Raspberry Crumb Cake

We love baked goods in our house.  We also love tasty, yummy craft beer.  Most of the time, those two don’t go together, right?  I mean, who hasn’t been served birthday cake while sipping a nice cold brew?  Typically an ick combination.

But there are exceptions to every rule.  Over the last few years, Sweets and I have attended a number of beer dinners at a local restaurant.  The chef designs the dinner courses around the featured beverages and there is always a dessert course.  Surprisingly, we’ve learned beer can go with dessert, if paired correctly, and sometimes, the beer is even used in the dessert itself.  Our knowledge has grown with these experiences but we had yet to try this at home.

We often swing into the neighboring Barnes & Noble after the beer dinners where I raid the shelves for novels I haven’t read and Sweets parks himself in front of the extensive magazine rack to flip through the pages of his favorite periodicals.  At some point, my arms are full to the point where I can’t carry any more books.  Sweets will hand me a magazine or two and we check out.

One of his favorites is Draft, which rather (obviously) focuses on craft beer.  As it turned out, the July/August 2015 issue included several dessert recipes that included beer as an ingredient.  When we made plans to have friends over for a summertime barbecue, Sweets suggested I make something from the magazine.  Never one to turn down the opportunity to expand my baking repertoire, I agreed.

I chose the Raspberry Crumb Cake, probably because it called for raspberry beer and we had never drunk that.  The batter has a slight pink cast to it when prepared, which is retained during baking through the beer and the juices from the whole raspberries in the pan.  This nice, light cake is topped with a crumb topping of sugar and almonds, which balances the flavors into one yummy bite.  If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know I almost always skip the nuts but this was one instance where the nuts really pull the dessert together, so don’t omit them.

This was so good, I made it two weekends in a row.

Raspberry Crumb Cake

(From Draft Magazine, July/August 2015)

Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sliced almonds (if you don’t have sliced almonds, pour ½ cup whole almonds in plastic baggy and beat with mallet or rolling-pin until almonds are broken into small pieces)
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 oz raspberry beer (look for it at your larger, better beverage stores)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  2. MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING: Combine the flour, brown sugar, almonds, oats, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle with the butter and mix until evenly moistened.
  3. MAKE THE CAKE: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and ½ tsp salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the beer, egg, butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just moistened.
  5. Evenly scatter the raspberries in the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter over the raspberries and sprinkle with the crumb topping.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries for garnish. If you want to continue the beer theme, pair it with an easy-going wheat beer.
Raspberry Crumb Cake

Ready to go in the oven

 

Raspberry Crumb Cake

Notice the slight pink tint to the cake. Top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh berries. This is yummy!

Please come back again to see what else comes out of the oven.

Until then, may your days be filled with tasty goodness!

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No Fuss Focaccia

I’m working my way through the stack of recipe pages I’ve torn out of King Arthur Flour catalogs. This weekend, I made Focaccia. I wanted something simple but with great flavor that went beyond the yumminess of bread. Other than chocolate, what’s better than anything pizza flavored?

This recipe relies heavily on King Arthur specific ingredients. I actually had several in the cupboard (click the links in the ingredient list if you’re interested in buying — I’m not affiliated so I won’t get a cut of any sale; rather, I wanted to make it simple for you, the reader, to go shopping).  However, I was missing two — the Italian Herb-Infused Dipping Oil (*) and the Perfect Pizza Blend (+). I’ve included my substitutions in the ingredient list below, conveniently marked with little symbols.

Baking can be fussy and substitutions don’t always result in tasty goodness. In this instance, while I can’t compare how this recipe might have turned out differently if I’d used every item to the exact specification, I can tell you that there was no lack of flavor, tender crumb, or rise. A win!

The house smelled divine. We sampled the focaccia as is and found it to be superb in flavor and taste. Then we cut the loaf in half, then half again, to top one section with fresh mozzarella and the other with pesto and home-grown tomatoes. These mini “pizzas” went into the broiler on high for three minutes, just enough to soften and slightly melt the cheese, and we called it dinner. Better than the local pizza joint (and that’s saying something when one lives in Chicago)! I’m not sure why we split up ingredients and didn’t just slather on the pesto and top with cheese and tomato to make Caprese bread, but sometimes, Sweets and I decide to be different.

This focaccia was perfect as foundation for a meal (and made great sandwich bread). Plan ahead just a bit to allow for the one hour rise and the 30 minute bake and you’ll have an easy solution to that nagging “what’s for dinner” question.

No Fuss Focaccia

(From King Arthur Flour)

  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 7 TBSP olive oil with 2 tsp oregano — 3 TBSP for the recipe, the remainder for coating the pan and drizzling on top (*)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (+)
  • 1 TBSP instant yeast
  • 4 tsp Pizza Dough Flavor
  • 1/4 cup Vermont Cheese Powder
  • Pizza Seasoning
  1. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan and drizzle 1 to 2 TBSP dipping oil into the bottom.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, except the pizza seasoning, and beat at high-speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.
  3. Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, until it becomes puffy. Try to spread the dough in the pan a bit, but don’t worry if it doesn’t fill it — once the rise is complete, the pan will be full.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger.  Drizzle it lightly with the remaining oil and sprinkle with Pizza Seasoning to your preference.
  6. Bake the bread until it’s golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Focaccia

Fresh out of the oven

Focaccia

Look at all the yummy seasoning. Can you tell we like the flavor of pizza?

Focaccia

Segregated Caprese bread. Next time, all together!

Please come back again to see what else comes out of the oven.

Until then, may your days be filled with tasty goodness!

Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread

I’ve written a post or two about sourdough bread.  While those breads were yummy, they lacked that little extra tang that comes from true, San Francisco-style sourdough.  There’s a bite to the bread when you get it in the City by the Bay that adds something to the eating experience.

So I was excited to come across this recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread in a recent email from King Arthur Flour.  It required a trip to The Spice House in Geneva to acquire the citric acid, but that’s never a hardship.  I love the smells in that store!

Other than the rise time (plan on a full 24 hours – there’s an overnight in the fridge step to the process), the actual hands-on time was only about 20 minutes so this bread was a piece of cake to bake.

The texture, the flavor, and the crumb were perfect.  I only used the 1/2 teaspoon suggestion for the citric acid, which did add a bite of sour to the sourdough, primarily to the crust.  Next time, I’ll bump it up that extra 1/8 of a teaspoon and the tang should be perfectly reminiscent of cable cars and seaside fog.

Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread

(From King Arthur Flour)

  • 1 cup fed sourdough starter
  • 1-1/2 cups to 1-2/3 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth dough
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (I’m going to try with bread flour next time)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp to 5/8 tsp citric acid (sour salt), optional, for extra-sour bread
  1. Combine the starter, water, and 3 cups of the flour.  Beat vigorously for 1 minute.
  2. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours.  Refrigerate overnight, for about 12 hours.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients: 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and citric acid, if you’re using it.  Knead to form a smooth dough.
  4. Allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl until it’s relaxed, smoothed out, and risen.  Depending on the vigor of your starter, it may become really puffy, or it may rise just a bit.  This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.  Sourdough bread, especially sourdough without added yeast, is as much art as science.  Everyone’s timetable will be different.  Go with the flow and don’t stress about it.
  5. Gently divide the dough in half so you have two loaves.
  6. Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 2 to 4 hours.  Don’t worry if the loaves spread more than they rise; they will pick up once they hit the oven’s heat.  Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water.
  8. Make two fairly deep horizontal slashes in each.  A serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.
  9. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Did you know a combination of lactic and acetic acids, created as the dough rises and ferments, it what puts the sour in sourdough bread?  Refrigerating the dough encourages the production of more acetic than lactic acid and acetic acid is the tangier of the two.  Therefore, sourdough that is refrigerated before baking will have a more assertive sour flavor.  To get the extra hit of sour requires the addition of citric acid, but don’t be tempted to go beyond about 5/8 teaspoon.  Consider 1/8 teaspoon per each cup of flour used as a good rule of thumb, otherwise you might see deterioration of the crust and bread structure.

Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread

The loaves came out more round than oval and this isn’t my definition of deep golden brown, but they tasted great and that’s what really matters.

Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread

Look at that rich, dense crumb with perfect air pockets. A great example of beauty being on the inside.

Please come back again to see what else comes out of the oven.

Until then, may your days be filled with tasty goodness!

Semolina Sandwich Bread

One of my favorite things about the King Arthur Flour Baking Company catalog is the recipes interspersed with all the baking tools and ingredients.  I always find at least one item I want to bake and I’ll rip out the page to keep; in fact, I’ve got quite a stash of dog-eared catalog pages saved in the inside front pocket of my recipe binder.  This last weekend, I finally selected one.

This makes great sandwich bread (probably why the KAF staff named it the way they did).   We also popped a few slices in the toaster to make bruschetta, taking full advantage of our fresh, home-grown summer tomatoes.

Semolina Sandwich Bread

(From King Arthur Flour)

  • 2-1/3 cups Semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dry milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup + 2 TBSP water
  • 1 large egg
  • Sesame seeds (for crust)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients except the sesame seeds, mixing to form a shaggy dough.  Knead the dough, by hand or by machine, for 10 minutes.
  2. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then knead for an additional 10 minutes until it’s smooth and supple.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and allow it to rest for one (1) hour.  It will become quite puffy but may not double in bulk.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and shape it into a round (boule).  Grease a stoneware bread baking bowl and sprinkle the bowl heavily with sesame seeds.  (I used the lid to my stoneware cloche.)
  5. Place the dough in the pan, brush it with milk, and sprinkle with additional sesame seeds.  Cover the loaf and allow to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s crowned about 1″ above the rim of the bread bowl.  (My loaf didn’t crest the top of the bowl since I used the cloche lid but it did double in size.  If using bread pans, I suggest dividing the loaf in half and making two.)
  6. Bake the bread in a preheated 350° F oven for about 40 minutes or until its interior registers 190° F on a digital thermometer.
  7. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
Sunny, golden bread

Sunny, golden bread

Baking this in the lid to the cloche produced a UFO-shaped loaf.  It may be a little funny looking, but it sure tastes great!

Baking this in the lid to the cloche produced a UFO-shaped loaf. It may be a little funny looking, but it sure tastes great!

Please come back again to see what else comes out of the oven.

Until then, may your days be filled with tasty goodness!

Maple Mustard Chicken Salad

Yummy chicken salad.  Step one — cook a whole chicken on the grill, using your favorite method.  Eat some of it.  Chop up the rest for this.

Maple Mustard Chicken Salad

(Recipe from King Arthur Flour)

  • 4-1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken meat
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (1 to 2 stalks)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP Dijon-style mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
  2. Serve on your favorite bread or sandwich bun.  Might I suggest you try these pretzel sandwich buns?

(I made this in September of last year and just discovered the blog post in my Drafts file.  No photos to share, but I can promise it was yummy!)

Please come back again to see what else comes out of the oven.

Until then, may your days be filled with tasty goodness!