Almond Puff Coffee Cake

May 14th, 2019

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As a continuation of some of my favorite posts, I am including this simple homemade coffee cake that has been in one of my recipe boxes for a long time.  The following blog entry was posted 10 years ago and reflected on our life in the Lake Lure Cottage long before we expanded it to a full-time home. We were in the process of renovating.

While cleaning out the back of an old closet for renovations, I found a small recipe box that I put together years ago. It was done shortly after we bought our 600 square foot Lake Lure cottage in 1984. We fell in love with this lake from the first time we saw it and when a realtor showed us a modest cottage with a huge screened in porch, we knew it would be ours. Our son Michael was seven years old at the time. He did not know how to swim, but an old speed boat came with the cottage and after watching all of the water skiers on the lake, Michael said he wanted to learn to ski. We had grown up on lakes in Michigan and had always skied. But a prerequisite to skiing is knowing how to swim. So he learned to swim and that was the beginning of wonderful summers of swimming, boating and water skiing with all of our friends and their children. Our small cottage was full most summer weekends. Because we had only two small bedrooms, each morning the living room floor and the screened in porch were full of sleeping bags containing exhausted kids. The trip to the coffee pot in the kitchen was a delicate dance, bobbing and weaving between the outstretched arms and far flung legs of deeply sleeping children. The trip to the top of the boathouse with freshly brewed coffee was much easier and the view was enough to quell any doubts about our decision to invest our modest savings in this most beautiful of places.

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Feeding the crowd was sometimes a challenge, but one that I enjoyed. That’s why finding my old recipe box was such a treat. There were recipes in it for things I haven’t made in years; Frogmore Stew, Quick Breakfast Rolls, Paella Salad, Quick Coconut-Pecan Upside-Down Cake and this recipe for Almond Puff Coffee Cake. I remember liking this recipe very much, but it was more suited to the adults than the children because of the distinct almond flavor. While they were munching cereal we would dig into this luscious coffee cake and plan another sunny day on the lake.

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Now another generation of children are enjoying the cottage and the lake. We have a lot more room now. But you know what? I miss the close quarters and stepping over sleeping kids. Shhh. Don’t tell my husband I said that or he will think all of our hard work was not necessary.

The coffee cake is really very simple. It is just a pastry crust base with a pate a choux topping that is baked and then drizzled with a confectioners sugar glaze.

ALMOND PUFF COFFEE CAKE

For the pastry base:
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbls water (May need a little more)

Mix flour and salt and pulse in food processor to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until butter is size of small peas. Add water and pulse until dough comes together. Form into ball and place on ungreased baking sheet. Pat into a 12″x 3″ strip.

For Pate a Choux:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp almond extract (I now use 1/4 tsp. almond extract and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 eggs, beaten

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and quickly stir in almond extract and flour. Return to low heat and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat again and add eggs. Stir until mixture is smooth. Spread over pastry strip. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees until top is crisp and brown. Cool.

For Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tbls soft butter
3/4 tsp almond extract (I use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp almond extract)
3/4 tsp warm water (You may need a little more to make a spreadable glaze)
2 oz. sliced almonds, toasted

Mix ingredients except almonds until smooth and spread over top of cake when cool. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Serves 6.

Printable Recipe

Boston Cream Pancakes

April 26th, 2019

As part of a nostalgia trip, I have decided to share some of my oldie but goodies posts.  I have been at this blogging business for many years and have even surprised myself with some of the recipes I have posted.  I need to make these delicious Boston Cream Pancakes again!  Enjoy.


Do any of you remember Long Johns?  No, not the underwear version.  I am talking about the doughnuts. When I was young, my Father would always go to the local bakery on Sunday mornings and come home with a bag of doughnuts.  There would be cinnamon twists, elephant ears, round jelly filled doughnuts and, my favorite, long johns.

Long Johns are a cake-like doughnut with a pastry cream filling and chocolate ganache smeared on top.  I adored them.  Recently I got a request from a family member who was going to be here for the Labor Day Weekend.  He asked if I would please, please make a recipe for Boston Cream Pancakes that he had seen online on the Country Cleaver website.  The pancakes are based on the Boston cream pie which was created by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856.

I made them for breakfast one morning during the Labor Day weekend but never got a picture because they were devoured so quickly.  All I could think of when I ate them were those wonderful long johns that I had eaten as a child.  The fluffy pancakes, the smooth pastry cream and the decadent chocolate ganache all conspired to bring the flood of memories back.  I tucked the leftover ganache and pastry cream in the freezer because I knew that they would be making a repeat performance in my kitchen.

