lemony cream cheese coffee cake

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

This is definitely a keeper. And a work in progress! The cake had a tender moist crumb with the pleasant tang of lemon throughout. The topping was crunchy, sugary, and at the same time, lemony. I think that filling needs some sweet strawberries as contrast with that tangy lemon.  I feel I need to work out the problem with the pan and then I might solve the problem of the crusty exterior.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 12-16

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake, have at room temperature:
2 1/4 cups (11.25 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7.75 oz) plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream

For the Filling, have at room temperature:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Topping, have at room temperature:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Prepare 1 tube pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: the original recipe said to spray the pan with cooking spray. This pan should have “feet” so that it can cool upside down elevated off the counter top. In the ATK video, they were using a one-piece pan with a dark nonstick finish. I have a shiny aluminum 2 piece pan. When I unmolded it, the cake fell out of the pan because of the cooking spray. The next time I make this, I will not spray the pan.

In a large bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and sugar and lemon zest to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add 4 eggs one at a time until well blended. Add vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour to the batter in the bowl, mixing on low speed. Add half the sour cream and blend. Add half the remaining flour and mix. Add the rest of the sour cream and beat together. Mix in the remaining flour. Remove the mixing bowl and stir by hand with a spatula to incorporate the flour. Remove 1 1/4 cups batter and set aside. Don’t wash out the mixing bowl or the paddle.

Place large dollops of the remaining 2/3 batter in the bowl into the prepared pan, evenly spreading the batter with an offset spatula.

Make the cream cheese filling. To the mixing bowl, add cream cheese, 5 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix on medium speed 1 minute until creamy. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter and blend.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you wish, fold  1/2 cup chopped strawberries into the cream cheese filling.

Add the filling to the top of the cake batter in dollops. Use the off set spatula to spread the filling almost to the edge. Add the last cup of batter to cover the cream cheese filling, spreading it with the offset spatula. Swirl the batter with the tip of the offset spatula using a figure eight motion while turning the pan one-quarter turn until one circuit is completed. Tap the cake pan on the counter firmly 3 times to remove air bubbles and settle the batter.

For the topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, with 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Use your fingers to mix the topping ingredients. Spread on top of the cake, lightly pressing the topping mixture into the batter so it won’t fall off after baking.

Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. It might have crumbs on it because of the filling. Another test is to lightly press the top. It should spring back and you shouldn’t see your fingerprint in the top. Invert the cake in the pan over a rimmed baking tray with a cooling rack and cool in the pan 1 hour.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle the pan to remove the sides and bottom–if it is a two-piece tube pan. It isn’t necessary to invert the pan. Cool thoroughly 1 1/2 hours before slicing and serving. If you’re not going to eat it right away, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap airtight and store in the refrigerator. Bring the cake to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the tube pan does not have “feet” stick a funnel in the center tube and invert the pan over the funnel so the cake is elevated off the counter. Cool in the pan as directed.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

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banana bread with rum and almonds and turbinado sugar topping

banana bread

On a whim, I added rum to this recipe. This is my favorite recipe for banana bread that originally came from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. Over the years I’ve tinkered with it and it has stood up remarkably well to the indignities to which it was subjected by an inexperienced baker.  For example, I once reduced the amount of sugar in it by one-third. That was a bad idea because the result was not as tender nor as sweet. One early departure from the original recipe was to use a slightly smaller loaf pan size than the 9-inch pan in the original recipe. I like a taller loaf. Encouraged, I kept experimenting with the recipe. I have used brown sugar when I ran out of white, which was great. The bread simply was a darker color because of the substitution.   I’ve thrown raisins in but I prefer it with dried cranberries, which are slightly tart instead of super-sweet, and bake up plump and moist. This time I’ve splashed rum into the batter, and I added a topping of sugar and almonds. The result of this latest experimentation baked up wonderfully moist with a fine crumb and a crunchy caramelized topping.

Banana Bread with Rum and Almonds and Turbinado Sugar Topping

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries, optional
3 tablespoons dark rum, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup turbinado or brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan or four two 7×4 inch mini-loaf pans. Spray with cooking spray to cut down on calories.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Cream the shortening, adding sugar gradually. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the rum, if using. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. If using raisins or cranberries, add to the bananas. Add the flour, mixing until just blended, alternating with half the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Mix in half the remaining flour then add the rest of the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Finally, add the rest of the flour. Do not over mix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to mix the topping and lightly press it into the top of the batter. Bake 50 minutes or until done. [40 minutes in a convection oven]

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, test the bread after 45 minutes. If the tester comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven.

banana bread

southwestern cheese panini

I adapted this recipe from Eating Well. It takes about 25 minutes to prepare and cook. According to the website, one panini sandwich serving contains 330 calories. I imagine that if you use cooking spray instead of oil, the calories may be even less–how much, I don’t know, but hey, every little bit counts! What I also liked about it was that it was flavorful without having to use additional salt. I recommend serving it with a salad, such as strawberries, baby spinach, dried cranberries, and almonds.

