Saturday, August 25, 2007

Zucchini Bread

I'm doing my best to embrace the cool weather, starting with this zucchini bread. It was sort of an odd recipe, almost savory, which made the chocolate chips a little out of place. I think if I had left them out, this bread would have just been an interesting green bread with a really nice texture. (I wish I had gotten a picture of the inside of this loaf, because it truly was green!) I won't be repeating it because it was actually a little time intensive for a "quick bread", and to be honest, when I think of zucchini bread, what I REALLY am craving is pumpkin or banana bread. I just happened to have a zucchini to use up, so here we are.
ps - Except for the addition of chocolate chips, I used the recipe word-for-word out of Baking Illustrated: the Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker, by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Goodbye, summer

Part of me is still hoping that September will deliver a good heat wave, but as I was pulling out my wool sweater and umbrella this morning it was difficult to get too optimistic. Then while I was doing my grocery shopping I saw the word "maple" on a carton of yogurt, and I realized that I might be able to get excited about this premature autumn if I put some effort into it. Maple, cinnamon, pears, pumpkin, nuts, pie crust...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Plain Old Coffee Cake

Here on the West Coast we had the honor of a visit from Nina Roux recently. I made this cake for one of our gatherings. It was buttery and tasty, with a sweet (but not too sweet) crumb topping. I couldn't get a good photo, but if you are really itching for a glimpse, then scroll to the bottom for a mediocre picture.

The recipe came out of Martha's Baking Handbook, and the only modification I made was to use only half of the crumb topping. It was more than enough, and I can't imagine that you would even be able to find the cake if you had used the whole amount called for.

Classic Crumb Cake, from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

- 10 Tbsp butter at room temp
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream
- crumb topping

Crumb Topping (this is half of what was called for)

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (I will try more next time)
- 3/4 tsp coarse salt
- 1 3/4 sticks of room temp butter

Mix the dry ingredients first in a food processor, then add the butter in pieces until clumps form.

Oven to 350 degrees; grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Mix dry ingredients in bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy (about 4 minutes.) Beat in eggs one at a time; add vanilla. Add sour cream and flour mixture, alternating. Spread batter into pan and then sprinkle crumb topping over batter. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for a little while, but this cake is great while still warm.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whole Wheat Bread

As usual, I am baking way less since it is summertime. I imagine that will change once September rolls around, but in the meantime I did make a really tasty batch of bread. I am going to continue my lazy streak and simply say that I followed the recipe for Whole Wheat Bread in Baking Illustrated to the letter, and the results were fabulous. It called for all purpose flour, whole wheat graham flour, wheat germ, and rye flour. The bread was soft, it wasn't dry at all, and it didn't require an enormous effort to chew (I guess I had pretty low expectations, which is odd since I grew up with my grandma's amazing homemade whole wheat bread...?). The texture was actually pretty amazing, and I will definitely be coming back to this recipe.

This seems to be all I'm eating lately

Ever since I finally got around to trying Greek style yogurt I haven't eaten much of anything else. That stuff tastes like straight-up sour cream (which is a good thing in my book.) Sometimes the blueberries are swapped out for nectarines or peaches, but for some reason this has been the extent of my cooking these days. I'm going out to try a new restaurant tonight - maybe that will help shake up my routine. ps - you can't see it in the picture, but there is honey drizzled on top.