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Cinnamon Cake

This cake can be made with gluten-free and low carb flours.

Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

Cake Batter
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter, divided
1 cup granulated sugar or granulated sugar substitute

Topping
1/2 cup regular oats
1 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

For the cake batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large liquid measuring cup whisk eggs, vanilla, and sour cream until well combined.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar or sugar substitute until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and egg mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

 

For the topping:
In a processor, pulse oats, brown sugar or brown sugar substitute, pecans, remaining ½ cup butter and cinnamon until small clumps form.

To assemble the cake:
Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle one-third of the topping evenly over the batter.


Spoon the remaining batter over the topping spread it with a spatula to cover the topping.


Sprinkle evenly with the remaining topping. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool cake in the pan set over a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


coffeecake
Much of the American appetite for sweet rolls and cakes comes from the German and Dutch settlements in New York, New Jersey and Delaware. Colonial cooks made fruity, buttery breakfast or coffee cakes from recipes that vary only slightly from methods used in the twentieth century. They also share some of the responsibility for the national zest for doughnuts.

Scandinavians were even more responsible than anyone else for making America as coffee-break-conscious as it is, and for perfecting the kind of food that goes well with coffee. German women had already brought the Kaffeeklatsch to their frontier communities, but it was in the Scandinavian kitchens where there was always a pot brewing on the back of the stove and where hospitality and coffee became synonymous.The term “coffee klatch” became part of the language and its original meaning–a moment that combined gossip with coffee drinking–was changed to define the American version of English tea, a mid-afternoon gathering. Like the cooks from Central Europe, most Scandinavian cooks prided themselves on simple forms of pastry making that included coffee breads, coffee cakes, coffee rings, sweet rolls and buns.

According to the book, Listening to America, by Stuart Berg Flexner, it wasn’t until 1879 that the term “coffee cake” became a common term. Historic American cook books and newspapers support this claim.

Coffee Cake – Recipe from 1875

5 cups flour, dried and sifted.

1 cup of butter.

2 cups of sugar.

1 cup of molasses.

1 cup made black coffee–the very best quality.

1/2 pound raisins, seeded and minced.

1/2 pound currants, washed and dried.

1/4 pound citron, chopped fine.

3 eggs, beaten very light.

1/2 teaspoonful cinnamon.

1/2 teaspoonful mace.

1 teaspoonful-a full one-of saleratus.

Cream the butter and sugar, warm the molasses slightly, and berate these,with the spices hard, five minutes, until the mixture is very light. Next, put in the yolks, the coffee, and when these are well mixed, the flour, in turn with the whipped whites. Next, the saleratus, dissolved in hot water, and the fruit, all mixed together and dredged well with flour. Beat up very thoroughly, and bake in two loaves, or in small round tins. The flavor of this cake is peculiar, but to most palates very pleasant. Wrap in a thick cloth as soon as it is cold enough to put away without danger of ‘sweating,’ and shut within your cake box, as it soon loses the aroma of the coffee if exposed to the air.” —Breakfast, Luncheon and Tea, Marion Harland [Scribner, Armstrong & Co.: New York] 1875 (p. 332)

Although once very popular, coffee cakes have often been forgotten over the past few years in favor of bagels, extra-large muffins and egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches.

When the occasional coffee cake does still pop up in coffee shops, it bears little resemblance to the coffee cakes of old. These newer versions are often sweet enough for dessert and topped with icing or even frosting. I still make old-fashioned coffee cakes but with healthy, fresh ingredients. To make coffee cakes healthier reduce the sugar, add fruit and use whole grains to lower the glycemic index and increase the fiber content. Don’t worry though – these cakes still taste delicious.

coffeecake1

 

Summer Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Add flours and baking powder. Stir to mix well. Gently fold in berries.

Spoon into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before serving.

coffeecake3

Whole Wheat Cranberry Coffee Cake

Filling

1 can (15 oz) whole-berry cranberry sauce, stirred to break up any clumps

Cake Batter

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt; low-fat is fine, avoid nonfat
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour

Streusel Topping

  • 2 tablespoons of white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.