Southwestern Cheese Panini
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (or a combination of onion, scallion, and chopped cilantro)
1/4-1/2 cup prepared salsa, drained of excess liquid, if chunky salsa
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño pepper, (optional)
8 slices whole-wheat bread or multi-grain bread
2 teaspoons canola oil or cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cheese, zucchini, carrot, onion, salsa, jalapeño (if using). Put one slice of bread on the work surface. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the zucchini mixture on the bread. Top with another slice of bread. Cook’s Note: I used Pepper Jack cheese and multi-grain bread which I think add more flavor and texture to the panini.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil, if using, or spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray, over medium heat.  Place the panini in the non-stick skillet. Weigh it down with the medium skillet with the 4 cans. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the top skillet with the cans. Reduce the heat to medium low and flip the panini. Replace the top skillet. Cook until the second side is golden, 1-3 minutes more. Repeat with another teaspoon oil, if using, and another panini.

almond-crusted tilapia

I call the plate Cookies and Cream

We had a good dinner tonight. Magical things are happening in the Three-Dimensional Kitchen! I felt inspired by the Sunflower Seed Crusted Orange Roughy recipe in the Cooking Light Eat Smart Guide: 200-Calorie cookbook to create this one. If you have qualms about using Orange Roughy, then by all means, use another white fish.

As I said before, I like to use whatever is on hand in my kitchen: almonds, tilapia, panko breadcrumbs, and Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Italian Medley Seasoning Blend. My philosophy is to be generous with the seasonings. If 1/2 teaspoon is too little, then add more. And do add more herbs and seasoning to taste, yours. I suggest basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme…

This fish came out of the oven flaky with a crunchy topping. And it had no salt. Except what you might want to add at the table

Ingredients
2 large egg whites (6 tablespoons packaged egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ( I used 1 teaspoon lemon pepper and omitted the grated lemon rind)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted almonds, crushed (originally sunflower seeds)
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Italian Medley
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon granulated onion
4-6 (6 oz) white fish fillets, e.g. orange roughy, tilapia
Cooking spray
Lemon slices, optional

Preparation
1. Preheat oven 475˚F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while preheating.
2. Combine egg whites, (lemon) pepper, and lemon rind (if using) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk until foamy. Combine panko and almonds in a shallow dish like a pie plate. Season panko-almond mixture. Mix with a fork. Dip fillets in egg white mixture, dredge in panko mixture. Place fillets on a wire rack to rest 10 minutes.
3. Remove baking sheet from oven with oven mitts and coat pan with cooking spray. Coat top of  fillets with cooking spray. Place fillets on pan. Bake 10 minutes or until fillet flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon slices, if using.

sirloin spinach burger patty with provolone

It’s  the first day of Cycle 2 on the 17 day diet. We can finally eat something other than chicken or fish. To celebrate I made these ground sirloin patties and served them without buns. This is an updated version of the Popeye Burger that I found in a kids’ cookbook. I seasoned the meat with a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, black pepper, and Montreal Steak Spice. I blanched the spinach and lightly salted it then squeezed out the excess water  before coarsely chopping it and adding it to the ground sirloin. I cooked the patties in a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet for 5 minutes on each side (each patty was  4 oz. of meat). I turned each patty once and topped it with a slice of provolone cheese.

Sunday Dinner, March 13, 2011

Today’s main course is my take on America’s Test Kitchen’s take on the French recipe for stuffed chicken breast roll. I served it with  green beans amandine, and for dessert, strawberry cream pie. That’s my take on Diane Mott Davidson’s recipe called Strawberry Super Pie. I also made sure I had all ingredients prepped before I started cooking and assembling. Taking the time to prep everything is a good idea because sometimes you combine ingredients quickly!

