Category Archives: Daring Bakers

Spice Coffee Cake

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenges, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeast dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee style cake.

While the Nazook looked utterly amazing and mouthwatering, I had no time to make it this month due to my crazy busy schedule right now. (This is the part where you pity me, of course). Thankfully, the nutmeg cake rocked and I’m so glad Jason introduced us to it! It’s incredibly easy and quick to make and tastes delightful, especially with a cup of coffee (huh, wonder if that’s why it’s called a coffee cake?). It  has a crust like a cheesecake and texture like well, a dense cake. No icing or glaze needed but I’m sure that wouldn’t hurt things. Don’t let it’s simple exterior fool you. The flavor is quite complex.

This cake would be easy to personalize to meet your taste buds. I didn’t find the nutmeg overwhelming but I do love nutmeg. I also added a pinch of cinnamon. Nutmeg and cinnamon are just meant to be together, in my humble opinion. But if they aren’t your favorite spices, just add whatever suits you. This cake has a beautiful caramel taste. The edges get a little more done than the center but that was actually my favorite part. A little bit chewier and caramel-y.

Did I mention it was quick? Less than 20 minutes, maybe closer to 10 but I wasn’t really counting, to pull together and about 40 minutes to bake. I love quick recipes that taste awesome, don’t you?

Nutmeg Cake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) AP Flour
  • 2 tsp  baking powder
  • 2 cups  (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 cup (170 gm/6 oz) butter, unsalted, cubed
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, or any nut of your choosing. I used pecans.
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg

1. Preheat your oven 350°F.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor (mixer will work too). Pulse until uniformly mixed.
4. Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan colored crumbs.
5. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
6. Mix in the nutmeg and cinnamon
7.  Add the egg, mix until combined.
8. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
9. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
10. Gently sprinkle the nut pieces over the batter.
11. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. It’s ready when the top is golden brown, and when a toothpick comes out clean. It took 40 minutes in my oven, but I started checking at 30 minutes.
12. Let cool for a minute or two, then run a knife around the pan. Remove the outer part and let cool. If you let it cool in the pan it may stick. Make coffee and enjoy!

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under baking, breakfast, cake, Daring Bakers

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lisa! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I’m having a love hate relationship with these muffins. My favorite muffin forever has been blueberry. So of course, I decided to make blueberry muffins for this challenge, but work towards developing my own. I started with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I modified it quite a bit before actually making the original recipe. Not always the best idea, but well, I was in a hurry. At first I hated them and almost threw them all in the garbage. After sitting, however, I liked them again.

I think the issue is that these are slightly healthier muffins. Not a health food, but healthier than say, a Starbucks muffin. There isn’t much fat, not much sugar, and flax for that I-feel-less-guilty-when-eating-these. I’m trying to add more flax to our baked goods, since it has so many health benefits, particularly all those Omega-3s. But when eating a muffin, most of the time we expect it to be sweet. These aren’t overly sweet, so once I got past that, I really liked them. My taste buds just needed a moment to adjust. I didn’t particularly care for the whole flax seeds, but the flax meal was not noticeable.

All that being said, these are a work in progress. But for now, they are a decent muffin, quite good with coffee. I used Meyer lemons since they are in season but traditional lemons will work fine. I’m posting two recipes: one with the healthier additions (which is the one I made) and the less healthier muffin for those days when you just need a muffin.

Lemon Blueberry Flax Muffins

Yield: 12 to 15 muffins

Time: Less than one hour including bake time

Difficulty: Very Easy

One Year Ago: Leaning Tower of Red Velvet

Modified from King Arthur Flour

  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 TB butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 TB lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta (or 3/4 cup milk)
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Sanding (coarse) sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with papers or grease.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream together the butter, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the ricotta, mix until just combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix untilalmostcombined. The key to tender muffins is to not over mix!

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the blueberries. Continue folding gently if needed until all flour is mixed in.

6. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full, sprinkle with sugar,  and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely – they taste better after sitting for a while.

Lemon Blueberry Less Healthy Version

  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 TB butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 TB lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta (or 3/4 cup milk)
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Sanding (coarse) sugar for sprinkling

Follow the same instructions as above.

