Category Archives: Baking

Upside-down Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits!  They are not too sweet, easy to eat and they freeze well.  There are blueberry farms everywhere around here!  Everyone is growing them, and as a result, they’re pretty reasonable in price!  I’ve bought 12 lbs so far, made blueberry syrup (and canned it), coffee cake, and froze the rest!

I saw the recipe for this coffee cake, and I had to try it.  The main reason is because I got a Pampered Chef stoneware bundt pan for a wedding gift that I had never used (even though I have been married for over three years!).  This presented the perfect opportunity!  The cake turned out well, and was pretty easy to make.  The thing that really bothered me about it was that you put the batter in the pan, then sprinkle the streusel over top.  BUT, when you go to take the cake out of the pan, you have to turn it upside down (which means a lot of the streusel falls off), and then turn it right side up again!  The streusel is the best part… I don’t want to lose any of it!  If you have a brilliant solution to this problem, please let me know!!!!!

Oh, and I did not have Bisquick, so I found a recipe online to make my own.  I’ll post it at the bottom of this page.  It was really easy, and it worked just fine!  I also did not have any fresh lemons, so I omitted the lemon zest.  But, it probably would have given the cake a really nice flavour, so I’ll add it next time!

Upside-Down Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake
Recipe adapted from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry by Janet & Greta Podleski

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted

Cake
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup lemon yogurt (or plain yogurt, with 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp sugar)
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh blueberries (or you can use frozen)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.  Set aside

Combine all streusel ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork.  Set aside.

Combine Bisquick, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, eggs, milk, oil, lemon zest and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.  The batter will be thick.  Gently fold in blueberries. 

Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan.  Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.  Bake for 40-45 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.  Loosen edges using a knife.  Invert cake onto a serving plate, and then flip cake over so the streusel is on top. 

Enjoy!

Homemade Bisquick
Recipe from this forum.  There are many out there, but most had shortening and/or dry milk in them (neither of which I had at home).  I made half a batch, and am storing the rest in my fridge, looking for ways to use it!!

9 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups canola oil

Mix dry ingredients well.  Cut in oil with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like cornmeal.  Store, tightly covered, in the fridge.  Use like you would Bisquick! 

Have fun!
The Hungry Teacher

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I’m Back! And I Made Carrot Cake!

After a long hiatus, I’m back!!  I feel like I owe you an explanation, because it has been approximately one month since my last blog post.  I moved.  Just across my town.  But into a brand-new, beautiful house!  It’s been a big journey, but as we are mostly unpacked, finally getting our yard underway (houses don’t come with yards here.  Who knew?), and I’m feeling settled.  It took until Saturday (which was a month!) to get internet.  It was a debacle, which I don’t care to get into.  It shouldn’t have been that difficult.  But, lo and behold, I’m back online and ready to jump into blogging again.  I promise, I will post some pictures of my beautiful house and wonderful kitchen soon!

Since moving, I’ve been feeling pretty inspired to try new dishes.  We got a barbeque again (they weren’t allowed at our apartment), and I’ve been grilling like crazy!  I was never really a fan before, but it’s pretty fun!  I’ve roasted red peppers, made beer can chicken (which I plan to make a blog post about) and cooked a lot of random meat items.  I really want to work on grilling veggies, and try pizzas on the grill again!  It’s pretty exciting. 

But that all has nothing to do with Carrot Cake.  My husband loves carrot cake.  He doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth (neither do I…), but for carrot cake, he makes the exception. 

I have my grandma’s recipe for Orange Carrot Cake and it is soooooo good!  It is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make.  The thing that makes this cake unique is that it has a can of mandarin oranges in it.  But, you can’t taste them or even see them in the cake!  They must melt or something, but they make the cake deliciously moist!  The recipe for cream cheese icing is also pretty divine!  The whole cake is a winner.  My mom has frozen it before, fully made, and defrosted it, and it turns out great!  Oh, because of the cream cheese icing, make sure you store this beauty in the fridge!

Orange Carrot Cake
Recipe from my Grandma T., taken from our Family Cookbook.

3 cups unbleached flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut (I used unsweetened, shredded coconut)
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
2-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded carrots (which was 2 medium – large carrots)
1-1/4 cups cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
1- 11oz can mandarin oranges (undrained; put the juice and all into the batter!– I used a 296mL can and it was fine!)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9×13″ pan.  In a large bowl, blend all cake ingredients; beat 2 minutes at highest speed.  Pour into greased pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool.

Cream Cheese Icing

1- 8oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups icing sugar

In a medium bowl, blend icing ingredients until smooth.  Spread over cake.

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Croissants

My pride and joy!

While traveling Europe last summer, I discovered the wonderful, flaky, buttery nature of real, fresh croissants.  Previously to this, my only experience with croissants was the (at least) one-day-old, kind of stale, a bit flaky but not really, dry ones you can get from the grocery store.  I just didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about.

We went on a cruise through the Western Mediterranean.  I began noticing every morning that all of these Europeans on the ship with us would stock up on the croissants at the breakfast buffet.  Seriously, the staff were ALWAYS restocking that tray!  So, I branched out, and tried one.  WOW!  It opened up a whole new world to me!  The best croissant I remember eating was at the main train station in Berlin.  We were walking by a coffee shop, and the lady working there was restocking the food counter with hot, fresh croissants.  You could smell their freshness!  So, I bought one, and it was amazing!  It made the moment of sitting on the ground, waiting for a train to take us to our next destination (Amsterdam, I think), a completely memorable moment. 

