Stuff & Nonsense: king arthur flour


Showing posts with label king arthur flour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label king arthur flour. Show all posts

05 March 2019

The Great Burlington Baking Club: Victoria Sandwich, or, The Sponge of Despair

This is my second month as a member of The Great Burlington Baking Club. Inspired by The Great British Bake Off, The Great Burlington Baking Club is open to all bakers and cooks -- just make a dish that fits the monthly theme and bring it in to share on the appointed night. Previous themes included layered desserts, desserts featuring fruit, and chocolate desserts. For March, we were all to bring in our version of a Victoria Sandwich -- a cake made of layers of sponge, cream/buttercream, and jam.


Several of us followed King Arthur Flour's "Victoria Sandwich Cake Recipe" and were disappointed by our cakes. And, honestly, relieved that it was a cake fail for everyone who tried to follow it. We like to think we're competent bakers who know how to turn out a decent sponge, but this sponge was dry and crumby, more of a stale scone or shortcake biscuit than a sponge.

Variations between cakes:
I was the only one to use King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, while the others made their own by adding salt and baking powder to all-purpose flour.
I weighed all my ingredients while the others used the time-tested "fluff and scoop" method.
I used three extra-large eggs at room temperature and the others used large eggs straight from the fridge.
One baker skipped the optional almond extract.
Everyone let the butter soften before creaming it with the sugar.

And all our cakes disappointed in exactly the same ways -- dry and crumby with a disappointing rise and a surprisingly firm outside. Although we tried, no amount of cream or jam could save this cake. I've eaten many Victorian Sandwiches -- from home-baked cakes by The Husband's gran to posh hotel show-offs to Sayers' mass quantity sponges -- and I'm embarrassed to association this one with any of those. Rather than call it a Victoria Sandwich, I am calling it the Sponge of Despair.

11 January 2019

On Baking King Arthur Flour's Whole-Grain Banana Bread


I've been craving banana bread, but haven't feel quite up to making Mom's recipe. Mom was allergic to bananas, which always confused me, because she would still buy bananas and bake banana bread for my Dad. They only made her sick if she ingested them, so having them in the house wasn't going to make her sick, but why would you keep a fruit associated with vomiting and hives around if you didn't have to? Because my Dad liked bananas. And Mom liked Dad. And she was one of those people who was happiest making other people happy. So, bananas.

Mom would throw a banana in each of our lunchboxes and, invariably, at the end of the week there would be a browning banana or two who had traveled hither and yon without being eaten. Mom would throw the banana(s) in the freezer and, when there were enough, she would make banana bread.

Mom's banana bread was very dense and heavy. A real stick-to-your-ribs banana bread. A thick slice, slathered with sweet butter, made for a delicious breakfast and is something I've missed as an adult. The Husband does not eat banana bread and I can't/shouldn't eat an entire loaf on my own, so I just don't make it. My browned frozen bananas go into smoothies which, while quite good, are no banana bread.

Anyway, since Mom died, I'm been craving all sorts of childhood eats. Banana bread. Zucchini bread. Spritz cookies. Raspberry crumb bars. Tomato-y meatloaf. Salmon cakes. Hard salami sandwiches on toasted Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread with provolone, iceberg lettuce, tomato, a smear of mayonnaise, and sprinkle of oregano.

Well, that got unexpectedly specific.

I'm going down to help Dad sort through more of Mom's things this weekend and so tonight seemed like the best time to give into my banana bread craving and just bake one. Dad loves banana bread even more than I do and wouldn't mind if I left him with half the loaf. I wasn't about to feed him Mom's loaf, though. Too soon for everyone, definitely. Instead, I made King Arthur Flour's "Whole-Grain Banana Bread."

This is a very morish bread and I could easily eat an entire loaf. As it is, my half is already greatly reduced in size and I don't doubt I'll help Dad eat some of his tomorrow. This cake is less dense and more tender than my mother's and seems more like a snacking cake than something I might have for breakfast (although I probably will, anyway). I used butterscotch chips as the nuts I'd planned on using had gone off and the chips gave the bread a nice caramelized note. While not Mom's bread, I still think she would have approved of my recipe choice as she was a great fan of King Arthur Flour.

13 April 2016

Yumptious Tea Brack

Finally got around to baking King Arthur Flour's "Tea Brack" on Sunday. As I understand it, tea brack is the baking-powder-and-tea version of barmbrack, a yeasty bread usually served in Ireland at Halloween with different fortune-telling objects (a coin, a thimble, etc) baked into it. I'm still leery of yeast doughs, so this yeast-free version sounded perfect.


I used Barry's Gold Blend tea and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel (not Irish whiskey, but all I had on hand) to soak the fruit as I thought a little whiskey never went amiss with tea. The tea-and-whiskey soaked fruits were plump and yumptious. I used soft, vacuum-sealed fruits from Nuts.com because I find their products consistently good and quite reasonably priced for the quality I'm getting. I freely admit nearly as many dried plums (prunes) went into my belly as went into the cake! (I love dried plums, even back when they were still marketed as prunes and most often associated with grandmas and "regularity").

This cake is a little time-consuming, yes, but in a distinctly non-fiddly "do this and go away for an hour" way. I threw all my fruits together in a big bowl with the tea and whiskey, covered them with a tea towel, and then went off to tidy the living room. Then I assembled the dry ingredients in another bowl, got the egg out, and tidied the kitchen a bit. By the time the fruits were ready to go, I'd done enough that I felt truly accomplished for a Sunday morning.


