Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Breakfast Muffins

I was headed to the gym this morning (really!) when, on my way out the door, I spied this recipe card on the dining room table.  It called my name (in a way the gym never does), so I swapped my sweatshirt for an apron, and put these delicious breakfast muffins together in literally five minutes.

These are old-school style muffins -- simple, small and not overly sweet --  muffins that will not give you the kind of muffin tops you try to avoid by going to the gym. They are the opposite of the huge modern-day muffins sold in delis and bakeries, which are really just muffins disguised as cake (which is fine, but we should all acknowledge them for what they are).

Below are all the ingredients you need.

Mix everything together in a bowl...

and fill the muffin tin.

This is a thick, sticky batter.  Don't worry that the tops aren't smooth.  They will all even out in the oven.

Plated, awaiting the arrival of the DH, who did go to the gym this morning.

Inside the muffin.

This is one of those vintage recipe cards that's simply a list of ingredients, with no method given.  Below, is the way I mixed them.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding some vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.  Let it stand for a few minutes before using.

I used butter instead of shortening, and baked them for 20 minutes.

Breakfast Muffins
Preheat oven to 425 F.  Prepare the muffin pan by lining or greasing and flouring.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl.  Pour wet ingredients in and mix well.  Place into lined muffin pan and bake.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Courtesan au Chocolat

If you haven't seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's newest film, you're missing a wild ride -- and a dessert that plays a starring role. It's rare that pastry stars in a film, so I'm breaking from my blog mission of baking exclusively from vintage handwritten recipes, to bring you Courtesan au Chocolat.

The dessert, from the fictional bakery Mendls, consists of three cream puffs (pate au choux) filled with chocolate pastry cream, dipped in icing and stacked.

Start by making the cream puffs.

While they're baking, make the chocolate pasty cream.  This recipe requires two pastry bags -- one for the pate au choux and one for the chocolate filling.  And a third, if you decided to pipe white icing for a beautiful, but time-consuming, finale.

The toughest part was mixing the icing colors. Use a light hand, when adding the colors if you want to recreate the look of the dessert from the film.

You can find the recipe and a video and more details here.

Sunday Morning Hot Bread

Wanting to prepare a wholesome breakfast today, I whipped up Sunday Morning Hot Bread.  But instead of bread, what emerged from the oven was cake (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Curious, I did a bit of research and discovered only one reference, an old recipe called Mt. Washington Hot Bread, that was a favorite at Camp Onaway in New Hampshire.  You can see that (even simpler recipe) here. The recipe I used was found in a handwritten recipe book I purchased at a Brooklyn stoop sale.

It is light, not-too-sweet and delicious -- perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea.  And so simple to prepare.

The flavoring in this recipe comes from lemon extract.  If you don't happen to have any, vanilla would make a lovely substitute.

The batter can be prepared in a single bowl.

Pour the batter into the pan; sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and dot with butter.

Even though I covered the edges of the cake with topping, it somehow all migrated to the center of the cake.

You can turn the cake out, but it's easier to serve it from the pan.  It would be terrific with some stewed fruit.

The original recipe, below, and a more modern interpretation below that.

Sunday Morning Hot Bread
Preheat oven to 400F
Grease and flour an eight-inch square pan

3/4 c. sugar
2 T. butter
1 egg, well-beaten
1 t. lemon extract
1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
3 t. baking powder

1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. butter

Cream the butter, salt and sugar until fluffy.
Add the milk, lemon extract and egg and combine well.
Combine the flour and baking powder and mix it in the batter gradually.
Pour into prepared pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top.  Dot with butter.
Bake about 25 minutes.
Cool slightly and enjoy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ann's Irish Soda Bread

This simple vintage recipe for Irish Soda Bread is simply the best I've ever made.  And I'm not a fan of Irish Soda Bread (where's the butter?), but hot from the oven, this is moist and delicious.  And addicting.  It's so good that I may make this for the DH to bring to work on Monday, instead of the modern-day Ina Garten recipe I'd planned to use.

I put it together this morning in about ten minutes.  Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them together.

Measure out the raisins.  I dusted lightly with flour to prevent them from sinking in the bread, but you can add them to the flour mixture and skip this step.

Put the buttermilk in a measuring cup, add the egg and mix together.

The dough is a bit sticky, and despite the recipe instruction, no kneading required.

Place in a greased eight-inch cake pan and press down.  I used gloved hands to do this; you can use the back of a large spoon.

About 35 minutes later, you'll have this.

Remove from the pan,

slice and enjoy.

Here's the original recipe card.  I made half the recipe, used butter instead of margarine and skipped the poppy seeds as I didn't have any.  Below the card is the method I used.

Ann's Irish Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 375F
Grease an 8-inch cake pan

2 c. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 T baking powder
3 T unsalted butter
3/4 c buttermilk
1 egg
1 c raisins

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Blend.  Add softened butter and mix until incorporated.  Add raisins.
Mix buttermilk and egg together.  Add to bowl.  Blend until just incorporated -- do not overmix.
Spoon into pan and flatten.  Bake about 35 minutes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Vanilla Wafer Cake

Vanilla wafers, pretty good on their own, are often the building blocks of desserts (banana pudding anyone?).  In Vanilla Wafer Cake, the cookies are crushed and used in place of flour, making this technically a flourless (but alas not gluten-free) cake.  This recipe may have originated in the south, but this version is in the 1977 Indiana Rural Letter Carriers' Auxiliary Cookbook from Hope, Indiana. This cake has many virtues: originality,  sweetness, moistness and portability.  It will keep fresh for days (if it actually lasts that long) and is sturdy enough to survive being transported on a NYC subway.  The vanilla flavor is enhanced by the addition of coconut (which also ramps up the sweetness factor) and chopped pecans.

Start by crushing a box of vanilla wafers.  (Though the recipe calls for 12 ounces, modern-day boxes contain just 11 -- but it won't affect the outcome.)  I used a food processor to make quick work of the task.  You can also place the cookies in a heavy plastic bag and go at it with a rolling pin or a wine bottle, whichever is handier.

Crushed cookies, below.

This is a simple, one bowl cake.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan.  Smooth out the top. Bake at 350.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the cake was upside down when I photographed it (below).  When properly positioned, the top has a nice light crust (see top photo of the slice).  Either way, it tastes really good.

I followed the recipe exactly, using butter instead of margarine and 11 oz. of vanilla wafers.

My dog-eared and prized copy of this cookbook was given to me by Mrs. Howard Stewart of Hope, who was the president of the organization at the time, and contributed many family recipes to the book.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cinnamon Supper Cake

Cinnamon Supper Cake is my new go-to cake. I've made it three times in the past week because it's easy, delicious and, did I say easy?  The cake as described by one of my tasters is "a light and airy madeleine mixed with a light coffee cake."

It's made with basic ingredients that most of us have already: milk, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla butter and an egg.

The batter at the beginning looks curdled (and I beat the butter and sugar a long time, which is supposed to prevent this) but it will smooth out as you proceed.

See, I told you so!

I lined the pan with parchment so as to easily lift the cake from the pan.  You can also grease and flour the pan, and turn the cake out onto a rack about ten minutes after you remove it from the oven.

While the cake is still hot, brush it with some softened butter.  Or spread it with the back of a spoon.  Then apply the frosting.

The frosting is a simple mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon (the cake's namesake).  I put it in a fine strainer and tapped the sides to let it fall more evenly on the cake.

Production notes:  I used butter instead of shortening and served it at room temperature.