Arsip Tag: swirl
When I first saw this recipe on the homepage of marthastewart.com last month, my first thought was “ooh, how perfectly fall!” but then a second later, “wait, this can’t be right.” I mean, chocolate and pumpkin together? I have to admit, it sounds off to me.
In my overly-analytical head, pumpkin goes with nutmeg and cinnamon and ground ginger and pecans and bourbon and cream cheese and gingersnaps; chocolate, however, goes with a whole different slew of things, like scraped vanilla beans and walnuts or mint or peanut butter or cream cheese and maybe occasionally some chipotle powder. They’re different, you see, different, different, different.
And then? Then I said “my god, Deb, you’re such a square!” and I made them anyway. Because seriously, can one possibly have too many recipes for brownies? There’s no way. I worry too much about these things. Every single person who tried them, loved them and in a way, they’re the quintessential fall indulgence.
Well, everyone but me. Oh, I like them. I think they’re incredibly tasty. It’s just that every time I try a bite of one, I find myself wishing they were either all pumpkin bars or all brownie bars. Oh, and I’d like either version to have a cream cheese swirl. So, in the end I would say that if this combination sounds good to you, it will taste good to you. And me, I’ll get working on that pumpkin bar… as soon as I get back.
One year ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Deb and Alex went to Paris and all I got were these lousy brownies! Yes, it’s true. Alex and I have flown the coop this week and are (hopefully) wandering around ancient cobblestone streets in a wine and butter-induced haze. Comment responses will be slow–if at all–this week, but I have fortunately been cooking up enough of a storm that you should never be left without your smitten kitchen fix! We’ll be back before you know it.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well. (Deb note: I used an 8-inch square, because it was what I had. It works, too, but the brownies are crazy thick and take much longer to bake, just to give you a heads-up.)
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.
5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.
Friends, we have so much catching up to do. I promised before I went to the Bahamas that when I got back, I’d have some cool stuff to share, but somehow it is over four weeks later and we are really overdue for a chat. Plus, it’s Tax Day and I’ve been moping around all week with my pockets inside out since I was presented with a bill with an impossible number of zeros after it, and hey, wouldn’t we all rather focus on the cheerful stuff? Of course. So without further ado:
The Smitten Kitchen is moving: Well, not urls, thank god (though in a fit of obsessiveness last week, I decided at once to go on a domain shopping spree and you can now get here via smittenkitchen.org, smittenkitchen.info or smittenkitchen.net. Wish I could go on normal people shopping sprees, like for shoes.). But as I have alluded to — namely through griping about the packing and the sorting and the boxes, and lord, the boxes — we’ve found a new apartment and we’re moving this weekend. And we can’t wait. I lived in the East Village when I first moved to NYC in 2000, and am thrilled to have found an excuse to move back. Perhaps I’ll even check out this “Trader Joes” you kids are always going on about!
But who cares about the neighborhood? Let’s get down to the brass tacks. That sound you hear? It’s the sky opening up and the angels singing in the new smitten kitchen, as there is a large white machine whose sole purpose is to wash dishes for us. I can barely handle all of this excitement at once. Alex, who we all know deals with the brunt of the dishes here, is already wondering whether we can just pack up this week’s dirty dishes and just wash ’em when we arrive this weekend. The jury is still out on that one.
So that’s the good news. The bad news? The kitchen is smaller. Oh, I know those of you with your expansive kitchens with yards of counter space and cabinets aplenty think that our current kitchen was pitifully small, but I’m telling you, for New York City, it was nothing to complain about. It was downright dreamy and I told it so all of the time. The new kitchen is a lot more of what you’d expect on this island, and I’m not going to lie: I’m terrified. Does this mean no more wedding cakes? What about truffle dredging stations? But I know I’ll eventually adapt; it is my way. Besides, the floor is adorably checkered and there’s a nice little window — I’m warming to it already.
