Friday, September 24, 2010

September Dessert: Buttermilk Poundcake with Penuche Frosting

For this month's dessert, Wanda sent me her family recipe for a 3-layer buttermilk poundcake with penuche caramel frosting. I had never made a 3-layer cake, nor had I made penuche, but I was definitely excited to try things out.

I only have two cake pans (well four, but two of each size), so I baked 2 of the layers and kept the rest of the batter in the fridge until another cake pan was free. Again it always takes longer than the directions say to bake the cake fully, but that allowed me to gauge better how to bake the final layer. I didn't wait long enough to let one of the first layers cool in the pan and so the bottom stuck and a little was left behind. I decided to use that as the middle layer.


3-Layer Buttermilk Pound Cake

Ingredients
  • 1c butter, room temp.
  • 2c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1c buttermilk
  • 3c flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 2t vanilla
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar. Blend in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a second bowl (flour, soda, salt).
  4. Add dry mix to wet mix and mix until well-combined.
  5. Pour equally in to 3 cake pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.
Easy (Says You) Penuche Icing

Ingredients
  • 1/2c butter
  • 1c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4c milk
  • 2c powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Mix butter and brown sugar in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
  2. Boil over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in milk and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Cool to lukewarm - gradually add confectioners sugar - beat until thick enough to spread.
If it's still too runny, let it sit for a while longer, if it gets too hard, heat it back up on the stovetop.

I also had a lot of problems with the frosting. It wound up cooling too much and being to hard to spread on the cake. I didn't know what to do. So I make it again. Then it was too hot and runny. (Lots of bad words being shouted in the kitchen at this point, by the way). But then I read in one of my cookbooks that I could just reheat the frosting on the stovetop and it would still be good and spreadable. Success! And it worked out well that I made two batches of the penuche because one wasn't enough to frost the entire cake.

It looked a hot mess and I didn't get to taste it, but Wanda said it tasted great. I hope it brought her and her family good memories of her mom and grandma.

Pumpkin Carrot Raisin Bread

Breakfast Bread numero dos! Jillian's next pick was something "healthy." She figured a Pumpkin Carrot Raisin Bread would fit the bill, so I located a recipe on Nestle's recipe site.

I halved the recipe because I only needed one loaf of bread, but the full recipe is below.


Pumpkin Carrot Raisin Bread

Ingredients
  • 3c flour
  • 1T plus 2t pumpkin pie spice
  • 2t baking soda
  • 1 1/2t salt
  • 3c sugar
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1c vegetable oil
  • 1/2c water
  • 1c carrots, shredded
  • 1c raisins
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
  2. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
  3. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and water in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended.
  4. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in carrot and raisins.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
  6. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
The bread was super moist and it plumped up nicely. I think both breads were a big hit. They were gobbled up quickly, and I got a couple of marriage proposals in the process.


Lemon Blueberry Bread

Friday was the last day of workshops at the office. I handle some of the food prep, so I thought to wrap things up, I'd make a couple of breads for the morning time. I asked my co-worker and sexy beast, Jillian, to pick out a few recipes that sounded appealing and was on my merry baking way. The first bread is a Lemon Blueberry Bread from Taste of Home.


Lemon Blueberry Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/3c butter, melted
  • 1c sugar
  • 3T lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2c flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2c milk
  • 2T grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
For the glaze:
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/4c sugar

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and lemon juice.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk; beating well after each addition. Fold in lemon peel and blueberries.
  3. Pour into a greased and floured 8 x 4 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
  4. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely.
I also tossed the blueberries in a about 1T of flour. A chunk of them sank to the bottom regardless. I think if I do something like this again, I'll just drop half of the blueberries on top and see how that goes. I read that the glaze was necessary. I don't know if it made a difference in the taste, but it made the top of the bread look all nice and shiny. The blueberries made the bread super moist and it was a great combination of flavors.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Crumble Birthday Cake

So around 2:00 or so on Saturday, Kyle decided he wanted to have people over for dinner and make Belgian Waffles...for which I did not have a recipe, ingredients or a waffle maker. Then, around 4:40 he says, "Hey, can you make me a cake?" My response: "..."

