Friday, June 27, 2014

June Daring Bakers' Challenge - Cinnamon Rolls

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

Hey - no need to click that link this time - you're already here!

This month I took a turn hosting the Daring Bakers, and dared the group to make a treat that, if you've been around for a while, you know I love - cinnamon rolls. And, as you probably already know, I love getting creative with my cinnamon rolls, sometimes skipping the cinnamon altogether and going for all kinds of creative fillings.

As examples for the group, I provided links and recipes to many of the varieties I've made over the years, including Peter Reinhart's traditional cinnamon buns, roasted banana cinnamon rolls, pumpkin brown butter apple cinnamon rolls, sourdough cinnamon rolls (of course! I borrowed Jenni's here because hers came out so much better than mine!), and, for anyone nervous around yeast, I even included my unyeasted sweet cinnamon biscuits.

But those were just examples! I then asked this creative group of bakers to be... well... creative! To make whatever dough they wanted, fill it with whatever sounded good. roll it up and bake it!

Now, the more creative submissions that rolled in on the forums, the more I craved rolled goodness. So I had to make a few too.

I started with these mixed berry rolls:

(I used Peter Reinhart's dough recipe and whipped up a mixed berry compote for the filling).

A week later, at the urging of little man, I made traditional cinnamon rolls, but immediately gave half the batch to a friend.

After that, I decided to test my own creativity and made a dinner version:

Pizza! I used pizza dough (I'll share that recipe later - it's worth its own post!) and rolled it with sauce and cheese.  Messy. But super fun!

I wanted to make more. In fact, I really, really wanted to make another batch yesterday.  But I held off. For now. Trust me - another batch is coming soon.

So, if you feel like it, check out the full challenge as the group saw it (here).

And thank you to everyone who baked along with me - your creativity and excitement were contagious and it was truly an honor to see all of the deliciousness that you created this month!

Friday, June 20, 2014

June Sourdough Surprises - Tempura

This month's Sourdough Surprises was totally different and totally cool. Over the last couple of years, we have been experimenting with all of the different things that we can bake with our starters. Well this month was a little different. We didn't do any baking.

This month was all about frying.

The primary inspiration this month was onion rings, but the options were truly limitless.

It actually took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. And then it hit me. Tempura. I tried tempura once before and we all absolutely loved it. So... given that the idea this month was to batter and fry things, why not try it again?

The batter comes together super easily, though I was a bit surprised about the ingredients.

The dry ingredients include flour, cornstarch and two leavening agents - baking powder and baking soda. I wouldn't expect any leavening agents in tempura, much less two, but I went with it.

Then just combine a bit of sourdough starter with some water...

...mix everything together...

...and you're ready to start dipping!

I chose to go simple this time and just do broccoli.

And it fried up absolutely beautifully.

And even better - it tasted amazing.  Seriously - this is totally the way to eat broccoli. Battered and fried to golden perfection, it was so tasty.

Yeah, I know the frying undoubtedly cancels out most of the healthiness of the broccoli, but this was so delicious. It was more like snack food than like a veggie.

I seriously can't wait to do this again. And considering that I generally am not a fan of deep frying, that should tell you just how good this was.

Sourdough Tempura Batter
(from Maggies Mudpies - Sourdough blog)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon seasoning salt or Old Bay (I used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder)
3/4 cups water
1/4 cup sourdough starter

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and baking soda.
In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine starter and water, whisking together to break up starter.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, stirring until there are no lumps. The mixture will be pretty thin - thinner than pancake batter.
Dip veggie or meat of your choice in the tempura batter, then deep fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

*note - the recipe I was following did not list specifics for the oil for frying. I used canola oil, which I heated to 350 degrees and it worked beautifully.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Banana Bread Milkshake (smoothie) - an SRC bonus

I know, I know, I just posted my Secret Recipe Club post last week.  But when I learned that a member of this week's reveal group had a family emergency and needed help with her assignment, I couldn't resist volunteering.

And I was sosososo lucky that I did, too! The blog that needed help was none other than Mangia, written by the awesome Chelsy.  Sound familiar? It should! Because I actually baked from her blog before, when I made this pumpkin cake.

Now... if you look back to that post, you'll see that I wanted to make... umm... everything on her blog. And even attempted multiple recipes at the time.

So I had the same problem this time. 

I almost tried to make coconut butter again, but, once again, I didn't have unsweetened coconut.

But then I saw this. A recipe for a milkshake made out of a banana muffin. It was so intriguing that I knew I had to try it.

Now, Chelsy made her milkshake out of these muffins. They're grain free, vegan and super interesting. I was really tempted to try that recipe. But I didn't have all of the ingredients (like... umm.. .the coconut butter...). I was also a bit worried about whether little man could eat them, because coconut flour works very differently from traditional (wheat) flour and requires more eggs when used in baked goods. Little man is allergic to eggs. And while he can eat them in the correct proportion when baked into a recipe, this version used way more eggs in proportion to the rest of the ingredients, so I didn't think they'd work for him.  So I made these instead. 

