This is my third week participating in the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. This week, I bring to you a sweet for those mornings when family stays over or an afternoon coffee with friends.
This crumb cake comes together easily and quickly. The cake is light and airy and the crumb topping is more than generous. It tastes as good as bakery crumb cake, if not better.
New York-Style Crumb Cake
Adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008/Cooks Illustrated
Makes an 8×8 in. pan
- 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and still warm
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 3/4 c. cake flour
Ingredients for Cake:
- cooking spray/vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 c. cake flour
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
- 1/3 c. buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Make the Crumb Topping: Whisk together melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. When combined, add cake flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick and cohesive. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the cake.
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil, with an inch or two overhanging edges of pan. Spray with vegetable oil/cooking spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk (or beat on “stir”) flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, one piece at a time, until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Increase speed to medium-high and add buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will be thick and very sticky.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to even it out, making sure the batter reaches all four corners and edges of the pan. Using your fingers to crumble the cinnamon-sugar-flour mixture into pea-sized pieces evenly over cake batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes in pan before using aluminum foil to remove cake from pan, move to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Storage: May be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.
The weather is gorgeous – 70+ and sunny. Love it! It’s the perfect weather to renew good habits. I’ve been taking regular walks outside both to enjoy the weather and to start training for the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure, which I’ll walk later this year. I’m also loving all the fruit that’s starting to appear in the stores and farm stands. I’ve been getting tired of apples and bananas and have been waiting for berries and nectarines.
This is one of my favorite fruit salads – mixed berries topped with just a touch of homemade vanilla syrup. The syrup adds a brightness and uniqueness to the berries and is a great way to dress up a simple fruit salad for a more formal event, such as a wedding or baby.
Mixed Berry Salad with Vanilla Syrup
Adapted from Fine Cooking, June/July 2004
- 6-8 c. fresh mixed berries (any type that are in season. I like a combination of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4. c. water
- Clean and slice berries and toss in a large bowl. Cover and place in the fridge to keep cold.
- Fill a small saucepan with 1/4 c. water and 1/4 c. sugar.
- Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds from one half of the vanilla bean and place in the saucepan with water and sugar. (Save the vanilla bean pod for a garnish, or place in your jar of vanilla sugar or vanilla extract.)
- Over medium heat, bring water and sugar to just boiling. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes, allowing the vanilla to infuse the syrup.
- Allow syrup to cool before moving to a refrigerator to chill completely.
Serve: Pour 1-2 Tbs. syrup over fruit & enjoy!
It’s rare that I read a recipe and want to make it immediately. Usually it goes on my list, perhaps getting fit into the meal plan over the next month. This bread instantly appealed to me. I read it one evening and planned to make it the next morning. I pictured enjoying a slice with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast, tempting my mom (who would be in town visiting) with a slice, telling her that it is way better than her lemon poppy seed bread. The best part was that there were ingredients that I always have in the house.
Most of the time. Not yesterday morning. I had apparently forgotten to restock both my almond extract and poppy seeds. So instead of enjoying my bread for breakfast, I ran out to the grocery store where I spend about an hour (because it’s always crowded and they never have enough cashiers working), came home to bake the bread, and enjoyed a slice with an afternoon cup of coffee.
This bread makes me wish I had afternoon tea more regularly or that we had coffee after dinner because it’s the perfect accompaniment. I loved the light, slightly sweet flavor of the bread. I have a feeling that I will be regularly stocking my freezer with these muffins.
Almond Poppy Seed Bread & Muffins
Makes 2 loaves bread or 24 muffins
- 3 eggs
- 1⅛ c. vegetable oil
- 2¼ c. sugar
- 3 c. flour
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- 1½ c. milk
- 1½ tsp. vanilla
- 1½ tsp. almond extract
- 1½ Tbs. poppy seeds
- Preheat oven to 325F and prepare your baking pans – 2 bread pans, 24 muffin cups, or a combination of the two. Grease the bread pans and line the muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and sugar together until thoroughly combined. Add salt and baking powder, again whisking in.
- Switch to a wooden spoon and add half of the flour. When mixed in, add half the milk. Add remaining flour. When mostly combined, add remaining milk as well as vanilla, almond extract, and poppy seeds.
