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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I thought I was finished with my baking spree. I'm blaming it on all the adorable little pans I keep finding. This newest one came from World Market, and it was just too cute to resist. It's 6.5" and holds 4.5 cups of batter.

Here's a starter recipe. Even though it's a little early for my afternoon snack, I gave it a try and it's quite good.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 T. brown sugar
2 T. finely chopped pecans

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your darling little new pan with flour-added nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, brown sugar and chopped pecans. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla, blending well. Stir in the flour mixture in two additions, blending completely, but being careful not to overmix.

Spoon half of the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with the filling mixture and cover with remaining batter.

Bake until a toothpick tests clean, approximately 45-50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a cake plate to cool completely. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Banana Bread

I purposefully let some bananas get over-ripe so that I could make some banana bread based on a recipe from The Seasonal Cook, which she in turn adapted from Joy of Baking.

The Seasonal Cook calls it, "The best banana bread. Really." But, as she warned, I probably ended up with somewhat inferior or second best banana bread, because I didn't add all of the options, including toasted nuts, walnut flavoring or wheat germ. I did add chopped dates, which I've never put in banana bread before, but sounded intriguing. I meant to add vanilla extract, but got distracted and forgot.

I used a Wilton pan that I found for cheap, cheap, cheap at Tuesday Morning. It makes 4 mini loaves, and I took a wild guess on the baking time. This recipe is a keeper. My house smells amazing and I have a happy tummy.

Banana Bread
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cup mashed, ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped dates

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, bananas, and eggs.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Fold in the wet ingredients. Do not overmix!

Divide batter between 4 mini loaf pans and bake in a 350 degree oven until done, approximately 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More Basic Bread

Another bread experiment. I used this Basic Bread recipe, but substituted one cup of rye flour for a cup of the bread flour. The other thing I wanted to experiment with is these short cylinder loaves. I SWEAR I divided this dough in half, yet one loaf is clearly bigger than the other. They're a little wompy-jong, too. I need to keep practicing.

It tastes terrific, though. Excellent crust, excellent crumb, mild earthy flavor.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Heart Cookies

I've been planning to make iced heart cookies since I saw these gorgeous leaves. This looks like an icing method that even I can manage!

Anna pointed me to a recipe for "no fail" sugar cookies. This is the first time I have made cut-out cookies by rolling the dough between pieces of parchment and then chilling it. Now I'll never do them any other way. I'll even be brave and roll them a little thinner next time. I do love these thick sturdy cookies, though.

I'm disappointed in myself for not getting these made over the weekend, when I had a Valentine to share them with.

"No Fail" Sugar Cookies

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract

Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and extract. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to butter-sugar mixture a little at a time. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Place a glob of dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator. After it has chilled completely, cut into desired shapes.

Bake on parchment paper at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2.5 dozen cookies, depending on size and shape.


2 c. confectioners' sugar
6-8 tsp. milk
4 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. almond extract
food coloring, as desired

In medium bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. Add food coloring to desired intensity. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Dip fronts of cookies into icing, letting excess drip off, back into the bowl. Allow to dry overnight.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Multigrain Bread

I'm pretty much hooked on the Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. But when I saw an article for multigrain bread in the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine, I was intrigued.

There were at least two appealing things about the article. One, it doesn't require an overnight soak like the BBA version. So I can decide today that I want bread today and have bread today. Two, rather than gathering small amounts of various grains from various sources like you have to in the BBA version, this recipe calls for 7-grain hot cereal mix like this. Genius, if you ask me.

It is delicious! The sunflower seeds remind me of the rolls that Central Market south serves in their cafe, but you could certainly leave them out. I can't wait to have this for breakfast with peanut butter on it.

  • Multigrain Bread (Cook's Illustrated, Number Seventy-Nine, March & April 2006)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Shrimp Fajitas

I've had my eye on this recipe for shrimp fajitas for a while. As with many Fine Cooking recipes, I think you could cut down on the olive oil quite a bit. And I admit that I didn't use all of the cumin. I used about half. I'm just not that crazy about cumin and half was just about right. The fajitas are very good. I would make them again.

The recipe for the guacamole sounds bizarre. Yes, avocado is high in fat (and therefore in calories) but it's good fat, so I'm not sure what the point is of a "light" recipe. But this one substitutes skinned lima beans - yes, lima beans - for some of the avocado. Bizarre. Not just bizarre, but tedious. I used to think that stripping thyme was the most tedious kitchen task. Alas, I was wrong.

When I first tasted it, I did not care for it at all. The recipe says to let it stand at room temperature for an hour, to let the flavors meld. Mine actually stood longer. But when I tasted it again, it had undergone a transformation. It was pretty good! Not as good as Hugh Carpenter's, but not bad. I still don't see the point, though.

  • Savory Shrimp Fajitas (101 Quick & Delicious Recipes, The Best of Fine Cooking, Fall 2004) on whole wheat tortillas
  • Guacamole (The Best Light Recipe, Cook's Illustrated)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Afternoon Snack

I'm so excited! I met Anna from Cookie Madness today! It made me really happy. As a nice surprise, she brought some of the Almond-Lemon Poundcake that we had been chatting about on her blog.

I was thinking about making a similar recipe that Anna's been wanting to try, so that we could do a taste test. But this one is so good, I don't really see the point of making the other one. It has nice poundcake texture, and nice hit of citrus. I love Everything Citrus.

She gave me more than one piece, so it's not just afternoon snack, I'll have some for breakfast tomorrow, too. SWEET! Thanks, Anna!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mini Cheesecakes

Small-Batch Baking has made me obsessed with mini-things. I found Little Cakes at Half-Price Books and bought it too. Then Wednesday, I had a few minutes to kill, so I stopped in World Market and they had the most adorable little 4.5" springform pans, so I picked up a couple.

I was a little tempted to make one of the cheesecake recipes from Small-Batch Baking, but the ones to choose from in that book are chocolate swirl, raspberry with chocolate ganache, chevre with ginger syrup, etc. I just wanted plain cheesecake. There is a recipe for four mini cheesecakes on the back of the label on the pans, and I made a half recipe. I did add the sour cream topping though, because I like that. But I was experimenting with the amount, and didn't quite get enough. I used 1/4 cup, but 6 Tablespoons would probably be perfect.

Mini Cheesecakes
(adapted from Philadelphia brand cream cheese)
makes 2

1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. butter, melted

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1.5 eggs (1 egg plus 1.5 T. beaten egg)

6 T. sour cream
1T. sugar

Mix crumbs, 1 1/2 T. sugar and butter. Press onto bottom of two mini (4.5 inch) springform pans. Bake at 300 degrees for 7 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, 6 T. sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Pour over crusts. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until almost set. There should be a jiggly circle approximately the size of a quarter in the middle.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream and 1 T. sugar. Spread over cheesecakes. Bake 5 additional minutes.

Run a knife or spatula around the rims of the pans to loosen cheesecake from the edges. Cool before removing rims. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Or if you're impatient like I am, cool until you can't stand it any longer, enjoy some with your coffee, and then chill the rest of it properly.