Monday, July 26, 2010

Foodie Fights Battle 12 - Beer and Apples - Apple Butter Beer Cake with Homemade Apple Butter

You would think that when the two ingredients you have to work with are apples and beer your imagination would run wild and you would come up with something stellar.  Yea, didn't happen.  I was stumped for days before I decided to just stick to what I know and see what I could do.  I love baking breads and cakes so this was pretty much my go to.  The flavor profiles in this cake are reminiscent of Autumn and Christmas time.  The smell of nutmeg and cloves smacks you in the face and it fills your house with pure awesomeness while it's baking.   The best part though?  There's a good bit of Newcastle in it.  Mmmmmm Newcastle. 

I originally wanted to do a honey glaze to do on top of this cake, but I thought what would really compliment it is apple butter.  Never had apple butter?  It's basically very thick apple sauce.  It's also very delicious and reminds me of home. I remember growing up eating apple butter and cottage cheese, and I still hit that when I go home.  Can't be Amish without your apple butter.  The Amish might say otherwise, but I say it's true damn it.  Good thing they don't use computers, they can't argue with me.

Here's how it's done.

This is not traditionally made apple butter.  I winged this using common sense and knowing what it should look like in the end.  I'd say I did just fine.

Core and slice up 6 Granny Smith apples.  Leave the skin on and throw the cores in the pot.  The skin and cores hold all the pectin and that is very important in achieving the consistency you're looking for.  You could use store bought pectin but honestly why bother.  Add to this a cup of water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer it for 25 minutes.  Remove the cores and then put the mixture, water included, into a blender.  It will look like this:

Yay applesauce!  Add in your sugars and spices at this point and it will look like this:

Mmm..not so pretty.  Don't knock it though, it can't help it.  At this point you want to bring this to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil it for two minutes.  It is very important that you don't stop stirring.  The sugars will caramelize and burn which is no bueno.  After two minutes take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.  Once it's cool stick it in the fridge and you're good to go.  Nice thick apple butter.

Cake!  I love cake.

Cream together your butter and sugar.  Add in two eggs, mixing after each one.  Add in your apple butter, orange juice, honey and grated apple and mix it good.  You'll have a nice caramel colored batter at this point.  Sift together all of your dry ingredients.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the beer. 

The beer!  Don't forget to drink the rest of the can while you're doing this.  It's a very important step not to be skipped.

  Butter and flour an 8x4 loaf pan and bake for one hour.

This cake bakes into a lovely dark color with a nice crunchy top.

It's super moist and airy, while at the same time being slightly dense.  It cuts very well.

Top it off with a nice slab of apple butter and you have yourself a good time.  Just don't be like me and eat so much that you sugar coma.

Apple Butter

6 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Combine apples, cores and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 25 minutes.
Remove cores, then blend apples and water until pureed. 
Put apple puree back in pot and add all sugars and spices. 
Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly, and boil while stirring for two minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.

Apple Butter Cake with Beer and Honey

1/4 Cup Butter, room temperature
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Apple Butter
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Cups Flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt (or use self rising)
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Clove
1 Cup Beer of choice 
1 Apple, peeled and grated

Preheat oven to 325F/165C
Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add apple butter, orange juice, honey and grated apple. Mix well
Sift together dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients, alternating evenly with the beer.

Grease and flour a 8x4 loaf pan and cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This masterpiece was born out of a combination of necessity and my intense craving for Nino's.

Stromboli, or pizza in general, is a great way to use up stuff that's hanging around in your fridge.  I had onions, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, raw and roasted red peppers and a jar of putanesca calling my name.  This beauty here is the result.

When making stromboli or calzones there are some basics you need to remember to get the finished product to come out the way it should.  First, the less sauce the better.  Everything steams while it bakes and creates it's own moisture so the more sauce you add the soggier the end result is going to be and that is just nasty.  Secondly, always keep away from the edges.  You want to put the filling just off center and then pull the dough over the filling and press the air out.  Seal the dough by pressing the top layer into the bottom layer, then crimp the longer ends over the part you just sealed.  Pretty, huh?  A few slits on top will prevent explosions which is good cause nobody likes those.

Make sure your oven is preheated to 500 degrees or as high as your oven will go.  If you are using a baking stone, preheat that for at least a half an hour.  If using a pan, set it in the oven when you turn it on and let it preheat as your oven does.  Then just remove the hot pan and slide your stromboli on to it with a sheet of parchment.  Easy as that.

Bake that shit! 15 minutes.

And there it is.

I should charge you for looking at this.

Because it's just that good.


Pizza Dough:
3 1/2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1 packet of Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Lukewarm Water

Mix all of these together and stir until it forms a shaggy dough.  Knead for ten minutes and rise in a warm place for one hour.  Punch down and let it rest until you're ready to use it.

1 1/2 Onion, sliced
6 Mushrooms, chopped
3 Cups of Spinach
1 Red Pepper, Sliced
3 Roasted Red Peppers, Diced
3 Garlic Cloves, diced
1 Tomato, diced
1 lb Hamburger
Putanesca Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Garlic Powder, Seasoned Salt, Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes

Caramelize the onions in a mixture of butter and oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar.  Add in the mushrooms and continue to caramelize.  Add in the raw and roasted peppers, cook.  Add garlic and tomato.  Add in fresh spinach and let it steam on top for about two minutes then stir together.  Put vegetables in a bowl and set aside.
Add some olive oil to the same pan and add in the hamburger.  Cook over high heat until its caramelized and the fat is cooked out.  Season with garlic powder, seasoned salt, black pepper and pepper flakes.  Set aside.

