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*May/June 2010 COTM - GOURMET: Breakfast and Breads, Sweets

Welcome to our May and June 2010 COTM, Gourmet Today: More Than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from the following chapters:

Breakfast and Breads
Cookies, Bars, and Confections
Cakes
Pies, Tarts, and Pastries
Fruit Desserts
Puddings, Custards, Mousses, and Soufflés
Frozen Desserts and Sweet Sauces

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake, p 727

    I have to admit that I haven't tried this yet, but it looks nice! I'm about to take it to work, so will let you all know how it tastes later!

    Anyhow, fairly simple to put together. Melt butter, brewed coffee, cocoa powder and American whiskey in a pan. Whisk until butter is melted, then remove from heat and add sugar and whisk until dissolved. Transfer into a large bowl and leave to cool for 10 mins or so. Meanwhile, combine A/P flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk two large egs with 1 tsp of vanilla extract and add to chocolate mixture, whisking until just combined. Then add flour mixture, again whisking until just combined. Put into a prepared bundt tin which you have greased and dusted with cocoa and bake in at 325F for 40-50 mins or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

    This looks good, but it didn't rise as much as I expected it to. That may be user error - as a European (sort of) I'm really not that comfortable with baking by volume rather than weight so I may not have had the exact quantities of sugar and flour. Also I didn't have large egss so used three medium. Also it says not to use Dutch-process cocoa powder - as I'm not sure what that is and we don't have it to my knowledge in the UK, I used the regular stuff I had in the cupboard. I also used bog standard bourbon - we are Scotch drinkers in this house (or Mr GG is) and I only keep a cheap bourbon for cooking. Plus I don't think Mr GG would have allowed me to use any of his expensive range of single malts!

    So, it's coming to work with me and I'll let you know what me and the co-workers think. Usually they're just pathetically grateful for any kind of cake, but I will try to extract honest opinions!

    11 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      You know, I'm betting you do have Dutch-process cocoa, as that is the standard for the European brands, such as Callebaut, Valrhona, etc. It means the cocoa is alkalized to reduce its acid and make it smoother. Here in the US, the label will often say "cocoa processed with alkali."

      Baking soda is used with natural (non-alkalized) cocoa because the cocoa is acidic. That cake sounds as if it should be delicious, based on the ingredients.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        OK - so it seems that my cocoa was probably the Dutch-processed kind, which the recipe specifically says not to use. How will that effect the result?

        ETA - cake now sampled, and it's pretty good. Dense and fudgy, with the flavour of the whiskey coming through nicely. It would be nice for dessert with whipped cream, as it says in the book. Co-workers also happy. :-)

      2. re: greedygirl

        This is another long time favorite of ours. I just LOVE this cake, and it really is easy and fast to put together. I"m so sorry it didn't totally work out for you, gg! I probably make it about 3-4 times a year. Always better the day after, and yes, a bit of whipped cream never hurts. I kind of love that whiskey/chocolate combination, and I do love how moist this cake is.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I think it worked out fine, actually, although I am a bit confused about the whole Dutch process cocoa thing! Should I have left out the baking soda, do you think (and that is the same as baking powder, right)? It was also the first time I'd made a bundt cake and
          I don't think they rise that much anyway. Isn't it supposed to be pretty moist and dense?

          1. re: greedygirl

            Definitely moist and dense. Almost fudgey, although that is pushing it. But it is a dense cake.

            Sorry I can't help with the whole dutch process business. I don't have a clue what the difference is!

            1. re: greedygirl

              Hi GG--Dutch process cocoa is processed with alkali to reduce its acidity and deepen its color. Most European cocoa is this kind. Non-dutched cocoa, being more acidic, is often paired with baking soda (an alkali) because the acid and the alkali react and make bubbles, which make the baked thing rise. Dutched cocoa usually is used with baking powder, which contains baking soda and an acid (often tartaric acid) and which will make bubbles all by itself when it gets wet.

              1. re: heidipie

                That's very helpful, thanks. Looks like my mistake of thinking baking soda was baking powder in the UK was a lucky one!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Easy way to remember what cocoa goes with which leavening: the "P" rule, for Dutched Process and baking Powder.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    Wait, I don't know this rule. Can you please clarify? Are you saying when a recipe calls for baking Powder and cocoa, it must mean Dutched Process cocoa?

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Yes, "P" for processed (as in Dutched) and powder, and yes, recipes containing baking powder use Dutched cocoa. Heidipie outlines it perfectly upthread.

                      You can sub natural cocoa for Dutched to a certain (small) amount in recipes, but not the other way around, or without the addition of an acid. So "must mean" can be intrepreted as "mostly mean."

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        I like that mnemonic device! Thanks!

                        ~TDQ

        2. Rhubarb-strawberry pudding cake (p. 726)

          This is a pleasant and easy to make tea cake. Big fan of rhubarb and strawberry together. My only warning on this is that it doesn't last long - a day or two at most.

