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Monday, December 31, 2018

Cinnamon Bread

My son did not get to enjoy the things I baked this month as he wasn't home until Christmas' weekend. He loves cinnamon flavored bakes and I tried this one, especially for him. At first I thought of baking a cinnamon raisin bread or cinnamon buns which my daughter also loves but didn't have the patience to wait for the yeast batters to rise. Instead I tried a quick bread version which was done in less than the time needed for a yeast based batter to rise. I am calling this a cinnamon bread though it was supposed to be a cinnamon swirl bread. The original recipe was meant for a standard loaf pan and there were two prominent cinnamon swirls in each slice. In the recipe, 1/3rd of the bread batter is poured into the pan and a layer of cinnamon sugar is sprinkled evenly. Again the layers are repeated twice. The final bread looks gorgeous when cut open, showing those lovely cinnamon swirls. Take a look at the bread.

I scaled down the recipe not realizing that I may not be able to get those swirls, the reason I tried this recipe in the first place. I had quartered the recipe to fit a mini loaf pan and it was hard to sprinkle two layers of ground cinnamon sugar between the batter layers. After the first layers of batter and cinnamon, I poured the second layer of batter and could not spread the thick batter. I had to pour all the batter instead and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over it. The cinnamon layer in between was also not enough, I realized when I took a look at the images and tasted it. Don't skimp on the cinnamon for it's pronounced flavor in the bread; lesson learnt. My son wondered why I baked only a mini loaf of this lovely bread. This quick bread is delicious with a perfect crumb. I will bake a big loaf soon and update the pictures.

1 flax egg
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 and 1/3 cups sugar (divided)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk 

* Combine 1 tbsp. flax-meal and 3 tbsp. warm water in a bowl and keep it aside for about five minutes. In case buttermilk is not available, add 1 tbsp. cider vinegar to a cup of room temperature milk and keep it aside. 
* Preheat oven to 350 deg F / 180 deg C. Grease a 8 by 4 inch loaf pan. Combine cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl.
* Beat butter, 1 cup sugar and flax egg until blended. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk.
* Pour a third of the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the batter. Repeat layers twice. 
* Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 45 - 50 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve when it cools down.

This cinnamon bread is going to be my last post of this year and also my last entry for the Bakeathon event.



Friday, December 28, 2018

Crispy, Baked Potato Wedges

Baked potato wedges neither need my introduction nor my approval seal. The wedges with a crisp exterior and fork tender insides speak for themselves. Even when I make a large baking sheet full of potato wedges, we feel like each got only a handful of them and I feel the need to stick in one more sheet of wedges into the oven. These oven baked wedges are so good that I keep making them now and then. Keep the potato skins on if using organic variety or the potatoes appear clean. Just scrub them clean and use. The potatoes I used this time didn't appear clean and I therefore peeled the skins. I just keep it basic and season them with salt, pepper and chili powders. One can season them garlic / onion powders and Parmesan cheese as well to make these irresistible wedges more flavorful. 

4 Russet potatoes
3 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste 
Garlic powder to taste 

* Heat water in a sauce pan over stove-top and turn off the stove. 
* Wash and scrub the potatoes well if using organic or if they appear clean. Otherwise, peel the potatoes. Cut the potato lengthwise into two. Cut each half into 4 slices. There would be 8 pieces from each potato. If the potatoes are smaller, they can be cut into six pieces each or more if the potatoes are bigger.

* Add the cut potato slices to the warm water and leave them for about 10 minutes.
* Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil or parchment paper.
* Drain the potatoes and dry them with a towel or dab them with paper towels to dry.
* Place the potatoes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder if using on the prepared baking sheet. Toss the ingredients well with clean hands so that all potatoes are covered evenly with oil and spices.
* Arrange them on the sheet in a single layer, with one cut side down. Place the baking sheet in the oven.
* Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes and flip the potato wedges and arrange them evenly. 
* Return the pan to the oven. Bake until the potatoes are golden, crisp and are cooked through when tested with a fork, about 25 to 30 minutes.

These wedges go to Bakeathon event.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Honey Blondies

I remembered that I have a hoard of cooking magazines stowed away when almost I am on my last leg of this bakeathon journey.  I used to subscribe them until a year ago and they could have been a great resource for recipes this month, I realized late. Better late than never. These blondies come from Martha Stewart's Living magazine; published a few years ago. These were supposedly created to improvise the buttery flavored blondies with the addition of sweet, floral taste of honey. Any flavored honey can be used in the recipe and in lieu of it, even maple syrup works as I have learnt. Bittersweet chocolate takes the place of traditional semisweet chips here, to add an interesting factor. 1/2 cup of any toasted and chopped nuts can be stirred in along with the chocolate.

