October 16, 2016

Recipe: Pumpkin Brown Sugar Belgian Waffles

It's that pumpkin-everything time of year again!  So, with all of the pumpkin waffle recipes out there, you're probably wondering why you should try this one, right?  Fair enough -- here's why:  

This recipe is the product of months of testing to achieve the right balance of pumpkin flavor, delicate spice, fluffy interior and crispy exterior.  Belgian waffles should be crisp on the outside and light on the inside.  This recipe delivers.  Pumpkin waffles can sometimes be soggy or overwhelming with spice. These waffles aren't too sweet, too spicy, or heavy.  

They are very easy to make, and this recipe makes a large amount.  That way, you family or guests can scarf down as many as they'd like, then you wrap up the rest and refrigerate.  They come back to life in your toaster in minutes, so you get perfect pumpkin Belgian waffles on demand!

I like to serve them with Maple Butter syrup (1/2 maple syrup, half melted butter, whisked together) and a garnish of orange marmalade.  


Pumpkin Brown Sugar Belgian Waffles
(Printable Version HERE)

TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: approx. 3 dozen Belgian waffles 
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder. 

2.  In another medium bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla; mix well.  Stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

3.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.

4.  Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown.

June 20, 2016

Recipe: New World German Brown Bread -- "Squaw Bread"

I recall, as a child, going to The Chart House restaurant and looking forward to the basket of freshly baked breads.  My favorite was always the dark brown, slightly sweet bread that the servers called "Squaw Bread".  I've heard that a similar bread is served at The Cheesecake Factory.  The name has gone out of fashion, since "squaw" is a derogatory term for a Native American woman.  

The history of this bread can in fact trace its roots to Native American origins when German pioneers combined their traditional German Brown Bread recipe with ingredients available to them through trades with the native people during their westward travels.

No matter how you slice it, this New World German Brown Bread is easy to bake and so wonderfully delicious to eat.  

New World German Brown Bread

Makes 1 large loaf
Active time:  10 minutes
Rise time:  1 hour, 45 minutes
Bake time:  45 minutes

1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
1/3 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/4-1/2 cup more
3/4 Whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Grease a large bowl and set aside.

Step 1:  In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar.  Set aside to proof for 8 minutes.

Step 2:  In the bowl of a stand-mixer, add remaining ingredients.  Once yeast begins to bubble (about 8 minutes), add to the flour mixture.  Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until mixture comes together into a sticky dough.

Step 3:  Turn dough out on to a well floured surface (start with about 1/4 cup AP flour).  Knead gently.  Add more flour as necessary to form a very soft, but not sticky dough (just a minute or two).   Transfer dough to the greased bowl.  Flip over so that top of dough is now greased.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour.  Dough will double in size.

Step 4:  Transfer dough to a greased loaf pan (ceramic or glass is preferable since metal has a tendency to brown the high-sugar content dough too quickly).  Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Step 5:  Bake on the center rack of a 350°F for 35 minutes.  Remove from pan, then bake for 10 minutes more on the open rack or on a baking stone.  Remove and let cool for 30 minutes.  

I always have a hard time waiting for the bread to cool.  I want to dive in right away.  However, I've learned that the texture of the bread and even the flavor are much better once the bread has had a chance to cool and rest.  Enjoy with plenty of sweet cream butter!

June 15, 2016

Recipe: Blitzkuchen (German Almond Coffee Cake)

One of the perks of being a teacher is having a few weeks off in the summer.  The summer is all about family-time, but I always get some "me-time" in at night when I dive in to a good read.

Last week, I finished up The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski.  What a gem!  

 This review from Booklist sums it up nicely:
"Born in the aftermath of a searing family tragedy, Bonaventure Arrow “didn’t make a peep when he was born.” Never speaking a word, his silence enables him to listen to what no one else can hear. He is not only hyper-aware of the sounds of the natural world, but he is also in tune with the clamorous echoes of personal heartbreak and despair. Joining forces with Creole servant Trinidad Prefontaine, young Bonaventure undertakes a quest to unlock a series of family secrets to liberate himself, his dead father, and his inconsolable mother from the emotionally and spiritually paralyzing bonds of the past. This mystical fairy tail set in a 1950s-era Louisiana rife with religion, superstition, and tradition draws you in from the wondrous first page. Silence has never been so boundlessly eloquent."  --Margaret Flanaga

On page 222 in the chapter titled "In a Piece of Time Too Small for a Clock" I read, "On Saturuday afternoon, Bonaventure was in the kitchen with a Mrs. Silvey, who stood at the butcher-block table humming a song and rolling out dough.  She was making fresh-baked bread and cinnamon rolls, and putting together something called blitzkuchen that came from a recipe she knew by heart."

I immediately looked up blitzkuchen, and the next morning, I made a batch for breakfast.  Thank you Rita Leganski!  Thank you Bonaventure!

Blitzkuchen is also know as German Lightening Cake because it bakes up quickly, in less than 30 minutes.  It is a light snack-cake topped with candied slivered almonds that goes wonderfully with coffee or tea.  

I hope you'll try both the recipe and the book!


Blitzkuchen (German Lightning Cake)

Print-friendly recipe HERE

For the batter
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup, plus 1.5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large eggs

For the almond topping:
12 Tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1/4 cup raw or organic sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle.

Line a 16 x 12 x 1 baking sheet with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment and sides of the pan.  Set aside.

Step 1:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.    Set aside.

Step 2:  In a stand-mixer beat the eggs on high for 4 minutes.  Add sugar and mix to combine.

Step 3:  On low speed, add the flour and cream alternately in small batches, ending with the flour mixture.  Do not over mix.  

Step 4:  Transfer batter evenly on to the prepared baking sheet.  Smooth and level out with an offset spatula.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Step 5:  While cake is baking, prepare the topping.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Then add the vanilla, granulated sugar, heavy cream and almonds.  Heat until the mixture over medium-high heat,  stirring constantly, till it comes to a boil and just begins to darken (about 4-5 minutes).  

Step 6:  After cake has baked for 15 minutes, remove from oven and gently spread the almond caramel evenly over the top with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle with raw, turbinado or organic sugar (something with large crystals).  This will give the cake sparkle and extra crunch. 

Step 7:  Reduce oven to 350 degrees F and bake cake for 15 minutes.  Let cake cool slightly, then slice into squares and serve.  It's delicious warm, but is also heavenly the next day!

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