Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daffodil Cake and Birthday Revisited

When I got married, I wasn't a young girl who'd always lived with Mom and didn't know my way around the house.  I'd been in school for 8 years, forced to cook for myself, and prone to twiddle around the kitchen.  The Domestic Sergeant was well aware of this, and has often claimed that he married me for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  So, in our first year of married life, I asked him what sort of cake he'd like for his birthday.  He responded "Angel Food."  Hmmmm.  This was one that Mom never made.  She didn't even own a tube pan.  Neither did I.  But I went and got one and set out to start separating egg whites.  The Domestic Sergeant wandered into the kitchen and surveyed my preparations.  He eyed the pan.

"Is that non-stick?" he asked.

"Yep," I replied, in utterly misplaced confidence.

"Hmmmm." was the only response.

I whipped the egg whites, folded in the flour, baked it and placed it upside down over a glass soda bottle to cool.  As I cleaned up the kitchen and started a creme anglaise to go with it, I heard this horrible fwump sound.  Many of you may have correctly predicted the outcome of this venture.  Yes, indeedy, my Angel Food cake fell out of the pan and broke into multiple pieces.  The Domestic Sergeant got to comfort his new bride in her first real kitchen failure.

I swore off Angel Food cakes.  For 11 years.  But today, as we were out on another mission entirely, I found a tube pan.  One that is NOT nonstick and has little feet!  So, in preparation for The Domestic Sergeants first ever Birthday Cake made by his wife, I gave it a dry run.  The original recipe for this cake comes from a vintage Pillsbury Booklet entitled, Kate Smith chooses her 55 Favorite Ann Pillsbury Cake Recipes.  I've adapted this gluten free version, and since I didn't have any orange extract, I used a little zest and juice from a blood orange.  I hope you enjoy it.

Gold and Silver Daffodil Cake

1 1/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1/4 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
3/4 tsp guar gum, divided
1 1/4 c. egg whites (7-9 large eggs - ish)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 egg yolks
4 Tbsp Fancy Flour blend OR
3 Tbsp white rice flour
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, sift together 1 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp guar gum.  Set aside.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with salt and cream of tartar.  Beat until foamy.  With mixer running, add 3/4 c. sugar gradually.  Continue to whip until stiff peaks form when beater is lifted.

In another bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar.  Add the zest, lemon juice, 4 Tbsp flour and guar gum and beat until light and lemon-colored.  Set aside.

Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites 2 Tbsp at a time.  You don't have to incorporate each addition fully before adding the next.  Be gentle, and remember that the only leavening in this cake is the air whipped into the egg whites.  You don't want to deflate them too much.

Continue to fold gently until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and batter is fairly smooth.

Take half of the batter and fold it into the reserved egg yolk mixture.

Add the vanilla to the white batter and blend gently.  Then layer both batters into an ungreased tube pan.  (Really.  The ungreased part is pretty important.  Unless you like the fwump sound.)

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool, inverted, for one hour.  If your pan doesn't have the cute little feet, place it over a glass bottle.  It's important that air is able to flow underneath the pan or condensation will build up and make your cake soggy.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and lift the cake out with the tube.  Then also gently run a knife between the base of the pan and the cake.  Invert onto a serving plate.

You can serve it as is, or add a light glaze.

Vanilla Glaze

2 c. powdered sugar
dash salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. milk (approximately)

Place sugar in bowl.  Add salt, then add a little milk at a time, mixing between additions.  Before it's thin enough to drizzle, add vanilla.  Continue adding more milk until you get a good drizzling consistency.  Spread on top of cake and allow to drip down sides.

The two colors of batter show up nicely when the cakes is sliced.  It's such a pretty spring dessert, it makes me almost doubt the weather report calling for snow and ice tomorrow!

And now that I've conquered my fear of Angel Food (even if in modified fashion), the Domestic Sergeant might just get his birthday cake for the first time since we got married!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spring Shopping

I have not abandoned you, gentle reader, I promise.  The past 10 days have been filled with sick children, sick children going to school, healthy children being sent home from school on the suspicion of being sick and a sick parent.  Add into that Valentine's Day cupcakes (I promise to share the vanilla recipe at some point, the chocolate cupcakes were nothing but my Halloween cupcakes refrosted in pink and red with some mini hear sprinkles), and nothing new has gotten made for you!  (Bad blogger!  No biscuit!)

I promise, this weekend, there shall be new goodies.  But, in the interim, I'm going to take you on a virtual shopping trip.  Mom and I took the girls to one of the more extravagant malls in the Metro Detroit area this past weekend and did some shopping.  I'll spare you the trip to Build-A-Bear and the shopping for children's shoes.  But a spin through Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, and Crate And Barrel put me in a redecorating mood.  While I wait for my new refrigerator to arrive (hopefully the old one will hold out that long), and get ready to repaint the floor, I'd like to share with you some of the fun things I'd like to have in my kitchen as I freshen it up for spring.

