Thursday, September 24, 2009

Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake

At the market today and saw some fresh Strawberries. With fall on the way, I thought it'd be nice to have a little end of summer fruit dessert. I wanted something different and found a great recipe at Food and Wine for Strawberry Crumb Cake. Quick, and easy and delicious. Great way to say goodbye to summer.

Additionally, the cake batter and crumb topping would work wonderfully with most any type of fruit, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, etc.

You can use a lesser quantity of fruit, but it will not have the "juice" content of a larger quantity. Your preference.

Ingredients and Method:

3 pounds fresh straberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2½ tablespoons of water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

Crumb Topping:
½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

In a bowl, add strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla seeds, and cornstarch mixture and mix well. Let sit for 45 - 60 minutes until the strawberries "juice".

In another bowl mix the topping together. Use your fingers or dough cutter until you have small lumps.

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each time. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and beat well.

Pour the fruit into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the cake mix over the top and smooth over the entire filling, covering it completely. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour until golden brown.

Let cool and serve. It microwaves well as a leftover and loves the addition of a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Buttermilk English Muffins

Who knew? Seriously, who knew? Who knew English Muffins were this easy to make at home?
And who knew they were this good?

OK, maybe all of you knew, but I sure didn't. I made them, and have been enjoying them for breakfast all week long. Check it out.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening or butter (room temperature)
1 cup buttermilk (slightly heated)
cornmeal for sprinkling

In a bowl, add heated buttermilk, shortening or butter, sugar, and dry yeast. Stir and let sit for 20 minutes to make sure yeast proofs and the mixture puffs up.

Add flour, salt and mix with dough hook until well incorporated and a sticky ball of dough is formed. Add more flour in 1/4 cup increments if necessary, but you want a pretty sticky dough.

Scrape dough out onto a floured board or surface, sprinkle with flour, and knead BRIEFLY. We want the traditional nooks and crannies in the finished product, and the more you knead, the finer the "crumb" will be.

Drop dough into a greased bowl, turn over, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm area (I use a slightly warmed oven, just turn the temp to 350 for 45 seconds and turn off) for at least one hour.

After it's risen, scrape out onto the same floured surface, do NOT punch down. Knead once or twice and shape or roll into rectangle about one inch thick.

Using biscuit cutter, or a knife to form into 4 inch squared, cut and shape into rounds.

Spread cornmeal over parchment paper, or a board, or whatever. Place the cut and shaped circles of dough onto the cornmeal. Dust the tops liberally with cornmeal also. Top with plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour.
Heat a dry griddle or skillet to medium heat, carefully place a few dough rounds onto the skillet and brown on each side, about 5 - 9 minutes per side.

Remove and let cool for 20 minutes before tearing into one, and slathering it with butter and jelly.
Note: Don't use a knife to cut open the muffin. Use a fork, worked around it in a circle to maintain the holes and internal texture in the muffin.


One more thing, I was reading other recipes for English Muffins and this one site suggested, cut open the muffin, spread one side with peanut butter, add a slice of fresh tomato, and top with the remaining half of the muffin. I have NEVER heard of this, but am tempted to try it. If YOU do, let me know....thanks.