affected.

 

 

 

Gateau Basque: another French cake

I’ve been on vacation camping in the Adirondacks, but I am back home. No more camping until next year.:(

Anyway, I was flipping back through the pages of my big French Feasts cookbook to look for the Breton Butter Cake  to make to take on vacation when meeting up with my sister. I wanted her and her husband to taste this creation. I find a recipe that is cake AND a filled cake at that. Is this the real French butter cake? I’ll have to make it and find out. The ingredients are basic cake.

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light rum
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing on top
  • filling of pastry cream or jam; I used about 1 cup blackberry/blueberry preserves

Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. I did this with the KitchenAid stand mixer. Whisk the flour with the baking powder.

 

 

French Pound Cake: Quatre-Quarts

I love all things French! I have always wanted to speak the language. I took four years of French between High School and College but to no avail. I do recognize some words and phrases and enjoy knowing what Christie’s sleuth, Hercule Poirot, says from time to time on the Masterpiece Mystery movies. But, alas, I never was able to immerse myself into a French-speaking environment in order to learn to speak it myself. I can ask where the bathroom is, though, in a pinch!

On a beautiful weekend afternoon I wanted to bake a cake. Well, I wanted to bake a cake and use this new technique of making fluffy frosting with whipping cream in the food processor. But I did not really want to make chocolate cake. I get out various cookbooks and start browsing. I was all set to make a cake with apples and walnuts or walnuts and maple syrup or a pound cake. Hubby likes pound cake. He had suggested a carrot cake but I did not buy carrots when we grocery shopped the previous day. However, I did not have any walnuts in the house either. I searched. So, pound cake it is.

From my French Feasts coffee table-sized cookbook, there is a pound cake recipe.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

The recipe description says this is a basic recipe that can be personalized by adding apples, pears, banana, fruit conserves, etc. As you can see there is no “flavoring” in the recipe. Also there is probably an assumption that the butter is salted. So I add:

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest from one very small lemon
  • I forgot to add a pinch of salt

We like lemon glazed pound cake so that was my plan. Then I wondered about adding some raspberry preserves…lemon and raspberry is a nice flavor combo!

  1. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Add the softened butter, sifted flour, and baking powder. So I rarely sift flour anymore. Instead I whisk the two dry ingredients together for about 30 seconds to thoroughly mix.
  2. I lined a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment and cooking spray. I poured about 3/4 of the batter into the pan. I then added about 1/4 cup raspberry preserves to the remaining batter. Then, forgetting how to marble a cake, I plopped the purple batter on top and attempted to make a swirl.
  3. Bake in preheated oven 315 F for 45 minutes. In future I will set the oven for 350. I had to leave it in the oven baking for another 15 minutes. But this may be because I added the jam.

I let the cake sit in the pan for about 15 minutes and then took it out and let it cool on a wire rack. I paced paper towels (parchment paper would have been better) under the rack and while it was still warm I glazed it. To make the glaze I added the juice from the small zested lemon to 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar. That made too much glaze so I poured about 1/2 of that on the warm cake. Then I let it sit to cool a bit more. And then we ate it.

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I served this with some thawed frozen mixed berries and freshly whipped cream. It was yummy. The swirl is evident but the flavor of the raspberry preserves did not come through. The lemon overpowered it. In future, I would add vanilla to the cake itself and more fruit preserves, maybe just dropping the preserve into the batter in the pan for swirling. The outside had a nice crust but the interior texture was not as dense as expected in pound cake. Not a failure! Actually a success!