Dugan-ish Coffee Cake

[image: slice of coffee cake]

Happy birthday to my mom! She requested I make a coffee cake that she remembered from her childhood. She said the Dugan’s Man used to come around the house selling breads and cakes, and her father’s favorite was a coffee cake with cinnamon, almond paste, and raisins. She rarely got to eat it because it was her dad’s and You Do Not Touch Carl’s Stuff.

She found this recipe on Simply Recipes, thought it looked right, and asked me to make it. I did, and it turned out really, really well. So well, in fact, that I’m considering making it again this weekend. (It’s really good.)

My mom says it’s almost exactly like the coffee cake she remembers from the Dugan Man. So: Dugan-ish Coffee Cake.

For more information about the Dugan Brothers’ Bakery:
The Baby Boomer eMuseum
The Old Motor
Roadfood.com Discussion Board
New York Times (subscriber access only)

1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 package yeast (2 1/4 tsp) dissolved in 2 Tbsp warm water
2 cups AP flour, plus extra
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
vegetable oil

1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
1/2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of table salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp almond paste (like 30 grams by weight. ish)50 grams of almond paste (it tastes better with more)

Egg wash:
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp whole milk

Sugar glaze:
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp water
dash of table salt

Scald the milk (heat in a pot over medium heat until steaming but not boiling) and take off the heat, then stir in the butter, sugar, and cardamom. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl if kneading by hand). Stir in the yeast mixture and egg by hand, then add in the salt.

Add one cup of flour to the bowl. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on low. Once incorporated, gradually add the second cup. Turn the mixer up to medium speed. Add more flour if necessary. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixer, but keep the dough soft. (I added another 1/4 cup flour to mine.) Run the mixer for 5 minutes, or knead by hand for 5-7 minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour. Press dough out into an 8-inch by 16-inch rectangle. (If it fights you, let it relax for 5 minutes and give it another go.)

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a half-inch border around the edges. Mix together the sugars and cinnamon with a dash of table salt, then spread evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the raisins and almonds evenly over the dough. Either tear the almond paste into little bits and distribute them evenly or roll the paste out into a very, very thin sheet and drape over the dough.

Starting at the back, slowly and carefully roll the long end up towards you. Flatten the seam on the bottom as well as you can, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape the tube into a ring and work the ends together.

Using kitchen shears, cut the dough most of the way through at about 1-inch increments on a slant. Pull each piece out or into the circle, alternating. It will look (vaguely) like a wreath.

Cover with plastic wrap and place back in your proofing spot for a half hour.

Heat the oven to 350. Whisk the egg and milk together, then brush over the dough. Bake for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove to a rack and let cool completely. Whisk together powdered sugar, water, and a dash of table salt to make a glaze. (Add more water or powdered sugar if the glaze is too thick or thin.) Drizzle over cooled pastry in zig-zags.

Serve in sliced with a smear of softened butter (and maybe an extra sprinkle of salt if you’re me).

Made a cinnamon/raisin/almond coffee cake for my mom's birthday. Gotta let it cool before I can glaze it.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

Fudgey Brownies

[image: brownie]
[image: brownie]

These are very sweet and very fudgey. Also they make kind of a hell of a mess. I don’t know if the original writer (I think this was from the Chicago Tribune, but I just have a really old photocopy a family friend passed along) thought that pulsing chocolate chips and sugar in a food processor would remain entirely contained, because a fine mist of choco-sugar coated the countertop after I was finished.

Nonstick spray
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 rounded tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces, toasted
4 oz. white chocolate chips

Prepare a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray and turn the oven to 325.

Place the semisweet chocolate chips and sugar in a food processor and pulse 8-10 times to combine, then turn on and keep running until the chocolate is the same consistency as the sugar (about 30 seconds).

Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla to the food processor. Mix for a minute, scraping down sides as necessary. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine.

Add the walnuts and white chocolate chips and pulse until barely incorporated (3-5 pulses).

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out with moist but not wet crumbs, 45-55 minutes. Cool in the pan, then chill until firm, about 4 hours. Cut into small squares (they’re intensely chocolatey, a small amount is enough) and serve.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Brain hemorrhage of a cranberry upside-down cake.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

So I set out to make a nice autumnal cake for our family gathering today that would use up the cranberries we bought for the dessert I made the last time we had a family gathering. What I made was kind of a horror show. A deliciously tasty horror show, but jesus, look at that photo. It is not pretty.

The buildup to the unmolding was also not pretty. This cake is supposed to bake in a 9-inch cake tin. We had 2 8-inch cake tins that were pretty shallow and that I feared would not hold all the batter. So I opted for a 9 1/2-inch springform pan. DO NOT USE A SPRINGFORM PAN. I wrapped the bottom of the tin in foil to fend off leaking, and…

Springform pan leakage. Crud.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

Well, that clearly worked. Ugh. So maybe half of the caramel made it into/onto the final cake. Plus, my brother and his family were greeted by the smell of burning sugar! How joyous.

