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Old Fashioned Oatmeal Pecan Cake

There are times when you want a light, fluffy cake and there are times when you want a dessert that is hearty and satisfying. This Old Fashioned Oatmeal Pecan Cake is the latter style of cake. It’s moist, dense and loaded with the flavors of oatmeal, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s not quite as hearty as a big bowl full of cooked oatmeal, but it is an excellent cake that captures the same flavors and can be served either for breakfast or dessert.

The cake can be made in a single saucepan and actually starts out with partially cooked oatmeal. The reason for cooking the oatmeal is to tenderize and hydrate the oats. Oatmeal absorbs a lot of liquid and can actually cause some baked goods to dry out (imagine the difference between a stale cookie and a fresh one) through absorption. By partially cooking the oats, they are full hydrated when going into the cake batter, which yields a much moister cake.

Once the oatmeal has been cooked and cooled slightly, the rest of the ingredients can be added directly to the saucepan. This means that this is a one bowl/one pan recipe. That being said, you can absolutely transfer your oatmeal to a secondary bowl if you feel your saucepan is too small to easily mix up the rest of the batter in or if you simply want to cool your oatmeal more quickly. If you don’t want to use a saucepan, you can boil the water and butter in the microwave and pour it over the oats in a large mixing bowl to start things off.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Pecan Cake

I baked this cake in a tube pan, the same style of pan that I use for angel food cakes and some coffee cakes. The cake batter will not rise enough to fill the whole pan (so don’t be surprised), but it will dome up into an attractive looking cake that is easy to pop out of the pan. While you could bake this in a bundt pan if you don’t have a tube pan, it definitely will only fill the pan about half way, so I would actually recommend baking it in a 9×13-inch pan as a sheet cake instead. The baking time for a tube pan versus a sheet cake pan will be about the same for this recipe.

I typically serve this as a breakfast cake and do not add any frosting – though a bit of confectioners’ sugar is an easy way to dress it up – because I like my brunch guests to feel like the can simply grab a slice and eat it out of hand. If you do want to dress it up a bit more, a simple vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting is a great choice. Frosted or unfrosted, the cake keeps very well for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Pecan Cake
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10-inch round tube pan and set aside (flour, if desired).
In a large saucepan, combine water and butter and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in rolled oats. Allow mixture to sit for 20 minutes to cook the oats and cool. After 20 minutes, stir in the sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Add in flour and baking soda, then stir until completely combined. Mix in chopped pecans, then pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and reinvert onto a cake plate to serve. Top with frosting or confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

The post Old Fashioned Oatmeal Pecan Cake appeared first on Baking Bites.


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10 Ways to Use Up Heavy Cream by Sommer


Cooking from the Books in 2017

Because I’ve been cooking all my life and it comes easily to me, I can generally take a look at a recipe and anticipate with some degree of accuracy, how it will turn out. But that’s not the same as actually cooking a dish from a cookbook. On this list I am covering only the cookbooks that got a “trial run.” For each of these cookbooks I cooked at least one recipe, sticking as close to the recipe as I could. I’m hoping my results along with my comments will help you to decide which of these books are for you. 