We had them for breakfast again on this beautiful Saturday morning, a day after my birthday. They were a welcome indulgence.  Sometimes you just have to eat like you are a kid again and stop worrying about calories, fat and sugar and how old you really are.  The pancakes themselves are an easy combination of yellow cake mix and Bisquick.  They are light and fluffy.  The pastry cream can be made way in advance and the chocolate ganache is easy.  I would recommend these pancakes to you for any special occasion, whether it be for a birthday or just because  it is a sunny day.  Indulge!

BOSTON CREAM PANCAKES (Country Cleaver Website)

ingredients:

Pancakes: Makes about 12 pancakes
1 cup Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup Dry Pancake Mix such as Bisquick
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
2 whole Eggs

Pastry Cream:
1/3 cup Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 cup Milk
1 cup Half-n-Half
1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped (or 2 1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract)
1 Tbsp Butter

Chocolate Ganache:
8 oz. Chocolate
1 cup Heavy Cream

directions:

Directions:

Pastry Cream: Make up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate until 1 hour prior to use.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Temper the eggs by whisking in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk slowly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Press through a fine mesh strainer to remove any curdled bits and remove husk of vanilla bean. Cover strained pastry cream with plastic wrap, and press the plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream to make sure it doesn’t form a skin. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve

Chocolate Ganache:

In small saucepan, heat heavy cream. Stir in chocolate and whisk until melted and the two are completely combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pancakes:

In large bowl, whisk together pancake mix and cake mix. Stir in milk, eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Heat a large griddle or large pan over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan or griddle and allow to cook until golden brown on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Gingerly flip pancake over and continue to cook until the other side has turned golden brown – about 1 ½ minutes. Remove from griddle/pan and allow to cool.

To assemble – stack pancakes and layer with prepared pastry cream between each pancake. Pour chocolate ganache over the top and promptly devour.

 

Carol

February 25th, 2019

Carol Lane

I should not be the one to write this tribute to Carol.  She had so many friends who would have been the ones to do her life honors. But I feel a need to express my admiration.  I’m sure her friends will have much more to say in their own words.

For a very short time (2 weeks recently) we finally got to know Carol and Larry here in New Smyrna Beach where we all stay for the Winter.  We live in Lake Lure and Carol and Larry owned a Bed and Breakfast in our adjoining town of Chimney Rock. Because they were so busy with their very successful business, they had little time to make friends in our community.  Carol was a breakfast genius cook for the bed and breakfast and a marketing maven for their shop.  In spite of her busy schedule, she made friends with a close group of women.  I wish I had been one of them.

When we came to New Smyrna Beach for the winter, Larry and Carol invited us for a boat ride on the Indian River with them.  It was a warm day and a lovely time.  Carol was fighting cancer, but feeling strong. I was immediately drawn to her sweet personality. Unfortunately cancer took her quickly.

My mind is full of regrets. So many times we keep to ourselves instead of reaching out to friends and neighbors. We have so much to lose by not getting to know those around us.  I missed getting to know a genuine angel.

The last time I saw her in the hospital she said “I love you”. Her spirit was inclusive and kind.  My heart goes out to you Larry. Carol cannot be replaced.

 

Hygge: Our Trip to Scandinavia

October 3rd, 2018

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Hygge.  However you pronounce it (Hooga, Hhyooguh, or Heurgh), what is important is what it feels like.  It is all about feelings of intimacy, cosiness of the soul and taking pleasure in the moment.  It is the Danish way to live well.  The Scandinavian inhabitants have been designated the happiest people in the world.  The word Hygge expresses all that makes life happy.  The above scene captures the elements of hygge well; the warmth of throws, the texture and comfort of pillows, flowers, candles and the close intimacy of a welcoming table.  Keep in mind, this was just at a humble cafe on a quiet street.  Imagine what it would be like in a Scandinavian home.

Copenhagen 2

All over Copenhagen beauty abounds.  In spite of long dark winters, people manage to fill the warmer months with flowers and a buoyant attitude.  Bicycle lanes line every major and minor street and riders are given priority.  There are more bicycles in Copenhagen than cars.  We saw people of all ages two-wheeling their way through town.

Copenhagen Michigan girls

We shared a riverfront lunch table with two lovely young ladies from Ann Arbor, Michigan, our home state.  They had just arrived from Iceland sans luggage and were in a funk about it.  It pleased me so much that after a pleasant time with them, they thanked us for lightening their mood and we exchanged phone numbers.  We kept track of them in their travels.

