Suzi's Blog

Sourdough Coffee Cake from Maximum Flavor

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“I’m making this cake,” Suzen announced last Sunday morning. She had a book in her hands, cleverly hidden, and I was not shown the recipe.

Three hours later I was presented with the dish in the top picture: a dense coffee cake with streusel topping and that wedge of something slicing down into the cake.

I stared.

“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s supposed to be that way. That’s a gooey topping running down into the cake.”

“If it’s a topping, why isn’t it on top?” I asked.

“Because it would interfere with the streusel,” she answered.

“I’m confused,” I uttered.

She handed me a fork. She mouthed the words, “Shut up and eat,” but did not say them out loud.

Two bites and I forgot about the definitions of top, bottom and in between.

She made this cake because it uses sour dough starter. Anything with sour dough is on her agenda. Suzen has had the same sour dough starter since 1994 when she tested the recipes for The Joy of Cooking. For 20 years, that starter has been fed, watered, nourished and monitored through every event possible: power failures, hurricanes, and 9/11. She’s given samples that have traveled around the country.

And now, it the basis for this wonderful cake from Maximum Flavor. If you are a baker and have starter on hand, then you are good to go. If you ever needed just a little extra push to make your own starter, then here’s an outstanding reason.

The streusel topping is made with leftover cake crumbs. In my house, there is no such thing as leftover cake. But Suzen did have a frozen cake layer saved for our next dinner party. The party was forgotten, the layer defrosted and we had plenty of cake crumbs. I’m sure you’ll find a way to improvise, too. And the streusel topping can be made ahead and stored for 2 weeks, giving you plenty of time to put it to good use here.

This is another wonderful recipe from Maximum Flavor, a book you would truly enjoy.

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Sour Dough Coffee Cake

Yield: 1 9-inch tube cake, enough for ~8 people

Ingredients:

Gooey Topping:
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup / 150 grams all-purpose flour
Coffee Cake:
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup / 200 grams sourdough starter
Cake Crumb Streusel:
  • 1 ½ cups dry cake crumbs
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preparation:

Make the Streusel:

In a food processor, combine the cake crumbs, flour, sugar and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms small clumps. Transfer the mixture to a lidded container and store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Gooey Topping:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and mix until well blended. Add the syrup and mix on low speed until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water and vanilla and mix until l well blended. Add the flour and mix on low speed until it comes together as a homogeneous mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a lidded container or zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Coffee Cake:

Preheat the oven to 3SO°F (i75°C). Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) tube cake pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix until it is fully incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the milk and the sourdough starter. Turn the mixer on low speed, then turn it up to medium and mix until a smooth, silky batter is formed, 15 to 20 seconds.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Tap the pan on the table a few times to level it out and remove any air bubbles. Use a teaspoon to scoop dollops of the gooey topping all over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumb streusel over the top.

Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top feels firm when touched, or the internal temperature of the center of the cake registers 208°-210° F (97°—98°C), about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then remove the sides and let the cake rest on a wire rack until cool, at least 1 hour.

Source: Maximum Flavor by Aki Kamozawa and Alexander H. Talbot

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO-3200

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolci di Noci from Southern Italian Desserts

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What if you could make an astonishing desserts in five minutes with just three ingredients? Too good to be true? No, not at all. This is an astonishingly good cookie.

I tested it last night on two good friends.

“What do you taste?” I asked.

“Coconut? Peanut butter? Cinnamon? …” The questions kept coming and I started to laugh.

This is the prototype Italian recipe. Simple. Swiftly created. A few ingredients, but carefully honed.

There is no coconut or peanut butter or any spices here. You simply take nuts and some sugar, put them in the food processor and blend away. Take that nutty sand, add an egg, shape, cut and bake.

It’s incredibly easy. The recipe calls for walnuts, which Suzen is not the fondest of. So, I used pecans, which do have a more complex flavor. Apparently, to some people, pecans have overtones of coconut, peanut butter, various spices, …

The cookies are to bake base side up, not cut side down. I, uh, neglected to read that so my cookies are flatter here and wider than you’ll achieve if you wisely follow the instructions. And these cookies to spread, so used full cookie sheet or divide the batter between two half sheets.

Author Rosetta Costantino found this cookie in the town of Maratea, the only town of Basilicata on the Tyrrhenian Sea [Southern Italy, west side, just above the boot]. It’s a coastal town of beauty and culinary distinction. In the bakeries there, this cookie comes two ways: bare bones and with a thick layer of pure sugar frosting just roughly draped over the cookie as you see here. Rosetta loves the pure flavor of nuts alone. My test guinea pigs last night split: one liked bare and one loved frosted. I prefer frosted with the contrast of the cold clean frosting versus the nutty intensity of the cookie itself. Your choice.

Oh, some final notes. If you are someone you know has celiac disease, this no-flour delicacy is perfect for you. For celiac kids, its a great introduction to the kitchen. They can get their hands dirty as they make the cookies, lick their fingers and in a few minutes smile as they bite away.

If someone has a nut issue, then this dish is not for you.

 

Dolci di Noci

Yield: makes ~30 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups walnut halves or large pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190″C) with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Combine the walnuts and sugar in a food processor and process to make a fine meal the texture of sand. Transfer to a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the egg. Use a fork to briefly whisk the egg, then begin incorporating the nuts until everything is thoroughly combined, finishing the mixing with your hands. The dough will be quite moist and a little sticky.

Divide the dough into quarters. On a flat surface, shape one piece of the dough into a 6-inch log, flattening the sides to make a bar about 1inch wide by 1 inch high. Cut the bar into 3/4 inch segments to make eight pieces. Space the cookies evenly on the prepared baking sheet, standing on their base (not on a cut side) with 1 inch of space all around for spreading. Repeat with the remaining bars to make thirty­ two cookies.

Bake the cookies on the upper oven rack until they are golden all over, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the pan. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/60th second at ISO‑1250