Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sourdough Bread

Several of the wonderful blogs I subscribe to (and eagerly read every day) have been posting about sourdough.  Sourdough starters, sourdough bread, sourdough pancakes...the list is endless.  Having tried a starter in the past and failed miserably, you can understand my reluctance to try again.  But, as the old adage goes, if at first you don't succeed, bla blah blah.  So, I did.  And, although it's only been a week, I have to say, since it hasn't turned into an awful, growing blob like the last attempt, I consider it a success!  Yay for me!

I used King Arthur Flour's starter recipe.  It was very simple, with no hard to find ingredients.  After about a week of stiring it once a day (ok, I forgot one day), at the end of the week, I had a bubbly, albeit smelly starter!  I used a cup of starter and made a wonderful sourdough bread.  This particular recipe does require a bit of planning, seeing as it needs to rest overnight, but I found it was worth the wait.

I've been using the bread for some delicious sandwiches.  Whole grain mustard/mayo combo, with cucumber, fresh tomato, lettuce and smoked good!  (Pardon the pictures, they were taken at work.)

(Ok, so this particular sandwich has smooth swiss cheese and crunchy green pepper, instead of turkey.  What can I say, I forgot I was out of turkey at work!)

Tonight, I'll be making this lemon dill avocado spread to go with my sandwiches, in lieu of the mayo.  I can't wait! Having a fresh sandwich always reminds me of visiting my grandparents' in Michigan.  Whenever we would come to visit, it was like they couldn't think of anything else to buy, so they would stock up on wonderful deli meats and fresh cheeses, so that we would at least have something.  In hindsight, they probably just didn't want to cook anything, but the memory is still sweet.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dad's Malted Milk Cake

My dad's favorite candy is malted milk balls.  So, while struggling to find a suitable cake for my dad's birthday this past weekend, I remembered seeing something about a malted milk cake.  Perfect.

Here is the recipe I used:

Chocolate Malt Cake
adapted from the Baking Pan

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
1 cup malted milk powder (I doubled this amount)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Malt Frosting:
1 cup unsweetened butter, room temperature
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup whipping (heavy) cream
½ cup malted milk powder (again, I doubled)
5 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

Malted Milk Balls, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 9-inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine milk and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve.

  4. Add milk mixture, vegetable oil, and eggs to flour mixture; use an electric mixer or wooden spoon and beat until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat just until mixture is combined.

  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Chocolate Malt Frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cocoa powder until creamy.

  2. In a small bowl, combine whipping cream and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve. Add cream mixture to butter mixture, use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon and beat until combined. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Use an offset spatula to spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.

  3. Optional: Garnish with malted milk balls

I really wanted the malt flavor to shine through, since it is my dad's favorite.  However, after having made this, even though I doubled the amount of malt in the cake batter, you could hardly taste it.  The cake was certainly moist, but you could definitely use your go-to chocolate cake recipe, or a box mix, if you like. Instead, I would focus more on the frosting flavor.  There is where the maltiness really came through.  It was a bit grainy though, so I would recommend dissolving the malt powder in the cream or milk before mixing it in with the other ingredients.

I also decided to use crushed malt balls on the outside of the cake.  (1) So that I didn't have to make the outer frosting look that pretty, and (2) because I wanted an even greater malt flavor.  Also, it looks nice.  At least, I think so.

Overall, I think the cake was a success, however there is room for improvement.  Always.

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