Oslo Michigan girls

We reconnected in Oslo, Norway and had dinner with them.  They never did find their luggage until the end of the trip but managed to have fun with less “baggage” anyway.  A friendship was forged.  “The art of hygge is the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people”. From “The Little Book of Hygge; The Danish Way to Live Well”.

Copenhagen Hotel

Even our hotel in Copenhagen, The Admiral, was cozy with wood posts and beams and soft bed linens.  Hygge even has a dictionary of sorts.  Hyggerbukser means “That one pair of pants you would never wear in public but are so comfortable that they are likely to be, secretly, your favorites.” Hyggerkrog means “The nook of a kitchen or living room where one can sit and have a hyggerlig time.  But my favorite is Hyggesnak; “Chit-chat or cosy conversation that doesn’t touch on controversial issues.”  Seems appropriate to our times.  There will be more of our trip in future posts which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

I apologize for being gone for so long. It has been a busy summer.  Time has slipped by too quickly.  But I am back and looking forward to hearing from all of you.

The Perfect Beef Brisket

November 25th, 2017

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My Son, Michael, decided to forego the Thanksgiving turkey this year in favor of a smoked beef brisket.  We are so glad that he did.  The recipe came form Myron Mixon, winner of more competitive barbecue contests than anyone else in the world.  My husband David has smoked brisket before.  See the technique here.  Some recipes for smoking a brisket can take up to 18 hours.  But the recipe suggested by Myron Mixon in his cookbook Smokin’, can be done in 6 to 8 hours after the initial marinating time.

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Instead of cooking the brisket low and slow, the meat is injected, marinated, spice rubbed and cooked at a constant temperature of 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  The pan is then covered with aluminum foil and put back in the smoker to cook for another 1 1/2 hours or until the temperature reaches 205 degrees. From this point you wrap the pan in a  blanket, put it in a large cooler, and leave it to rest for 3 to 4 hours.

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Our brisket weighed about 6 pounds. Just a note on the cut of brisket you should use.  Butcher shops usually break the meat down into two pieces.  The first cut is called the flat and is what most grocery stores sell because it is leaner.  But the second cut, called the point, is rounder and fattier and has more flavor.  This is the preferred cut.  Also notice in the above photo the toothpick in the end.  There is another one on the other end.  Michael put them in the meat when it was raw to show the direction of the grain.  When cooked it is less obvious. To slice a tender brisket, it is important to slice it against the grain rather than with the grain.

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The recipe below is for a 15 to 20 pound brisket.  Since ours was much smaller, Michael felt the beef injection and marinade should be reduced.  The cooking time may also be less, although the resting time is quite flexible.IMG_0020

Michael served the brisket with a local barrel aged beer from Southern Peak Brewery called Midnight Conductor.  With hints of chocolate and dark fruit, it was the perfect accompaniment.  Next up, some delicious side dishes.

PERFECT SMOKED BEEF BRISKET

Ingredients

For the beef injection and marinade:

  • 1 quart water
  • 3 tablespoons beef base

For the beef rub:

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated dried onion

We used a double recipe of the rub to ensure the meat was coated in rub.

For the meat:

  • One 15-20 pound whole untrimmed brisket, preferably USD Prime

Tools:

  • 2 aluminum pans
  • Injector
  • Blanket

Directions

For the beef injection and marinade:

In a large stockpot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the beef base and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat. If reserving for a later use, let the liquid cool then pour it into a jug or bottle. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For the beef rub:

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely.

For the meat:

Trim your brisket. Place the brisket, fat side up, in an aluminum baking pan. Inject it by eyeballing 1-inch squares all over the brisket and injecting half of the beef injection in those squares. Flip the brisket over, fat side down, and pour the remaining injection/marinade over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the brisket, heat a smoker to 350 degrees. (You can also use a gas grill, but you’ll need to prepare it for smoking.)

Remove the brisket from the marinade and discard the marinade. Using your hands, apply the beef rub all over the meat. Place the brisket in a clean aluminum baking pan, place the pan in the smoker, and cook for 2 ½ hours at 350 degrees. Remove the pan from the smoker and cover it with aluminum foil. Put it back into the smoker and cook for another 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees or until the temperature in the point end of the meat reaches 205 degrees. Remove the pan from the smoker and wrap the pan, still covered with aluminum foil, in a thick blanket. Let it rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Unwrap the pan, discard the foil, and remove the brisket, taking care to save the the accumulated juices. Set the brisket aside. Strain the juices of all grease, and pour the juices into a medium saucepan. Warm the juices over medium heat, and allow them to come to a simmer.

Meanwhile, slice the brisket against the grain; try to make the slices as consistently sized as possible. Place the slices on a warm platter and pour the juices over them. Serve immediately.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.