Monday, January 31, 2011

TWD: Great Grains Cranberry Muffins

Christine of Happy Tummy chose Great Grains Muffins on pages 8 and 9. I made a couple of change to the recipe. I used breakfast syrup instead of maple syrup because I didn't have any on hand. I didn't use any nuts and I used frozen cranberries - the last of my stash from the holidays.

The texture was a little coarser than your run-of-the-mill muffin because of the whole wheat, rolled oats and cornmeal. I personally prefer a more cake-like (ie. unhealthier) muffin, but these were pretty good as far as a whole grain muffin goes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Honey-Nut Sticky Buns

The sticky, nutty topping on these buns is to die for! With brown sugar, heavy cream and a touch of honey, they are rich and complex in flavor. The dough get its touch of sweetness from honey instead of sugar.

You can easily have freshly baked cinnamon buns in the morning by making these right before bed and popping them in the fridge to rise. Then all you do is bake them straight outta the fridge the next morning and voila!

According to the Rachel Ray Magazine's February 2011 issue, 29% of people shy away from recipes involving yeast. I used to be one of these people, but not anymore! Now yeast is one of my favorite things to work with. It's not difficult at all - in fact yeast breads can fit completely around YOUR schedule with the use of your fridge or freezer to slow the rising process until you're ready to shape and bake. You will be rewarded with freshly made sticky buns and the most amazing aroma throughout your house.

On the topic of houses, I'm super-excited to have the opportunity to do a review of one of CSN Stores' products. There is so much to choose from in their stores and you can also read customer reviews of their products right on their website. I know from personal experience that their shipping is quick and their products are high quality. Lots of their products also have free shipping if you spend > $69. I'm in the midst of house-hunting (condo-hunting actually) and I've fallen in love with several of their furniture pieces. One piece I am eying is this Round Chair which comes in 5 colors and would fit into any style home, from retro to modern.

Honey-Nut Sticky Buns
Makes 12 | Adapted from "A Treasury of Southern Baking"

1/4 cup honey
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit, chopped (optional)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 teaspoons salt

DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the honey. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes.) Add the remaining honey, salt, butter, egg, milk, and 3 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed until combined.

Switch to dough hook and continue mixing on low speed, slowly adding the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough looks silky smooth and a bit tacky, but not too sticky. If the dough is too wet, add another tablespoon or two of flour. Add raisins or other chopped dried fruit if using. Continue mixing for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the mixer off, and shape the dough into a ball.

Put the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to coat. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in volume (about 1 1/2 hrs) After the dough has risen, gently deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 18 x 9 inches.

FILLING: brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar and cinnamon. Roll up the dough from one long end and pinch to seal. Slice into 12 equal pieces.

TOPPING: Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, just until melted. Pour the glaze into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Arrange the buns in the pan (there should be a little bit of room for them to rise.)

To bake today: Cover with a tea-towel and let them rise at room temperature until almost doubled and puffy, 45-60 mins, then bake for 35-45 mins in a 350 degree F oven.

To Bake the next morning: Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and bake the sticky buns for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. You might need longer for a glass pan.

5. Invert immediately onto a large baking sheet. Leave the pan upside down for 5-10 minutes to let all the topping seep out and into the buns. Remove the pan and scrape out any sticky topping and nuts onto the buns. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store fully cooled buns at room temperature in an air airtight container or wrap them well and freeze.

Note: Take care to invert the buns soon after you remove the pan from the oven or you risk letting the topping cool too much and get stuck to the pan. If you use a metal pan, the baking time is shorter than if you use a glass pan. If they are browning too quickly, tent with foil. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Campbell's Tomato Soup Spice Cake

This recipe comes from a cookbook with a really long name: Best Recipes: From The Backs Of Boxes, Bottles, Cans And Jars. This book includes a great selection of easy, quick, family favorites. Nobody would guess that canned condensed soup is the secret ingredient that gives this cake its moist, soft texture and appealing color. The book description reads: "A half century of good cooks have baked this Campbell's Tomato Soup cake. It's as moist, delicate and delicious today as it was fifty years ago."

