Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fresh Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Apple Glaze

If you would have asked me last year if I preferred baking or cooking, I would have absolutely said cooking. Hands down. I can probably count on one hand the things I've baked in the past year, with the exception of the past few weeks. For some reason, this past month has been different. I got bit by the bread bug and oddly enough, by the baked goods bug. There is something comforting about pulling out a delicious baked good out of the oven and sharing it with friends and family. (which is really what needs to happen so my husband and I aren't horfing down an entire apple cake)

Yesterday was a chilly and snowy winter day. I made a delicious warm meal but just felt like I needed something else to round out the day. We've had a ton of apples sitting in the fruit bowl and I knew I wanted to do something before they got all mushy and soft. I did a few searches for a good recipe and then hobbled together this variation.

It's the perfect fall & winter dessert. It's got the lovely fresh apples and the crunchy coffee cake topping, all topped off with a drizzle of bourbon apple glaze. And if you don't want to use bourbon, you can just substitute apple cider instead. No matter how you make it, this is definitely one easy and delicious recipe you'll want to keep on hand.

Fresh Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Apple Glaze


1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Bourbon Apple Glaze
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoon apple cider
1/2 tablespoon bourbon (or just use apple cider for the total amount)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the stick of butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Dough will be very thick. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.

To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and cut with a pastry blender and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, apple cider, and bourbon and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fresh Rosemary, cracked peppercorn, and Stilton bread

So I’ve been bitten by the bread making bug lately. I’ve never been much of a baker, telling myself it’s too rigid and the recipes aren’t as open to flying by the seat of my pants, which is how many of my recipes are created. But the weather has turned cold and for some reason, I just decided to start trying my hand at it. If you haven’t made a loaf of fresh bread, I highly recommend it. There is something so satisfying about the structure of the recipe, the resting, the leavening, and the rising. And if you’ve never smelled fresh bread baking, you are definitely missing out on one of the finest smells of all times.

But there isn’t always time for a recipe that takes hours of resting and rising and at least a partially watchful eye. Even if most of a traditional recipe is inactive time, you still have to make sure you’re punching down and forming and resting at certain times.

Well, enter the easiest and quite possibly, one of the most impressive bread recipes of all times. Sure, there are plenty of no-knead, 5-minute recipes online, and this is another one of them. But sometimes, that’s just what you need!

Here’s the basics of this recipe – you mix the ingredients in a bowl and then let them sit overnight. You wake up the next morning, turn on the oven and heat your pan, throw the bread in, and then end up with a gorgeous loaf of bread. Seriously. I kicked up this loaf with some fresh rosemary, cracked smoked peppercorns, and Stilton cheese, but that’s only one of a hundred variations you could try. I’m thinking a nice Asiago sundried tomato loaf is next, and I’ve got some herbed feta in the fridge that is dying to be used. I may also try my hand at a dried cranberry with fresh orange zest loaf. But if you’re not into those flavors, make a simple unflavored loaf. Even the plain version is quite spectacular on its own. Regardless of what flavor you make it, I guarantee you’ll never forget this loaf. And think of how awesome you’ll look when you start passing out loaves of fresh bread for holiday gifts!

Dough Recipe
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp active yeast
1 1/2 cup room temperature water

Add ins:
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp freshly cracked peppercorns (I used smoked peppercorns just for fun)
4 oz crumbled Stilton cheese (or any old blue will do)

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together. Whisk in fresh rosemary and peppercorns. Stir in cheese. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water. Using a spatula, mix well until mixture looks like rough mess of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 12-18 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat for 30 minutes. (If you don't have a cast iron pot, you can use any 4-5 qt oven safe dish with a lid. Corningware, a crockpot insert with a lid, a baking stone with an upside down bowl over it - these will all work). While pan is heating, dump dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a nice ball. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. After pot has heated, remove from oven and lower parchment paper with dough into pot. Place lid on pot and return to oven. Bake 35 minutes. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!!