Tag Archive: cake

Apr 02 2014

Whole Grain Streusel Coffee Cake #client #samplewholegrains #giveaway

Disclosure: I was approached by Oldways to be a Whole Grain Sampling Day Ambassador for 2014. They sent me a box of samples for my participation. I received no compensation for this post. All opinions remain my own.

Sample Whole Grains

On the first Wednesday in April every year, the Whole Grains Council holds its annual Whole Grain Sampling Day, an opportunity to try whole grain foods and see just how fantastic they really are. Their theory is that you’re more likely to buy it if you try it, and I have to agree. There are many foods I’ve passed over in life because I never tried them before–and I usually discovered later that I was missing out!

Whole Grain Sampling Day gift box

Today you’ll find a multitude of options for sampling whole grain foods. From specials at Dunkin’ Donuts to Denny’s Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen to Roman Meal–the conversation will be taking place online through social media and there will be deals and opportunities to try whole grains in person, too. Whole Grains Council has a page on its website detailing some of these programs.

my daughter enjoying a graham cracker

When I was approached by Oldways to participate this year as a Whole Grain Sampling Day Ambassador, I was excited! My personal goal of integrating more whole foods–and, by extension, whole grains–into our diet while continuing to enjoy the sorts of foods we’ve always loved had finally coincided with a program to do just the same. It was meant to be! As an Ambassador, I would receive a box of samples of some great ways to incorporate whole grains into our diet AND be able to give away the same box to one of my readers! Yes, YOU will get a chance to win your own personal whole grain sampling day box and eat your way through it! Pretty cool, huh? (Enter at the end of this post in the Rafflecopter box for your chance to win!)

Whole Grain Sampling Day

The box arrived and I was elated. There were more products in it than I expected. And while I feared it might consist of the sort of twigs and flakes we tend to imagine whole grains to be–tasteless, bland, and boring fare saved only for 80s health food crazes–I was completely wrong. There were Mi-Del honey graham crackers and Roman Meal sandwich bread and Real McCoy’s rice puffs. My kids fought over the Skeeter nut-free cookies, quickly devouring them and begging for more. There was a cinnamon crunch Snackimals cereal from Barbara’s they couldn’t wait to dive into. The BelVita breakfast cookies soon became my quick snack before skiing, providing energy when I was on the go. And the Saigon Sunrise Vietnamese cinnamon kettle corn from Pops-a-Lot–WOW. I shared it with my co-workers and we couldn’t stop picking from it. I never would have imagined cinnamon + kettle corn, but it’s a winning combination. None of this was boring or bland. And I was thrilled!

Whole Grain Sampling Day

I also had the opportunity to order a 5-pound bag of All Natural Ultragrain Blend All Purpose Unbleached Flour, which I used in the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s a cup-for-cup replacement for all-purpose flour that gives you the nutrition of whole grain while combining the taste and convenience of white flour. As a baker, I was very intrigued about this product. Baking, in particular, is tricky if you’re trying to sub in whole grains. They change the texture, often making the finished product chewy or dry, with a graininess that can be undesirable. Their claim that I could use this flour blend in place of white flour and end up with a baked good that was just as appealing was one I had to test out. And I couldn’t think of a better way than with an indulgent coffee cake. Rhyme and reason, after all. I like to blend my extremes.

Ultragrain Blend All Purpose Flour

The Ultragrain flour seemed finer than white whole wheat flour I had used in the prior testing of this recipe. When the coffee cake emerged from the oven, it was fluffier than the last time I baked it–off to a great start. I was so impatient waiting for it to cool. I wanted to try it right away. The verdict? FANTASTIC! The crumb was light AND moist, which was not what I expected at all. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t be able to detect the whole grains hidden inside. Ultragrain lives up to its claim! I’ll definitely be looking for this at the store.

Whole Grain Streusel Coffee Cake

So get on out there today and add some whole grain to your day. It’s really a lot easier than you think–and tastier, too! If you need some ideas on other recipes to try, Oldways also has a fantastic whole grains Pinterest board. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Streusel Coffee Cake

4.5 from 2 reviews

Whole Grain Streusel Coffee Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch
Serves: 16
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut up into pieces
  • ¼ cup All Natural Ultragrain Blend All Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ cups All Natural Ultragrain Blend All Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large cage-free egg
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8″x8″ baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, rub the butter, flour, brown sugar, raw sugar, and cinnamon together with your hands for a couple minutes, working it over until you get crumbly clumps like wet sand. Set aside.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt and whole milk. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in the egg, mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Alternate adding the flour and yogurt mixtures, mixing until just incorporated.
  5. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  6. Bake for 24-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool completely before removing from pan and serving.

Whole Grain Sampling Day

Want to win your own Whole Grain Sampling Day box?