The Smitten Kitchen is going to cow country. People, it has killed me to keep this from you all of these months because I could not be more excited if … I just couldn’t be more excited. A few days after this weekend’s move, Alex and I are packing our blue jeans and our kicks (Note to self: Buy “kicks”!) into suitcases and heading out to visit The Pioneer Woman on her ranch, and stay in her Lodge. Yes, that ranch. Yes, in that Lodge. Ree and I hope to spend the weekend cooking up a storm, city versus country style while Alex is out in the field, no doubt getting hazed by her two boys for his City Slicker ways. There will be pictures. There butter by the pound. And considering that the closest I’ve been to cows, perhaps ever, is that blurry picture you see above from upstate New York — blurry because I was skittering away because, wow, cows are tall and kinda scary up close — this trip should be a source of endless amusement for my friends and family, and hopefully you as well. We cannot wait.
There are buns in ovens. It’s true! After pining over Molly Wizenberg’s Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze for more than a year now, I couldn’t take it anymore and baked them up this weekend (when I was supposed to be cleaning out my closet). Hot damn, people. Do not wait as long as I did, you’ll be filled with regret and …
Yes, I am dodging the subject again; burying the lede, if you will. There is, you see, an actual bun in the Smitten Kitchen oven. As much as I have tried to deny it and as much as it has even now really not sunk in yet, evidence has mounted since the beginning of this year — in the form of incomparable adorableness on ultrasound screens, the sudden appeal of stretchy-waist jeans and an incessant need to nap the days away — that we’ve got a wee little person on the way. I’m due in September, and we’re pretty stoked.
[P.S. You still get cinnamon buns, I mean, when you make your own. We didn’t save you any.]
One year ago: Caramelized Shallots (Do yourself a favor and make these today. They are that good.)
Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008
Makes 18 buns. Note I did not say “servings”. That’s between you and your buns.
Psst, update 11/15/13: These days, my favorite bun dough is this newer one. It yields 12 taller, more tender and rich buns. Notes are included at the bottom about how to use it for classic cinnamon buns, or apple-cinnamon buns.
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (You may also use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process.) Form into ball.
Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.
Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven (we baked them in a ramekin, incapable of discarding such deliciousness) cut remaining dough crosswise with thin sharp knife (a good serrated worked well here) into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes (an 8-inch square metal pan worked just fine, too) with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes, though yours, like mine, may take longer. Don’t skimp on the double-rising time.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
For glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: These buns were best the day they were baked. The second day, they were on the tough side. If you anticipate wanting them over a few days, glaze them to order, heating the buns beforehand to soften them up.
A few years ago, I conquered one of what has to be one of the seven wonders of my culinary world, chocolate babka. Babka, if you’re new to it, poor you, is a brioche-like sweet yeast cake, usually rolled thin and spiraled around a filling of chocolate, cinnamon, sweet cheese or fruit, and is often studded with streusel. And I know that most people save their gushing prose for lemon meringue pie, 8 inches high, or brownies with swirls of peanut butter, candied bacon and candy bars inside, I know that most people hadn’t heard of babka before it became a punch line, but Alex and I fondly remembering the grocery store chocolate babkas — with endless spirals slicked with bittersweet chocolate — of our childhood and I couldn’t rest until I cracked the code at home.
Martha Stewart made it easy, as her late mother’s chocolate babka is the finest out there, and not just because it contains the complicated twist patterns, pebbles of streusel and touch of cinnamon that it’s just not right without. Nope, her version won all prizes because it was completely and totally, borderline indecently, overcrowded with chocolate. The chocolate-to-dough ratio is staggering. It’s… unseemly. It’s… some kind of wonderful.
But it still has its limitations. We might submerge 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate, 1 1/4 pounds of butter, more than one pound of sugar and two pounds of flour into three buttered loaf pans a couple times in a lifetime in the name of nostalgia and a really decadent good time, but we certainly don’t do it often lest we have to be removed from our homes with cranes. To wit, I haven’t made it once since then, and this makes us sad.
