Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cranberry Hazelnut Coffee Cake

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This is my favorite cake at the moment. It is PERFECT. I don't want those fancy cakes with fondant. I don't want a pretty cake with frosting. Heck, I don't even need a glaze. This is my kinda cake. Loaded with flavor, texture and just so much goodness!
I baked it in the evening yesterday, with the intention of cake for breakfast on Saturday morning. Saturday breakfasts are usually special around here. If I know everyone has the day off, I usually make something indulgent. So, my plan was that I would make the cake on Friday evening, photograph it in the morning when the light was good, and then serve it for breakfast. Well, we all know about best laid plans...

One look at the cake, and my husband wanted a slice for dessert after dinner. My daughter wanted a nibble and I was drooling every time I walked past the cake platter. So I did what I had to. Made the ultimate sacrifice. Who needs natural light!!? I just clicked a few shots and we dug in. It is an amazing cake! We had it for breakfast again in the morning....
Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature for this recipe. You can replace the heavy cream and yogurt mixture with sour cream. I didn't have sour cream, and this worked great for me! If you're using sour cream, just use one 8 oz tub.

Cranberry Hazelnut Coffee Cake
Adapted from this recipe on myrecipes.com
Ingredients
115 grams or 1/2 cup heavy cream
115 grams or scant 1/2 cup natural yogurt
1 tsp vinegar
185 grams or 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
25 grams or 3 tbsp corn starch
200 grams or 1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
70 grams or 5 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cleaned and halved

Streusel Topping:
30 grams or 1/4 cup sifted flour
1 tbsp flax seed powder
50 grams of 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
15 grams or 1 tbsp butter, melted
A pinch of salt

Method
1. Prepare a 9" spring form cake tin by lining the base with grease proof parchment paper and brushing the sides with melted but or spraying with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, heavy cream and vinegar. Set aside while you get the rest of the ingredients assembled.
3. Combine all the streusel topping ingredients and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, corn starch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
5. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg white, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the yogurt mixture. Whisk to combine.
6. In a large bowl, combine the remaining yogurt mixture and the soft butter. Mix well using a whisk or an electric mixer. Beat for 3-4 minutes. 
7. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
8. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix in until just combined.
9. Add 1/2 the egg mixture and mix till combined.
10. Add another third of the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
11. Add the remaining egg mixture and incorporate.
12. Add the last of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
13. Into your prepared tin, spoon half of the cake batter and spread it in an even layer.
14. Sprinkle the top of the cake batter with all halved cranberries.
15. Cover the cranberries with the remaining cake batter and spread it evenly.
16. Sprinkle the top of the cake with all the streusel topping.
17. Bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer entered into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake will fall a little as it cools. 
18. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before releasing from the spring-form tin.
19. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

This cake tasted best when it was slightly warm. I had no complaints the next morning either. The cake was amazingly delicious the next day too. Every one, including my 20 month old who doesn't have a sweet tooth, loved it.
The cake is not too sweet. Light, soft cake, tart berries and crunchy nuts - a taste of heaven! The tart cranberries and the crunchy hazelnuts and the nuttiness of the flax meal makes for an amazing combination of textures and flavors.

If you have company coming over, or are planning a brunch or an indulgent breakfast, this is the recipe for you. Make this and please write to me here or on my Facebook page, share a picture with me, and let me know how much you loved it! I just know you'll love it! Until next time :)
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DIY Series: Homemade Pancake Syrup

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This pancake syrup was made because I just had to! For some reason, the price of good pancake syrup TRIPLED in a matter of weeks. I am not really the kind of person who pinches pennies, but I couldn't imagine paying that much for a bottle of syrup!

We use syrup at least once a week around here. When I decided to look up the recipe for syrup, I just couldn't believe my eyes. It was SO SIMPLE! I looked at the ingredients listed at the back of the syrup bottle and there were around 15 ingredients listed - most of which had chemically names. This homemade syrup has 6 ingredients, including 2 optional ingredient and water. And I guarantee you won't taste the difference.
The first time I made this syrup was late one night, I think it was around 10:30 PM, when I realized that I had everything ready for my overnight waffles but I had run out of syrup. I was telling my husband that I was probably going to make some caramel sauce or coulis for breakfast because we were out of syrup. During the night, I found this recipe, made it in under 10 minutes and let it cool overnight. The next morning, my husband was halfway through his waffles when he suddenly asked, "Where did you get the syrup? I thought we were out. You couldn't have gone out that late at night! Did you find an unopened bottle in your pantry?" When I told him it was homemade, he was really impressed! He couldn't even tell that it was different from the store bought brand we use.

I've made the both versions - with and without the maple extract - and while the maple flavor is yummy, the vanilla one is just as good, and no one complained about the missing maple flavor. 

Pancake Syrup
Slightly adapted from Taste of Home
Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 cup white sugar
A large pinch of salt, (optional but recommended)
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract, optional

Method
1. Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, salt and water in a heavy bottom saucepan.
2. Cooking on medium heat, bring the syrup to a boil while stirring frequently.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the maple extract, if you're using it.
5. Allow to cool and transfer to a bottle for use.
If you like your syrup pancake thick, reduce the water in the recipe to 3/4 cup. We like our syrup a little runny and so these proportions work well for us. I sometimes add a few extra tablespoons of water. Just remember that the syrup thickens as it cools. So don't let it cook down too much. You could even experiment with other flavors of extracts!

There are a few popular brands like Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin and American garden that make this kind of syrup. It is no substitute for maple syrup, really. But when real maple syrup is very expensive here, and while we are so blessed that we receive a few bottles a year from abroad, it is definitely not enough to last us through the year.
This recipe is just amazing! If you use pancake syrup at home, this is sometime you MUST try. You won't regret it! 
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Apple & Oat Muffins

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Ah - muffins! My favorite of all baked goods. I don't think it is a secret how much I love muffins. I mean, just look at all the muffin recipes on my blog! And I have so many more muffin recipes I want to share with you.
Today, I want to share a recipe for a simple and healthy muffin recipe. Flavorful, really moist and laced with tart apple and warm spice - I just love this one.

Apple & Oat Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from this recipe on Taste.com.au
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
3/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 cup rolled oats, plus 2 tbsp for topping
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups natural yoghurt, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml canola oil
1-2 crisp apples, peeled, cored and grated (I used one Granny Smith and one Red Delicious)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line your muffin tray with liners, or grease & flour them.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and the 1/2 cup of oats.
3. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs.
4. Add the yoghurt, vanilla and oil and whisk well till smooth.
5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir just until combined. Don't over-mix it or you'll be stuck with tough muffins.
6. Stir in the sliced apple.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup not more that 3/4 full.
8. Sprinkle the reserved oats over the tops of the muffins.
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden brown.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.Allow the muffins to cool down till they're just warm before serving.
As in the case of most muffin recipes, these muffins freeze great!

Because we had an early day the next day, the previous evening, I grated the apples and refrigerated them in an airtight box. I also combined all the dry ingredient in a jar. In the morning, I let the apples sit out for 20 minutes while I got the batter mixed and the oven preheated. I just stirred together the wet ingredients and added it to the dry ingredients, stirred in the apples, filled, baked and the muffins were done in 20 minutes.
Until next time!! :)
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