Friday, November 13, 2020

35 weeks

Today marks 8 months of quarantine. School was initially canceled for Miss B on Friday, March 13th, and for me that marked the beginning of this interlude. Here we are at our second Friday the 13th of 2020, and pandemic-wise at least, things are worse today than the conditions that sent us all into lockdown back in the spring. And with no end in sight. Even with a coming change in presidential administration, I do not see a way that things are going to get measurably better in containing the spread for a long time to come.

Things haven’t changed much for us: we are all managing school or work from home. DP and I have been going to the gym during off-hours, although I suspect that may change again soon, and I go to the grocery store and the farmers’ market. Other than going out for walks or drives, and the occasional small outdoor social gathering, we have been hunkered down at home. Luckily Miss B and I are homebodies, and DP has adjusted reasonably well, so we're coping.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Day 235

Today's the day, friends. Time's up. Whatever else you do today, if you haven't already, please, please vote. Email me (roving lemon at yahoo.com) if you need information on where to go and I'll try to help you out. 

Today's the day. Let's go.





Friday, October 23, 2020

Day 224


This week marks 32 weeks of quarantine life. We’re not quite as strict as we were at the start, but generally speaking our interactions and excursions are still pretty limited. We ate dinner at a local restaurant last week, sitting at an outside table, and that was the first time I’d done that since March. But most weeks are the same set routine of online school and work, and most contact with other people is through a screen. One of my local friends and I have recently resumed our regular coffee meetups - outside - and that gives me the opportunity to bake something to bring along and share.

In my baking experiments the last few months I have also discovered a new gateway ingredient for DP - this is what I call any ingredient that will convince him to try a new dish that he would otherwise ignore. Until now, the list consisted of two items - bacon and cream sauce - which could only be applied to savory foods. However, I have now added crumb topping to this select group, after I came upon him scarfing down a raspberry crumb cake that I had left on the counter. Since he normally shuns any cake that doesn’t have frosting or does have fruit, this was a staggering discovery - and one that opens up a whole new world of baking experimentation.


Apple-Cinnamon Coffee Cakes

Adapted from One Bowl Baking


You can keep your pumpkin spice whatever - apple and cinnamon is the essence of fall flavor for me. I concocted this combination after the first new season apples started showing up at the farmers’ market and the temperatures finally, finally began to feel autumnal.


Despite what looks like a long list of ingredients and steps, this comes together pretty quickly. My main adaptation was to add the applesauce to the original recipe; these are still delicious even if you skip that step.


Ingredients

Applesauce

4 medium-sized apples (I’ve been buying Jonathans, Empires, Braeburns - sweet-tart red-green apples are my favorites for both eating and cooking)

A healthy splash of apple cider or water

1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

Cinnamon and nutmeg


Crumb topping

390 g/13.75 oz/2.75 cups all-purpose flour

200 g/7 oz/1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 Tbsp cinnamon

.5 tsp salt

10 ml/2 tsp vanilla extract

255 g/9 oz/18 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted


Cake batter

215 g/7.5 oz/1.5 cups all-purpose flour*

100 g/3.5 oz/.5 cup sugar

10g/2 tsp baking powder*

3 g/.5 tsp salt

28 g/1 oz/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan if necessary)

15 ml/1 Tbsp vegetable oil

20 ml/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

180 ml/6 oz/.75 cup whole milk, room temperature


*I swapped in the same amount of self-raising flour for all-purpose and eliminated the baking powder.


Method

Heat the oven to 350F/180C and prepare your pan(s). The original recipe calls for a 13x9x2 baking pan, buttered; I used my jumbo muffin tins, lined with paper baking cups, and got 9 big muffins/small cakes.


Make the applesauce: I didn’t really measure this, just peeled, cored and chopped 4 apples and put them in a pan over low-medium heat with the cider to cook while I did everything else. When the apples were soft (10-15 minutes), I mashed them up with a fork, added the syrup, plus generous sprinklings or cinnamon and nutmeg. Leave to cool a bit until ready to add to the final assembly.


Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir vanilla into melted butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. 


Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly, then add melted butter, oil, vanilla, egg, and milk and stir again to fully combine. (I used my trusted dough whisk to make both the topping and the batter.)


Assemble the cakes: divide the batter among the lined baking cups. Repeat with scoops of applesauce, starting with 1 heaping Tbsp per cup and then sharing out the remainder. Sprinkle clumps of topping over each cake evenly.


Bake: bake trays in the middle of the oven until the cakes are set and the topping is just beginning to brown, 15-20 minutes. Rotate the pans and switch their positions at the 10-minute mark.


Cool on a rack. Share with a friend or a neighbor (or both!). Enjoy the taste of fall.

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