June 30, 2010

My House is a Crepe House

For the month of June, my other blog, the Easy Bake cOven was supposed to make some crepe creations. I had a base recipe from Alton Brown that allowed for great experimentation. I have eaten quite a few crepes in my day, but never made one. I know someone with a special pan, but you can make them in a non-stick and burn your fingers too. At the exact moment a little pad of butter was singeing off my fingerprints, I was wishing for a giant crepe maker like you see at fancy crepe restaurants. Oh, you haven't seen a crepe cooker before? (and I assure you this is the technical term "crepe cooker") I'll show you. 

Isn't she a beauty? Yes, I agree that had I used those utensils instead of my fingers for flipping I may not have burned them. I should probably get a heat proof spatula... 

I don't know why, but for some reason I just really wanted to make crepes this month. I have been so busy working the past couple of weeks that I haven't baked much... and I feel like I am missing a leg. I don't really have the energy to bake after a 11 hour day and I don't even want to think about dishes. I've been falling asleep randomly on the couch at night while watching tv, or trying to keep my eyelids open while watching a movie, and thankfully our project deadline has passed. This zombie is ready for a long weekend! 

While I was so busy working, I completely forgot to prepare for Meatless Monday this week. So, M and I had a meatless Wednesday. I sort of snuck it in. He caught on at dinner. hehe. I made savory crepes for dinner, and sweet crepes for dessert (along with two cakes for my office). There is nothing like catching up on your baking in one day. 

For dinner, I stole some ideas from the new grilled cheese restaurant near my office. I made crepes with rosemary and basil in the batter, filled with sauteed mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, red onion, and fontina cheese. They were pretty delicious - and super easy! You can even make a bunch of crepes and freeze them for later - or prepare the batter up to two days in advance. You can also fill them with just about anything you might want to eat for breakfast. 

During this crepe-a-thon, I realized how handy the shredding blade was for my food processor. Not for anything crepe related, but for shredding carrots for the cake. they make longer shreds, but it didn't seem to make a difference in the cake. Beats shredding those by hand with a standing grater! Everyone needs a food processor! 

Cuisinart DFP-7BC 7 Cup Food Processor

I finished my cakes and started on the dessert course. I had no liquor to add to the batter, but they were still tasty. Anything smothered in hazelnut and strawberries is ok with me. I didn't use Nutella, I used the Italian counterpart Loacker, which is just as great. I sliced up some fresh strawberries and rolled up a crepe with more chocolate spread than necessary.

Results were great. If you haven't ever made a crepe, you should try it. It is super easy, and the options are endless. See what the rest of the group made at the cOven

June 20, 2010

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

Very few things will get me out of bed at 7 am on a Sunday. (I don't even get up this early for church.) One of those things is the World Cup... mostly because M and our friend B are crazy about this tournament and will wake up really early just to watch. If we didn't live in a 700+ sq ft apartment with our bedroom open to the living room, I may have been able to sleep through it (thought it would not have been easy). I am a sucker for making breakfast though, and forcing those two to attempt to be quiet during any sports game is like trying to hide a triceratops in your bathroom. Not possible.  

If I had prepared in advance, I would have tried Alton's overnight Cinnamon Roll recipe, but dinner and a movie last night nixed that opportunity. So, I searched for a while to try and find a dough recipe I could make and then proof in the fridge overnight. I found a few recipes for this, but didn't have the desire to get up an extra hour early just to let the dough come to room temperature - then wait even longer for them to rise before baking. On with the search. I ended my search after I found a few recipes for quick cinnamon roll like biscuits. There were good reviews, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

I combined various ingredients from three different recipes to make the one below. I think they turned out well for quick cinnamon rolls. They are no match to the overly fatty cinnamon rolls sold in malls across the us, but I felt better eating more knowing that there is hardly any fat in the dough. 4 tablespoons of butter is nothing compared to the 2 sticks that some other recipes called for! They remind me a little of pillsbury rolls from the tube, but less greasy. I'd definitely make these again. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand anyways, and if I didn't have buttermilk, I would use milk and vinegar instead. A great treat for overnight guests. This would have been a good Father's Day treat too! Too bad we don't live closer. Happy Fathers Day Dads! 

Cinnamon Roll "Biscuits" 

For the dough: 
3/4 C thick non fat yogurt (I used Mountain High)
1/3 C buttermilk
1/4 C sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
1 T baking powder
1/2 t table salt
1/4 t baking soda

For the filling:
2 T unsalted butter, melted
2/3 C packed light brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

For the glaze:
2-1/2 oz cream cheese
2 to 3 T milk or buttermilk
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with cooking spray.

Make the dough:
In a food processor, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (don’t overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist.
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and dust it with flour. Knead it 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x15 inch rectangle. If the dough springs back and will not stay in a nice rectangle give it a few minutes to rest and try again. 

Make the filling:
Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border unbuttered around the edges. In another bowl, whisk the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat gently into the surface. Sprinkle the nuts over the sugar mixture if you are using them. Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

Using a 12 inch length of waxed dental floss, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. (Slide the floss under the log, bring the ends up on top, cross and twist the floss to cut the dough). Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 25-28 minutes. Let the rolls sit in the pan for a few minutes before removing the side. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate. You can also use a round cake pan, or an 8 inch square pan. 

Make the glaze:
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 Tbs. milk, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. It should have a thick but pourable consistency, so add up to 1 Tbs. more milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

June 12, 2010

Better Than Betty Spice Cake

I was asked to make a spice cake for a 60th birthday celebration combined with a housewarming party. The birthday man apparently likes Betty's Box Spice Cake (which I completely understand because it was my favorite growing up) and I needed to one-up Betty for this party. 

When I was a kid I really did like spice cake. But there is a gross part... I'm not sure you are ready yet... ok maybe now... I liked to eat my cake with ice cream... mixed in... like one giant cake-flavored-ice cream-goo. I'm pretty sure Cold Stone Creamery owes me royalties for inventing this flavor (cake batter). I haven't had Betty's version in a few years, but the version I made might knock her socks off (more like stockings off, that is if she really existed). 

Now that you know about my weird childhood cake techniques, I'll tell you a little about making these cakes. They needed enough to serve 150, so I made some sheet cakes and a three tiered cake for lighting ablaze with 60 candles. I recommend keeping a fire extinguisher handy. I used fresh ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. M decided that cloves consumed within baked goods is much less offensive than standing near the coffee grinder filled with fresh ground cloves. Cake flour, and buttermilk to finish her off. I frosted them with a fantastic cream cheese frosting recipe and boxed them up for delivery. 

Delivering cakes makes me nervous. I have flashbacks of delivering the wedding cake (almost a disaster) and decided that the trunk was my friend. The boxes fit the cardboards well to eliminate sliding, and I packed them in so well they wouldn't move. This delivery turned out much better than the last, except the only person there to accept them was a teenage boy and his friends. Strange. So I drove home, and M and I went to the movies. Just before the movie started, I got an email from my client that said she had made a huge mistake and told me the wrong day! Well, that explained a lot, but they asked if I could do it all over again this weekend. Not horrible since I was paid for all of the cakes, but it sure was a lot of baking! These are the times when I wish my oven would mute into a fancy well tempered double oven. And that I could magically duplicate pans to bake multiple cakes at once. But I survived, and my dear Kitchen-Aid survived too, and my client ate spice cake for days. 

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