Making bread cakes for bike training season

The Feed Zone Cookbook, source of the original recipe

The Feed Zone Cookbook, source of the original recipe

In recent bike training seasons I’ve found that I have to eat relatively simple foods while out on my rides. Power bar style foods haven’t been cutting it. I’ve found some products that I can buy like Thunderbird Energetica bars (cashew fig carrot is my favorite) and Honey Stinger chews that agree with me, but I’ve also been experimenting with making my own portable snacks. I recently picked up the Feed Zone Cookbook to help my experimentation. One recipe called savory bread cakes caught my interest since I have a special place in my heart for bread. I changed the recipe a bit of course, since I decided to omit the bacon.

Savory bacon bread cakes

Savory bread cakes

I halved the recipe to find out if I liked it or not. My recipe:

  • 2 cups cubed rosemary sourdough bread
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese, cheddar and cotija (I used extra since I skipped the bacon)
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
Mmmm... rosemary sourdough is delicious and give the bread cakes good flavor

Mmmm… rosemary sourdough is delicious and give the bread cakes good flavor

First, cube the sourdough bread.

First, cube the sourdough bread.

Pour the milk on the bread cubes and let it soak a bit.

Pour the milk on the bread cubes and let it soak a bit.

Whisk up the eggs.

Whisk up the eggs.

Add the eggs, cheese and salt to the bread and mix it up.

Add the eggs, cheese and salt to the bread and mix it up.

After greasing a bread pan, pour in the mixture.

After greasing a bread pan, pour in the mixture. Bake at 350 until firm. About 25 minutes for my batch.

Finished bread cakes.

Finished bread cakes.

Sliced up, ready to eat.

Sliced up, ready to eat.

After baking the bread cake, I let it cool, sliced it into four pieces and wrapped the pieces up in parchment paper and froze them. I ate one during my latest Bike MS training ride, the Real Ale Ride. The bread cake was soft by the time I stopped to eat it, so it definitely could not be eaten while riding, which I would have preferred. However, it was quite tasty. I might go with a bit less cheese next time because there were a few large cheddar chunks that I wasn’t too excited about eating in the heat.

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Our birthday dessert spread

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

A few weeks ago, it was that time again. Time for the husband and I to jointly celebrate our birthdays by inviting people over and providing waaaaaayyyyy more desserts than the group could possibly consume. Last year’s selections were a hit and this year was no exception.

The menu:

We had left overs of everything. Luckily I hid some of the extra banana cream pie that wouldn’t fit in the pie pan, because that pie pan was clean by the end of the night!

 

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Fat free ginger cookies

Fat free ginger cookies

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

 

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Cooking the cream filling.

Cooking the cream filling.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

 

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Baking orange ginger cupcakes

Cupcakes for my birthday!

Cupcakes for my birthday!

I recently came across a recipe for these orange ginger cupcakes on Instructables that I just had to try. Conveniently, my birthday gave me a good excuse to bake something I wanted to eat, and then force my co-workers and softball teammates to eat it for me.

I edited the recipe a bit, to cut down on the butter of course. My next updates to this recipe will include using more orange zest and adding some chopped candied ginger to the batter. However, here’s the recipe I used for the pictured cupcakes. They were pretty good after all.

Ingredients – Orange ginger cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sticks (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients –  Buttercream frosting

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (you may end up adding more)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (you may need more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Steps – Cupcakes

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and applesauce together in a large bowl until fluffy.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger together in a smaller bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well between each.
  4. Add the orange zest and vanilla.
  5. Add the milk and dry ingredients mixture, alternating and mixing between the two until the batter is smooth.
  6. Since I didn’t have cupcake liners, I greased my cupcake pan well. Definitely grease the pan well if you do this and use a knife to loosen up the cupcakes when you try to remove them!
  7. Fill the cupcake holes 2/3 of the way full. You should get 22 – 24 cupcakes.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 – 22 minutes. The cupcakes are done when golden and they spring back when touched. Use the toothpick test if you’re not sure.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes before removing and putting on a cooling rack.

