Archive | coffee buddy

Welcoming the New Year and a Recipe for Banana bread with Pecan Streusel

How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.

It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds.  They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that!  [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.

Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.

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Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola

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View from Blackcomb Mountain

 

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It’s definitely a breathtaking and photo-worthy view.

 

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Peak To Peak gondola that goes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountain.

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Ah, the 2010 Winter Olympics…

 

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There really is no lack of beautiful scenery when you go to Whistler. We were treated with a gorgeous sunset on the drive back to Vancouver.

 

After all the celebrations, we slowly got back into our routines, including baking. It’s one of the things we truly enjoy doing as a couple, plus it warms up the kitchen, fills our bellies, and leaves the whole place smelling like freshly baked bread, cake or pastry. We had a few lonely bananas that we were more than happy to save from their their misery, so it’s banana bread time. We changed things up and used the recipe from the Miette cookbook. My go-to recipe requires sour cream and this one doesn’t, so this saved us an extra trip to the store on the first day of the year. I’m glad Jens picked the recipe because it’s so yummy! Not that I expect anything less from Miette, really, but it’s a good reminder that it doesn’t hurt to try to recipes. I love the delicate crumb, surrounded by the firm and almost-crunchy crust. Essentially, this is a good, solid, banana bread recipe that tastes more sophisticated than most. And that’s all you need to know if you’re looking for something to bake this weekend. :-) If you have the bananas, I’m sure all the other ingredients needed would already be in your pantry.

You’ll also soon find out how baking this Miette bread snowballed into a baking trend for us this January. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would already know the insane baking that ensued.

 

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Banana bread with Pecan Streusel
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread, Baking, Snacks, Afternoon Cakes
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 

Serves: 12
 

Adapted from Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop
Makes four small 5-inch loaves or two standard 8-inch loaves.
Ingredients
  • Nutty Streusel
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces( firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup (1½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Banana Bread
  • 2¼ cups (11 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (10½ ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about 1 pound total), peeled and roughly mashed
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces

Instructions
  1. Butter four 5″x3″ loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. Tap out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the Streusel
  3. Pulse all the streusel ingredients in a food processor until coarsely combined. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. If using immediately, just keep in the food processor bowl and refrigerate. The streusel can be kept for up to 5 days.
  4. Make the Banana Bread Batter
  5. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  6. Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer. Mix until well combined and lighter in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and drizzle the oil until just incorporated, then add the banana mash and mix until combined as well. Add the dry ingredients and pecans into the batter in three additions; each time whisking until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Generously sprinkle the tops with streusel. There would be enough for the two big loaves, and more than enough for the three.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes for the smaller loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the bigger loaves, until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Place pans onto wire racks and leave for 20 minutes to cool.
  9. Slide an offset spatula along the sides of each pan and invert the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes
Bread can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or kept in the freezer for up to 2 months if wrapped in a second layer of plastic and placed in freezer-safe resealable bag. Serve at room temperature.

 

Posted in baking, bread, brunch, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, quick & easy2 Comments

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)

The truth is, I’ve had the recipe written for weeks now, but I just never had the chance to take a “proper” photo. In an age when the homemaking and crafts queen gets severely criticized for her bad food photo, dare I post a sub-par representation of this fabulous cake?

Dear readers, I do. I’m channeling Martha. There.

Several people have been waiting for this recipe and all I have is a phone photo taken before the Nth cake was devoured. This is the kind of cake that you bake and it disappears. This shot does not do the grandeur of this stunning cake justice, but this will do for now so people can actually make it.

Sunken Apple Cake

I think this would be wonderful surprise dessert for Thanksgiving. Don’t be deterred by a not-so-great food photo and make sure you give it a try. Happy weekend!

