Friday, April 29, 2011

Cinnamon Loaf

I know I've said it before, but I have to say it again.  Sometimes, the simplest of recipes are simply the best, and here is proof in point.  This breakfast treat is made with everyday ingredients, is moist, tender, (it was the moist~tender qualities of this beautiful loaf that really won me over) and with a generous amount of sugar-cinnamon struesel.  It has to sit overnight before cutting, so is a perfect recipe for a tote-along for a breakfast treat or to have ready for guests the next morning.

Jannett, of Canadian Baker Too, shared this keeper recipe.  When Jannett says she's made this many times over the years, I can believe her, as I know I'll be making this many more times as well.  Thank you for sharing this Jannett; we loved this!

Janette says you can use any size loaf pan, and I grabbed my 11 inch x 7 inch baking dish.  I should have used a loaf pan, because I think it made a difference in the texture of the cake.  Jannett's loaf looks like it has a fine crumb, mine looks a little more rustic. I reduced the cooking time for my size pan to about 23 minutes. 

Cinnamon Loaf
(adapted from Canadian Baker Too)

For the loaf:
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup soured milk (one teaspoon vinegar with enough added milk to equal 1 cup)

For the filling and topping:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Generously grease a loaf pan of your choice.

In measuring cup add milk and the vinegar. Let sit for about five minutes to give the milk an opportunity to sour.  Add vanilla. Set aside.

In small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon and mix. Set aside.

In your mixer add butter and sugar;  mix until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time and mix until combined.

Add your dry ingredients alternately with sour milk (beginning and ending with dry ingredients, divide~eyeball~ the dry ingredients into thirds, and add the milk by halves.)   Do not over mix this mixture.

Add half the batter to your loaf pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon mixture onto this batter.  Add remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake 1 hour or until tooth pick comes out clean.** Let cool in loaf pan for a least 1 hour.  Remove and place on cooling rack to cool completely.  It is best to cut this loaf the next day.
NOTE:  The one hour baking time is for a loaf pan.  I used an 11 inch x 7 inch baking dish and the baking time was reduced to about 23 minutes. 

Once again, Jannett, thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe.  I am so pleased to be able to share this treasure this with my friends and family!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

Lawsy Mercy!  This is good!  I'm not keen on barbecue sauce or barbecue flavor as a rule, but this will have you'll be wanting to eat this sauce out of a jar with a spoon.  Ole Sweetie-Pi really liked this, and his sister Susan has asked me for the recipe.  Now that's an endorsement!

The original recipe was found on  This is my personal adaptation. 

Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

1/2 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 sweet red pepper, minced
3/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I used 1/2 cup whiskey, 1/4 cup cognac as I didn't have the full amount of whiskey)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 to 1/4 cup molasses
1/3 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Put all the ingredients together in a slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for about 4 hours. Taste for seasoning part way through.   Strain if you prefer a smoother sauce (I didn't).  The sauce is good the first day, better if used the second. 

For our tastes I reduced the vinegar and liquid smoke flavoring in the original recipe, and added the molasses and sweet red pepper.

I used this sauce to make pulled pork, but Susan says she uses the jar I gave her for grilled steaks, and she loves it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Orange Fool Pudding

This is a "hmmmm" dessert. I loved the orange flavor and the bit of spice that enhanced the flavor.  This was easy enough to do, the ingredients are simple enough.  So what's the issue?  Texture.  This is a very soft pudding, with consistency similar to  melted ice cream, not thick the way one imagines a pudding to be.  It doesn't put me off, but others may not feel quite so inclined. This is a terrific dessert if you want something that can be made hours ahead of time as it needs to be cold when served.

Orange Fool Pudding

Juice of 3 large oranges
2 tablespoons orange rind (I used dried orange rind)
3 eggs, well beaten
2 cups cream
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan  or double boiler.  Cook very slowly until mixture thickens slightly, about 25 minutes.  Do not allow the pudding to boil or it could curdle. 

Pour the cooked pudding into individual dishes or wine glasses.  Chill thoroughly; serve cold.

My notes:  I felt that the pudding had not really thickened at the end of 25 minutes so I cooked it an additional 10 minutes (I was using a makeshift double boiler and turned up the heat a bit as well). 

It takes several hours to chill thoroughly which does help it to thicken a wee bit, but as I said, this is a very soft custard.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cinnamon Love Knots

Aaaaaah, Sundays!  Don't you just love something sweet and warm and cinnamony for Sunday breakfasts?  Sundays seem to be the one day of the week when we aren't rushing around, eating on the run, making do with whatever we can find, even if it's last night's leftover dinner!  It's also the one day of the week when I seem to have the extra time I need to make something a little special for us.

