Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Banana Pecan Breakfast Cake

After a very long sabbatical (and by sabbatical I mean lack of motivation and time) from cooking, I've recently begun taking baby steps back into the kitchen. And considering that desserts and all culinary variations of it have always been one of my favorite "food groups" it's hardly surprising that I would celebrate the return to blogging with something sweet.

I've long been a fan of Monica Holland's website "Lick the Bowl Good" since I found out about it through another online baking group when I first started my own blog. However, like the majority of the books in my cookbook collection, I pretty much gazed upon her baking from a distance and never tried a single recipe. I've yet to understand this phenomenan apart from the fact that I am a culinary paradox. But, when I found out there was a facebook page that was baking their way through her first book, it took me nearly 2 minutes to decide that I wanted to be a part of it. And even more surprisingly, only a few days before I actually cooked from the book.

As recipes go, this was a fairly simple one which is always a powerful motivator for someone who needs to strengthen their culinary muscles again. Most of the ingredients are ones you're likely to have in your pantry already and can be in the oven within 20 minutes or so. Because of some food sensitivities to gluten and dairy (the latter is something that I'm mourning in particular), I had to make a few changes to the recipe by substituting Pamela's gluten free flour for the all purpose flour, apple sauce for the butter and a mix of rice milk and vinegar for the buttermilk called for in the recipe. And although I'm sure this made some changes to the overall flavor, the texture of the cake was amazing. Given that I wasn't able to cream the butter and sugar together, the crumb and height of the cake was perfect for me and I loved the hint of sweetness that the apple sauce bought to the cake was well. Definitely a cake I would bake again, although I think next time I would like to toast some pecans and add them into the batter to compensate for some of the flavor that might have been lost by removing the butter.

Although this month I'm not including the recipe for this particular post due to lack of time ( a choice between typing up the recipe and finishing an assignment for one of my classes- and the class won this round)  the recipe itself can can easily be found in many bookstores such as Amazon or even in your local library. Look for "Lick the Bowl Good: Classic Home-Style Desserts with a Twist" and turn to page 151. You'll thank me later.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Scones

I have always been a big fan of scones. Whether it's with jam, whipped cream or just a light glaze, the scone is sublime because it's the perfect platform to add pretty much anything to. When I found myself some months back in need of scones (and by that I mean, I was in need of something sugary to start out my day) I went looking around online to see what I could find that would actually match up with a somewhat sparse looking cupboard. I found this recipe for Vanilla Bean Scones over at The Pioneer Woman and was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to make with a few minor modification (No offense to Ms. Drummond, but I had to have scones faster than the recipe allowed). I also went with a full size scone as compared to petite because I had a brand new scone pan that I had to use so that I could rationalize buying it. Please check out the full post for Petite Vanilla Bean Scones over at the Pioneer Women's website for some great step by step instructions as well as gorgeous photos that will make you want to make scones for yourself.

Vanilla Bean Scones
From the Pioneer Woman Website

For Scones:

  • 3 cups Gluten Free Flour
  • 2/3 cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 sticks chilled butter
  • 1  Large Egg
  • 3/4 cups Heavy Cream 
  • 2 whole Vanilla Beans

  • 5 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk, More If Needed For Thinning
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste 
  •  Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla beans. Stir into cream and set aside  for 15 minutes.
Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
Add egg to vanilla cream and combine with flour mixture. Be careful not to over stir. 
Take spoonfuls of dough and press into scone pan. If you're braver than I, or if you don't have a scone pan that you have to prove you needed to spend a small fortune on, turn dough out into floured surface and press together until you have some semblance of a rectangle. Roll out slightly and cut into 12 rectangles. 
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, testing the scones with a toothpick if you're like me and slightly overfilled the scone pan, and remove from oven before it begins to brown. Cool for 15 minutes, and remove to cooling rack. 
Add vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean, cut in half with beans scraped out) to milk and allow it to sit for several minutes before adding powdered sugar. Mix well and dip cooled scones into vanilla glaze mix. Transfer scones to parchment paper and allow glaze to sit for an hour (or if you're like me as long as you're prepared to wait when you're hungry).