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake, Baking
Cuisine: German
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 

Serves: 8 to 10
 

Ingredients
  • Double asterisks ** indicate the substituted ingredient in the original German recipe
Apple topping
  • 3 medium apples; peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Cake batter

Instructions
Apple topping
  1. Take each piece of apple and using a sharp paring knife cut lengthwise slits ¼-inch apart to create a “fan”.
  2. Place apples in a small bowl and toss with lemon juice and sugar and set aside.
Cake batter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower middle position. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by greasing with butter, lining the bottom and sides with parchment circle and strips, greasing the parchment with butter and lightly dusting with flour. This ensures a cake that is perfectly smooth on the sides and separates from the pan with absolute ease.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Mix together over medium speed in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer) until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for another 10 seconds.
  4. Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in ⅓ increments until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. The batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.
  5. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks and fold a few dollops into the batter to loosen it up, then fold in the rest.
  6. Pour into the springfrom pan and level with a spatula. Carefully place slit apple quarters core side down into the batter, pressing lightly to secure them in place. You can arrange them according to your desired pattern. We place one in the center and have the rest circling it.
  7. Bake in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, but check the cake after 50 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester inserted in a non-apple section comes out clean and the top of the cake (not the apples) is lightly browned.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before unfastening and removing the side of the springform pan. Cool completely before serving.

Notes
This recipe was adapted from the recipe from the German cookbook, “Unser Kochbuch No. 1. Das GU Kochbuch für junge Leute” by Gunhild von der Recke and Annette Wolter

 

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert3 Comments

Lemon Curd Rolls

The holidays have come and gone, and so has the beginning of the new year. Yet, you still didn’t hear from me. I’m sorry. Again. I’ve never really thought I’d be away from blogging this much, but it surely followed the theme of my 2011: There’s always a first time for something. I’ll spare you the excuses. I really am trying to get back in shape, at least when it comes to this website.** So a very late happy holidays (I hope it was memorable) and happy new year (of the dragon) to all of you! I hope we’ll pick up where we’ve left off just like old friends.

Just like old chums, here I am again at odds with Mistress Winter. She vacillates between the sublime, the dreary, and anything depressing or wonderfully surprising in between. Yesterday was dreamy, a touch warm for the season, just the kind of day for last minute lunch dates and making any excuse to go out (coffee run!).

Krystal in the sun.

Krystal the Cat shows her appreciation, lolling on the floor. I'd do the same if I were her. Cats do have quite an enviable lifestyle, don't they?

The sun-worshiping cat and I were relishing every bit of this. I worked on the couch, the glass door ajar to let some fresh air in, computer on my lap, kitty on the area rug an arm’s length away. The radio announcer’s voice echoed from the kitchen, reminding us, “Enjoy the last day of sunshine (for the week), folks.” I did catch a glimpse of the sunset as I walked down Burrard street later in the afternoon to get some gelato, the buildings juxtaposed next to the snow-capped mountains from afar. I can’t complain about the view at all. And today we expect rain. Day after day of rain.

For those of you who don’t live in Vancouver (or the Pacific Northwest, really), let me explain by saying that our rains could be overbearing. I like baking in winter specifically to scare the doldrums away. So for the next few days, I’d like to propose baking some lemon curd rolls:

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Here’s a zesty alternative to a favorite comfort food, the cinnamon rolls. Lemon curd squeezed between soft pillows of yeast-based dough and topped with melting lemon curd cream cheese glaze. It’s a welcome treat even if you’re not a lemon curd fan, and perfect for sharing.

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I’ve made these a few times and we always finish it among family members. I suggest on preparing more as they do go fast. The citrus flavors could be deceiving, not too filling, that sticking to one roll might be a challenge.

If you make the lemon curd yourself (recipe below), you’ll have an extra jar to keep. You can top up the glaze with even more curd, or you can keep it for future consumption. I like having emergency lemon curd at hand. Why not?

So here’s the to the rainy days. I’ll be ready for you.

** Twitter, on the other hand, is another story. It’s easier to share what I’ve been up to in delimited semi-comprehensible outbursts. You can easily ping me there.

LEMON CURD ROLLS

he Lemon Curd Rolls recipe was inspired by my friend Tracy’s recipe for Sticky Lemon Rolls, and the Lemon Curd recipe adapted from the website, Earthbound Chronicles. The recipe for the glaze is a Gourmeted original.

Yields: 12 rolls in a 9”x13” glass or ceramic pan

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup milk, warm (whole, 2% and 1% are ok to use)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft (mayonnaise-like)
  • 4 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • zest of 1 ½ lemons (leave the remaining ½ lemon zest for the filling)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Filling

  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup lemon curd
  • 3 tablespoons butter, soft
  • zest of ½ lemon

Glaze

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup lemon curd** (Recipe included at the end)

Preparation:

1. Prepare the dough with a stand mixer: Place warm milk in the stand mixer bowl and sprinkle with yeast; leave it for 5 minutes. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the butter, sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Add the salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and enough of the remaining flour to create a soft and sticky dough. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you might only need 4 cups of flour in total. Switch mixing with a dough hook once it more or less comes together as one mass; knead for 5 minutes, or until dough is elastic and pliable. You can test by pressing a finger against the dough and it bounces back quickly.