As I lacked a 8" baking tin that was at least 2" deep, I used my 9" springform pan and wrapped the base in foil, just in case there were leaks. The cake rose up quite beautifully as it baked, but the walls of the pan were high enough to prevent spillovers. Baking tins I've seen in my English mother-in-law's kitchen seem to run much deeper than the ones I'm used to in America. I don't know why this is so -- perhaps because English cakes tend to be denser, fruit-based ones? But how does that explain the sponge cake?

But how does it taste? Heavenly. Moist, dense, fruity. Of course, I'm partial to fruitcake. And tea. And whiskey. People who do not like those things will probably not enjoy this cake. While a plain slice is perfectly delightful on its own, toasting it in a pan and then smearing it with good butter just brings it to a whole new level. Obviously, consume with tea (or whiskey!). Appropriate for breakfast, tea, or whenever you're feeling snacky. Remember, it's got fruit in it (And whole grains! And flavonoids!) so it must be good for you.

I'm tempted to make this tea brack at Christmas using a "Christmas" tea blend, cover the top with royal icing and pass it off as an easy Christmas cake. Seriously, I love the fruitcake recipes I use, but they each make cakes meant to be consumed by waaay more people than I know who like fruitcake. And there's no point telling me to freeze it, because even I (!) don't want fruitcake in July.

07 June 2013

Rainy Day Waffles

I was very excited to acquire a free bag of King Arthur Flour's self-rising flour a few months ago as a "real" Victoria sponge needs "self-raising" flour. While I have yet to make a Victoria sponge (soon, surely, now that strawberries are in season?), I have been using the self-rising flour to make some pretty snazzy waffles. I use the buttermilk waffle version of this King Arthur recipe -- it's fast, easy, and makes just the right number of waffles for two people.

Buttermilk Self-Rising Waffles
Blueberry waffle topped w/ blueberries, strawberries, maple syrup, & cinnamon!

The recipe calls for blueberries or other berries and, while I've used blueberries, I usually leave the waffles plain because we tend to bling our waffles out with ridiculous amounts of toppings. The Husband, for example, definitely sees waffles as a way to introduce dessert to the breakfast table as he covers his waffles in berries, ice cream, and whipped cream! I tend to be a bit more low key -- lots of berries and a splash of syrup.

When I do make the waffles with berries (or chocolate chips!), I pour the batter onto the hot waffle grid, then sprinkle berries across the batter, drizzle a little more batter over them, and close the lid. I learned to drizzle a little extra batter over the berries after the sugars from the hot berries fused themselves to the waffle iron.

10 October 2012

Bacon Jam in My Slow Cooker

I'm sure there are many ways to celebrate Columbus Day. I celebrated it with bacon jam. Many months ago, when I started mainlining Skillet Street Food's bacon spread, I pinned several DIY slow cooker bacon jam recipes because ... why not? Bacon goes in the slow cooker, double plus yumminess comes out.

Making Bacon Jam

When I finally got around to making my own bacon jam, I used King Arthur Flour's bacon jam recipe which yields a much sweeter, gooier jam than Skillet's spread. This is hardly surprising as it's full of brown sugar, cider vinegar, maple syrup, and boiled cider. It may be more sweet than savory, but it's still pure unmitigated deliciousness and I'm perfectly content to use it in everything I used Skillet's spread in.

Making Bacon Jam

I baked my bacon in the oven @ 400F° for about 20 minutes a batch -- until each square was deep brown and very crunchy. I could have fried the bacon in batches in a skillet, but I find baking creates more uniformly cooked bacon, allows me to walk away to do other things, and is also a heck of a lot easier to clean up!

Making Bacon Jam

We don't drink coffee, but I occasionally cook with it so I keep a packet of Starbucks Via Ready Brew Colombia Medium instant coffee in my spice cupboard. Each slim, easily-stored packet brews up one cup of coffee and I don't usually need more than that in any recipe. Indeed, for KAF's bacon jam, I only need three quarters of a cup. I froze the remaining quarter cup, figuring it would come in handy at some later point.

So, you ask, what will I do with this bacon jam? I'm going to toss it with roasted Brussels sprouts and tomato-braised green beans, smear it all over bread and make a fantastic grilled cheese, and ... I might just stand in front of the fridge and eat it by the spoon full.

(I strongly recommend cooking more bacon that you need for this recipe because, if you're like me, a significant amount of bacon will be lost to tasting).

29 February 2012

A Mix A Week(ish): King Arthur Flour's Vermont Cheddar Biscuit Mix

First off, I have to warn you that you can't buy this biscuit mix anymore. I don't know when King Arthur Flour stopped selling it, but I can tell you I bought my biscuit mix in 2008 ... and it's "enjoy by" date was December 16, 2009. (Yes, yes, shame on me). Despite being years out of date, these biscuits baked up really fine and I enjoyed eating them. I've always had a great weakness for cheddar crackers and these biscuits tasted exactly like Cheez-Its. Soft, slightly doughy Cheez-Its. Add a little bacon and, I swear, it you would have biscuit-shaped pieces of heaven.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These biscuits were extremely easy to make. I used the drop method, because I wasn't interested in pretty so much as fast, and I add the optional cheese (1 cup Trader Joe's Vintage Reserve Cheddar) and hot sauce (1 teaspoon Huy Fong Foods Sriracha). The biscuit mix already contained powdered Vermont cheddar so the finished biscuits were plenty cheesy and good.

(I feel I should point out that The Husband did not like these biscuits at all. He couldn't get over them tasting, to him, so much like cheddar goldfish crackers while their texture was all soft and biscuit-y).