I love these colors.  I would trade in Geraldine, my Heavy Duty KitchenAid, if only the 6 or 7 quart models came in these Easter egg colors!  But go shop KitchenAid and check out all the gorgeous mixers that could add both function and fun to your Spring kitchen.
I love all things vintage and one of my favorite things from days gone by are tools that are made by hand, especially wood tools.  This gorgeous flame birch French rolling pin is high on my list of gorgeous baking tools.
While you're there, click around Etsy for some more gorgeous hand-made items.  Need a shopping list?  What about one of these gorgeous framed chalkboards?
Or maybe you'd rather have more room to write notes to the kids, husband, or even yourself.  How about this gorgeous chalkboard?
And then there are the aprons.  I love aprons.  I need more aprons!  Sur La Table has some gorgeous new ones with a vintage flair:
And then there was this set of mother/daughter aprons that nearly caused me to have a Cute Seizure.  I could have spent an hour or more at Sur La Table, but the Empress was getting bored:
Another Sur La Table find is this pie bird.  Oh, how I want one of these!  For those of you who haven't seen them, these little beauties go in the center of your pie with the head poking out above the crust.  They let the steam escape.  And this sweet shade of blue would look so perfect in spring pies!

And he'd look so cute in this Emile Henry pie dish:

It also comes in pink, and either would be a fabulous vintage look, maybe on a polka dot table cloth?
Enjoy your Spring Shopping, and I promise - more recipes soon!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cinnamon Streusel Breakfast Cake

OK, so this is a coffee cake.  But the Domestic Sergeant and I don't drink coffee.  And this is something I can feed my girls in the morning or pack in their lunches.  It's an old-fashioned style goodie, and like the best vintage recipes, it's eminently flexible.

Cinnamon Streusel Breakfast Cake

Streusel Topping

1/4 c. gluten-free oats
1/4 c. gluten-free oat flour (amaranth, millet, or quinoa would also work)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, softened

Cinnamon Filling

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter (salted)


2 1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
3/4 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch

2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
14 Tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 5.3 oz Honey flavored Greek Yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine oats, 1/4 c. brown sugar, oat flour, and cinnamon. Mix to combine.

With a pastry blender, cut in 1/4 c. butter until mixture is crumbly.  Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine 1/3 c. brown sugar and cinnamon.  Work in 2 Tbsp of butter with a fork until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and egg white.

Stir in yogurt, milk and vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients and add them to butter mixture. Beat for about two minutes, until smooth. Spoon 1/2 of mixture into pan and spread to cover bottom with a wet spoon. Top with cinnamon filling, then with remaining batter. Sprinkle streusel on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Caramel icing

2 Tbsp butter (salted)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2-3 tsp. milk

In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Add powdered sugar and milk alternately until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

Now, this cake doesn't need the icing at all.  But icings of any kind are a sure-fire way to get The Empress of Cute to try something.  Leave it off it you like.
When fresh fruit is in season, you can change it up.  Omit the cinnamon filling and stir in 1 c. of fresh cherries or blueberries, and add 1/4 c. toasted almonds to the streusel.  Or leave off the streusel, and replace the filling with fresh raspberries, topping the cake with a sprinkling of coarse sugar.  Make it your own.
Or make my version....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Monster Cookies

It was just as well that I'd decided to make these cookies today.  My littlest one came home from school quite the crabby little child.  She cried and fussed and carried on - right up to the point that she discovered Momma had made Chocolate Monster Cookies.

This week has been a little frustrating for everybody in the house, but a little chocolate goes a long way to soothing away the aggravations of the day.  They're also a little "healthier" than the standard cookie - but they're still chocolate.  With M&M's.

Chocolate Monster Cookies

1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 c. gluten-free old fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 c. quinoa flakes
2 c. brown rice cereal
1 c. Valentine M&M's
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together peanut butter and butter.

Beat in cocoa powder until all lumps are gone.  Add sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Beat until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With mixer on lowest setting, add oatmeal, quinoa, and rice cereal.  Mix until all are well distributed.  Stir in candies and chips by hand.  
Use a 1 oz. disher to place generous ~2 Tbsp portions of dough on each cookie sheet.  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until set.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
A few notes:
1.  Not all people who are on a gluten-free diet can tolerate oats, even if they're gluten-free oats.  Check with your doctor if you're unsure.
2.  If you want, you can use 3 oz. of melted unsweetened baking cocoa instead of the cocoa powder.  Just reduce the butter to 1/2 c. and add the melted, cooled chocolate to the peanut butter/butter/sugar mixture.
3.  I know, peanut butter has plenty of salt.  But I use unsalted butter, and I found that with the chocolate these needed just a bit more salt to avoid tasting "flat."

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a blog hop.  Please visit these other fabulous recipes in the #chocolatelove hop:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sticky Toffee Banana Muffins

You've heard of "top shelf" liquors?  At my house we have "top of the refrigerator" treats.  These are goodies that meet with the approval of the Empress of Cute so fully that she will go to great lengths to get at them.  Hence, storage on top of the refrigerator becomes necessary.

