Sour Cream Coffee Cake {ModBak}

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The fifth recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a delicious and simple sour cream coffee cake. What makes this cake unique is the addition of sour cream to what is essentially a pound cake batter. But what makes it amazing is the cinnamon-sugar-nut filling!

After mixing the batter, I spread half of it in a bundt pan.

I topped the batter with half of the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture.

Then I spread the rest of the batter on top.

Finally, I added the rest of the topping.

I baked the cake at 325°F for about an hour, until it was golden brown and baked through. I read and reread the instructions for removing the cake from the pan and kept thinking they had to be wrong. If I followed the instructions — which said to invert the pan on a rack, lift off the pan, then put a rack on top of the cake and invert it again — the cake would wind up upside down.

But when I turned the cake out of the pan, I realized that “upside down” was right side up for this cake, since the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture was on top of the cake in the pan.

You’d think I would know by now to trust Nick’s instructions.

This was a wonderful coffee cake. The cake itself wasn’t overly sweet. The sour cream added both richness and a bit of tang to the crumb. The nut mixture was, of course, quite sweet, but it was distributed throughout the cake in such a way that it blended perfectly with the cake.

This is definitely the recipe I will reach for the next time I want to make coffee cake. And it’s just another reason I’m glad to have my well-worn copy of The Modern Baker on my cookbook shelf.

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Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt {Recipe}

Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Like a simple, delicious strawberry frozen yogurt.

Or a simple post with a simple recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt.

This recipe was inspired by David Lebovitz and adapted by me.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 pint peak of the season strawberries, stems removed and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (whole fat, if you can find it; can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar and Kirsch. Stir to mix well, then set aside to macerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Put strawberries and their liquid, yogurt, sour cream, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture is smooth. Press mixture through fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, then process in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or freeze to desired consistency.

Makes about 1 quart.

My family loved this frozen yogurt. In fact, my wife pronounced it “too good”, meaning it won’t last long around here. It was sweet, slightly tart (my 8-year-old picked up on the lemon juice), and tasted like fresh strawberries.

Everyone was surprised when I told them it had sour cream in it. I added it because the only yogurt I had was low-fat, but I ended up liking the smoothness and tang it lent to the frozen yogurt. From now on, it will be a regular addition to my homemade frozen yogurt.

This post is part of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages and King Cakes. Check out my other posts to find out what else I did with fresh strawberries while they were in season this year.

Sour Cream Brownies & Caramel Crumb Bars {ModBak}

Today, we bring you a Modern Baker Challenge two-fer. One thing that I love about baking cookies, brownies, and bars is that it’s almost as easy to make two recipes as it is to just make one. In fact, growing up I don’t ever recall my Mom making just one type of cookie when she baked. And she still makes them in multiples to this day, as evidenced by the fact that she often shows up here with bags of Snickerdoodles, chocolate chips, and peanut butter cookies.

So it was not at all unusual for me to decide to bake Sour Cream Brownies and Caramel Crumb Bars from the Cookies, Bars & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker on the same day. In fact, I’ve baked a number of the cookie recipes in this section this way, even though I’ve blogged them separately. But there was just something about the way these two looked on a plate together that made me decide they wanted to be in the same post.

I started with the Sour Cream Brownies. Like the Cocoa Nib Brownies, these babies are loaded with bittersweet chocolate. Nick Malgieri says that the inclusion of the sour cream cuts back the sweetness just a bit and keeps the brownies moist, and I’d have to agree. These brownies are very rich, but not cloying; and they are moist and fudgy, even after a day or so in the fridge.

If you’ve ever struggled with melting chocolate over a pan of simmering water while holding a bowl and trying not burn your fingers, or attempted to melt it in the microwave without burning it, you’ll appreciate Nick’s technique for melting the chocolate in this recipe. I melted the 6 ounces of butter called for in the recipe in a saucepan and let it bubble for a few seconds. Then I removed the pan from the heat, dropped in the chocolate chunks, and shook the pan to submerge the chocolate in the hot butter. By the time I had mixed the brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, salt, and vanilla in the mixer, the chocolate was melted and ready to be whisked into the butter.

