I recently made quite the birthday meal for my husband, making two of our favorite recipes, and trying out two new ones. I made Food & Wine’s Roasted beets with pistachios, herbs, and orange, Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss chard and sweet potato gratin and Mushroom Bourguinon and this Ginger fig cake, adapted from Kitchen Konfidence. I made the recipe healthier and also added figs and we loved it, so here it is for others to love!
I haven’t baked any sort of bread that requires yeast in quite a while. That all changed when I read the pretzel parker house rolls recipe on Smitten Kitchen recently. While I don’t have a clue what a parker house roll is (yes, I could look it up), I did know that the rolls sounded (and looked) delicious. Following her recipe, and using the baking soda wash instead of lye, I now have made two batches of these rolls and froze them for Thanksgiving. I’ve taste tested a roll from each batch and can tell you that not only are they easy to make, they are also delicious. I’m not really a fan of kneading dough by hand, so I used my KitchenAid to take care of that part.
The yeast comes alive:
The dough hook does the hard work:
The dough after kneading:
The dough after first rise – I used a pizza cutter to cut up the dough into 16 kinda equal slices, like a pie, as the recipe suggests:
The dough formed into rolls, prior to the second rise:
After second rise, before washing in baking soda / water and egg rinses:
The finished product – so good!
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
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.
Ok, it was my birthday last month. And then 7 days later, it was my husband’s birthday. To celebrate, we threw a party so that I could bake a cake (or four).
My selections for the evening:
- Chocolate stout cake with chocolate frosting
- Chai spice cupcakes / longhorn cakes with chai glaze
- Honey apple oatmeal cake (no frosting or glaze)
- Cinnamon coffee cake (offline recipe from a friend)
Changes to the recipes:
This year I made the chocolate stout cake with a spiced porter instead of stout. It was in the kegerator after all. I always use store bought chocolate frosting on this cake.
Chai spice cupcakes were delicious and well worth the effort. I made a simple powdered sugar / milk glaze and reused the chai tea bags in the milk to give the glaze a bit of flavor.
This time, I made my honey apple oatmeal cake with store bought applesauce. It’s way better when you make your own applesauce. Or maybe I over cooked it. It was just a bit less moist than usual.
When I had the cinnamon coffee cake made by a friend, it was amazing and I couldn’t stop eating it. Got the recipe and of course didn’t get the same results my first try. The instructions talk about using firm butter in the topping, but really I think you are supposed to melt the butter first. I will have to try again.
If you ever want to make cookies that are guaranteed to get raves, try these caramel apple oatmeal cookies. They take a bit of work to make but the result is delicious. The trickiest part is cooking them long enough. Either my oven isn’t hot enough or the time quoted on the recipe is way too short. To get them fully cooked, I ended up baking them for at least 16 – 18 minutes.
Assembling the ingredients:
Chop up the oatmeal in the food processor. I really like this step because I’m not a huge fan of oatmeal cookies, but if you chop it, the texture is much nicer.
Chop up the apples into little bits:
Mix the wet and dry ingredients:
After mixing in the apples and caramel bits, the dough is chilled for an hour or more and then formed into round balls and placed on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Extra caramel bits are added to the top of the dough for presentation.
After baking, they are ready to eat! This particular batch was actually under cooked. You need to make sure that the tops are a golden brown. Even under baked, they are quite delicious.
These cookies are quite soft and get softer by the day because of the moisture in the apples. I found it best to store them in the fridge.
Well, only in Austin do we call the high 80s / low 90s “fall-like” temperatures. After months of well over 100 degree temperatures, this coolness is odd. Baking in the hot hot summer months is rather impractical, but now that my AC doesn’t have to strain as hard, I decided it was time for some zucchini bread.
I’m not sure what makes zucchini bread quite so delicious as the only flavors are cinnamon, vanilla, and zucchini. Some how these combine with the ordinary ingredients to create pure deliciousness.
As I like to pretend that my baking is healthy, I used this recipe from Cooking Light. However, I didn’t have any applesauce so I used plain yogurt instead (as I do in banana bread as well). I also used 2 real eggs instead of egg substitute and added extra cinnamon.
Beside the step where you shred the zucchini, this recipe is extremely easy to make. You don’t even have to break out the mixer, you can mix the ingredients by hand.
Shredded zucchini draining on paper towels:
Zucchini, egg, yogurt, and vanilla combined:
The instructions say to hollow out the center of the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients to combine, so that’s what I did:
And then mixed it all up:
The end result:
This turned out so well that when I told my husband to eat as much as he wanted, he ate almost half of a loaf!
Have I ever mentioned that I love to eat bananas? To fuel my habit of eating them, I almost always buy more than I can eat before they go bad. Rather than putting them out into the compost where the rats will eat them, I throw them in the freezer once they are over-ripe.
Then every so often, I make them into some of the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted. I always make two loaves at a time. The best part of that banana bread is the fact that it’s semi-healthy because you use yogurt instead of butter. To make this delicious bread, I follow a recipe from Craftzine but I go heavy on the bananas, lighter on the nutmeg, and heavy on the cinnamon and ginger. The ginger gives the bread a nice bite.
First, I defrost 8 or more bananas (in case some aren’t good enough to use). I used to peel them while frozen but after a while my fingers were way too cold.
Eww… frozen and now defrosted bananas
All the ingredients ready for mixing:
The finished batter:
And after baking for an hour, the delicious product, so good that we eat some right away:
I only baked the bread for 50 minutes at this time, in the hope that would make the bread fluffier with a softer crust. The bread was somewhat less dense this time but still had a rather hard crust. I’m not certain why the crust is so hard but the bread is pretty tasty warm out of the oven:
I purchased a plantain because I know that I like them but have never made them at home. I prefer the non-sweet version so I decided to try out baked tostones. While I had the oven on I decided to whip up some baked peaches since we had some very ripe peaches.
The recipe for tostones all called for green plantains. My plantain wasn’t green but I think it turned out fine anyhow.
I sliced up the plantain into thick slices and tossed with salt and just a drizzle of olive oil.
After spreading them out on a baking sheet that was covered in olive oil spray and baking for about 15 minutes, I flipped and smashed them with the bottom of a cup. They baked for another 15 – 20 minutes and were done! I enjoyed them but next time I’ll be sure to have some dipping sauce to go along with the tostones.
At the same time, I sliced up some peaches, tossed them with some brown sugar, cinnamon and honey and baked them until soft. Delicious!
Since I came across this recipe for different types of beer bread on Bake at 350, I knew I wanted to try it. My previous experience with beer bread was delicious. A softball party for team “Beer Me” was the perfect opportunity to bake up a batch, or two as it turns out.
I decided to make a loaf of the orange nutmeg for the party and a loaf of gruyere and rosemary for my husband to take to work.
The recipe calls for self rising flour which we don’t have and I’ve never used it before. My husband pointed me to wikipedia which says you can make your own self rising flour by adding 1 tsp of baking power and 1/2 tsp of salt to regular flour. I combined those ingredients with a bottle of beer (Avery White for the orange nutmeg bread), 3 tablespoons of sugar, zest from an orange and freshly grated nutmeg.
For the gruyere and rosemary bread, I used a bottle of Real Ale Pale Ale.
I then baked the breads for 1 hour at 350. The bread smelled wonderful. When I took it out, the orange rosemary bread was drizzled with a fresh squeezed orange juice and powdered sugar glaze.
The gruyere rosemary bread was covered with butter.
While the bread looked tasty, it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped. The baking powder must have been too old because the bread turned out too hard. I also think a sweeter bread would have been better.