To make the streusel: In the large bowl of the electric mixer, beat together all of the streusel ingredients until even crumbs form. Scoop the mixture into a smaller bowl, and set it aside.

To make the batter: In the same bowl in which you’ve just made the streusel and beat together the butter and brown sugar until smooth.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and again beating until smooth.

Beat in the yogurt, extracts, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. The batter will be fairly stiff.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it to the edges.

Spread the cranberry on top of the cake.

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the cranberry sauce.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before serving.

coffeecake6

 

Buttermilk Coffee Cake with Plums

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 pound Italian or regular plums (4 to 5 medium), sliced
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon  

Directions

Cream the butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat in the sugar and eggs. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

Mix the batter, then pour it into a greased 9 inch round cake pan. Smooth the top of the batter and arrange plum slices over it in slightly overlapping concentric circles

Sprinkle the top of the cake with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or longer, until the surface is firm.

coffeecake4

 

Cherry Coffee Cake

This easy coffee cake can be made even faster in a food processor.

Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon very cold hard butter chopped into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons oats

Cake:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cherries, halved (sweet or tart cherries)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor mix the topping ingredients (except the oats) until small crumbs form. Briefly mix in the oats. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

In the processor or using an electric mixer, mix together the wet ingredients (oil to buttermilk).

In a separate bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Briefly mix into the wet mixture. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the cherries evenly over the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter over the cherries. (Some will show through.)

Sprinkle on the topping. Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes before slicing into wedges.

coffeecake5

Blueberry or Blackberry Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a large glass measuring cup.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Toss 1 ¼ cups blueberries with the whole wheat pastry flour and fold into batter.

Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup blueberries.

Stir together the  2 tablespoons coarse sugar, sliced almonds and cinnamon. Sprinkle the over batter.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove sides of pan and serve.

Looking for Some New Coffeecake Recipes? (jovinacooksitalian.com)

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/09/18/make-your-quick-breads-healthy/

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/07/24/healthy-breakfast-breads-to-bake/


 

Apple_coffee_cake

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake, as we know it today made with refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast, arrived on the scene. The Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book [London, 1894] contains a recipe for a layer cake. Butter-cream frosting (using butter, cream, confectioners [powdered] sugar and flavorings) replaced traditional boiled icing in the first few decades of the 20th century. Coffee cake (also sometimes known as Kuchen or Gugelhupf) was not invented. It evolved from ancient honey cakes to simple French galettes to medieval fruitcakes to sweet yeast rolls to Danish cakes to mass-produced pre-packaged treats.

Food historians generally agree the concept of coffee cake [eating sweet cake with coffee] most likely originated in Northern/Central Europe sometime in the 17th century. Why this place and time? These countries were already known for their traditional sweet yeast breads. When coffee was introduced in Europe these cakes were a natural accompaniment. German, Dutch and Scandinavian immigrants brought their coffee cake recipes with them to America. Italian coffee cakes are usually filled with fresh seasonal fruit and are eaten for breakfast.

The first coffee cake-type foods were more like bread than cake. They were simple mixtures of yeast, flour, eggs, sugar, nuts, dried fruit and sweet spices. Over time, coffee cake recipes changed. Sugared fruit, cheese, yogurt and other creamy fillings are often used in today’s American coffee cake recipes.

Coffee cakes are a class of cakes intended to be eaten alongside coffee as part of a breakfast meal or that may be eaten during a “coffee break” or offered to guests as a gesture of hospitality on or around a coffee table. They are typically single layer cakes that may be square or rectangular like a Stollen or a loaf-shaped cake or they may be ring-shaped. Coffee cakes may be flavored with cinnamon or other spices, seeds, nuts and fruits. These cakes sometimes have a crumb topping called streusel and/or a light glaze drizzle. The hole in the center of many coffee cakes is a relatively recent innovation—it became popular in the 1950’s. The “bundt pan” was invented to allow heavier batters to get cooked all the way through without any dough left unbaked in the center.

