Monday, January 28, 2019

Classic Angel Food Cake


Angel food cake from a box mix just cannot compare to from scratch. It's an entirely different experience. Angel food cake from scratch is a bit of a pain in the butt to make, granted, but is so worth the effort. And what is the best way to top an angel food cake? Well, that would be with whipped cream and strawberries of course. I upped the strawberry factor by adding some crushed, freeze dried strawberries to the whipped cream and it was a good decision. I don't think you can ever have too much strawberry-ness. 
If you have 12 egg whites that you are wondering what to do with.... look no further. 
The folding of the egg whites is the trickiest part and can lead to disappointment if you collapse them OR if you don't fold the flour in enough. Just have patience, go slow, and you should be okay. 
Classic desserts like angel food cake are classics for a reason. They never go out of style. 


Classic Angel Food Cake

Ingredients
Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
12 egg whites
1 1/2 cups fine sugar
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup powdered freeze dried strawberries

Serve with
Strawberries
extra whipped cream

Directions
(NOTE - If you do not have cake flour: measure out the 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, then scoop out 3 tablespoons and replace with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.)
Preheat oven to 325. 
Whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside 
Set aside 3/4 cup of the sugar.
Place remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and the flour/salt mixture into a blender (or food processor). Process approx 1 minute to form fine powder. Set aside.
In a stand mixer: combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on low for 1 minute. Increase to medium until stiff peaks just start to form. Slowly beat in the reserved 3/4 cup of sugar and the extracts. (This should take about 5 - 7 minutes)


Sift the flour mixture into the egg whites in 3 separate additions, folding in between additions. Do this gently so as not to deflate the whites!


Gently spread batter into an un-greased angel food cake pan. 


Bake at 325 for 40 - 45 minutes. Top should be light golden brown and cake tester inserted near center should come out clean. (Depending on how your oven cooks it may take up to an hour to bake.)


Remove from oven and immediately turn upside down to cool. You can set it on a wine bottle or prop it up on cans. Be sure to support the center so it does not slide out if your pan has a removable bottom.) Let cool completely. 


When cool, run a knife around the inside of the edge of the pan to loosen then invert onto a wire rack.


You can then run a knife around the bottom of the pan to remove the bottom piece. Invert onto serving platter. 


Prepare whipping cream: Beat the whipped cream with the sugar and freeze dried strawberries until stiff peaks form. 


Spread on sides and top of cake.


Decorate with strawberries and a pinch more freeze dried strawberry powder (optional).


Chill until ready to serve.


The texture of angel food cake is amazing. So fluffy but still cake-like. 


It looks so fancy schamncy.


You can always serve with a bit more whipped cream and strawberries, of course. 


Something for Valentine's Day perhaps? Mother's day? You'd definitely be the favorite if you made this for mom. 


Just remember, be patient when folding the egg whites. Be gentle. Don't over mix or you will deflate your whites and the cake won't work. It's a bit more challenging than a regular cake but you can do it!
Old fashioned recipes are the best! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Brookies


Half brownie, half cookie. 100% amazing. 
Sue and I are all about hybrid cooking. Especially when it ends with something as ridiculous as these cookies. Nanaimo Bars and Donuts are another hybrid I can get behind. (Click HERE for that!
But, today we are talking about cookies. Delicious, chocolaty, chewy cookies. 
I don't know about you but I love brownies. I also love chocolate chip cookies. Brookies, therefore, are my soul mate and we need to get married. 


Brookies

Ingredients
Brownie Half
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

Chocolate Chip Cookie Half
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 
Prepare brownie dough - Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and stir until stiff dough forms. Chill dough while making chocolate chip cookie half.
Prepare chocolate chip dough - Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add in flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Stir until stiff dough forms. 
Using a cookie scoop (I like large for giant cookies, but medium scoops work too!), take one scoop from the chilled brownie dough and one scoop from the chocolate chip cookie dough - and press the 2 together. Gently press into a ball and flatten lightly in your hand. Set about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. 


Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes (for medium scoops), 8 - 10 (for small scoops), and (12 - 18 for large scoops). They are done when the bottoms are lightly browned and cookies appear dry on top. 


Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie trays before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 


Like all cookies, they are addicting when warm and almost as equally delicious when room temp. Serve with a glass of milk, mug of coffee, or cup of tea. 
If you use small scoops (about 1 Tbsp) then you should get about 4 dz cookies. That drops to about 2 dz with medium, and 1 dz with large. The brownie side does spread a bit more than the chocolate chip so do NOT skip chilling the brownie dough.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

London Fog Donuts


We all know donuts are the perfect snack for tea or coffee time. That fluffy yest squishy dough just begs to be served with a steaming hot beverage on the side. 
I decided to mix things up and make a donut that actually had tea in it! (See HERE for our coffee flavored Caramel Macchiato Donut)  I was a little saddened that the tea flavor wasn't a bit more prominent but it was still a delicious result. A London fog is Earl Grey tea with a hint of vanilla and milk/cream, in case you were wondering about the name. The subtle hint of tea in the cream filling is delightfully different than plain cream filling. I'm still going to work on making a more pronounced tea flavor but, until then, I will keep using this recipe as it was a huge hit with my tasters! 


