Sunday, November 25, 2018

Maple Date Loaf

This is the last post of the holiday quick the first of a new baking theme will go out for the month of December. This post I feel is sort of vintage. The reason for that is because this recipe has dates in it. For some reason dates, figs and prunes make me think of something a grandmother would eat.

Vintage as it may be, after tasting this I would say grandmother was on to something when it came to using dates in baking. Just the smell of this sweet loaf wafting from the kitchen had me waiting to taste a slice. Maple syrup and dates make for a perfect pair in this loaf cake. In addition, the crunchy oat streusel on top adds just enough sweetness. One slice is right at home alongside a cup of hot tea or coffee. The recipe is for one  9 x 2 3/4" loaf pan or mini foil pans (5 3/4 X 3 1/4).

Maple Date Loaf
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients/Oatmeal Streusel
2 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
2 tbs light brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup regular oats

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 tbs butter
1 cup chopped/pitted/dried dates
1/2 to 1 tsp orange zest
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

For the streusel, start by whisking the oats, brown sugar and flour together.  Add butter and use a pastry cutter to blend. Lastly, stir in the maple syrup. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the interior of the pan(s).

Fill a medium size bowl with the orange juice, zest and water. Place over medium high heat. Let cook until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add butter and dates. Stir until butter is melted and set aside for 5 minutes to plump the dried dates.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the maple syrup. Blend mixture into the orange/date liquid.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.  Pour the date blend into the well. Fold dry mixture into the water blend. Once no dry streaks remain, add batter to pans (dividing evenly if using multiple pans).

Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the streusel. Place in oven and bake until teamster comes out clean. Bake time should be about 25 to 30 minutes. Leave in pan(s) for gifting or invert twice after cooling for 20 minutes.
                         **2 YEARS AGO: White Russian Krispy Bars

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nutmeg Cake

We all have our favorite spices that are used often in baking, however, there are some that rarely come to mind. One of these is nutmeg. While nutmeg is used in holiday baked goods, it usually is only one element of a combination of spices called for in a recipe. This particular recipe focuses on nutmeg being the primary flavor.

Do not let the plain appearance fool you. Moist, light and packed with the special taste of nutmeg, one slice will make you a true fan. A delicious choice if you have not yet experienced nutmeg as singular spice. Also, if you make this, do not omit the rum syrup - it is an important flavor component to the cake.

Nutmeg Cake
Adapted from Warm Bread and Honey Cake

Ingredients/Syrup Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs rum

1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
9 tbs butter
1/2 c plus 1 tbs light brown sugar/packed
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup flour

Start by making the sugar syrup. Place sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Whisk together then heat at medium temperature on stove. As it cooks, let it come to a boil then reduce heat. The sugar will dissolve and the the mixture will come to a simmer. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until it reaches room temperature.

As the syrup is cooling, prepare a standard size loaf pan by buttering the interior. Then line the bottom and two sides with parchment and butter the surface. Dust the inside with flour and tap out excess. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, sift together baking powder, salt, flour and nutmeg. Set aside. Fill a bowl of a stand mixer with butter and beat at medium speed until smooth and silky. Then add sugar and cream ingredients together, beating at medium speed. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl at intervals during the process.

Using a small bowl and a whisk, blend the eggs with the vanilla extract. Add half of this mixture to the sugar/butter blend. Beat at 30 seconds and then add the remainder. Blend together, beating another 30 seconds.

Fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter. Then mix in 2 tbs of the milk. Blend in half of the remaining flour mixture. Add the last of the milk, mix and then the remaining flour blend. Once all is thoroughly mixed and batter is smooth, fill the prepared pan.

Bake until tester comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Place pan on cooling rack.

The sugar syrup should now be at room temperature. Add the rum and stir until completely distributed in the syrup. Take a skewer and poke holes in the top of the cake, all the way to the bottom of the pan. Then pour the rum syrup over the top. Let the syrup soak in and the cake cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For the best flavor-wait 24 hours before serving.

                              **LAST YEAR: Favorite Cookie Round Up**

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Cranberry Pound Cake

With the season, a lot of bloggers are doing themes for the last few months of the year. For the rest of November, I have decided to focus on holiday quick breads such as muffins, scones and sweet loaf breads. The recipes are fairly easy and great for gifting this season.