          17 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            We must be on the same cake wavelength as I'm going to make this soon as rhubarb is in season over here! Love rhubarb but never tried it with strawberries, which does sound good. I made rhubarb and raspberry jam the other day and that combo worked well.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Over here strawberry rhubarb jam is very popular. I hope you like the cake (but do eat it fast!).

              One time I had a rhubarb vanilla jam in France and absolutely loved it. Haven't been able to find anything similar since (and I'm not a jammer).

              1. re: greedygirl

                The problem I have with rhubarb and strawberries as a combo is that, where I live, they aren't in season at the same time. Rhubarb comes up in spring and starts to wilt as soon as it gets hot. Strawberries don't come until mid-summer or so.

                But, I do love the way they taste together, as long as you have frozen one or the other to supplement whichever one happens to be fresh at the time.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents. But they react differently with different ingredients. There's a bit of chemistry involved. Frankly, that's why when baking precision is important, I think.

                  Here's a good explanation:
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baking_p...

                  1. re: Gio

                    I knew someone here would know the answer!

                    1. re: Gio

                      We don't have baking soda in the UK. We have baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. I'm even more confused now!

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          It's a miracle this cake turned out so well, given that I used baking powder not bicarb, and probably Dutch process cocoa powder as well!

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            What I'm more concerned about is a bunch of BBC employees singing raunchy songs and mooning passersby as they munch on their bourbon cake.

                            I know, I know, the liquor cooks out, but I liked the image.

                        2. re: greedygirl

                          gg, do you happen to know if bicarbonate of soda is "bread soda"? My recipe for sticky toffee pudding that I got from a country house in Ireland says bread soda, but I assumed that it was bicarb because of Irish Soda Bread being made with bicarb. Do you have any experience with this term?

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Sorry roxlet, but I've never heard of bread soda before. I think you're probably right though.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Bread soda = bicarbonate of soda....

                              1. re: roxlet

                                roxlet, I've never tasted Sticky Toffee Pudding, but it seems to be a favourite British dessert. Have you made it a lot, and is that recipe "from a country house in Ireland" (that sounds so romantic) a favourite of yours that you would share? It sounds like it must be good considering the source.

                                1. re: Lotti

                                  Lotti, it is a fantastic recipe that I have previously posted on CH, but here it is again.

                                  STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

                                  For the cake
                                  
8 ounces (225g/generous 1 cup) chopped dates


                                  ½ pint (300ml/1¼ cups) brewed tea


                                  4 ozs. (110g/1 stick) unsalted butter


                                  6 ozs. (170g/scant 1 cup) castor (superfine) sugar


                                  3 eggs


                                  8 ozs. (225g/scant 1½ cups) self-rising flour


                                  1 rounded teaspoon bread soda (baking soda)


                                  1 teaspoon vanilla essence


                                  1 teaspoon Espresso coffee or 2-3 teaspoons instant espresso
                                  Hot toffee sauce

                                  4 ozs. (100g/1 stick) butter


                                  6 ozs. (170g/3/4 cup) dark brown sugar


                                  4 ozs. (110g/generous ½ cup) granulated sugar


                                  10 ozs (285g/3/4 cup) golden syrup


                                  8 fl. ozs. (225 ml/1 cup) heavy cream

                                  ½ teaspoon vanilla essence


                                  8-inch (20.5cm) spring form tin with removable base.
Set the oven to 350 degrees.
                                  Soak the dates in hot tea for 15 minutes. Brush the cake tin with oil, flour, then put oiled parchment on the base.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then mix in the sifted flour. Add the baking soda, vanilla essence and coffee to the date tea and stir this into the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan, and cook for 1-1½ hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.
To make the sauce, put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from heat, and gradually stir in the cream and vanilla. Put back on the heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.
To serve, pour some hot sauce around the cake and pour some additional sauce over the top. Put the remainder in a sauceboat, and serve with the pudding as well as softly whipped cream.

                                  Several of my friends have adopted this as their holiday recipe -- to great acclaim.

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    Holy cow, I'm always always looking for a good recipe. I think you posted this for me once before, and then things got crazy and I wasn't able to make it, but I *will* make it this time. One of my favorite things about being in the UK is having this for dessert. I love it. Thank you so much.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Oh, make it! You won't be sorry!

                                    2. re: roxlet

                                      Thank you so much roxlet. I bet there's a nice story behind how you got the recipe too. I've never been to Ireland, but just your description that it's from "a country house in Ireland" brings wonderful daydreams. I can't wait to try the recipe. Again, thank you for sharing it.

                        3. Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies, p 681

                          They were really, really good! A little too sweet though so I would cut back on the sugar next time. Maybe by omitting the granulated sugar. The only changes I made to the recipe were; used parchment instead of greased cookie sheets, made smaller cookies w an ice cream scoop which yielded a larger number of regularly sized cookies. (4 doz vs 2 dozen) and baked for ~15 minutes @ a bit lower temp of 360. Will definately make again.

