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applesauce cake

adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

applesauce cake

adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, separated (1/4 cup flour set aside)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce (if you have sweetened applesauce, just reduce the brown sugar slightly)
  • powdered sugar to decorate

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. butter and flour two loaf pans.

in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. add eggs one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, stop mixer and scrape down sides, and beat a bit longer until completely mixed.

toss raisins in 1/4 cup flour in a small mixing bowl and set aside. add 1 cup flour to mixture in mixer, then 1 cup applesauce, and repeat. stop mixer, scrape down sides, start again and continue to mix for another minute, then add flour-coated raisins and mix just until evenly distributed. stop mixer, and divide batter between loaf pans. place in middle of oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until done (a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). cool in pans on wire racks until completely cooled, then turn out onto plates and dust with powdered sugar to decorate.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

no-knead bread by ingredient weight

I did a cursory google search for "no knead bread ingredients by weight," but didn't find a good reference for the standard (3.5 cups/flour) loaf I usually make, so I weighed it out as I measured it tonight. in case anyone else here also prefers to bake by ingredient weight, here's what I came up with:

  • flour (bread flour or all-purpose): 15-3/4 oz or 450 grams
  • water: 1 oz 1-1/4or 320 grams
  • kosher salt (I use Diamond Kosher salt, which measures a bit differently than Morton's): 1/8 oz or 7 grams
  • active dry yeast (I use Red Star): 1/4 teaspoon (don't bother trying to weigh that; it won't register) 

it's so much simpler to just put the bowl on my scale, zero it out, put in the flour, zero it out, put in the water, zero it out, etc., plus I don't have to wash measuring cups that way. so laziness is my main motivator.

Monday, July 11, 2016

top shelf oatmeal muffins

extra cinnamon + granola topped variation

there is a bakery in Austin that makes what I consider to be the perfect oatmeal muffin -- kind of plain, lightly sweet, a bit chewy with old-fashioned oats -- nothing fancy, but just right. I think I've come very close to cracking the recipes here. these are just as good, if not just a teeny bit better, in my humble opinion. super-easy to make. give 'em a try!

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant!)
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. line muffin pan with paper liners (or butter and flour thoroughly if not using liners. add brown sugar and butter to the mixer, and start blending. add eggs one at a time, then add oats and buttermilk. add flour, kosher salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking powder, and finish mixing when just combined (don't overmix). divide mixture into muffin pan wells and bake for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown on top, and done inside (a clean toothpick emerges without batter or crumbs stuck to it). cool on a wire rack and consume in good health! I used to pay over $1 per muffin; this entire batch of 12 muffins cost around $3 total.

variations -- any one or two of these would work well, or even all at once! 
  • substitute yogurt thinned with water or milk to buttermilk consistency
  • use a full teaspoon of cinnamon and add 1/3 cup raisins (golden raisins are especially nice here)
  • add the zest of 1/2 an orange and add 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • before baking, top each muffin with about 1 teaspoon granola

Saturday, July 09, 2016

fully-loaded everyday granola

my favorite way to eat this delicious granola is in a bowl of Greek yogurt, with lots of chopped fresh fruit added, along with a drizzle of honey. it's also fantastic on ice cream.
  • 42 ounce* (large) canister old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • zest of 4 oranges (organic preferred)
  • 1 ½ cups extra virgin coconut oil (refined or unrefined; whatever you prefer)
  • 2 cups sweetener (any combination of maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, etc. -- I typically use 1 ½ cups brown sugar and ½ cup honey)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, tart cherries, blueberries, apples, etc., in any combination), chopped if they’re larger than cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cup toasted nuts (slivered or flaked almonds, chopped pecans, etc., in any combination)
  • ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
preheat oven to 275 degrees F. line two half-sheet pans (or the equivalent of large baking pans) with parchment paper or foil. place oats and coconut in a large bowl and mix. in large (quart size or larger) glass bowl or measuring cup, combine coconut oil, orange zest, sweetener, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and microwave for about 3 minutes (alternatively, cook over medium-low heat in medium saucepan, stirring constantly, until all sweetener and oil are melted and warm -- do not boil). pour the oil/sweetener mixture over the oat mixture and combine thoroughly. spread out on parchment-lined or silpat-lined half-sheet pans in an even layer and place in oven for 60 minutes, stirring mixture every 20 minutes & rotating pans on shelves for even toasting. it will turn light golden brown near the end, but won’t crisp up until it starts to cool.

while granola is baking, toast each type of nut and/or seed used individually, in a skillet with a bit of coconut oil, until done to your taste -- do NOT allow them to burn! add them to the bowl that held the oat mixture, and add in the dried fruits and combine.
when oats are done, allow pans to cool on wire racks for a few minutes. tip oats into the bowl with dried fruits and nuts and allow to rest and cool for a few more minutes while you clean the baking sheets (if you let it sit in the baking sheets/pans, it really sticks to them and it's hard to get it all out). stir it all together, let cool completely, and then pack into two gallon-size ziplock bags. I always save an oat container from the previous time and pack the ziplocks in the oat containers to keep them intact.

