Tagged: baking

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this about me by now, but I’m not really much of a baker. I can safely say this is the truth for a few reasons.

First and foremost, I’ve always been more of the “creative” type in the kitchen and I always have a very hard time following recipes. It’s not that I’m incapable of doing so. It’s just that baking is so exact that, personally, I can never get that excited about it.

What’s so exciting about following directions??

Nothing, I say!

That’s what I’ve always loved so much about cooking. Sure, there are techniques that I may need to know or ratios that are important but, ultimately, every time I whip something up in the kitchen the best part, for me, is that I don’t need to think about measuring or having things precisely a specific way and I know that whatever I make will still turn out delicious!

Another thing about baking is that the result of baking is so rarely healthy that I can’t  justify even bothering to bake something. Sure, there are some baked goods that I adore. I love a buttery croissant or cheese danish, I swoon over carrot cake, and I have a hard time saying no to brownies (especially if there are nuts in them!). Luckily, though, it’s always pretty easy for me to refuse a slice of chocolate cake, apple pie, or a big deli blueberry muffin.  As someone who typically advocates eating healthy, when I DO bake it’s usually something  like my banana oat muffin/bars or something similar, where there is no white flour or butter to be found!

For Easter this year, though, when I decided to make breakfast for the family I knew that I wanted to have something sweet to accompany the quiche I was making and although fruit is delicious (and was had in abundance) I decided to give baking  something a whirl.  Another pastry that I enjoy and my husband in particular loves is coffee cake. Nothing too crazy about it. Not some fancy, fruity, glazed nonsense.  Just a lovely cinnamon swirl coffee cake.

I found a fairly basic recipe for a standard classic coffee cake and spruced it up to make it my own (because I just can’t help myself). The batter is spiked with lemon zest and cinnamon and uses white whole wheat flour to get some fiber in your diet! I also used plain, nonfat greek yogurt to replace the traditional sour cream used in most coffee cake recipes and this recipe turned out perfectly moist and tender.  The cinnamon swirl contains oats and walnuts to bulk it out because I wanted as much swirl as possible without adding anymore sugar to the recipe.  The resulting coffee cake was delightful, especially paired with a steaming hot cup of English Breakfast Tea with milk and honey (or ya know…coffee…if you’re like most people.) I hope you enjoy this recipe!

coffee cake

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

For the Coffee Cake
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt

For the Cinnamon Swirl
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×9 inch baking dish with some nonstick spray and set aside.

To make he cinnamon swirl: combine the sugars, oats, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small dish. Add the vanilla and the softened butter and, using your hands, smush everything together until the butter is distributed and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer if that what you’ve got) cream together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture with your mixer on low speed. Add 1/2 of the yogurt and combine. Add the remaining flour and combine, followed by the yogurt.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cinnamon swirl mixture. Top with the remaining batter, making sure you spread it out to cover the swirl, and top with remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake the coffeecake for 45-55 minuets, or until a toothpick (or heck, I always just use a knife) inserted in the center of the coffeecake comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving…preferably to people you love…because you’re not going to want to share this coffeecake with just anyone.

 

Do you have a favorite breakfast pastry??  

Do you prefer coffee or tea??

Last, but certainly not least,  don’t forget to grab a badge and link up with your favorite real food recipe, today!!

Twenty-Something & Starving

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Smoothies & Scones

Hey folks! I hope you enjoyed your weekend! Did you do anything fun or exciting? I didn’t do much of anything this weekend, and I must admit it was pretty fantastic! With the holidays winding down Johnny and I got to enjoy our first weekend of nothingness in what feels like fooooooreverrrrrrr and I made sure to take advantage!!

How?

By cooking my face off!!!

And I’m pleased to say that the time not spent cooking/eating I was either working out… or… cleaning…or at Target with Melinda and Kyle…orrrrr watching Parks and Rec. Regardless, it was faabuloussssss!

Now I don’t know about you, but without an alarm set my body naturally wakes up after 8 hours of sleep. I’m typically always up before Johnny. Yesterday morning  was no exception. I was up at 8:00 am and I was fiiiiinally able to try out my brand spanking new Bella Rocket Sport Blender!

I love making smoothies for breakfast, but I have a problem you see. I HATE measuring ingredients. That’s why I’ve never been much of a baker. The exactness of everything frustrates me. When I make smoothies in a standard blender, I always tend to overdo it and throw in a little of this and a little of that and I ultimately wind up with enough for two smoothies! My husband doesn’t care for most of the smoothies I make so he doesn’t drink the extra, and I can try to freeze and it drink it later but I wind up forgetting about it. It’s really quite a conundrum. For Christmas, Johnny picked up this single serve blender for me and it’s absolutely perfect! The first smoothie I made in it is one of my standards, as I typically always have everything on hand for it. Here is the recipe!

smoothie

Berry Almond Smoothie

serves 1

  • 8 oz vanilla soy milk
  • 1 8 0z container of berry flavored greek yogurt (I used Wegmans Brand Triple Berry, but any berry will do!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 baby spinach leaves, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Place all of the ingredients in your blender and whiz until combined! (Note: If you’re using the same Bella Rocket Sort Blender, I suggest adding the ingredients in the exact order they appear here. That way, when you flip it upside down to blend it, the spinach is closest to the blades and will incorporate nicely. Putting the milk in before the yogurt will also prevent the yogurt from getting stuck at the top of the blender!)

I enjoyed my smoothie with a piece of whole wheat toast with a little smart balance and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar! Noms!

cinnamon toast & smoothie

This morning I was up early again (7:45! Yikes! Getting ready for baby, haha!) and  it was suuuuper rainy and gloomy outside. I decided I wanted something warm and cozy for breakfast… and something a little different and fun! No oatmeal for this chick today!

I was all alone in the kitchen, even the puppies were still sleeping. I looked through my pantry and I decided I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Gingerbread Scones!

Now, ya know how I mentioned before that I wasn’t much of a baker? It’s really the truth. Muffins and quick breads are the only thing I’ve ever excelled at and that’s primarily because the recipes are pretty forgiving. Scones…dough that needs to be kneaded and cared for…I grit my teeth and searched for a recipe. I found one that sounded great at joyofbaking.com  and I’m pleased to say I followed it ALLLLLMOST exactly. The result was a perfectly light and flaky scone that tasted like Christmastime. I was thrilled with my results!  Here is the recipe, I’ve noted the few changes I made!

gingerbread scones

Gingerbread Scones

adapted from Joy of Baking.com

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Zest of 1 lemon  (I used the zest of an orange instead! I prefer using orange in my gingerbread recipes!)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (this was not a part of the original recipe at all, I just love pecans!)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used skim milk – it worked fine!)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure anilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Stir in the lemon zest and dried cranberries, if using.  In a separate bowl mix together the milk, molasses and vanilla and then add the milk mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 11/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges (triangles).  Place the scones on the baking sheet.  Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.

Place the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to prevent the bottoms of the scones from over browning.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

**I made my own glaze for this recipe, rather than the one provided with the original recipe. (I needed to express my creativity somehow!) All I did was microwave 2 oz of fat free cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup. I mixed it all up and spread it on top! These scones were perfect!!!**

gingerbread scone

Yes, you’ll note that is a mug of milk with my scone. I thought I wanted tea…so I got out a mug. Then I decided that my new big fuzzy blue robe I was lounging in (thanks, Ma!) was actually doing a fine job of keeping me nice and toasty so I decided I didn’t want tea and that I wanted a nice cold glass of milk instead. Buuuuuut and I didn’t want to get out a glass…so I drank my milk from a mug like the classy gal I am!! It was all delicious. 🙂