- Pour into prepared pans – about 1½ scoops of batter with an ice cream scoop for each muffin.
- Bake until slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes for muffins and 1 hour for bread. Allow to cool slightly before moving to a serving plate and serving.
Until I tried this oatmeal, I was convinced that the only oatmeal I would eat would be in cookies or on a fruit crisp. I know how healthy oatmeal is supposed to be and it is supposed to keep you full throughout the morning. But no matter how many times I tried oatmeal, I just couldn’t make myself like it. It wasn’t the taste so much as the texture. Too mushy. Too soupy.
I tried this oatmeal for the first time when we had a couple apples that were past their eating point (which in our house, is completely crisp and crunchy). It was the best oatmeal I’ve ever had, by far. Slightly soupy when first out of the oven, the oats soak up the extra liquid after sitting for a little while. I loved the large chunks of apples and the walnuts I added as a crunchy topping. This oatmeal is great for overnight guests (it takes only a few minutes to prepare it) and for weekday meals (it reheats wonderfully).
Cooking & Serving Notes: Feel free to add in an extra apple, if you’d like. It makes no difference to the texture or baking time of the oatmeal. If you prefer your oatmeal a bit soupier, go ahead and add a little extra milk after cooking, before serving (or when you’re reheating it).
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Makes 6 servings
~ 2 c. old-fashioned oats
~ 1/4 c. brown sugar
~ 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
~ 1 tsp. baking powder
~ 1/4 tsp. salt
~ 1 1/2 c. skim milk
~ 1/2 c. applesauce
~ 1 Tbs. melted butter
~ 2 egg whites
~ 1 tsp. vanilla
~ 1 large apple, diced (peel before dicing, if desired)
~ desired toppings: nuts, dried cranberries, extra cinnamon or sugar, etc.
Preheat oven to 350F and coat an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, apple sauce, butter, egg white, and vanilla. Whisk in cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Next, whisk in brown sugar, and lastly oats. Gently stir in diced apples.
Pour into prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown and set, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven.
Serve hot with desired toppings. Or, refrigerate and heat up leftovers (with additional milk, if desired).
Nutrition: Without toppings, approximately 200 calories per serving.
I’ve been in the same office for quite a while now, and to be honest, I can’t see myself leaving any time soon. I work with an incredibly diverse group of people who are a ton of fun. We have “pig-ins” and happy hours. We draw ridiculous pictures on white boards. Some people build enormous Lego creatures and fire Nerf guns (we’re particularly fond of firing rubber bands). We work crazy hours but it’s ok, because we all love what we do.
Did I mention that this fantastic group of people are all guys? Yep, my office is almost 90% male. I’d say that sometimes it’s tough, but really, it’s not. There’s no drama and no fear of offending anyone with my matter-of-fact manner. But the best part? I can try out new recipes on the gang, and no matter how critical I am of outcome… they always love it because it’s homemade and they didn’t have to make it.
At this time, I couldn’t imagine leaving this awesome group of people for anything short of being able to spend my days in the kitchen. One of my best friends and I dream about owning a little bookstore with a bakery attached. Sometimes these sweets are being sold along coffees, lattes, and teas while other times we’re skipping the coffee and adding in a wine bar. Guess it depends on what we’re craving at the time.
On that note, any investors out there?
But why do I bring this up? Because whether they know it or not, my coworkers are getting me started on my little venture. I’m what the single guys fondly refer to as “the bakery,” the cheap and tasty substitute for our awful cafeteria. Yes, my coworkers pay me to bring them lunch and the occasional breakfast. Even a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and jelly are enthusiastically accepted. Go ahead and laugh. It is pretty funny. But I love these guys and get real pleasure from my time cooking for them as well as their reactions to whatever I bring in. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. I get to test new recipes and to spend time in the kitchen without breaking the bank or going up a pant size. They get to eat something tastier and cheaper than what is offered in the cafeteria.