*note: it’s fine to pull out 1-2 cups of oats to use in a recipe before making granola -- it will come out about the same. I usually take out around 1 ½ cups oats to make a batch of oatmeal muffins.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

cornmeal battered fried tofu for tofu tacos

  • 1 pound firm ("hard") tofu, cotton-type (not silken), cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 1 quart peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (tapioca starch works here, too -- you may need a bit more to get the right batter consistency)
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (or just use another 1/4 cup cornstarch; I like potato starch's lightness but it's not essential if you don't have it on hand)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
line a half-sheet pan (or any large, shallow baking dish) with paper towels or clean, lint-free kitchen towels. lay out the tofu cubes evenly, then cover with more paper towels or another clean kitchen towel. place another half-sheet pan (or similarly-sized large, flat dish) on top, then add a heavy bowl, books, or a few bricks to weight the tofu down. set that aside for about 30 minutes to press out excess water.

heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large wok or french oven. combine the water, cornmeal, corn starch, potato starch (if used), 1/4 cup of the flour, baking powder, salt, onion powder, paprika and ground cumin in a large bowl, and whisk thoroughly. the batter should be slightly thicker than heavy cream (or latex paint); add a bit more flour if needed. don't let it get as thick as muffin batter, though, or it will be too coat the tofu too thickly and won't cook up right. tip the tofu pieces into the batter and toss them gently with your fingers to coat thoroughly.

when oil is hot, add the battered tofu carefully, lifting out one piece at a time with your fingers (which will automatically let excess batter drip back into the bowl). don't over-crowd the pieces in the oil -- allow a bit of room between the pieces (in my large French oven, it takes about three batches to fry all the tofu). once you've added enough pieces, set a timer for 5 minutes, and occasionally stir through & break apart any pieces that stick together while frying. when done, scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on a half-sheet pan (or other similar vessel) lined with clean, dry paper towels or kitchen towels.

tomatillo salsa verde

  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, washed and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 3-6 seeded, diced hot fresh chiles (a mix of jalapenos, serranos, salsarific, or any other fresh, hot chiles would be welcome. habaneros and/or scotch bonnets would also be good, but be careful not to make it too hot), depending on heat level desired
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 juicy lime), to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste, if needed)
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
in a medium saucepan, saute the scallions in the olive oil with a small pinch of salt, over medium-high heat, until scallions are lightly golden brown and a bit softened. add the tomatillo chunks and water, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover. simmer for about 5 minutes; until tomatillos are dull green and a bit softened. remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (if desired, speed up cooling by setting saucepan in a large bowl of ice and water). pour the tomatillos into a blender and add the chiles, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and all of the cilantro; blend until smooth and flecked with dark green chiles and bright green bits of cilantro. taste and add lime juice and/or salt if needed. refrigerate.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

fluffy, ultra-light pancakes

this pancake batter relies heavily on the interaction between acidic buttermilk and alkaline baking soda for leavening, so it needs to be cooked right away. also, the batter will puff up a bit in the bowl, so be sure to leave a little room for that! they will come out light and tender, like clouds, with slightly crisp edges.

makes approximately 10 pancakes, depending on size

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 cups buttermilk (stir, but don't shake before measuring! if you shake it, it gets bubbly and doesn't measure right)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (less if you're using fine salt -- try 1/2 teaspoon to start)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (measured by spooning the flour into the cup measure and leveling off with a knife -- how you measure the flour is very important! don't dip the measure into the flour and level off -- you'll get a lot more flour and the batter will be too thick)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

either pour the melted butter into a medium-large bowl for the batter, or microwave the butter in the bowl to melt it. whisk in the buttermilk, then the eggs, sugar and salt. pour in all the flour, baking powder, and baking soda at once, then whisk in. the batter will form bubbles and foam up a bit -- don't over-mix! you don't want to lose the bubbles. a few lumps are fine. do evaluate the batter to see if it's the right consistency -- add a bit more buttermilk or regular milk if you need to thin it.

to cook your pancakes, heat a griddle or skillet (I like to do two at a time; you do what works best for you!) over medium heat. quickly run the end of a stick of butter over the surface of the hot skillet -- you don't want a lot in there, just a bit. it should foam up immediately, but not burn (adjust the heat if needed). add a scoop of batter (1/2 cup to 2/3 cup per pancake is what I do) and let pancake cook until the edges are set, the bubbles near the edges are set and open at the top, and you can see bubbles throughout the whole pancake. flip with a spatula and check how brown the surface is -- adjust heat if needed. allow the second side to cook for around 1 minute -- to check for doneness, lightly press the edges and middle of the pancake to see if it springs back a bit. if it does, it's done. remove from skillet to a plate, butter the skillet again and continue cooking, stacking them up until you've finished the batter. relax and enjoy with a bit of maple syrup and fresh fruit.

Friday, March 04, 2016

traditional yeast-raised waffles

adapted from smitten kitchen's Essential Raised Waffles, where it was "adapted, only in language from Marion Cunningham's Breakfast Book, where it was adapted from an old Fanny Farmer cookbook" and so on.

