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Decadent Devil’s Foodcake

This month two of the wonderful men in my life (our oldest boy and my husband both have birthdays), additionally two of our good friends have April birthdays. So this weekend we did an Easter and birthday celebration! For this celebration it was decided that we needed the cake of all cakes (according to my husband) a dark, decadent, devilish Devil’s Foodcake. We love this cake. It’s rich and moist and can easily be frozen so you can enjoy it over an entire week. It’s a devil’s foodcake that goes hand in hand with chocolate icing, or cream cheese icing or butter cream or can just be eaten plain. Just make sure you get all the crumbs!

The original recipe started with our hero Alton Brown, but it’s undergone a few changes including the addition of Ultra Gel for that freezing and staying power I mentioned before.

And yes…one of these cakes is a bunny! It’s Easter, there has to be a bunny!

Decadent Devil’s Foodcake

1 cup boiling water

4 ounces dutch-process cocoa

8 ounces brown sugar

2 ounces molasses

4 ounces cake flour

6 ounces flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup applesauce

4 1/2 ounces sour cream

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

Whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until well combined. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Combine sugar, molasses, flours, baking soda, salt and Ultra Gel in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well. In a separate container combine oil, apple sauce, sour cream, eggs and egg yolk. Add oil mixture to cocoa mixture. With the mixer on low add chocolate mixture to dry ingredients. Beat for 30-45 seconds. Scrape down the sides and beat for an additional 30 seconds.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed 30-35 minutes.

Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before depanning (if desired). Top with icing or serve with ice cream, or both, we won’t judge!

Oatmeal Bread

Okay, so today I was totally going to share Poppy Seed Muffins with you. I have a note here in my schedule, make and blog about poppy seed muffins. So why aren’t we doing that? Well…it’s because I was hijacked by something so yummy and happy tummy making that I must push poppy seed muffins off a little and talk about this anyway.

This particular inspiration came, as many do, from the combination of my husband and his food hero Alton Brown. The husband part is that he and I have been working on adding good things into our diet and pulling back on some of the not so good. One of the things that comes up all the time in this discussion is oatmeal. Oats are good for you, they are high in fiber and types of fiber that help to carry a lot of unwanted stuff out of the body. I love oatmeal. My husband…not so much. He likes the FLAVOR of oats and oat products, but something about that texture just kills him.

So we were watching old episodes of ‘Good Eats’ and saw Oat Cuisine II, in which Alton makes one of our favorite things: Oat Waffles. But then he also makes a loaf of oat bread. And we pondered this option. Oats in bread. With some adjustments and some Ultra Gel, could we come up with a bread that had all the lovely benefits of oats without the texture problems?

I am very happy to say that the answer is a resounding yes. We can create a bread that is the best of both worlds. This recipe for oatmeal bread makes one large loaf, which is perfect for sandwiches, French toast, or just slathering with jam in a jiffy freezer jam and cheese and having as a late night snack. And with all the fiber it’s pretty close to guilt free, and did we mention it’s yummy? So with credit to Mr Brown for getting us started, here you go.

Oatmeal Bread

1 Tablespoon yeast

11 ounces bread flour, give or take (This will change based on your altitude and the weather, but start with 11 ounces)

1/3 cup oat flour

1 teaspoon salt

12 ounces cooked oatmeal at room temp (In my kitchen at a little under 5000 feet this is one batch of 1 cup oats to 2 cups water)

1/4 cup warm water

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 tsp good quality vanilla

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

Combine yeast, bread flour, oat flour and salt and set aside.

Combine the cooked oatmeal, water, honey and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the dry mixture to the cooked oatmeal mixture and combine thoroughly. (I did this in my stand mixer, though it can be done fairly easily by hand). Knead by hand or machine for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Dough will be slightly sticky but should not amoeba around the counter.

Remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

Punch dough down and shape into a 9×5 inch loaf. Cover and let rise 10 minutes. (If desired you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for an early morning bake).

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine egg and water in a small bowl and brush the top of the loaf. Additional dry oatmeal can be sprinkled on top of the loaf if desired. Bake 50-60 minutes until bread is done through. We test with a thermometer and in Utah, 200-205 is perfectly done. Closer to sea level that temp should be higher and higher up that will drop to 195-200.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool an additional 15-30 minutes before slicing.

Classic German Pancakes

One of my favorite food is breakfast foods. We’re known to have breakfast for dinner around here fairly frequently. Sometimes we even have breakfast for lunch. However, we do tend towards a lot of the same wonderful breakfast foods and these German Pancakes are a great break up in the routine. Now, we’ve talked Dutch Babies before and, yes, these recipes are related. They’re both a baked pancake made from a thin, eggy batter that poofs in the oven. The difference is that the Dutch Babies tends to be a thinner batter with a little more poof and the German Pancakes a thicker batter with a more solid bottom level and a little less poof. Both are fantastic, but I think the thicker nature of the German Pancake makes it better to serve with syrups and fruit and the Dutch babies are better with jams and powdered sugar with a little lemon! Your mileage may vary so try them both! Maybe you’ll find a new favorite in your kitchen!

