Goth Panda

March 4, 2011

Dorie Greenspan’s Corniest Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

This is the first Dorie Greenspan recipe I have tried. For those you who maybe do not follow internet baking sites as much as I do, Dorie Greenspan is kind of an internet baking rock star. There are several internet baking groups out there devoted to baking through her cookbooks, just like I did with The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

I made corn muffins for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, but I think I like these better. The Peter Reinhart recipe uses bacon, so I had to omit that part, which might be why I preferred the Dorie Greenspan recipe.

This recipe was kind of perfectly balanced between sweet and not-so-sweet, so the muffins are perfect to eat as part of a meal, as a breakfast, as a dessert, or as a snack. We had these with the Black Bean Enchiladas with Easy Mole Sauce, and then ate them at all times of the day after that. There was a lot of love for these muffins at our house.

Corn Muffins

Dorie Greenspan’s Corniest Corn Muffins

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from My Home to Yours”

Yield: 12 regular-sized muffins or 48 miniature ones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons corn or other vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup more if you’d like) – fresh, frozen or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you’re using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy, but make sure there are no dry streaks. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for minis), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

February 28, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

These are really, really yummy. I liked the idea of this recipe when I saw it recently, and the recipe exceeded my expectations when I actually made it. These are pretty awesome pancakes, even without the icing, very light and with a good cinnamon flavor. The icing just made them even better, and you don’t even need to add a lot of it. They totally lived up to the cinnamon bun comparison.

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

This a straightforward pancake recipe; the only thing that was different from my usual recipe is the addition of the cinnamon and maple syrup. I liked that maple syrup got added to the pancakes, since it wasn’t used in topping them and I think it added to the flavor.

Here’s a photo of the pancakes without the icing, and you can see how nice and fluffy they got:

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

I highly recommend these as a diversion from your normal pancake recipe, if you like pancakes or cinnamon buns.

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Adapted from Baked Bree

Makes about 12-16 pancakes, depending on the size of them, about enough for 4 people

1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Make the icing first (see below).

Put all of the dry ingredients for the pancakes in a bowl and whisk them together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together or stir with a rubber spatula until just combined, with no dry streaks.

Preheat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil. The griddle is ready when water flicked on its surface sizzles loudly. Pour the pancake batter onto the griddle using an ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Flip the pancakes when they are bubbling on top and cooked through on the bottoms, about 3 or 4 minutes. Cook on the other side until cooked through. Pancakes can be kept warm in the oven at 200 degrees until all are finished.

To make the icing:

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons milk

Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and a pouring consistency. If too thick add more milk, if too thin, add more sugar.

February 25, 2011

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Sliced

It has been a while since I made this recipe, but it is still as delicious as ever. I am a big fan of crumb cake, as either a breakfast or dessert.

The first step is to make some crumbs!

Crumbs!

Then you make a simple cake layer and spread it into your pan. You might be concerned because the cake layer seems thin, but there will be a nice, healthy proportion of crumbs to complement it.

Cake Layer

Top with the crumbs, breaking them up with your fingers as you sprinkle them on. This recipe doesn’t take long to put together. I found it took a little longer to bake than the recipe says, though.

Before Baking

Then you let it cool and slice it up. I cut 16 little pieces.

Crumb Cake

You can see that the cake layer has risen, but the crumb layer is still nice and thick.

Crumb Cake

This crumb cake is delicious, but it does tend to fall apart when you eat it, like any good crumb cake should. You should be ready with either a plate and fork or a napkin to catch all the delicious crumbs that fall off.

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 8 to 10

CI warns not to substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, but you can substitute plain, low-fat yogurt for buttermilk. They also say that the recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking pan, increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes. I have not tried this.

Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Ingredients
Crumb Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 2/3 ounces) (I used light brown sugar)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1-3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)

Cake
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk

Instructions

FOR THE TOPPING: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment or foil into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish. Spray parchment or foil.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Break up crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment/foil overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving, if desired. I didn’t bother.

