Crummy Top—Strictly Streusel April 2, 2010
I’ve been putting our locally-grown, freshly ground Richardson Farms whole wheat flour through its paces lately. Here’s a quick cake composed of a slightly dense and chewy spongecake layer blanketed with an unreasonable heap of sweet, cinnamon-y crumbles. More streusel than substrate, crumb bums will appreciate this easy, tweedy whole grain goodie. For streusel fans only!
TEXAS MUFFIN TOP CAKE makes one 9″ round
- 1 stick organic butter, melted. I love Organic Valley. Click for a coupon.
- 4 3/8 ounces organic light brown sugar. Central Market’s brand usually costs less.
- 5¼ ounces Richardson Farms whole wheat flour. Sifting out the bran is optional.
- ¼ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt.
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. I used my homemade Christmas gift from SouthAustinFoodie Adventures. Check out her foodie fun this week on the Anthony Bourdain trail.
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- zest of one Texas orange, optional
- 2 local eggs
- 200 grams turbinado sugar. I buy this in bulk at Central Market. Bring your own container and a staff member can tare the weight for you. We go through a lot of this—we always have homemade lemonade on hand—so I buy about three pounds at a time.
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 121 grams Richardson Farms whole wheat flour, most of the bran sifted out.
- 1 teaspoon baking powder. I use Rumford, aluminun-free and non-GMO.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup boiling water
Preheat your oven to 350°. You can melt the butter in the oven while it’s heating up. Combine the remaining streusel ingredients and stir them into the melted butter. Line a 9″ X 2″ round pan with a piece of waxed paper or parchment (I use If You Care brand) and butter the bottom, but not the sides.
Combine the eggs, turdinado sugar and salt in a mixer bowl and begin whipping (with the whip attachment if using your stand mixer, which I recommend) at low speed. Gradually increase the speed to medium-high. You’re starting the eggs and sugar out slowly to give the sugar a chance to dissolve. It won’t liquefy completely, however. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Get your water heating up. I use the microwave. It’s fast and energy efficient.
When the eggs look very light and fluffy and fall back into the bowl in ribbons that take a moment to dissolve when the beater is lifted, gently add the flour and quickly whisk it in. Pour in the boiling water and quickly and gently whisk it in to achieve a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan right away. Working quickly, squeeze handfuls of streusel into clumps and distribute them in chunks over the batter, moving from the outside to the center. You don’t want the middle of the cake to be too heavily laden with topping so be more generous around the perimeter.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake portion tests done in the center. The lava-like batter will erupt magmaticaly, creating a sweetly fissured surface. Never mind the cratered face, she’s tastes like a beauty!
Texas Velvet Biscuit Cake March 28, 2010
Back to baking! With the reintroduction of beans into our diet after last week’s brush with death (well that’s what it felt like, anyways), and it being Sunday and coolish, I decided that biscuits were in order. And honey.
This super easy recipe combines local Richardson Farms fresh ground whole wheat flour with a softer flour from King Arthur for a fluffy and super-light texture that soaks up a hive of honey. So comb your cupboards and nectar nooks for the bee sap to enjoy this mound melligenously. Yeah, that’s right. I made up an adverb.
TEXAS VELVET BISCUIT CAKE makes a 9″ round of 6 (sort of) large biscuits
- 1 stick of organic butter, softened. Organic Valley of course. Click for a coupon.
- 2 ounces (¼ cup) best quality local lard, such as Dai Due, softened
- 6½ ounces Richardson Farms whole wheat flour, most of the bran sifted out
- 7 ounces King Arthur unbleached cake flour blend. Central Market sells the 2-pound box for $3.49.
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder, sieved. I use Rumford, non-GMO and aluminum-free.
- ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
- 1 teaspoon salt. I like Real Salt.
- 1¼ cups yogurt. I make my own from local goat milk (Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm). Click for instructions.
Combine the dry ingredients in your food processor and whirl until mixed. Add the butter and lard and process until the mixture looks mealy. You’re not going for flaky here so do blend the fat in well. Turn the flour out into a bowl and stir in the yogurt with a fork until well blended. Using a greased ½-cup measure or spring-loaded scoop (best), scoop out six heaping ½-cup portions and place them in a buttered 9″ round pan (1½” to 2″ high). You’ll get five biscuits around the perimeter and one in the middle.
Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and well-risen. Let the biscuits cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning them out. Use a fork to pull the biscuits apart (they’ll have coalesced) and split them for honeyin’.
Spring cleaning, interrupted. Not much accomplished around the house last week—I definitely fell behind in my efforts to clear out last year’s (last decade’s!) old food. When my appetite recovered, the first treat I wanted to enjoy-up was that opened pint of Organic Valley heavy cream. So I baked some gingerbread as an excuse to rest under a dollop. Read into that what you will, but this here unrefined cake comes out just coarse enough to luxuriate in a slumming slap of whoop cream (Forgive me. I’ve been out of commission.) Lightly sweetened with a bit of turbinado and aromatized with Maker’s Mark-based homemade vanilla extract, my chantilly made a dainty lady out of a wholesome dessert.
TEXAS ENOUGH GINGERBREAD makes one 11″ X 7″ panful
- 2½ ounces (5 Tablespoons) organic butter, softened. I love Organic Valley. Click for a coupon.
- ½ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt.
- 1 heaping Tablespoon grated fresh domestic organic ginger root (don’t bother to peel it), or 1½ teaspoons ground dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- fresh zest of a Texas lemon or orange, optional
- 1/3 cup local honey. Good Flow‘s my standard brand. We can enjoy so many yummy hunnys in Central Texas!
- 2/3 cup cane syrup. Fain’s or Steen’s. Or you can use molasses.
- 1 local egg
- 242 grams Richardson Farms whole wheat flour, most of the bran sifted out
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, sieved
- ¾ cup local milk. I like goat milk from Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm.
Cream the butter, salt, fresh ginger, ground spices and zest, if using . Beat in the egg. Beat in the honey and syrup. Combine the flour and baking soda and mix into the batter in two additions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 11″ X 7″ pan (old-fashioned brownie pan size) and bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake tests done.
I like to serve gingerbread warm with whoop cream, but the spices get to know each other, given some time, and the cake tastes even better the next day.
Cosmic Cowgirl Confers Confiture–Cake it! January 19, 2010
At a recent yummy gathering of food and folks, local food blogger cosmic cowgirl bestowed gem-like jars of jewel-toned Texas red grapefruit marmalade on lucky lingerers. That’s right, my favorite fruit, finely preserved. You know where my booty went—right into a cake!
Check out cosmic cowgirl’s step-by-step illustrated instructions and stretch the local bounty with cannin’ in your canon.
Bake a cake as for the Bonus recipe in my “Quick Coffee Cake and Bonus” post. Split the cooled cake into two layers and spread a great local or homemade jam in between. For this grapefruit version, I glazed my gateau with a simple blend of Texas red grapefruit juice and organic powdered sugar (look for Central Market’s brand for the best value) with a touch of vanilla extract.
Local sweet’s the sweetest!
So you used a couple tablespoons of tomato paste for a recipe and now what? Make a cake of course! After all, Campbell’s canned tomato soup is the “mystery” ingredient in the recipe for “Mystery Cake,” popularized during the Great Depression, so the practice isn’t without precedent. Tomato adds tang and depth, and there ain’t nuthin wrong with a little umami in your dessert.
For the topping, I took a cue from Sally and Martin Stone’s fun and clever cookbook Desserts with a Difference, filled with ingenious recipes for vegetable laden sweets. The coconut/tomato combination unleashes a tasty synergy, certainly familiar to Indian food aficionados.
This recipe also utilizes those egg yolks I had leftover from making “Frito Meringues” (still in beta testing phase) with game night’s surplus Central Market organic corn chips. Plus I finished up the last of that bag of frozen shredded coconut. Sweet way to clean house!
TOMATO PASTE CAKE with TOASTED COCONUT GLAZE makes a 9″ cake
- 6 ounces organic butter, softened. I recommend Organic Valley. Click for a coupon.
