Sunday, April 18, 2004

When life gives you sour milk... make a coffee cake.

This morning's meal included a coffee cake. I was suprisingly pleased with how it turned out: moist and rich with a delicate crunchy topping that had a butterscotch flavor.

Two topping coffee cake
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. sour milk or butter milk
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Topping 1
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

Topping 2
1/2 c. bakers coconut
1 tbsp brown sugar

FIRST: Prepare topping 1 ahead of time...
Cut the butter into the flour, sugar and spices until you have a crumbly mixture.

SECOND: Work on the cake...
Preheat oven to 375F. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder in a large bowl. If you don't have any butter milk take 1/2 c. whole milk and add 1/2 tsp white vinegar. Set aside. Stir vanilla into the beaten egg and set this aside as well. Take the butter and shortening and cut them both into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two butter knives (see instructions below if you don't have a clue). When you've blended the butter and shortening into the dry mixture until it has become crumbly. Stir in the egg and combine until the the mixture is moistened. Add the milk and combine well until you have a thick sticky batter. Drop the batter by the spoonful onto a 9 inch square baking dish that has been buttered and floured. Sprinkle topping 1 onto the batter. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven. It will be done if you can insert a butter knife in the center and remove it cleanly.

THIRD: Prepare topping 2
Set oven to broil. Mix coconut and brown sugar. Cover the cake with this mixture and return to oven on broil for just a few minutes. Make sure to carefully monitor the cake otherwise the coconut will burn. Remove from oven and serve.

How to cut shortening/butter into pastry using two butter knives.
Maxe sure you used a pretty sturdy and chip-free bowl. With you dry mixture in the bowl. Add the butter or shortening. Hold a butter knife in each hand with the sharp edges facing down in the bowl (bear with me, I can't draw a picture right now). With a quick motion repeatedly pull the knives outward and cut the butter into the flour. You can actually take out a lot of aggression with this method, so naturally I prefer it over using the pastry blender. I also prefer to beat my egg whites by hand for a similar reasons. Though I do have a copper pot, and this makes beating egg whites much easier. In any case, cut the fat into the flour until you've got a crumbly mixture.

**A little information on sour milk
**About egg-whites (even though you won't need this knowledge for the above recipe)
**Wikipedia on egg whites, including how copper bowls make better beaten whites.


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