All you have to do is enter in the Rafflecopter box below. Contest open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 01 2014

#FirstOnTheFirst: Sticky Toffee Pudding

Getting Seasonal…

#FirstOnTheFirst Sticky Toffee Pudding

When we plan our challenges for First on the First, we try to take the time of year into consideration. Croquembouche, for example, was set for June because it is traditionally served at French weddings and June is often thought of as the height of the wedding season. When we get to projects we’ll be preparing around Christmas-time, treats like last month’s Homemade Candy Canes come to mind. It may not be a food we typically serve–I hadn’t eaten Sticky Toffee Pudding before this challenge, for example–but it shouldn’t seem completely out of place. I think we hit the mark quite well this time. Visions of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol filled my head as I got to work, transporting me to a Christmas past without the need of any spirits. Well, except for a little Cointreau.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The funny thing is that, at least, according to Sharrow Bay Hotel in the UK, Sticky Toffee Pudding has only been around since the early 1970s, when it was invented by Francis Coulson. In other words, my idea of a traditional Victorian Christmas could use a little revision. I’m off by 100 or so years. Oops. I really should find more time to read…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Regardless, you can’t get more Christmas-y than this sticky cake with its ginger undertones and deep, rich flavor. My husband surprised me by actually liking it (have I told you what a picky PITA he is?) and the kids couldn’t wait to have another serving. By baking in these mini Bundt-like pans, each was treated with his/her own cake to devour. The plates were all licked clean.

Getting Sappy…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

As we close out another year of First on the First, I want to thank Kate of Food Babbles for her unending patience! We’re pretty opposite in our planning strategies and she has been a saint in putting up with my last-minute nonsense! I want to thank all the participants for struggling along with us. Sometimes the challenges are–literally–a piece of cake. Other times, you wonder why you even bothered. But we’re in this together, and I appreciate you coming back, month after month, for more abuse. Last, I want to thank all of you for reading about our journeys! It’s not easy to share when something you’ve tried in the kitchen is a flop, especially for the whole world to witness. But you have made it easier to see the big picture and understand that, in the grand scheme, something good comes from each of these experiments. Your support and wonderful comments encourage us to keep on trying.

Getting Sticky…

Now…who wants some pudding? Grab a fork and dig in!

And for February…

We’ll be starting the year with Steamed Buns. Sounds like I need to pick up some new kitchen equipment first! If you’d like to join in, please click on the First on the First tab above for details. We’d love to see what you create!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup candied ginger, chopped
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large cage free eggs
Toffee Sauce
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • pinch flaky sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau, or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and dates and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda; it will foam up; then stir in the candied ginger. Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 10 mini Bundt pans (or 10 cavities in 2 pans of 6-cavities… I know, that sounds confusing). Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add 1 egg and beat until it’s fully incorporated.
  8. Add half the flour mixture and half the dates, mixing until incorporated.
  9. Beat in the other egg, then add the remaining flour and dates, mixing until incorporated.
  10. Fill prepared mini Bundts half-way.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then cover with a wire rack, invert, and release onto wire rack to cool.
Toffee Sauce
  1. Bring the sugar, syrup, cream, butter, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep from burning. Once it coats the back of a spoon, it’s done.
  3. Remove from heat, add the Cointreau and vanilla extract (it will bubble up a bit–be careful!), and stir.
  1. Place a mini Bundt in the center of a shallow bowl. Spoon warm toffee sauce over the top of it. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
If you can’t find Lyle’s Golden Syrup in the baker’s aisle of your local grocery store, you can substitute unsulphured molasses. You’ll get a deeper, richer flavor doing this.

You can make the cakes a day in advance and the toffee sauce as early as a few hours before serving. Just reheat the toffee sauce before spooning over the cakes.

Happy New Year!

May 2014 bring you good health, wealth, and happiness! I hope you’ll continue following our journey–and even consider participating!

Sep 25 2013

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread: Warm Spices of Fall

Have you heard? Starbucks launched their new pastries from La Boulange this week! I stopped by my local shop on Tuesday–conveniently across the street from where I work–and was greeted with pink banners and bows, a celebration for the occasion. Honestly, I knew it was coming and I was thrilled to find it happening so soon. I figured those of us on the East coast would have to wait longer. This is one time I’m happy I was wrong!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

What’s the big deal about La Boulange? It is an artisinal bakery in San Francisco with a reputation for quality going back to 1996. As much as I love my occasional stops at Starbucks–a treat I infrequently allow myself–the pastries were sometimes meh, especially the morning buns. They could have been great if they were fresher, but they often tasted like they’d been sitting around for a week.