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (just shy of 1 packet -- in fact, if you're using the packets, just use the full amount)
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (the smaller amount if you're using Morton's, all the way up to 2 full teaspoons if you're using Diamond Kosher salt) (and if you're using fine sea salt or table salt, start with 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (measured by spooning the flour into the measuring cup and leveling off with a knife -- the way you measure flour makes a big difference!)
  • 3 eggs, yolks & whites separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • *optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla, a bit of grated lemon zest, or a few scrapings of fresh nutmeg -- I added a teaspoon of ground Tahitian vanilla bean and it was subtle and delicious; I highly recommend it! you don't want to actually flavor (overwhelm) the waffle batter; just enhance it -- the overnight fermentation gives these waffles plenty of delicious flavor of their own.
the night before you want to make waffles, fetch a large, heavy bowl (that will help keep the batter a consistent temperature through the overnight rise) and use it to proof the yeast in the warm water. add the milk, melted butter, salt, brown sugar, and 2-1/2 cups of the flour, whisking thoroughly to combine. this should yield a fairly dense batter that resists the whisk a bit -- less liquid-y than a pancake batter. if needed, add more flour in 1-tablespoon increments until the batter reaches the proper consistency: thicker than cake batter, much thinner than bread dough, but with qualities of each. as you combine it, you should see the gluten threads forming while you stir. once you achieve the perfect consistency, incorporate another tablespoon of flour, scrape down the sides of the bowl neatly and cover tightly with plastic wrap. you want that extra bit of flour because the batter will soften as it ferments and rises overnight. now it's time to get some sleep. don't worry about the batter being out on the counter overnight, unless you live in an inferno -- if you do, you'll probably need to ferment it in the refrigerator to keep the demons away -- but unfortunately, you'll lose some flavor from doing so. as long as it's below 80 degrees F in your kitchen at night, this dough will ferment safely and deliciously out on the counter.

the next morning, be happy that you used a truly large bowl, as your batter will no doubt have risen right to the top, bubbling away. get your waffle iron out, butter or oil the plates and get it heating. separate the egg yolks from the whites, and stir the yolks into your batter, along with the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and any flavoring (vanilla!, lemon zest, nutmeg, etc.) you're adding. beat the whites to firm, glossy, but not stiff peaks, and gently fold into the batter. if you think the batter's too stiff/dense/heavy to accept the egg whites easily, you have a few options: you can whisk in a bit of milk first, you can take 1/4 of the beaten egg whites and whisk those into the batter (without fussing over deflating them) to lighten it, or you can both add the bit of extra milk and whisk in 1/4 of the egg whites, all to achieve a smooth batter to which you can then easily and gently fold in the remaining beaten egg white, yielding a gloriously light batter that you just know is right.

you, my friend, are ready to waffle. heat your oven to 200 degrees F. depending on your waffle iron, scoop up the appropriate amount of batter (for example, my Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker utilizes a heaping 3/4 measuring cup of this particular batter per waffle -- you don't necessarily want to fill the waffle mold; you have to allow room for the batter to rise, and this one rises a fair amount). plop the batter into the center of the hot waffle iron and spread around just a bit, then close it and set the timer. if you have a waffle iron that flips (like mine), then go ahead and flip it just for kicks. I'm not convinced it has any real effect on cooking simple waffles like these, but it can't hurt and it makes me feel fancy, so what the heck. make note of the time, and cook the waffle until the steam is almost done coming out of the waffle iron. open the iron, gently dislodge the waffle with a fork, and cut through a piece to make sure it's done all the way through. if not, pop it back in and close it up for 30 seconds or so. once it's done, make note of the total time required to cook the waffle -- now, you can just set the timer for each subsequent waffle. just as each waffle iron is different, each waffle batter recipe is different, and what worked for last week's baking soda-raised cornmeal waffles (3 minutes 15 seconds in my waffle maker) might not be what this particular waffle recipe needs (3 minutes and 30 seconds) to cook them perfectly.

as each waffle is done, relocate it to a heatproof pie plate/baking sheet/etc. that you have cleverly put in your pre-heated oven. this is how you'll keep all the waffles warm while you crank them out; how clever of you! butter or oil the waffle iron every 2-3 waffles (more often if needed) as you go along and crank 'em out.

serve these delicious bits of heaven with unsalted butter, freshly-made strawberry preserves or sliced fresh strawberries, whipped cream or mascarpone or creme fraiche, maple syrup, honey, or anything else you'd like. sigh in pleasure as you enjoy them and accept any well-deserved and hard-earned complements.

variation: reduce the brown sugar to 2 teaspoons (just enough to keep the yeast happy) and leave out any sweet flavorings like vanilla, lemon zest, etc. instead, in hot butter or bacon fat, saute 2-3 de-seeded, finely diced fresh jalapenos and 3-4 finely chopped green onions until peppers are softened, onions are translucent and both are browning around the edges. stir that into the batter and add a nice cupful of grated sharp cheddar cheese. if you want to gild the lily further, throw in the freshly cut kernels from 1-2 ears of fresh corn. cook the waffles the same way as above and serve alongside roasted ham or fried chicken, with chipotle honey butter on the side. now you're livin' the good life.