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Friday, December 31, 2010

Cake #9: New Year's Eve Cake

It's been awhile since I've made a cake (like 8 months!) and the next cake in the book was described as "if you were one of those kids who couldn't wait to chaw on a hot fireball candy, then this coffee cake is for you". I am going to bake this cake soon, but since we were having people over for New Year's Eve, I decided to skip it and go to the next cake, Dorie Greenspan's Swedish Visiting Cake. It was pretty easy to make, pretty fattening and sweet, and the only problem I had was trying to dec it out for new year's:
Once I poured the batter into the pan, instead of putting almonds all over the top, I tried to leave them off the section in the middle that says "2011"- see it? Look closely. You could still see it after it was baked, if I told you about it and traced my finger around where the numbers are:

The numbers even turned out browner than the almonds around them, so it should have worked! But almonds might be too large for this sort of thing, and damn it was time-consuming.
This cake has a zest of one entire lemon, so it's quite lemony. It also calls for almond extract, which can be overpowering, so next time I think I'll cut the almond in half. I would also like to try to make it with 1/2 the butter. It calls for 1 stick melted, and it just seemed like a lot. I wonder if you could add 1/4 c applesauce to the sugar at the begging, and then 1/2 stick of melted butter to the batter at the end.

The cake didn't rise very much, but it was easy to cut into small slices and serve to a lot of people. It would make a good sweet coffee cake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yogurt Whole Wheat Bread w/ Herbs

This recipe is for a bread maker. If you don't have one (and you want to make bread) you should go get one, it is definitely worth the effort. Here is the one I currently use (it's my 2nd). It's on the spendy side, but that's because I had a simple one that I used for about a decade, so I knew I would use the hell out of this one- it has manual settings that are difficult to find on most models.
Anyway, if your bread maker wants to know what size of loaf you are making, this will be for a 2 lb. loaf.
Also, It took me a long time before I became brave enough to try a bread recipe using yogurt. But when I did, it became the most popular type of bread made in our house, and it works great as sandwich bread too!
Okay, here's the recipe:
1 c yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1 t. salt
1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
2 c all purpose flour
1 T gluten
2 T wheat germ
1/2 c warm water
2 t. active dry yeast
3 large garlic cloves, minced
fresh thyme (dry works too)
fresh rosemary (dry works too)
a dollop of olive oil

First, measure out the warm water and make sure it's not hot. It should be around room temperature, or 80 degrees at most. Add the yeast to it, set aside.
Next, add all the ingredients in the list down to the wheat germ to the bread maker (make sure the paddle(s) are in place first). Then add the water/yeast mixture and start the machine on a medium crust/wheat setting. After a few minutes, check the dough to see if it needs to be adjusted. If you touch it and dough sticks to your finger, add a little flour. If you touch it and it seems really dry (usually having a hard time moving around) add a little water. If you touch it and you don't get any dough on your finger and it looks like real bread dough, it's perfect!
Meanwhile, heat up the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. I have a cast iron pan that I like to use to help flavor the pan. Stir for about 1 minute, and add the thyme and rosemary. Let it cook another 1-2 minutes until it's lightly browned. When the fruit/nut beeper goes off, add the garlic & herb mixture. When the bread starts to bake, it will smell extra nice with this addition.

This bread works great as a side to almost any meal, or as sandwich bread for almost any sandwich. To make it last longer, keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.