With the intention of making them into milkshakes.

Which completely amused the kids.

Yup - just pop a muffin right into the blender.

Then add the rest of the ingredients. I kept this dairy free (coconut milk) and nut free (Sunbutter instead of the almond butter called for in the recipe) so that little man could enjoy.

And then just blend!

Seriously - that easy. And seriously - I'd never have thought to make a milkshake (okay, more like smoothie - I didn't freeze the banana first...) out of a muffin.

But trust me. I will definitely do it again some day.


YUM! These were quick, easy, fun and absolutely delicious. And you can customize it however you want - change the muffin, change the sweetener, use any kind of nut or seed butter... yeah - what an awesome idea. 

Chelsy, I am so glad to have had another opportunity to play with your blog. And I promise to make the coconut butter one day. For real :)

Banana Bread Milkshake (Smoothie)
(from Mangia)

1 banana muffin (I used my crumb topped banana muffins)
½ frozen banana (for a milkshake consistency. A non-frozen banana works, but it's more of a smoothie)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from a carton, not a can)
1 tablespoon pure honey
1 tablespoon all-natural almond butter (I used sunbutter to make it nut-free)
1/2 banana muffin, for topping

Place the muffin, banana, coconut milk, honey and nut/seed butter (whichever you are using) into a blender and blend on high until creamy.
Pour the milkshake into a small bowl or glass.
Crumble the last 1/2 banana muffin over the top of the milkshake and serve.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

June Daring Cooks' Challenge - Haggis

Oh yes, you read that title correctly.

The June Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Ruth from Makey-Cakey. She brought out the Daring-est of Daring Cooks and challenged us to make real Scottish Haggis.

Unfamiliar with haggis?  It's a traditional Scottish dish, a meat pudding of sorts, made from organ meats.  Usually containing sheep heart, liver and lung. And encased in the sheep's stomach.


I have never wanted to try it.

Daddy actually tried it once. In Scotland. It was on the breakfast bar where he was staying. And he said it wasn't bad!

But I still have the truly American  squeamishness about organ meats, so I've never been brave enough to try it.

So when our hostess suggested that this would be the challenge she would like to host, I actually told her that it was a great idea.  I mean, we call ourselves daring, right? It's right there in the title every month!

But then... I chickened out.  And decided to make the vegetarian version.

Now... I don't know that you can rightfully call a vegetarian dish "haggis," but it is definitely inspired by the real thing, with the flavorings and process or preparing it.

It was quite simple to make, with a lot of fun flavors and textures.

It started with onion...

...then carrots...

...and then some protein. The recipe calls for ground hazelnuts and peanuts, but with little man's allergies, I substituted sunflower seeds. And there's also mashed kidney beans.

Everything is cooked together with some broth, some lentils and a delicious blend of spices...

...and then you add steel cut oats to bind everything together.  This is cooked on the stove top to soften up the oats...

...and then placed into a loaf pan to be finished off in the oven.

Little man actually loved it right at this stage, and gleefully chowed down on the bits that were left in the pot as I snapped a few photos.

The resulting dish is toasty golden brown on the outside and full of delicious flavors.

It made a very hearty side dish - it could probably stand all on its own, what with the lentils, beans and nuts (seeds for me).

This was definitely a fun dish, and I'd really like to make it again. I think it needed a bit more broth than I used, but it had tremendous flavor and was very enjoyable.

And I am seriously considering getting over myself and trying a more authentic version.


To see the most daring of Daring Cooks, check them out here.

And to see the full challenge, as wonderfully prepared by Ruth, check it out here.

Vegetarian Haggis

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
5 fresh mushrooms, finely chopped (I didn't have mushrooms, so I omm=itted these)
1 cup vegetable broth (I used chicken broth, making this not truly vegetarian...)
1/3 cup dry red lentils (I used regular lentils)
2 tablespoons canned kidney beans - drained, rinsed, and mashed
3 tablespoons ground peanuts (I used sunflowers, ground in the food processor)
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts (again, I used sunflowers, ground in the food processor)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice (I used salt, pepper and garlic powder)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cups steel cut oats

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute the onion 5 minutes, until tender.
Mix in carrot and mushrooms (if using), and continue cooking 5 minutes.
Stir in broth, lentils, kidney beans, nuts (seeds), soy sauce, and lemon juice. Season with thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, and mixed spice.
Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in oats, cover, and simmer for another 20 minutes.
While this simmers, preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Quickly stir the egg into the saucepan, then transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.
Bake 30 minutes, until firm.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Banana Crumb Muffins

The weather has been absolutely crazy this year.  I mean, aside from the fact that we had the coldest weather that I've ever seen (I'm in the Northeast US and we had temperatures and storms comparable to those seen in the Midwest - we are NOT used to that here!). As you can imagine, we were very excited for Spring to come.