This scone recipe was one of the new recipes I tried out last week. One of the guys got breakfast and another coworker got a surprise when he came in to work on Sunday to play catch-up. Since the latter requested the recipe, I think I can consider these savory scones a winner. The smokiness (is that how you spell it?) of the bacon (I used turkey bacon) really shines through in these scones, a nice change from some of the sweeter breakfast pastries.
So, as you read this story and recipe, I go to start on this week’s lunch request – chicken cobb pizza. Enjoy!
Serving Suggestions: A great side for eggs, a southwest salad, or chili
Adapted from The Pastry Queen (p. 24)
Makes 8-12 Scones
- 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for counter/board
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced (or 10 chives, minced)
- 10 slices bacon or turkey bacon, diced
- 1 to 1-1/2 c. buttermilk (I used 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 c.)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbs. water
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in butter until mixture is pea-sized. Stir in cheddar, onions/chives, and bacon until combined.
Add 1 c. buttermilk. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. If mixture is too dry, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Be sure not to over mix.
Lightly flour a counter or cutting board. Turn dough onto floured surface and pat into a flat disc. Use your hands (or a rolling-pin if you don’t mind another dish to wash) to flatten dough into a round disc about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into triangle-shaped wedges or use a cookie cutter to shape as desired. If the latter, reroll and cut dough until all used up. Place scones on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart (they spread about 1/2-inch each in all directions).
Whisk together egg and water. Brush tops of scones with egg wash.
Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked throughout.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Last year, a friend and I split a share of a CSA. While I love participating – knowing that a local farmer could count on my payment, the ease of picking up a box of fresh fruit and veggies near my house – I missed the choice and flexibility weekly shopping provided me. Instead of planning meals around what looked good that week, I was planning meals in the middle of the week around whatever came in my box. So, this year, I decided not to commit to a CSA and instead pledged to visit my local farmers markets and farms more often.
This past weekend, I grabbed my good friend K and headed out to the farm, our first trip of the year. Strawberry season opened only a week ago, so the bushes were still nice and full. The berries were incredibly sweet and juicy, such a change from the strawberries I get at the supermarket. Completely worth the trip out! I spent the week munching on the sweet berries and these strawberry muffins, which friends and coworkers couldn’t get enough of. We finished the last one today, and I’m already debating about whether tomorrow is too soon to make another batch! Enjoy!
Makes 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. granulated sugar or 2 c. caster sugar**
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 125 g. unsalted butter, melted (roughly 9 Tbs. butter)
- 1 c. milk
- 1 1/2 c. fresh strawberries, diced
- Crumble topping (optional, recipe below)
** If using granulated sugar, briefly blend in a food processor or immersion mixer until more finely ground. Caster sugar, more commonly found in Europe, is finer than granulated sugar, but not quite “super-fine sugar”
Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add vanilla extract, eggs, butter and milk, stirring until just combined. Fold in strawberries.
Fill muffin cups until 2/3 fill (about 1 scoop with a medium ice cream scoop, under 2″ in diameter). Top with crumble topping (below), if desired.
Cook 18-22 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let sit in muffin tin for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields enough for 1 batch of muffins
- 60 g. all-purpose flour (~5 heaping tablespoons, using a soup spoon)
- 50 g. rolled oats (~5 heaping tablespoons, using a soup spoon)
- 35 g. light brown sugar (~2 heaping tablespoons, using a soup spoon)
- pinch of salt
- 60 g. unsalted butter (~4 Tbs. or half a stick)
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in remaining ingredients, until mixture is crumbly.
This scone recipe is one of the recipes my mom and I always fall back on, particularly when we have overnight guests. Last time I made them, I was at my parent’s house. It was a little breakfast treat for my dad, as well as for the guests that were trickling in and out of my parent’s house during Thanksgiving week. I even pulled out some of Mom’s pretty antique china for the photo (the morning coffee didn’t make the cut for the photo). Anyway, these scones are quick and easy to make and always come out just wonderfully. I usually use dried cherries or cranberries, but you can substitute any dried berry you’d like. The scones will keep for at least a week, if they last that long!
