July 2, 2014

Yellow Cake

This is based on the Yogurt Bismark Cake in Bakin' Without Eggs. It makes a simple yellow cake that is sturdy enough to transport individual slices for afternoon snack.

Yellow Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Get a stick of butter out of the fridge to warm to room temperature.
Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan. 

With a hand mixer cream together in a large bowl:
1/4 C butter (room temperature)
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup yogurt (plain or vanilla is fine)

Beat in 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (I don't measure, I just pour a splash in)

Sieve into a smaller bowl:
1 and 2/3 Cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Add the dry to the wet in two installments and beat until smooth and creamy (a couple minutes).

Put batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool in the pan 20 minutes or so and then turn out onto a plate to continue cooling.

For more depth of flavor add a bit of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. 
Alternatively, substitute another extract for some of the vanilla.
This cake is too light to carry heavy mix-ins, but would support a little bit of citrus zest.

April 23, 2014

More eggnots

We ordered another dozen eggnots this year and dyed them with lovely results. We save them from year to year, so in addition to dyeing our new dozen, we also were also able to re-dye to a deeper color some that we had dyed pastel in prior years. 

Dyeing eggnots     Easter 2014

For these richer colors we again used basic liquid food coloring from the supermarket, including some from both the standard red, blue, green and yellow package and some from a package of "neon" dye. We used more vinegar and less water than in prior years. We let them sit in the dye bath for several minutes, as recommended on the eggnots packaging. To compare, here's a link to our results from a previous year.

March 6, 2014

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette is a nice way to dress up simply prepared whole grains like wheat berries and is easy to make with ingredients we generally have on hand in the fridge and cupboards.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Combine the ingredients in a small mason jar, shake and serve. Stash the jar in your fridge to store leftovers and shake before each use.

1/3 Cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary (dried or fresh)

Variations: The original recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon salt, which I omit. 
Using honey instead of syrup will produce a thicker sweeter dressing with more body.

January 2, 2014

Soda Bread

Although I bake regularly, I never used to bake soda bread. It wasn't that familiar to me and I suspected that it must be complicated.  I was wrong.  

Soda bread is not at all complicated. It won't even require a trip to grocery store if you have a jar of buttermilk lurking in your fridge (which I always do now that I have realized how easy it is to culture buttermilk). The taste is quite familiar, somewhat like buttermilk biscuits, with less fat. 

I like this recipe because I always have these four ingredients handy and it produces a hearty, tasty quick bread that works well as a sturdy side for savory soups or as support for sweets like jam.

Basic Soda Bread

2 cups flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

How to:

Preheat oven to 375 and oil a loaf pan.
Stir the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. 
Add buttermilk and mix into a soft dough.
Transfer to loaf pan and cook in the center of your oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Turn out onto a wire rack or plate to cool.

Notes and variations:

There are lots of soda bread recipes and variations, including double-sized recipes cooked in cake pans or on parchment on a cookie sheet for a round loaf and mixing up the ingredients with whole wheat flour, rye, raisins or currants, caraway seeds, butter, wheat germ, brown sugar, other sweeteners, eggs, sour cream instead of butter milk, etc. 

I have made round loaves on parchment by doubling the recipe, kneading the dough briefly to get it into a smooth ball, and then once the ball is on the parchment doing a few quick slits into the top, brushing with a little extra buttermilk and baking at 400 to get a very nice crust.

What all of these recipes seem to have in common is something close to a ratio of 2:1 dry to thick wet ingredient and a teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 Cups of flour. 

So my advice is to feel free to freestyle different flours, or sour cream instead of buttermilk, etc. but try to preserve those basic ratios.