I come from a long line of coffee cake eaters. In fact, the family motto is” we never met a coffee cake we didn’t like”. Our family’s coat-of-arms is a cheese Danish and a cup of coffee. So you get my drift, right. We like coffee cake, so much so that I can’t bake ‘em as fast as they eat ‘em. But that’s okay, it keeps me on my toes.
This Apple Streusel Coffee Cake is a particular family favorite. Why, because it’s all apple-y, and streusel-y, and cinnamon-y, and nut-y. I can think of no better combination of flavors. Well, maybe coconut and bananas, but that will be another blog posting.
Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
Adapted from Gale Gand’s Brunch!
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 apples, peeled and cored, and chopped (I like to use a tart Granny Smith apple)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a pastry brush and melted butter, grease an 8-inch baking dish.
- For the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or I used an electric hand-mixer) beat the egg and then mix in the milk and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated. Add the apples and walnuts to the mixture and pour into the baking dish.
- To make the streusel topping, mix the sugar, flour, cold butter and cinnamon in a medium bowl by pinching them together with your fingers until combined. Spoon the mixture over the top of the batter.
- Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden, and when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, and then cut into squares.
Not all apples fare well when added to baked goods. The varieties that I find work well are; Granny Smith, Fuji, Rome Beauty, Gala and Honeycrisp. I like to use a combination of these apples instead of just using one kind.
Yes, Mama does like to bake. I know how I tell you all the time how I love to play gleefully in my kitchen with butter, flour and sugar. And how I take such pride in my cookies, cakes and other crumb-like creations that emanate from my oven. But, Mama’s not a one-trick pony you know. I’m well aware of the virtues of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Now that the holiday season is over and all the out-of-town guests have left, Mama’s getting back to the business of eating healthy. During the winter, when it’s even too cold in Los Angeles to use the outdoor grill, I love to roast my vegetables.
Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower are a big hit at my dinner table. Roasting the vegetables at a high temperature causes the veggies to caramelize; this is when the acid in the vegetables breaks down and the sugar is released, bringing out their natural sweetness. Be careful though not to over bake the vegetables, because limp broccoli is a real dinner downer. When I pull the tray out of the oven, I use a metal spatula to scoop up all those tasty brown bits on the sheet pan because that’s where all the flavor is. It’s fresh, it’s simple and it just tastes darn good.
Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
- 1 1/2 lb. broccoli, washed and cut in large chunks (leave about 1 1/2″ of stems)
- 1 1/2 lb. cauliflower, washed and cut into large chunks
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon, fresh ground pepper
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
- Wash the broccoli and cauliflower under cool water and cut them into large chunks. Leave about 1 1/2″ of the stems on the broccoli. Dry with a paper towel.
- Thinly slice the 4 cloves of garlic.
- Place the broccoli, cauliflower and garlic onto a large baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables and garlic with olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. With your hands, toss to evenly coat all the ingredients.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Be careful not to over-bake the vegetables, you still want a little crunch in them. Halfway through baking, take the pan out and toss the vegetables so all sides will brown.
- While the vegetables are baking, toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan (dry, no oil in the pan) over medium heat. Stir them constantly so they do not burn. This will only take a few minutes. When they start to caramelize, remove them from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.
- When the veggies are done, transfer them to a serving bowl. Use a metal spatula to get all those little bits and pieces off the baking sheet because that stuff is full of flavor. Toss in the pine nuts. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the veggies and serve immediately.
To toast the pine nuts; place in a small frying pan (dry, no oil) over medium heat stirring constantly so the nuts do not burn. When they get a little golden brown in color, remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.
When roasting the vegetables, spread them out in one layer on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd the vegetables or stack. Use two baking sheets if you need to, but you want all the vegetables exposed to the heat.
Today’s post is about a tea cake with tons of fresh citrus, sweet butter and eggs. But wait…there’s more! Act now, and you get the toasted walnuts and shiny orange glaze too. So, do I have your attention, sound good, huh?