Enjoy one of the following cakes with your next cup of coffee.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Oatmeal_Cake_9008

For the cake

  • 5.25 ounces (1 cup) steel-cut or old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cupsevaporated whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter or butter substitute (such as Smart Balance), room temperature
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) packed brown sugar
  • 3.5 ounces (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 7 ounces (about 1½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping

  • 2.5 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter or butter alternative
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) packed brown sugar
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.5 ounces (1 cup) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 ounces (½ cup) chopped pecans

Directions

Make the cake:

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over high heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the milk over the oats and cover the bowl. Allow the oats to rest for 30 minutes; in this time they should have absorbed much of the milk and softened considerably.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8-inch square metal cake pan with cooking spray. Line it with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil cut to fit into the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan with ample overhang on either side. Spray the foil lightly. (If you have no interest in serving the cake outside of the pan, don’t bother with the foil. Instead, sprinkle flour generously on the inside of the sprayed cake pan, tilt to coat the bottom and sides and remove the excess flour.) Set the pan aside.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add the sugars, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and aerated, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Crack the eggs into a measuring cup. Add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork until combined.

With the mixer running on low-speed, add the beaten eggs, then add the dry ingredients and the oats with any liquid remaining in the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until the cake is golden brown, has shrunken slightly from the sides and tests clean with a toothpick, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Make the topping:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugars and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugars have dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and salt, bring to a boil, and boil until the mixture is thickened slightly, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla and set aside, covered, until ready to use.

Finish the cake:

After removing the cake from the oven, position the oven rack about 6 inches below the heating element of the broiler and preheat the broiler.

With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke ½-inch-deep holes at regular intervals into the top of the warm cake. Spread the topping over the cake, coaxing it to the sides and corners.

Broil until the topping is light brown and bubbly, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the intensity of your broiler. Remove from the broiler and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

To unmold the cake:

Run a metal spatula along the sides of the cake that touch the pan directly. Gripping the foil overhang on both sides, carefully lift out the cake and transfer it to a cutting board or serving plate. Press a long metal spatula flush against a side of the cake with a foil overhang and gently pull out the foil from under the cake.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

blueberry-sour-cream-coffee-cake-recipe-rp

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter or butter alternative, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar or sugar alternative
  • 4 eggs or equivalent refrigerated egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, if frozen do not thaw

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; add to creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Spoon a third of the batter into the prepared pan.

Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with half of the berries. Repeat layers. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over the top of the cake.

Hazelnut Coffee Cake

Hazelnut

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted, see tip below
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 9x 2-inch stone or metal loaf pan; set aside.

For the nut topping:

In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. With your fingers mix until mixture is crumbly. Stir in toasted hazelnuts. Set aside.

For the cake:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, combine egg, sour cream, the water and oil and add to the flour mixture; stir just until combined.

Place 1/2 cup of the batter into a clean small bowl. Stir in cocoa powder, milk and vanilla until smooth.

Spoon the light-color batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly (batter will be shallow in the pan).

Drop chocolate batter in small mounds over batter in the pan. Using a thin metal spatula, slightly marble batters. Sprinkle with the nut topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; serve warm. Makes 12 servings.

Tip:

To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven. Let nuts cool for 5 minutes. Rub hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel until skins loosen and fall away.

Raspberry Cheese Coffee Cake

raspberry

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar alternative
  • 3/4 cups cold butter or light butter alternative, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Filling:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups low sugar or sugar-free raspberry jam, warmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions

In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup and set aside.

To the remaining mixture, add the baking powder, baking soda and salt, sour cream, milk, egg and almond extract and mix well. Spread in the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.

For the filling:

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over batter. Top with the warm raspberry jam. Sprinkle with almonds and reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 55-60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 12 servings.

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Another tradition I established for our family was baking a special coffeecake for Christmas morning breakfast. In the early years there were a few different cakes tried but the one that became the favorite was an almond cheese filled cake. For my children, their spouses and their children, Christmas morning is not the same without this cake. I share this recipe and how to make it with you here in this post.

