Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apple Walnut Flax Seed Bread

Quick breads. Dense, moist, quick(er) than yeasted breads (no need to wait for the bread to rise because baking powder/soda are used as leavening agents rather than yeast). This quick bread is just PACKED with ingredients; your taste buds will not get bored.

Flax Seed. Healthy (protein, fiber, and omega-3-fatty acids woot woot!). A little goes a long way.

Apples and walnuts. You just can't go wrong. Same goes for buttermilk.

Next time I make this bread/cake, I would like to try browning the butter to just kick it up a notch.

Apple walnut flax seed bread. Made with buttermilk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and love. Kinda healthy, kinda indulgent, kinda really extremely delicious.

Apple Walnut Flax Seed Bread

rom JoytheBaker

makes one 9x5-inch loaf


1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

generous pinch freshly ground nutmeg

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup grated apples

1/2 cup coarsely chopped apples

1 tablespoon flax seeds (I used flax meal instead...)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, divided

cinnamon and sugar (turbinado sugar might be nice, but granulated works great, too), for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the grated apples, chopped apples flax seeds and half of the chopped walnuts. Fold to incorporate thoroughly.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with granulated sugar, cinnamon and the rest of the walnuts.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool before wrapping.

Joy says to serve the bread slightly toasted with butter (I thought it was mighty good all on its own. Some hot (or iced) coffee is also a splendid accompaniment to the bread.).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shortbread Cookies (aka Butter in My Mouth!)

So this past week especially I've been into the whole bread n' butter thing. You know, like bread and butter, butter + bread, bread + butter and maybe a dash of salt, (cheesy) eggs n' buttered toast, (cheesy) pasta with garlic herb butter on bread...

Bread with oil and vinegar is a whole other moment of joy for me! Fun fact: To test flavored vinegars, let's take raspberry vinegar as an example...dip a sugar cube in the vinegar and can just taste raspberry (no acidity). Amazing. Food science. Neat stuff.

In lieu of my bread and butter phase, I made some shortbread cookies, because, well, why not?

Like bread and butter, shortbread cookies are simple. And simple is good. Simple is damn good. Few ingredients, banging results!

These cookies can be made big, medium, small, or mini, and you can get creative with the shapes (We have a Texas cookie cutter and a, for lack of a better word, penis cookie cutter at my co-op. Totally random, totally great, but I just stuck with the classic circle shape this time).

These would make great little ice cream sandwich cookies, too!

Anyway, have fun, eat bread and butter, eat some buttery shortbread, embrace your curves.

Shortbread Cookies
recipe adapted from JoyofBaking


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

optional: more sugar (for sprinkling), chocolate (for melting and dipping), sprinkles (for cuteness), sea salt (for "gourmet" sprinkling)


1. Sift together the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Beat butter until nice and smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Gently stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

3. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into whatever shapes you wish using a lightly floured cookie cutter.

6. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of each cookie and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are light brown.

7. (optional) After the cookies have completely cooled, melt some chocolate (I just melted mine in the microwave, just remember to stir every 30 seconds. I also added a touch of boiling water to achieve my desired consistency). Dip half of the cookie into the melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with SPRINKLES or sea salt or whatever else suits your fancy. Let the cookies set (I stuck mine in the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed up the "setting" process).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Big Crumb Coffeecake with RHUBARB

Let's catch up, shall we?

In the last week or so...

-One of my housemates compared my matzo balls to ones that his grandmother used to make (people, this is the ULTIMATE compliment)

-At the beginning of this week I got food poisoning and spent a day and a half bouncing from my bed to the toilet to the couch and back and forth and back and forth. blech.

-I've been house hunting for next year...ideally I would love a quaint house with a beautiful kitchen (or at least a kitchen that could accommodate my KitchenAid standing mixer, my mortar and pestle, and my soon-to-have ice cream machine!!)

-I spent almost 5 hours at a park: mimosas, Frisbee, daisy chains, sunshine...followed by a lovely yet kind of creepy night hike through some Berkeley trails

-I've been waiting a year to attend the annual dachshund derby, a day at the race track with little wiener dogs racing about 15 feet. Way too cute! Unfortunately this year the rain washed all the wieners away and the race was canceled.

some photos from last year's derby...cute or cute?

Well, after a bout of craziness this week, today was finally the day that I was able to wake up, bake, snap some photos, and, well, eat.

Rhubarb has finally arrived. Rhubarb looks kind of like red celery. While the leaves are poisonous, the red stalk delivers a tart, zingy flavor that is usually incorporated into sweet baked goods. Just please, do not eat RAW rhubarb. No good. No no. Just don't. Come eat my cake instead.

At work, we are currently serving rhubarb jam with toast in the morning and panna cotta with wine-poached rhubarb as one of our evening desserts.

Today I made this coffeecake with rhubarb:

My ideal Sunday starts off with a big breakfast baked with love. Whether it's pancakes, waffles, eggs n' toast, or some sweet treat (or all of the above !!) , I am always a happy camper. Really, though, the best is when I get to make breakfast for/with others, because those smiling faces and satisfied bellies are all I need in return.

Here is my pal, Rennie, modeling with the coffeecake:

Rennie did not actually get to taste my cake (he's vegan), but I swear I almost saw him sneak a bite behind my back ;-)

This coffeecake even survived the rain today. Now that's sayin' somethin'.

Now friends, I have often pondered this question myself: why do they call it coffeecake if there is no actual coffee in the recipe? Well, coffeecake falls under a class of cakes intended to be served with coffee or for similar breaks and snacks. So there you have it.

Oh, and on June 9th, look out because apparently it's national Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Just thought I'd let you all know in advance.

‘Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb

Adapted from SmittenKitchen, originally from The New York Times 6/6/07

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (all-purpose works just fine)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream (I used plain low-fat yogurt)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–works just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream (or yogurt) mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Give the cake a nice lil' dusting of powdered sugar, too. It makes makes it just that much better.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart

For a while now, frangipane has been a big mystery to me. I often dip my finger in a batch at my work (shh, don't tell) and shiver with satisfaction. I have tasted frangipane many times, and I know it has almond in it, but what else? How does one make it? I thought it had liquor in it, but nope (although...a little dash might be nice). Just your good ol' fashioned butter, egg, sugar. Seriously, who needs anything else in life?

Why do they call it frangipane? Well, I'm still not quite sure. Apparently the word is derived from frangere il pane (Italian for "break the bread"). What this has to do with one of the most divine almond tarts ever tasted? Still a mystery to me.

In just the tiniest bite of this Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart, I can taste it all. BUTTER, ALMOND, BLACKBERRY, LOVE.

This tart is very versatile. I can see it served during the cold winter months as well as the springtime (Easter brunch dessert?!). You can change up the jam to whatever suits your fancy.

At my work, we use frangipane in our tarts and puff pastry turnovers. In addition to almond, we like to mix it up and use other nuts and flavorings (hazelnut is dreamy!).

Just make this. Indulge. Love it.

Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart

adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 recipe's worth of sweet tart dough, pre-baked in a 9-inch removable tart pan

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, blanched if you can find them
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (not traditional, but just lovely in there)
1/3 cup jam (I used blackberry)
Slivered or sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in sugar, then butter, extract and orange zest. Blend until smooth. Mix in egg and egg white. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread jam over base of tart shell. Dollop the almond filling all over, then spread it carefully with an offset spatula. If using slivered or sliced almonds as garnish, sprinkle them over the top now. Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack.

To serve, push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. Cut tart into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Do ahead: Almond filling can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Whole tart can also be made half a day in advance. Let stand at room temperature.