Recently for reasons unknown to me, I decided that a 4pm each day, I was going to stop what I was doing and sit down and have a cup of tea. A quiet time to reflect on what I had accomplished in my day so far, and to contemplate what tasks were still on my agenda. It seemed so civilized to me. Certainly one couldn’t have tea without it being accompanied by a proper tea cake. One of my all-time favorites is this Orange Walnut Bread. It’s not overly sweet, and the bits of orange rind give it that fresh citrus-y flavor which compliments the earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts.
I really think that this new ritual of mine will help me to be more productive, or maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe it’s just another reason I’ve drummed up to eat more cake .
Orange Walnut Bread
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- grated rind of 1 large orange or 2 small oranges
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
- Orange Syrup
- Orange Glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. What I find that works best is to melt a little butter and using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter inside the pan in all the nooks and crannys. Then dust it with flour, shaking out all the excess.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until light. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and the grated orange rind.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the batter alternately with 1/2 cup orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Gently mix in the walnuts. Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Wash out your mixer bowl and dry completely. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, set on the middle rack and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until lightly golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
- While cake is baking make the syrup mixture. When cake is done, using a wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cake and spoon the hot syrup over the bread. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 granulated sugar
Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a light syrup forms.
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 3-4 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
Place these ingredients in a small bowl and whisk or stir with a fork until you achieve the desired consistency for the glaze. If you like a thicker glaze add more sugar, if you prefer a thinner glaze, add more orange juice.
*Toasting Nuts: I always like to toast nuts when I’m adding them to baked goods. Why, you ask? Toasting nuts releases their natural oils and gives them a deeper flavor. Toasting will make the nuts crispier too, giving your baked goods more texture. I place the nuts in a small frying pan over a medium heat. I constantly stir them with a wooden spoon because you don’t want them to burn. It takes about 6-8 minutes to toast them, you’ll start to notice a fragrant smell coming from them as they begin to toast.
Egg Whites: When beating egg whites, make sure there is no yolk in the whites or they will not become stiff. Also make sure your mixer bowl and utensils are completely clean and free of grease, butter or oil, as this will cause your egg whites not to become stiff also.
Southern Californians are a funny lot. No matter how cold it gets, and for the past two weeks it has been very cold, Southern Californians will wear shorts and flip-flops no matter what. I noticed this strange phenomenon yesterday as I was shopping at an outdoor mall. Me, bundled in a winter coat and scarf, and everyone else lollygagging about in their Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and sundresses. I really admire their spirit, and for some folks it really is an endless summer. And why not. Maybe it’s the thin, east-coast blood that runs through my veins, but I was headed home to have a big bowl of chili and these homemade corn muffins. I was embracing the brisk winter weather with some down-home comfort food.
Anyway, son #1 had given me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for a gift and I was anxious to try out some of the recipes. What I like most about the book is that it’s recipes are written in both cups and grams. As a gal whose obsession is baking, naturally I prefer gram measurements. Why, because baking is a science and grams are a precise measurement. When you weigh your ingredients your chances of a successful end product are almost guaranteed. Even if you’re just an occasional baker, I highly recommend you get yourself a digital food scale. You know I would never steer you wrong.
Thomas Keller explains in the book that the reason for allowing your batter to sit overnight is for the purpose of hydrating the flour. When the mixture absorbs the liquid ingredients, the result is a very moist corn muffin.
From Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery
- 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (201 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (51 grams) cornmeal
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (135 grams) sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (168 grams) whole milk
- 2 large eggs (90 grams)
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (90 grams) canola oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) frozen corn kernels
* If you do not have a scale to weigh out the eggs, take your 2 large eggs and lightly beat them in a bowl and then remove about 1 teaspoon and that will be about 90 grams.
- Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift in the cornmeal and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients that may be stuck to the bottom. Fold in the corn. For best results, transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick spray. Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4 full.