I stirred the chocolate mixture, and then the flour and walnuts, into the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula — another trick I learned from Nick. Overmixing the batter results in tough brownies and fallen cookies, so he recommends mixing in the last few ingredients, including the flour, by hand.

I spread the batter in the pan, smoothed the top, and sprinkled it with a few more walnuts.

I baked the brownies at 350°F for 30 minutes, and not a second more. They still looked very moist in the center, but that’s exactly how the recipe said they should look.

I set the brownies aside to cool. Cutting them would have to wait a day, as Nick also recommends refrigerating brownies overnight. This makes moist brownies like these easier to cut and intensifies the chocolate flavor.

While the brownies were baking, I mixed up the Caramel Crumb Bars. These bars are Nick’s favorite cookie, and I can see why. They consist of three layers — a buttery dough, caramel filling, and crumb topping. And yet they are surprisingly easy to make.

I began by mixing the dough in the mixer. It was made of butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and flour, all mixed together to a soft, silky texture reminiscent of Scottish shortbread dough. I pressed 3/4 of the dough into the pan for the bottom crust. I put the pan in the refrigerator to chill and added a bit more flour to the remaining dough to make the crumb topping.

The next step was to make the caramel. Despite my previous issues with making caramel for semolina cake and pineapple tatin, I have since had better success with caramel, so I felt pretty good about making the filling for these bars. Besides, this caramel started with sweetened, condensed milk and light corn syrup, so I was halfway home before I ever began.

I put the milk and corn syrup into a pan with butter and dark brown sugar. I brought it to a low boil, then let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the caramel was thick and had taken on just a little bit of color. I set the caramel aside to cool for a few minutes before assembling the bars.

I spread the caramel over the chilled dough, then sprinkled the crumbs on top.

By this time the brownies were finished baking, so I put the caramel bars into the oven, which was still set at 350°F. I baked the bars for 30 minutes, until the filling was a deep, caramel color and the topping had baked through.

I cooled the bars in the pan for about 20 minutes, then cut them. Because of the thick, gooey caramel, these bars are easier to cut when still slightly warm. And although the recipe says to cool them to room temperature before serving, I can attest that they are delicious when they are still a bit warm.

I can easily see why the caramel crumb bars are Nick’s favorites. The sweet, creamy caramel filling is out of this world, and it pairs nicely with the soft, buttery, slightly chewy crust. And of course, crumb topping goes well with almost any sweet. These are definitely on the repeat list. In fact, just writing this post has me thinking about making them to take to work tomorrow.

The brownies came out of the fridge moist and chewy. They were rich, dense, and oh-so-chocolatey. And of course, walnuts are a classic addition to brownies and gave these a nice crunch.

Having made a number of Nick’s brownie recipes, I am convinced that using real chocolate, rather than cocoa or chocolate chips, is the way to go for rich, moist brownies. The only thing I’m not sure of is whether I liked these brownies or the cocoa nibs ones better. I’ll probably have to make both of them together so I can do a side-by-side comparison. In the interest of baking science, of course.

Sour Cream Apple Pie {ModBak}

This recipe, the last of three apple pie recipes in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, is the only one that really seems like pie. The other two — Breton apple pie and Maida’s Big Apple Pie — are more of a cake and tart, respectively. Each one is delicious in its own right, but none, including this one, reminds me of a classic apple pie. When I think of apple pie, I picture a double-crusted pie (although I don’t have anything against crumb topping, either) with a filling made of apples, sugar, cinnamon, butter, maybe a splash of lemon juice, and not much else.

The twist in this recipe is the addition of sour cream, which makes a custard-style pie. To make the pie, I began by cooking down some apples in butter and sugar. While the apples were cooking, I whisked together flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Then I made the crumb topping, which consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and butter. Finally, I rolled out and panned a single crust sweet pie dough.

Once the apples had cooled, I combined them with the sour cream custard mixture.

As soon as I put the filling into the pie, I knew I had a bit too much. Fortunately, I had placed the pie pan on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan, so it caught the overflow.

After topping the pie with the crumbs, I baked it at 350°F for about 55 minutes, until the filling was set and the topping nicely browned.

I cooled the pie (more or less), then sliced and served it for a late-evening snack.