London Fog Donuts

Ingredients
Donuts
2 Earl Grey tea bags
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Oil for frying (about 1 liter)

Filling
4 cups whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean
4 bags Earl Grey tea
2 pkg instant vanilla pudding 

Directions
Prepare donuts - Place the tea bags in the buttermilk. 


Heat the buttermilk to steaming. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Let cool a few minutes - it should still be warm to touch but not hot. Remove tea bags and discard. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Whisk together melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Add enough flour to form a sticky yet solid dough. Knead for 2 minutes. You may need to add a pinch more flour if it is too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for an hour. 
After dough has doubled, roll out dough on a floured work surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out using a round biscuit/cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (You can re-roll scraps once to get more circles.) 
Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes. 

After donuts have risen for about 30 minutes, start heating your oil over medium heat. It takes me about 15 minutes to get my oil to 350. 
Fry donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil for about 1 minute on each side - they should be golden brown. You need a thermometer in the oil to make sure your oil stays at 350. If it is too low, your donuts will absorb too much oil and be greasy. If it is too high, they will be uncooked on the inside and burn on the outside. 
Set on paper towel, or on wire racks with paper towel underneath, to drain any excess oil. 
After all donuts are cooked, set aside to cool completely. When cool, take a serrated knife and carefully cut each donut in half horizontally. 


Prepare filling - After you are done preparing the dough for it's first rise, you should start your filling so it has time to steep. In a bowl, combine whipping cream, vanilla, vanilla bean (Note - half the bean vertically, scrape the seeds into the bowl, and then place the pod into the cream as well), and the contents of the 4 tea bags. Set this aside until the donuts are completely cool.
When donuts are ready, pour the cream through a strainer into another bowl. Discard the bean pod and the leftover tea bits. (Quite a few tea bits may go into the cream and that is fine. You just don't want them too thick.)  
Take half of the cream mixture and sprinkle in 1 pkg of the vanilla pudding mix. Beat with beaters until stiff enough to pipe. Pipe (or spoon) into the middle of the donuts. Repeat with the second half of the cream and the other pkg of vanilla pudding. I like to pipe a little star on top of each doughnut to fancy them up a little. 


I mix the filling in two batches because I find that mixing it as one big batch can sometimes result in a funky texture to the filling. Dividing it in two ensures it will work every time! 


There they are pictured with our Caramel Macchiato Donuts
As I mentioned above, the tea flavor is quite subtle but it makes for a fabulous treat. My recipe makes about 24 donuts but can easily be halved if you like. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Caramel Macchiato Donuts


I've been on a bit of a donut (doughnut?) bender lately. I've had so much fun creating new donut flavors so bear with me, there will be several donut posts coming your way in the next little while. 
I'm starting with my caramel macchiato recipe because caramel happens to be a little bit of heaven on earth, not to mention it is cold outside and coffee flavored things make life that much more bearable. 
Have you ever made donuts? You really should give it a try. The only thing that freaks me out a little is deep frying. All that hot oil is scary! I'm slowly getting over my fear though, getting to eat donuts is a pretty big incentive. 


Caramel Macchiato Donuts

Ingredients
Donut
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp caramel extract
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Oil for deep frying (about 1 liter)

Filling
4 cups whipping cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
2 pkgs instant butterscotch pudding mix

Directions
Prepare donuts - Heat the buttermilk to steaming. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Let cool a few minutes - it should still be warm to touch but not hot. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Whisk together melted butter, eggs, caramel extract, and salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Add enough flour to form a sticky yet solid dough. Knead for 2 minutes. You may need to add a pinch more flour if it is too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for an hour. 
After dough has doubled, roll out dough on a floured work surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out using a round biscuit/cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (You can re-roll scraps once to get more circles.) 


Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes. 

After donuts have risen for about 30 minutes, start heating your oil over medium heat. It takes me about 15 minutes to get my oil to 350. 
Fry donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil for about 1 minute on each side - they should be golden brown. You need a thermometer in the oil to make sure your oil stays at 350. If it is too low, your donuts will absorb too much oil and be greasy. If it is too high, they will be uncooked on the inside and burn on the outside. 
Set on paper towel, or on wire racks with paper towel underneath, to drain any excess oil. 
After all donuts are cooked, set aside to cool completely. When cool, take a serrated knife and carefully cut each donut in half horizontally. 
Prepare cream - In a large bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules in 2 cups of whipped cream.


