Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I was bonking around on Facebook the other day, when I came across a link to a recipe for grain-free donuts.

Yeah.  Donuts.

I don’t care for donuts – when I was growing up, my parents owned a series of donut shops and bakeries, and I swear I worked in one from the time I was 11 until I was 30.  If I never saw another donut, I would not care.  But as I looked over the recipe, it occurred to me that with some modifications it might work as one of Beloved’s favorite treats:  coffee cake.

I have a marvelous recipe for coffee cake, but I haven’t made it in years (for obvious reasons).  I’d been pondering the recipe for several days when I decided to make breakfast for dinner last night (sausage/onion/mushroom omelets.  With cheese.  And 3 eggs).  The thought of the coffee cake wouldn’t leave my wee little brain, so I decided to give it a whirl.

And it. Is. Marvelous.  I’m surprised there’s any left – Beloved has been inhaling it.  It has a lovely texture and flavor, and isn’t overly sweet at all.  And don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients – this really came together quickly and easily.

A few things to note:  I’ve been playing around with adding a little tapioca and potato flour to baked goods made with almond flour in an attempt to improve the crumb – nut flour baked goods tend to be kind of dense.  I don’t have the ratios just right quite yet, but I do believe I’m on to something.  If you choose not to use them (if you can’t find them, or don’t want the extra carbs in your dish), replace them with an equal amount of almond flour.  The cake will be a little heavier, but it won’t affect the taste.

I used date sugar in the topping, since I didn’t want it to be terribly sweet – date sugar is nothing more than finely ground dessicated dates.  If you can’t find it or don’t care for the taste of dates, coconut sugar will probably work well, too.  Also, don’t melt the coconut oil for the topping; it doesn’t need to be cold, but it should be solid when you work it into the date sugar and cinnamon.

Also, the cinnamon taste is very strong; it took a little getting used to.  I may reduce the amount in the topping to 1 tablespoon next time.

Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon Topping
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweeted shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients – the flours, salt, baking soda and spices – in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients – eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla – and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to high and mix until the batter is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. For the cinnamon topping, combine the date sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil, and rub it into the mixture with your fingers or a fork until it resembles wet sand. Stir in the coconut until well combined and set aside.
  4. Pour the batter into a well-greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish and sprinkle the cinnamon topping evenly over the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack; cut into squares and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 304 calories, 23.4g total fat, 69.8mg cholesterol, 142.4mg sodium, 186.9mg potassium, 18.8g carbohydrates, 3.9g fiber, 12.7g sugar, 3g protein

 

Grain-Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

People must not be interested in reading about my embarrassing moments – I lost two Google Reader subscribers yesterday.  Just for clarification purposes, I ate neither the alfredo (which, yes, I remade) nor the Eggs Benedict (which, yes, I remade) – I don’t eat wheat or cow’s dairy.  These were merely dishes I prepared for others.

Speaking of which, a few of you expressed surprise that I cook 21 meals a week.  Well, that’s three meals a day, seven days a week and we eat out maybe twice a month?  If that often.  Also, “cook” might be a strong term in some instances – “prepare” 21 meals a week might be more accurate, since during the week The Young One eats a sack lunch either Beloved or I fix, and our lunches are often reheated leftovers.  Breakfast, more often than not, is simply eggs, either scrambled or over-easy; sometimes I’ll throw some bacon or sausage on.  As a rule, the only elaborate breakfasts I cook are Sunday brunches.  And we tend to eat only 2 meals a day on the weekends, so I guess that’s really 19 meals, but we usually have some sort of snack so I guess that counts and we’re back to 21.

Uh, I guess that’s my way of saying that cooking 21 meals a week isn’t so much of a much.

Moving forward.

After the excesses of the holidays, I didn’t even want to look at, much less make, a dessert for at least six weeks, which is exactly how long it took me to put this together.  And it was good.

Very, very good.

As grain-free cakes go, this one is very moist, so you’ll want to refrigerate any leftovers or it’ll get soggy.  Other than that, it is pretty much spot on.

Make it.  Eat it.  Love it.