As a first one, I decided on this cranberry orange pound cake. It is bursting with cranberries and has the tender crumb of a pound cake. My favorite thing is the pop of tartness that comes with the cranberries combined with the sweetness of the icing. This loaf cake is one of the traditional cranberry items that always seems to show up around the holidays, but entirely too good to be reserved for just that occasion.

Cranberry Pound Cake
adapted from Chef in Training

3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs orange zest
2 1/2 cup whole cranberries

1 tbs milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbs orange juice
1 tbs orange zest
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the interior of 2 standard size loaf pans. Dust interior of pans with flour and tap out excess.

Using a large bowl and a sieve, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Then fill a bowl of a standard mixer with orange zest, sugar and butter. Beat on medium speed with mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Place one egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Pour into butter/sugar blend and beat until distributed into batter. Add each additional egg, one by one- mixing into batter after each one. Set aside.

Add 1/3 of sifted ingredients to batter and fold until just blended. Add 1/2 the buttermilk measurement and mix until combined. Repeat the process, ending with the last addition of the sifted ingredients. Fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter in half and add each half to one one of the prepared pans. Smooth the surface of the batter and bake until tester comes out clean. This should be about 55-60 minutes. Place pans on rack and cool about 20 minutes then invert twice onto rack so loaf is facing up.

As the cake cools, prepare the glaze. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Using another small bowl, whisk together orange juice, milk, vanilla and orange zest. Add orange blend to powdered sugar and whisk together. Pour over cooled cake.

Tips and Notes:
1. I used paper loaf pans so the icing was thick on top. Original recipe refers to it being a glaze.

2. Using whole cranberries were not a problem.

                                   **LAST YEAR: Eggnog spice cookies**

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Apple Spice Ice Cream

The hardest thing about being a blogger is trying to keep those kitchen gadgets to a minimum. These gadgets sometimes are not required in order to make certain things. They are convenient and seem to work better than the way things were done in the past. However, if you have the time and do not want to have all the gadgets, sometimes the old way of doing things can have the same delicious results.

This brings me to this post for "no churn" ice cream. It just has to be mixed and sit in the freezer for 6-8 hours. The only effort is getting the apples ready, since they have to be peeled, cored and sliced.In the end you will have an exceptional treat in an ice cold format. Never had apple ice cream? This is a great way to celebrate the winter holiday season. Take advantage of the variety of apples that the grocers has to offer and do not forget about the wonderful seasonal spices (ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, anise and clove).

I have yet to find any other ice cream that equates to the winter holidays as much as this flavorful concoction. This recipe makes 1 quart of ice cream

Apple Spice Ice Cream
adapted from No Churn Ice Cream

1 crushed cinnamon stick
1-2 crushed Cardamon pods
1 whole clove
1 piece star anise
1 tsp grated/peeled fresh ginger
4 cups peeled/cored sliced apples
1 inch wide slice of lemon rind
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups heavy cream
1-13 to 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk
Pinch of salt

Start by preparing the crushed, peeled, cored and grated items in separate bowls. The thinner the apple slices, the better. They will cook faster. Measure out the rest of the items in other bowls. Now that everything is in place, put the lemon rind, vinegar, spices (including pinch of salt) and apple slices in large saucepan and toss together. Then place over high heat. Stir the mixture as it cooks. After 5 minutes, taste test an apple slice for tenderness. If still raw, repeat process until apples are cooked through.

Place mixture in a blender or food processor and purée. Then push through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes and stir in both types of milk and salt. Set aside.

Using another bowl, fill with heavy cream. Beat with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Once the soft peak stage has been reached, fold into to the apple mixture. Once evenly distributed, pour batter into a shallow container (one that has a snap on lid is best).

Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for 6-8 hours prior to serving.

Tips and notes:

1. In order to swirl caramel, freeze a one inch layer of ice cream then pour caramel over. Repeat the layers. Caramel will mix into ice cream if not frozen.

2. If keeping for weeks, add inverted prior to adding the heavy cream. This will decrease the chance of ice from forming and keep the consistency smooth.

3. This recipe included a suggestion for caramel apple ice cream. In this recipe the spices and lemon rind are omitted. The apples are to be cooked over high heat with 2 tbs of butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Reduce the heat and add cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water. Once apples are soft and the liquid has evaporated, follow the recipe as stated from the second paragraph forward. Just reduce the milk to 1/4 and add 1/4 sour cream.
                                      **LAST YEAR: Baklava Cake**