Steps – Frosting

  1. Once the cupcakes are cool, you’re ready to frost them!
  2. Cream the butter until nice and smooth.
  3. Add in half the powdered sugar.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar.
  6. Frost your cupcakes! I like just a thin layer of frosting. If you like more, you may want to double this recipe.
Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester - it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester – it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Finished batter.

Finished batter.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Frosting in the mixer.

Frosting in the mixer.

Yum!

Yum!

 

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A few delicious sandwiches

So I know the Superbowl was like a month ago now, but I have some pictures from our party preparation ready to share. Because the Superbowl was played in New Orleans, we decided to make muffuletta sandwiches for our party guests. If you’re not familiar, a full size muffuletta sandwich will feed multiple people because it’s prepared on a very large round bun. I’ve never actually seen a muffuletta sandwich bun for sale anywhere, and I’ve been on a bread baking kick lately, so I decided to make two muffuletta buns for our sandwiches.

A giant muffuletta bun that takes up a whole plate.

A giant muffuletta bun that takes up a whole plate.

Cut muffuletta bun

Cut muffuletta bun

I used a recipe from about.com for the muffuletta buns that worked perfectly. We made both a vegetarian and a meat muffuletta for our party, as well as an italian sub and a portobello spinach sandwich. Among the sides, we made this very tasty marinated vegetable salad.

For the muffuletta, we created a very large amount of olive salad (recipe from Nola Cuisine) to top the sandwiches. It was delicious and we ate the left overs on salads for a few days after the party. The vegetarian muffuletta was vaguely based on this recipe, but I used the olive salad that we made. My husband used this recipe to make the meat muffuletta.

Veggie muffuletta

Veggie muffuletta

Start of the meat muffuletta. In the end, it had waaaaay more olive salad on top.

Start of the meat muffuletta. In the end, it had waaaaay more olive salad on top.

While baking beer sugar cookies for the party, I also roasted some garlic that I then used on the portobello and spinach sandwiches. The recipe for those sandwiches was loosely based on this recipe from Vegetarian Times, but I didn’t make the tofu spread. they were my favorite of the night actually.

Portobello, spinach, shallot, roasted garlic and cotija cheese sandwiches.

Portobello, spinach, shallot, roasted garlic and cotija cheese sandwiches.

I’m still experimenting with bread baking, but I’ll have an update soon. Stay tuned!

 

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Surprise sugar cookies

Can you guess the surprise ingredient?

Can you guess the surprise ingredient?

Now that you see the cookies, can you guess the surprise? Actually, they’ve got two surprises. One is that they were made with beer and the second is that I tried a butter substitution to make them healthier. I know that applesauce can be substituted for butter in many baking recipes, but applesauce makes cookies have a more cake-like texture. After reading suggestions, I settled on using mashed avocado to replace half of the butter in the recipe. That’s right, those cookies have avocado! You can almost make out a very faint green tint in the picture. I even served these beauties at our superbowl party and no one caught on to the fact that they had avocado in them. They disappeared like hot cakes. The cookies were pleasingly soft and delicious. Avocado are fruits after all, so their sweetness is a nice addition to baked goods. Even if they add a green tint.

Recipe: Beer Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Bella Online

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bottle malty, fruity style of beer
  • Parchment paper
  • Some sugar and cinnamon mixture to sprinkle on top

Method:

Reduce beer of your choice by simmering on the stove top until consistency resembles syrup. This can take a while. Be careful not to let it boil over (from experience).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together sugar, butter, and mashed avocado until smooth and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix together. Gradually mix in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

After all ingredients are combined, add beer syrup and stir it in by hand, the batter will look marbled.

Drop tablespoon sized scoops of cookie dough onto the baking sheets. Flatten down a bit (they don’t flatten out on their own much) and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a bit golden and set in the middle. Place on racks to cool.

I used Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing, a winter warmer style.

I used Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing, a winter warmer style.

Reducing the beer to syrup.

Reducing the beer to syrup.

 

Getting ready to beat the butter, sugar, and avocado.

