APPLE CINNAMON OATMEAL CAKE

Not too long ago I mentioned that apples and cinnamon make a perfect match. If you need any formal proof for the statement, look no further, this is it. Absolutely perfect for the season, this cake keeps the apples in chunks that get deliciously sweet and soft during baking. It reminded me a bit of a famous cake by Dorie Greenspan. But this version includes oats for a slightly more substantial cake. Let’s say it walks through a rustic path I am quite fond of. Complex flavors, delicious topping… The recipe comes from Pastry Studio, a blog I visit all the time and cook from regularly.  As usual, Gayle’s bench notes are perfect guidelines to highlight what is important when preparing the cake, as well as her rationale while designing the recipe.  A nice lesson in baking is what I always find when I stop by her site.

Apple Oatmeal Cake

APPLE CINNAMON OATMEAL CAKE
(from Pastry Studio)

for the streusel:
1/3 cup (1 5/8 oz) flour
1/3 cup (1 oz) old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch allspice
2 oz (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) molasses

for the cake:
2 medium (about 13 oz) apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
pinch nutmeg
1 cup (3 oz) old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup (6 oz) apple juice
1/2 cup (4 oz) canola oil
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk at room temperature

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9” square cake pan and line with parchment, leaving a short overhang on two sides.

To prepare the streusel, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar and spices.  Cut the cold butter into 1/4” pieces and add.  Toss until coated with the dry ingredients and drizzle the molasses.  Using your fingers or a fork, press the butter pieces until they break off into smaller pieces and the mixture clumps together and is crumbly with large and small chunks. Chill until ready to use.

Peel, core and cut the apples into small cubes.  You should have about 2 cups.  Toss the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices.  Set aside. Combine the oats and apple juice and set aside for about 5 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, both sugars and eggs until thoroughly blended. Add in the vanilla and oat and apple juice mixture.  Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with half the milk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until there are no dry streaks of flour.  Fold in the chopped apples.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out in an even layer.  Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 34 – 36 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Run a thin-bladed knife around the edges of the cake.  Gently lift it out of the pan using the parchment overhang to assist.  Using a platter, flip the cake over and peel off the parchment.  Use another plate or platter to flip the cake right side up.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

applecakecomposite
Reading Gayle’s bench notes you can tell she worked hard to perfect this cake. The batter is much more liquid than most cakes I’ve ever made, and it smells amazing as it bakes. The aroma seems to only get better as the cake sits and cools. Which brings me to the only tricky part of this recipe. Keeping the cake intact for 24 hours. Not easy. At some point Phil said if I did not cut it he would take matters into his own teeth and bite it. I was unmoved. Defended the cake as if my life depended on it. And it was worth it, because it is a cake that profits from a little time to itself, 24 hours left to evolve into its maximal deliciousness.

Apple Oatmeal Cake Pieces

It was hard to wait for a full day before indulging, but worth it…
Look at the chunks of apple waiting for you…

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

TWO YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

THREE YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

SIX YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

MACARONS: MUCH BETTER WITH A FRIEND!

Making macarons has been on my list of culinary projects for a very long time! They are quite intimidating, because small details in the preparation can ruin them. Even experienced bakers often share stories involving feet-less macarons  (can you imagine the horror?), cracked macarons, and many other types of monstrosities. Even though I did not list cooking projects for 2014, I was set on not letting another year pass by without attempting them.  Then, the perfect opportunity shaped up: our friend Cindy came up for a visit with her husband, and we decided to tackle this challenge together.  We had so much fun, I highly recommend that you consider inviting a friend over and doing the same. I’d been collecting recipes, tips, advice, and after consulting with my expert patissier friend Gary, we focused our efforts in two sites: Gwen’s Kitchen Creations and Joanne’s Eats Well With Others. They both definitely know their ways around the tricky Parisian macarons.

