Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cookbooks and Coffee Cake

My dear friend, Sarah, has fed my insatiable appetite for cookbooks by loaning me two amazing tomes. The first, The Zuni Café Cookbook, looks amazing though I haven’t taken the steps to try the recipes. I have a list that I’ll have to attack one weekend when I’m able to devote the time to such an endeavor as the recipes are somewhat time intensive. The other book is by Mary and Vincent Price, A Treasury of Great Recipes. Yes, the legendary actor known for his portrayals of all beings dark and mysterious. I was entranced by the culinary variety in this book. Who knew that he and his wife were such gastronomes? Detailing their travels through Europe and the US during the late 1950’s and 60’s, they offer recipes from restaurants around the world as well as recreations of their favorite dishes. Each recipe is accompanied by a memory; each chapter by story. Menus document the origins of many recipes. I spent three days reading the book as if it were a best-selling novel, marking the pages I had to return to. I began to wonder if I had enough Post-Its!

So, Sunday morning, I set out to make one of the many mouth-watering entries that captured my attention. I decided on Coffee Cake.
The recipe is deceptively simple and produces enough coffee cake to satisfy the hunger of an early morning breakfast crowd. One batch will make four 8” cakes (so, at a 2” square per person, that’s 64 pieces!!). There are four varieties with the one recipe: Streusel, Cinnamon, Apple, and Cranberry. I didn’t have cranberries and my daughter was begging for something blueberry, so I took some liberties and changed the one version. I’ll post the original along with my substitutions.

The cakes turn out moist and fairly dense. Somewhat of a cross between a sponge and a pound cake, the texture is substantial enough to be filling but light enough to encourage a second helping. The flavorful variations provide the variety needed for a beautiful display of delights.

Although this is not my usual format, I’m going to write the recipe as it is found in the book.

Breakfast Breads
Makes four 8” square breads

Baking powder
Shortening or butter

1. In mixing bowl combine: 8 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 4 tablespoons double-acting baking powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 cups sugar.

2. Beat: 3 cups milk and 4 eggs.

3. Stir liquid into flour mixture to make a lumpy batter.

4. Stir in: 2 cups melted shortening or butter.

5. Divide batter into 4 greased 8” square baking pans and bake in a preheated 375*F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until breads test done. Remove from pans to cool on racks. When cool, wrap and freeze. Reheat in moderate 350* oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Cinnamon Nut Bread: Sprinkle the batter in one of the pans with: ½ cup brown sugar mixed with ½ cup chopped nut meats and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Streusel Bread: Sprinkle the batter in one of the pans with: ½ cup brown sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons butter, and ½ cup chopped nut meats.

Cranberry Bread: Bring to a boil: 2 cups whole cranberries, 2/3 cups sugar, 1 pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons grated orange rind, and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn mixture into bottom of greased 8” square cake pan. Pour one-quarter of the breakfast bread batter over the cranberries and bake. Turn out, cranberry side up, to cool.

Note: This is where I substituted blueberries for the cranberries. I replaced the orange with lemon and followed everything else to the letter. It was DIVINE.

Apple Bread: Generously butter a 9” square cake pan. Sprinkle bottom with: ½ cup sugar and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Cover with: 2 cups sliced apples. Pour one-quarter of the breakfast bread batter over the apples and bake. Turn out, apple side up, to cool.

1 comment:

  1. OMG Why wasnt I invited to breakfast?????? I am with your daughter on the Blueberry version....looks amazing...they all do!!!!!!
    I want to be you :))))))) Oh to find the time to enjoy we what we love........Thanks for sharing
    xoxo Sarah