That being said, if you use the correct pan, you won’t have any of these issues. I cannot guarantee that the cake won’t still end up looking like surgery gone bad! The cranberries are deliciously tart, and the cake is moist and has a nice little kick of brandy. Feel free to sprinkle a little extra (1-2 Tbsp) over the cake after you unmold it. (We were serving it to kids, so I didn’t.)

nonstick spray
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
10 Tbsp butter, divided (4 and 6)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp brandy
1/2 cup apple juice (this is just what we had, probably some kind of cran-juice would be nice too)
2 cups (8 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray (DO NOT USE A SPRINGFORM PAN) and cover the bottom with parchment paper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbsp butter. Add the brown sugar, honey, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Once you’re sure all the brown sugar has melted into the mixture, pour into prepared cake pan. Set pan aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat 6 Tbsp butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, then beat in vanilla and brandy. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed until just blended. Beat in juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended.

Add the cranberries to the prepared baking pan and press the fruit into an even layer. Pour the batter on top and use a spatula to gently nudge it into place without disturbing the cranberries underneath. Bake on the center rack (with a sheet pan underneath in case of any overflow, which shouldn’t be a problem because you were smart and did not use a springform pan).

Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cake stand in pan 5 minutes. Invert a serving plate over the cake pan and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and pan firmly pressed together). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry & Sour Cream Pound Cake

Today's adventure in #baking: cranberry & sour cream #poundcake.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

Pound cake is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’m really not that much of a dessert fiend, but there’s just something about taking a slice of Sara Lee, wadding the entire thing up and stuffing it in your mouth.

Anyway, this is not a Sara Lee-style pound cake, but it’s veryvery tasty. I got the recipe from a Cook’s Illustrated newsletter and made a couple modifications.

Baker’s Joy or grease+flour
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp milk
14 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup cranberries, chopped (fresh or frozen—if using frozen, thawing is unnecessary)
1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
dash of table salt

Prep a loaf pan with Baker’s Joy (or grease and flour the pan) and heat oven to 300. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Whisk sour cream and milk together in a third bowl. In a fourth bowl, toss cranberries with confectioner’s sugar and a dash of salt.

Put butter in a stand mixer and beat on medium with the paddle attachment until soft, 2–3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed to low and add egg mixture, then increase back to medium and mix for a minute, scraping down sides if necessary. (Mixture will look curdled, don’t panic.)

Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture slowly in three pieces, alternating with the sour cream mixture. Scrape down sides as needed.

Gently fold by hand the cranberries into the batter.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, rotating pan after an hour. Test starting at 1:30 with a toothpick (it did take nearly two hours, but I was paranoid about the long cooking time and hey better safe than sorry).

Cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes. Remove from pan and completely cool on rack before serving.

Honey Cake

honey cake!
honey cake!

I’ve had a cold for the past few days (probably picked up some gunk on the plane ride back), so we pushed our Rosh Hashanah celebratory meal to tonight. A little Braisin’ History—I made honey cake for the first time in 2012, from a recipe on smitten kitchen. It tuned out well that year, but I had moved by the time Rosh Hashanah rolled around in 2013, and I was not yet familiar with how my new oven worked—or rather, how it didn’t. That apartment had a terrible oven. It was at least 75 degrees off, and it would shut off whenever it felt it was approaching a workable temperature. So I baked the cake for the specified amount of time, and then it was raw. As I attempted to get it to a less-gooey state, I managed to burn the edges. I took the failure into work the next day in the hopes that someone would eat it. I ended up throwing most of it away at lunch.

This is not that honey cake, however! This turned out lovely! This is a new recipe I got from the New York Times. It calls for a lot of red wine, olive oil, and (of course) honey. The plum and thyme garnish is really something. I altered a couple things slightly from Melissa Clark’s recipe.

2 1/2 cups AP flour (300 grams)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups olive oil
1 cup honey
3/4 cup red wine
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Baker’s Joy or nonstick spray+flour, to prep the bundt pan

3 plums
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
pinch lemon zest

Heat oven to 350, and prep the bundt pan with Baker’s Joy or grease+flour combo.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in sugar, oil, honey, wine, and the fresh ginger until well combined. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined (no pockets of flour remaining, but don’t overwork the batter).

Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake (be brave!) and let cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the garnish. Chop up the plums and mix with the honey, thyme, and lemon zest. Macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Slice cake, top with garnish.