February 21, 2011

Potato Hash with Baked Eggs

Done, with Hot Sauce and Biscuit

Breakfast for dinner! What could be more delicious?

I needed a breakfast dish to use up all of the buttermilk biscuits we had lying around. I think I was drawn to this recipe because it reminds me of something I order at the Pop Shop called “Your Own Private Idaho,” and described as follows: “A huge double heap of our shoestring hash browns covered with melted Cheddar and topped with two eggs sunny-side up served with choice of toast, English muffin, or our big biscuit.” This version involves baking the eggs into the fried potatoes in a nice big skillet, but the concept and results are pretty similar.

Potatoes

This recipe doesn’t take long to make, but I found it took longer than the recipe I adapted it from stated at almost every step. I didn’t add nearly as much olive oil, and I also changed around the seasonings. I like to add Old Bay to hash brown potatoes, but paprika is good if you don’t have any Old Bay. I might have also added Bacon Salt. Possibly.

I reduced the recipe to six eggs and two potatoes since I was only making enough for three, but even then it was way too much. I would probably only do one egg per person if I were going to do it again, but feel free to add as many eggs as you like. I would probably stick with 2 potatoes for up to 4 people. If you use any more than that, I am not sure how you would get them all in the pan at the same time. I used my 15-inch cast iron skillet and it was barely big enough for two potatoes.

Potatoes Are Done

Before Baking

This is before putting it in the oven for the final step. The egg whites have already started to cook.

I kept the hash in the oven a little longer, so the egg yolks were almost cooked through. Is that over-medium? Over-hard? Egg cooking terminology confuses me.

I liked this recipe a lot, but I don’t know if I will be making it again because Mike prefers his eggs scrambled to baked. You might have better luck with it in your house.

Potato Hash with Baked Eggs

Adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe on FoodNetwork.com

Serves 4 as a main course

Ingredients
2 large Russet potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Old Bay and Bacon Salt, to taste (or paprika, if you don’t have either)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 eggs
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. While waiting for it to boil, peel and chop the potatoes to 1/2-inch dice and chop the onion. When the water boils, add the potatoes and boil about 4-5 minutes. Drain well.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and then add the potatoes in a single layer. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are crusty and browned, about 18 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, Old Bay, and Bacon Salt. Add the onion and cook until the onions brown slightly, about five more minutes.

Off the heat, make 4 small evenly-spaced wells in the hash. If the pan is dry, pour a small bit of olive oil in each well. Break an egg into each well. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper. Scatter the cheese over the hash.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked to your taste, about 5 minutes for firm whites and soft yolks, 8 minutes for almost firm yolks. Serve immediately, with hot sauce and/or ketchup, if you like.

February 18, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits with Pepper Cream Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits

Although as a vegetarian it is hard for me to be a true aficiando of Southern cooking, there are some things I can totally get behind, including almost all of the desserts, sweet tea, pimiento cheese, and one of my favorite breakfast dishes, buttermilk biscuits and gravy.

I have been looking for a new buttermilk biscuit recipe because although I have several that are of the drop biscuit variety, I wanted one that is rolled and cut out, with nice flaky layers. I think these kind go better with gravy for some reason.

So I started with two recipes, one from Brown-Eyed Baker based on a Baking Illustrated recipe, and one from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. I kind of combined the two by using the ingredients from the first but incorporating several techniques from the later, and even one of my own.

Instead of cutting in the butter, Peter Reinhart suggests grating very cold butter to get the right size flakes, and I happen to keep my butter in the freezer. I made these biscuits twice over the weekend (we will get to why in a minute) and the first time I grated the butter by hand, and then used a pastry blender to cut in the large chunks that I couldn’t grate. The second time I used a food processor’s grater attachment to grate the butter into the flour. The food processor method is the way to go if you are going to do this, because the hand grating method just took too long. The butter was beginning to melt by the end, and the whole point of this is to keep the butter and the dough as cold as possible.