1/2 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter + extra for pan
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour + extra for pan
1/3 cup honey 
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 flax egg
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. coarse salt
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks

* Combine 1 tbsp. ground flaxmeal with 3 tbsp. water in a bowl and keep aside for about 5 minutes. 
* Melt butter and honey in a sauce pan and stir in brown sugar. Let it dissolve and turn off the stove. Transfer the mixture to the flax egg bowl. Add vanilla, flour and salt as well. Stir until just combined and let the mixture cool for about 30 minutes. Stir in chocolate chunks.
* Ten minutes before the cooling period ends, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides. Then butter the parchment and flour pan, tapping out excess.
(I used an 7x5x1.5 inch glass baking dish for half the recipe and did not line it with a parchment. I just greased and floured the pan.)
* Pour batter into the prepared pan and and spread batter evenly with a greased knife if needed.
* Bake until browned on edges and set, about 28 minutes.
* Remove the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Lift blondies out of pan using the overhang, if parchment was used. Remove parchment and cut into squares. I cut blondies into squares directly in my glass pan after cooling.

This cake goes to Bakeathon and Blogging Marathon #95 under the theme 'Bookmarked recipes' events.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Black Forest Cake Parfait

This delicious dessert was mentioned in a cooking magazine ad that obviously was promoting dry fruits and nuts' sales. This recipe is kind of a cross between a parfait and a trifle and uses dry fruits instead of fresh ones. It is a recipe to try when one has any leftover chocolate based cake that need to be used up. 

Black forest cake 
Low fat Greek yogurt
Dried and sweetened cranberries
Chopped walnuts

* Crumble cake into pieces.
* Repeat layering cake, yogurt, and cranberries - walnuts in a parfait glass or any serving dish until it is full.

It goes to Blogging Marathon #95 under the theme 'Bookmarked recipes'.



Monday, December 24, 2018

Brown Betty / Apple Brown Betty

Brown betty is one of those 'apple' based desserts dating back to colonial times in America. Apple betty was originally created to use up the stale bread and it is a rustic bread pudding. Sweetened and spiced apple slices were arranged in layers with bread crumbs or stale bread, mixed with butter and then baked. The recipe probably used brown sugar / molasses as processed, refined sugar at that time was an expensive commodity. The recipes uses white bread though I have substituted it with wheat one here. Berries or pears can be substituted for apples in the recipe. Apple betty is usually served warm with lemon sauce, whipped cream or ice cream.

The dish was first mentioned in print in 1864 in the Yale Literary Magazine, with 'brown' in lower case thus making 'Betty' the proper name. It is widely believed that it was perhaps alluding to the race of the cook rather than the browning of buttered breadcrumbs during baking. A recipe from 1877 used apple sauce and cracker crumbs to prepare apple betty. There is one more version from 'Better Homes and Gardens' published in 1970s. Whatever the method used, apple betty is quite an easy one to prepare.

Apple betty is said to be one of Reagans' favorite dessert in White house. Not surprising considering how good this betty tastes. I halved the recipe since I was expecting to serve only two and regretted it as soon as I tasted it. Everyone loved it, fresh out of the oven served with vanilla ice cream.

Source: Here
4 cups Granny Smith or any baking apples * (I used honeycrisp.)
4 cups white sandwich bread slices (I used brown.)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (divided)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 tbsp. butter + extra for greasing the pan

* Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Grease a 7x11 inch baking dish with butter. 
* Peel, core and slice the apples thinly.
* Slice breads into dices or tear into small pieces.

* Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar in the prepared pan and arrange half of the apple slices evenly. 

* Add half of the bread crumbs. 

* Then sprinkle cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

* Repeat the layers of sugar, apple, bread crumbs and spices again.
* Slice the butter and lay them over the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.

* Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake until done, about 30 - 40 minutes.
* Remove the foil carefully during the last few minutes of baking to brown the top. 

* Increase the sugar level by 1/4 cup if using Granny Smith apples.

This cake goes to Bakeathon and Blogging Marathon #95 under the theme 'Bookmarked recipes' events.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

The flavor of brussel sprouts is similar to cabbage but more pronounced. One of the ways we enjoy them is by roasting in the oven until they turn crisp brown. It takes about 20 minutes to oven roast them and I use the basic seasoning of salt and pepper. Other flavorings like cheese can be added. 

1 pound brussel sprouts
2 tbsp. oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Trim the ends of each brussel sprout, remove the outer layer if needed and slice lengthwise. 
* Add them to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gently combine to coat uniformly.
* Arrange the brussel sprouts on a baking sheet in a single layer, with the cut sides down. Don't overcrowd the pan. (Line the sheet with aluminium foil for easy clean up, if preferred.)
* Bake until they are crispy on the outside and tender inside, flipping them halfway through. Mine were done in about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

It goes to Bakeathon  event.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Celebrating 12th Blog Anniversary With an Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

My daughter had tasted a chocolate chip cookie cake at her school and had decided that it was what she was going to have for her birthday this year. Barring a few years, her birthday cake has always been a chocolate based one which happens to be her one and only favorite. I am averse to the icing part, so I have never volunteered to bake her a birthday cake, and instead choose to buy one. It is another thing that she eats a slice when she cuts the cake and another on the next day. Then the cake sits in the refrigerator without being touched by anyone.