The recipe says that the pie needs no accompaniment, and it was certainly good on its own.

Don’t tell Nick, but it was also awesome with ice cream and whipped cream!

Cream Cheese Scones {Bake!}

This week’s Bake! selection is from our newest baker, Glennis, who chose these simple, delicious scones for her first pick. And a great pick it was.

The dough consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cream cheese, salt, butter, eggs, and milk, and came together very quickly in the food processor. After mixing the dough, I dumped it out on a floured board, kneaded it a few times, and divided it in two.

I shaped each piece of dough into a circle about six inches in diameter, then scored each one into six sections.

Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I topped each scone with sprinkling sugar. I baked the scones at 425°F for 20 minutes, let them cool a bit, then divided them.

I served the scones with red currant jelly. They were moist, not as crumbly as many scones, and really delicious.

This was such a simple and quick recipe. It took just over half-an-hour start to finish. Definitely one to make again and again.

Lemony Cheese Tart with Sour Cream Glaze {ModBak}

The next recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was one of Kayte’s picks for her official blog post. This was another simple and delicious tart, made with sweet tart dough and ingredients I already had in the kitchen — sour cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and cream cheese.

After making the crust and preheating the oven, I mixed up the filling. I beat the cream cheese and sugar, then added the other ingredients one at a time, beating the mixture smooth after each addition. I scraped the mixture into the shell and smoothed the top.

I baked the tart at 325°F for 30 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling set. While the tart was baking I mixed the topping, which consisted of sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. I took the tart out of the oven, spread it with the sour cream glaze, and returned it to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the glaze was set.

When the tart had cooled and it was time to serve it, I recalled something I learned from Nick Malgieri in a cooking class. This was a huge tart, 11-inches, and I knew the slices would be long and thin if I cut them from edge to middle. Nick was slicing a large tart, and he began by cutting a circle in the center of the tart. One of the class participants asked him why he did this, and he explained that it makes the slices come out nicer looking, not overly long and thin.

This was the first time I had tried Nick’s method, and I have to say the slices came out looking really nice.

This tart was a big hit around here. It reminded everyone of cheesecake, and the sour cream gave it a distinctive flavor. Based on the reviews of some of the other Modern Bakers, I upped the lemon a bit by adding extra zest and the juice of the two lemons I zested. It had a great lemon flavor. Not as strong as lemon icebox pie, although that’s what it reminded me of.

This is definitely a recipe that will be making repeated appearances on my table.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes {MSC}

This is my first month baking with the Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes Club, and I was excited to start with this recipe for Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes chosen by Nina. I bought Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes a few months ago with a 50% off coupon at JoAnn’s, but until now I hadn’t baked anything from it. Suffice it to say, I’ll be baking more from this book, and not just once a month with the Club.

My daughter actually saw this recipe before she knew I had joined the Cupcakes Club and asked me if we could make them. Oreos and cheesecake baked in a cupcake, who could resist?

We cut the recipe in half, in part because I don’t have 30 muffin cups, but mostly so we wouldn’t eat that many cupcakes between the four of us.

This was a very easy recipe to make. In the time it took my daughter to line the muffin pans and put an Oreo in each cup, I had mixed the batter, which consisted of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, sour cream, salt, and crushed Oreos. I was afraid the cheesecakes would be too rich and sweet, but there wasn’t much sugar in the recipe, and the sour cream cut the richness. All in all, I would call this a perfectly balanced recipe.

After we baked them, I put them on a cooling rack on the table to cool. The recipe said to cool them in the pans, then put the pans in the refrigerator for at least four hours before eating. I wasn’t sure I could wait that long. As it turns out, neither could Bailey, our three-year-old beagle. I heard something in the dining room, and went to check only to find him standing on the table, enjoying his third cheesecake, paper and all. This wasn’t his first foray into the culinary arts. I only wished I had thought to take a picture of him before I shooed him off the table.

I decided the cheesecakes were cool enough, so I put one pan in the refrigerator and the other, smaller pan in the freezer. After about 45 minutes, we sampled the ones from the freezer. They were delicious. Sweet and crunchy, with a nice tang from the cream cheese and sour cream.

We will definitely make these again. And I’m sticking with the Club, my waistline be damned.