Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake Coffee Cake

After a week of midterms I finally have time to blog again! The other day, I was looking through all the "food porn" sites such as foodgawker and tastespotting and is it weird that I wasn't getting inspiration? I literally couldn't think of what I wanted to blog about or didn't see anything on one of the sites that made me say " I am sooooo making that!!"

I went on other food blogs and still had no luck in what to make so I went to the foodnetwork site where Coffee Cake entered my mind. Don't get me wrong, I love a great coffee cake but when I see recipes that have twice as much butter in the crumb topping than in the cake, meaning TWO STICKS, I have some problems. So I came up with this.

I guess you can say this is an experiment within a recipe test. For the cake base, I went for a pound cake recipe I found, but never tried, by Tish Boyle that looked delicious and moist. I actually halved the pound cake recipe for my cake which was actually not enough for the cake. Definitely make the whole batch of cake for a thick cake!

Anyways, I decided to experiment and top the batter with what I normally put in a cinnamon roll, brown sugar and cinnamon, swirl it in and waited to see how it turned out. I then iced it with a powdered sugar icing. This is exactly why it's a cinnamon roll, in a pound cake, eaten as a coffee cake. This Pound Cake was moist and dense and the topping gave a cinnamon roll flavor with coffee cake texture without all the butter. The pound cake itself was great so if you don't feel like making a Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake Coffee Cake, the pound cake is worth it!

Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake Coffee Cake
Cake Base Adapted from Tish Boyle's Lemon Pound Cake
Makes 1-9 inch cake or 1 Loaf

2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 lb powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and dust a 9 inch cake pan and set aside. (Or, if you want a plain pound cake, grease the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 x 5 1/2-inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour and set aside.)

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine well and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat the mixture at medium-high speed until very light, about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally (the mixture should look curdled at this point). Beat in the citrus zest and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, alternating it with the heavy cream in two additions. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon until combines and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Swirl into the cake.

Bake for about 30-40 min. or until the skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 min and remove the cake from the pan to continue cooking on a cooling rack

(If making the plain pound cake, bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.)

Meanwhile make the icing by melting the butter in the microwave. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar and milk and mix until combines and no lumps are present. Drizzle the cake with the icing as you desire.

-Aaron John

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Great News!!

I know, I know. I've been MIA this past week, but I promise that after my midterms this week, I'll get back to blogging.

Anywho, this week in Seattle was CRAZY!! We literally had an epic snow storm that shut down everything. If you follow me on twitter, @aaronjohn04, I posted a couple of pictures of my back yard blanketed in snow and my car completely covered in about 4-5 inches of snow. Even the UW, which is known to never have snow days, had three of them! SHOCKER! But, finally, the snow is almost completely gone and things are getting back to normal.

However, the snow being gone is not the great news. A couple days ago I was asked to become apart of a new website that is set to launch in February. The website is called "Foodie" and I was asked to be apart of the Foodie 100!! It's such a great feeling to get an email to invite you to join something like this. I couldn't believe it! Getting that email literally made my day. I just sent in my top 10 recipes, a bio and pictures this morning. I can't wait for the website to launch and to check it all out! I hope you guys will check it out too! :)

-Aaron John

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

French Baguette

Things have been so hectic at school already in the two weeks that we have started and I find myself behind. So, here I am, sitting in my bedroom, blasting my music and eating my breakfast of corned beef and rice this morning trying to bust out this blog post that is long overdue. 

Currently, I've wanted to open up a bakery/cafe joint and to do that, you first need some good recipes, mainly bread recipes. I mean, how can you own a cafe/bakery and not make your own bread for sandwiches and such? What kind of bakery/cafe are you?!?! Well, here starts the recipe testing for artisan breads!

What I love about artisan bread is that they have a wonderful crackly crust. Every time I think of that crust, I remember the scene of "Ratatouille" when the woman squeezes the bread to hear that crackling crust to test the freshness. That is exactly what an artisan bread should sound like.

Let's start the artisan bread test with a French baguette. French baguettes are versatile. They can be sliced perpendicular for little crostini or they can be sliced parallel for some long sandwiches. This was my first attempt at this and well, it wasn't the greatest thing ever. When it came out of the oven I literally said "Danggggg, that is one ugly bread!", it definitely was and you know it! haha.

The top didn't have the long scores on them as I was hoping and was definitely over baked but the bottom was just fine. Great texture in this bread as well. Time to go back to the white board with this one.

French Baguette
Recipe by Peter Reinhardt
Makes 3 loaves
Part 1
For the pre-ferment (pâte fermentée):
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water, at room temperature

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until the dough comes together and knead until it goes from a sticky mess to a smooth ball.

Don’t worry too much about developing the gluten at this point.

