Monday, July 12, 2010

Monkey Bread

monkey bread

Gary and I went window shopping this past Saturday. We were at one of our local malls, and while walking by one of the stores, I smelled some awesomely cinnamony sugary goodness. We’ve all experienced this before, the way Cinnabon pulls you in with their scent. It’s practically irresistible…until you see the calorie count. 1000+ calories for one!! Lucky for me, that’s an incentive for me to not order whatever I’m craving.

The craving went away after a while. It wasn’t until the next day. We were watching TV and a commercial for something cinnamon sugar came on. It was the final straw! I needed to make something cinnamon, stat! I had had this King Arthur recipe bookmarked for a while, so this was a good opportunity to make it.

monkey bread 2

I followed the directions exactly with the exception of using an 8” pan. I used my 9” pan and it fit perfectly. I also measured the water by weight instead of volume as indicated below.

Monkey Bread
adapted from: King Arthur Flour with a tutorial from their blog

printable recipe

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup lukewarm water (4 ounces)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups All-Purpose Flour (8.5 ounces)

1) Make the topping: Blend the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, or shake them together in a small lidded container. Set aside.

2) Place water, vegetable oil, egg, salt, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl and stir well.

3) Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring to blend.

4) Add the second cup of flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.

5) Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — till it's soft and smooth.

6) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's doubled in size.

7) Gently deflate the dough, and place it on a clean, lightly greased work surface; a silicone mat works well here (I used wax paper sprayed with oil). Divide it into pieces about 1 1/2" in diameter; you'll make 16 to 18 pieces.

8) Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan (I used a 9” pan). Dip each piece in water, then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat.

9) Place the pieces in a single layer in the prepared pan. Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon-sugar over the top.

10) Cover the pan, and let the bread rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's visibly puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

11) Uncover the pan, and bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, till it's golden brown and feels set.

12) Remove from the oven, and immediately turn the pan over onto a plate. Lift the pan off the bread, and scrape any leftover topping in the pan onto the bread.

13) Pull the bread apart to serve. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Makes 5-7 servings

Gary thought this bread was great. Next time, I think I’ll make some sugar frosting and use it as a dipping sauce.

monkey bread 3

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red Velvet Firework Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing

One of my coworkers recently let me borrow her cupcake book, and she really wanted me to try the red velvet cake recipe. This cupcake book was the More from Magnolia dessert cookbook. I had her book for months, and didn’t get a chance to try it at all.

Then came July 4th and I asked for suggestions for dessert ideas. A few people asked for red velvet cupcakes. For our annual July 4th bbq, I made these red velvet cupcakes, topped with a firecracker design inspired by the Wilton site. I told my sister in law I would try making the design. However I think the icing that was paired with this cupcake recipe was too thin to use for piping. It was supposed to be used to mound on top of the cake.


Now, I’m not too fond of the commercial cupcake places. Usually their cakes are too dense and the frosting too sweet. My theories were confirmed when I bit into the cake and found it a bit dry. Granted, I did make several adaptations, but I did the same for the other red velvet cake recipe, and that came out fine.

My sister in law also made a red velvet cake using my previous recipe. Personally, I like the Cake Man Raven recipe better, adaptations and all. I also like the cream cheese frosting pairing better.

cmr red velvet

I couldn’t believe the Magnolia recipe called for 6 TBSP of red food coloring. I halved that and only used 3. I thought using basically two 1 ounce bottles of red dye would be overkill. I thought the batter was plenty red after only 3 (although you can’t really see it in the pic above, you can sorta tell in this one.)


Also, although this isn’t the greatest substitutions, again, I did this with the other recipe with no problems. I subbed buttermilk powder and water for the buttermilk, and a blend of flour/cornstarch for the cake flour.  I’m not sure if it was because I made the substitutions, but I was able to get 34 cupcakes out of this instead of 24. I saw some of the reviewers mentioning that the icing was too gritty, but I had the opposite problem, I thought it was too thin. I guess I overbeat the frosting a bit too much, but it also could have been the 100° weather we were having that caused it to melt too much.

Magnolia’s Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Icing
adapted from: More from Magnolia, also found on Epicurious

printable recipe

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Creamy Vanilla Frosting (I halved this)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used low fat)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (or line one tin and allow to cool before lining again).

To make the cake:
In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

to make the frosting:
In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color.

To create the red, white and blue frosting, divide the batter in thirds, (adding more to the blue one). Dye 1/3 using a royal blue color and dye 1/3 with a red color, leave 1/3 white. I used about half a (1 oz) tub  of gel color for each of the ones that were dyed and mixed it in with a fork.

Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use immediately.

To create the fireworks, pipe with the grass tip, pulling away from the cake each time.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Strawberry Pancakes

One early Sunday morning, I woke up with my stomach growling. I was tired, sick and hungry. I wanted to go back to sleep, but my stomach wasn’t letting me. Gary had woken up early to go to the market to get some stuff for our annual July 4th bbq. He wanted to beat the last minute crowds at every store he went to, and he did! Since he had already woken me up, I started researching some recipes and lost track of time.

When he got home at about 11am, I tried to take a mid morning nap, but by this time, I was awake and really hungry since I’ve been up for a few hours and hadn’t eaten. He wanted to make lunch, but my mind was still at breakfast mode. I suggested making strawberry pancakes since I already had strawberries in the fridge.

After making this, we started talk about making Sundays “pancake Sundays”…yea, we’ll see how that’ll fly :).

strawberry pancakes

The ingredient’s list called for orange zest, however I didn’t have any oranges on hand, so I omitted it. I also adapted the dairy ingredients to non dairy ingredients as indicated below. Also, instead of turning on the oven to keep the plate warm, I covered the plate of pancakes to keep the heat in. I recommend thinly slicing the strawberries so they get fully incorporated into the pancakes.

Strawberry Pancakes
adapted from: Good Things Catered, originally from The Joy of Cooking

printable recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest (I omitted)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used soy milk with 1 TBSP vinegar)
3 Tbsp butter, melted (I used melted Earth Balance)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 c. fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, zest, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine well.

Heat griddle pan over medium low heat. Depending on how well seasoned your pan is, you will have to add some butter or nonstick spray to the heated pan.

Add wet ingredients into dry and carefully stir to combine, just until mixture comes together. Ignore lumps and do not over beat.

To hot pan, spoon 6 inch batter rounds (1/4 cup scoops of batter) onto pan. Top the pancake with strawberry slices.

When the batter bubbles, flip carefully. When pancake is cooked through, transfer to plate and cover.

Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Top pancakes with whipped cream (optional) and syrup and serve. I served these with maple syrup and turkey sausages on the side. The sweet and salty combo was pretty good.

Makes about 14 pancakes.

strawberry pancakes2