November 2011 COTM: Gourmet II: Breads and Crackers; Breakfast and Brunch
Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about breads and crackers and breakfast and brunch.
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Coffee Coffee Cake with Espresso Glaze, p.644
It's a coffee cake! It's a coffee-flavored cake! It's both! This is a lovely cake if you are a fan of coffee-flavored treats, and I most certainly am. The coffee flavor of the cake is reinforced by the stronger flavor of the glaze. Very moist, with a nice crumb.
It's what I'd guess is a pretty typical sour cream coffee cake batter, with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt, with the twist that you separate a third of the batter and stir in 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water. I made a few minor substitutions: I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream; cut the sugar by 25%; and because I had a split vanilla bean hanging out in the fridge that had recently spent six weeks infusing a jar of spiced coffee liqueur, I scraped the seeds out and added them in lieu of half the vanilla extract called for. The glaze is powdered sugar and more instant espresso dissolved in brewed coffee, but I used instant espresso dissolved in just a bit of water, then thinned with milk (so I guess mine was a cappuccino glaze).
The recipe also isn't intended to make a marble cake. It calls for a 6-cup bundt pan, and a note says you can double it and bake it in a 12-cup pan; you're to make three layers of batter, with the coffee batter the middle layer. I don't have a 6-cup bundt pan and wasn't interested in doubling it, so I baked it in a 9-inch springform pan. I spread about two-thirds of the vanilla batter in the bottom of the pan, spread the coffee batter on top of that, then dolloped the rest of the vanilla on top, ran a knife through to marble it, and smoothed it. It baked up beautifully in about 40 minutes.
Maple Apricot [and Cranberry] Granola, p. 626
As granola is a staple in our house, where, Sundays excepted, breakfast rarely involves the stove or oven, every now and again I deviate from my usual blend. So, last evening I decided to bake a half batch of this one. Ground flaxseed (I grind mine and store it in the freezer) is added to rolled oats (3 cups for half a recipe) , a bit of salt, sliced almonds (1 c), and green pumpkin seeds (1/2 c). Equal parts of vegetable oil (I used olive oil as I always do in granola) and maple syrup are stirred in. Then the mixture is spread on a baking sheet and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes, stirring and changing sheet position occasionally. Once the granola is out of the oven, stir in chopped dried apricots (I used half apricots, half dried cranberries) and some finely chopped crystallized ginger.
We tried it this morning. I liked the zing of the crystallized ginger; DH thought it "weird."
At any rate, this is a tasty version of granola although I think we prefer my usual version, with toasted coconut and several other things, always dried cranberries.
Gingerbread Pancakes p.647
Not knowing what to make for dinner, nor wanting to expend much energy in making it, I discovered this interesting-sounding version for pancakes that seemed fitting for the first snow of the season.
It looked promising enough, an exciting spin on the gingerbread cookie that one can enjoy as a meal! That's where it ended, unfortunately. This is the only pancake recipe I've ever seen that had not a spot of sugar added to it. Okay, well, maybe it could go both ways, savoury or sweet. There was a bit of molasses, a lot of sour cream, butter, an egg, and a touch of milk in the batter, along with some ginger, cinnamon, and cloves amidst the flour.
The batter was so thick that I could nearly form it into shapes with my hands. I had to smear it onto the pan, with less than perfect results, so I thinned the remaining batter with a bit more milk. The pancakes were very thick and fluffy, so much so that they were still uncooked in the middle, even after the thinning. The texture of the finished product was too doughy, too soft. They were very floppy. It was a disappointment, but I really like the idea of gingerbread pancakes, so I may use the spices and molasses idea with my regular pancake recipe. Perhaps some pumpkin puree might also lend itself nicely to the mix.
What I found odd about this recipe was that in the header, the author suggested giving the dry batter as a gift, along with instructions for the rest. Now, really? I would be embarrassed to give this to anyone. Plus, the giftee would be required to do most of the work, having received a small portion of seasoned flour. Maybe it's just me.....
What a shame. Because you like the idea of gingerbread pancakes, I'll share the recipe I use, which I like a great deal. Though they barely seem to have any molasses, I recommend trying them as written before changing the spicing or upping the molasses and seeing what you think. That's what I did, and I think they're just about perfect. They're delicate, so be careful when flipping, and the batter's dark and doesn't bubble a lot, so make sure not to overcook. I often use whole wheat pastry flour in these, and they still have a great, light texture. The recipe was in Bon Appetit 10 years ago or more, but it's not on Epicurious, so I've paraphrased the instructions here.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. pure maple syrup
2 t. molasses
2 t. vanilla extract
Whisk flour, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk just until blended. Cook in skillet or on griddle (preferably nonstick, for easier turning) in melted butter or oil spray on medium heat, around 2 minutes per side.
Cheddar Scallion Drop Biscuits, p. 597
These are a pretty standard buttermilk biscuit, and come together easily enough: Stir together flour, leavening, salt, cut in butter (recipes says to use fingers, but I used a pastry blender) until texture of coarse meal, stir in buttermilk. Before the buttermilk goes in, stir in chopped scallions and grated cheddar, and drop onto a baking sheet (recipe says buttered; I used a silpat). I used a sage cheddar sold by a local cheese maker, Spring Hill Jersey Dairy.
These were a very delicious accompaniment to the curried lentil soup with tomato and spinach on p. 112, served hot out of the oven. Not as nice looking as rolled/patted and cut-out ones, but super simple to just drop with a spoon, and no worries about overworking the dough. Looking up the recipe on Epicurious, I see that reviewers complained of blandness unless they upped the cheese, but my biscuits were savory and cheesy and not bland at all; perhaps it was the cheese I used. Ironically, I went out to brunch this morning, and an otherwise very good meal was marred by a truly terrible excuse for a biscuit - just a horrid, dense, leaden hockey puck.