Grain-Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Grain-Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 7 small slices organic canned pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
  • 12 frozen sweet cherries, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a 10″ cast iron skillet; remove from heat. Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut sugar evenly over the bottom of the skillet, and arrange the pineapple slices and cherries on top of the sugar.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand mixer on high, until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and pineapple juice until well combined. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl each time, until the batter is smooth – it will still be “grainy” because of the almond flour, but make sure there are no lumps. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites until well-incorporated; spread the batter gently and evenly over the pineapple and cherries in the skillet.
  5. Bake the cake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Place the skillet on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin, flexible spatula around the edges of the cake, then invert a serving dish on top of the skillet. Carefully, using pot holders and/or oven mitts, flip the skillet over on top of the serving dish and carefully lift away from the cake. Use the spatula to place any cherries or pineapple
  7. slices that may have stuck to the bottom of the skillet back onto the cake.
  8. Allow to cool completely before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
  9. Nutrition (per serving): 345 calories, 24.9g total fat, 46.5mg cholesterol, 214.7mg sodium, 283.1mg potassium, 21.6g carbohydrates, 3.9g fiber, 17.2g sugar, 1.8g protein.

 

Apple Bacon Upside-Down Cake

Yes, I made a cake.

Yes, it had bacon in it.  Or, rather, it had bacon on it.  With tart apples and coconut sugar.

It was incredibly earthy, marvelously moist and unbelievably delicious; savory and just sweet enough.  I’m already thinking it will be a dessert at Thanksgiving, it was THAT good.

A couple of weeks ago while looking for a gluten-free cake recipe that didn’t use alternate grains, I ran across a recipe someone had adapted from The Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry for Very Vanilla Cupcakes.  I’m not big on cupcakes, but most cupcake recipes can be made into a cake, and vice versa.  While the recipe used almond flour, it also called for safflower oil and agave syrup, neither of which I cook with (safflower oil, even when it’s organic, is still industrially processed in order to make it shelf stable; agave is also highly refined and nearly 100% fructose).  It didn’t take much to adapt the recipe further, so, in anticipation of a picnic at a co-worker’s home, I made a pear upside-down cake – mostly to use up some pears that were in danger of becoming overripe to the point of being fit for nothing other than the compost bucket.

That cake was lovely, but I made it in my 12″ cast iron skillet which was simply too large for the amount of batter this recipe makes (it was still good enough to be devoured by other members of the household before I could have more than a single piece – that’s a win in my book).  I knew immediately what I needed to do to tweak the recipe further to make it better than good.  It took me a week to find the time to make the cake again, but the wait was entirely worth it.  Even The Young One liked the very small piece he had – and the kid has an aversion to cooked apples as well as any cake that’s not chocolate.

Of course, the bacon might have had something to do with that.

If you don’t eat bacon, or simply cannot fathom the thought of it on a cake, you can leave it off and substitute the bacon fat with butter.  It will still be a delicious and healthy indulgence without a single refined ingredient in sight.  Next, I think I’ll see what I can do about turning the basic recipe into a carrot cake.

Apple Bacon Upside-Down Cake

Apple  Bacon Upside-Down Cake

serves 8

2 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Macintosh, peeled and sliced
4 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cook the bacon in a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until crisp and all of the fat is rendered. Take the skillet off of the heat; remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels and set aside. Drain all of the bacon fat except 2 tablespoons and reserve for another use.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup coconut sugar evenly over the bottom of the skillet, then scatter the bacon over the sugar. Arrange the apple slices on top of the sugar and bacon.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until well combined. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl each time, until the batter is smooth – it will still be “grainy” because of the almond flour, but make sure there are no lumps. Spread the batter gently and evenly over the apples and bacon in the skillet.

Bake the cake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the skillet on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin, flexible spatula around the edges of the cake, then invert a serving dish on top of the skillet. Carefully, using pot holders and/or oven mitts, flip the skillet over on top of the serving dish and carefully lift away from the cake. Use the spatula to place any bacon or apple slices that may have stuck to the bottom of the skillet back onto the cake.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

Nutrition (per serving): 387 calories, 27.9g total fat, 56.1mg cholesterol, 332.3mg sodium, 277.8mg potassium, 23.2g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 18.8g sugar, 3.3g protein.

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The Cake Mix Is A Lie

I know, I said I was going to post a recipe for Fight Back Friday today, but I made an interesting observation over the last couple of days that is far more worthy of the theme of the meme (oh, I’m a poet and don’t know it).  First, a little background.

