Orange Spice New York-Style Crumb Cake – Recipe

There are few things I like doing better than baking on a cold day. Today’s New York-Style Crumb Cake recipe experiment turned out so good I wanted to share it with you. It is based on this original recipe on Epicurious, with my own spicy twists. Enjoy!

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ORANGE SPICE NEW YORK-STYLE CRUMB CAKE

Topping:

1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar (use light if it’s what you have, this is so tasty no one’s going to care 😉

1/2 cup sugar

1.5 TBL Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Ginger

1/2 tsp Cardimum

1/2 tsp Allspice

A couple dashes Nutmeg

2 TBL Orange Liqueur (like Grand Mariner or Bauchant)

1/2 tsp Salt

1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter (melted)

2.5 cups All-purpose Flour

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Cake Batter:

2.5 cups plus 2 TBL Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

3/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 stick plus 3 TBL Unsalted Butter (Room Temperature)

1.5 cups sugar

2 Eggs

1 cup plain, unsweetened Greek Yogurt (you can use Sour Cream if you prefer)

1/2 cup fresh Orange Juice

1 TBL Vanilla Extract

For Topping:

Mix both sugars, cinnamon and other spices, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Add the liquid melted butter and stir. Add the liqueur. Add the flour and toss with a fork until moist crumbs form and set aside.

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For Cake Batter:

Position the rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350*. Generously butter a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish, preferably glass. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat your room-temperature butter in a large-ish bowl until smooth (my Kitchenaid stand mixer bowl worked great if that’s what you have). Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Next add the yogurt, orange juice and Vanilla extract just until blended. Add the flour mixture a little bit at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Transfer the batter to your buttered baking dish and spread out evenly, a rubber spatula works great. Add the topping over the batter until it completely and pretty evenly covers the batter.

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Bake your cake in the oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes. You can make this a day ahead of time, just cover and place somewhere safe at room temperature. Cut into squares and serve. Goes great with coffee, even better with Mimosas! Perfect for Sunday Brunch.

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*High Altitude Baking: Preheat oven to 365 and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

How I Failed at CRONUTS (But Made the BEST DAMN DONUTS I’ve Ever Had) Recipes & Reviews

( Is it “DONUT” or “DOUGHNUT”?? Does anyone know for sure? )

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I’ve gotten a little obsessed with CRONUTS, the half-croissant/half-doughnut creation currently all the rage in New York and London, with lines around block from the wee hours of the morning just for one little Cronut (or two, apparently that’s the limit). The recipe for these astounding creations is very well guarded, and no one but the bakers know for sure. As a result, the craze has spawned many knock-offs and attempts at recreating the recipe. I spent days researching all the recipes online (I told you I was obsessed) and narrowed it down to the two best contenders, and made them both. Here are my reviews, notes and thoughts on how I might make it more “Cronut-y” next time…(though these were truly the best donuts I’ve ever had!)

I wound up making 3 batches from the two recipes I thought would be the closest match. (I had only planned on two, but I kinda screwed up one of them and so came the third). Fair warning, these things are super-time-suckers. (no wonder they are $5 each in NYC!) One recipe came from Food52.com (this recipe was definitely inferior for reasons I’ll explain later.) and a British recipe supposedly right from the baker that makes the famous London Cronuts. (This is the one I screwed up and made twice). Both recipes are infuriatingly vague (as corroborated by the scores of irate comments on their respective pages), I suspect on purpose, leaving us poor DIY’ers in tears, throwing wads of dough out the window. (don’t do that, it sticks to everything.) I did my best to fill in the holes in the recipes, but experience is the best teacher, and so I will continue to try and perfect the Elusive Cronut. I’ll go step by step through what I did, and what I’ll do differently next time.

Step 1: Assemble the Ingredients.

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On the plus side, this recipe is pretty cheap to make, even if you use organic ingredients like I did. (certainly a Hell of a lot cheaper than $5 a C’Nut.)

Step 2: Dough Time.