Sweetie-Pi was standing at our kitchen island, took one bite and stated, "Think I'll sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with these.  They are too good to just gobble down." 

I won't kid you into believing that these are quick.  Quite the opposite ~ I found that making the individual ropes, dipping them into butter and the cinnamon-sugar mixture, and then tying them into knots took far longer than I expected.  These were good, but I think I'd only do them again for a brunch. 

For the knots:
2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add milk, butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Stir in enough flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Cover two portions with plastic wrap. Divide one portion into 12 balls and then roll each ball into an 8-inch rope. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip rope into melted butter, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Tie into a knot (as if you were tieing a shoelace). Tuck and pinch ends under and place on ungreased baking sheets. (I brought the ends up and over the top of the knot, and tucked them betneath the knot.  It may take a little stretching of the dough.)  Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. 

Makes about 3 dozen knots.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spumoni Cake

This fun and delicious cake starts with a box of yellow cake mix, batter divided into three, with special additions added to give it the spumoni appeal.

I thought this recipe was lost to me forever.  When my mother used to work in a factory making smoke detectors, her company had an employee newsletter where the company would impart  business news and the employees would share personal news such as marriages, births, and recipes.  It was in one of  those newsletters that I saw this recipe, made it once years and years ago, and then lost my copy.  When my mother recently went into a nursing home, I was the lucky recipient of some of her recipes, and this, happily, was among them.

This cake is easy enough to do, just a little time consuming and perhaps a bit messy because of dividing up the batter and the addition of added ingredients, but when it all comes together and you serve it, the effort is worth the smiles.

I suggest reading through the recipe first to see what needs to be added for each layer.

Spumoni Cake

Mix together, until well blended:
1 package (18.5 ounce) white or yellow cake mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces sour cream
1 small package vanilla instant pudding (either instant or regular is okay)

Divide batter into three bowls.

To bowl 1, add:
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or peacans
4 ot 6 drops green food coloring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To bowl 2, add:
1 jar (4 ounces) cut up marachino cherries
5 or 6 drops red food coloring

To bowl 3, add:
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

To assemble cake:  Grease one large tube or bundt pan.  Into this pan pour all the green batter, then the red batter, and then the chocolate.  Be sure not to swirl the batter.  Bake at 350*F for 50-60 minutes.  Test with a toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean after being inserted in center of cake, the cake is done.  Cool slightly andturn upside down onto platter.  When cool, drizzle with chocolate icing.

I made a sour cream ganache to go with this because I didn't have whipping cream on hand to make the classic recipe.  Boy, it was, shall we say, interesting, smiles.  It seemed like a good idea, but the sour cream was too tangy and just didn't go well with the bitter sweet chocolate.  Won't be making that again!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Best Yet, Easiest Yet, Crusty Italian Bread

This crusty Italian loaf has to be the easiest, crustiest, and one of the tastiest loaves I have ever made.  It is now one of my go-to loaf breads.  And if that's not enough, there's no kneading.  Just stir the ingredients together, wait four hours for the dough to rise on your countertop, shape into a rough loaf, baguettes, rolls or even pizza, and bake. 

Look at that gorgeous crust.  The first night when I served this, the crust was crispy, chewy on the outside, soft and luxurious on the inside.  I wrapped the remaining loaf in aluminium foil the the crust softened, but the inside was still delicious and wonderfully soft on the inside.  I can't wait to try this recipe as hard rolls to serve with soup or to use it as a pizza crust.  I think it will be outstanding!

Nonna's Crusty Bread

4 cups, all-purpose, unbleached flour (I used King Arthur's flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups warm water

Oven-proof baking dish or casserole containing 2-3 cups of water (to be used while baking the bread)

Combine the dry ingredients for the bread in a large bowl.  Add the 2 cups of warm water and stir to combine and forms a sticky mass. 

Cover the bowl and allow the bread ingredients to rise for about 4 hours on your counter.  The surface of the dough will have bubbles about 1/4 inch in diameter. 

Preheat your oven to 500*F.  Put your bakeware with the 2-3 cups of hot water in the oven.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Dump your dough out onto a well-floured surface, covering the outside surface with flour as the dough is wet and sticky.  Handling the dough as little as possible (you're trying not to burst the bubbles) , shape your dough into your desired shape. 

Bake in your preheated 500*F oven for 60 minutes, or depending on your oven, more or less time.  For me, I found that 45 minutes was ample, but I also note that the ISicilian's bread is much darker than mine.  I chickened out at 45 minutes, fearing that my bread would burn to a crisp.

For more hints about using this dough, I suggest you visit the post for Nonna's Crusty Bread.  She has suggestions for keeping the dough in your refrigerator and for reheating the bread.