So if you are going to grate the butter instead of cutting it in, go with the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to use it, you can go the traditional route by cubing the butter and working it in with two knives or a pastry blender.

Then you mix the flour and the butter flakes with a pastry fork.

Butter Mixed In

You add the buttermilk and mix that in, too.

Added the Buttermilk

Next you want to gather the dough together into a rectangle, but both times I made it, the dough was too dry and crumbly to stay together. I wonder if it needs just a little more buttermilk in the dough. Instead of going that route, however, I used the same solution that I would use with a pie dough that was too dry and crumbly: a spray bottle filled with water.

You can see the spray bottle technique at work in this King Arthur Flour video. You don’t want to have too much liquid in your pie dough, so in order to get just the right amount to make it come together, you spray the dry parts of the dough. Although I think it is more important to not have too much liquid in pie dough than in biscuits, the technique seemed to work fine with the biscuits, too. After spraying them, I folded the dry parts into the dough letter-style, which was another PR recommendation.

Because I have no skills at determining size, I rolled out the dough much thinner than the recommended 3/4 of an inch, and because I like bigger biscuits, I cut them out with a 2-1/2 inch butter instead of the two inch. The resulting biscuits were not very tall.

In the Pan

Done

I put the pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while I preheated the oven. They needed the full 12 minutes to bake.

So the next day, I wanted to try again to get taller biscuits. I rolled out the dough much thicker, but because I still wanted 2-1/2 inch biscuits instead of 2 inch biscuits, now I only had enough dough for 9 biscuits.

Biscuits Take Two

The one on the bottom right was just the leftover scraps rolled together.

Tall Biscuit

These were much taller, but both batches tasted delicious. I think I might want to increase the dough in the future so I can get more, taller, and bigger biscuits.

While the first batch was baking, I made a Pepper Cream Gravy to go along with the biscuits. This recipe started life as a Cooking Light recipe, but I managed to un-lighten it as much as possible. Sausage gravy is, I think, the traditional accompaniment, but obviously that wasn’t going to work.

Biscuits with Gravy

Then I remembered an impulse purchase I had made not long ago.

Bacon Salt!

The theory behind Bacon Salt (which is according to its website “low sodium, zero calorie, zero fat, vegetarian and kosher”) is that you can add it to anything to give a bacon-y flavor. It looks like it is mostly smoked paprika and artificial flavoring, like the soy Bac’n Bits use. I had forgotten to add it directly to the gravy, so I sprinkled some on top.

Biscuit with Gravy

The Bacon Salt was actually pretty good. It smelled like nothing so much as the flavoring on barbecue flavored potato chips, and it did add a nice smoky flavor. Next time I’d like to try actually putting it in the gravy while making it. If you can’t find Bacon Salt, you could probably use smoked paprika to achieve a similar effect.

Buttermilk Biscuits

adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker and Peter Reinhart

Yield: 9 (2-1/2 inch) taller biscuits (or 12 shorter ones)

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
¾ cup cold buttermilk

1. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Pour some of the flour mixture into the workbowl of a food processor to discourage sticking. Add the grater attachment and grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients.

2. Pour the flour and butter back into the bowl. Stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula or fork until the mixture holds together in clumps.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat it into a circle. If the dough does not hold together, spray the dry areas with a spray bottle filled with water and fold the dough over itself until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overmix. Pat or roll the dough into a ¾-inch-thick circle. Cut out the dough rounds with a biscuit cutter. Push together the remaining pieces of dough, pat into a ¾-inch-thick, and cut out several more dough rounds. Discard the remaining dough or shape it into a rough ugly duckling biscuit. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and put them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

4. In the meantime, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

5. Put the biscuits in the oven and bake until the biscuit tops are light brown, about 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pepper-Cream Gravy

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bacon Salt or smoked paprika, to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. Gradually add 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; stir constantly, alternating the whisk with the spatula to ensure smoothness and prevent scorching. Reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve gravy with biscuits.