Getting ready to beat the butter, sugar, and avocado.

Wet ingredients all mixed up. Notice the slightly green batter.

Wet ingredients all mixed up. Notice the slightly green batter.

After mixing in the dry ingredients.

After mixing in the dry ingredients.

Adding the beer syrup.

Adding the beer syrup.

Marbled batter after mixing in the beer syrup.

Marbled batter after mixing in the beer syrup.

Mmmm... the final, slightly healthier cookie.

Mmmm… the final, slightly healthier cookie.

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Making fig crumble cake

The end product, amazing fig crumble cake.

The end product, amazing fig crumble cake.

Recently I realized that I had figs from last summer’s huge fig harvest in the freezer. Thank you me, for freezing those figs. I also recently purchased the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and have been enamored with the recipes. A recipe for blueberry cornmeal butter cake caught my eye. I decided to adapt that recipe, using figs and less butter. I really love the simple flavor of the cake, the cornmeal and lemon zest combine with the figs to create pure deliciousness that’s hard to stop eating.

Fig crumble cake, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients – cake:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups thawed, chopped figs (or other fruit)

Ingredients – crumble topping:

  • Reserved liquid from thawed figs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Process:

Butter and flour a cake pan, I used a 9″ round springform. (Edit: I’ve also found that a tube cake pan works well for making sure you get the middle cooked through) Whisk together the dry cake ingredients. Beat together the butter, sugar and applesauce until fluffy, which should take a few minutes. Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Add a third of the flour mixture and all of the sour cream. Beat until blended. Add another third of the flour and beat until blended. Mix the remaining flour with the figs (or other fruit) and fold by hand into the batter until the flour mixture is combined into the batter.

Add the batter to the cake pan. Combine the crumble toppings and spread over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean. The original recipe calls for 35 minutes, but for me it was more like 45 minutes.

Combining the applesauce, butter and sugar.

Combining the applesauce, butter and sugar.

Adding the eggs.

Adding the eggs.

Adding the dry mixture.

Adding the dry mixture.

Adding the figs.

Adding the figs.

Batter in the pan.

Batter in the pan.

Topped with crumble.

Topped with crumble.

Yum!

Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

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A fig roundup #2: Baked goods

It’s time for another fig roundup! Unfortunately it appears that our trees are done with figs for the season. The fruit flies have thoroughly infested them. Before the flies were everywhere we ate figs in a number of different ways.

One of the first ways we at them was broiled with goat cheese and a variety of different toppings. Crushed pistachios, honey, fig balsamic, prosciutto… it’s all good.  Fresh figs are also tasty added to salad and eaten with a balsamic style dressing.

I also made fig compote, fig balsamic reduction, and fig infused vokda in addition to freezing a batch of figs. I haven’t used the frozen figs yet.

Figs make a great addition to baked goods.

Fig muffins

To make the muffins, I started with a basic breakfast muffin recipe and changed it quite a bit.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups chopped figs

Instructions:

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix in chopped figs. Combine egg, milk, oil, brown sugar and honey and beat well. Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Next time I might use more brown sugar or all brown sugar and no honey to make them just a tad bit sweeter. Regardless, the muffins were very good. Because we weren’t able to eat them all right away, I froze a few and have been eating them for breakfast on the weekends.

Dry muffin ingredients

Wet muffin ingredients

Fig chunks mixed with dry ingredients

Batter ready to go

Prior to baking

After baking

Delicious fig chunks on the inside

 

Fig cake

Never content to use a recipe just as it’s called for, I modified this fig cake recipe to my liking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed figs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Additional fig slices for topping

Instructions:

Mix together sugar and wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients, mixing well. Oil and flour a cake pan (I used two 9″ round pans). Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. With about 15 minutes left, remove cakes and add fig slices to top. The cake will be golden brown on the top when finished. Check with toothpicks to see if the center is finished.

Mashed figs

Cake batter

In the pan

Delicious fig cake, after adding the fig slices, before the baking is finished. Somehow didn’t end up with a picture of the finished product.

 

 

 

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