Let rise in a sealed container for about 1 hour at room temperature or until it expands to 1 1/2 times its size.

Knead lightly for about a minute and return to the sealed container. Keep in the refrigerator overnight. The pre-ferment will be usable for up to 3 days, although I tend to get nervous when it’s been sitting around for more than 24 hours. Sometimes it seems like it’s about to pop out of the container and spill all over the vegetables and eggs in my refrigerator. Not that it’s ever happened before. Be sure that your container can handle a volume at least 3 times as big as the dough.

Part 2
For the final dough:
All of the pâte fermentée
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water, at room temperature

Take your pre-fermented dough out of the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature for about 1 hour to take off the chill. It will be bubbly and may continue to rise in your container.

Cut up the pre-ferment into small pieces and mix with the second half.

Knead for about 10 minutes.

In a lightly oiled container, ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

It’s very important to put some oil in the container so the dough doesn’t stick when extracting from the bowl later. It should come out as one well-formed blob and feel very slightly sticky to the touch. From this point on, handle the dough as gently as possible to keep the bubbles within from deflating.

Use a weighing scale and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. It’s okay to cut off small bits of dough to evenly distribute.

Proof the shaped baguettes with the seam side up at room temperature for 45 to 75 minutes or until it expands to 1 1/2 times its size. The loaves in the picture are settled in a floured linen couche, but parchment paper can be used in the same manner. This will keep the loaves from flattening out and help maintain a tubular shape.

Preheat your oven to 500°F with a steam pan, preferably cast iron, in the bottom of the oven. I have a dedicated cast iron skillet used solely for creating steam in the oven. Don’t use your well-seasoned cast iron skillet passed down from grandma. The high oven heat will ruin the seasoning you’ve been painstakingly maintaining all these years. I had to find out the hard way. If you have one of those fancy ovens with built-in steam functionality then we probably won’t get along.

Transfer the proofed baguettes onto parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan. The seams previously on top should now be on the bottom.
Score the baguettes. Imagine a line running down the top of the loaves. Using a very sharp knife or a bread slashing tool called a lamé, create incisions about half an inch deep that overlap and run almost parallel to the imaginary line running down the center of the loaves. Cuts that run from side to side will barely expand because long loaves tend to widen instead of lengthen as a result of oven spring.

Load the oven with the sheet pan or transfer the loaves onto a hot baking stone. Pour 2 cups of boiling water onto the steam pan and immediately close the oven door. Lower the oven to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes until the crust turns golden brown.

Place the baguettes on a cooling rack for about 1 hour. Try to keep yourself from biting the crackly ends off straight from the oven. Each baguette will tip the scales at the traditional weight of approximately 250 grams.

-Aaron John.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Last Food Stop of 2011: Thai #1 & Pho Cafe

2011 has come and gone and 2012 is already upon us. My 2011 was highlighted with playing "catch up" with college classes, movies, new recipes, food outings, an Alki Beach Birthday, a San Diego adventure and so much more. I have to say, this was one of my favorite years by far. I can't wait for what food adventures and new recipes that are in store for 2012 but before we start 2012 with new items, we have to finish up 2011 right with the last food stop I had in 2011.

My last food stop of 2011 was to Thai #1 & Pho cafe. This place is a small and quaint, little restaurant that's somewhat hidden on the side of everything else. Obviously, it's a mixture between a Thai and Pho place that also has Japanese food. Identity crisis? I think so. But hey, as long as the food's good, it doesn't matter to me. Whatever floats your boat, go for it!

I decided to go on more of a Thai food route ordering one of my all time Thai food favorites, Chicken Pad See Ew. Pad See Ew is basically a noodle dish cooked w/ dark soy sauce. 

One of the first things that came out was this miso soup w/ tofu. Here is where we see the identity crisis. A Japanese soup served with a Thai dish? Well, as long as it's complementary w/ my dish and I don't have to pay for it, I'm game! It had the classic flavor of a miso soup and was pretty good. Not too salty either.

In literally five minutes or so, my Chicken Pad See Ew came out. I was actually impressed from the portion. A good amount of noodles and chicken, broccoli and carrots ratio. It was sweet, salty, spicy and garlic-y, just the way I like it. The veggies were still crisp as well which I liked. Was it the best Pad See Ew I've ever had, nope. But, it was still delicious and I would definitely order it again.

Overall, this place had pretty good food. Not to mention, it's very affordable. My dish was $6.95 w/ tax whereas the pho dishes were about $5.95 w/ tax. The food comes out quick and the service was decent. There wasn't much to complain about with this place.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thai #1 & Pho Cafe
203 S 2nd St
(between N Taylor Ave & 89th St)
Renton, WA 98055
(425) 277-6909

-Aaron John


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