                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                          1. Chocolate Babka, p 675

                            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                            This was a hit! The dough was very easy indeed, although I should have added a bit more flour. (It's hard to tell where "very soft and sticky" ends, and "TOO" soft and sticky begins.) That stickiness made the babka very light, although more difficult to roll and shape. Next time I might chill the dough before rolling.

                            Procedure: make a rich brioche-style yeast dough in the mixer, let rise, roll out, spread with lots of butter, sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate, sprinkle with sugar, roll up, twist, place in bread pans, rise, bake.

                            I made one-half recipe, and I'm sorry now that I didn't make two loaves. It wasn't a tall, beautiful loaf, but it was a welcome breakfast treat.

                             
                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Channa

                              That looks delicious, much better than the lesser babka, cinammon, LOL

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dinn...

                              1. re: yamalam

                                "I beg your pardon? Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People
                                love cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and
                                pepper. Anytime anyone says, 'Oh, this is so good. What's in it?' The
                                answer invariably comes back, Cinnamon. Cinnamon. Again and again.
                                Lesser babka - I think not."

                                Heh, heh, I vote for chocolate!

                                1. re: Channa

                                  Channa, I think yamalam was making reference to a Seinfeld episode in which Elaine dubbed cinnamon babka "the lesser babka."

                                  1. re: amyzan

                                    And what Channa quoted above is Jerry's reply to Elaine's comment that cinnamon is "the lesser babka."

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Oh, hilarious! I totally missed that, Joan!

                              2. re: Channa

                                Áh, memories of Seinfeld.

                                BTW, it's a bit off topic, but there's a Seinfeld food mentions thread that's hilarious and nostalgic.

                                I'd forgotten about the "lesser babka"!

                              3. Breakfast Burritos, pp. 655-6, I've made at least twice so far. I used a chicken chorizo or maybe it was turkey andouille (?), but at any rate, they were delicious and well received. Oh, and one time I subbed sweet potato for the boiling potato, and I think will continue to make it that way. The moistness and flavor of the sweet potato is just great with the spicy sausage and creamy, melting cheese and cool, rich avocado. A great combo for a savory breakfast or brunch. Heck, I think we'd eat these for dinner...

                                Seltzer waffles, pp. 661-2, is the only recipe from the book so far that was a dud for us. I usually make overnight yeasted waffles, and these just don't compare. They were heavy and cakey in comparison to yeasted waffles, though probably they're much better than any sweet milk recipe. I also think that because my waffle iron is nonstick, these don't crisp as well as they would in a cast iron waffler. So, if you have cast iron or maybe even a belgian style iron, this recipe might be worth a try. But, in a nonstick standard waffler, bleh.

                                Sicilian Fig Cookies, pp. 696-7, I still have a dozen frozen. The recipe doesn't note that they freeze well, which they do, as long as you thaw on sheets before baking. These are adult cookies, tasting strongly of brandy. I think I actually used cognac, which might account for their alcoholic flavor. The dried figs were pretty dried out, so that might be part of it, as well. I sprinkled these with pearl sugar in place of the nonpareils. Delicious.

                                Applesauce Pecan Cake, p. 715, will be a keeper, clearly. This reminds me so much of snack cakes my mom made after school when I was a kid. Not too sweet and deliciously moist, with crunch from the toasted pecans, no frosting or even powdered sugar sprinkle needed.

                                Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting, pp. 740-1, are moist and pretty standard carrot cake, but what really shines here is the frosting. The addition of a bit of full flavored molasses to cream cheese and butter frosting is truly inspired. It's a pretty soft frosting, with only 2 Tbsp. confection sugar, but just fantastic in flavor, not very sweet, tangy with that slightly bitter edge. I'll be adding molasses to cream cheese frosting from now on, for red velvet cake, for pecan cake. I think you'd need more sugar for a frosting on a 9 inch cake, though, to help it hold its shape and not slide off the cake rounds. That would take some experimentation.

                                Yogurt Mousse with Apricot Sauce, pp. 841-2, I made without the sauce. (Apricots have a very short season here. They're usually so unripe in the markets I'm forced to roast them to bring out the flavor.) This mousse is a divine adult dessert. I just don't think most kids will enjoy this unless they usually eat plain Greek style yogurt, because it's not a terribly sweet recipe. Of course, that opinion is tempered by the fact we had it without the fruit sauce, so bear that in mind if your kids are adventurous eaters. It may go over with the apricot sauce. Gelatin can be a bit daunting if it's unfamiliar, but the instructions here are pretty good. I would recommend letting the gelatin powder hydrate for a full five minutes, to take into account anyone not sprinkling it over the milk evenly, etc. Just to be safe. Because if you strain out a big lump of gelatin, the texture might be a bit soft. I like their technique here, and though it might seem a bit of a pain, it really does yield a great smooth texture. I just love vanilla and lemon together. My mom ate two of these after dinner, if that tells you anything!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: amyzan

                                  Wow! Great post. You are amazing, amyzan!