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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blueberry - Lemon Coffee Cake

Today Anna is competing as a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off! There's only ONE MILLION DOLLARS riding on it, no pressure! None at all. Just kidding. Results will be announced tomorrow, Wednesday, March 22. Sending good karma and positive energy your way, Anna!

In Anna's honor, I decided to try a recipe that she gave me. It's a Cooking Light recipe that she suggested I make to use up some almond paste that I had left over. Now, I am not the biggest of Cooking Light fans. There are some things I enjoy about the magazine, but I mostly don't cook from it. Here is an example of why:

The recipe calls for "2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces". Now, that is a fairly common thing, when you're making pie or other pastry dough, biscuits, scones, etc. Generally, you cut the cold butter (or other fat)into flour until you have small pea-sized pieces, which makes your pastry nice and flaky when it bakes.

But alas, this is a cake. A coffee cake, not that it matters, but it is a cake. With cakes (or cookies), you generally start with room temperature butter and "cream" it with the sugar until it is light and fluffy. However, the directions for this recipe say to take the cold butter, sugar, & almond paste and "beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended". Well, I'm sorry, but that just does NOT work. If someone can tell me why the recipe would say that, I would appreciate it. I do know that there is an ongoing discussion by magazine and cookbook authors whether to dumb-down recipes for beginner cooks, by eliminating common terms like "cream", "saute", and "sweat". But that's another subject.

After I gave up trying to blend the cold butter with the sugar and almond paste, I left it to warm up a little. After that, everything went smoothly, and the resulting coffee cake is delicious. I especially love the topping of almonds, sugar, and cinnamon.


At 3/21/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Alanna said...

Hmmm. Interesting. Maybe the actual intent was for a "crumb" more like a scone or a biscuit than a "cake"? Some coffee cakes (kuchen, say) are less cakelike than others ... so maybe?

PS I'm with you on CL. I've just resubscribed for the first time in some years so see if it inspires me to cook or not.

At 3/21/2006 12:44 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Hi Alanna,

Now that I've had a piece, I still think it's a problem with goofy directions. Yours is a good theory, I'm just not buying it:)

At 3/21/2006 4:57 PM, Anonymous emily said...

I hate it when you get a wanky recipe!The cake looks great,anyway.

At 3/21/2006 5:04 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Hi Emily! It tastes great too! I'm not sure I'd make again, but only because I'm not likely to have almond paste kicking around. But it really is good.

At 3/21/2006 9:11 PM, Blogger Sheri said...

I'm so with you on Cooking Light - I'm letting my subscription run out and I'll just purchase their special issues occasionally.

Fine Cooking has spoiled me and made me very demanding when it comes to well-written recipes.

At 3/31/2006 12:52 PM, Blogger Anna said...

Amy, Sorry I'm just now responding. But I'm with AK. I think the cold butter is to help impart a more crumbly texture. I can't explain the chemistry behind it, but I think that method might also help keep the cake from getting tough. Maybe the cold butter lumps somehow protect the gluten in the flour from getting tough. Don't know.

At 4/10/2006 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That looks delicious! I'm on spring break this week and am in the cooking/baking mood.

Miss you,


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