These muffins certainly fall into that category.  I felt the need to make something the Empress would enjoy, since her older sister was headed to a birthday party this afternoon.  Now, Princess thoroughly enjoyed her time at the birthday party.  I found it more... surreal.  Since this was the birthday of one of Princess's classmates, a goodly number of the kids attending AND the birthday girl are all on the Autism Spectrum.  Normally this would be a recipe for disaster, but this house was outfitted with a basement playroom with slide, swings, ball pit, and other sensory equipment.  A good time was had by all.

I was left to talk with the Other Mothers.  And at first, I was feeling quite inadequate as I was given a run down of all the various things these ladies have refused, fought, contradicted, and generally put up a fuss about with various care providers.  Something I don't do as a rule.  But as I listened, I found that each of these ladies had chosen to move into this county for access to it's excellent services - the various aspects of which they were currently maligning.  And I had a small epiphany:  Advocacy doesn't always mean argument.  Sometimes it means letting the people who are helping your child HELP your child.  I sat back and watched Princess enjoy herself for a bit longer, then called it an evening (especially since most of the available food didn't fit Princess's gluten-free diet, and she was getting hungry).

And got out the muffins once we were home.

In case you were wondering - these muffins are also excellent comfort food.

Sticky Toffee Banana Muffins

1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp butter

1 1/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend
1/4 c. millet flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp potato starch

1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 c. Heath toffee bits

Toast pecans on a baking sheet in 00 degree oven until lightly browned.  Pour into a heat-proof bowl with 1/2 Tbsp butter.  The heat from the nuts will melt the butter.  Stir until butter is distributed.

Mix 1 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and pour over nuts.  Stir until all nuts are well coated.

Set aside.
Set oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper wrappers.
In a bowl, combine flours, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder, and soda.  Whisk together.
In another bowl, cream together 3 Tbsp butter and cream cheese.

Add sugar and beat until well combined.  Add egg, vanilla, and milk.  Beat for 1 minute.  Add banana and beat until smooth.

Add dry ingredients and mix on low until almost combined.  Pour in toffee bits and spiced nuts.  Mix until distributed.  Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full (I use my 2 oz. disher for this).

Sprinkle tops with sparkle sugar, if desired.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Even my husband, the Domestic Sergeant - who does not like banana muffins - decided that these tasted like More.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First on the First: Macarons

There are a number of Pastry Pinnacles that I have yet to scale.  At least successfully.  Puff pastry.  Strudel.  Dobosh tortes.  Up until now macarons were on that list.  In fact, I'd never had a macaon before, and I wasn't really sure what all the fuss was about.  But, macarons are by their very nature gluten-free, so it was high time I got around to it.
It's certainly true that there are lots of horror stories out there about macarons and how difficult they are.  It's also true that I enjoy a good "nerd pun."  So when I happened upon the Brave Tart's blog, and her post on Macaron Myths stated "Um, guys? We’re talking about a cookie here, not the Heisenberg uncertainty principle," I knew I'd found my sensei.  I used her recipe, and really had some fun.  In fact, maybe this weekend I'll try her blood-orange version....

 My first batch were made with pumpkin seeds and were plain vanilla, filled with the Brave Tart's German Buttercream (my go-to Buttercream recipe for a lot of reasons).  Aren't they cute?  Little feet and everything.  They were a tad undermixed, judging from the little peaks.  But all in all, not bad for a first try, eh?
Then I got a wee bit overconfident for a beginner.
My next batch I made with hazelnuts and cocoa.  Which was probably the issue - cocoa tends to alter batter texture and make it seize just a bit.
Because I sifted.

I mixed.

I checked batter consistency.

Then mixed a bit more.  When I THOUGHT I was ready, I piped.

I banged them on the counter.  I baked, rotating the trays halfway through.
And this happened.

Stella, (The Brave Tart herself) is a delight and a wonderful resource.  She lets you post pictures to her Facebook page for troubleshooting.  Her judgment was that I had a streak of unincorporated meringue in my batter that caused the cracking.
Know what?  I took the rest of the buttercream from the vanilla batch, threw in 1/2 c. of Nutella...  and they were still delicious, cracks and all.

Undeterred, I went on to make another batch.  These are again made with pumpkin seeds.  I added some lemon zest, lemon juice, and yellow food color to the batter, and filled them with lemon curd.

Still slightly undermixed - little peaky tops - but still delicious.
Why did I share the failed batch?  Because you learn more from the failures, and you might learn a bit from mine.  I know now what undermixed batter looks like.  It crossed my mind to deliberately overmix the lemon batter, but in the end I couldn't quite bring myself to do it.  I suspect that I will eventually do it anyway - and then I'll know what overmixed batter looks like.  I suspect that if I can do 8-10 batches of macarons within a 6-8 week period (so I don't forget what things look like) I'll have a lock on the macaron.  And at least I'll succeed more often.  Maybe there's a new goal.
So, what have I learned?  I need to make more macarons!  Because they taste fabulous no matter what they look like.
Special thanks to Stella at The Brave Tart and the wonderful folks who put on the First on the First Blog hop for giving me the tools I needed and the little "push" necessary to join in the Macaron Madness.