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The Food52 recipe was pretty straightforward, just mixing up the ingredients without the butter, then chilling the dough. The Britt recipe was more complicated, and had one big fat problem. First, you were to combine the dry ingredients, then cut the butter into the flour (of course they did NOT tell you the butter has to be very COLD) You want decent bits of butter in there. The fatal flaw came when they told you to warm the milk and yeast, then add it to the mix. And guess what? It melted the butter of course, which negates the whole point of the chunky butter bits. Sigh. (this was  the “screw-up” recipe for that reason. I tried it again, this time mixing the milk/yeast mixture, and THEN the cold hard butter. Not much of an improvement but I went with it. What I’ll do Differently Next Time: Next time I’ll try letting the milk/yeast cool to room temp first before adding it to the butter-chunk dough, and quickly blending, mixing as little as possible to form the dough. At this point, all three doughs were treated the same, covered with plastic wrap and stuck in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Step 3: The Rolling.

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With both recipes, you are instructed to roll out the dough into a rectangle about 13 x 18, fold it over like a letter into thirds, and put back into the fridge to chill again. The exception is the Food52 Recipe in which you spread your room-temperature butter over the chilled dough. This step was a challenge, as the butter pulled up the dough, even chilled as it was, and I wound up ditching my pastry spatula for fingers. (and yes, I know my rectangles could use some work). At this point you are to put your letter-folded dough back in the fridge and chill again for at least 30 minutes. And take it out and roll and fold again. And then do that one more time. (for 4 total folding/chilling sessions. The final Chill Session is overnight, which I did. I will say the Britt recipe dough was more stiff and tough to roll. Vague-Alert: Neither of these recipes explained this folding and rolling process very well. I suspect there’s something missing… What I’ll do Differently Next Time: I’ll try letting the dough sit for a few minutes before rolling it out so I’m not having to push so hard. After my semi-failure at the end result, I researched how Croissant are made, and discovered that the dough is folded TWO times between chillings (once side to side, then turned 90 degrees, rolled again and folded the other way) This was not mentioned in either recipe, but I will do it next time. I will also try to make a better rectangle. I may also try separating the Britt recipe and doing the separate butter layer, just for comparison.

Step 3: Cutting and frying.

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After a day of rolling and chilling, it’s time for the fun part. Frying! As per the suggestion of a couple commenters on the original recipes, I let the dough rise 1-2 hours out of the fridge before frying. Not sure that was necessary, or even a good idea in hind-sight, but here at a mile-high, I figured a little extra rise-time couldn’t hurt. Next time, I’ll try it without the extra rise-time and see how it goes. Also, I didn’t have a doughnut cutter, so I used a biscuit cutter. Next time I’ll spring for the doughnut cutter, as I suspect they would have come out a bit crispier with open middles, and a sharp edge to the cutter should help a lot, as I suspect I may have squished the edges of my dough too much with my dull biscuit cutter. That being said, they fried up perfectly. I kept a thermometer in the oil to keep it at 350, and I used grapeseed oil, as that is what the head honcho baker in NYC uses on his famous Cronuts. They all fried up very nicely, though I could tell by the weight the Food52 recipe yielded a heavier C’nut.

Step 4: Filling and glazing

I wanted to keep the glaze and filling simple as to better judge the taste and texture of each recipe. I used a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze with no added flavor, and a simple french cream filling. I did not fill all the donuts (again for comparison sake), and some were simply rolled in a cinnamon/sugar mix right out of the fryer. Now for the best part, the taste test…

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I cut one from each recipe in half. Right away I knew it was a failure as none of them had the tell-tale crispy layers. The closest one was the Britt recipe (the one I didn’t screw up), which had a little bit. The big winner for taste and texture was also the Britt recipe, hands down. Light, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Seriously the best donut I’ve ever eaten. Whether they were glazed or filled or sugared, they were amazing. It was really really REALLY hard not to eat a ton of them. Everyone who tried them raved. My man must have eaten a half dozen (plus many “holes”). Even after he swore he would eat no more, I caught him sneaking down to the kitchen and pilfering another. The Food 52 recipe is good, just not great. A bit too dense and somehow just not as tasty. I’ll be sticking with the basic Britt Recipe, and experimenting with that one till I get it right. And then I’ll tell you how you can get them perfect, too, but in the meantime, I promise you will not be disappointed with this recipe!