Stuffed Chicken Roulade
I’ve got men in my house who eschew chicken breast. So I adapted this recipe by using boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 breast and 4 boneless, skinless thighs)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces white mushrooms,trimmed,wiped clean,and sliced thin (1 cup)
1 small leek,white part halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves,minced or pressed through garlic press (Use large, more garlic is better!)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (Be generous and use a teaspoon)
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chinese Rice Cooking Wine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used cilantro and minced it fine)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the chicken. Butterfly the chicken breast. Put one hand over the hump of the breast and lift your fingers. Slice the chicken breast horizontally in half, so that the breast opens up like a book. Put the chicken breast in a zipper lock bag or between two sheets of plastic. Pound it to 1/4 inch thickness. Remove from the plastic and trim until the breast is approximately 8×5 inches. Set aside the trimmings. Repeat for the boneless, skinless thighs. Trim any excess meat or fat from the thighs. Discard fat and set aside the trimmings. You should get about 1/2 cup of trimmings. Put the trimmings in a food processor bowl and puree for 20 seconds. Remove the meat to a medium bowl. Do not rinse the workbowl of the food processor.

Prepare the stuffing. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they brown, about 8-11 minutes. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and the leeks. I used chopped onion because I couldn’t find leeks at the supermarket. Cook about 2-4 minutes or until the onions turns transparent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice to the mushroom mixture and cook until all moisture has evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Return the empty skillet to heat and add the wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Pour wine into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry skillet with paper toweling.

Pulse the mushroom mixture 5 times in 1-second bursts. Scrape contents into the reserved pureed meat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons minced parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.

Assemble and cook the roulades. Cut 12 pieces of twine, each about 12 inches long. With the short end of each fillet away from you, put about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing in the center of the thigh fillet, leaving a border. I did the breast last and used up the remaining stuffing. Roll away from you. Tie each roll; twice for the thighs and three times for the breast. Trim excess string.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and fry each roll 2 minutes on each side for a total of 8 minutes. Add the broth and the white wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 12-18 minutes. I turned each roll about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the rolls to a plate and tent with foil. The internal temperature should be 163˚F.

To the liquid in the pan, add the Dijon mustard, whisking it in. Increase heat to high and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup, about 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add butter, remaining parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Because I had used Chinese wine, it was a little too sour so I added a teaspoon of sugar.

Slice into rounds and pour sauce on top. Serve with my version of

Green Beans Amandine
1 pound fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanche the green beans in boiling salted water. After about 4 minutes they turn bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to set the color. This means you’ll have to heat up the green beans before serving but it looks so pretty and won’t change to that putrid olive green color once it cools.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter and add the almonds. Fry until golden brown. Heat up the green beans in the microwave–about 60 seconds. Scrape the almonds on top. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Simple and delicious!

Strawberry Cream Pie
I should have been warned; beginning with that graceless name “Strawberry Super Pie” this recipe was going to be a problem. I should always be suspicious when a cook resorts to hyperbole.  The problem was the crust. Though the dough spread fine in the pie dish, it puffed up and shrank on baking, and became a hard almond cookie.

Crust
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds, optional (pecans in original recipe)

Topping
2 pounds strawberries, divided
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Filling
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven 375˚F. One 10-inch glass pie plate, buttered.

Make the crust. Mix melted butter with flour, confectioners’ sugar, and nuts. Press into the prepared pie plate. Bake 25 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool completely. [Notes: I should have pressed the dough up the sides and onto the rim. I was too conservative with the bottom and was afraid it would have holes in it. Thinner would have been better.]

Make the topping. Mash enough strawberries to make 1 cup. Cut tops off the rest of the strawberries and set aside. Place mashed berries in a saucepan and add water. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to crushed berry mixture and bring to a boil on top of the stove, stirring. Boil about 1 minute or until clear and thickened. Set aside to cool.

Make the filling. Whip cream until stiff. In another bowl, beat cream cheese with vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Carefully fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spread in cooled crust and refrigerate. [Notes: Refrigerate how long? I put it in the freezer for ½ hour to firm up the cream cheese filling. It could have used at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, I think. ]

Assemble pie. When crushed berry mixture is cool, pie can be assembled. Stand whole (or halved, if you prefer) strawberries on top of cream filling, cut side down. When entire filling is covered with whole berries, carefully spoon cooled crushed berry mixture over all. Cream filling should not be seen between whole berries. Once the crevices have been filled, do not overload the pie with the crushed berry mixture, as it will just drip over the sides. Any leftover crushed berry mixture can be served on toast or scones. [Notes: The filling came up to the top of the rim because the crust was thick. I sliced the berries thinly and layered them on top of the filling then poured the topping on top of the berry layers.]