After a look through my Cake Mix Doctor books, a useless trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond and a pricey trip to the K-roger, I was ready to make the birthday boy a Blueberry Muffin Crumble Cake. I've made the cake once before for our church community group. There were 8 people there, including one person who didn't eat any cake, and the whole thing was gone before a Bible was cracked open. It's that good.

Although the cake was just as good this time around, it didn't get finished off, which Kyle was totally fine with (more for him). I think it had something to do with the massive amount of waffles, ice cream, sausage and eggs already in our tummies.


The recipe for this Cake Mix Doctor cake was originally posted
here.


Blueberry Muffin Crumble Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 - 2 1/4c fresh blueberries
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1/2c packed light brown sugar
  • 4T (1/2 stick) cold butter
  • 1/2c finely chopped pecans
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 package yellow cake mix with pudding (I used Pillsbury!)
  • 6 oz lemon yogurt
  • 1/2c water
  • 1/3c vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 - 4T milk

Directions

  1. Rinse the blueberries and drain them on paper towels.
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist only the sides of two 9-inch round pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the flour and brown sugar until well mixed. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to this mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the pecans to the mixture and toss to combine. Evenly sprinkle this topping mix onto the parchment paper rounds (about 3/4c in each cake pan).
  4. Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl; you will have about 2T. Set 1T of juice aside for the glaze.
  5. Measure out 1T of the cake mix and set it aside. Place the remaining cake mix and the yogurt, water, oil, eggs, and the remaining 1T of lemon juice, and the lemon zest, in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well blended.
  6. Set aside 1/4 cup of the drained blueberries for garnish. Toss the remaining blueberries with the reserved 1T of cake mix. Fold the blueberries into the cake batter until just evenly combined. Using a large mixing spoon, dollop the cake batter on top of the topping in each cake pan, then carefully spread it evenly to the edges.
  7. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 24 to 28 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack so that the topping side is up. Let the layers cool to room temperature, 20 minutes longer, if desired. Peel off and discard the parchment paper circles.
  8. For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and reserved 1T of lemon juice in a small bowl. Add 1T of milk at a time until the glaze is smooth but still runny enough that it will slowly drip down the side of the cake.
  9. To assemble the cake, transfer one layer, topping side up, to a serving platter. Using a spoon, drizzle half of the glaze over the cake and allow it to drip over the edge. Place the second layer on top of the first and drizzle the remaining glaze over it. Garnish the top of the cake with the reserved blueberries.
Tossing the blueberries with some of the cake mix helps the berries to distribute better within the batter and also not sink. I found that while I was putting the glaze on the cake, I had to keep scraping the glaze off of my wax paper and pouring it back on the cake. This happened previously as well. It wasn't bothersome, just time consuming, so I thought I'd mention it.

I love the different textures of this cake. The crumble topping gives you a nice crisp bite while the blueberries and the glaze make the rest of the cake gooey. Ugh, so good. The birthday boy was a happy camper, so this was definitely a successful endeavor. This cake would be great to have at a brunch because of it's breakfast-y nature. Actually it would be a great cake to have anytime, well, because it's just a great cake!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Birthday Belgian Waffles!

We made a lovely brinner (breakfast for dinner) to celebrate Kyle's birthday. Kyle wanted to do something different and fun. Although we often make pancakes with ridiculous things inside (my favorite combo is Fruity Pebbles, White Chocolate Chips and Sour Skittles), he wanted to mix it up a bit. Our friends have a good-quality Belgian Waffle Maker, so I suggested that.

After some searching on the Internets (shout out to Al Gore), I came across a recipe (originally posted here) from America's Test Kitchen that used Rice Krispies. How could I pass it up?