Enjoy with coffee!

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Daring Bakers, muffins

Daring Bakers October Challenge: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

This was my very first Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a great way to challenge myself and try recipes I might not have tried before, like this Povitica! I still can’t pronounce it, but I did read it is very similar to a Babka. My only experience with Babka is the Seinfeld episode, one of my favorites. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. “Cinnamon takes a backseat to no Babka!”

I was of course thrilled that the first challenge for me was a yeast recipe, since I bake bread all the time (I know, I need to post my bread on here more often!). But this recipe was a little hard for me to follow. I’m very particular (perhaps peculiar?) about how a recipe is written and organized. I had to sort through it and rearrange it to my liking. Also, I never use active dry yeast (and you shouldn’t either!) and always use instant. So that took some modifying. But only a couple very tiny changes and the end result was really tasty. I’m so glad I made it and have also added “Chocolate Babka” to my must-make baking list. As if I didn’t already have a long list!

This recipe isn’t hard, but it sure isn’t easy nor is it quick. Plan on this taking a couple of hours of your time, depending on how fast you work. But the end result makes a great breakfast the next day. And a mid-day snack. And dessert after dinner.

Yield: 2 loaves

Dough

  • ¼ Cup (60 ml) water
  • 1 Cup (240 ml) whole milk*
  • ¼ Cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp instant yeast*
  • 6 TB + 1 tsp (89 grams) Sugar*
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups (560 grams)  AP flour, divided

*Note: the original recipe calls for warm milk. Since we are using instant yeast here, warm milk is not required. If you do use active dry, then you will need 1 packet of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, and milk warmed to 110F. You can still warm the milk a little for instant, but check the temperature. If it is over 110F, you will kill the yeast.

1. Mix together the melted butter, milk, eggs, and water in a separate bowl until just combined.

2. In stand mixer bowl, add your yeast, sugar, salt, and two cups of flour. Add liquid ingredients. Mix with paddle attachment just for a minute or two to help combine ingredients. Switch to a dough hook on speed 1. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time until dough is well formed and smooth. You may not need all the flour, but I used all two cups and a little more. It depends on your weather!

3. Let rest in an oiled bowl until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. The picture below is before doubling. While it is rising, make the filling and topping.


Topping

  • ¼ Cup (60 ml) cold coffee
  • 1 TB granulated sugar

Combine and set aside

Filling

  • 3½ cups (560 grams) ground walnuts
  • ½ cups (120 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1  egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (225 gm) sugar
  • ½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (I added extra!)

1. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

2. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.

3. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture. Let cool slightly.

4.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

5. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.

6. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

Returning to Dough

1. After dough has doubled, cut into two pieces. Just eyeball it. Spray two bread pans lightly with non stick spray. Preheat your oven to 350F.

2. Set out a silcone rolling sheet (or if you don’t have one, just use a clean bed sheet, it will help tremendously with the rolling) and a small bowl of flour for any light dusting. Get your rolling pin and prepare to work up a sweat! (Just kidding, it actually rolls out pretty easily).Roll the dough out very thin, less than 1/4″.  My rolling sheet is 24 inches by 14 inches and as you can see in the picture below I filled up the whole thing.  If you have any oddball pieces like I did, feel free to cut them off. Or if you aren’t a neurotic perfectionist like me, then leave it! A little extra dough never hurt anyone. 3. Add half of your filling and spread it on the dough, leaving room on the edges for rolling. Be careful rolling because your dough will be quite fragile at this point.

4. Very carefully start rolling the dough, just a little at a time, using light hands.

5. Then very carefully lift your dough into a bread pan. Form a “U” shape and twist back on itself.

6. Cover and let rest while you roll the second loaf. After both loaves are done and have rested about 15 minutes, brush with the coffee mixture. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

7. Bake until golden, which will take another 30 to 45 minutes. Check the internal temperature and when it reads at least 180F, it is done.

8. Important: Let cool in the pan. This goes against most bread making rules, but if you try to remove it while it is still warm, it will fall apart. It is a very heavy bread!

9. After it is cool, slice, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

7 Comments

Filed under bread, Daring Bakers