- Place the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool muffins completely.
Makes 12 standard size muffins
Many of you have approached me recently and said, “Mama, I’m having a holiday party and I need an idea for a tasty appetizer”. Well, I think I have just the thing for you if you want something with potatoes, bacon and cheese that will pop right into your mouth. You will be amazed at how much flavor is packed into this one bite. But actually, if you’re a bit more genteel, it will be two bites. But I digress.
When entertaining for the masses, I’m a gal who likes to do as much prep work in advance so I’m not so overwhelmed the day of the party. Mini Stuffed Potatoes are an appetizer you can prepare two days in advance. You can stuff the potatoes with the mixture, and then wrap them in plastic and place in the refrigerator. An hour or so before you’re ready to serve them, let the potatoes sit out on the counter to come to room temperature. Next, sprinkle them with the cheese and place them in a 425 degree F oven for about ten minutes until they are heated through and browned on the top. It’s quite the festive treat.
This holiday season my friends, hold your loved one’s very close. Mama wishes you all the best for the New Year.
Mini Stuffed Potatoes
From Fine Cooking
- 24 baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, each about 2 inches across (2 to 2-1/4 lb.)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 oz. bacon (about 3 thick slices), cooked until crispy and crumbled
- 6 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the oven to 450°F. Place the potatoes in a medium sized bowl and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and toss again. Transfer the potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the potatoes until they feel perfectly tender when pierced with a skewer, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
- Carefully hollow out each potato: Decide which is the flatest surface of the potato to give it the most stability, then begin by slicing off the top; use a small spoon (I had a tiny mini spoon that worked great)or a melon baller to scoop out most of the flesh inside, transferring it to a medium bowl. Discard the tops. Mash the potato flesh with a masher or a fork, then combine it with the bacon, 1/4 cup of the chives, the sour cream, the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
- I used my fingers to fill the hollowed potatoes with this mixture; it should mound a bit. Sprinkle on the cheese.
- Return the potatoes to the 450°F oven and bake until the filling heats through, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve warm.
P.S. For another tasty holiday appetizer, click here to view the recipe for Curried Scallop Cakes.
I guess this recipe is going out to all the chocolate lovers out there. Those of us who openly and freely admit that we love chocolate. I was having a real hankering the other day for something chocolatey, and so I took out the doughnut pans and decided, why not make these baked Chocolate Doughnuts with a Chocolate Glaze.
In retrospect, these may have even been a bit too chocolatey even for me. Next time I may douse them in a vanilla glaze, or simply just dust them with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Nonetheless these were still delicious, and extremely easy to make. You will however need a standard sized doughnut pan to accomplish the task. I found mine at my local baking supply store, but you can also easily find them online was well. I won’t try to con you into thinking these are not highly caloric, but the upside is that these are baked and not fried, so that’s a good thing, right?
The secret ingredient here is the espresso powder, as it really enhances the chocolate flavor. But, if you don’t have access to it, don’t worry, they will still taste amazing. And then, bring out your array of sprinkles and jimmies because that’s the best part of this entire process. Really, who doesn’t like jimmies!
From King Arthur Flour
- 2/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons vinegar, white or cider
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons half & half or cream (light or heavy)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, simply bake the batter in two batches.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar.
- Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there’s no need to beat the batter, just make sure everything is well-combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.
- Bake the doughnuts for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
- Remove the doughnuts form the oven, and after 30 seconds or so, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.
- For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.
- If you want to ice the doughnuts rather than shake them in sugar, allow them to cool completely before icing.
- To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate chips and half & half or cream in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring the mixture in between until you get a smooth consistency.
- Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the glaze is smooth.
- Spread glaze on the doughnuts.
Makes 18 doughnuts
Let your doughnuts cool completely before you cover them in the glaze.
Store doughnuts in an airtight container, and they should last for three days…if you don’t finish them first.