So far I’ve just made one recipe from Dinner Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and I really liked it. It was the Tofu Spaetzle with Gruyere Gratin. It’s more of a main dish than a side since the spaetzle is actually shredded extra firm tofu, baked with gruyere and caramelized onions and topped with bread crumbs. My problem with the book is that in addition to really inspiring creative recipes like Fusili and Roasted Cauliflower with Capers, Kimchi Pork Chops with Kale and Blood Orange Chicken with Scotch Whiskey and Olives, there are other recipes that frankly seem like filler. There’s nothing wrong with recipes for Black Bean and Roasted Poblano Pepper Quesadillas, Smoky Fish and Potato Chowder or Mexican Tortilla Soup but none of them are anything new. They are the kind of dishes I can certainly make without a recipe. I love how many recipes use ingredients like tofu and farro, and the idea of “changing up” dinner from meat and 2 sides into something more free form. 
Yemek is written by three women who I believe are German, but live in Turkey. They share the recipes for things you will commonly find in Istanbul. I was extremely excited to make cezerye, a candy that is similar to Turkish delight or “aplets and cotlets” if you ar familar with those. They are made from carrots and sugar and studded with nuts then rolled in coconut. The recipe was easy to follow and the results pleasing. The book is “kebab free” but features the kind of things you typically find in Istanbul including breads, salads, sweets, vegetable dishes, stews and dumplings. The book has a lovely design and features little insets with Istanbul locals and informative pages on ingredients and small gifts to buy for foodies. It’s a great introduction to Turkish cuisine and if you’ve been to Istanbul you’ll rejoice in having a source for things like manti dumplings, pide flatbread and gozleme spinach and feta stuffed bread and mercimek koftesi lemony lentil dumplings. 
Instanbul & Beyond is a landmark book but almost the opposite of Yemek. Despite Istanbul being in the title, it features in large part the things you don’t find in Istanbul. There are all kinds of unusual dishes and interesting techniques to learn. I made the meatballs with spice butter and will be making them again! The book also offers information about ingredients and often very detailed head notes with each recipe.You’ll find many recipes from regions like the Black Sea and the Hatay Province. There are lots of vegetarian recipe, seafood recipes as well as recipes with lamb I plan to try. See my interview with author Robyn Eckhardt
Burma Superstar the restaurant has an almost cult following and now so does the cookbook. If you love Burmese food you need this book! Many of the recipes require ingredients that will take a little sleuthing to find, but not all of them. I made the Egg and Okra Curry. It’s filled with onions and garlic and mild spices and very comforting. The recipes are very solid and clearly written.The book includes reicpes for curries, vegetables, stir fries, noodles, soups, salads, drinks, snacks, rice and snacks. 
The Farm Cooking School is a book from two food magazine veterans and it offers a compelling combination of the basics like how to bone a chicken, how to make puff pastry and croissant dough, and veal stock but then surprising recipes like an Elvis Pavlova, Roasted Whole Carrot Tart Tatin and the recipe I made, the roasted Delicata and Celery Salad. I’d say this is a particularly good book for “advanced beginners” in other words, people who already know how to cook, but want to take their skills to the next level. 
Autentico is written by Rolando Beremendi who is an importer of fine Italian food. His enthusiasm for quality ingredients makes him the perfect author of a book that is the very definition of “ingredient driven.” I made his recipe for Farro Soup which consists of just farro, water, olive oil, Italian fish sauce and oregano. The book is filled with Italian soul food, simple recipes but the essence of why we love the cuisine. It’s always about using the best ingredients even if it’s just simple day old bread. As an Italian food fanatic, I basically want to make everything in this book! The recipes are from different regions but most have very short ingredient lists and easy techniques, nothing fussy. Now that Winter is here I plan to make the Sausages with Lentils and Tuscan Kale, Fennel Braised in Chianti, Sweet and Sour Onions and Risotto with Radicchio. 
The memoir with recipes category seems to be holding steady, and books like Unforgettable show why the category is so popular. This book spans a lifetime so there are recipes from many countries and using different techniques. You will absolutely find things in the book that you have not seen before. I made the Egg and Mint Salad repeatedly! If you’re already a fan of Paula Wolfert or never heard of her, I feel certain you will find this book as endearing as it is unforgettable. Most of the dishes are French, Mediterranean or Moroccan. If you’ve been intimidated by Wolfert’s recipes in the past, this book is particularly good as there are plenty of very, very easy unfussy recipes and basic techniques that can be used again and again such as her oven steamed salmon, decontructed hummus and the book also has many classics in one place, from hand-rolling couscous to making preserved lemons. 

I became a fan of chef Jeremey Fox when I dined at the groundbreadking Ubuntu in Napa. Since then he has moved on to Los Angles but is still known for his incredible approaches to vegetables. On Vegetables is a book to inspire you! His recipes are incredibly original such as Parnsip Cream, Meringue and Citrus or Rhubarb, Ricotta and Radish Toast. His flavor combinations like goat cheese and horseradish are fresh and exciting. I made the Miso Bagna Cauda. It’s delicious but I felt the recipe needed a little tweaking to get the consistency right. His vegetable based bacon, stocks, powders, crumbles and “soils” are all wonderful building blocks for imaginative new dishes. 