This coffeecake dough can be shaped in the form of a wreath or a horseshoe or even a candy cane. I make it in the form of a log because it fits in the freezer better.

Since Christmas morning is busy enough, you do not want to be baking on Christmas morning or even the day before. This cake freezes well, so you can make it ahead of time, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat the next morning in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes on a serving plate and then drizzle with frosting. You can also decorate the cake with glazed cherries or other festive trimmings.

Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Dough

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each or 4 ½ teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups Eagle Brand Ultra Grain all-purpose flour (or 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour)

FILLING:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces almond paste

GLAZE:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Dough: Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add water and eggs and beat until well combined. Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

Filling: While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

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Assembly:

Cover two baking pans with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle.

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Spread half of the filling on the dough, leaving a half inch border all around the dough.

003

Fold 1/3 of the dough towards the center and fold the other side on top of the folded side. See photo.

004

005

Place bread on prepared pan. Cut 1-inch-wide strips from each side of the filling out to the edges of the dough. Seal edges.

006

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Baking: Allow the braids to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.

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Bake the braids for 22 minutes rotating pans halfway through the baking time.

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Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack. Yield: 2 braids.

009

When braids are cool wrap in heavy duty foil and freeze. Braids should be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator and heated the next day in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove foil and place on a serving plate.

To make the glaze:  Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the braids. Allow glaze to set before cutting the braids.


The saying, “As American as apple pie,” is referred to as the symbol of America. The word “apple” comes from the Old English word “aeppel.” Apples probably have more symbolic value than any other fruit on earth, from the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve to the offering of the Evil Queen to Snow White, the apple has always represented beauty, love and good and evil.

Carbonized remains of apples have been found by archeologists in prehistoric lake dwellings in Switzerland, dating back to the Iron Age. There is also evidence to show that apples were eaten and preserved by slicing and sun drying during the Stone Age in Europe. In China, Egypt, and Babylon records were found that mentioned man understood the art of budding and grafting fruit trees as long as twenty centuries ago.

When the English colonists arrived in North America they found only crab apples. Crab apple trees are the only native apples in the United States. European settlers arrived and brought with them their English customs and favorite fruits.

Johnny Appleseed

One of America’s fondest legends is that of Johnny Appleseed, a folk hero and pioneer apple farmer in the 1800s. There really was a Johnny Appleseed, however, his actual name was John Chapmen (1774-1845) and he was born in Leominster, Massachusetts. His dream was for the land to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Most historians today classify him as an eccentric but very smart businessman, who traveled about the new territories of his time, leasing land and developing nurseries of apple trees.

When covered wagons traveled over the Oregon Trail westward, they carried apple trees and “scion wood” for grafting as part of their cargo. Often the family orchard was planted before the ground was broken for their log cabin home. Josiah Red Wolf, a Nez Perce leader, planted apple trees at Alpowa Creek near the Snake River in southeast Washington. He is probably the first Native American to have had a European-style garden and orchard. Red Wolf’s trees lived for decades. America’s longest living apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Governor Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard on the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street. The tree was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.

There are approximately 10,000 different kinds of varieties of apples grown in the world with more than 7,000 of these varieties grown in the United States. Apples are a member of the rose family of plants and the blossoms are much like wild-rose blossoms. There are between 25 to 30 kinds of wild apples grown throughout the world with seven kinds in the U.S. Most wild apples are crab apples with small, sour, hard fruit. 

Resource Information: Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture and Gastronomy, by Peter Wynne, Hawthorn Books, New York, N.Y., 1975.

How To Care For Apples                                                                                                                                                        

Short Term Storage

Apples do best in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator, where they keep for up to 3 weeks. At room temperature, they ripen too quickly and become mealy after 2 days. Storing apples next to broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, greens or cauliflower could cause these vegetables to spoil faster, since apples give off ethylene gas, which causes faster ripening.

