Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cherry Berry Almond Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake is a good way to use up odd amounts of leftover fruit and can be made to seem special by using a tube pan. One thing I regularly do when in Town, is stop in at the second-hand shops looking for kitchen stuff. This is a recent find - a flat bottom 9-inch diameter, separating tube pan which works well for my coffee cake recipe.

The only disadvantage is in removing the tube from the cake. If the cake were tipped over to remove the tube, the topping would make a big mess. So I slide the ring off, make a cut through the cake on opposite sides of the tube and then reassemble the two halves on a serving plate. Unless of course, a wolf comes by and starts hacking away before any of this has a chance to happen.
Which of course, one did here.

This coffee cake can be baked in a 9-inch springform or square pan. But I like the results with the tube pan better - it takes less time to bake, the tube promotes even baking, the cake is taller, produces more servings and looks sort of decadent. Lacking a real tube pan, the same thing could be accomplished by sticking a cardboard tube in the center of a springform.

I've made three of these cakes in the past four days. The first had leftover cranberry sauce, the second - an added cup of fresh blueberries spread over the leftover, leftover cranberry sauce and last night we enjoyed cake with sweet cherry filling.

I thickened approximately four cups of frozen, pitted, sweet cherries with 1/2 cup white sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and flavoured it with 1/8 teaspoon almond extract. About 2 cups of the filling were used in the cake. Any type of fresh or frozen berry or fruit could be used. Prepare a sauce as I did with the cherries or use jam or pie filling, yours or commercial. Or use a mix of sauced and fresh fruit as I did with the cranberry sauce and fresh blueberries. All were topped with a streusel and sliced almonds.

Berry Coffee Cake
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream (see note below)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice OR vinegar OR water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cranberry sauce OR sweet cherries in sauce (see above for fruit suggestions)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries(optional)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
Mix together flour and sugar and cut in butter until it looks like medium fine sand.
Remove 1/2 cup of this and set aside.
Now cut in the baking powder and baking soda into the larger amount of flour and butter.
Set this aside.

If you only have sour milk or cream on hand, use that and add one Tablespoon of water to it.
If you only have fresh milk or cream on hand, use that and add one Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to it.
Mix up the milk and add a beaten egg.
Mix in the almond flavouring.

Mix the wet ingredients into the large amount flour/butter/soda/baking powder mix.
Mix well and spread 2/3rds of it onto the bottom of greased and floured pan.
Make a bit of a trough by pushing the batter - use your fingers - up a bit against the walls of the pan.
Spoon in the fruit filling and spread it evenly around.
Add blueberries, if desired, over the cranberry sauce if you are doing cranberry.

Spread the remaining third of batter evenly over mixture in pan.

Mix the almonds into the reserved crumb mixture set aside at the beginning.
Spread it evenly onto cake top and give the pan a shake.

Set into preheated 350 F oven and bake approximately 45 minutes, turning the pan half-way through bake time.
Remove and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack about 15 minutes before gently removing the ring.
Let the cake cool further.
To remove the tube, make two slices into the cake on opposite sides of the tube and reassemble each half on serving plate.
Call a friend and put the coffee on.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Monday

Yeah, but they made their beds.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wandering Sheep

Last night at Kid's Bible Group the story was about the good shepherd who left ninety-nine little sheep, safe in their pasture, to find one little sheep who wandered off. The children particularly sat rapt when I began dashing about acting less like a calm shepherd and more like a crazed Bette Davis wailing, "Where's my poor lost little sheep? Oh, little sheep! Little sheep! Where have you gone?!"
It was then I noticed Isabelle uncharacteristically missing.
"Where's Isabelle?"
"She's at the OLYMPICS! But it's okay, she's with her parents."
"Photos: Skaters on the frozen marsh at Point Pelee National Park, Canada."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family Day

Today is the Canadian holiday, Family Day. We are supposed to get out and do stuff with our families. The government said so. Thus far, I've cooked Speedy breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, fed The Cat and done laundry. Geek Guy is at work and the two other human life forms residing here still sleepeth. Decadent Housewife is still in her pajamas. Some things don't change despite government intervention.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Welcome to The Great White North

