Strawberry jam crumb cake, lightened up

Strawberry jam crumb cake
It’s not exactly pretty – but it’s quite tasty.

Over at theKitchenSinkRecipes, Kristin posts a recipe for strawberry jam crumb cake and talks all about a visit to the Bay Area, where she relaxed and whipped up a buttery, indulgent breakfast treat. I wanted to try out her concoction for a number of reasons: 1) I had all the ingredients on hand, including tasty strawberry jam, 2) I’ve been wanting to try out the springform pan I got for Christmas, and 3) baking is fun and I’m sort of addicted and will take any excuse to try a new recipe.

However – I’ve lost about 25 pounds in the past year and am still plugging away down the weight loss path, and my waistline can’t quite afford to freely enjoy my rich baking habits. Therefore, while I still bake and cook a lot, I watch what I actually eat very carefully, give away the extras and lighten up the recipes whenever possible.

With this strawberry jam cake, since it’s a very simple recipe, I saw the opportunity to swap out about half the butter with some unsweetened applesauce. I also cut the amount of crumb topping in half. It may not be as perfectly buttery and wonderful as the original rendition, but this lightened up version is still pretty darn good – moist, very sweet (almost too sweet – I might cut down the amount of sugar next time), and satisfying.

Strawberry Jam Crumb Cake
Adapted from TheKitchenSinkRecipes

Cake:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Crumb topping:
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Rounded 1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the cake, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate (larger) bowl, whisk the butter, applesauce, milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and whisk together until combined.

Spray a springform pan with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Dab spoonfuls of the strawberry jam on top of the batter, and gently swirl with a knife.

To make the crumb topping, whisk together the butter, applesauce, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Add the flour, gently stir to just bring the ingredients together, then use your fingers to fully blend. Sprinkle the mixture in clumps across the top of the cake.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes. As mentioned before, this is a moist cake, and it might not be super sturdy (especially in the middle), so be a little careful when slicing and serving.

Surgery cake

I think undergoing surgery calls for cake. Don’t you?

Yogurt cake

I hereby declare this as a new rule: you undergo surgery, you get cake.

I’ve had this Simple Yogurt Cake recipe via Pinch My Salt starred in my Google Reader for quite some time, so I decided to go for it. Jeffrey had follow-up surgery on his shoulder/arm today (he broke his arm last March when he was hit by a car whilst riding his bike), so an easy, comforting cake sounded just perfect for the occasion. Also, I’m mildly obsessed with my bundt pan and am always looking for another excuse to bake with it.

The recipe is so easy. I used yellow cake mix instead of white, and vanilla yogurt instead of plain, and I added about a half cup or so of chocolate chips. Tasty.

Yogurt cake

Birthday brunch 2010

Lemon blueberry bundt cake

As a preemptive birthday celebration (my actual birthday is the 18th), I threw myself a birthday brunch this past Saturday. With the invaluable help from my boyfriend and roommates, an amazing feast was put together and thoroughly enjoyed by all. And I do mean thoroughly – my good friend Curt, a bit of an amateur chef, had to go home and take a nap before going to work because he stuffed himself silly. I was quite proud of that.

Here’s the menu from Saturday:

Lemon-blueberry crumb bundt cake: One of the best things I’ve ever made. So so good. My roommate put together real whipping cream (that she whipped herself, no electric beaters involved), which was a perfect accomplice in the indulgent brunch dessert mayhem.

Asparagus frittata: Frittata in a bundt pan made with really good cheese! I neglected to include the melted cheese/scallion topping, but it was great nonetheless.

Caramelized bacon twists: I’ll leave it at that.

Cheese-scallion drop biscuits: I used cheddar instead of blue cheese. I snuck one of these before the guests arrived because the smell was so irresistible.

Make-ahead muffin melts: Easy, popular, and we had leftover filling to enjoy the next day.

“Overnight” cinnamon rolls: It was tough to really tell, but these seemed like the biggest hit of the party. People were practically fighting over the scraps.

Spinach-cheese strata: Wow yum oh my goodness so good.

Maple-olive oil granola: My all-time favorite granola.

Fresh pineapple poached in cinnamon syrup: Oddly, these were the least popular – not because the pineapple wasn’t tasty (because it was), but because people didn’t necessarily know what to do with it, perhaps.

Almost every dish was made the night before, or whipped up quickly in the morning. It took a little bit of planning and a whole lot of dish washing, but it was entirely worth it. We also had Dynamo donuts, fruit salad, various food items and drinks that people brought (thank you!!) and enough mimosas and Bloody Marys to sink a ship, or make a ship happily drunk, or however you want to describe it.

It was a really great party. Thanks again to everyone involved.

“Rustic” rhubarb tarts

Rustic rhubarb tarts

I assume “rustic” refers to the fact that these tarts are a little more casual and undefined when compared to the average tart? Rough edges, in place of the perfectly stenciled? Either way, YUM.

I’ve never done anything with rhubarb before (aside from occasionally eating it), and my coworker made these tarts from Smitten Kitchen awhile back and brought them in to the office. Since then, once the craving hit and refused to go away, I decided to give in to the rhubarb.

This recipe turned out to be easier than I thought, and also pretty fun, all things considered. Rolling out the dough, filling with compote and then pinching up the edges in a devil-may-care way was surprisingly satisfying.

I shared these at a couple of get-togethers over the weekend, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Yay!

Logistically speaking: I found the compote took just a few extra minutes to finish than the recipe indicated, and I had to manually break apart some of the rhubarb pieces during the process. I used a food processor for the dough (more specifically, my roommate’s food processor). I only froze the tarts for about 30 minutes instead of the full hour before baking. I also used “Madagascar Bourbon” vanilla beans – since that was the only option I found at Rainbow Grocery – and I accidentally used a whole bean instead of the dictated 1/2 bean. The result was still amazing; a little extra vanilla bean never hurt anyone, right? Aside from your wallet, of course – them skinny pods are spendy.

Oh crappy iPhone photos, you really don’t give these tarts their due justice.

Rustic rhubarb tarts

First Prize S’Mores Pie

S'mores pie

What we wanted to do? Make the following: First Prize Pies S’Mores Pie. What was required? A stand mixer, for the homemade marshmallow topping. What don’t either of us have? A stand mixer. Because stand mixers are wonderful but flippin’ expensive. D’oh! The recipe was shelved, at least for the time being.

However, a weekend of house-sitting at my parents’ place up in Sonoma County presented a) lots of time relaxing around the country estate, and b) my mother’s stand mixer. Huzzah!

The result? The pie pictured above, which looks a little burnt* – but trust me, it was delicious. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say that it was one of the most delicious pies I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. And we made it ourselves!

And for the proverbial icing on the cake (or marshmallow topping on the chocolate ganache, if you will): it really wasn’t very difficult. The hardest part was getting the timing right, and exercising patience while the water, gelatin, and corn syrup mixture did its thing – i.e., balloon into irresistibly gooey marshmallow topping.

*The burn marks on our pie were the result of attempting to “brulee” the top of the pie, which should be done with a propane torch or butane creme brulee torch, of which we had neither. So we stuck it back in the oven to broil for just a minute or two, as instructed, and left it in for about 30 seconds too long. C’est la vie.