FrenchMacarons

SNICKERDOODLE MACARONS
(adapted from Gwen & Joanne)

for the shells:
3 large egg whites, (95-100g), aged overnight
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar (200g)
1 cup almond flour  (120g)
.
for the filling:

(makes a lot, you can reduce the amount, if you prefer)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
salt, to taste
1 tbsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting

 .
 Sift the salt, powdered sugar, and almond flour into a large container. Discard any clumps in the sieve. Using a whisk attachment, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar in 3 batches. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add gel food coloring, if desired, whisk again.
.
Add 1/3 of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Fold until incorporated – about 15-20 turns. Then add another 1/3. Fold again. Repeat one last time. It will take about 65 folds for the right consistency.
.
Draw circles with a pencil on a sheet of parchment paper, then place the sheet with the drawing side down on a baking sheet, so that you can see the lines through. Pipe small circles using a pastry bag, making sure your hand is vertical, at 90 degrees over the center of the circle.
.
Let rest until a skin forms. It should no longer be sticky. 30-60 minutes.
.
Bake at 275F for 17 minutes. Let the shells cool completely before attempting to peel them off.

Make the filling: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar, mixing on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the cream and vanilla and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes. Mix in the cinnamon until completely combined, as well as salt to taste.

Pipe the buttercream onto the flat side of half of the macarons and then top them with a second, similarly sized macaron. Refrigerate in an airtight container overnight. Dust with cinnamon before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

piping

Comments: Very few culinary projects will confuse you as much as macarons. If you read cookbooks or advice online, you will find conflicting info almost for every step. Do not over-beat the egg whites… It’s impossible to over-beat the egg whites, beat a couple of minutes longer after you think they are done… don’t over-dry the shells…. it’s impossible to over-dry the shells….  sift the flour at room temperature…. roast the flour to dry it completely…  don’t even think of making macarons with regular meringue…  Mind blowing, my friends, mind-blowing.  At some point you will have to settle on a recipe for your first time, take a deep breath, and see how it goes. I think for a first time we did pretty good, actually.  Aren’t they cute?

closeup
From what I gathered around the many sources, it is VERY important to age the egg whites, so make sure to do that. Crack the eggs the day before, separating the whites and let them sit over the countertop overnight.

Since this was such an involved process, I’d like to share a few photos of our adventure…

Sifting… it was by far the most painful and boring step of the whole recipe. We took turns, but sifting the almond flour took a loooong time. Cindy did a much better job than me, she is patient and thorough. Moi? Not so much… (sigh)
sifting

We made a nice template for the shells, using the top of shot glasses….
template

Egg whites were beaten until shiny, smooth-looking peaks formed…
eggwghites

Here are the results of our labor of love, shells piped and drying….
drying

Here are our baby-shells after baking, most with nice little feet…..
baked

All in all, we had a great time, and learned a lot that day… We assembled the best looking ones, and some of the ugly ducklings were consumed right away by our partners in the name of aesthetics.
ready

The advice to wait to savor them next day is also spot-on: there is a definite improvement in texture, so these are perfect to make in advance and show-off your baking abilities at a get together.

Next time I will try Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, that uses an Italian-type meringue, in which the sugar-egg white mixture is stabilized by heat. I thought it was too involved for our first time, but from what I’ve been reading, it might be a better approach.

Cindy, thanks for joining me in this challenge,
I definitely could not have done it without you!

ONE YEAR AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

TWO YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

FOUR YEARS AGO: Gougeres

FIVE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

CLEMENTINES IN CINNAMON SYRUP

Three ingredients.  Four if you count water. It was one of the best things I’ve made in the last few months, though.  Slices of clementine soaking in a light caramel infused with cinnamon.  First, let me assure you it is not going to be too sweet. It is a perfectly balanced mixture, the clementines lose any of that harshness often found in the raw fruit, and the syrup is so good that I drank what was left in my small bowl after enjoying the fruit. Yes, I grabbed the bowl and drank from it as if it was a glass. What’s more amazing, I did it in the presence of members of our department gathered in our place for a get-together with a guest speaker. That should give you an idea how irresistible it was. I found this gem of a recipe on the fun blog hosted by Zach and Clay, The Bitten Word. If you don’t know about their site, make sure to stop by, you will become a regular visitor… 😉

