Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Blueberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

Don't you hate it when there's not enough streusel on top of your piece of coffeecake? or when all of the fruit or filling in the cake sinks to the too-soggy bottom? or the leftovers are too dry to enjoy on day two? Well, none of those concerns were a problem with this breakfast treat. This recipe is a keeper!

Once all of the ingredients were assembled the batter and streusel topping went together quickly. Frozen blueberries tossed with a few tablespoons of flour kept the fruit nicely distributed throughout the cake, avoiding the bottom-hugging issue. My oven must run a little cool so it took an additional 8 minutes to bake, but using a cake tester handled the baking timing question. Anticipation grew as a heavenly aroma filled the kitchen and wafted up the stairs as the cake baked. Tummy rumbles and the cook's impatience led to sampling before the cake cooled for the suggested 15 minutes. Oh - my - goodness, that was some good cake. 

Three of us enjoyed more than half that morning, and late-night snacks accounted for several more pieces. And yes, two squares did make it through the night for breakfast treats the next morning; still moist, still tasty, and prompting requests for more blueberry coffeecake with streusel topping, please.

Blueberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

For the Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup granulaed sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

For the Cake:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg (at room temperature)
2 cups AP flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (tossed with 2 tablespoons flour)

Step 1 
  1. Place the dry streusel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Drop in the butter, and pulse until small crumbs form. (I used a pastry blender) Set aside.
Step 2
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil or butter a 9x9" or 8x8x2" square cake pan. (I used cooking spray + flour)

Step 3 
Use a stand mixer to cream the softened butter in a large bowl; add sugar in several additions and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well.

Step 4
Use a small bowl and sift together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch and salt. In a measuring cup or another small bowl, add the vanilla extract to the milk. Set the mixer on low speed and add small additions of the sifted flour mixture, alternating with the vanilla/milk mixture into the butter mixture. Do this in two or three additions. Gently stir the flour-dusted blueberries into the batter by hand. 

Step 5
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake tests done in the center. Let cake cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve warm.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Orange Madeleines

What's not to love about a madeleine? Soft and buttery, light and moist, these airy little cakes are a blissful bite of magic. Can you tell that I'm a fan? Yes, a fan, but a very recent fan.

I sampled my first-ever madeleine last month, at home in my own kitchen. Some unremembered online post, or maybe a Pinterest pin or two, caught my fancy and prompted an Amazon purchase of nonstick madeleine pans. I've always thought of madeleines as fussy, intimidating cookies; difficult to master, even a bit daunting to attempt. Hey, they're French! Company in the kitchen would make the activity fun no matter what the results, so Hilary joined me for the baking adventure.   

We used the recipe that came on the pan's cardboard wrapper, but incorporated some tips from a Mark Bittman post. We rested the batter for an hour and chilled the pans and the batter, but ignored Bittman's caution to avoid overbeating the batter. Did it make a difference? Who knows, but our results were judged a 5-star delicious success by all taste testers. 

How could I have ignored these iconic French treats for so long? Sweet, but not too sweet. Crisp edges surrounded soft interiors. The citrus flavor was subtle but evident. These delicious little scallop-shaped cakes have shot to the top of my Favorite Sweets list, though we can't wait to try some other flavor combinations as well. Almond, lemon, lavender... What's your favorite madeleine?

Orange Madeleines
(recipe from Chicago madeleine pan package)

Yield: 24 Madeleines

2/3    cup flour
1/4    teaspoon baking powder
1/2    cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2       large eggs, room temperature
1/2    teaspoon orange extract
1/2    heaping teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup powdered sugar
Topping: sifted powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray the madeleine molds with  baking spray. (I used Pam+flour spray.) Hold in the fridge until ready to fill.

Sift together flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs, orange extract and orange zest on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; beat another 5 minutes or until thick.

Gently fold in flour mixture, then melted butter. Mix until smooth. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Spoon or pipe the mixture into the cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake approximately 8 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Be careful not to overtake.

Cool in the pan around 1-2 minutes. Tap on the counter to loosen the cookies, or loosen with a knife, then invert pan on a rack. When cool, sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar.

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