Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Biscuits

To my mother, holidays are all day eating events. She doesn't normally eat breakfast or a proper lunch, but for any holiday, it seems she ends up buying a tube of cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls are okay – but quite frankly, I like my chocolate better. And sure, they even have prepared chocolate glazed cinnamon rolls now, but I decided that for this Easter, I would break tradition. I've been itching to do more with the Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut spread. I've already used it in place of Nutella once. I had saved FabioViviani's Nutella Biscuits recipe a while back. It seemed like a good fit.

It's an incredibly simple recipe:

Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Biscuits

Adapted from Fabio Viviani
Makes about 8-3” biscuits
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 3 Tsp butter at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut spread
  • ¾ cup milk
Start by combining all the dry ingredients. Cut in butter and spread. Then add milk.
Mix and place the dough on top of a floured board and knead few times. Pat to 1-inch thickness and cut with biscuit cutter. Place them in a oven tray. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes.

They were easier to mix than my lastattempt at making biscuits, but the small quanity did make them a little difficult to cut. Still, how food tastes is just as important to me as how it looks. I had two for breakfast this morning – one plain (to judge taste) and one with some caramel sauce.

The mocha flavor is subtle, at best. They are also not that sweet, if you're looking for more of a shortcake. Still, they were soft, chewy and otherwise perfect. Plus, they're not cinnamon rolls.

Have I started a new holiday tradition? Maybe, maybe not. But right now, I'm more looking forward to what's next. I have a brand new jar waiting...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Red Velvet Cake

If there's one thing I like baking more than anything, it's cake.

Cake is such an integral part of my family's food habits that it was one of my niece's first words. When I made my first foray in sourdough baking outside Amish Friendship Bread, it was the Sourdough Mocha Cake. Now I've made a coffee cake and a couple of mini sourdough chocolate cakes in the microwave.

One thing that has eluded me was Red Velvet Cake. Anyone who knows me well knows I can always make an exception to my attempt-to-eat-healthier habits for a taste of rich red chocolatey goodness with cream cheese frosting. It's been my birthday cake for as long as I can remember. It's made with buttermilk, so I figured I could make a sourdough version. My only attempt at it was using my grandmother's Red Waldorf Cake recipe, in my early days of sourdough baking. But while it tasted good, the texture wasn't red velvet, and with recipes catching my eye left and right, another attempt was on the back burner. Then SourdoughSurprises came out with the cake challenge for March – and I knew it was time.

Back when I made my first attempt, I looked up all the possible solutions for the coarser crumb problem. I came up with using cake flour instead, or baking it at a lower temperature for a longer time. Then I found this recipe, which in the accompanying post mentions the use of acid creating a too-coarse crumb. My grandmother's recipe used vinegar, so I decided for my next attempt I would use this recipe, as it was (only swapping out the buttermilk for the sourdough starter).

The recipe:
Sourdough Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from Veronica's Cornucopia

3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (1 lb) box light brown sugar (about 2 ¼ cups)
3 tablespoons red food coloring
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¾ cups ripe sourdough starter

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 9” cake pans with baking spray and set aside. Sift flour with the cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
  2. Cream butter, brown sugar, food coloring and vanilla together. Beat until well aerated and pale. Alternately add dry ingredients and sourdough starter, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing until combined after each addition.
  3. Scoop into prepared cake pans and spread as evenly as possible. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

The first thing I noticed was just how high these babies rose:

I keep meaning to get into cake decorating – it's a natural progression for a cake baker – but slightly pressed for time, I opted for packaged cream cheese frosting and the more traditional crumb decoration. I didn't have quite enough frosting to finish the sides and at least swipe my decorator come. Plus, they baked up so high that I had way, way too many crumbs after trimming to use them as a cake to top them with. (I ended up making a kind of “cake pop pudding” with them, mixing them with vanilla yogurt. It was quite yummy that way).

As soon as I cut into the cake, I didn't even have to taste it. I knew I had it. It was slightly overbaked, but the texture was fine and velvety. And it still had that familiar red velvet flavor.

It eluded me for a long time. Now I not only have my red velvet cake, but a homemade sourdough version. It's probably my proudest baking success yet.

Now if I can just work on my decorating skills...

Check out our other awesome cakes!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shine Supper Club: Microwave Peanut Butter Egg Pancake

Welcome to my world over the winter.

Working for a sports team means I usually work at night, when I don't get as many opportunities to cook for my family. When I do, I stick to old standbys like Baked Chicken. For dinner, I'm either scrounging leftovers, preparing some overly processed food from the freezer, or making something simple.

But simple doesn't always mean not creative. Someone recently posted her recipe for Nut Butter pancakes in a healthy living chat room. It couldn't have been more simple – a tablespoon of any nut or seed butter, one egg, and an eighth of a teaspoon of baking powder. A simple, egg-based pancake. It was the perfect meal for me – easy enough that I could whip it up when I get home at 11:30pm or after a workout when I'm exhausted and need food fast. Of course, being me, I played with the recipe. I got lazy and started cooking it in the microwave, like I might scramble my eggs. And with the Shine Supper Club doing egg dishes this month, I saw a perfect opportunity to share my even-easier – and in my opinion, tastier – version.
Microwave Peanut Butter Egg Pancake
(My apologies, as I forget which of my friends posted the recipe its adapted from!)

For each pancake, you will need:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Cooking spray
Topping of choice (in this case, spreadable honey, but maple syrup, bananas, yogurt, and applesauce would all also be tasty ideas).

In a small bowl, whip egg with honey, baking powder and cinnamon until well combined. Add peanut butter and mix well.

Spray a dinner-sized plate with cooking spray. Pour batter onto plate. Microwave for about 1 minute, until it appears just moist.

[Blogger's note: I do apologize for my photography. The reason I don't do too many step by step photos is that you are typically seeing pictures minutes after the food is made and often minutes before I am about to devour it. This is especially true with lunch meals, like this or my Mocha Oatmeal. I love to cook and eat and it's tough when things get between the two!]

Of course, this can be done in a skillet (the original was). You can sub any nut or seed butter you wish. Or whatever sweetener you wish. That's why I love recipes like this: They're easy to tweak and make your own, or so you don't get bored with the “same ole, same ole.”

It's also perfect for many other occasions. Family doesn't all get up at once? It only takes a few minutes to whip up a single serving as they come down for breakfast. Since it's only one serving, it's also good for single cooks like me. Or perhaps for modifying it for an individual family member's tastes. It's quick, it's high-protein, reasonably healthy, and delicious.

Now what's next? Perhaps an Asian Savory Egg Pancake? Fluffernutter?

With me, one never knows...