Monday, April 21, 2008

Russian Coffee Cake

Russian Coffee Cake
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
My house is overflowing with cookbooks. When we moved here in 2006, I did a huge weeding of my collection, just enough to make sure it fit in my designated cookbook cupboard. I'm back to overflowing again, but the way I justify it to myself is that I NEED them. All of them. I have some of my husband's grandmother's cookbooks with her handwritten changes to some of the recipe, and no way am I parting with those. I have an entire shelf of vegetarian cookbooks, another of baking/pastry, and another of my cookbook souvenirs that represent places I've been. The only solution will be to buy another bookshelf.

Sometimes, though, some of the cookbooks get avoided. It isn't intentional, they just go in and out of usage. I was given The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest almost eight years ago, for a wedding shower gift. I have dabbled in it from time to time, but felt like I needed to make a serious dent in the recipes.

This week was deemed the Week of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I have marked several recipes to try, and each one has been a success. Let me take a quick break from baking to point to a few:

The Swiss Rarebit, a take on Welsh Rarebit, with swiss and wine instead of cheddar and beer, was very tasty over rye bread. Nathaniel deemed it "fondue on a plate." It doesn't look like much, but simple to make and the flavor is astounding. Great comfort food!

Lasagna al Pesto was a huge success, even if I went with no boil noodles and ended up with some crunchiness on top. I wish I could have find the green lasagna sheets, because that would have really created a nice look.

A few recipes I plan to try before the week is up:
Galician Garbanzo Soup (I need a new soup pot though!)
Oatmeal Maple Bread OR Corn & Molasses Muffins
Vegetable Strudel (hooray! tackling filo dough again!)

Mollie Katzen has finally made her way into my kitchen. Frankly, I'm surprised I held her off so long, as she is a classic in the vegetarian kitchen world.

I could not make a list of recipes to try without something baked. For that, I went with her Russian Coffee Cake recipe.

Russian Coffee Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup peach or apricot jam
1/2 cup dried apricots, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a standard-size tube or bundt pan.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cream together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Sift together the flours, baking powder, soda, and salt into a separate medium-sized bowl.
4. Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture (dry/wet/dry/wet/dry). Mix just well enough to thoroughly blend after each addition. Don't beat or otherwise overmix.
5. Place the chocolate chips and almonds in a blender jar. Whirl together in short spurts until ground into a coarse powder. Combine this with the coconut in a small bowl.
6. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it until even. Spoon small amounts of jam here and there onto the batter. (Don't try to spread it - just leave it in little blobs.) Sprinkle on the apricots and about 2/3 of the chocolate-nut mix.
7. Add the remaining batter, distributing it nicely. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate mix, and bake the cake for 45-55 minutes - until a probing knife inserted all the way in comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

Jenny's Notes: I chickened out a little on this recipe. I left the coconut out because Nathaniel doesn't care for it. I also left out the apricots at the last minute because I was afraid it would taste like fruitcake, but really regretted doing so. We still ate them for breakfast with the coffee cake, but the cake really needed them.

I dumped half the chocolate almond filling mixture in the sink on accident, and am very sad about this. I think a better use of the last 1/3 of it would have been multiple layers inside the cake since sprinkling it on the top of what is baked becomes the bottom and smears all over the serving dish, and not much of it ends up on the eaters' plates!

Overall this had fairly good texture and flavor and what it was lacking I believe was my fault for not following the recipe. You could taste the presence of the whole wheat pastry flour (usually my nemesis in baked goods) but it wasn't so much that it was overwhelming. Overall I wanted more filling - more apricot, more chocolate, and the coconut would have been very nice here.

Categories: Almond, Apricot, Chocolate, Coffee Cake


Deborah said...

I am getting a lot better about cooking from my cookbooks, but I still feel that they are under-used. But I love to flip through them while watching tv, so I can't give them up! This sounds like a great book - that coffee cake looks delicious!

Cakespy said...

That coffee cake looks like an absolute inspiration--a reason to wake up in the morning!!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

That lasagna just made me SO hungry!

Sunshinemom said...