Long Term Storage

Almost any kind of apple will keep for three or four months, or even longer, if stored properly. It’s cheap and easy to do. All you need is newspaper, a box or basket, and apples. A root cellar is optional, but not necessary.

The main causes of apple spoilage are time, bruises, and contact with a rotten spot on another apple. Only perfect apples should be used for long-term storage. Even minor imperfections speed spoilage , so scan them and set aside any with bruises for immediate use.

Prevent contact between apples stored for the winter by wrapping them individually in sheets of newspaper. The easiest way to do this is to unfold a section of newspaper all the way and tear it into quarters. Then stack the quarters.

Place an apple on top of the stack and fold the top sheet of paper up around the apple, wrapping it in paper. Give the corners a slight twist—just enough to make them stay wrapped. If you twist them too hard, the paper will tear. It’s not necessary to exclude air. Just twist hard enough so the paper does not come unwrapped before the apples are boxed. The paper prevents contact between apples, so just one rotten apple won’t spoil the whole bunch. 

Boxed apples need to be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won’t freeze. Freezing ruptures all of an apple’s cells, turning it into one large bruise overnight. Keep wrapped apples in a cardboard box. It need not be airtight, just tight enough to impede air circulation. Store the boxed apples in an unheated basement, a pantry, an enclosed porch, an unheated attic or a root cellar

Apple Equivalents:

1 large apple = 2 cups sliced or chopped = 1 1/2 cups finely chopped =1 1/4 cups grated.

1 medium apple = 1 1/3 cups sliced or chopped = 1 cup finely chopped = 3/4 cup grated.

1 small apple = 3/4 cup sliced or chopped = 3/4 cup finely chopped = 1/2 cup grated.

1 pound apples = 4 small apples or 3 medium apples or about 2 large apples

1 (9″ or 10″) pie = 2-1/2 pounds (4 to 5 large or 6 to 7 medium or 8 to 9 small apples)

Peck = 10-1/2 pounds

Bushel = 42 pounds (yields 20-24 quarts of applesauce)

Below is a chart with some of the best baking and cooking apples in North America.

Name Best Uses Flavor Characteristic, Appearance
Braeburn Sauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Sauces, Fruit Salad Tart, crisp, larger than McIntosh
Fuji Baking Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin
Gala Dried, Cider Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping (resembles a peach)
Granny Smith Baking Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin
Jonagold Pie, Sauce Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan Sauce Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh Sauce Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newtown Pippin Pie, Sauce, Cider Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin
Rhode Island Greening Pie Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orange
Rome Beauty Baking, Cider Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin
Winesap Sauce, Pie, Cider Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin

 

Italian Apple Desserts

Italy is a major apple producer, one of the top five worldwide. The region most Italians associate with apples is the Val di Non, in Trentino. It’s not alone, however. Apples are also grown in Emilia-Romagna, the Veneto, Piemonte, and Campagna areas. The crop begins in August and continues on through spring. As is the case elsewhere, most of the commercial production concentrates on a tiny fraction of the roughly 7,000 known strains of apples, and if you visit an Italian market, you will likely find (depending on season) Granny Smiths, Goldens, Golden Delicious, Starks, Renettes, Gravensteins, or Galas.

In modern Italian cooking, apples generally appear at the end of the meal, either in a bowl of fresh fruit or in a cake prepared for a special occasion. Golden Delicious apples are favored eating apples, while the Red Galas are a more recent addition in Italy and have become extremely popular.

When one thinks of Italian fruit desserts, it is usually a dessert made with pears, figs, or nuts. Apples are not usually associated with Italy. Apples are typically American! However, I learned in doing research for this post that apples are plentiful all year round in Italy and apples are used in a variety of dishes.  A very common dessert in Rome, and other parts of Italy, is the torta di mele, meaning a simple apple cake.