So, this has made croissants something I’ve been dying to try to make.  Now, croissants take a lot of time to make.  The dough needs to be rolled, folded and chilled a few times to make those delicious flaky layers.  I worked up the courage, and tried it on Monday.  I baked my croissants on Tuesday, and it was totally worth the work.  Wow!  But, aside from the time, it’s not really that difficult to make croissants.  If you can roll out dough and have some patience, I think you can probably do it.  

 

It takes a day where you can be in and out of the kitchen… at least 5 or 6 times, allowing the dough to chill in between, and then at least an hour or preferably overnight to chill the dough before you bake the croissants.  It’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it.  Trust me!  There is a lot of time that you don’t need to be paying attention to the dough and you can do other things.  After you’re done, you will have a reaction similar to mine (dancing around the kitchen, chanting “I did it! I did it!”).  I feel fulfilled as a baker now!  

I got the recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.  I borrowed it from my Grandma’s house, and let me tell you– this is a comprehensive baking cookbook!  It is over 600 pages long, with tons of information and recipes.  I may have to buy it for myself… it’s that good! 

 

Puff Pastry
Recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
Half of the dough makes 12 croissants (freeze the other half; see below) 

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. chilled butter
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cup cold water 

Butter mixture:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cup butter, softened, but still cool to the touch 

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, to glaze croissants before baking 

Place the flour in a medium bowl and combine it with the chilled butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal  (I used frozen butter and grated it in, using the coarse side of my box grater.  You could also use a pastry blender).  Add the salt to the water, stir well, and then add to the flour.  Mix gently with a fork until the dough is rough and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.   (If you need to add more water, do so one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together).  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it’s smooth and a bit springy; 2-3 minutes.  Pat it into a square, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Now, for the butter mixture.  Using a mixer, a food processor or a spoon, combine the flour and butter until they are smooth and well-blended.  Lightly flour a piece or plastic wrap and on it, shape the butter-flour mixture into an 8-inch square (this was a bit messy for me.  Use a spatula or something to help you).  

The butter and flour on a piece of plastic wrap.

 
Cover the butter and place it on a flat surface in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (I put mine on my cutting board and slid the whole thing in the fridge).  

Now, after everything has chilled for at least 30 minutes, remove the dough from the fridge, and roll it into a 12 inch square on a lightly floured surface.  Put the butter square in the center of the dough, so it looks like a diamond in the square (my dough wasn’t very square, but you can still get the idea from the picture!) 

  

Put the butter on the dough so it looks like a diamond in a square.

Fold the flaps of the dough over the butter until they meet in the middle.  Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; use a bit of water if necessary.  

Fold the edges of the dough in, and pinch them together to completely cover the butter mixture.

Dust the top of the dough with flour, then turn the dough over, and gently, tap it with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape.  Make sure the dough isn’t sticking, and roll it from the center into a 20 x 10 inch rectangle.  

A 10 x 20 inch rectangle. Yes, I used a measuring tape to measure.

Lightly sweep off any excess flour from the top of the dough with a pastry brush, and then fold the bottom fold up to the center, and the top third over (like a letter!). 

Here is my dough. I folded it and then unfolded it to show you what it would look like.

Fold the top third down

Fold the bottom third up. This picture is taken from the other side of my peninsula, which is it looks reversed.

Make sure the edges of the dough are lined up evenly.  Now, turn the package 90 degrees to the right, so it looks like a book that is ready to be opened: 

The dough, rotated, so this side is facing you!

You’ve successfully completed one turn!  

Now, if your dough is still relaxed and soft to the touch, roll out your dough and fold it again.  Once you’ve completed two turns, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Classic puff pastry gets six turns before being formed into shapes, and it needs to rest, chilled for at least 30 minutes between every two turns. 

So, once you’ve completed six turns, wrap your dough well and chill for at least an hour (or preferably overnight). 

This recipe makes enough for 24 croissants, so  at this point, cut your dough in half, wrap one half very well and put it in the freezer.  It will keep for 3- 6 months.  Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before you use it. 

When you’re ready to make your croissants: 

Take out the dough (half of your puff pastry recipe), and on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle.  Trim the edges with a sharp knife all the way around, using a ruler (this cuts off the folded edges, that would inhibit the puff). 

The dough trimmed into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle

Cut the dough into thirds lengthwise, and in half through the middle.  You should have 6 pieces of dough. 

The dough is cut into 6 rectangles.

Now, cut each rectangle in half diagonally, and arrange the pieces so that the point of the triangle is facing away from you.  Cut a 1/2″ notch in each triangle, on the short side, then roll up, away from you. 

Two croissants already folded. If you look carefully in the dough on the right, you can see the notch that was cut.

Make sure that the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant.  You can stretch the dough to achieve this, if necessary.  Form the croissant by bending the two ends towards each other. 

I decided that the two of us here didn’t need to eat 12 croissants.  So, I formed 6 of them, and froze them on a baking sheet, to be put into a freezer bag when solid.  To bake them, I’m going to thaw them in the fridge overnight, and then bake as directed below. 

Place the croissants on a lightly greased baking sheet (I used a stone).  Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.  During that time, preheat the oven to 425°F. 

My croissants, waiting to be baked

 Take the croissants, out of the fridge, uncover them, and brush the tops with the beaten egg.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350°F, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  The croissants should be deep golden brown, even where the edges of the dough overlaps.  Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. 

 

Now, enjoy them!  Eat them as a special treat with someone you love!  All of the work is worth it when you bite into that flaky, buttery delight! 

Love,
The Hungry Teacher 

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