Disclaimer: I received all but one of these books as a review copy. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Muti-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer

Instant Pot is a smart multi-use Electric Pressure Cooker designed with the objective of being Convenient, Dependable and Safe. It speeds up cooking by 2-6 times making it extremely energy-efficient, while, preserving nutrients and preparing healthy, tasty dishes. Instant Pot Lux V3 6 In 1 Programmable multi-cooker replaces 6 kitchen appliances, it combines the functions of a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer. 12 smart built-in programs – Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Cake, Egg, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Steam, Porridge, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm and Slow Cook, your favourite dishes are as easy as pressing a button. The new Cake Maker is ideal for New York style cheesecake, banana bread and other moist cakes, the Egg Program prepares, soft, medium and hard-boiled eggs perfectly in just a few minutes. Built with the latest 3rd generation technology with an embedded microprocessor. During cooking the microprocessor monitors pressure, temperature, keeps time, and adjusts heating intensity and duration. Even the volume of food is taken into consideration, all greatly improving cooking results and consistency of the dishes. A 24-hour delay start timer for delayed cooking. Automatic keep warm holds the temperature of the dish until you serve. The fully sealed environment traps the flavours, nutrients and aromas within the food without heating up the kitchen. The 3-ply inner pot stainless steel bottom is extremely durable and leaves no health concerns as associated with non-stick coatings. Bushed stainless steel exterior is finger print resistant with a large, clear display panel. UL certified, carefully designed with 10 proven safety mechanisms to eliminate many common errors that could cause harm or spoil food providing you uncompromised assurance. Instant Pot is the ideal kitchen appliance for your faced-paced, healthy lifestyle.

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10 Highlights from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018

This year I’m sharing several posts recapping the Winter Fancy Food Show. Kicking things off are a few of my favorite things (cue The Sound of Music). Stay tuned for posts on trends and the newest products. 
In my round up of all things bananas last year I mentioned a unique banana jam. This year I tried the latest jam from the same producer, made from jackfruit. You may know jackfruit as a fiberous vegan replacement for pulled pork. In this jam it has an incredible tropical flavor that tastes like a combination of mango, pineapple and banana–think Juicy Fruit gum but so much better. It’s like a little tropical vacation in a spoon. 
I’m lumping these three things together because they fit in the category of couverture, that’s chocolate speak for a product that has a very high percentage of cocoa butter. Coffee thins are made with a unique coffee product and cocoa butter, no cocoa solids at all. It’s has the texture of chocolate, but it’s coffee. It’s available in three different varieites, latte, espresso and cruz special blend and makes use of a proprietary technology that transforms coffee into something smooth and creamy. Valrhona is introducing two new couvertures, one with passion fruit and one with almond, neither of them contain cocoa solids either. They won’t be available in a retail product but expect your favorite chocolatiers to start using this divine stuff in their confections.  
Flavored maple syrups
I talked to a retailer who told me that this past holiday season his company saw an incredible increase in sales of maple syrup. Having tasted some of the more recent flavored maple syrups I can’t say I’m surprised. My favorites come from a company called Runamok. They infuse maple syrups with flavors such as makrut lime leaf, cardamom, ginger as well as bourbon and rum barrel aged maple syrup and my favorite, pecan wood smoked maple syrup. 
You may have had black sesame ice cream before but the black sesame ice cream from Humphry Slocombe is a game changer. It’s made from their base with ground black sesame seeds but the secret is an addition of toasted sesame oil which is fragrant and lusicous. 
Wadaman organic white sesame oil
While we’re on the topic of sesame oil, I have to say, this one is the best I’ve ever tried. It’s has a lusicous buttery flavor and an almost floral aroma. It’s so good, and much more delicate than the typical toasted sesame oil which can be overly intense and almost bitter.  It’s available in Asian speciality stores and online from Japanese Pantry.
Sauerfrau squeezable sauerkraut
I was already a fan of sauerkraut, but not only is this sauerkraut delicious and comes in 3 varieties, classic, sweet Bavarian and craft beer mustard. It’s ridiculously convenient because it comes in a squeeze bottle. It’s tangy, but not too juicy, still raw and filled with probiotics, but it will keep in the fridge for ages. Good stuff and coming soon to stores.
I wrote about Bakwa a few years ago. Of course pork jerky is delicious but now Little Red Dot Kitchen has applied their magic touch to eggplant to make something they call jerky. I just call it good. I’d love to layer it on a baguette and make sandwich with it. 

