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December 26, 2010

Recipe for easy cinnamon-apple coffee cake with streusel topping

Cinnamon-apple coffee cake

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.

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September 30, 2010

Baking powder (Recipe: lemon tea cake)

Lemon cake

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.)

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August 3, 2010

Rolled oats (Recipe: nectarine and white peach crisp)

Nectarine and white peach crisp

What are rolled oats, anyway?

Why are they rolled?

What's the difference between rolled oats and oatmeal, and steel-cut oats?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And I wanted to know, too, before I added rolled oats to The Perfect Pantry a couple of years ago.

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July 1, 2010

Sea salt (Recipe: quick and easy Nutella® and fruit turnovers)

Quick and easy Nutella and fruit turnovers. 

If balsamic vinegar was the little black dress of the '90s, sea salt is the balsamic of the 00 decade.

It comes in fashionable basic black, or white, or grey.

Or pink, if that's your fashion statement.

It goes with, and on, everything, from cupcakes to crab cakes to coq au vin.

It's smooth yet crunchy, mild yet powerful. It's called a finishing salt, because it's usually added at the end of the cooking, but I think it's really because so many dishes are unfinished without it.

Like a clothes closet without a little black dress.

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April 13, 2010

Baking spray (Recipe: yogurt coffee cake with pecan filling)

Coffee cake

In the house where I grew up, baking just did not happen.

Nothing, never, no baking, period.

No one is to blame.

In the house where my mother grew up, baking did not happen, so she didn't know the basics, like how to butter and flour a cake pan, and she never taught me.

Hooray for baking spray, which "butters" and flours my cake pans -- and especially the crevices in Bundt pans -- and all I have to do is lift one finger to the nozzle of the can to make it happen.

No baking experience required.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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