I found the solution to this crisis — are you allowed to call the irregular appearance of homemade chocolate babka in your life a crisis? Probably not. People might snerk about your First World Problems and not take you very seriously. Which is fine, but then they don’t get any of your babka — on the way back from the playground one day, when Jacob and I discovered a shoebox of an adorable new bakery that looks like a grandmother’s living room and doesn’t. sell. a. single. cupcake. Instead, it focuses on Israeli, European and Moroccan pastries. Within, they sell something fantastic called chocolate “roses,” which are precisely like chocolate babkas, baked individually in muffin tins. With some encouragement from a recent coffee date, I knew exactly what needed to be done: math. And a little retesting.
Here, the epic chocolate babkas of 2007 are scaled down to handheld proportions. They’re still decadent, they’re still a little over-the-top for a Sunday morning, as they should be for dad or anyone else you want to smother with joy, but they’re streamlined, simplified, sped up and can even be taken to-go. There are sprinklers and jungle gyms and bubbles to attend to, after all.
One year ago: Rich Homemade Ricotta
Two years ago: Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing and Chocolate Doughnut Holes
Three years ago: Neapolitan Cake and Cheese Straws
Four years ago: 10 Paths To Painless Pizza-Making and Pistachio Petit-Four Cake
Five years ago: Fideos with Favas and Red Peppers
Chocolate Swirl Buns
Heavily downsized and streamlined from Martha Stewart’s fantastic chocolate babka
Updated Note 8/1/12: Sometimes I will reread all 300+ comments weeks later and find a theme I’d missed when I only read them as they came in. In this case, I’ve noticed that a handful of people were finding that their buns were not puffy enough. I haven’t been able to retest these yet, but in the meanwhile, if you’re nervous or impatient, I believe little harm would come from bumping the yeast level up to 2 teaspoons or even 2 1/4 teaspoons, which would be a full standard envelope (1/4 ounce). You should then check your buns sooner; they might double the first time in 45 minutes instead of 1 hour. They might be puffy enough to bake at 25 minutes instead of 30 on the second rise (filled and in the pan). I doubt anyone will complain if their decadent, gooey breakfast buns are done sooner, right?
Yield: 12 muffin-sized buns
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, preferably whole
1/4 cup (50 grams) plus a pinch of granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast
1 large egg, brought to room temperature
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for bowl and muffin tins
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 pound (225 grams) semisweet chocolate
Pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Egg wash (optional)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) heavy cream or milk
Prepare dough: Warm milk and a pinch of sugar to between 110 to 116°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re looking for it to be warm but not hot to the touch; best to err on the cool side. Sprinkle yeast over milk and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then slowly whisk in yeast mixture.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Run mixer on low and add egg mixture, mixing until combined. Add butter and mix until incorporated. Switch mixer to dough hook and let it knead the dough for 10 minutes on low speed. At 10 minutes, it should be sticky and stringy and probably worrisome, but will firm up a bit after it rises. Butter a large bowl and place dough in it. Cover loosely with a lint-free towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Meanwhile, prepare filling: If your chocolate is in large bars, roughly chop it. Then, you can let a food processor do the rest of the work, pulsing the chopped chocolate with the salt, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) until the chocolate is very finely chopped with some parts almost powdery. Add butter and pulse machine until it’s distributed throughout the chocolate. (If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the chocolate until it’s very finely chopped, then stir in the sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until it makes a pasty/chunky/delicious mess.) Set mixture aside.
Generously butter a standard 12-muffin tin; set aside.
Form buns: Once dough is doubled, turn it out onto a well-floured surface and gently deflate it with floured hands. Let it rest for another 5 minutes. Once rested, roll dough into a large, large rectangle. The short sides should be a scant 11 to 12 inches. The other side can be as loooong as you can roll it. The longer you can make it — I got mine to 20 inches before I ran out of counter space — the more dramatic and swirled your buns will be.
Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough’s surface. It’ll be clumpy and uneven and probably look like there’s too much chocolate for the volume of dough; just do your best. Tightly roll the dough back over the filling from one short end to the other, forming a 12 to 13-inch log. (Yes, it always magically grows because the dough is soft.) With a sharp serrated knife, gently saw 1-inch segments off the log and place each in a prepared muffin cup. Loosely cover buns with plastic wrap or a lint-free towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Bake: If you’d like, you can egg wash your buns before baking them (whisking together an egg and the cream until smooth, brush over each bun top). I found the buns I brushed with the wash shinier but otherwise virtually indistinguishable from the un-brushed buns in color. Bake buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and brown. If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take the buns out when it reads 185 to 190 degrees in the middle of each bun.
Set buns on cooling rack. Theoretically, you should cool them completely before unmolding them (with the aid of a knife or thin spatula to make sure nothing has stuck). This, of course, won’t happen, so have at them; just don’t burn your tongue. Serve with iced coffee and a bowl of berries. For nutritional balance.
Do ahead: These buns can be formed, placed in the muffin cups and refrigerated (loosely covered with plastic, which you might want to oil to keep it from sticking) the night before, to bake in the morning. You can bake them directly from the fridge. They can be baked and frozen until needed, up to 1 month.
A couple weeks ago, when we lamented the fact that the people who raised us and claimed to love us still didn’t find it in their hearts to provide us with the specific food products we yearned for (basically, we are all the Honest Toddler on the inside), I remembered yet another item on the denied list which was quickly added to my Writ of Grievances with my progenitors that I will carry with me to the grave and blame for all of my misfortunes, like that Amazon reviewer who said my cookbook was “tantamount to culinary fanfic.” Just kidding, I just took too many melodrama pills this morning.
But I do clearly remember a friend’s dad making us the most glorious thing for breakfast after a sleepover: cinnamon swirl toast with salted butter. The slices came from a package of bread with a brand name on it that we had in our own home, but only the whole-wheat kind, and as the full extent of the betrayal crystallized in my mind, I realized that this meant that my mother would go to the store, see the cinnamon swirl varietal on the shelf and reach past it for the one that tasted like sad. I
expressed my disappointment made my case to my mother when I got home but I was ineffective in convincing her that sugary cinnamon raisin swirl bread was an essential part of my daily nutrient intake.
Almost 30 years later, I’m mostly over it, really. Okay, I’m not. I mean, what if it had been made with 100 percent whole grain sandwich bread? Who could argue with the virtues of homemade bread with everything from whole wheat to rye, barley, oats and brown rice flour in it? And surely, something so unquestionably earnest deserves an inner spiral of indulgence, just one tiny little ribbon of joy. Surely, a slice of such a glorious thing popping out of the toaster tomorrow morning could make up for all sorts of hardships, like the fact that it’s still not spring outside, or why is someone climbing on my head before the sun is up? Surely, you’re not going to deny your inner or outer child this, not because they might whine about it on the internet in a few decades (cough) but because it’s spectacularly good — all the aroma of cinnamon buns baking, none of the nutritional void.
One year ago: Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Two years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche
Three years ago: Spaetzle
Four years ago: Breakfast Pizza, Irish Soda Bread Scones, Spinach and Chickpeas and Bakewell Tart
Five years ago: Migas with Tomato-Chipotle Coulis, Layer Cake Tips + The Biggest Birthday Cake, Yet and Penne and Potatoes with Rocket
Six years ago: Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake, White Bean Stew and Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Feta
Seven years ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread, Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Cake and Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and Roasted Red Peppers
Whole-Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Bread dough adapted from Peter Reinhart; filling adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 2 2-pound sandwich bread loaves (in 8.5×4.5-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pans)
Note: From the comments over the years, I’ve heard that man people prefer this with 2x the cinnamon-sugar filling for a more classic, luxurious flavor. No need to double the egg, however.