OR Prepare the dough by hand: Stir all the liquid ingredients and sugar in a large bowl using a wooden spoon. Add a cup of flour at a time and mix. Once it comes together to from one big piece of dough, transfer onto a floured surface. Knead by hand for 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle additional flour if the dough gets too sticky.

2. Tuck the dough into one big ball (pinch together at the bottom) and spray or massage with vegetable oil, just enough so the surface doesn’t stick. Turn the dough in the same bowl you used for mixing to grease it. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Leave to rise in a dry and warm area of your kitchen for an hour. You can also place it in your unheated oven.

3. Prepare the filling: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until a thick homogenous paste forms.

4. Form the rolls: Lightly grease a 9”x13” rectangular baking dish with baking spray or butter. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and pat with your fingertip to spread into a large rectangle, about 10” x 15” in size. Spread the butter evenly on top of the dough, leaving at least half an inch space from the edges. Pour the filling and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Roll the dough along its length; pinch the end of the dough with the roll (not the sides where you see the spiral pattern) to keep it from popping open. Cut the dough evenly into 12 rolls using a sharp serrated knife or a length of dental floss by wrapping and tightening it around the dough until it cuts through the dough [see photo here]. You can also use a sewing thread if you like. The string method keeps the dough from flattening out during slicing.

5. Place the rolls cut side up in the baking dish in 3 x 4 arrangement. Cover the dish with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. [Want to bake them later? Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, remove the pan from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour before popping in the oven sans plastic wrap.]

6. Bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 35 to 40 minutes, or until slightly golden on top.

7. Prepare the glaze while the rolls are baking in the oven: Whip the cream cheese with a hand beater or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth before pouring the lemon curd. Beat for a minute, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula at least once.

8. Glaze the rolls right out of the oven. Spread at least half the glaze on the rolls as soon as you get them out of the oven. Save some for topping up individual servings.

Easy Lemon Curd

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest of all the lemons

Preparation:

1. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks, and mix until combined. Pour lemon juice and mix. Resulting mixture will not be homogenous and will have butter curds – don’t worry.

2. Pour into a heavy bottom pan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the curd reaches 170°F. Don’t allow it to boil or it will curdle. It is done when it coats the back of the spoon or spatula, and when you wipe it with your finger it will leave a trail. Transfer to clean bowl and set aside. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth and free of lumps.

3. Transfer into a heatproof glass bowl and cool before using as filling.

Posted in baking, bread, coffee buddy, dessert, snacks7 Comments

Dorie’s Perfection Pound Cake | Look Ma, No Need To Tweak!

March has whizzed by. April is beginning to blur . It has been a very busy springtime.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’re organizing Bake For The Quake, an event where  bakers, collaborative sponsors, and the supportive Vancouver community come together to raise funds for Japan. There’s no question it’s almost like a second job to organize a charity bake sale event and I won’t even pretend for a second that we know what we’re doing, but we are doing the best we can. Just a couple of days ago there was a strong aftershock that rocked Japan at 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, with a few fatalities. Now more than ever, they need our help. So we continue to work hard for this cause. If you’re able and so inclined, please consider donating directly to our fundraising page (it will automatically go directly to Doctors Without Borders). We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word — you might have a friend or family here in Vancouver. Every tweet, link, and word passed along helps. Ah, and we have printable posters for download that would be perfect for posting at your local cafe spot, restaurant, community centre, school, or local community board — just ask for permission first before putting up. :)

Before these all happened, I signed up for an Introduction To Pottery course at the local Shadbolt Centre for the Arts — what this really means is that my schedule for the next 2 weeks is f*****d a balancing act of fragile porcelain. The first class was 3 nights ago and wow, was it ever a humbling experience to make what resembles like mere child’s play:

It doesn’t help that I was practically brain dead from exhaustion. It was a good 3 hours of fortitude, with my patience being counted to the minute. My classmates were a funny bunch, so that is definitely a plus.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing these embarrassing items to you, but I’m hoping that in a few weeks time, just like when I started cooking, baking, and taking photos, it will eventually become better. One just have to stick with it long enough to make progress.