- zest of one Texas lemon, orange or tangerine, or a combination
- 4 egg yolks, from local eggs
- ¼ cup organic sour cream, regular or light (Organic Valley is great), or homemade ½-n-½
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or homemade vanilla rum
- 200 grams (2 cups) sifted King Arthur cake flour blend (unbleached!). Best price at Central Market.
- 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar. Whole Foods and CM sell this in bulk for $1.79 a pound.
- ½ teaspoon baking powder,sieved. I like Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
- ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
- ½ teapsoon salt. I use Real Salt.
- ½ cup organic tomato paste. CM organics is the best value I’ve found.
Preheat your oven to 350º. Grease and flour a 9″ round pan (2 ½” to 3″ tall) and line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment (Natural Value and If You Care are environmentally friendlier brands). I like reusable pan liners—I throw them in the (clothes) washing machine for low maintenance cleaning.
Place the butter and zest in the bowl of a standing mixer. Combine egg yolks, 3 Tablespoons sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and next four ingredients. Add dry ingredients and tomato paste to butter and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 1 ½ minutes. The batter will be thick. Scrape the bottom and sides with a flexible spatula. Beat in the yolk mixture in three parts, mixing for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl well (be sure to get at the bottom).
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Because the batter is thick, I like to place a rose nail (metal!) flat side down into the middle of the batter, all the way to the bottom. This is a nifty trick that Rose Levy Beranbaum revealed in her newest book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I recommend using cake strips if you don’t have a rose nail (check out this cute DIY video). The nail is handy and cheap though. Buy one at Michael’ s craft store when you get a 40% OFF coupon in the mail or newspaper. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Make this easy glaze while the cake cools a bit:
- 2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
- 200 grams (2 cups) organic powdered sugar. CM organics again for the best buy.
- ¼ cup local milk. I usually use Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm‘s goat milk from Sunset Valley Farmers Market. Now Way Back When Dairy brings local cow’s milk to both the Austin Farmers Market and SVFM. Moo local.
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla rum
Whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the coconut. Glaze will be thick and chunky. Spread on top of the cake (a warm cake is ideal) right away.
Windy Pies—Coffee Cake December 23, 2009
The current issue (January 2010) of Cook’s Illustrated magazine offers a couple of terrific recipes to get you bakin’. I started with “Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza,” which CI tells us consists of a buttery,cornmeal enhanced flaky and biscuit-like crust supporting a cheese-first, tomato sauce topped filling. Having cut my pizza teeth on Conan’s (what kind of Cook County native am I?), I wasn’t aware that the Windy City’s famous crust sported buttery layers (I was only 8 when I left for the south.) But I’m not at all surprised to learn that the Midwestern take on Italy’s precious pie boasts butter and lamination. Now that’s cooking from the Heartland.
Chicago’s version of pizza, like its Italian inspiration, is all about the crust, apparently. But second city cooks really give the dough a 180. I don’t mind a bit! If I can find a way to put butter together with starch (we’ll get to sugar shortly), I’m gonna!
Of course I modified the dough some. I enjoy whole grains so I worked in a little white whole wheat flour and that necessitates additional liquid. Filled on the fly with an entire 10-ounce bag of Cora Lamar’s legendary Texas-grown spinach (Central Market, $2.99 a bag, triple-washed and ready to wilt), roasted piquillo peppers, black olives, basil, oregano and just enough organic canned tomato to qualify as a “sauce,” plus a half pound of organic cream cheese blended with a dollop of South River’s organic sweet white miso and plenty of black pepper (we were all out of Full Quiver Farm‘s melting mozzarella—but who am I to stick with tradition anyway?) and adorned with the requisite red onion (anointed with a touch of olive oil) and reggiano, these scrumptious pizzas reminded me of a more refined savory kuchen (see Tongue-in-kuchen).
And kuchen reminds me of butterkuchen, which brings us to this somewhat kringle-y (another Midwestern favorite) coffee cake. I swapped the water for milk, doubled the sugar and added a touch more yeast to yield a cakier bread base. Then I sweetened up my filling and drizzled the finished “pies” with an easy glaze.