5 cups (635 grams) white whole-wheat or regular whole-wheat flour
Approximately 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) mixed whole grains (see suggestions at end)
2 teaspoons (14 grams) table salt or 1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (about 50 grams) granulated or brown sugar, or 2 1/2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 large egg
1/4 cup (55 grams) vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled to lukewarm
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (about 95 degrees; err on cool side if you don’t have a thermometer)
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 13 grams) instant yeast
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (85 grams) raisins or currants
2 teaspoons (5 grams) all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Make bread dough: In the bottom of large mixing bowl, combine water, milk and sugar or honey, then whisk in yeast until dissolved. Add egg and oil and whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, grains and salt, then add this to the yeast-egg mixture. If mixing with a machine, combine with paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and coarse; do not fret. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix the dough on medium-low for 2 more minutes. By hand, do the same with your spoon. The dough will seem firm and more smooth, ideally supple and sticky, but if it’s still very wet, add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it seems excessively stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix with dough hook or by hand for 4 minutes.
Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter. Knead a few times, then form the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered by the empty bowl upended over it, for 10 minutes. Repeat this process — kneading a few times, then resting for 10 minutes — two more times.
Proof dough: Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl with room for dough to at least double. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 60 to 70 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Dough can also be fermented overnight or up to 4 days in the fridge. If proofing in the fridge, remove the dough before the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake it.
Prepare filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins or currants, and flour in a food processor or blender, processing until the fruit is chopped.
Fill bread and form loaves: Turn out onto a floured counter and divide it into two equal pieces. Roll each into a long, thin rectangle, about 16-x-8 inches. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and water mixture. Sprinkle half the filling evenly over the egg. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Gently press the side seam and ends closed, and place the log in a lightly greased loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Proof bread again: Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, or until it has crowned about about 1-inch over the rim of the pan, about 45 to 60 minutes. About halfway through, heat oven to 350°F.
Bake bread: For about 40 minutes, rotating the loaf once for even color. When done, it will sound a bit hollow when tapped and the internal temperature will read 190°F.
- About this bread: I’m long overdue to share a 100% whole wheat sandwich bread with you and this is a great one. [I shared a Light Wheat Bread with a mix of whole wheat and white flour nearly five years ago and promised to come back with a full-grain one but then I went and had a kid and then a cookbook and my brain hasn’t really worked right since.] You could entirely forgo the cinnamon swirl and make a lovely loaf, perfect for sandwiches. But why would you do a thing like that?
- About the cinnamon swirl: From King Arthur’s baking blog, I learned a great trick — brushing egg, instead of melted butter, over the rolled-out dough to adhere the cinnamon filling. While butter causes separations in the spiral, egg helps it stay together once sliced. They found that grinding the filling a bit helped it adhere, as well.
- Whole wheat versus white whole wheat flour: Either can be used here. I opted for the regular, darker stuff, but if you’re new to whole wheat baking, white whole wheat which is from a paler, more delicate variety of wheat, leading to less gritty, more delicate baked goods. I usually use King Arthur Flour’s version.
- Which whole grains to use: Peter Reinhart suggests any of the following for the 160 gram (he recommends measuring grains by weight) portion: rye flour, rye meal, rye flakes, cornmeal, cooked grits or polenta, rolled oats or oat flour, amaranth, uncooked ground quinoa, cooked whole quinoa, quinoa flakes, whole or ground flaxseeds (he recommends limiting this to under 30 grams of the mixed), or cooked brown rice, bulgur or barley.
- My whole-grain mix: For the whole-grain portion of the recipe, I used about 2/3 of the weight (100 grams) in 7-grain cereal mix and 1/3 the weight (60 grams) in dark rye flour. Standing in the grocery aisle, I’d been plagued by indecision about which new grains to buy, not wanting to further stuff the cabinet with ingredients I may not use up quickly, when I spotted the 7-Grain Hot Cereal from Bob’s Red Mill and had a “a-ha!” moment. Containing whole grain wheat, ryes, oats, barley, brown rice and oat bran finely enough ground that it could be added to a dough without precooking (it requires all of 10 minutes on the stovetop, cooked as cereal), this will be my new way of bulking up bread with whole grains without having to actually invest in 8 additional canisters, and it tastes great here.
- Recipe weights: Peter Reinhart uses slightly different weights for his ingredients than I do and I default to his here, in case you were the type of person to notice these tiny discrepancies. I tested the recipe with his; they work as perfectly as you’d expect.