So while my pottery skills leave a lot to be desired or emulated, this Pound Cake recipe by Dorie Greenspan, is true to it’s name: it is perfection. No tweaking necessary.

I couldn’t ask for anything more after a long day if I’m looking for a non-alcoholic happy hour. Pound cake + tea = instant relaxation. Its soft crust and moist buttery cake goes well with jam. Or if it’s that kind of day, even vanilla bean and dark chocolate ice cream.

If you’re looking at your calendar and you have a busy week ahead, my best advice would be to make this on a Saturday and keep it for the week to nibble on. It will last at room temperature for 5 to 7 days and even those tight deadlines and running around like a chicken without a head would melt in an instant as soon as you take a bite of this.

DORIE’S PERFECTION POUND CAKE
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2006)

A tender buttery cake with a soft crust to banish a stressful day. This delightful cake will keep for up to a week at room temperature and is lovely to eat with jams and even ice cream.  - Joy

Yields: one 9”x5” or 8.5”x4.5” pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups cake flour – creates a more tender crumb)
  • 1 teaspoon baking poder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 325°F with the rack positioned at the center of the oven. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or an 8.5″ x4.5″ loaf pan with butter. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or 2 stacked baking sheets.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until mixture is pale and fluffy, about a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and reduce the speed to medium.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes with each interval. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater to create a homogenous mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until flour is in. This can also be done by hand by folding the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  6. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth and level the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check if it is browning too rapidly, and tent a foil over it if so. If your pan is 9″x5″, the cake needs to be baked for a total of 70 to 75 minutes. An 8.5″x4.5″ pan of cake would require a total of about 90 minutes.
  7. The cake is done when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Transfer cake pan onto a cooling rack and let it rest for 30 minutes. Carefully run the back of a bread knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen out the cake before inverting out and propping it right side up directly on the cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Storage: Wrapped in clear plastic wrap, this cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, make-ahead, snacks7 Comments

Danish Water Kringle | A Game in Wrestling with the M-Word

A friend and I were just discussing the virtues of butter. To be more precise, I was oozing with my love for butter and in a mission to convince her (friend, not butter) that it is worth the sacrifice of fat when it comes to baking. Forget about the fat, think of the flavor! Omg, do it for the children. [Hmmm...children of the dairy fat?] Jokes aside, I told her I would rather use real butter and eat in moderation than let the integrity of the recipe suffer.

Oh, here it comes….words I would have to eat.

After all my Hail Butter! Hail Butter! I found another test of my love for it. Imagine seeing the LA Times recipe for Water Kringle and searching for the butter in the recipe and being face-planted with more than half a pound of…M-MM…M-Margarine. And not a single trace of butter.  Oh, my.

What’s a girl who’s never bought it or touched it in over a decade to do? Run out for some before her midnight baking spree? I put on my stubborn hat and told the recipe that it will have to do with butter. And while I was at it, I also took the liberty of omitting the vanilla custard or thick custard crème. Just because…

Sometimes I offer my sacred flours to failure experimentation. Behold, Exhibit A:

Water Kringle Deconstructed

Lightly flavored cinnamon bread with delicious brown butter cinnamon praline never looked so good, yet disappointing and humbling. I didn’t even continue to make the frosting and proceeded to gnaw at my defeat with a cup of coffee. Yes, the filling escaped! ACK!

All the hard work and mess of a counter looked so promising, too.

This weekend, we shall meet again, Danish pastry. I’ll come armed with margarine and custard. If you guys want to bake along with me, the recipe is here.

So what are you planning to make this weekend? Are you trying to conquer a particular recipe like I am?

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments5 Comments

New York Style Crumb Cake

Before I picked up the new “Baked Explorations” cookbook, coffee and crumb cakes meant the same thing to me and I order them faithfully at coffee shops. Color me surprised when I read that there is something called a New York Style Crumb Cake, and it must never, ever, be confused with coffee cake. Honestly, I thought the crumbs were just a matter of preference! Until, of course, I saw the recipe. For sure I thought it must be a joke that the crumb part had more than 2 cups of sugar. Who does that on purpose? During this time of the year when eating healthy seems to be at its height, whoa, I was on sugar death watch alert. But. I trusted the recipe. I gave the authors the benefit of the doubt and let them have it their way with their cake. The sacrificial lamb. And should this had been a failure, you will never hear of it from me because I will give away the book.

