Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New York-Style Crumb Cake

This was my second time making the New York-Style Crumb Cake from America's Test Kitchen. I sat down and spent much of Sunday evening watching Little Women and making this cake. This cake is simple but the taste and texture are to die for. If it weren't for the fact that the crumb topping takes ages to shape, I'd make this cake every week! This is a great any time cake (or an "All-Day Cake" as Shauna describes it), you can enjoy it at breakfast with a cup of coffee, as a midday snack, or as a satisfying dessert to end a meal. It's absolutely irresistible.

The use of cake flour makes for a light and delicate texture and the simplicity of the subtle cinnamon and vanilla flavor is scrumptious. The folks at America's Text Kitchen don't disappoint and they certainly delivered with this one. So, trust me when I tell you that you'll want to find time in your schedule to sit down, watch a favorite movie, and make this crumb cake. You won't be sorry.

New York-Style Crumb Cake
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen via Piece of Cake
Serves 8-10

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Set an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line it with a strip of parchment paper or aluminum foil that is just shy of the width of the dish and long enough to overhang the sides of the dish. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray as well.

In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the crumb topping until they form a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt at low speed. With the mixer running on low, add the butter chunks one at a time, letting each one incorporate into the dry ingredients before adding another. When the mixture resembles even, moist crumbs, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk, and increase the speed to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces, rolling them slightly in between your fingertips to get them to hold their shape. Spread the crumbs in even layer over the batter. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment handles. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken Pesto Calzones

I first saw this recipe for Chicken Pesto Calzones on My Kitchen Addiction early last month. I immediately knew I'd be giving this recipe a try. I'm a huge fan of pesto in any recipe and I loved that Jen claimed this was a freezer friendly recipe.

I finally got around to making the calzones last night and they certainly didn't disappoint! I baked two for dinner and placed the other two in my freezer for a quick, effortless meal when I've had a long day and don't feel like puttering around in the kitchen. Someday soon I want to spend the chunk of a Saturday afternoon making a variety of calzones to stock my freezer. Shaping the dough into 4 calzones creates very generous portions. You could easily shape these into 8 smaller calzones for kids or for modest meals on the go. You can fill the calzones with any of your favorite pizza toppings, but I must say that I was quite fond of this chicken pesto version!

Chicken Pesto Calzones
adapted from My Kitchen Addiction
makes 4 calzones

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

To finish the calzones:
1 cup pesto
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
4 ounces shredded cheese (mozzarella or provolone)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil
Italian seasoning

To prepare the dough, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until the yeast and sugar are dissolved in the water. Add the olive oil, salt and flour. Using the dough hook, mix until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.*

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 475°F. (If using a baking stone, place it in the oven while preheating.) Divide the dough into four portions and shape each portion of the dough into a rectangle/oval on a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy transfer to the oven. If using a baking sheet, lightly grease and you may shape the calzones directly on the baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pesto, shredded chicken, and cheeses. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken pesto mixture onto half of each piece of dough. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges to seal the calzone.

(At this point, you can wrap with plastic wrap and freeze any or all of the calzones, if desired.**)

Brush the top of the calzones lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. Enjoy!

*For a faster rise, I microwaved a cup of water until boiling and allowed it to continue to boil for 2 minutes. I then placed my dough in the microwave. The warm, humid environment will allow the dough to rise considerably faster than it would in a typical kitchen.

**To bake the calzones from the freezer, allow them to thaw in the fridge or at room temperature then bake as directed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

The hubby and I had our first dinner guest Sunday evening. I prepared a simple, but delicious dinner of Fettuccine with Fresh Corn Pesto, homemade Focaccia Bread and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Our guest brought salad and ginger snaps (to serve with the ice cream) and it was a great start to what I hope to be many nights of entertaining in our new home.

Unfortunately I didn't snap any photos of the pasta or focaccia, but today I made sure to get a photo of the last bit of the ice cream. This recipe was incredibly easy to throw together and absolutely delicious. While I enjoy the richness and creaminess of custard style ice creams, I really love the ease of Philadelphia style recipes. This Dulce de Leche Ice Cream can come together with as few as three ingredients and just a few minutes of preparation. The caramel flavor of this recipe is absolutely outstanding. This is definitely a great recipe to throw together effortlessly to share with dinner guests. I highly recommend serving the ice cream with something spicy (such as ginger snaps) or a bit salty (maybe some roasted nuts or salted pretzels would be delightful) to provide a pleasant contrast to the sweet and smooth caramel notes.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
adapted from Gourmet
makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb dulce de leche
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.*

Freezer mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Ice cream keeps up to 1 week in freezer.

*I chose to chill the ice cream base in a covered container in the fridge overnight.
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