- To halve this and make one loaf: Halve each ingredient. The only part that will be a headache is the egg. Beat it until loose and fluffy and carefully pour the first half into the bread dough. You can use the second half to for the filling portion.
- To make this without milk: Just use water in its place, or soy or rice milk. However, the milk makes the bread more tender and golden, so only skip it if you must.
It’s been a little quiet around here this week and I bet you already know why: moving out is the easy part! Moving in, hoo boy. You walk into an empty new home with freshly painted walls and there’s nothing but possibility. You run from room to room, whee! Then your stuff arrives and the pristine landscape is forever compromised. The first boxes aren’t so bad: you prioritize bedding, toilet paper, toothbrushes and whiskey (um, just play along here.) The next few boxes are pretty doable too: glasses go where they always have, books go in bookcases and lamps go on tables. But then, eventually, you get down to the last six boxes and you look around and you realize that the closets, cabinets, dressers and shelves are all full so where does this go? Then, if you’re us, the great unraveling begins: how did we get to a place where we had so much stuff? I thought we were going to resist the siren call of consumption (says she who just purchased what can only be considered a luxury ice cube tray). How did I get to a place in my life where I had 125 cookie cutters, 9 shades of sanding sugar and cupcake wrappers in at least 7 patterns that I can neither bring myself to throw away or justify the space they will take up? The last 6 boxes take forever to unpack; you’ll be glad you prioritized the whiskey.
So, right on top of all of this, something else happened: my husband — who has the audacity to look younger and more handsome every year — turned 40. If you heard me freaking out (just a little) over our move being delayed a week, it was because the one thing we were trying to avoid was having people over for drinks and then going out to engage in vodka encased in ice blocks and tableside-prepped chopped liver but 24 hours after moving, which is exactly what happened, and of course, it was no big deal and, if anything, forced us to make quick work of the first half of the boxes. Happy birthday, baby: don’t you feel young after a few days of moving furniture around and schlepping boxes?
My mother came over on Thursday ostensibly to help pack but really we made Alex a birthday cake. The general rule for Alex’s birthday cakes “chocolate and…” It can be ice cream or layer cake; it can be peanut butter, coffee or caramel or hazelnuts; it just has to begin and end with chocolate. And so we decided to make Martha Stewart’s raspberry swirl cheesecake, but with a chocolate crust and puddle of ganache over the top, but it turned out to be so visually stunning (oh, and fun too) that we couldn’t bring ourselves to cover it. The trick, and maybe all you food styling types knew this already but it basically blew our minds, is something I found on an old Martha video, is to make individual droplets of the raspberry sauce all over the top and then use a toothpick or skewer to swirl them. With this method, it is literally impossible not to make a beautiful cake, and my mom and I were, well, perhaps abnormally for other people but pretty squarely in what you should expect from us, excited about this.
What happened next I am less proud of: we all but forgot about the cake. What? It’s been a busy week! I understand that this is like a breach of cheesecake contract, that we probably don’t even deserve to eat cheesecake now after showing it so little respect, but so it happened, nonetheless, that on Wednesday evening, four full days into my husband’s 40th year, we sat outside (the only place we can avoid the view of unpacked chaos) with friends with wedges of cheesecake on our laps and it was perfect. Our neighbors were out on the next deck so we brought them some too. I’m starting to think we’re going to like it here.
Instagram: Just to make things complicated, I have two Instagram accounts, the first @smittenkitchen is the official one, you can use it to find out when there’s a new post up here. @debperelman is my personal one; I use it to document almost everything but food (though sometimes food too, of course). And, in the last week, I’ve been sharing glimpses of the new place and pleading for advice on various things that I’m clueless about. Okay, a tiny fraction of the things I’m clueless about. I don’t want to scare you guys.
Alex’s Birthday Cakes, previously: Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Espresso Chiffon Cake with Fudge Frosting and, in the book, Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake.