As you can tell, it ended well and the crumb cake survived the scrutiny of family and friends, again and again. The crumb was a toss for me — although it was delish, others thought the base cake itself was the true winner and they would have it any day — flavorful, filling and moist even after 3 days. It actually tastes like puto, the light brown steamed rice cake that we eat in the Philippines. I’ve made many variations of this crumb cake and even so far as ‘ruining’ the crumb, slashing it in half and playing with my own ingredients. In all its incarnations in the kitchen, it had withstood the test of many variations. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Because no matter what you prefer, this cake will work for you.

The recipe makes a large cake and begs to be packed on its merry way to a lot of willing bellies. Go ahead, don’t be shy! It’s a total charmer. In fact, yesterday, a soaking wet Vancouver day, I met up with a few friends and gave a few slices to each of them. They were heartily received and from the messages I’ve received today — they were all devoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

Go forth and bake and share! Have a great weekend!

If you’re looking for something beefy to cook this winter weekend: check out my Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice! And get a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef, too!

   Get the recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake

Posted in baking, books and publications, cakes, coffee buddy, sweets20 Comments

Cherry Clafoutis | This Ain’t No Pitted Party

New year, new recipes to conquer. I love trying something new. I’ve been on the lookout for a genuine Black Forest Cake recipe so I can compare it with the bastardized version I grew up with and I found one in a German cookbook I found at the library late last year. For some reason I thought I would need fresh cherries when I saw them at the market. Rarely do I buy fruits that are out of season, but I felt compelled to break my own rules sometimes for the sake of baking expeditions. When I got home and looked at my recipe again I guess I only needed bottled sour cherries! I was left with a rather expensive bag of cherries.

What to do…what to do with more than a pound of cherries? And they weren’t sweet enough to enjoy eating.

I turned to Twitter and sure enough my ever reliable friends had a lot of suggestions. In the end, the cherry clafoutis won.

Chef John pointed me to his video recipe and insisted I leave the pits be. Ken sent me the recipe he uses (from Martha, I believe) and it for pitted cherries, vanilla bean and kirsh (love). I created a compromise clafoutis: using whole cherries with kirsch custard, AND baking a small dish with pitted cherries to test if there really is a different. I also followed John’s method of pre-baking a layer of custard to keep the cherries from sinking down to the bottom of the pan. Brilliant!

Light, fragrant, mildly sweet bites of fluffy custard with fresh bursts of cherry goodness. And I have to say, the unpitted cherry owned the pitted cherry clafoutis by a landslide. Forget for one moment that you will bite into seeds. It’s a tiny price to pay for the great flavor.

Oh, and by all means, please use fresh vanilla beans if you can. Absolutely divine.

I can’t wait to bake more! Shall we make a pact and get ready to bake clafoutis come cherry season? Next time, I’ll take Barbara‘s recommendation and try Julia Child’s recipe. I’m also counting on the Tartine recipe I have from their book as well!

   Get the recipe for the Cherry Clafoutis

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, healthier choices5 Comments

Chocolate Donuts and a Donut Pan Giveaway!

Oh, boy. There are no excuses. I didn’t have time. The holidays just crept up on me and I didn’t even get a chance to do my annual holiday mail signup! I’ll set up a New Year’s one — that’s the plan. :) What little extra time I have, here it is…in Vegas before my flight back in the cold north.

I love my donut pan that’s about the size of a quarter baking sheet. I’ve always wanted to bake donuts, but my prior experience with a popular recipe I found online was a complete disaster. A bread is NOT a doughnut. These ones though were cake-y (my preference). They dry up after a day, BUT if you enjoy it the day of, it’s a pleasure to eat.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

And I did mention it’s baked, right? No need to deep fry!

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

I have to “blame” my fellow Leo, Tracy of Shutterbean.com for luring me with her donuts a few months ago. Hey, no regrets, I’m baking these babies again soon for the holidays. Perhaps I’ll try a more fruity version since I already have so much chocolate in mind.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Mocha Frosting

The recipe came from the packaging of the donut pan, and I’m glad it worked out for me. Hope it does for you, too!

And I know what you’re thinking: “But I don’t have that pan, Joy!” So here’s what I’ll do: I’m giving a pan each to TWO lucky winners. ‘ll keep the rules simple: just leave a comment or (re)tweet this post, and I’ll be picking the 2 winners on the 27th of December. This is only open to those with US and Canada mailing addresses because shipping would be too expensive outside of North America. I feel so bad about this, but next time I’ll have something else for international readers.