Below is what I used, with a few changes I saw were needed as I made it. I translated the metric for you as well 🙂

The Famous London Cronut Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Yeast (I used active)

10 TBL Butter (COLD)

2 3/4 Cup Flour (a quality bread flour is best)

3 TBL Sugar

3 TBL Milk

3 TBL Water

1 Egg

Gently warm the milk and water on the stove (this only takes a minute, you should still be able to put your finger in it). Remove from the stove, add yeast, stir to dissolve, and set aside to cool. Combine salt, flour and sugar in food processor. Blend quick to mix. Add the COLD butter, cut into chunks, and pulse until the butter is well broken up but still in small bits. Add the egg to  the milk mixture, blend, then add the cooled milk/yeast/egg mixture to the flour/butter and quickly blend till it is just barely mixed in. Place in a bowl or on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge 30-60 minutes. Take it out and move the dough to a well floured flat work surface. Roll out the dough till it is about a 13″ x 18″ rectangle, about 1/4″ thick. Fold in thirds from left to right, like a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll out to a rectangle again, and fold in thirds again. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. REPEAT this step 3 more times (four total). After the final folding, refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge, let rise 1-2 hours*, roll out one last time, and cut out dough with a donut cutter (you should get 12 cuts plus scraps). Let rise again 1-2 hours.* Heat clean grapeseed oil to 350 in a deep cast iron pot or deep fryer, and begin frying in batches, about 3 at a time, until golden brown and crispy, then turn and cook the other side. Carefully remove from oil, let cool a bit, and fill and or glaze however you like.**

* I am still experimenting with the rise times, and will update when I know more.

** I will also be trying out different glazes and fillings, and will report on those as well.

…and finally, don’t forget the best part, the scraps! Fry those up too.

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I am just a hobbyist here, by no means a pro baker, so if you see somehting I should be doing differently, please let me know. If you are also working on your Cronuts, I’d love to hear about it! Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comments section below.

Easiest. Bread. Ever…A Simple Bread Recipe that will make you look like a Hero. Or at least, a baker.

Easiest. Bread. Ever.
(adapted from New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)
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When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. No kneading? Seriously? But it’s true. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Not to mention, costs about .50 a loaf* The same loaf at Whole Foods would cost you about $4.50. Make it, and you’ll look like a hero.

Ingredients:
3 Cups Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast (yes, only 1/4 tsp!)
1 1/4 tsp Salt
Cornmeal
A cotton kitchen towel (no terry cloth, or you’ll have a huge mess on your hands!)
(Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf)

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The actual labor on this bread is about 30 minutes, but here’s the rub: it has to rise 12-18 hours. I usually mix it up in the afternoon, let it rise over night, then finish it the next morning. You just have to plan ahead a tad.

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cup tepid water (about 115-120 degrees). Mix the ingredients together until the all the dough is incorporated and it looks “shaggy”. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place (70 degrees-ish) undisturbed for 12-18 hours.

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2. When the surface of the dough is all bubbly, you’re ready for the next step. Lightly flour a work surface (I use a large wood cutting board) and roll the dough out onto it, and sprinkle it with more flour. Roll the dough over on itself a couple times, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit about 15 minutes.

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3. Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, gently roll the dough into a ball (don’t get too crazy, just a ball-ish shape is good enough) Now coat the towel really, really well with the cornmeal (regular flour works as well. I like to use a combination of both flour and cornmeal) Place your dough ball on the towel, coat with some more of the flour and/or cornmeal. Cover with another towel (or if the towel is large, fold it loosely over the dough) and let it rise for 2 more hours. I find it easier to then put the towel full of dough in a large pot, preferably the one you are going to bake in. (you’ll see why in a minute) When the dough has about doubled in size it’s ready to bake.