Now, before the recipe just a note on baking vessels. German Pancakes can be baked in a 9×13 glass dripper pan and you’ll get a nice result from that. However, if you have a cast iron skillet with sides in the 10-12 inch range I would really suggest cooking in that instead. The skillet holds the heat more evenly and you’ll get a better crust on the top and bottom of the pancakes. If you don’t have this though don’t let it stop you from making the recipe as the dripper pan (cake pan) will work too.

German Pancakes

German Pancakes – Adjusted from Cherries, Chocolates and Children The Taylor Family Cookbook

4 Tablespoons butter

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place 9×13 inch baking dish or 10-12 inch skillet into oven to warm. Add butter to skillet and melt completely. In a medium bowl beat together the eggs and milk. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and Ultra Gel and mix well. Beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Pour into hot baking dish/skillet and return to oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned all over. Remove from oven. Cool slightly and serve with fruit or syrup. Cornaby’s fruit syrups are particularly good!

Emergency Sugar Cookies

These were not the Valentine’s sugar cookies that I was going to share with you this week. I have a recipe for kick butt sugar cookies. They’re thick and chewy and hold shape beautifully and freeze and if they get dried out you use them for cookie crumb on the bottom of a cheesecake. I intended all those things. Then this week totally got away from me and I found myself in a sugar cookie emergency as I had to have cookies for an activity on Wednesday no matter what. Now…I pondered just pushing through said sugar cookie emergency and still making the original recipe today, but, truth told, the emergency sugar cookie recipe is also kick butt. So after much pondering today you’ll get my emergency sugar cookie recipe, which is a go to, works-every-time, learned to make them when I was 6 recipe, and then we’ll do a surprise flash back next week and give you the roll out version.

Soo…as I was saying, these sugar cookies are fast and phenomenal. They are wonderful to eat plain, are a perfect base for fruit pizzas, frost like a dream or can be rolled in sprinkles, nuts, powdered jello or colored sugar for many different effects. They freeze well either as dough balls, large rolled in sprinkles logs or after baking. As well our sugar cookies strike the perfect balance between the camps of crispy cookie and chewy cookie with a crisp buttery edge and a rich chewy center. And the batter only takes about 15 minutes to whip together and you’re good to go, talk about an ideal cookie.

One of my other favorite things about this recipe is how kid friendly it is. It’s simply enough that even very young children can help make the dough, and everyone can get involved when it comes to decorating whether you’re topping it with fruit or frosting, sprinkles or M&Ms.

Quick Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, soft

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and stir well. Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture until thoroughly incorporated. If serving plain scoop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. For other uses chill the dough for at least 15 minutes to make it easier to work with. For fruit pizzas scoop into 3 ounce balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool on tray for 3 minutes before moving to cooling racks. For sprinkle covered cookies, scoop by tablespoons and roll into a ball, roll the ball in desired topping and move to cookie sheet (If you are worried about the topping making a mess you can line your cookie sheet with parchment paper). Cook for 10-12 minutes until done through. To freeze: either scoop dough into balls and freeze individually before moving to a freezer bag, or form into long logs, roll in sprinkles and then roll in waxed paper and aluminum foil. Date and freeze. Good for upto 3 months.

Buttercream Icing

1 cup butter, soft

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

3-4 cups powdered sugar

milk or cream as needed to achieve desired consistency

In a stand mixer combine butter, salt, vanilla and Ultra Gel with 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Beat until very thoroughly combined. Scrape down sides and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add additional powdered sugar to reach a spreadable or pipable consistency. Thin if needed with milk or cream. Color and get to icing! (This recipe is excellent for cake as well, though sometimes I’ll add a Tablespoon or two of Jam in a Jiffy raspberry jam for flavor and color and it’s excellent!)

Orange Muffins

There are so many fun citrus fruits in season right now that I thought since I’ve been on a quick breads and muffins kick that I’d feature a wonderful orange muffin. I love this recipe as it has a bright orange flavor without too much sugar. The other fun thing about these orange muffins is the flexibility to create your own add-ins or just go with the original flavor. Some of the things we’ve added: blueberries, cranberries, white chocolate, poppy seeds or pecans. It’s also easy to make a light orange glaze to top them with if you want more sweetness and orange pop. Our orange muffins feature Ultra Gel so they can easily be made in sizes ranging from tiny bite sized muffins to large muffins and freeze beautifully for breakfast on the go!