Oh, and if you think the donut pan will be rarely used in your kitchen aside from donuts, fear not! Make donut shaped rice crispies, small portion donut-shaped brioche french toast with the hole filled up with fruits, donut-shaped granola bars, and so much more. I love “playing” with food, and this is no different. It won’t be a white elephant in your kitchen, I promise.

Hopefully I’ll post again before Christmas. :) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Chocolate Cake Donuts
Adapted from the Norpro recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F with the rack in the middle. Spray a small donut pan with cooking oil.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl, until thick, scraping the sides at least once.
  4. Combine milk and butter in a small bowl. Pour and combine with the egg mixture alternately with the flour mixture in 3 increments, until smooth and soft.
  5. Fill donut pan 2/3 full for each donut. Bake for 8 minutes until the donut tops dome up. Cool in the tray propped on a cooling rack and carefully remove after 5 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  6. Frost with your choice of icing or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a lightly sweet treat.

Posted in baking, chocolate, coffee buddy, dessert, giveaways, snacks25 Comments

Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first cake I ever baked in North America was carrot cake. I remembered then that we only had a fine grater, and can you image grating so many cups of carrot through that? Laborious! I kept thinking that it better be good, while staring at my orange-soaked hands. Guilty of mass carrot murder. But, you know, we love carrot cakes and this is what you make for the love of it.

What makes this different and so much better than my previous attempts was that it’s surprisingly light, and still amazingly good. Sometimes, a heavy carrot cake just puts me off because I can only have a couple of bites and I feel like that’s it for me for the rest of the month.

But this…this I can eat again and again.

Once you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s great for Fall or anytime of the year, really. :-)

Get the recipe for the Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in baking, cakes, cheese, coffee buddy12 Comments

Mocha Cake ala Goldilocks

Goldilocks is a well-known institution of baked goods and pastries in the Philippines. Even though I can easily go to their Vancouver location to get my mocha cake fix, I’ve always dreamed of baking a copycat so I can enjoy it anytime at home and knowing the ingredients in the cake I’m eating.

Finally, this summer, I set out to do just that. I got insanely lucky on my first try of the series and the flavor and texture was right on. My family declared it identical to (and even better than) Goldilocks. It was too good to be true and I can tell you that I got teary eyed on the final tasting of the buttercream after tweaking the flavors. Just to be sure, I’ve baked it numerous times since that first time. It helps that another batch of cake is requested before the current one gets eaten, so I don’t have to bury my face in mocha cake. Hah! One cake is just not enough. In fact, I’ve been asked not to post it on the blog because it really does taste like the real thing.  However, what kind of food blogger am I if, after all the testing and perfecting, I don’t share it? That pretty much defeats my purpose for this site.

So here it is, one item off my To-Cook-and-Bake-From-Scratch list:

This was my sister-in-law’s birthday cake.

The mocha cake from Goldilocks defined my love for cakes at an early age. What cake do I want for my birthday? Goldilocks mocha cake please!

Back in university, whenever I felt down, all I needed was a quick jeepney ride to Philcoa to order a half roll of mocha cake and — gasp — finish most of it myself. [Either that, or Betty's Sans Rival.] I was shameless and guiltless in my 5 foot frame and in the 90-pound mark then. These days, I don’t want to think about that, but I still want to a slice of mocha cake or two with my cup of coffee.

The cake is light, fluffy, and soft, and the icing is a luscious combination of extra smooth coffee and cocoa, buttery but not greasy. To get the authentic taste, you will need to use Nescafe coffee granules. You can also use espresso granules (= coffee taste is bolder and more pronounced) or Starbucks VIA Italian roast (=icing has bitter and sour notes), but it’s up to you if you want to use what you have available. You will also need amaretto, an Italian almond liqueur to finish off the flavor and must not be skipped. I’ve never tried to substitute it with anything, so I cannot advise you on that for now. I’ll try making this with almond extract next time and see if that can be used!

Please enjoy!

The recipe can be made into a two-layer 9-inch round cake or a roll. I’ve included instructions for the roll in the recipe Notes if you want to take a stab at it.

   Get the recipe for the Mocha Cake ala Goldilocks

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, Filipino dishes, original Gourmeted recipe304 Comments