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Honey Berry Snack Cake

Another in my series of experiments with my “berry easy muffins” recipe

I used up all my sugar making plum jam, but I wanted to bake to take some hard-working choir members munchies to break up their long morning.  So I looked up how to substitute honey for sugar in a recipe: turns out up to a cup, you just substitute honey for sugar in a 1:1 ratio.  More than a cup and you start reducing the honey a little, because it’s actually sweeter than sugar.  You are also supposed to reduce the other liquid in the recipe by about 1/4 cup per cup of honey added.   You also add 1/2 tsp baking soda per cup of honey, to counteract the acidity; I didn’t bother with it in this instance.

So, this is how this recipe turned out:

Honey Cake with Berries

In a bowl, mix well:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs water or milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix in until just blended:

Mix in 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries. (I used mixed berries this time)

Pour into a 9×9 baking dish and bake at 400 degrees about 30 minutes; if berries are frozen, it will probably take up to 10 minutes longer.

VERDICT: The best version of this cake yet.  The honey is a really nice addition and adds great but subtle flavor.  I might try it sometime using black coffee in place of the milk; I think that’s common in honey cake for Rosh Hashana, and it’s just sort of a variation that might be fun…

One needs to be careful of the honey since it browns more quickly than regular sugar, and I was just a little on the safe side of the center not being quite done even though the top looked nice and brown. But it’s fine. (40 minutes, frozen fruit.)

Yummy cake.  My choir will be lucky if they get any.

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Blackberry tea cake

I found a bag of frozen blackberries in the freezer this evening.  They’d been there a while, and honestly they were a little freezer-burned.  But I figured what the hey, it was a chance to try a variation on my Berry Easy Muffins recipe.

Click on over there, if you’re interested at all–it’s a really easy recipe that uses baking mix (alias Bisquick or some other brand, or for really nice results, make your own!) (In fact, the heck with the pre-made processed lots-of-preservatives-for-endless-shelf-life ones, just make your own to begin with!), milk, egg, oil, and sugar, plus some fresh or frozen berries or cut up fruit.  Highly flexible, easy to vary.

Here’s what I did:

*****

Blackberry Tea Cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix:

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk or water (or maybe yogurt? I did milk)
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Add and mix just till blended:

  • 2 1/2 cups baking mix
  • 1/2 cup (or less, depending on sweetness of berries) sugar

Last thing, add 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries. (If frozen, do not thaw them first.) Mix just till berries are incorporated.

Put batter into greased 9×9 baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees about 30 minutes. (Maybe a few minutes less if using fresh berries.)

*****

This was delicious.  (Okay, I could taste the freezer burn a little, but not much!) The little bit of vanilla and lemon gave the cake part really nice flavor; almond might have been nice too.  Because I make my own baking mix, I could make it with a lot of whole wheat flour, which flies pretty well around here.  Definitely, give this a shot!

Pre-Easter Breakfast (baking mix taste-off)

Easter Saturday is one of my favorite mornings of the year…I’ve worked my tail off all week, everything’s done that’s going to get done, and I have no commitments except to family until this evening when I go to church for the big almost-three-hour Easter Vigil…today is mine.  Ours.

So this morning I made waffles.  As it turned out, it was the opportunity to do a real “baking mix taste-off,” because I still had about a cup of Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix from when my husband and kids made my birthday breakfast, and that’s not quite enough to feed a voracious family of four in the morning when at least the other three are at their hungriest all day.  So I made that batch, and then I mixed up a batch of my own homemade baking mix, which I’ve written about in the past.

Neither of these baking mixes is quite as effort-free as things like Bisquick or the Trader Joe equivalent–you need to add actual liquid oil (melted butter tastes best, of course, but regular vegetable oil like grapeseed works fine too) along with eggs and milk or water.  And it’s a good idea with waffles anyway to spray or oil your iron between waffles, or they eventually start to stick–unless you have a really fabulous non-stick waffle iron and you’re careful about not heating it to the point of dangerous fumes.  I’ve made my own little bottle of “cooking spray,” which is basically a mixture of about half and half grapeseed oil and half distilled water in a little spray bottle in the fridge–I shake it like crazy and just spray on between waffles.  I’d recommend not mixing up too much of this at a time, since oil and water together are prone to mold, but at least in this case the combination of the distilled water (really cheap at the neighborhood drugstore) and the refrigeration seems to be holding it off, and this little bottle has been keeping just fine for several months since I don’t use it much.

Verdict: The Bob’s Red Mill mix is very good.  It uses whole wheat pastry flour, buttermilk powder, wheat gluten, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt.  The whole wheat thing is a plus, of course–my own mix is only about half whole wheat and the other half regular unbleached.   I made a batch of these, and they did very well in my waffle iron (though they didn’t rise as much as I’d hoped they would–it’s very possible that it was just an older bag of mix and the baking powder had lost some of its oomph; it’s the inescapable hazard of buying pre-made anything off the shelf, no matter how good and reputable the brand), and were very tasty.

However, if I do say so–the very next batch, made out of my own just-mixed baking mix, was hands down the better mix.  Lighter, more flavorful, delicate crumb, less sticky-to-the-iron.  And I say this not as much to celebrate me or anything as just to point out that what you can make at home in less than the time it takes to cook one waffle can be pretty superior to what you can buy ready-made. (And as I say, Bob‘s is a very good company with high quality products–I buy their stuff all the time!)  And it’s way cheaper than any pre-made mix and made from ingredients that most of us keep kicking around anyway. (Except for the milk powder, I guess–though in the past couple of years I’ve found it incredibly useful for lots of things, so I’ve started making that a pantry staple–I get mine from Amazon by the case, since it keeps forever…) So I highly recommend trying this!

This afternoon we color eggs–this year, unfortunately, it’s still the commercial Paas stuff (my husband went shopping), but next year I really want to try the natural dyes

Happy Easter, everyone!

Breakfast for Dinner, and making my own pancake mix

One of the “convenience” foods I’ve depended on for years, sort of ridiculously, has been that boxed “baking mix”–Bisquick or whatever store-brand equivalent I happen to be using at the time–for making family pancakes and waffles.  At some point it occurred to me that this wasn’t really all that convenient, and that I had really no idea what “multigrain” meant in the mind of the manufacturer…

So I combed the internet (which was obliging as usual) for a recipe to make my own, and as usual came up with something that didn’t quite match what anyone else had but was fairly close to all of them.  This recipe was sort of the template, although this one looks possibly nicer, but either way I shifted things around a bit:

Homemade Baking Mix

Mix in a big bowl or ziploc bag:

  • 1/3 cup sugar (or less)
  • 5 cups flour (mixture of white and wheat; I did 2 cups whole wheat and 3 cups white flour. A mixture of white, wheat, and oat would probably be nice too.
  • 2 1/2 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tbs salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered milk  or buttermilk (this could probably be left out, but then you’d want to use milk instead of water in any recipe you make. Of course, you could do that anyway…)

(makes about 6 cups mix)

To make about a dozen pancakes, you blend 2 cups of the mix, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cups water or milk, and about 3 tbs melted butter (or other oil…the butter is just so yummy…) and off you go. I think this same blend would also work for waffles, but I haven’t tried it yet.

This made very nice pancakes–they weren’t as light and fluffy as they could have been, and I wonder if adding a little baking soda might help that–though honestly I didn’t miss it much.  They had just the right amount of sweetness even without syrup (which I don’t use), and the whole wheat flavor did not overpower the way it sometimes does in pancakes.

My son gave these a vote of “100% success.”  That’s rare in my house.

peace,

J