And here is a little cooking lesson courtesy of ATK on what makes this recipe stand out:

Waffles should be exceptionally crisp on the outside and light on the inside. But a waffle iron traps steam from the batter and increases the likelihood of soggy waffles. (In contrast, toaster waffles are often quite crisp since the toaster allows excess moisture to escape.) Here's what we discovered:

Test Kitchen Discoveries
  • Separating the eggs and beating the egg whites before adding them to the batter adds lightness to the final product.
  • Replacing butter (80 percent fat and 20 percent water) with vegetable oil (100 percent fat, no water) reduces the moisture in the batter, making for crispier waffles.
  • Replacing some of the flour with cornstarch also makes for crispier waffles.
  • Adding Rice Krispies makes the waffles both extra-crispy and extra-light. The cereal adds a malty, slightly sweeter flavor, and each puffed grain of rice produces a tiny pocket of air in the baked waffles.

Light and Crispy Belgian Waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4c flour
  • 1 c Rice Krispies
  • 3/4c cornstarch
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 3/4t salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2c milk
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1/2c vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat traditional waffle iron to medium. Meanwhile, stir flour, Rice Krispies, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and oil together in medium bowl.
  3. With electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat egg whites in bowl to soft peaks.
  4. Pour milk mixture over dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  5. Whisk in beaten whites until just combined. Do not overmix; a few streaks of whites should be visible.
  6. Pour 2/3 cup batter into center of preheated waffle iron and use back of dinner spoon to spread batter toward outer edges (batter should reach about 1/2 inch from edges of iron before closing lid).
  7. Close lid and cook until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (The waffle maker we used timed itself and it cooked them perfectly). Serve immediately.
They turned out great.The batter might have been a little thick to begin with as there was enough in the waffle maker, but only 1 or 2 waffles spread fully. Or...reading through the directions again I realizing that my batter spreading efforts were probably the problem. The Rice Krispies disappeared, but apparently we can thank them for the pockets of air you will find in the waffle that give it that little extra fluff. And that was only the beginning.

Not wanting to be outdone by our own pancake-y awesomeness, we had an array of toppings: real maple syrup whipped cream, strawberries, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, chocolate chips and the like, nuts, Nutella and ice cream. Go big or go home.

Oh man, the vanilla ice cream with the strawberry sauce on top of the waffle? Aaaaaaaaaaaawesooooooooooome.

Suffice to say I doubled the recipe (oh yea, 8 waffles my left food...one batch makes like 6) and the only reason there was part of a waffle left was because I was about to force cake on these people, too.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Green Chile, Bacon, Cheddar Beer Bread

Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, we have a bunch of Budweiser at our house. Since no one is going to be drinking that mess, I figured I might as well make some Beer Bread with it. Beer bread is super easy to make. The base recipe only has three ingredients and then you can add what ever you desire to make it your own.


Basic Beer Bread
Ingredients
  • 3c Self-rising flour
  • 3T sugar
  • 1 (12oz) beer of your choice
Directions
  1. Grease and flour baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, sugar and beer and pour into bread pan.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes, then rub the top of the bread with butter, then bake 10 minutes more or until fully baked. Let cool.
Pretty simple. For this particular recipe, I added in 1/2c of finely shredded cheddar cheese, 8 to 10 pieces of crumbled up bacon, and 1/3 to 1/2c of a mixture of medium and hot green chiles.

It turned out well with the chiles giving the bread a nice little kick.


Kyle is a one marshmallow now versus two marshmallows in 5 minute kind of guy, so waiting for things to cool before we dive in is quite a struggle for him. Actually it's not really a struggle because he just doesn't wait. So the first round of slicing the bread didn't turn out the greatest. It was much easier to cut the next day.


We still have beer so I'm excited to try out a few other variations. Cinnamon sugar is always a winner. Especially when you toast a slice (use the toaster oven if you can, if you put a piece of this bread in a regular toaster, I can't guarantee it will come out in one piece) and then spread some butter on it. Or, in a similar vein, you could make French Toast with it. I'll be sure to let you know of anything else I come up with.