I promised her to bake that chocolate chip cookie cake but the plan somehow did not materialize. She did not want the store bought one and ended up refusing to even celebrate her birthday this year for the lack of a home baked cake. Are you wondering yet why the lady is writing about how a 'grinch' mother she had been this year. My daughter had been gracious enough to forgive and forget about the incident. She suggested to bake that cake this month instead. The month of December marks birthdays of my blog and mine. Yes. yours truly turns a year older on this Christmas. And so, here is that most requested chocolate chip cookie cake in the guise of my blog birthday that she gets to enjoy albeit late. My third cake of the week with it's origins in USA. 
Basically, this cake is a giant chocolate chip cookie though not the crispy kind and an easy one to make. It doesn't have a traditional cake texture but can be cut into neat slices. It is chewy, delicious and has rich buttery flavor. It can be served as is or decorated with a chocolate frosting around the edges of the cookie and with colorful/chocolate sprinkles. I don't know how she remembers but my teenager told me that the cake she had tasted at school tasted exactly the same. The cookie cake got a thumbs up from even her friend. The credit goes to this recipe which I converted into an eggless one.

I am realizing now as I am sitting here and drafting that I didn't even mention on my blog when it turned 10 and 11. What a busybody I have been to miss such milestones. 😉Thanks to my daughter this time, I am here happily announcing that my virtual baby has turned 12, this month. A blog that was started as a record of our family recipes has turned into a part of me somehow over the years. It has been an incredible journey where I get to see and enjoy a glimpse of global culinary world. The bonus part has been getting to know like minded fellow bloggers over this period of time. I thank everyone who spends a slice of their precious time here going through my posts and leaving encouraging words.
1.5 flax egg 
10 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 + 2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

That's how the backside of the cookie cake looks.

* Combine 4.5 tsp. golden flax meal and 4.5 tbsp. warm water in a bowl and keep aside for about five minutes.
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F and grease a 8 or 9 inch pie pan or a cake pan.
* Cream butter and sugars together, about 2 minutes and mix in the flax egg and vanilla.
* Next add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine. Save 2 tbsp. chocolate chips and add the rest to the batter and mix with a wooden spoon. 

* Press the cookie dough into the pie plate and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips evenly on top, pressing them down slightly.
* Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Let the cookie cool completely.
(Mine was jiggly at the center even at 25 minutes though the edges were turning crispy. I therefore baked until a toothpick inserted at the center came out clean, not caring even it was soft. I think I baked about 5 minutes extra. It slightly firms up after cooling though it looks soft when it comes out. Don't worry if the edges are slightly crispier since you wouldn't notice it when the cake has cool down.)
* Run a knife around the edges to loosen and use a large spatula if preferring to transfer onto a plate.
* Pipe on frosting along the edges if preferred and add the sprinkles. Cut into slices and serve.

This cake goes to Bakeathon and Blogging Marathon #95 under the theme 'cake recipes' events.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wacky Cake

This is one of those timeless classic recipes from the American culinary world. This vegan chocolate cake is called so because of the absence of eggs, butter or milk in it; originated at a time when these ingredients were thought to be vital for a cake preparation but were scarcely available. This moist cake was borne out of necessity owing to the rationing of ingredients during the war period and when dessert was a luxury. People probably saved their sugar ration to bake this and I bet it is worth it. One cannot stop with one piece. This spongy chocolate cake has a rich dark hue and also goes by the names Crazy cake, World War II cake and Joe cake. (The images that I presented here were taken under different lighting conditions and the first image shows the real color of the cake.)

It takes 30 minutes to bake this cake and it uses a 8 inch square pan. It is is a beginner recipe and super easy to make. This cake uses only one pan where mixing, baking and serving happens; meaning less time spent in kitchen doing the clean-up. All the ingredients are mixed directly in the baking pan which is not even greased and is put in the oven. One adds all the dry ingredients to the baking pan that is going to be used and then three wells are made. Vinegar goes into one, oil into another and vanilla into the remaining one. Water is poured over and the ingredients are mixed to combine. One can follow the old method but I as usual, mixed the ingredients in one bowl and poured it into a greased baking pan and baked.

All wacky chocolate cake recipes use the same ingredients mentioned below but may use an additional ingredient, brewed coffeeThe traditional versions use white vinegar but I used cider vinegar here. The cake was served with a plain dusting of icing sugar or with a frosting also made with 'ration' ingredients at the time. The cake is delicious as it is and my husband who never touches a baked dish that is sweet had 3 pieces yesterday without any prompting. If one has time and inclined to make this cake more special, it can be topped with a favorite frosting of one's preference.  
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup oil
1 cup lukewarm water

* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a 8 inch square pan.
* Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
* Pour the batter into the prepare pan. 
* Bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
* Allow it cool completely before frosting or dusting with icing sugar.

It goes to Blogging Marathon #95 under the theme 'Cake recipes'.