WINDY PIES makes 2 9″ cakes
- 3 Tablespoons organic butter, melted, plus 4 Tablespoons organic butter, softened to spreadability. I love Organic Valley and Whole Foods has it on sale right now for $4.99 a pound. Get cakin’ and bakin’!
- 262 grams organic all-purpose flour. Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5# bag generally goes for the lowest price.
- 192 grams organic white whole wheat flour. I buy King Arthur brand in the 5# bag at WF.
- ½ cup organic yellow cornmeal. I usually use Arrowhead Mills.
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt. I like Real Salt.
- 4 teaspoons turbinado sugar. I buy this in bulk at Central Market. .I bring my own container and have the staff tare it for me.
- 2 ½ teaspoons (1 packet or envelope) instant yeast (bread machine or rapid rise)—NOT active dry
- 1 ½ cups local milk. I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces local or organic cream cheese, softened. Light “neufchâtel” style is fine. Full Quiver Farm makes several sweet (as well as savory) flavors plus plain. Organic Valley makes great organic cream cheese and now Central Market sells their own brand of organic cream cheese, regular full-fat style, for only $1.99 for a half-pound block.
- 2 or 3 Tablespoons local honey. I usually use Good Flow wildflower, available in bulk at CM. Don’t forget to bring your own container.
- zest of 1 Texas tangelo, tangerine or orange (plus maybe a touch of lemon), preferably organic
- 4 ounces Texas pecans, about a heaping cupful
- 154 grams (¾ cup) packed organic light brown sugar. Wholesome Sweeteners brand is on sale right now at Newflower Market for only $1.99 for a 1½ pound bag.
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons cold organic butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
- about a Tablespoon melted butter or ghee
- 3 ounces (¾ cup) organic powdered sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons local milk
- scant ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer—this dough’s a little loose for hand-kneading—and whisk together. Be sure the yeast and salt to do not come into direct contact. Sans buffer, salt is toxic to bare yeast. Using the dough hook, start the mixer and pour in first the melted butter (not hot) and then the water. Get the ingredients combined, then raise the speed to nearly medium and let the machine knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough amasses, looks smooth and feels slightly sticky. Turn out into a buttered bowl, cover and let rise until almost doubled. A cooler rise promotes more flavor development, so go ahead and put the bowl in the laundry room or garage while you go pick the kid(s) up from school—wait, school’s out!
Press the dough down and turn out onto a flat surface for rolling out. I prefer using a silpat or other rolling mat so I don’t have to incorporate any more flour into the dough. Roll the dough into a 15″ X 12″ rectangle and spread the softened butter over the surface to within about ½ inch of the edges. Starting at a short end, roll up the dough tightly, jellyroll-style. Pat the roll out into about an 18″ by 4″ rectangle and divide this strip into 2 pieces (cut across the spiral, not lengthwise). Take each strip and fold the ends towards the center, approximately folding into thirds, and smooth each piece into a ball, seam side down. Place the balls back into your buttered bowl and refrigerate for about 50 minutes for the second rise.
For the filling, blend the cream cheese, honey and zest. For the topping, combine the pecans and next 3 ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop the pecans a bit. Then pulse in the butter just until cut in. Don’t overprocess the topping into a mass, keep it crumbly.
Pat each ball down and roll out (separately) into a 13″ circle. Fit each circle into a well-buttered, parchment lined 9″ X 2″ round cake pan. I recently bought a set of two such pans by Wilton at Michael’s craft store using their 50% OFF coupon. Many cakers already know about Michael’s weekly 40% OFF and occasional 50 % OFF coupons and take advantage of the savings on decorating supplies. But even if you don’t cake or decorate, if you bake, you can score some sweet deals on supplies such as pans, spatulas, whisks and cooling racks. And you might find yourself inspired to embellish your creations on the cheap! So be on the lookout for the Michael’s weekly flyer in your mail or check the Statesman (Sunday or Wednesday, typically) and save a buck.
Spread the the cream cheese filling over the dough and top with the pecan mixture. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º, until browned and set in the center. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening sides with a metal spatula and unmolding. Brush with the melted butter or ghee and continue to cool until warm, then whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cakes. Serve with hot chocolate on Christmas Day!