Sprinkle 1 pkg of butterscotch pudding on top and beat until it stiffens up enough to pipe. 
Pipe coffee cream into the middle of each donut. You will need to repeat mixing the remaining granules, cream, and pudding. (I don't like to do it all at once as it sometimes makes for a weird texture. If you do half at a time it always works out!) 


Once they are all filled I like to go back and pipe a little star on top and then top with a half of a caramel candy.


Mmmm.... caramel and coffee. Is there anything better?


They look fabulous all snuggled up in a box to give as gifts.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen plus about 3 extra using a 3.5 inch cutter. You can half the recipe but, seriously, whyyyyyy? Make them all. Give them to people. Make new friends. 


Below they are pictured with the other flavor I just made... London Fog!
Click HERE for the link to that recipe!. 
Coffee and tea donuts. Best idea ever. 


As with most donuts, these are best eaten the day they are made. Next day they are still okay but they start to get stale after that. You can, instead of cutting them in half, simply pipe the cream into the donuts using a piping bag and long tip. You wouldn't need nearly as much if you do that. Of course, that means there isn't nearly as much in the donut to enjoy. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread


One of our dad's favorite snacks ever is cornbread. Whenever one of us is in the kitchen he always asks, "you making cornbread?" - even if we are clearly making cookies or cupcakes. That's his subtle hint that he is craving some cornbread. 
He loves his with a bit of spice so we always throw in jalapenos and a good dose of cheese to add some texture. I'm not usually a fan of cornmeal in things because of the coarse texture but I make an exception with this recipe. Warm with butter... don't even get me started! I could eat half the pan in one sitting.


Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 jalapenos, seeded & finely diced
1 cup aged cheddar, shredded
1 cup corn (drained if using canned)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs

Extra
1/3 cup aged cheddar, shredded

Directions
 Preheat oven to 400. Lightly spray a 9 X 9 pan with cooking spray (Or line the bottom with parchment paper), and set aside. 
In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, jalapenos, cheese, and corn. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, honey, and eggs. 


Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the 1/3 cup cheese on top.


Bake at 400 until top is golden and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 30 - 40 minutes. 


Place on wire rack to let cool. 


Serve warm or room temp. 


I looooove to slather on some butter while it is still warm...


So. Good. 
Cornbread can be tricky to get cooked through to the middle because of how dense it is. If you are having trouble then cover around the outside of the pan with strips of tinfoil, turn the heat down a bit, and continue cooking until the middle is done. 
FYI - this freezes very well. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Blueberry Buttercream


Lemon and blueberries go together like peanut butter and chocolate except, instead of being all heavy and decadent, they are light and fresh and airy. Make them during the dreary winter weather for a reminder of all things summer. Or, you know, make them whenever because they are ridiculously delicious and easy to whip up. The color of the blueberry buttercream is so beautiful. Put them on a plate of cupcakes and they will get everyone's attention. 


All you need is a few simple ingredients and about an hour and you could have these little beauties on your table!


Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Blueberry Buttercream

Ingredients
Cupcakes
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
zest of one lemon
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice

Buttercream
3 cups blueberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups butter, softened
pinch salt
5 - 6 cups icing sugar
3 Tbsp milk

Decoration
blueberries

Directions
Prepare cupcakes - Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. 
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Whisk in lemon extract and eggs until well combined.


Alternately beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the sour cream until just combined. Do not over mix. Lastly, fold in the lemon juice.  
Scoop batter into the 24 lined muffin cups. 


I put a blueberry into the center of each cupcake but this is totally optional!!! 
Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. 
NOTE - these rise VERY well so do not fill the cup more than about halfway. As you can see mine were filled a little too much! (They were fine but just overflowed a little so don't look as neat and tidy!)


Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely. 
Prepare buttercream - Combine blueberries and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes - until thickened. 
Press this through a sieve to remove any skins and seeds. Let cool completely. 


In a mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in 1/3 of a cup of the blueberry puree (reserve the rest for decorating). NOTE - make sure puree is completely cool or it will melt the buttercream. Don't worry if it looks weird, it will come together when the icing sugar is added.
Add in the salt and icing sugar, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat in milk to make it a spreading/piping consistency. Beat for two minutes on high to make sure it is smooth. (If you find it too runny, add a bit of icing sugar... too firm, add a tablespoon or so of milk.) 
Pipe or spread onto cooled lemon cupcakes. 


You can pipe the buttercream around the outside of the cupcake and then fill with a teaspoon of the puree...


Or you can pipe the buttercream in a swirl and top with a blueberry and a little drizzle of the puree. Or you can just spread the icing on.... whatever you prefer! The recipe makes enough icing to put a swirl on 24 normal sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. Which, as it happens, is how many cupcakes the cake recipe makes.