Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Raspberry Swirl Coffeecake

I have been making "quick" coffeecakes for decades, starting with two basic recipes from the 1962 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. One was titled simply "Coffeecake" while the other was "Blueberry Buckle." Over the years I have layered these with many kinds of fruit, have changed the toppings, have upped the nutrition with the use of whole grains and added ingredients like extra dry milk powder, various seeds and nuts, etc.

This week I added the latest variation by turning the base recipes' streusel topping into a fruit swirl. From past experience I know that just mixing raspberries that have been frozen or cooked (as with the pulp in the recipe below) into a batter will result in the whole mixture being an unattractive grayish light purple. This swirling approach avoids that problem by concentrating the raspberry color in irregular bands. A few nuts and a drizzle of powdered sugar icing (really only a few tablespoons at most) replace the more typical streusel topping for a bread that will stand out at your next brunch or special family breakfast.

Raspberry Swirl Coffeecake

1/3 c softened butter--may also use half and half butter and canola oil
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c milk
1 T lemon juice
2 c flour
2 1/2 t baking powder

Raspberry Swirl
1/4 c melted butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t almond flavoring
1 c raspberry pulp (see NOTE)

1/2 c slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

1.  Beat together the butter, sugar, and egg until smooth. Add the lemon juice and milk and stir until well blended.
2.  Sift together the flour and baking powder and add gradually to  the butter mixture. Stir only until the batter is completely mixed.
3.  Spread the batter into a well oiled 7 X 11 inch pan.
4.  Prepare the Raspberry Swirl by mixing all but the raspberry pulp, beating until well-blended. Add the raspberries, stirring until well-blended.
5.  Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry mixture over the top of the batter. Using a table knife or fork, gently swirl the raspberries into the batter in an attractive pattern. Avoid swirling too much, as you want to keep the two mixtures distinctive.
6.  If desired, sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly over the top of the cake.

7.  Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8.  If desired, drizzle a small amount of powdered sugar icing over the top when the cake has cooled.

This has been tested with the pulp remaining from making raspberry syrup. However, you can use frozen, thawed, raspberries. You will need to start with about 12 to 16 oz of frozen raspberries. Place in a colander or strainer and press lightly to remove most of the juices. This will keep the cake from being too soggy. The juices that are drained will be quite tart but are an excellent addition to smoothies, slushies, or gelatin dishes. For the latter, just substitute about 1/2 c raspberry juice for the same amount of cold water in raspberry or any other flavor of "red" Jello-type desserts. This heightens the fruit flavor and counteracts the excessive sweetness of many of these packaged gelatins.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes--Frugal?

This is a recipe that uses a lot of raspberries, frugal enough if you have them free for the picking in the back yard or relatively inexpensively at a pick-your-own farm, but, yes I know, an extravagance for anyone having to buy them in the store. So you may need to decide if they will fit your budget. (And I am hoping to try this with strawberries at some point when those are at seasonally low prices, so that variation may be more reasonable for some.)

I can guarantee that, if you do decide to make these, the results will be spectacular. The flavor blending of raspberries and almonds is perfect, and the cake is tender and rich. By making these in the "regular" sized muffin pans (not the giant ones so often used for muffins and cupcakes lately), the recipe makes three and a half dozen rich dessert servings, each one just right to finish off a meal.

A few things to keep in mind:
  • You really do need to use butter in these rather than any substitutes. (Budget hint: Watch for sales on butter and put an extra pound or two in the freezer.)
  • While you can use frozen raspberries, you will need to drain them very well. If not, the juices will "leak" into the batter, making it a less appetizing grayish purple.
  • For that same color-of-batter reason, be very careful to fold the raspberries gently into the batter, only to get them evenly distributed but no more.
  • Ground almonds are something you might need to look for a bit. In places where ground nuts are sold, they are usually at a lower per pound price than whole or chopped nuts. I have not ground my own but you could try. (Upper Midwest readers: Fleet Farm and Farm Fleet stores regularly stock ground almonds, pecans, and walnuts.)
  • As noted in the recipe, don't under-bake. These little gems are very tender, so they need to be completely cooked. Look for the color to be similar to the photo below.
  • If you don't have unsweetened applesauce available, you can substitute a tightly packed cup of grated apple.