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

On Tuesday I sampled the chocolate croissant–I have been waiting for this! Imagine my surprise when I wasn’t handed my highly anticipated delicacy immediately, but was instead informed that it would be warmed for me. In fact, all baked goods would now be heated before consumption, freshening them up a bit to better resemble hot-from-the-oven-goodness. The croissant? Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and the melty chocolate was amazing. So much better! Today, I opted for the Ham and Cheese Savory Square. It’s like an updated version of my ham and cheese croissant sandwiches that I make at home and heat up in the toaster oven. So far, so, so, so good!!! I look forward to eating my way through the case of La Boulange treats!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

What was missing? Chocolate Cinnamon Bread. It’s officially Fall now and the absence of this spicy, chocolatey cake was definitely felt, even with my complaint about stale baked goods. Lucky for us, Starbucks has shared the recipe for this treat on their website! I made some tweaks to better suit my needs–I didn’t want to bake 2 loaves at a time and the sugar was way too high, plus I used white whole wheat for a teeny bit of a nutritional boost–and now I can make this any time I miss it. It’s the best of both worlds!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Quick Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
Chocolate Batter
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1¼ cups organic sugar
  • 3 large cage free eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ Tablespoon (1½ teaspoons) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons organic sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash ground ginger
  • dash ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom only of a 9x5x3 loaf pan, line it with a parchment paper sling, and set aside.
  2. Measure out the buttermilk and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugar, beating until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until the first is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the sides as needed.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 additions, starting with the flour and ending with the buttermilk.
  7. Beat until just incorporated, then remove bowl, scrape the sides, and stir a couple times, just to be sure there are no dry spots.
  8. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared loaf pans.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together the topping ingredients.
  10. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top.
  11. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Cool on wire rack before removing from the pan carefully, so as not to dump off any excess topping.
The type of pan you use will change your results. I recommend stoneware, if you have it. If baking in a glass or dark metal pan, you should reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and watch the time at the end.

Which La Boulange treats are you looking forward to trying?

Disclosure: I was not compensated for, nor has Starbucks endorsed, this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

Sep 01 2013

#FirstOnTheFirst: Gâteau Basque

Gâteau Basque is a cross between a cake, a cookie, and a pie and supposedly originated in the Basque region of France. There are two versions, according to Joe Pastry: the Basque version with a cherry filling and the French version with pastry cream. While I adore pastry cream, since I already had an abundance of egg whites after #IceCreamWeek, I couldn’t bear the thought of accumulating more. Traditional filling it is!

Gâteau Basque

According to cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, if you travel the Basque region, there’s even a museum dedicated to this sweet. Or, at least a baking demo in a little cottage. There are some pretty strict rules involved–you should only ever use a cherry jam made in Itxassou for the filling, for example. But you know what? Some rules are made to be bent a little.

Gâteau Basque

Since I hadn’t made Gâteau Basque before, I picked a recipe that should be a winner–I selected one from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. It was easy to put together the dough (a lot like making cookies) and the hardest part was waiting at least 3 hours for the dough to chill. On my first attempt, it actually softened a little too much and my top piece broke. I just squished the pieces back together and carried on. It was fine. The resulting cake is a little dry, but it’s more because it’s like a giant filled cookie than the kinds of cakes we’re used to. The verdict? Magnifique! If I ever open a bake shop–and the idea has crossed my mind before–this will be on the menu!

Gâteau Basque

#FirstOnTheFirst: Gâteau Basque
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 1 large cage free egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup Bonne Maman cherry preserves
  • 1 large cage free egg + water for egg wash
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars, beating for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, scraping the sides as needed, for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Mix in the vanilla bean paste.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. With the mixer on medium low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 4 additions.
  6. Mix until just combined.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and put each in a gallon Zip-top bag.
  8. Pat out the dough into discs, then use a rolling pin to roll out each disc to about 9 inches.
  9. Place the bags of dough on a flat surface and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  10. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take out the dough discs and let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes (don’t let them get too warm, though!)
  11. Grease and flour a 9″-10″ springform pan (or use baking spray). Set aside.
  12. Transfer one of the dough discs to the bottom of the pan.
  13. Spread out the preserves to about 1″ from the sides of the dough.
  14. Place the second dough disc over the top and try to seal the sides (some of the preserves may squeeze out a bit).
  15. Beat the egg and some water with a fork for an egg wash. Brush over the top of the gateau.
  16. Traditionally, you can tell a jam gateau by the Basque cross on top, but I wasn’t talented enough to pull that off. Run a fork across the top of the dough, then do the same in the opposite direction, making a crosshatch (this design is actually for the French pastry cream version, but it’s all good).
  17. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  18. Remove to a wire rack and, after 5 minutes, remove from the springform pan to cool completely on the wire rack.

Gâteau Basque

Don’t forget to check out all the other #FirstOnTheFirst bakers’ Gâteaux Basque this month!

Please do join us next month! We’ll be making Penuche, perfect for the Fall fair season. For more details on how you can participate, please check out the First on the First tab above!

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