Campbell's Tomato Soup Spice Cake
9x13" cake

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 (10.75oz) can Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13" pan.

2. Measure dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add soup and shortening. Beat on low to medium for 2 minutes. Add eggs and water. Beat 2 minutes more, screaping down the sides of the bowl. Pour into pans.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

4. Cool fully then frost with "Vanilla Philly Frosting" (see below).

Vanilla "Philly" Frosting
Fills and frosts 8-9" cake

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
5 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Blend together cream cheese, milk, vanilla and salt. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Store in fridge.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flaky Cornmeal Cheddar Scones

This scone recipe from Chatelaine Magazine (Canadian?) is a winner! The interesting thing about these scones is that you can't put your finger exactly on what makes them taste so good. The combination of dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, sharp cheddar (the sharper the better) and a hint of parmesan cheese make these extremely flavorful. Enjoy them plain or buttered, hot or room temperature or make a delicious sandwich out of them. If you are like me, you will probably also enjoy nibbling on the baked bits of cheese that have oozed out of the scones and onto the baking sheet.

They are really flaky with an appetizing crunch from the cornmeal. Hint: Baking these on a silicone mat facilitates their removal and prevents the bottoms from browning too quickly.

Flaky Cornmeal Cheddar Scones
Makes 12 | adapted from Chatelaine, May 2010

3/4 cup buttermilk plus 1 tbsp for brushing
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup cornmeal plus 2 tbsp for dusting
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup grated old cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 green onions, sliced
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray or coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil. In a medium bowl, add 3/4 cup buttermilk, dijon mustard and 1/4 cup cornmeal and stir to combine.

2. In a large bowl, using a fork, stir flour and cayenne with baking powder, sugar and salt until evenly mixed. Cut in butter until flour mixture is crumbly. Stir in cheeses and onions.

3. Whisk egg into buttermilk mixture. Then pour into flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined. Gently gather into a ball then divide into 2 equal-sized portions.

4. Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp cornmeal on a cutting board. Place 1 portion of dough on top and gently pat into a 6" circle. Cut into 6 wedges. Repeat with remaining dough, pressing into remaining cornmeal on counter before cutting.

5. Place wedges on baking sheet at least 1" apart. Lightly brush with remaining 1 tbsp buttermilk. Bake in centre of oven until lightly golden, 15-18 mins.

***To Make ahead: Prepare scones up to step 4, then place scone wedges on a baking sheet. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, then place in a freezer bag and keep, frozen, up to 1 month. To bake, remove scones to a baking sheet. Defrost, uncovered, about 1 1/2 hours. Continue with step 5.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honeyed Apple Torte

This recipe was adapted from Baking in America by James Patent. When I decided to try this recipe I was not expecting such a beautiful cake! It was a nice surprise when it turned out a gorgeous golden brown with the honey-infused apple slices nestled into the cake. Even more than its appearance, I love love loved the texture. Crispy-chewy edges and a dense yet tender crumb made for a nice balance of textures against the apples. It is not a tall cake - after all James Patent does call it a torte - but to me it seems to lean more towards cake.

This is a nice and prettier alternative to the usual apple cakes that you mix chopped apples into. It really shows off the fruit and looks like more effort than it really is.

Honeyed Apple Torte
9" square or round pan | adapted from Baking in America

1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 medium-firm apples, sliced

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Simmer the honey, lemon juice and apples together in a skillet over medium, stirring gently and frequently until apples are tender. Drain and cool, reserving honey liquid for the cake.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9" square or round pan. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and brown sugar. Add honey liquid from step 1 then add eggs and beat. Add dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Do not over mix. Scrape into prepared pan and arrange the cooled apple slices on top, pressing them down into the batter slightly. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly on top.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until gently puffed and golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, January 24, 2011

TWD: Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Cake

Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort chose Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake on page 182 of Baking. You can find the recipe on her blog or in the book :)

After all the horror stories I read about people's cakes sticking like crazy to their (very well greased and floured) Bundt pans, I decided to take the safe route and to make mine in a 9" springform pan instead of a Bundt pan. The cinnamonny, nutty swirl in this cake was absolutely delicious. I think I might even leave out the chocolate chips the next time, so as not to detract from the amazing swirl!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chocolate Puffed Wheat Squares

This recipe is one I had completely forgotten about until recently when my little sister asked me to make them. My sis is 5 years younger than me and I've always been a sort of second mother to her, especially since my mom doesn't like cooking or anything to do with the kitchen besides eating, lol.