Granny Smith Apple Sorbet With Muscat Wine and Grappa

Marcella Hazan writes in her book, Marcella Cucina, about this recipe:

This is the most deliciously fresh sorbet, I know, she says. What makes it so is the felicity with which the ingredients act upon each other. The Granny Smith apples and the grappa both have bite, but the grappa isn’t all bite. It is packed with the aromatic esters of the pomace, the grape skins left over after making wine, from which it is distilled. The honey is all suavity with its characteristically musky aftertaste. The Muscat brings its own soft touch and the scent of peaches and apricots. These qualities don’t stand apart, but coalesce to produce this sorbet’s unique, zephyr-like refreshment. If you have all the choices in the world, use the low-alcohol Moscato naturale d’Asti, a shyly sweet Muscat from Piedmont. Only slightly less desirable, but far more available, is Asti Spumante, which you must beat lightly with a fork to drive away some of the bubbles.

Grappa is one of Italy’s most popular alcoholic drinks, with somewhere in the region of forty million bottles of grappa being produced every year. It’s also a very Italian drink; since 1989 the name has been protected by the EU, meaning that the drink can only be called grappa if it’s sourced and produced in Italy. The main ingredient of grappa is pomace, which consists of the grape skins, seeds and stalks that are left over from the wine making process. These are taken through a second process of distillation, which extracts the remaining flavors from the pomace before the waste is discarded. The grappa is then either bottled at once, which creates white grappa (grappa bianca), or aged in wooden casks to create the yellow or brown-hued grappa known as riserva.

Muscat is the only grape to produce wine with the same aroma as the grape itself. Sweet Muscats have a rich nose of dried fruits, raisins and oranges. Muscat grapes range from white to almost black in color. Muscat vines and wines are found throughout Italy usually producing light wines with distinct aromas. The basic wine styles made are spumante (sparkling), frizzante (half-sparkling), and sweet dessert wines, some of which are fortified. (Fortified wine is wine to which a distilled beverage (usually brandy) has been added).  This unique wine is often labeled simply as “Moscato” or if it’s grown and produced in Italy’s Northwest region of Piedmont, it’s labeled with its full name of Moscato d’Asti (named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti). A close relative of Piedmont’s Asti Spumante, Moscato d’Asti is generally produced in smaller quantities than Spumante.

Marcella Hazan’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup muscat wine or other sweet wine
  • 2 tablespoons grappa.

Directions:

1. Peel and core the apples and cut them into pieces about the size of a walnut.

2. Put the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over low heat. Cook down to a syrup half its original volume.

3. Put the apples, the honey and sugar syrup, the juice from the lemon, the muscat wine and the grappa in a food processor and puree to a creamy consistency.

4. Freeze to a very firm consistency in your ice-cream maker. Serve when done or transfer to suitable containers and store in the freezer.

Yield: About 2 pints sorbet.

The following recipe is a typical method of preparing fruit for the end of an Italian meal. 

Apples Simmered in Wine

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white wine, not too dry
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • The juice of a half a lemon

Directions:

Add the lemon juice to a bowl of cool water. Peel, core, and slice the apples, slipping the pieces into the bowl of water to keep them from discoloring. When you are done, drain the apples and transfer them to a pot with the wine, sugar, and butter. Cook them over medium high heat, stirring them occasionally, until they are just tender. Don’t overcook them or they will be mushy. Transfer them to a heated serving bowl, arranging the slices so they don’t appear jumbled, pour the cooking liquid over them and serve. A scoop of frozen yogurt is a nice addition when you serve this for guests.

How Did Strudel Get To Be Italian?

People generally think that strudel is an Austrian dish, however, this sweet is originally Turkish. In fact, the precursor to the strudel is baklava, a Turkish dessert stuffed with dried fruit and spices. The Hungarians and Austrians were introduced to baklava during the invasion of Eastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. From 1526 to 1699, the Turks controlled Hungary and, during these two centuries, the Hungarians adopted many different aspects of the Ottoman culture, including various Turkish recipes.

In 1699, when the Turks lost their power over Hungary to the Hapsburgs, the recipe for baklava spread throughout Austria and became known as strudel. Unlike traditional baklava, strudel was made with the apples that grew across Europe. Then, during the Congress of Vienna in 1816, Austria gained control of Venice and the surrounding region and strudel spread throughout Northeastern Italy.