So. With GG giving phone directions on how to record the opening ceremony of Vancouver's 2010 Olympic Games via a digital TV converter, techie ditz Decadent Housewife surprised herself and actually managed to do it: after figuring out how to turn on the TV and eliminating two out of five possible remotes. If Geek Guy can take phone directions on how to run a sewing machine then I better be up to task and return tit for tat. As of this morning I've watched it once live and twice recorded - Geek Guy is a sports nut - I just like to get out of housework.
Can it get any more Canadian than Wayne Gretzky riding shotgun in a pickup truck through downtown Vancouver in the pouring rain, carrying two - count them - two torches - fumbling one in the box while being chased by some well soaked people on the street? Kinda' retro a la Bob and Doug McKenzie, eh? Reminds me of someone I once knew who the night before his big day got tarred and feathered and left - well, tarred and feathered - in a box at the four corners of a little port town, over here on this side of the country. All participants were thoroughly soaked at that event too. Enjoy the games, eh?

(Photos by Fun. Buff, at Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay festivities, Leamington, Ontario, Canada.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics






Now for some snow and we are good to go!

(Photos from 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, Leamington, Ontario, Canada.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Easy Croutons

Every time I go grocery shopping, I check out the day old bread for making croutons. A few years ago a huge bag was only a dollar but now I pay around 2.00 for the same bag with about two dozen rolls of various sizes and types.

Reduced bread, cubed up for croutons is a bargain when compared to ready made croutons. The last bag I purchased held these lighter type sandwich buns and the remainder were sourdough buns.
On the same trip I noticed a 120 gram container of commercial croutons was priced over 2.00 and held maybe a cup and a half. We can do better. Only six of the buns cubed up from the 2.00 bag made far more than 120 grams. The extra sourdough rolls were still fresh and worked fine for three days of bag lunches and soup dunking.

I prefer to purchase rolls over loaves for croutons. A bag of rolls holds more bread overall than a single loaf of bread, rolls are easier to handle, I can use some of the rolls in other ways and the amount of croutons being made is easily adjusted.
Usually I make croutons by placing a few tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon or so of whatever seasoning I want - garlic salt, parsley flakes, cayenne, parmesan cheese - into the plastic bag the bread came in and mix that up well coating the bag interior. I then dump the bread cubes back into the bag and shake it up to coat the bread with the seasonings and oil. If you have an oil and vinegar type of salad dressing on hand, try using it to coat the cubes.

This time I skipped adding oil and sprinkled seasoning directly onto the cubes. There was enough moisture in the cubed bread that the seasonings stuck. No one here noticed the croutons were oil free except GG. And that is only because he thinks this is all very scientific looking so he had stood there watching me make them.
I am always looking at cutting calories and a way to do that is to cut the fat out. Yes. Fat tastes good. Saucey Chef once told me that fat carries the flavour throughout whatever it is you are making. She said, "Put your seasonings or flavourings into the fat of the recipe and the dish will be better." The croutons made without fat were lighter but tasted good too.

Spread the bread cubes onto cookie trays. Put in the oven set at 200 F. and let this bake until the croutons are dry. They don't need to brown. Take them out after ten - fifteen minutes and touch them. If they feel dry, they are done. Batches made with oil brown faster and need to be turned on the trays. The total baking time for this batch without oil didn't take long - maybe 20 minutes.
Let the croutons cool completely on the cookie trays. I store mine in this big commercial pickle jar found in a second hand shop. Because there is no fat in these croutons I expect they will keep quite a long time. Ones I've made with fat have lasted six weeks stored in a cool spot. How easy was that? And look how much only six buns made - more than a cup and a half for sure.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Puppy Love

This is Buff and his new nephew.

He eats, sleeps, chews and pees
just like any new baby.

But that's okay.
Violinist will get him trained - eventually.
And we love him anyhow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundcat Day

"What am I supposed to do?"
"Spin around so I can look for your shadow."
"Why me?"
"Because like I've said before I'm not hiking it back to the ditch to hunt for a groundhog and I can't find The Cat. You'll work just fine. This is about shadows, not species."

"What are you doing Tigger?"
"Looking for Willie. I think he said six more weeks of winter when I saw him earlier. But I don't believe him."

"Why not?"
"Do you see any shadows?"
"Me neither - that Willie..."

Do you see any shadows? Didn't think so. There you have it - Early Spring - according to Daily Decadent's Groundcat.