July 5, 2011
Happy belated Fourth of July! I tried my best to muster energy enough to research some sort of patriotic red-white-blue crazy concoction of a dessert but couldn’t manage it in the end. I tried to justify my lack of research by thinking that pancakes were just as patriotic as they come, and then the idea was thwarted by the fact that pancakes are not really an epitome of American cuisine – Swedish pancakes, anyone? Dutch pancakes? Crepes? Looks like I’ll have to find a different reason to make pancakes as an Independence Day treat.
Wait a minute! Did I really just write a short paragraph about needing to justify the making and eating of pancakes?! Who am I? When have I ever needed a reason? Psh, holiday, schmoliday and research, schmesearch. I really wanted to spend the day doing the things I enjoy most and leisurely making pancakes is one of my favoritest things in the world. I was able to try a new recipe using an ingredient I don’t normally think to use in pancakes (almond meal), to practice my flipping, to hone internal-pancake-browning timer, and, last but definitely not least, to eat copious amounts of sweetened coconut and almonds enclosed in a pancake. No part of this breakfast was very patriotic or American, but I heartily enjoyed every minute of it, thinking it was the best way I could think of to celebrate a birthday – in this case, America’s birthday.
I hope everyone had an awesome Fourth! Did you eat anything especially yummy or interesting? I’d love to hear about it!
Coconut Almond Pancakes
(Recipe adapted from The Nesting Project)
Yields 9 to 10 pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Optional: 1 heaping tablespoon yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sweetened coconut (if using unsweetened coconut, add extra sugar to batter)
1. If using a cast-iron skillet, preheat over medium heat. If desired, preheat oven to 200 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil – to keep pancakes warm after taking off the skillet and before serving.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sugar, yogurt (if using), vanilla and almond extracts until frothy.
4. Fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until just combined. Fold in coconut just until distributed evenly throughout batter.
5. Grease skillet and drop pancakes by the ¼ cupful, cooking 3 to 5 minutes (until bubbles form and edges look slightly dry) and flipping, then continuing to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until browned.
I’d recommend serving the pancakes as soon as possible, however, I tend to keep them refrigerated in a tupperware container up to 3 days, heating them up for breakfast on the go.
April 4, 2011
There are two foods that I associate with my childhood: grilled cheese and quick bread. Seeing as this is predominantly a baking blog, you’d assume there would be at least a few recipes for deliciously easy to prepare, easy to store, easy to eat quick bread. You would assume wrong; I just went through my archives and found zero. This saddened me more than I thought it would for two reasons, the first being I like to think of myself as a person who is constantly trying/baking/writing about new things and the second being that quick breads were such a huge part of my upbringing and now they seem to be relegated to the back of my mind when perusing recipes.
The best part of going to visit my grandmother was eating either a zucchini or banana quick bread with cream cheese spread. The recipes themselves weren’t particularly memorable, but the simple association is beautiful and apparently something I have been trying to emulate subconsciously (now that I’m giving it some serious thought). I love that my friends, co-workers, friends of friends, co-workers of friends connect me with the giving and sharing of sweets. Maybe it is time I start trying to connect the child I once was to the adult I’m trying to be… starting with a recipe for quick bread. One step at a time, people.
On a WAY less intense note, this tropical quick bread called out to me in spite of rain and 40 degree temperatures because I happened upon some mango butter in Trader Joe’s and, holy Batman, is it good. It’s a great accompaniment to the coconut bread. In fact, I ate a piece for breakfast covered in drippy, golden mango butter and it almost transported me to a place, well, less like Boston at the moment.
(Recipe adapted from Almost Bourdain)
Yields one 8 inch loaf
1 1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1 cup granulated sugar (or caster sugar, if you have it)
2 cups, or 5 ounces, shredded, unsweetened coconut**
5 tablespoons, or 2 ½ ounces, unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
*I did 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground cardamom. I didn’t end up tasting much of the cardamom at all, so feel free to just stick with cinnamon
**The recipe doesn’t specify whether or not coconut should be toasted, so while the oven was preheating I spread it out on a baking sheet and toasted it very lightly, hoping to add something to the overall texture.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8 inch loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and spices together.
4. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour egg mixture into well. Stir until just combined, leaving one or two flour streaks. Add melted butter and stir again until just combined, but now there shouldn’t be any flour streaks. Be careful not to over mix batter at this point.
5. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan. It will seem like there is too much batter for the pan, but have faith. If you’re me (a tad paranoid), you can put the loaf pan on a baking sheet to prevent any instance of rogue batter.
6. Bake loaf in preheated oven for an hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of loaf comes out clean.
7. Cool loaf in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Store loaf in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days or freeze slices of loaf, wrapped airtight, up to a month.
February 16, 2011
Do you ever have mornings when everything seems really arduous? Things like getting out of bed, turning on the coffee maker, letting go of your blanket even when you are sitting at the kitchen table trying to eat breakfast? I wanted to bake today, to share another new and exciting recipe, but kind of wanted the baked goods just to appear, and the recipe just to be typed, and oh look! I only have an hour and a half before needing to leave for work!
This recipe for mini coconut cakes makes my day. It’s simple, quick to prepare, doesn’t yield a ridiculous amount of baked good, and is almost infinitely adaptable. Instead of coconut, you could substitute ground almonds, or ground hazelnuts. I ended up using 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut and ½ cup ground almonds, but you could mix and match these ingredients exactly to your liking. Instead of lemon zest, I zested a blood orange and the cakes turned out beautifully. I love recipes that allow for you to be creative, personalizing your own treat exactly the way you want, or exactly the way your recipient would want. I could see myself making these over and over, bringing them to parties and picnics and all the other fun things that will happen when it isn’t so ugly and cold outside.
The only bad thing about this batch of cakes was that they browned quickly, because the only mini-muffin pan I own is a very dark, non-stick metal, so I would keep an eye on yours around the 13 minute mark and make sure you get the golden color they are meant to be instead of looking like they have a dark brown mini-cupcake liner. They are kind of interesting, though, in that the browned outside acts like a crust and the middle is still soft and decadent. That being said, they were delicious, and a great pick me up to motivate me for work.
If this recipe is of interest to you, I highly recommend making financiers. I made these over the summer and NONE of them left my apartment. Dangerously good.
Mini Coconut Cakes
(Recipe adapted from Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking)
Yields 24 individual cakes, made in mini-muffin tins
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened dried coconut (or 1 ½ cups ground almonds, or combination thereof)
4 egg whites, as close to room temperature as possible
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (I used blood orange zest)
½ cup, or 8 tablespoons, unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
About 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut and/or slivered almonds to adorn the tops of the cakes before baking
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour two 12-cavity mini-muffin pans. (Note: I totally forgot to prepare the pans, but mine are non-stick and the cakes turned out fine with just a little more care in removing them from the cavities.)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, and coconut (and/or ground nuts). Set aside.
3. In a larger bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until combined, then whisk in the zest and slowly whisk in the melted and cooled butter.
4. Whisk in half of dry ingredient mixture, then fold in the rest with a spatula.
5. Split batter evenly between the 24 cavities of the mini-muffin pans and top with shredded coconut and/or slivered almonds.
6. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until cakes are firm when pressed and deep golden in color.
7. Invert cakes over a cooling rack, then turn them right side up to cool completely.
Store cakes lightly covered for one day at room temperature. For prolonged storage, store cakes refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 more days. Bring to room temperature before serving/eating.