Italian Apple Strudel

Make the pastry and the filling the day before you want to serve it.

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions for the pastry:

Place all the ingredients in the work bowl of the processor. Mix until the dough forms a ball

If the mixture is too dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead a few times.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature 2 to 3 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (Remove refrigerated dough to room temperature at least 1 hour before rolling the dough.)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 lb. firm apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/4 cup raisins, golden is preferred
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar

Directions for filling:

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, add the bread crumbs and brown well. Set aside until you roll out the pastry.

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Cut away the seeds and cores and cut the apple quarters into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

Mix the apples with the pine nuts, raisins, grated lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon and the rum.

For best flavor, refrigerate the apple filling at least overnight. Filling will last in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.

Assemble and Bake the Strudel:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pastry dough at room temperature.

  1. Flour the rolling surface and pin lightly as you work to prevent the dough from sticking.
  2. Roll out the dough from the center to the edges into a very thin rectangle that measures about 36 x 24 inches. The dough will relax more as you roll it. As it gets thinner, you should be able to pull and stretch it gently with your hands to coax it into the shape you want; it doesn’t have to form a perfect rectangle.
  3. Place the dough on a clean, dry kitchen towel. Arrange the dough with one of the longer sides facing you. (This will help you move the strudel to the baking sheet once it is formed.)
  4. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1 1/2-inch-wide border on all sides of the rectangle.
  5. Arrange the apple mixture in a long mound along the side closest to you. The mound of apples should measure about 4 inches wide and as long as the bread crumb mixture, remembering to leave the 1 1/2-inch-wide border.
  6. Using the towel for assistance, fold the pastry closest to you over the apples. Begin rolling the strudel into a fairly tight roll, starting at one end of the apple mound, giving it a half-roll and gradually working your way down the roll. Repeat as necessary, working your way down gradually down the roll each time.
  7. You should end up with a fairly even, lumpy looking roll that is centered, seam side down, on the kitchen towel.
  8. Use the towel to transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet, bending the strudel into a crescent shape, if necessary to fit it on the pan. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining half tablespoon of butter.
  9. Seal the ends of the strudel by folding the ends of the roll underneath and pressing them firmly with your fingers. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375º F. Bake 30 minutes. Check the strudel: the top should be a light golden brown. If deeper in color than that, reduce the temperature to 350º F.
  10. Rotate the baking pan in the oven so the strudel cooks evenly. Continue baking until the strudel is deep golden brown and the crust is firm, about 30 minutes. Remove the strudel from the oven and cool 30 minutes. With two metal spatulas, carefully lift the strudel to a wire cooling rack and let stand until completely cooled. Dust with powdered sugar.
The Second Fold

Use a kitchen towel to help roll the strudel.

Apple-Ricotta Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is perfect for a brunch and will keep for a couple of days, so it can even be made the day before you plan to serve it.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 firm cooking apples; peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 lemon                                                                                                                                                                   
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus more to dust cake pan
  • 3/4 teaspoon. baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance butter blend sticks for baking; at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar or light sugar alternative
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese

Streusel Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons Smart Balance butter blend sticks for baking; cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, while you prepare the cake mix.

Streusel Directions:

Combine all the dry streusel ingredients (except butter and pecans) in a food processor.

Add butter in pieces. Pulse about 10 times then process for 5 to 10 seconds until there are no visible lumps of butter.

Cake Directions:

Mix together 1 and 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter for about 30 seconds, then beat in granulated sugar and vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time or 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour mixture and ricotta cheese to batter. Mix on low speed after each addition until combined. Note: this batter will be rather thick and stiff.

Assemble and Bake:

Spread 1/2 of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the filling mixture and half the pecans: then the diced apples. Spoon remaining batter over apples. It will not spread smoothly, so drop dollops of batter over the apples. Sprinkle with remaining topping and nuts.

Bake 45-50 minutes more or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 1 hour on a wire rack.



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