Almond Thins

[image: almond thin cookies and adorable owl mugs]
[image: almond thin cookies and adorable owl mugs]

I don’t actually know why I thought this, but I thought I needed a cookie that would stack easily for a gift. It’s not like I was mailing them, so I really didn’t, but that was my thought process. I gave them as gifts to my hair gal and an old pal of mine from work. Flo Braker’s original recipe didn’t include any salt, so I rectified that.

So the original yield is 80–90 cookies, but I only got about 55. I just couldn’t slice it thinly enough. You need a really thin, really sharp knife—which I thought I had, but apparently it wasn’t quite thin and sharp enough. Honestly, I think you need like a meat slicer for this.

What I did with my scraps and mis-cuts was to roll them out super-thin between some parchment and cut rectangles from there. You get a difference in how the almonds interact with the dough (they’ll be flat instead of cut across). They won’t look as interesting, in my opinion, but it is an option. I didn’t notice them getting tough because of the extra working of the dough, which is good.

You may notice after a few days that the cookies soften (and depending on the humidity, it could be the very next day). To crisp the cookies back up, I slid them into my toaster oven for a couple minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Excellent with tea! Aren’t those cute mugs?

1 stick butter, cubed
1 1/3 cup coarse golden sugar (demerara, washed raw sugar, or turbinado—I used Sugar in the Raw)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup water
2 1/3 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sliced almonds

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and water. Stir until the butter just melts and remove promptly from heat. Don’t let the sugar dissolve.

Mix the butter mixture with the flour, baking soda, and almonds until combined. Press the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Cover with additional plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the dough and smoothing the top. Chill until firm. (I found that a refrigerator chill was not enough to keep the shape while slicing, so I had to freeze it nearly solid.)

Line baking sheets with parchment (don’t use a silpat, they won’t get crisp enough). Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a very, very sharp and thin knife, carefully slice the loaf into pieces narrow as possible. Place on the baking sheets about 1/2–1″ apart (they will spread slightly due to the baking soda—I foolishly thought they wouldn’t and my first batch had a couple merge into each other). (Also see above for my solution to scraps.)

Bake for 10–15 minutes, then carefully flip the cookies over with a spatula and continue baking for an additional 10–15 minutes (the time will depend on how thin you were able to cut the slices). You want them to be a deep golden-brown. Cool completely on a rack.

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

[image: cinnamon bread pudding]
[image: cinnamon bread pudding]

I don’t really have much to say about this recipe. It’s really tasty. Assemble the night before, bake in the morning, devour for brunch.

For some reason I decided to turn the broiler on briefly at the end—I thought the crumb topping was supposed to melt, I guess? Don’t do that. That was a mistake. Thankfully I stopped myself before I burnt it. Still, there’s some darker sections. My bad.

[image: cinnamon bread pudding—you can see some of the overbrowned bits]
[image: cinnamon bread pudding—you can see that I overbrowned some of it]

cooking spray
1 loaf challah (the one I used had raisins, but any challah should work)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp kosher salt, separated
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, COLD, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch fresh grated nutmeg

Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cut the challah into cubes (1-inch or so). If your bread is fresh, dry out the cubes in a low oven for 10–15 minutes or leave out on the counter for a few hours. Put them in the 9×13.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, white granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk to combine. Pour over the bread. Smush the bread into the liquid a bit. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, heat the oven to 350. In a food processor or mini-prep (or by hand with a pastry blender sort of thing), pulse the butter with the flour. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and pulse a few more times to combine. You should have a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle evenly over the bread, making sure to get all the way out to the edges.

Bake at 350 for 45–50 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before cutting.

[image: cinnamon bread pudding, I couldn't decide which photo I liked better]
[image: cinnamon bread pudding at a slightly more dramatic angle]

Braisin’ Semi-Failure: Apple-Apple Pie

Basically: I saw this recipe floating around Tumblr, I had an apple languishing in the crisper, and I still had some leftover pie dough. So I thought I might as well take a stab at it. Unfortunately it turned out kind of a mess. Apparently Golden Delicious apples, while a fine variety to use in pie interiors, are not the sort whose outer walls will hold up particularly well for this application. You want to use a firmer apple, like a Granny Smith or Braeburn or Winesap.

It is also possible that my problem came from scooping the walls too thin. I used a grapefruit spoon to carve out the inside, which on the whole was kind of a pain in the ass. I put the apple in the oven and kept an eye on it as it baked. Good thing, too, because at the 25-minute mark the entire thing slumped down and fell over. I attempted to rescue and prop it back up with an aluminum foil snake for the rest of the baking time, but the damage was done. The pie crust got mangled (I tried to hide the worst of it at the back of the photos).

