Well, the tree's finally up and twinkling away, as are the Christmas lights outside. I baked what felt like twelve thousand cookies last week, and still have tons of dough leftover in case more(!) are needed. So, yes, progress is evident around here. But I haven't yet wrapped a single gift, nor have I sent out a single card; they're on the agenda over the next couple of days. In the midst of all this bustle, I somehow decided to experiment on Saturday afternoon with a coffeecake recipe, and the results were pretty yummy (or, if you prefer, "scrummy"--sort of short for scrumptious--as my Ireland-based baking-friend, June, would say). I was particularly pleased at this cake's staying power; even this morning, it was still very moist and good.
When you're trying to figure out what to serve on Christmas morning for breakfast or brunch, a homemade coffeecake that can be produced ahead of time, and that can be counted on not to dry out before it's served, is like money in the bank. I tried a little slice this morning to see how it was holding up, and I actually think it's improved with age. Don't you love it when something you've made does that?
I offer one caveat with this recipe. Were I to make this cake again (and I definitely would) I'd absolutely use a 9" or 10" springform pan with 2" sides, versus a 10" tart pan with 1" sides. Despite the pretty scalloped edge, it wasn't big enough. I had to trim off the outer edge of my cake when it came out of the oven because it rose over the sides (I neglected to take pictures of that little episode).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour, or coat with baking spray, a 9" or 10" springform pan (not a 10" tart pan; see my note in the blog post above regarding the need for a springform pan of this size).
Ingredients for the cranberry filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Scant 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. orange juice
Ingredients for the cream cheese filling:
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Ingredients for the cake base and streusel:
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (I used coarse kosher.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk, or 3/4 cup plain yogurt that's been thinned with a tablespoon or two of milk
To make the cranberry filling:
In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and spices on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until it starts to thicken. In a very small bowl, mix the corn starch with the 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of cold orange juice; stir until it looks completely smooth. Pour it slowly into the hot cranberries, stirring constantly. Raise the heat a little and keep stirring slowly until the mixture noticeably thickens up. Cook another minute or two. Take the pot off the heat and set it aside to cool.
To make the cream cheese filling:
Beat the softened cream cheese for a couple of minutes, on low speed, until smooth. Add in the lightly beaten egg. Gradually pour in the sugar, still on low speed; beat for a couple more minutes until completely smooth. Set aside.
To make the cake batter and streusel, and to assemble the cake:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Using a hand held pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the biggest lumps are no larger than peas. Scoop out 1/2 cup of this mixture and set aside; this will be used for your streusel topping.
Into the large bowl add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring to distribute evenly. Hollow out a well in the middle of the bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together lightly the egg, and the buttermilk or thinned yogurt, whichever you're using. Pour this into the dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten and combine. The batter will seem pretty thick.
Spread 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, nudging the batter up the sides just a bit to create a rimmed effect (easiest if you use a small offset spatula, or the back of a spoon). Drizzle half of the cream cheese filling over this.
Spread all of the cranberry filling carefully over that, being careful to keep it away from the sides of the pan. Drizzle the remaining cream cheese filling over the cranberries, again avoiding the sides of the pan.
Now, gently spread the remaining batter over the top, all the way to the sides, then sprinkle on all of the streusel.
With the pan placed on a cookie sheet, bake the cake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or more, until the top looks lightly golden.
Let the cake cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove the sides of the pan. Let it finish cooling while still on the springform pan's base, placed on a rack.
Stays nice and moist for two days or more if well-covered.
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Jane's Sweets & Baking Journalwas born of my ever increasing desire to learn more about the baking and pastry arts, and of my love for anything and everything related to baking. Just as food is meant to be shared, so is knowledge among bakers and among those who enjoy delicious foods prepared from scratch. So, please partake, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd love to hear from you.
If you'd like to know a bit about me please click here, or look for the tiny photo of a pink cupcake topped by a strawberry, further down, in the "About me"section. You can also reach me by email at email@example.com . . .
Saveur featured Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal . . .
. . . in their Daily Fare section. We're honored to be on their "Best of the Web" list!
Visit the PBS site to reminisce about 2013's best food trends. They've assembled an entertaining look at what we foodies focused on--what we ate, cooked, read, watched, and blogged about--throughout the year. Click here!
Interesting article in the Los Angeles Timeson the resurgence in demand for the skills of professional pastry chefs. (It seems we still need them after all . . .but you and I have always known that, haven't we?)
The IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) announced winners of its 2013 IACP Food Writing Awards. Have a look at the list. (No surprise that the gorgeous Bouchon Bakery cookbook won for photography and styling; took about a dream of a book! It's gorgeous.)
Food journalist and cookbook reviewer T. Susan Chang, writing for Publisher's Weekly, shared her thoughts in the article "10 Things Every Cookbook Publisher Should Know." Chang clarifies, in a nutshell, what differentiates a great cookbook from an awful dud. I found myself nodding in agreement with every point she made.
An interesting variation on cherries jubilee . . .
. . . made with Grand Marnier, sweet black cherries, pomegranate juice, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
Dutch apple cake . . .
. . . it's divine!
What We Talk About . . .
. . . When We Talk About Banana Cake!
JANE'S FAVORITE BAKING BOOKS
About Professional Baking: The Essentials, by Gail Sokol. This is a textbook, but not one that's intimidating. It contains lots of useful info, including interesting personal profiles of professional chefs.
All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Another winner of the IACP award. Loads of good looking cookie recipes with lots of very appetizing photos. (Don't you love cookbooks with tons of pictures? I do.)
All-American Dessert Book, by Nancy Baggett. Wonderfully detailed, with very reliable recipes, Baggett does it again in this valuable cookbook. Definitely worth your time!
Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet. This large Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection is a feast for the eyes. I love the page layout, the photos, and the author's reassuring tone. Recipes range from the quotidian ("classic sugar cookies") to the ridiculous ("Moroccan-spiced sweet-potato tiropetes") to the absolute sublime ("duo-tone chocolate pots de creme"). Worth acquiring.
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, by the Culinary Institute of America. This is a heavy duty textbook, not for the faint of heart. Intimidating, sure, but also kind of fascinating if you're an obsessive bake-a-holic like me.
Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan and based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child. Yet another hefty and dazzling coffee-table-worthy cookbook. Wonderful to have around. (My copy was autographed by Julia herself!)
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, published in 1950 and available in a facsimile edition, holds a special place in my heart. This is the book my mom primarily used, or so it seemed, when I was a kid. The photos are such period pieces, and the little notations that accompany recipes are pricelessly cute and corny. I have an ancient copy that I still use. Every girl needs a copy of this in her house, for good karma if nothing else.
Bitter Sweet -- Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate, by Alice Medrich. Much more than just a cookbook with a focus on fine dark chocolate, this is also a memoir of sorts from a legendary chocolate-dessert creator. Medrich is often credited with awakening American tastes to the finest aspects of superior chocolate. Very interesting read!
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes,by Jeffrey Hamelman. An indispensable book for anyone who is seriously interested in learning to make fine yeast breads, Hamelman shares far more than just technical knowledge. Like fellow bread guru Peter Reinhart, his warmth of spirit and deep love for the tradition of bread baking shines through on every page.
Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. Not to be confused with the character of the mom on Happy Days, the real Marion Cunningham has a long list of writing accomplishments, the most well known being that she completely revised The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. A contemporary of the late James Beard's, she is still held in high esteem.
Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is really into the science of baking, which can be helpful in some respects and off-putting in others. Like gardeners who talk mostly about soil components without conveying their joy in the plants themselves. Maybe I'm too sensitive? Probably so, as many consider this to be an invaluable classic. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't part with my copy. One of several highly detailed books by Rose. Her latest book, Heavenly Cakes, is much more down to earth, loaded with photos, and truly beautiful.
Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. I've called it a treasure trove before and please allow me to say it again here. This book is jam packed with wonderful stuff that's well explained. I used the Sacher-torte recipe in the fall of '09 for a culinary school project and it didn't let me down. I can endorse this book without reservation. I love it.
Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton, Jr. When this book appeared in 1981, famed food editor Craig Claiborne praised it in the NYT as "one of the most important cookbooks of this year, if not of this decade." No photos, but don't let that dissuade you.
Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox. In 2009, some great new cookbooks were published and this was one of them. Down to earth, straightforward without being condescending, this smart guide offers creative and simple twists on dozens of diverse and well-proven "cakes, cookies, and other sweets."
Dessert University, by Roland Mesnier. As the White House executive pastry chef for over two decades, Mesnier has a lot of wisdom to impart. He does so well in this book, which is designed specifically for home bakers. A good book!
Grand Central Baking Book, by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. Readers are welcomed into these pages with a tone of warmth and familiarity. The photos alone will have you scribbling a grocery list. Try the berry kuchen recipe--simple and scrumptious.
