What Makes a Coffee Cake

The Cake

Need… COFFEE!!!!

Ah, coffee. It is the delicious nectar of the devil. We actually mean this literally. That guy downs around five cups a day. You really want to avoid him when he hasn’t had his coffee. Scary. Anyways… back on topic. Coffee cake actually does not contain any coffee. It is thus named because it is a cake to be eaten with coffee. It is much the same in concept as tea cakes. Except that it is a better tasting treat and served with a tastier beverage. Coffee cake can be sweet, or savory but it always has a nice tangy-ness to it which pairs nicely with coffee.

The Tang

Sour cream is used in baking to bring about a more moist cake and ands a slight, delightful tang. However, because it has this thing called fat, most people tend to replace it to be ‘healthy.’

Buttermilk, to continue the confusion, does not contain a lot of butter. It is actually the liquid left over after making butter. Buttermilk is used in recipes to tenderize gluten leading to a softer cake.

Yogurt is commonly used in baking to replace items high in fat, such as sour cream and butter. It is also a favorite in baking because it is full of calcium and protein. It adds a creamy texture to muffins and cakes.

The Extra

Coffee cake is almost always topped with a nice streusel. Sometimes it will also be glazed but it is never frosted. And no, we don’t hate frosting. We just think it has a place it belongs and you humans tend to put it EVERYWHERE. Nuts, fruits and spices (most commonly cinnamon) can often be found swirled into the coffee cake batter. While some people will fully mix these additions in, taking the easy route, the best coffee cakes show a swirl as the added ingredients are not fully mixed in. It makes the cake more visually appealing. Be you demon or human, we all eat with our eyes.

Advertisements

Chocolate Orange Brownies

Our finished product

Down here is the fires below we have long been searching for the best of the best brownie recipe. We have gone through many recipes and have yet to find one that thrashes that stupid box mix made by those stupid elves. Today we try a new recipe supplied to me by a like-minded demon. If there is an alteration you wish to make, make it. But know this, if we find you frosted these brownies you will burn forever in our eternal fires. Makes 16 brownies of enough to feed a couple of ghouls. They really like their brownies.

The Recipe

The Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 6 tbsp natural cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp grated orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9in baking pan.
  2. Mix together boiling water and cocoa powder.
  3. Mix together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. In another bowl whisk eggs. Add butter, orange peel and vanilla.
  5. Add cocoa mixture to egg mixture. Add flour mixture, mix until just blended.
  6. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake 30min (oven times will varry) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Tasty llittle things

    Cool in pan.

  8. Eat and enjoy

The Taste

It turns out that once again those darn elves win. While this brownie is good, it is by no means the best. It didn’t turn out as fudgy as we were aiming for, nor was it super chocolate-y. Fresh baked, it only had a slight orange flavor. Do not fret, if you let the brownie sit overnight the orange flavor grows to overpowering, punch you in the face with orange flavor, heights. Please note we are being hyper-critical with our flavor analysis. We are looking for the best after all, we have to be picky. Overall it is an enjoyable brownies and it is little demon approved.

We say Yum!!

Baking with Chocolate

We all know that chocolate is the most devilish of delights. It is sinful and tasty and we just can’t get enough of it. Despite cocoa’s various health benefits we still count it among the tastiest of temptations.

Choosing the Chocolate

It will just take a minute… or five

Cocoa powder is amazing to bake with. Unlike all of the other forms of chocolate using baking cocoa doesn’t require melting the chocolate. This may not sound important to you ignorant humans but this step does tend to make things more complicated. First off melting the chocolate is requied to fully incorporate the chocolate into your batter. If this step isn’t taken, with say baking chocolate, as you bite into the finished product you will hit chunks of chocolate and areas of non-chocolate. This works if our goal is a chocolate chip muffin, not so much for a chocolate cake.

Hope you like it oily and chunky!

The other problems with melting your chocolate is that you have to wait and let it cool. If you don’t give your chocolate a chance to cool down then it will start to cook your other ingredients early, not allowing them to function properly in your baked goods. Then there is also the problem of melting the chocolate incorrectly and causing the chocolate to separate which does not lead to a tasty outcome. Of course if you let it sit too long, as I am sure many humans are prone to do, the chocolate will become to hard to mix thoroughly and you will have to melt it all over again.

Natural Vs Dutch Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder comes in two forms, natural and dutch. Regardless of which you choose they will still, by themselves, taste bitter. In the batter, a little bit of cocoa will go a long way as it has a very strong and dominant, you might even say demonic, flavor.You also need to know that the cocoa powder will act like a sponge and absorb a lot of liquid. Without sugar or fat the powder is very dry and it will steal moisture from the ingredients around it.

Natural cocoa powder is a reddish brown color. It is made by grounding up cocoa nibs which are the meat of the cocoa bean. The cocoa fat is then removed from the paste in a hydraulic press. The remaining cocoa is then reground and sifted into a fine powder.

Dutch cocoa powder has a much darker color because of the dutching process. Dutch processed cocoa has been treated with an alkali compound. This removes aspects of chocolate’s complex flavor. Some people will say this makes the cocoa more ‘approachable.’ Personally we use natural but we are not going to go through some elaborate trial system just for you.

Our decision

Chocolate is delicious. Don’t think that just because of all this that cocoa powder is the only chocolate you should bake with. Baking chocolate is wonderful and, depending on what you are making, can be a better choice then cocoa powder. In the instance of our hellish brownies we choose powdered though. It packs just the

The only way to go

punch we are looking for in good brownies and since it has very little fat and sugar of its own its makes super fudgy brownies, which are the only way to go. I guess we can forgive you if you prefer a cake-ier brownie, you are only human after all.

What Makes a Bownie

The Brownie

A brownie is a near flat square of chocolate-y goodness. It is also a short furred cleaning elf but that isn’t what we are talking about today. For the food brownie, there are quite a few beliefs about how they came to be though everyone agrees that the started in the U.S. Most believable, a woman knew what she wanted and demanded it, even if it didn’t exist yet.

There’s no chocolate!!!

Brownies can come in a variety of forms. They can be fudge-y or chewy. They can be filled with nuts, fruits an other variety of chocolate. They can even be made with vegetables like zucchini or carrots. Even rarely, they can be found to not have any chocolate in them at all!

The Chocolate

Despite the last comment, most brownies will contain some manner of chocolate or another. A lot of times people will use multiple types of chocolate in their brownies to incorporate the

Cocoa Powder is the powder left behind when cocoa butter is removed from chocolate liquor. It has a very bitter taste as it lacks any fat or sugar. It is commonly used for baking chocolate cakes and making hot cocoa for its full chocolate flavor and dark color.

Baking chocolate is cooled and hardened chocolate liquor. It is an unsweetened chocolate that does not taste good plain. As its name implies, it is used a lot in the baking of cakes.

Sweetened chocolate is not a very popular choice for baking. The sugar and other ingredients it contain often mess up the delicate composition of baked goods. Usually they are added in as extras, in much the same way fruits or nuts are added.

The Extra

Often times brownies will include extra ingredients like fruits and nuts. Nuts are a very popular ingredient to add to brownies to give the dessert some added texture while fruit are typically added for the addition of their flavor. Brownies can also be found glazed, frosted, dusted or plain. A glaze can add fruit notes to the brownie without adding chucks of fruit to the actual batter and a dusting can add some color to the otherwise plain-looking brownies. However, a good brownie should never need frosting. Here, it is a sin to mask the wonderfully balanced flavor of any good brownie with the addition of overly sweet frosting. If you want frosting, bake a cake.

Apple Spice Cake

Eat me! Eat me!

As I have said, the apple spice cake is my favorite. Apples were created to be spiced. In our cozy little corner of hell the following recipe is the current favorite. It is my belief that this tasty recipe is delicious with just a dusting of powdered sugar, but you may add frosting if you desire. I am still right, but I will let you have your simple alteration. This cake serves 12-16 people or one hungry cake eating demon.