Axel Provisions pickled onions
Axel Provisions launched with three versions of their chimichurri sauce. It’s very good. But what I really liked was their pickled onions. The founder ate these onions in Argentina and decided to make them himself. You could make them too, but his are really, really good. They come in two versions, one is red and spicy with habanero and the other sweet with jalapeno. Both are irresistable. 

Heirloom grain pasta
This year I saw more pastas made with different grains, including heirloom varieties of wheat. I sample pasta from two different companies, Monograno Felicetti from Italy and Sfoglini from Brooklyn, Monograno uses several different types of wheat, I tried the pasta made from a variety of durum wheat called matt. Sfoglini uses a variety of different grains but in blends that keep the pasta al dente, something that can be tricky when experimenting beyond wheat. 


Which is the best prosciutto? Generally speaking, he one in front of you. But in tasting San Daniele, Parma and Modena, I have to admit, Modena won me over. The texture and flavor of prosciutto is dependent upon not just origin, but also which part of the prosciutto it comes from. It’s formed in a pear shape, then often trimmed and formed into a block for easier slicing. One end is saltier than the other. The prosciutto I had from Modena was from the center and it was rosy, meltingly tender and delicate. It was the perfectly mild balance of sweet and salty. Prosciutto from Modena may be new to us, but it has been made in Modena since the 16th century. The meat is massaged with salt twice, and allowed to rest for 70 days. Once dried it’s massaged with a mxiture of lard, salt, spices and flour. The entire process takes 14 months. It’s recently gained entry to the US and like San Daniele and Parma prociutto it is a DOP (protected denomination of origin) product, look for it at a deli or gourmet shop. 

Dash Mini Waffle Maker, reviewed

The Instant Pot might have been one of the popular holiday kitchen gifts last season, but the Dash Mini Waffle Maker has consistently been a best seller this year. The pint-size waffle maker is just a bit bigger than the palm of your hand and produce 4-inch waffles that are almost too cute to eat. It comes in a variety of colors and has a price tag right around $10 – making it a perfect impulse purchase, whether you’re shopping online or see it in the store. As a waffle fan with a Belgian-style waffle iron that I really like, I wondered how the Dash stacked up to its full size competitors and ordered one so I could give it a try.

Dash Mini Waffle Maker, review

The waffle iron is so small and lightweight that it almost looks like a toy at first glance, but the waffle iron has a surprisingly heavy duty nonstick iron inside once you open it up. It has an indicator light on the top that lights up when you plug in the machine, then clicks off when the iron is hot. It does not have a on-off switch or any audible indicator, but that is true of some larger machines and not something I mind much. It does, however, mean that you need to plug it in to preheat about 2 minutes before you’re ready to use it and that you must remember to unplug the machine when you’re done.

The Dash heats up quickly and the nonstick surface works very well. I found my waffles released easily from the iron both when I greased the iron and when I did not. It heated evenly and produced waffles that were uniformly brown, though the batter didn’t quite always make it to the outer edges (I chronically underfill my waffle makers, apparently) and the coloration was a touch lighter there.

Dash Mini Waffle Maker review

It took about 4 minutes to cook my waffles until they were crisp on the outside and completely cooked inside. The waffles were completely cooked at about 3 minutes, but the exterior remained soft unless they got a little extra time on the iron. I felt it was worth a little extra patience to get that perfectly crisp outside, however if you are planning to pop your waffles in the toaster to crisp them up before serving (a handy trick for small waffles), letting them be a little less cooked might be better. Since there is no audible alert, I used a kitchen timer while I cooked.

Verdict

All in all, the waffle iron performed extremely well and really exceeded my expectations. It produced evenly cooked waffles with a nice crispy surface and a moist interior. The 4-inch waffles were a great size for stacking, sandwiching or snacking. It does not save a lot of time over using a full sized waffle iron, however this gadget takes up almost no space in the kitchen, so everyone will be able to find room for it. You can use any traditional waffle recipe (the instruction booklet includes both sweet and savory recipes), but I would recommend cutting them in half because a little batter will go a long way here. For the price, you can’t go wrong – even if you already have a full size waffle iron in your kitchen.

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