Unless you’re a long-time reader here you might not know that, once upon a time, I was a professional cake decorator.  A pretty good one, too, if I do say so myself.  Because of this, my kids have never had a “store-bought” birthday cake; nor have my stepdaughters, at least in the last 12 years.  Nor will The G Man, who celebrates his first birthday this Sunday.  And since I’m decorating his birthday cakes (yes, cakes – and cupcakes, too, but you’ll hear more about that next week), I will bake them too.

In fact, I’ve already baked them – we leave tonight to head down to Cincinnati for the weekend, and since hotels generally don’t have the facilities for cake baking (and Jolly’s apartment is already going to be overwhelmed with party preparations and out-of-town guests), I had to bake them ahead of time.  And since I had to bake them ahead of time, I had two options – bake cakes from scratch, repeatedly brush them with simple syrup/liqueur, freeze them and hope they didn’t dry out, or use cake mixes.  I chose to use cake mixes because 1) I wouldn’t be eating it (after 10 years as a cake decorator, it’s not my favorite dessert) and B) I didn’t want to chance them being dry after 3 days – cake mixes, being made with oil as opposed to butter, are also full of wonderful chemicals/emulsifiers that give them an extended shelf life, to say the least.

Now, keep in mind that even before I decided to rid my kitchen of refined sugar, flours and vegetable oils it had literally been years since I made a cake from a mix.  I’m not talking 1 or 2 years – I’m talking like closer to 15.  And since I rarely eat cake, it’s probably been that long since I consumed cake made from a mix.  So, as I began mixing the batter in my trusty KitchenAid, I leaned over the bowl to watch the action and noticed something I’d never noticed before – an odd, chemical smell.

I checked to “sell by” date on the box of Betty Crocker SuperMoist Chocolate Fudge cake mix – it’s expiration date was a year away (that right there should tell you something).  So, I went about greasing and flouring my Mickey Mouse shaped pan, poured the batter in, baked it for the requisite 35 minutes, and set it out to cool on a rack.  Ten minutes later, I shaved off the top of the cake so it would lay flat as I turned it out of the pan – and took a bite of the bit I’d cut off.

It tasted…well, terrible.  That chemical smell had given way to a chemical aftertaste, and it left a nasty, greasy film in my mouth after I’d swallowed it.  I stood there, wondering if there was something wrong with it and if I should toss it, when The Young One came downstairs and said, “Oooooh – cake!” and proceeded to devour the piece I’d cut.

Now, this kid is very picky when it comes to “off” flavors and textures of food, so I asked, “Does it taste all right?”

“It’s fine,” he said, eying Mickey as if he wondered if anyone would miss an ear.

So, repeat the above scenario with a yellow cake – which, on top of the weird chemical smell/taste and greasy film, was cloyingly sweet – with the same result:  my teenager devoured the portion I let him have and declared it fine.  (Note: Beloved, who is giddy at having lost over 20 pounds, refused to touch it, much less taste it.)

So, I decided it was me; not only have I lost my taste for things made from processed and refined carbohydrates, my palate seems to have completely changed.  After just a few months of eating only whole, natural foods almost exclusively, I have gotten to the point where I cannot tolerate anything with artificial ingredients.  And boy, are cake mixes just loaded with artificial ingredients.

Betty Crocker SuperMoist Chocolate Fudge cake mix

  • Enriched Bleached Flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid and while you’re at it, ask yourself why flour has to be “enriched”)
  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Cocoa processed with Alkali
  • Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed oil
  • Corn Starch
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Salt
  • Propylene Glycol Mono and Diesters of Fatty Acids
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
  • Dicalcium Phosphate
  • Cellulose Gum
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Artificial Flavor

My, my – that just sounds so appetizing, doesn’t it?  No wonder the darn thing tasted like chemicals – it’s loaded with them.  I don’t know about you, but the last time I baked a chocolate cake from scratch, it contained just flour, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, baking powder, cocoa and salt.  That’s it.