Related birthday cakes for Alex’s chocolate-obsessed family: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Hot Fudge Sundae Cake, Double-Chocolate Layer Cake, The Biggest Birthday Cake Yet, Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake and S’More Cake (in the book)
One year ago: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes
Two years ago: Vanilla Custards with Roasted Blueberries
Three years ago: Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint
Four years ago: Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad
Five years ago: Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
Six years ago: Grilled Eggplant with Caponata Salsa
Seven years ago: Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s version, just a little
2 cups (about 250 grams) finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (from about 1 9-ounce sleeve chocolate wafers; see more suggestions below)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces (170 grams) fresh or frozen raspberries (which have been thawed or they will not puree easily)
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
32 ounces (905 grams) cream cheese, very soft at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Chocolate sauce for serving (optional)
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy or whipping cream
4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan (including base) tightly in a triple layer of foil; set aside.
Make crust: Stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom of pan and up the sides to about 1-inch from the top of the pan. I like to use the bottom and outside of a 1-cup measure to help press them in firmly. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Make raspberry sauce for swirl: Process raspberries with sugar in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Set aside.
Make cheesecake: Put cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a slow, steady stream; scrape down bowl. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until just combined and scraping down the bowl. Pour cream cheese filling over crust.
Using a squeeze bottle, piping bag or a zip-lock bag with a tiny corner snipped off, place tiny droplets of raspberry sauce all over top of cake. Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the sauce and filling together decoratively. I had extra sauce; it makes a delicious dessert sauce to serve with the cake.
Bake cake: Set cake pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan — I set mine inside a 12-inch round saucepan. Transfer to oven. Carefully pour or ladle boiling water into roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 65 minutes. (This always takes longer in my oven because I always fail to seal the foil around the pan well enough that water doesn’t get in. Just keep baking it until it seems mostly set, like loose Jell-O. A toothpick inserted near the center should not have wet, thin batter on it when removed)
Transfer cake pan to rack; let cake cool to room temperature then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake.
If you’d like to serve this with a chocolate sauce, bring heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate until melted.
Serve cake in wedges, with any leftover raspberry sauce or chocolate sauce, or both.
- Chocolate wafers: I am ever on the hunt for chocolate cookies to make crumb crusts with. Nabisco chocolate wafers are the classic, but I can’t find them anywhere anymore. For a while, I used chocolate Teddy Grahams, because they were cute, but the artificial flavors became cloying. I know there are people who painstakingly remove the filling from Oreos for theirs, but I could never be trusted with that. This time, I tried Leibniz brand cocoa biscuits, something I can disturbingly not find a link to online anywhere (it’s the chocolate cookie, not the chocolate-coated one), which I found at a nearby bodega (I love NYC), which at least had fairly straightforward ingredients. When I found the crumb color a little pale, I added a couple tablespoons (just eyeballed it) of black cocoa powder I’d unearthed while packing to make them more Oreo-ish. If you’re feeling particularly devoted, the chocolate cookie I use for my Homemade Oreos is very, very quick and easy to make and makes excellent crumbs. You’ll make more cookies than you need for crumbs but nobody on earth will mind.
- Even more chocolaty crumbs: The cheesecake crust used here and here has ground bar chocolate in it too and it makes a firm cookie crust with a much stronger chocolate flavor. It would be lovely here.
- If you don’t want chocolate crumbs: Of course, graham or even digestive biscuit crumbs would work here. You might find that different brands and different crumb sizes absorb differently. If yours are too dry to build a crust, add a touch more butter; if they’re too wet, add another spoonful of crumbs.
- If you want more chocolate intensity: We’ve added a almost inch-thick ganache layer to the bottom crust of two cheesecakes in the past. You could do the same here, if you wish, but be sure that you are using a springform with 3-inch sides as it will be taller than the one I’m showing here.
- To amp up the raspberry portion: If you’d like the raspberry flavor to be within and not just on top, try this: pour 1/4 of the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, then add droplets of raspberry all over. Do not swirl. Do this three more times. Only swirl on the top layer, but use a skewer or toothpick that will reach to the bottom (but stay above the bottom crust or you’ll make holes). The inner swirls will get mostly lost, but you’ll taste the raspberry. The top will stay stunning.