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4. About a half hour before your dough is ready, pre-heat the oven to 450. Now here you have two options. Option 1: Place whatever you are going to bake the bread in the oven and heat it up. (use a heavy baking dish or pot. Cast iron. enamel, pyrex or ceramic) When the oven reaches temperature, just slide your hand under the dough and flop it over into the pot. It’s ok if goes in messy, just shake a bit to straighten it out, and it will straighten out the rest of way as it bakes. Option 2: Just pull the towel out and flop the bread gently back into the pot it was rising in. Honestly, I have done this both ways, (pot pre-heated and not) and I see very little difference. Cover the pot with it’s lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes until loaf is nicely browned. Remove the loaf from the pot and let cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack. (this is the hard part, it smells so good you’ll want to dig right in! But your loaf is still baking on the inside, so let it cool)

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Note: This recipe works great even at altitude, and I find up here at mile-high I do need to bake for the full hour. Things just take a little longer up here.

* Depending where you buy your flour, your loaf will cost .50-about $1 a loaf. I buy organic flour at Costco in bulk and the biggest yeast I can find, so my loaves are on the cheaper side.

Best Bagels Ever, and Yes, YOU Can Make Them! Here’s How

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Click for a downloadable recipe PDF

Make your Own Bagels? Yes You Can!
It’s easier than you think, cheap as hell (about $1 a batch) and tastier than any bagels you can buy. Here’s how:

Best Bagels Ever, at Homebagelspics1

Ingredients:

4 Cups Bread Flour*

1 TBLS Sugar

1 1/2 tsps Salt

2 tsps Instant Yeast (1 package)

1-1/4 – 1-1/2 cups Warm Water **

* I use Organic All-Purpose Flour. If you can buy it in bulk at Costco your bagel cost is cut almost in Half!

** Water needs to be 110-115 degrees for yeast to be happy. I use a candy thermometer. Though the recipe does not say you have to “proof” the yeast, I do. I like to make sure the yeast is good, and I think my bagels come out a bit fluffier if I proof the yeast first in the warm water with the sugar, 5-10 minutes)

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. The dough should feel stiff, but add a little water if it is too stiff or you can’t get all the dry flour incorporated. (High-Altitude note: you’ll need to use the full 1 1/2 cups water, sometimes a touch more)

Either plop the dough on your counter and knead for ten minutes, until it is uniform and smooth, or put your dough hook attachment on your mixer and run for about 8 minutes. I’m lazy, I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer.* It works fantastic. This step is important! I’ve tried skimping on the kneading time and the bagel were flat with poor texture. * I’ve had my Kitchenaid stand mixer for ten years and it still runs like a champ. I highly recommend them.

Cut the dough into 8 equal size balls, cover and set aside to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

This part takes some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it…Take each of the dough balls and roll into a “snake” until it is longer than the width of your hand.
Wrap the “snake” around your dominant hand, overlapping the ends. Now use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together until they fuse, and you’ll have a circular bagel-like shape.

Cover and rest your bagels for another 20 minutes.
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While your bagels are resting, Preheat the oven to 425, get a large heavy pot of water boiling, rub a good splash of oil on a cookie sheet/baking tray, and get your favorite toppings ready.

Use any toppings you like. My favorite is sort of an “everything bagel” mix of kosher salt, cracked pepper, garlic, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds. Note: if you use salt, always use kosher or “large grain” salt, and use it very sparingly!

After 20 minutes your bagels will start looking puffy. It’s time to get boiling. Gently add them to fully boiling water. Do not crowd them! Boil for 1 minute, then flip them over and boil for one more minute. Be sure and time it, too long and the bagels get soggy. If you don’t have a timer, just hum the Jeopardy theme song twice, it’s exactly 30 seconds 😉
Let them dry for a minute, then dip them in your topping and place them on the baking tray.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for 10 more minutes, and they are done! Let them cool for 20 minutes, then grab the cream cheese and dig in. There’s nothing nicer than a hot, fresh bagel. Enjoy!

#bagels #baking

Note: Slice your leftover bagels in half and freeze. For in instant breakfast just pop in the toaster oven or toaster. Bagels also make great sandwiches.

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