Dried Cherry/Cranberry & Walnut Scones
Adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Scones,
Fine Cooking No. 68 (p. 22)
Makes 8-12 Scones
- 1/4 c. plus 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. cake flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 c. dried cranberries, tart cherries, or other dried fruit
- 1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the 3 Tbs. sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and orange zest. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into dry mixture, until butter lumps are no larger than peas. Stir in cherries/cranberries and walnuts. Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until dry flour is no longer visible. The dough will be very wet and sticky.
Flour work surface and turn dough out onto floured surface. Pat into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8-12 wedges (I like 12 scones). Using a large, thin cookie spatula, transfer to baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake 18-20 minutes, until the bottom and edges of the scones are lightly browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
As I was flipping through my Barefoot Contessa cookbook collection that I got for Christmas, this recipe jumped out at me. I’m not really sure why, as I’m not a big breakfast person and rarely eat eggs. But it seemed like an easy weekend breakfast to try.
Once again, Ina did not fail me. The herb and Parmesan topping to these eggs was a nice change from simple salt and pepper on a sunny-side up egg. The edges of the eggs were all crispy while the yolk stayed a bit runny. This recipe is definitely worth keeping for overnight guests – quick to assemble and no hoovering over the stove. Got 15 minutes one Saturday morning? Give these eggs a shot.
Herb Baked Eggs
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris, also found on Food Network
- 1/4 tsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
- 1 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan
- 4-6 large or extra-large eggs
- 2 Tbs. heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- toasted french bread
Preheat broiler for 5 minutes, with an oven rack 6-inches below the heat.
When preheated, place ramekins or gratin dishes on a baking sheet with 1 Tbs. cream and 1/2 Tbs. butter in each, and put in heated oven for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan in a small dish. Set aside.
Crack 2-3 eggs (my gratin dishes only fit 2 eggs) into small bowls, so that the eggs are ready to go when the ramekins/gratin dishes are heated.
After 3 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven. Butter and cream will be hot and bubbly. Quickly pour the pre-portioned eggs into each dish. Sprinkle with herb mixture, salt, and pepper. Return to oven and cook for another 5-6 minutes, until whites are almost cooked. Remove from oven and let sit 60 seconds before serving (eggs will continue to cook while resting).
Note: I don’t care for runny eggs, and ended up cooking mine for 10-12 minutes total. I suspect the small size of my gratin dish meant that the eggs took a little longer to cook.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten to spend any real time in the kitchen, reading, or at the computer. I’m hoping things will calm down in another week or so, as I’m almost finished with school and almost finished with fundraising for the Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure. However, I have managed to steal a few minutes for myself, both to write this post and make this quick easy breakfast.
I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but I do enjoy granola mixed with yogurt in the morning. Night and light but still filling. This granola recipe only takes a few minutes to prepare, and is cooked in less than 45 minutes. I hope you enjoy it!
Honey Almond Granola
Adapted from Fine Cooking, Weekend (p. 46)
Makes 8-10 cups
- vegetable oil cooking spray
- 4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 c. oat bran
- 2 c. whole almonds, chopped, or 2 c. slivered almonds
- 3/4 c. vegetable oil
- 3/4 c. honey
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 c. raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 and spray two rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, vanilla, almond extract, milk powder, and salt (will be a “gloppy”). In a larger mixing bowl, combine oats, oat bran, and almonds. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture stirring until well combined.
Spread granola in an even layer between the two prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, stir granola and then bake for another 10-20 minutes. Oats will be golden brown and almonds will look toasted.
Remove from oven (granola will become crispier as it cools) and allow to cool completely before adding the raisins or dried fruit. Store in an airtight container for 3 weeks.
This month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipes made wonderful use of the month’s take from my CSA – tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers all went into Ina’s Greek Panzanella and the blueberries went int0 these blueberry coffee cake muffins. My coworkers were thrilled to try out another of my recipes.
Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
Adapted from Ina Garden’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Makes 16 muffins
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature ( I used large eggs)
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 oz. sour cream
- 1/4 c. milk
- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 half-pints blueberries
Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin pans with paper liners.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Lower speed and add eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk, a little at a time. Scrape down sides as needed. Sift baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour into the wet mixture.
When just barely mixed in, turn off stand mixture and fold in blueberries with a spatula. Portion into prepared muffin tins, filling each up to the top.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.