These squares are light, chewy and packed with a surprising amount of chocolate flavor. I find them extremely nostalgic too. Although my own mom never made them, I often had these at friends' houses during after school play-dates. They are probably one of the healthier things you could pack in your child's lunchbox. Oh yeah, and I also love the fact that puffed wheat has only 60 calories per cup!

Chocolate Puffed Wheat Squares

Makes 1- 9x13" Pan

1/2 c butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp vanilla
9 cups puffed wheat

Combine corn syrup, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and cocoa in heavy sauce pan. Boil for 5 minutes; remove from heat. Be careful to not let mixture boil longer than 5 minutes to ensure a chewy square. Add puffed wheat; stir. Using buttered pans; pour mixture into greased 9x13 inch cake pan. Pat into pan. Let cool; cut into squares. Store airtight.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potato Chip Cookies

This recipe is adapted from an award winning recipe from Country Living's website, originally from the Iowa State Fair Cookbook. I love the sweet and savory combination and these potato chip cookies fit the bill. Kinda like a chewy oatmeal cookie with a little something extra - a little bit more depth you might say.

They're also a wonderfully creative way to use up the crushed chips at the bottom of the bag. I put the crumbs into a ziplock bag and stick them in the freezer until I have enough to make these cookies.

Potato Chip Cookies
Makes 24 | Country Living

3/4 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsps baking soda
2 cups crushed plain potato chips
1 cup chocolate chips

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the butter and sugars together, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. Gently stir in the potato chips and chocolate chips.

2.Drop the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

TWD: Lemon Poppyseed Cake

This week's TWD recipe - Lemon Poppyseed Muffins (which I made into a cake instead of muffins) - was chosen by Betsy of A Cup of Sweetness. You can find the recipe in Dorie's book, Baking, p. 10.

One thing I have realized is that a LOT of people like citrus in their baked goods. mmm Lemon sugar...

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Dorie Greenspan

2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough - a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thick knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

TO MAKE THE ICING: Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 ½ tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of the icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely, the better to get and extra zap of lemon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

7-Layer Magic Hello Dolly Cookie Bars

Wow, I have never come across so many different names for the same recipe. I guess so many people have made these over the years and everyone I think the original recipe comes from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk, but you can really tweak these to suit your taste or to use whatever you have on hand. These super-sweet bars are not only delicious but also a visual treat of constrasting textures and colors.

The sweetened condensed milk is the yummy "glue" that holds these together. Crushed graham crackers make for an easy, fool-proof base.

7-layer Magic Hello Dolly Cookie BarsMakes 1- 9x13 pan | adapted from Eagle Brand 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips (I used white chips)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

HEAT oven 350 degrees F and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

COMBINE graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly with fork.

BAKE 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into bars or diamonds. For perfectly cut cookie bars, line entire pan with foil, extending foil over edge of pan. Coat lightly with no-stick cooking spray. After bars have baked and cooled fully lift up by edges of foil to remove from pan. Cut into bars.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cranberry Orange Cake

Here are some interesting cranberry facts.

*There are 80 cranberry growers in British Columbia [I'm from B.C. and I didn't even know this until today!]. 74 growers belong to the Ocean Spray Growers Co-operative, and 4 are independent. Almost all the berries produced in British Columbia are sold and shipped into the United States for processing to the Ocean Spray Pool along with the crop from Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Oregon and Washington.

*Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. They are grown on peat or sandy marshes. Because cranberries float, marshes are flooded when the fruit is ready for harvesting.

*The cranberry gets its name from Dutch and German settlers, who called it "crane berry". When the vines bloom in late spring and the flowers' light pink petals twist black, they resemble the head and bill of a crane. Over time, the name was shortened to cranberry.