Put your dough on a piece of parchment and roll out into a rough rectangle about the same size as the parchment sheet.  Put a small amount of sauce just off center, then add the fillings as you would like.  Fold the empty side of the dough over the filling and press down to get any air out.  Seal the edges into the other side of the dough and then crimp the excess over that.  Put three small slits on top. Brush with olive oil.

Transfer the stromboli on the parchment onto the preheated pan.   Bake for 15 minutes or until evenly browned.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Buttered Rye with Sunflower and Flax Seeds

There isn't much out there that makes me happier than good food.  I've been known to stare at cakes like they were the crown jewels.  I've never had the pleasure of meeting someone who appreciates things the way I do, but hopefully one day I will meet someone who will go to a market and drool over things with me.  That would be awesome.

When I first pulled this bread out of the oven, my face looked something like this.

That is the face of pure unadulterated joy my friends. I feel you Flapjack.

This bread has a very nutty flavor as is expected with Rye, but the sunflower seeds kick it up a notch.  The crumb is soft but firm enough to hold up to the thinnest of slices.  It cuts like butter and does not fold under pressure.  The crust is buttery and has an excellent chew to it.

Pure awesome.

All in all this bread is a definite winner folks and it is super easy to make.  I make all of my breads by hand, but I am sure you could adapt this to a bread machine.  I personally have no idea how to use a bread machine, so I can't really tell you for sure.  Go make some bread, you can thank me later after you're done crying while you eat your sandwich.

Butter Rye Bread with Sunflower and Flax Seeds recipe adapted from Mad About Bread
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Rye Flour
2 teaspoons Salt
1 package Instant Dry Yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
25 g Butter, Melted (2 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
Room Temp Butter for brushing

Combine the flours, salt, sugar, yeast and seeds in a bowl.  Mix together well.  Add in water and melted butter, mix until a dough forms.  Knead the dough for about ten minutes.  You can use a small amount of flour if the dough is sticking in the beginning, but use as little as possible.  When the dough is ready it should be tacky but not sticky to the point that it sticks to your hands.  Form the dough into a tight ball and put it in an oiled bowl and rise in a warm spot or low heated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough is risen, punch the air out of it while still in the bowl.  Remove it from the bowl and form into a tight ball.  Let this rest for five to ten minutes.  Shape the dough into whatever form you would like, then cover and rise for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Brush the risen loaf with melted or room temperature butter.  I prefer room temperature as it is more controllable.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it.  Cool for at least one hour before slicing. 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Bellamy's Booger Smoothie


I asked her why she wanted to call it a booger smoothie, and she said 'Cause it looks like there are boogers floating in it'.  Alright then Boo, this is your show.

She chose kiwi, banana and nectarine to go in her milkshake today.  She cut them up all by herself.

Put everything in the blender with style.


In goes lots and lots of ice cream.


Waiting very patiently for it to blend.  'It looks like a tornado in there!' she says.

Very carefully pouring it into Dad's beer glasses...shhh.


What's the verdict?


'Wow Mom, this is actually pretty fantastic!'

Good job Boo :)

Bellamy's Booger Smoothie
2 Kiwis, chopped
1 Banana, chopped
1 Nectarine, chopped
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream
1/2 Cup Skim Milk

Throw it all in a blender and let it rip.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nectarine and Blueberry Tea Bread

I had a crate of nectarines that needed using and no idea what to do with them.  My first thought was making a freezer jam, but that doesn't really do it for me.  I wanted something I could eat and the sugar in that would kill me.  This was my next idea and I'm glad I had it.  This bread is incredibly yummy and kind of reminds me of Christmas which is always nice. 

The top is covered in cinnamon, sugar and almonds which get candied as it bakes.  It's awesome. You could do all sorts of things for the topping, I may use zest and sugar next.

The nectarines bake up sweet and the tartness of the blueberries accompanies them well.  You can't go wrong with this bread.  Experiment with different fruit combinations and see what you can do.  Just be sure to try this one first.

Nectarine and Blueberry Tea Bread recipe adapted from Lynne's Country Kitchen

1 1/2 Cups Flour, divided
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup (75 grams) Butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon Orange Zest (I used grapefruit)
1/4 Cup Orange Juice (I used grapefruit)
2 Eggs
2 Nectarines
1/2 Cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen

2/3 cup Almonds, chopped well and divided
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Combine 1/4 cup almonds, sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Combine 1 Cup of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice and salt in a bowl or stand mixer.   Add in butter, orange juice and orange zest.  Mix on low for about 30 seconds, then on high for 2 minutes.  Add in eggs and remaining 1/2 Cup of flour.  Mix to combine.   Fold in fruit and remaining almonds.

Pour batter into a loaf pan and add the topping.  Bake 50 - 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan for ten minutes then finish cooling on a rack.  Enjoy!
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