But this Spring has  been so bizarre. We've had crazy drenching storms, record high temperatures, record low temperatures, and huge swings in between. Including one 80 degree day that ended up in a hailstorm. Seriously bizarre.

So this week has been super rainy. So we've been inside a lot more than I'd like to be in June.  As a result, I've been in the mood to bake. A lot. 

Today I was in the mood for muffins, and I had a few bananas in perfect baking condition in the fruit bowl.  Perfect!

Little man was super helpful, too.  First he helped me measure dry ingredients.

Then he helped me mash the bananas.

Then he helped me mix up the wet ingredients.

While he was doing all of that, I mixed up a crumb topping for the muffins. I mean, I had to do something while he was doing all the work, right??

I also scooped the muffins into the muffin tin. I probably should have let him do it. I will next time.

And then they baked! And the house smelled so good that I forgot to be upset about not being outside.

And let me tell you - they were delicious. Super moist, super flavorful, super delicious. They made a great after school snack for little miss. And her friend. And I even sent some home with her friend so he could share with his mom.

Now I need the sun to come back out. At least for a few days to give me time to finish up all the baked goods that have been keeping me busy!

Banana Crumb Muffins

For the Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted these)

For the Brown Sugar Crumb:
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/4 cup pecans for topping, optional (I actually used 1/4 cup rolled oats instead and it was great!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin liners. I actually got 12 muffins out of this recipe, so be prepared for that!
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 
In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugars,vanilla, egg and canola oil. 
Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture, mixing just until moistened. 
Fold in pecans (if using).
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. 
Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse crumble. 
Sprinkle topping over muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. 
Sprinkle remaining pecans on the top of each muffin, if you chose to use them.
Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Chocolate Molten Cake

You know what I love about the Secret Recipe Club?

That it introduces me to all sorts of blogs that I might have missed otherwise.

Such as my June assignment, Learning Patience, written by the awesome Corey. And when I say awesome, I mean... like... really awesome. For starters, she and her husband live in Trinidad. Well, they live in Trinidad right now. In a week they're moving to London. Seriously. Secondly, she's a runner. I'd say "like me" at the end of that sentence, but she's a much better runner than I am. Thirdly, she's so open and honest and... well... likeable. Her posts are so easy and fun to read. Fourthly, she has awesome taste in food. Like, super yummy stuff.

I had so many of her recipes running through my head to make for this assignment, but kept coming back to the one for Chocolate Molten Cake. I have always wanted to make those little (single serve) molten lava cakes that ooze (in a yummy way, of course) chocolate deliciousness when you cut into them, and this looked like a lava cake's big brother. Or older cousin. Or some other really cool, bigger relative.

That, and the recipe just looked so... different. The way this cake goes together was so interesting. I had to wait until the kids could help me because I knew little miss, in particular, would get a kick out of seeing it come together.

The base batter is pretty standard.

A bunch of dry ingredients...

...get mixed with some wet ingredients. Little miss is doing that on the left here:

And what's little man mixing? One of the next few layers.

See, that batter that little miss put together is spread on the bottom of a pan. Then chocolate chips are sprinkled on top.

Then that mixture that little man was working on gets sprinkled on top of the chips.

And not mixed in.

And to top all of that off, pour some coffee over it.

Well, technically it's supposed to be espresso powder mixed with hot water. But we aren't huge espresso (or coffee...) drinkers here, so I used instant coffee.

And... again... don't mix it in.

Little miss was confused and amused all at the same time.

And, to be honest, so was I.

But then it bakes. And comes out like this:

Nicely baked on the perimeter, but with a little jiggle (sorry, can't see that in a photo...) in the middle.

And is it ooey gooey?

Holy smokes yes, in the yummiest possible way. That coffee settles in and the bottom becomes this... pudding type substance that is just... so delicious. And the cake itself is delicious, too! It tastes amazing with ice cream. Or whipped cream. Or just by itself. 

This really was super fun to make and way too easy to eat. Seriously, you have to try it.

Chocolate Molten Cake

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (divided)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar (divided)
1/2 cup whole milk (I used coconut milk)
4 tablespoons unsalted butted, melted
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 cup of the cocoa and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Whisk until well combined and not clumpy.
Stir in the milk, vanilla, yolk and melted butter.
Spread the mixture into a buttered 9" square pan. I couldn't find my square pan (weird, I know) so used a 9 inch round pan and it worked great.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup of cocoa. Whisk to break up clumps.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cake batter and then sprinkle the cocoa powder and sugar mixture on top of that. Don't stir any of this in.
Combine the espresso powder with the hot water and pour all over the top. Again - do not stir.
Bake for 14 minutes and then start checking cake. Depending on the oven, it could take between 20 to 35 minutes. The edges of the cake should feel baked but the middle should have a gentle jiggle. Mine took about 24 minutes.
The sauce poured on top has now settled to the bottom to create a rich pudding.
Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes and serve, preferably with ice cream.


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