ClementinesCinnamonSyrup
CLEMENTINES IN CINNAMON SYRUP
(seen at The Bitten Word, original recipe from Martha Stewart)

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
8 clementines, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

Bring water, sugar and cinnamon to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

Arrange clementines in a large bowl. Pour warm syrup over top, and let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Divide clementines and syrup among 4 bowls.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I hope you won’t let the simplicity of this “recipe” prevent you from making it, telling yourself that it cannot be worth it.  If you like fruit and a dessert that makes you feel light as a feather and pretty energized (must be all that vitamin C, and the cinnamon oils), this is it.  Maybe some might feel tempted to serve it as a topping for ice cream, but for my taste, nothing else is needed.  Just make sure you have enough caramel sauce to soak the slices, and to satisfy your desire to drink every single drop of it.  Slurping is optional, depending on the audience. 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2013 

TWO YEARS AGO: Thrilling Moments (CROISSANTS!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Maple-Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Trinity: coffee, mushrooms, and curry

 

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: APPLE-CINNAMON BREAD

The month of August is coming to an end. The last Monday of this busy month brings with it a special revelation: which blog was I assigned to cook from as a member of The Secret Recipe Club? And who is posting something from my blog?  Which recipe was chosen? So much excitement, so much fun… This month I was paired with a food blog Queen:  Amy, the hostess of “Fearless Homemaker” has even been on TV!   You can read about her first cooking demonstration by clicking here.   And now, here I am, cooking a recipe from her blog.  Too cool for words. If her blog is new to you, I strongly recommend you to stop by.  Not only she has loads of wonderful recipes, but side-stories that are truly special, like her surprise wedding party.  She and her partner invited friends over for a nice get-together, and all of a sudden both disappeared, changed into their wedding outfits, and next thing their guests knew, an orchestra was playing, a priest was arriving , and the party turned into their wedding!  Now the family got bigger, as she and her husband recently welcomed the arrival of   “The Fearless Baby“…  Congratulations, Amy!

I had quite a few recipes on my final list to cook for the Secret Recipe reveal day: her Vegetable and Quinoa Pilaf, her Honey-Chipotle Turkey Meatballs, her Chicken Bolognese, and also her Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake.  But, in the end, I went with an Apple-Cinnamon Bread, with chunks of apple permeating the cake.   Yes, you guessed it, I took it to our department on a sunny Monday morning…    😉

SRCAugust1

APPLE-CINNAMON BREAD
(from Fearless Homemaker)

1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
pods from 1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples, skin removed

for topping:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

 Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8 by 4 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.  Reserve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in oil, applesauce, vanilla,  mix until smooth.    Add the sugar and mix until well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, incorporating until the flour is barely combined. Gently fold in the apple chunks. pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Prepare the topping: in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle this topping over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until loaf is golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. loosen sides of the loaf with a knife and invert carefully.  Cool the cake completely on a rack before slicing.

.
ENJOY!

.
to print the recipe, click here

.apple

.
Comments:
  As Amy pointed out in her post, this bread smells WONDERFUL while it bakes.  Cinnamon seems to do just that, fill the house with intoxicating aroma of deliciousness to come…    I am not sure why I’ve been picking sweet recipes for the past few Secret Recipe Club adventures, but I’m enjoying the phase.  And I suppose the members of our department don’t mind that either!   😉

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Amy, it’s been great to spend time on your blog, reading your stories, marveling at your photos.  