Hershey's Chocolate Treasury, published in 1984 by Hershey Foods and chock full of old reliables. The recipe for Black Magic cake is one I've used again and again--invaluable!
How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. The writing style is matter of fact and fairly informal. That's one of my favorite things about Malgieri's books.
Magical Art of Cake Decorating, by Carole Collier. Sometimes at a used book sale you find an old gem like this. Published in '84, I found it very encouraging when I first began decorating cakes. The recipes are rock solid reliable.
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Famed baker (apparently her "Palm Beach Brownies" are known far and wide), whose work has centered on wondrous chocolate desserts, Heatter received a James Beard award for this book, one of many she's published over several active decades.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Beautiful photos, but I must admit I've come to have reservations about the reliability of some of the recipes. Is it just me? Though I love flipping through the book for ideas, I'm a bit on the fence with this one when it comes to actual usage.
Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart. Talk about a stunning and inspiring book! Chances are you may never decide to actually make one of the cakes from this glorious volume, but it's enough just to page through the gorgeous pictures and interesting recipes. Expensive? For sure, but worth it.
Passion for Baking, A by Marcy Goldman. If you're curious about how professional bakers manage to make things come out nicely every time, you'll appreciate this book. Goldman, in her highly approachable style, divulges many of their simple--but enormously helpful--tricks and techniques, and shows readers how to implement them throughout the wondrous array of down-to-earth recipes that pack this great book. Loads of enticing photos, too! I love this book!
Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. Can't say enough about Malgieri's books. Absolutely worth using, versus just reading! The white and dark chocolate cheesecake is to die for; I've made it a few times, along with many other recipes from this book, and it is superb.
Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday, by Peter Reinhart. This book is a revelation for anyone who approaches yeast recipes like a vampire approaches the dawn. Talk about down to earth, encouraging, and flexible! This guy knows how to talk to rookie breadmakers. Well worth reading, and using, this volume will find a comfy place in your cookbook collection--a worthwhile purchase, undoubtedly!
Professional Cake Decorating, by Toba Garrett. I get the impression that this book is perceived as the most thorough and comprehensive text available for serious students of cake decorating. This is the text that we used for my culinary school Beginning Cake Decorarting class (which means I finally own my own copy!).
Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, by Sarabeth Levine. Almost too pretty to use, but use it anyway! This big book is so appealing, and the photos so remarkably enticing, you'll want to pick it up like a sandwich and bite right into it. Fine recipes for updated classics, well explained, from the famous Manhattan bakery. Worth buying. (You'll love it!)
Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard. A must have, bakers! This cookbook's forte is the way it's organized; master recipes are presented with full explanations of how they can be used, and related recipes follow, section by section. An exceptional manual to refer to. Get your own copy!
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Huntsman is the professional pastry chef behind this beautiful book, filled with many tempting recipes, all designed specifically and scaled perfectly for three layers. I've made the Devil's food cake thus far, and it was exceptional--it rose well, was very moist, and had great depth of flavor. I'll be using this book more in the future, without a doubt. Love the photos also!
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. . . to never endorse a product of any kind on Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal that I do not believe in. I've never done so thus far, and I vow never to do so. If I tell you I think something is great, or that I think it is worth spending real money on, then I mean it, rest assured. I promise. And, if I ever talk about a product that I've been given to review or try out, I will disclose that in the post.
I'm a mom with two great sons (both now in college), and a really nice husband. I left a long editorial career in reference publishing a few years ago and I've had nary a regret. I recently finished (after four part-time years!) a Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate program in the Culinary Studies Institute at a local community college. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I am so glad I did it. These days, I do a lot of freelance editorial work, something that I really enjoy.
"Jane's Sweets" was the name of a very small baking enterprise that I started in late 2007. It bloomed a bit, for a little while, with encouragement from my husband, my aunt, and my first cake decorating teacher, Cindy. Because my Aunt Lydia was my most ardent female supporter in this baking endeavor (she was a lifelong independent business owner herself), this blog is dedicated to her memory. If heaven is real, then I know she's there with my mom, baking up a storm. Like Lydia said one day, just before her 80th birthday, while she and my mom and I were baking in my mom's kitchen, "It's been a fun ride. I'd do it all over again!"
If my house were on fire, I'd grab my family, then I'd grab my KitchenAid mixer.
Copyright 2009-2014, on original content and photos, Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission if you'd like to reuse any of my photos or my content. Please consider informing me if you link to my blog--I'd love to know. --Thanks for visiting!