This wasn’t a total failure. I will try it again with a different apple variety. It definitely tasted good. I’m sure I can make it turn out prettier.

lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp AP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
enough pie dough to make a 3-inch round at 1/4-inch thick
powdered sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 370. Cut off the top of the apple. With a grapefruit spoon or melon baller or really, really carefully with a knife and spoon, scoop out the interior of the apple. Try not to pierce the skin. Discard the core and dice the rest. Peel the top bit you cut off and dice that flesh as well. Mix diced apple with a few drops of lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Place apple shells on a lipped baking pan lined with parchment. (If you are making a lot of these—like 12—I read a suggestion to nestle them in a muffin tin, which would totally counteract the slumping problem I had. Don’t cram them in there, just use the wells to sort of cradle their bottoms.) Fill the apple shell with the chopped apple mixture.

Roll out your pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out a circle (or use some kind of fun cookie cutter) and poke some holes in it with a straw (steam holes!). Place the dough lid on top of the apple. Don’t mold it down, just place it on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. The dough should be nicely golden on top. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar (optional).

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

[image: loaf of sweet potato spice bread]
[image: loaf of sweet potato spice bread]

It’s funny, I haven’t even posted the recipe I bought the buttermilk for originally, just the ones I made trying to use it up. This bread is good for people who like sweet things. It’s dense, very moist, and heavy on autumn spice flavors. I think it could probably use a bit more salt. And although I used buttermilk, sour cream might be better. Or a bit of orange zest? I just think it needs some more ‘zazz. It’s nice with a cup of tea for breakfast or in the afternoon.

cooking spray or baker’s joy
1–2 sweet potatoes/garnet yams, between 1–1.25 lbs. (you want 1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato once they’re steamed)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk (or sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon (all spices ground)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt (full tsp might be better)

Heat oven to 350. Prep a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray or baker’s joy.

Cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and place in a steamer insert. Put an inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place insert in pan and steam sweet potatoes for approximately 15 minutes or until quite soft. Remove to a bowl and mash to a pulp. (This can be done by hand, with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer.)

Mix in the sugars. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and beat until combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in stages and mix until the flour mixture has been incorporated thoroughly (however, try not to overbeat—fold in if you’re doing it by hand).

Empty batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 350 for 60–75 minutes, checking for doneness with toothpicks. Cool in pan for 15–30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

[image: coconut brown butter cookies]
[image: coconut brown butter cookies]

I snagged this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I don’t know if I thought it was quite the world-changer she did, but yeah, they’re pretty good. My brother puts them on par with my macaroons, and one of my friends said they were better than the potato chip cookies (huh, apparently I haven’t written about those yet). I think they’re both crazy. They are very good, though. I’m still enjoying eating them a lot. I put more actual salt in them than SK’s recipe, as well as using salted butter. They’re almost savory this way (which is how I like my cookies). I live in fear of burning butter, so I only took mine to “tanned” instead of “browned,” but the nutty butter taste is still present and very tasty.

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
up to 2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (aka 5/8 cup) white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp AP flour (aka 1 7/16 cup, but that’s a really unhelpful calculation)
1 tsp baking soda
Highly rounded 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (I used the nice stuff instead of just going for the kosher salt as I usually do)
240 grams flaked coconut (it’s around 4 cups, but definitely weigh it, especially if you’re using shredded instead of flaked)
kosher salt

Melt butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Butter will melt and foam before it starts browning. Keep stirring and keep an eye on that foam to see when the color change starts to happen. It will take 5+ minutes. Butter will continue to cook after you take it off the heat, so pull it a little sooner than “dark brown” or you might end up with “black.” Pour butter and scrape all browned bits into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add up to 2 Tbsp water to get the level back up to 1 cup. (The extra room in the cup is to accommodate the fizzing that will occur when you add the water.) Chill the butter in the fridge until solid, 1–2 hours.

With a stand or hand mixer, cream browned butter with the white and brown sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix together, scraping down sides when necessary. Add salt, baking soda, and flour in two or three batches, mixing together (and scraping). Add the coconut flakes a cup at a time, mixing in evenly (you may have to do the last cup by hand—make sure if you have a smaller mixer that the flakes don’t overwhelm the capacity and climb up into the mechanism).

Prep baking sheets with parchment paper (people reported spreading problems with silpats) and heat oven to 350. I was able to fit 10 1-Tbsp size cookies to a sheet without them running into each other. Dish the cookies onto the sheet, then flatten slightly with your fingers. Sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher salt on top of each cookie.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, rotating trays at the halfway point. Cool for a couple minutes on the sheets, then remove to cooling racks. I got about 5 1/2 dozen cookies using a 1-Tbsp scoop.

[image: 65 coconut brown butter cookies on cooling racks]
[image: 65 coconut brown butter cookies on cooling racks]