Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Sufganiots

It's a new tradition with the T & J - donuts! Or should I type, doughnuts. Whichever way you prefer, you can't deny how delicious they are! Although our experimentations are in the early phase - I seem to be the designated "risen-donut" maker and T & J prepare the cake variety. No problems with me! I didn't bring my camera for our last donut adventures - which perhaps worked out as we ate them pretty fast. I made a lemon-flavoured batter last time and I thought I would try something different. One major thing I wanted to improve on was the "rise-ability" of the donut - I wanted fluffy tall donuts, darn-it! And I'll be damned if I can't make them!

Back in the days of Home Economics class, I remember making Israeli jelly-filled donuts, and they were pretty good - even with our pathetic Grade 11 skills! (side note: I won the proficiency prize that year for Foods 12. Hee hee) So let's give it another try - this time, under their traditional name of Sufganiots. I used quick-rise yeast and they were quick! And they rose! We finished the donut holes - but they were pretty terrific looking - I think next time, I will make a batch just of Sufganiot-holes (sounds like a curse word - "stop being such a Sufganiot-hole!"). For those in the deep-fry state of mind - try out the recipe below.

c/o Martha Stewart Living

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt

Oil for fryin'
Jam for injectin'

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Place flour in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a sticky dough forms.
On a well-floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm place and let double in size. (1 - 1 1/2 hours)

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut rounds, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 370F. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds and then carefully flip to fry the other side (also 40sec).
Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm.

To inject jam - use an injector or pastry bag fitted with a long narrow tip. Use a small paring knife to cut a small notch into the donut, insert piping implement and fill away!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy birthday, Mothership!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Mothership, happy birthday to you!

If you haven't guessed already - it was the Mothership's birthday this past week. Usually I buy a cake, but this year, I covertly planned a cake surprise after treating her to dinner (of course!). The cake of choice? Her perennial favourite, the Black Forest Cake. I didn't want to make a traditional-looking cake, so I took all the elements of a BFC and did it zuccotto style - also another favourite of hers.

The base was a dark chocolate cake molded into a medium bowl using a lot of syrup (water + sugar + Triple Sec) to maintain moistness. And it did. Beautifully. I hand-pitted some gorgeous (and fresh!) cherries and layered them in the cake alternately with whipped cream. It was then 'topped' (or bottomed) with a round chocolate cake and more syrup and chilled out in the fridge overnight.

I was toying with different decorating options - obviously I was limited to something that would look good on a dome-shaped cake - and I wanted to stay away from the combed-whipped cream look, so I opted for cream piped flat with a star tip and then covered with shaved chocolate pieces. Looking back, it wouldn't have hurt for me to spend 5 - 10 minutes to actually sketch out a decorating plan. It looked good - but not...great. Oh well - there's always next year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Maple Apple Mini Cakes

I'm a child of the fall. This is the figurative and literal sense. I was born in the fall, and I am drawn to the scents, sights, sounds, and smells of the autumn as well. The theme for my 'dream' wedding would be fall-themed as well: multi-coloured maple leaves carefully and thoughtfully strewn on tables, centrepieces featuring ruby red apples and for the main dish - a family-sized portion of coq au vin or beef stew. And maple. The smell of maple syrup would be wafted through the warmly lit reception hall and it would be put on every table as a gravy-style condiment.

It is no wonder that even in the heat of summer, I was inspired to make these cinnamon-sugar coated maple apple cakes (c/o Donna Hay). In retrospect, I would have added some toasted pecans to that delicious mess - perhaps topped each mini-cake with one? And I would have upped the amount of maple syrup for sure. There's definitely a trick to coating these babies - when they say, "coat while warm" - seriously, coat while warm. Frantically pressing cinnamon-sugar on lukewarm cakes = not fun. But eating these cakes = very fun! And delicious!

Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Maple Apple Cakes

2 1/2 cups self-rising cake flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
250g butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
6 red apples, grated
2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together flour and cinnamon.
Add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs and apples and mix until combined.
Spoon into tins and bake about 27 minutes (mine took about 15-20 min in mini-muffin tins).

Toss together cinnamon and sugar for coating, and coat cakes while warm.

Obviously the original instructions were much more details than above - but this was my summary of the steps - and it really is that easy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

I'm back! And it only took the statutory holiday for me to get started again! I've been looking forward to this mid-week break for a while - my plans were : go to the gym, bake, and cook. And I managed to accomplish two out of the three. Ooh - and watch tennis! So three out of four, really. Although I did miss the Federer match, I watched a good chunk of grass-court action. I didn't "cook" exactly, but the mothership was in the mood to go out to eat.

The feature recipe of this post is the lovely cranberry coffee cake! I didn't want to make a full portion of the recipe, so I halved it and used my luuuurvely Chicago Metallic mini-cheesecake pan. It's like a muffin tin, but the cavities are deeper and narrower, with a 1/2" hole in the bottom (you get metal slips to put in the bottom for easy cheesecake removal). In the move, I forgot the metal slips, so I used parchment rounds instead.

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
adapted c/o Gourmet

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375F, grease a 9" by 2" round cake pan, or muffin tin

Put sugar and vanilla in a food processor and pulse to combine.
Pulse cranberries and 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar until finely chopped.
Whisk 2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of vanilla sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, mix to combine, scraping down bowl.
Add in flour and milk alternately.
Spread half of batter in pan/tin, add cranberry filling and top with remaining batter. Smooth tops.
Blend remaining sugar with the tablespoon of butter and flour to great a crumble (oops, I forgot the flour - eh, still good without) and sprinkle liberally over cake(s).

Bake for 40-45 min (for whole cake, approx 20 min for mini cakes).

As you can see, I did not use cupcake liners (wouldn't fit anyway) and didn't leave a border - look at that gorgeous ribbon! It's all about the presentation, baby.