I personally really like the combination of raspberry with the orange muffins, so I’ll serve mine with my Jam in a Jiffy Raspberry jam (I always have some in the freezer!). So so yummy and the bright red against the pale orange makes for a beautiful table for a baby shower, wedding shower or brunch. And even with the jam the total calories for one muffin is just over 200, a perfect snack.

orange muffins

Orange Muffins (From the Ultra Gel Answer Book)

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla

zest of one medium orange

juice of one medium orange (2-3 Tablespoons maximum)

4 1/2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 3/4 cup flour

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoons salt

3-4 Tablespoons additional add ins if desired

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice and Ultra gel and beat until smooth and light yellow/orange. Add buttermilk and mix well. Sift together remaining dry ingredients and add to mixture, beating until just combined. As always do not over mix. Fold in add ins and spoon into lined muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4s full.

Bake at 350 degrees until light brown and the center tests done with a toothpick.

This makes 24 standard sized muffins at about 184 calories per muffin, or two medium loaves of orange bread.

Cool before moving from pan and serving or freezing.

Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

I often get asked what kinds of things you can use Thick Gel in. The answer is pretty much anywhere that you’d use cornstarch in the same proportion, but with better results. Thick Gel is a wonderful cornstarch that has a beautiful set. Thick Gel products can be frozen, refrigerated and canned with beautiful results helping you to keep food better longer.

Today’s recipe is a little different though. This is a Blueberry Buckle which usually has cake flour in it. The difference between cake flour and all purpose flour is that cake flour generally has a lower protein content and is more easily dispursed, this is a combination of the grain type and the grinding method. However, with a little help from Thick Gel we can make our own cake flour substitute that give us the benefits of cake flour with the additional benefits of Thick Gel. It’s a win win.

Cake flour replacement recipe:

1 cup of all purpose flour – 2 Tablespoons + 2 Tablespoons Thick gel. Sift well and use anywhere cake flour is called for.

So getting back to our buckle, this recipe uses the rest of the blueberries I had on hand from last blog’s recipe and adds some ginger for kick, all poured into a 9×9 square or 10 inch round pan and cooked up into a beautiful breakfast cake. Well, breakfast, lunch, late night snack…anytime you want a hit of blueberries and tender cake. This is pretty good warm with a little milk poured over it too or a side of ice cream and all with blueberry antioxidants and flavor. Yummy!

Blueberry buckle

Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup Thick Gel

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 ounces unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk

3-3 1/2 cups blueberries

Streusel:

1/2 cup sugar (this is also really good if you do 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)

1/3 cup cake flour mixture

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp candied ginger, well chopped

2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Make streusel by combining the sugar, flour, nutmeg and ginger. Add the butter and work in with a fork until it reaches a crumb texture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine flour, Thick Gel, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.

In a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix. Alternate adding dry mixture and milk until all in incorporated. Again, this is a quick bread method so don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries and pour into a baking dish which has been sprayed with non stick spray or greased.

Sprinkle streusel mixture on top of the cake and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Test with a tooth pick and remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before depanning and serving.

Moist Carrot Apple Muffins

carrot apple muffinsI think the new year gets all of us thinking about eating a bit better. If we don’t come by the need naturally there are plenty of TV commercials and ads to remind us that we over indulged over the holidays and now have a few extra pounds we’d like to say goodbye to. So this is the time of year I start going through my recipes looking for those that will help get me out of that nutritional rut. As well as the mother of a nearly 2 year old I’m always looking for ways to get more fruits and vegetables and less sugar into her diet. This recipe for Carrot Apple muffins is good on both fronts!

I originally found a recipe for Carrot Apple muffins over at Picky Palate and I liked the results except that I wanted a little more moisture to the muffin and I really wanted to get at least 12 muffins out of the batch so it filled the whole muffin pan. There’s just something about three empty spaces that hurts my slight sense of OCD. So I made some adjustments and ended up with these Carrot Apple Muffins. Like other Ultra Gel infused muffins carrot apple muffins freeze well, so this is a great recipe to bake up and freeze as snacks or a breakfast accompaniment for the rest of the week. If they last that long.

I have to admit that my Carrot Cake loving heart really wants to glaze these muffins with a little but of cream cheese icing, but nodding to the health aspect I’ll refrain. They’re moist and sweet as is and really don’t NEED a glaze, but if you wanted to I won’t tell. You could also easily add a few golden raisins or craisins, but as my Bunneh doesn’t like those in muffins I tend to refrain. What other add ins strike you?

Moist Carrot Apple Muffins

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 large egg

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup applesauce, unsweetened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 cup wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, sugar and honey in a stand mixer and whip until light. Add egg and beat well. Add carrots, applesauce, vanilla, buttermilk and Ultra Gel and mix until well incorporated. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Add in two batches and mix until just combined. Remember these are a quick bread so too much mixing will make the muffins tough.

Scoop out into a lined muffin pan (I use a 2 ounce scoop and get 12 muffins). Bake for 20-22 minutes until tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray. Serve warm or cold.

To Freeze: Cool carrot apple muffins completely and remove to a gallon sized ziploc bag. Remove as much air as possible without crushing muffins. Freeze.