The Recipe

The Ingredients

The apples
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 medium size tart apples
  • 2 tbsp sugar
The cake

Obviously this is not all the ingredients

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk

The Directions

  1. Peel and core the apples. Cut into roughly 1/2 in cubes.
  2. Melt the 2 tbsp butter in skillet. Saute apples until golden brown, stirring as needed.
  3. Add 2 tbsp sugar to apples. Cook until evenly covered and nicely glazed. Allow apples to cool to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9in round pans.
  5. In a bowl, mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Next add vanilla. Scrape batter off sides of bowl as needed.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves).
  7. Mix together wet and dry ingredients in two additions. Mix in buttermilk. Fold in apples.
  8. Pour batter into pans. Bake for 30 min (oven times will vary) or until toothpick inserted in the center of pan comes out clean.
  9. Let cake sit in pan for 10 min before moving to cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar.
  10. Eat and enjoy.

How Old is Too Old?

You mean it’s still there?

Shelf life of my oldest cake

What is the longest you have ever kept a cake? For me personally it was about two weeks. There was some occation or another and I ended up making a too large cake. People scarfed down on it for the first few day and then after that it just sat on the counter. It took up precious counter space but we all just forgot about it.  Into that second week, a friend came to visit and wanted a piece of the chocolatey goodness sitting on my counter. Prewarned of its age he dug in. I was informed that it was stale and he thought he tasted a bit of mold so we tossed the cake.

Shelf live of the U.S.A’s oldest cake

Dig in!

Well what is your thought process on a hundred year old cake? Durring an estate sale assesment in 1992 a spice cake was found on a closet shelf in St. Louis Park. The cake was all dressed up in a fancy six sided flourist box with the hadwritten inscription “XMAS CAKE BAKED IN DEC. 1911.”

This hundred year old cake is two layered, 7in round cake. The cake still gives off an aroma from its spice blend. The frosting has all disintigrated. The cake is covered head to toe with mints and petrified nuts rest on top.  Yum, right?

It turns out, thanks to some digging by the new owner of the cake, that old Victorians used to have a tradition involving spice cake. A spice cake would be baked and soaked in brandy and rum. People would eat a layer of this cake and then save it for next year. That next year the remaining cake would be added to a new cake. My two week old cake is looking pretty good now, huh.

What makes a spice cake

The Cake

Spice cake is a dense mass of delicious spices. That is really were any relevant definition for this cake ends. It is often iced, glazed or frosted. It can be baked alone or with any manner of fruits or, more commonly then you know it, vegetables. This cake can be tiered, loafed, cupcaked, bundted or any other form your heart desires. Not even a spice mix is mapped out for you. The only thing that makes your cake a spice cake is that you use spices to flavor your cake. You can go American and punch your eaters in the face with its awesome spice might or you can go a more classical French and woo them with a subtle spice serenade. Either way you’re still enjoying a splendid slice of spice cake.

The Spices

While there is no set in stone spice mix, there are a few favorites generally used in spice cake. Now don’t take this to mean that these are what you have to use in any form of the word, you could call them favorites to the spice cake genre. Nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves are the most popular choices for spice cakes.

Nutmeg has a woodsy slightly spice sweet flavor, most familiar to people as something to be sprinkled on eggnog. It is more often used in savory dishes but it does work well in sweets too.

Allspice is not a mix of all spices and people explaining its flavor as a mix of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves doesn’t help to dismiss this. While this is true, allspice is a spice all its own with warm and slightly sweet notes.

Cinnamon is the most popular of all spices. No buts, everyone knows what cinnamon is, they are familiar with the sweet woodsy taste and most have baked with it before. It is used in a lot of baked goods and candies.

Cloves have a very pungent strong slightly sweet flavor and have a very bad habit of overwhelming other spices. Not to say cloves are bad, you just have to remember to tone them down a pinch though.

The Extras

As I have said, the above is enough to classify your cake as a spice cake. More often than not, people like to make their cakes more fancy with fun and tasty additions. When it comes to spice cake, people will most commonly add carrot, apple or pumpkin. Of course some will also add zucchini or oranges or dates, really anything that is complimented by their chosen spice blend.

Most people love a good carrot cake. It is the most commenly eaten spice cake in America. Don’t believe that it is a spice cake? Check out a recipe. Any good carrot cake calls for at least two of the spices listed above. That’s more then some fancy spice cakes. By far, my favorite would have to be an apple spice cake. Let’s face it, apples were born to be paired with spices. Their flavors marry so well and when caramelized before they are incorporated, fantastic.