NOTE:  These are a little on the ugly side before frosting, as the tenderness of the cake and the weight of the berries will cause them to look like they have "fallen." However, if you let them bake until fully done, they will be wonderfully delicious, and the frosting will turn the Cinderella chamber maids into Cinderella princesses. 

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes

1 c butter, slightly softened
2 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 c ground almonds
1 c unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
6 T milk
2 t almond extract
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
3 c raspberries

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until very smooth. Add the eggs, almond extract, and ground almonds and continue to beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

2.  Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the beaten egg mixture alternately with the applesauce and milk.

3.  Gently fold in the raspberries (use a silicon scraper or wood spoon) just until mixed throughout the batter. 

4.  Spoon the batter into standard sized muffin pans lined with cupcake paper liners. Fill each about three quarters full.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't underbake, as these are very tender.

6. This recipe makes about 3 1/2 dozen cupcakes, so you will probably need to bake the cupcakes in batches. The batter will not be affected if it sits while waiting to put another pan or two in the oven.

7.  Frost with the Almond Butter Cream frosting. If desired, reserve a few whole raspberries to top each cupcake and add slivered or sliced raspberries.

 Almond Butter Cream Frosting

1 pound powdered sugar
3 to 4 T very soft butter (the amount depends on your preference for richness)
1 1/2 t pure almond flavoring
milk as needed

1.  Stir about 1 cup of powdered sugar into the butter and beat until smooth. 
2.  Add the almond flavoring and a tablespoon or so of milk. Gradually add more powdered sugar and then milk, continuing to beat the frosting until smooth. You will probably need about a quarter to a third of a cup of milk for this much powdered sugar. 
Store extra frosting in the refrigerator. This can be used with peanut butter on toast or French toast--honest, it isn't half bad!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Raspberry Banana Coffee Cake

It's raspberry season again, time for me to find new ways to use the ever abundant crop of backyard berries. This week I had some bananas to use up as well, so it was time to try  raspberry banana combination. This recipe stretches a couple of packages of raspberries into a lot of servings, in case you don't have quite the access to these expensive fruits as I do. (And have you noticed how the previous 8 oz packages have become only 6 ounces over the past few seasons!) And though it is labeled a "coffeecake," it can serve as a dessert as well as a breakfast or brunch bread.

If you like the almond flavor combination with the raspberries (and I do), you might want to add slivered almonds to the cake and then top it with almonds rather than pecans. However, since pecans were what I had in the house, that is what I used today.Substitute a teaspoon of almond extract for one teaspoon of the vanilla for even more almond flavor as well.

 Raspberry Banana Coffee Cake

12 oz raspberries, about 2 cups
2 T sugar
1 t lemon juice

1/2 c butter
1/4 c canola oil
2 c sugar
4 eggs
3 large bananas, mashed well (1 1/2 c) 
2 t vanilla
1 c plain nonfat yogurt (NOT Greek)
4 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 3/4 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon

1.  Combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and lemon juice and set aside. (If using frozen raspberries, drain the raspberries before adding other ingredients.)
2.  Beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. 
3.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the mashed bananas and vanilla. 
4.  Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the banana mixture alternately with the yogurt*.
5.  Generally grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan or Bundt pan. Pour about a third of the batter into the pan and then top with half the raspberries. Then layer another third of the batter, the rest of the berries, and the last of the batter. 
6.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
7.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan about 15 minutes before turning on to a cake plate.

8. Top with the Powdered Sugar Glaze while the cake is still warm, and add pecans if desired. Serve warm or cold. Makes about 16 to 20 slices.

Powdered Sugar Glaze 

1 1/2 T butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar
1 t almond extract
approximately 1 T milk

1.  Stir all ingredients together, adding more milk if needed, a few drops at a time. 
2.  Spread the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing to the edges so the glaze drizzles down the sides in an attractive pattern.
3.  If desired, add pecan halves or slivered almonds to the top.