I hope you enjoyed this month’s assignment as much as I did!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To see what the other members of my group cooked up for today’s Reveal Day, click on the blue amphibian smiling at the bottom of the post.  And if you are wondering who got my blog and the recipe chosen, go visit Karen’s site at Lavender and Lovage!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Blueberry Galette

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

THREE YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

FOUR YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner (very tasty pork medallions)

CINNAMON WREATH

What if I told you that this bread is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made, and that it is ready in less than 2 hours from the time you grab your bag of flour?  Hard to believe, but true.   I first marveled at the recipe over at Baker Street, a blog I got to know earlier this year and now follow very closely, since it’s full of tempting recipes…

CINNAMON WREATH
(from Baker Street)

for the dough:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup lukewarm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 + 1/4 tsp)
⅛ cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar
for the filing:
¼ cup melted butter
4-5 tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm milk and let it sit a few minutes while the yeast bubbles and foams up.
.
Add the egg yolk, the melted butter, the flour and the salt, then knead the dough and shape into a ball. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, then cover and place in a warm space and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
.
Heat the oven to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm (1/4 inch).  Spread the melted butter across all of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Reserve a small amount of melted butter for the top of the bread.
.
Roll up the dough, and using a knife, cut the log in half length-wise. Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed (see photos on Baker Street site). Give a round shape, then transfer to a lightly buttered baking tray.
.
Brush a little butter on top and sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit after 5-10 minutes to stop it burning.
.
ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here
.
Comments: This bread would be outstanding for a brunch. It’s almost like a cinnamon roll, but with a different texture.  Your whole house will smell like cinnamon while it bakes and later sits on the counter, cooling.   I don’t have photos of the bread after slicing, because I made it for a departmental potluck and in this type of event it’s better not to turn into a typical food blogger: the person who would snatch a slice of bread from the lips of a guest just because it shows the perfect crumb structure, and run away with it, camera in hand.  😉
.
Phil loved this bread, and already requested that I make it again on a Sunday morning, as it will be even better still warm from the oven.  I had to bake it in the evening and we only tried the bread at lunchtime next day.   Not the ideal situation, but when you must be  in the lab by 8am, some accommodations are in order.
.
Next time I will make sure to roll out the dough a bit thinner, and form the cylinder a little tighter, to have more layers.  I confess that I forgot the final step of adding butter, sugar and cinnamon on top.  In other words: I must make it again to perfect it!
.
Please stop by Baker Street to see her masterpiece, as well as a tutorial on rolling and slicing the dough.  By the way, this bread is also known as Estonian Kringel.  Whatever its name, it is worth having it in your bread repertoire.
.
I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting.
.
ONE YEAR AGO:  Yeastspotting 11.11.11
.
TWO YEARS AGO: Oven-baked Risotto
.

SNICKERDOODLES WITH A TWIST

cookies1

For the record, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I can go for months without dessert, and my sweet cravings are satisfied by some yogurt with a little agave nectar and by bits of bittersweet chocolate every now and then. So, if I tell you that when I made these cookies I ate one and went back for three more…. trust me, you should fire up your oven!

I chose these cookies because I was mesmerized by their picture in this wonderful blog.  I am so glad I did, even though my photos don”t come close in terms of quality, the flavor of these babies is great: snickerdoodles with a twist…

For Brazilians and other foreign readers who may not know about them, snickerdoodles are a classic, probably of German origin, that have been around since the beginning of last century. They are very simple cookies, that get rolled in cinnamon and sugar right before going into the oven. The crinkled look is their trademark.

In this rendition, a little coffee powder is added to the dough. Normally, I don’t like changes in a classic recipe, but in this case, the results were awesome. Even if you’re not fond of coffee, give these cookies a try. The coffee flavor is subtle, and it’s wonderful with the cinnamon, making these cookies simply irresistible.

closeup

CINNAMON CAPPUCCINO COOKIES
(recipe adapted  from “A Kiss and a Cupcake“)

1 cup butter (two sticks), softened
1 + 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 + 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 + 1/2 tablespoons powdered coffee (see comments)
granulated sugar + cinnamon (3:1)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream together sugar and butter whipping them with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth.  Add powdered coffee and beat until incorporated.

Combine remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture in three batches. Chill resulting dough for 20-30 minutes. Scoop out 1-inch balls of dough and roll them in sugar/cinnamon mixture; place on chilled cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until centers are set.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.

click here for comments and additional photos