*Cranberries contain no cholesterol and virtually no fat and are low in sodium. Cranberry products may contain substantial levels of dietary fiber and vitamins.

So, make some cake and enjoy those cranberries :)

Cranberry Orange Cake

1 orange
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, melted

1. Grate rind from orange. Squeeze juice into liquid measure; add enough water to make 3/4 cup (175 mL). Set aside.

2. In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange rind; stir in cranberries. In small bowl, whisk together egg, butter and orange juice; stir into flour mixture just until blended. Spread in greased 9- x 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan.

3. Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes; turn out onto rack and let cool completely. Wrap and let stand for 12 hours before slicing. (Make-ahead: Store at room temperature for up to 2 days or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Madeleines

Today's TWD bakers made Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines. The recipe was selected by Margo of chose Effort to Deliciousness on pages 170-171 of Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking: from my home to yours".

Alas I am one of those people who does not own a Madeleine pan. I have a pretty good collection of pans, but I couldn't justify buying one of these pans. So, there's my explanation/excuse for why I made them in muffin tins instead.

I know you can't call it a Madeleine unless it's baked in a Madeleine pan, but in my world, a Madeleine by any other name is still as tasty, just not as fancy looking. Mine are topped with fluff instead of filled with it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Milky Way Cake

This is a sinfully decadent cake with actual Milky Way Chocolate bars melted into the batter! One tiny tiny slice is enough to satisfy any chocolate craving. I increased the recipe by 1.5x and made a 4-layer-cake which stood 5" high. It was enough to feed an army! This would be wonderful served with ice cream to cut the sweetness a little bit. I made chocolate dipped strawberries, alternating white and dark chocolates, and put little pink frosting dots along the sides of the cake for a feminine touch or color.

The recipe is adapted from Sunday Baker's Blog and The nice thing is that you can switch it up by using different melted chocolate bars. How about Snickers and chopped peanuts?! Mars bars and pecans?!

Milky Way Cake 8" - 3 layer cake 8 regular-sized Milky Way bars
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 regular-sized Milky Way Bars
1 stick butter
2 teaspoon milk
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

1. For cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 9" round cake pans.
2. Melt butter and candy bars then set aside to cool slightly. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Sift together the dry ingredients then beat into the wet mixture. Fold in Milky Way mixture. Do not over mix.
3. Spread evenly in the prepared pans. Bake for 1h 10m or until cake tests done.
4. Icing: Melt candy bars and butter. Stir in milk and powdered sugar. Add additional milk if needed. Beat until smooth and spread on cooled cake. [I just coated mine with a chocolate ganache made with 1 part heavy cream to 1 part bittersweet chocolate]

Friday, January 7, 2011

Copycat Club: January 2011

Welcome to this month's Copycat Club (Our 4rd month!)
Remember, if you didn't have time to send me your link, you can always add it below in the MisterLinky Widget :) Have a great day!

And now, the clones for the month:

Applebee's Maple Butter Blondie by Chaya of Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog

Starbucks Maple Oat Nut Scones by Tia (me)

Nutrigrain Fruit and Nut Bars on the Apartment Therapy Blog

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps at The Culinary Life by Stephanie

Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latteat Babble's Family Kitchen

Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp at Amy's Dinner

Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake by Tia @ Buttercreambarbie

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Starbucks Maple Oat Nut Scone

Here is another copycat recipe that I will be also including in the Copycat Club for January 2011! Starbucks Maple Oat Nut Scones! These were surprisingly similar to the real thing and a definite recipe I will be making again. They're also good without the maple icing and I think I might even prefer them that way, so you really get to taste the nutty undertones of the oats and nuts.

Starbucks Maple Oat Nut Scone
Makes 8 | adapted from and Top Secret Recipes

1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Maple Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
5 teaspoons water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Finely grind oats in a food processor.

3. In a mixer, mix flour, ground oats, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add maple syrup and butter and mix well. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the cream and maple extract. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well. Add pecans and mix just to incorporate.

4. Place dough on a floured surface. Knead and pat dough into a 8-10" circle and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on wire rack.

5. Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Adjust the amount of water to get to the desired consistency. Spread over each scone and let set for about 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Golden Lemon Almond Cake

This Lemon Almond Bundt is a sturdy yet tender cake that gives off a lovely, nutty, zesty aroma while baking. The recipe is from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I initially bought this book based on rave reviews it received from blogger and online foodies. Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible was another best seller but I never got around to buying it. It didn't draw me in, despite its rave reviews (Sorry Rose!). So, I was a little hesitant ordering this new book online but I clicked "submit order" anyway.

Inside the box I found one of the nicest looking cookbooks I've seen! For that precise reason, I had never used this book until today. It was too pretty to make its way into the kitchen, so it sat pristinely on my bookshelf for the past 6 months. I hardly wanted to flick through the perfectly bound book; I didn't even want to crack the spine. Bear in mind that I'm the kind of person who saves the best thing on the plate for last and takes teeny tiny bites to really savor it.

Well, I'm glad I finally got over my silliness and started using this book for its intended purpose, because the recipes are as solid as the book is pretty.

Golden Lemon Almond Cake 12-14 servings | Rose's Heavenly Cakes

2/3 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, divided
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
3/8 tsp pure lemon oil
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons, loosely packed Lemon zest, finely grated
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1. Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F if using a dark pan).

2. Toast and Grind the Almonds: Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely. In a food processor, process until fairly fine. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and process until very fine.

3. Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 1/2 cup of the sour cream, the vanilla, and lemon oil just until lightly combined. Make the Batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the ground almonds, the remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.

5. Bake the Cake: Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 200-205 degrees F. Make the syrup shortly before the cake is finished baking

Lemon Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Make the Lemon Syrup: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure (or a small saucepan over medium heat), heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often until the sugar is almost completely dissolved. Do not boil. A few un-dissolved grains form a sparkly, crackly finish to the crust. Cover it tightly to prevent evaporation.

Apply the Syrup and Cool and Unmold the Cake: As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap airtight.

TWD: Midnight Chocolate Crackles

This week's Midnight Crackles (p.74) for TWD was selected by Laurie of Slush and Jules of Someone’s In the Kitchen.

They were a nice balance of chewy-cakey and deeply delicious :) Perfect choice for the first Tuesdays with Dorie bake of 2011! May this be a good sign of yummy baking ahead!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake

Happy New Year!!! 2011 is here! I was so exhausted on New Year's eve that I slept right through midnight and woke up at 2AM, after all the festivities were over. I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, eh? lol

This cake is a clone of the Starbucks' Classic Coffee Cake. It has a crunchy, buttery topping and a ribbon of cinnamon-brown sugar sandwiched between tender, fluffy cake. I think that what makes this cake stand out from other coffee cakes is the higher ratio of topping to cake. When I first made it I thought I must have measured incorectly because the batter was so thin in the pan, I was struggling to spread it out over the filling. However, the result is delicious!

I have seen baked items come and go... the trends have brought us everything from low-fat vegan brownies to gourmet doughnuts to mini-scones and breakfast sandwiches, but this coffee cake always seems to find its place in Starbucks' pastry cases everywhere. Sometimes it has a sprinkling of pecans on top, sometimes a drizzle of simple glaze, or a dusting of powdered sugar. I guess they call it a classic for a reason!

This year I hope to see lots more people joining in Copycat Club where we bake and cook clones of our favorite famous eats. Click the link above and email me your copycat post or feel free to add it on the 7th of every month when I post the round-up.

Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake
9 x 13" cake | adapted from Top Secret Recipes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 (1 stick) of butter, softened

1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine topping ingredients, cutting in the butter to form a crumbly texture. 2. In a separate small bowl combine the filling ingredients.
3. Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugars together then add the eggs, oil and vanilla. Combine well. Sift together flour, soda, salt and powder. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk and buttermilk. Do not overmix. Spread 1/2 the batter in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle filling evenly over the batter then top with remaining batter and finally, spread the topping evenly over the top. Note: The batter will be thin in the pan - it might be challenging to spread it out to cover the filling, but that's OK!
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.