Most food writers learn how to cook, and then they learn how to write. Not me: I began interviewing people who cook, and I learned how to make their food by watching and cooking with them. For one of my first newspaper articles, I met Gloria Belknap, a French-trained chef who ran a bed-and-breakfast inn in Boston's South End. Her lucky guests enjoyed posh accommodations and an even more spectacular breakfast, including a version of this clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-TEE). It's just as popular for dessert as it is for breakfast or brunch, and you can use any seasonal fruit or a combination of whatever you find at the market or farmstand. Like a souffle, clafoutis puffs up when it bakes, and collapses in the center as it cools. I always serve it right from the pan, with a bit of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Any leftovers can go into the refrigerator, available for easy nibbling or afternoon snacks.
Continue reading "Recipe for mixed berry clafoutis" »
One of my favorite places to shop for discounted (and sometimes slightly hurt) kitchenware, the local TJ Maxx received a shipment of Bundt pans a few months back, and though I'm not much of a baker, I couldn't resist buying one of every shape in the store. Bundts are perfect for making coffee cake, which gets its name from the way it's often served (with coffee or tea), not because it's made of coffee, but this cake actually has a bit of espresso in the filling. Every ingredient comes straight from the pantry, and the batter comes together in minutes. All you need is a stash of Bundt pans, and now you know where to find them.
Continue reading "Recipe for coffee cake with espresso-cocoa swirl" »
Are your guests still sleeping? Do you have friends coming for brunch today? Is your menu all set for New Year's morning? In the time it takes to pull ingredients off the pantry shelf, and peel and chop one single apple (or pear, if that's what you have on hand), you can make this quick and easy coffee cake. All it takes is a bowl or two, a whisk, a few things from the pantry, one piece of fruit, and less than ten minutes of work. Plan-ahead types can bake ahead and freeze this cake, right in its pan.
Continue reading "Recipe for easy cinnamon-apple coffee cake with streusel topping" »
One scientific thing to know about baking powder:
It's a mix of chemicals, usually cream of tartar and either sodium aluminum sulfate or anhydrous monocalcium phosphate, that produces a controlled reaction when combined with liquids and heat. Nearly all baking powder sold today is "double acting," which means that it contains two acids that react at two different times; the quick-acting acid dissolves first, when mixed with liquid, and the slower-acting acid reacts when activated by heat. These reactions release carbon dioxide gas, which causes the batter that's carrying the baking powder to rise. If you start to make a recipe and find that all you have in the pantry is baking soda instead of baking powder, you can make a baking powder substitute by combining one part baking soda to two parts cream of tartar. (In a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of baking powder, use two teaspoons of cream of tartar and one teaspoon of baking soda.)
Continue reading "Baking powder (Recipe: lemon tea cake)" »