I’m sure the guests at The G Man’s party will be perfectly happy with the cakes; they will be cute and probably taste just like they’re supposed to.  But I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get over the guilt of serving such a mess to friends and family (to say nothing of my adored son and grandson) – and you can rest assured I never will again.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

Boston Cream Pie

Happy Monday everyone!  It’s the start of a new week, a new month, a new blog layout and a new recipe.  And a new feature – from now on, all recipes will be available in a printable format.  I’ll work on getting all of the archived recipes put in a printable format as quickly as possible.

Because I’m just all about the “new” today.

I like my new layout a great deal; it gives me lots of room for modification so I can change the look in the form of new headers and colors and buttons on a regular basis without having to take the time to design and code a new theme every time I want to change it.  I hope y’all like it too; I welcome any feedback you might have.

Okay – Boston Cream Pie.  It’s one of Beloved’s favorite desserts and the one I made on Valentine’s Day.  When made from scratch it’s not a complicated recipe by any means, but it is a tad time consuming.  It is also one of the yummiest cakes you’ll ever eat.

The origins of the name – to say nothing of the recipe – differ depending on the source, but it’s generally accepted that it’s called “pie” when it is really a cake because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans so many people baked cakes in them.  The Parker House Hotel in Boston claims to have served these cream “pies” since their opening in 1856, hence the “Boston” part of the name.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the dessert (I have quite a few readers outside of the U.S.), it consists of two layers of sponge or butter cake that are sandwiched together with pastry cream. A chocolate glaze is then poured over the top of the cake and allowed to drip down the sides.  My version uses a simple butter cake, baked in two thin layers and filled with classic creme patisserie; a thick, rich, vanilla-flavored custard that consists of egg yolks, butter and milk thickened with flour or corn starch and flavored with vanilla.  I spread the top with an easy chocolate ganache consisting of heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate and a little butter.

It is oh, so very yummy, and it should be:  The cake is adapted from the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, the creme patisserie is adapted from the 40th Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the chocolate ganache is adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible.

I am nothing if not an equal opportunity adapter.

Note:   The creme patisserie will hold up to being sandwiched between the cake layers much better if it has been refrigerated a bit, so make it first.  The cake recipe is for two 8″ or one 9″ cake layers –  since I prefer a 9″ cake for this recipe I bake two thin layers; that way I don’t have to worry about splitting a single layer with a knife and risk it falling apart.  If you make two 8″ layers or a single 9″ layer, increase the baking time about 5 minutes.  Also allow the ganache to cool until just barely warm to the touch before spreading on the cake – it will thicken, but still run down the sides of the cake without pooling at the bottom.

Boston Cream Pie

serves 8

Creme patisserie (or vanilla custard)

1 cup granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

2 cups very hot milk (almost boiling)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In the 3-quart bowl of a stand mixer, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks with the paddle attachment and continue beating for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.  Gradually beat in the flour until completely smooth.

With the mixer running on low/medium low, gradually pour the hot milk into the egg yolks in a thin stream.  Pour egg/milk mixture into a clean, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set on the stove over moderately high heat.  Stir constantly with a wire whisk, making sure to reach all over the bottom of the pan.  As the custard heats, it may become lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it.  When it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue beating with the wire whisk for another 2 minutes or so, taking care not to scorch it at the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.  Scrape into a clean bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until ready to use.

Gold butter cake

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375º F; grease and flour cake pan(s).  Have all ingredients at room temperature before beginning.

Sift the flour together with baking powder and salt; set aside.  Cream the butter until soft and gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and scraping down the sides of the bowl and stirring until the batter is smooth after each addition.  Pour the batter into the cake pan(s) and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.

Remove pans to a wire rack; cool cake completely before removing from pans.

Chocolate ganache

4½ ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat.  Add the heavy cream and raise the heat to medium.  Heat and stir, trying not to create any air bubbles, for a few moments.  Remove from heat; add the butter and stir well.  Allow to cool until barely warm to the touch.

Assembly

Place one cake layer, top side up, on a flat serving dish at least an inch or two larger in diameter than the cake.  Spread the creme patisserie thickly and evenly over the surface of the cake; top with the other layer, bottom side up (if the cake layers “domed” during baking, shave the tops with a sharp serrated knife until flat).  Pour the ganache on top and gently spread with a spatula until the chocolate coats the top of the cake evenly and begins to drip down the sides.

Cut into wedges to serve.  Wrap leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving.

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because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans.