I hope this week finds you all healthy and well, both physically and emotionally. I’ve settled into a routine of morning CorePower or other workout videos, short outdoor runs and days spent on zoom. Brandon works at a hospital, so he’s like a relic from the long ago; his daily routine has barely changed, with the exception of his gym closure.
The stark changes in our world has impacted all part of our lives, right down to this blog. Tiff couldn’t find any yeast last week, and that – combined with the current stress of her job, highlighted in these complex times – meant that we needed to take a break from posting last week. Hats off to her, though, since she was valiantly trying to get creative with her starter to develop something to post. When that wasn’t working out, we agreed that this blog is supposed to be fun – and when it’s not, well, perhaps we can skip a week.
For me, one advantage to being at home so much is that it’s given me lots of extra time to cook and bake during the week – in-between meetings I’ve been able to knead some dough, pop something into the oven, or just get a few things started. Like lots of other folks, I’ve been craving foods I find comforting.
A few things we’ve eaten have included:
- these sweet potatoes
- some recipes from this amazing cookbook (halibut with asparagus; spicy pork meatballs, subbing Beyond Beef; artichokes in wine broth)
- homemade pasta prepared this way
- risotto has also made an appearance (with this sub, of course)
- we even had salad one night!
And of course, this Pear Honey Swirl Bread. Think Cinnamon Raisin Bread, but with a sweeter interior. It’s fruity, sweet, and a little spicy and earthy (thanks to the cardamom). The bread is delicious toasted with butter (of course), but also great with almond butter spread on top. It’s a simple bake (if you can find yeast!) and – speaking from experience – is perfect to put together in-between web meetings.
It’s a wild world out there right now. Each day, life in Seattle feels like it’s getting both bigger and smaller. Bigger, because I’m reading about us in the national newspapers (though that focus is shifting already). And smaller, because – like everyone else – where I go, who I see and talk to, is shrinking by the day. The surreal has become our collective reality.
Our little blog is, of course, something that Tiffany and I do because we love to bake, and it gives us an amazing reason to stay in consistent in touch with one another. As we find our way through this crisis, I’m also realizing that S&S also provides a space for comfort for me. Baking has always been about connection to others – watching my dad cook, talking recipes with my brother, blogging with my dear friend – but right now, it also helps me feel a little bit safer. It not only gives me something to do during the day (in-between working, I promise!), but it also feels good to have control over something logical and where I can (mostly) control the outcome. Bonus is that it also makes the house smell amazing, and it provides extra delicious snacks.
This recipe in particular popped out at me for a bit of a silly reason – it has “Tuscan” in the title, and and I read the recipe shortly after I heard about Italy’s shutdown. The recipe looked great (and actually is super delicious – more on that in a moment), but I felt some attachment to baking this coffeecake as an ode to one of my (our!) favorite places. Also, I read this and, seriously, what an amazing country of people.
So – about the Coffeecake: firstly, the name is kind of a lie, because it’s more like a bread. It’s wonderfully tender and chewy, with a sugary exterior and nutty, bread-like interior. It’s not like a fruitcake (I would NEVER), it’s more way-better-than-you-could-imagine walnut bread.
Yesterday, I ate about a quarter of the loaf straight out of the oven, when the bread was still very warm and springy. Today, I toasted it, topped it with a bit of butter and loved it all the same with its crispy, buttery crunch. It’s a cinch to bake, and is a great starter recipe for folks not super experienced with yeasted breads.
I took the liberty of a slight variation of our theme this month which is enriched breads and made an enriched noodle instead. Why? Because it sounded delicious! A good reason in my book!
So as you read through the recipe below, you are going to ask yourself, “Why would I make this casserole with homemade egg noodles (that tack on about 30 minutes in prep time) when I can have this made in half the time with store bought egg noodles?” Wow – you ask yourself really long questions!
But I would answer – “Because it’s WORTH IT!”
Admittedly, as I was making these noodles I thought to myself, “This better be worth it!”
When I pulled the bubbly gooey casserole out of the oven, I let the casserole sit for maybe 2 minutes so I didn’t burn the roof of my mouth and I dug a spoon right in the middle and took a bite because I just couldn’t wait, it looked so inviting. Hence the spoon in the photo!
It was only after I’d baked this bread that I realized that it’s the *fifth* recipe for cheese bread that we have on this site. I also noted that all the other recipes have come from my brilliant co-blogger, who is tireless in her efforts to discover new ways to incorporate cheese into carbs. I find her commitment to be inspiring, and I’m proud to be adding to our Cheesy Bread collection with this fantastic offering, Italian Easter Cheese Bread.
This month, we’re focusing on enriched breads – breads that contain fats, commonly thanks to eggs, butter and/or milk. Since we’re about to enter Spring holiday season, this Italian Cheese Bread seemed like a great recipe to try out (to note, I’m of the non-leavened bread springtime holiday ilk, but that’s not until next month. And besides, who am I to say no to anything Italian?).
For a quick history lesson, this dough is apparently from Umbria and was traditionally served at Easter lunch (it’s apparently also killer with a slice of ham, though again, I’ll trust that’s true and leave the experimenting to the meat-eaters). From my end, I can say that the buttery, crisp crust is bursting with a light, savory, cheesy interior. The bread is excellent on it’s own, and is also fantastic toasted with eggs (or maybe a fried egg sandwich?!). If you have a stand mixer, it’s quite simple to make. There are two rises to coordinate your life schedule around, so it’s admittedly, it’s not quite as fast as this guy (but so totally 100% worth the time).
You know when you have one of those busy weekends and before you know it, it’s Monday again? So went my last weekend (and maybe the 50 weekends before that too). So when thinking of something chocolate and cake, I was also thinking of easy! Nutella cupcakes did the trick!
These nutella cupcakes are only three ingredients and fast. This recipe came from Jennifer En at Mashed. As you know I prefer my cake in the easy to grab and go cupcake size or better yet, cookie size and rarely make a full size cake! And I love me some Nutella, this creation goes well in anything!
The idea for a Banana Cake came from my recent visit to Hawai’i, where I ate banana bread with abandon while simultaneously plotting how I could recreate this joy in my own kitchen. We focused most of our loaf-eating while driving the Road to Hana. My favorite was from Hana Farms where the small loaf was sweet and springy and packed with flavor. I’m not embarrassed to admit that it’s sugary sweet-spicy topping was my reason for getting out of bed one morning.
For this month’s post, though, I decided to deal with reality – what we call “bread” is, of course, cake. And realist that I am, I figured I should try to recreate and actual cake – with frosting and everything! – to acknowledge exactly what we’re eating. I’m sure I’ll return to try again the mini-loaf like the one from Hana Farms, but in the meanwhile, let’s eat some cake!
As the snow falls outside this morning, what better way to enjoy some hot cocoa than in these warm, buttery hot cocoa cookies! These might be the easiest (and tastiest) cookies I’ve ever made. It’s hard to follow Strudel’s amazing checkerboard cake from last week incorporating chocolate!
But hopefully you’ll agree these super fudgy cookies with a hint of cinnamon and almond are a tempting successor (and ready to eat in about 25 minutes).
For those of us that bake a lot – and even those who dabble – I think many of us find inspiration (or envy!) from what we see others doing in their homes, bakeries, etc. I know that I find a ton of encouragement from my dad and my brother, often thinking about how I want replicate one of their recipes or a decorating technique.
Another place I find inspiration (and a fantastic self-care opportunity): the Great British Baking Show. In a world of real life stressors (climate change, health crises, etc.), I find nothing more relaxing than being “stressed” if someone is going to finish their bake on time (and they always do!). Also, the creativity, unbelievable skill, dedication, and kindness that the contestants bake with – I mean, what’s not to love?
Of course, every time I watch the show I think about how many of those recipes I want to attempt myself. I haven’t gotten around to many, but at some point, somewhere along the way, someone made a checkerboard cake. And it looked awesome. And I wanted to try myself! And so I have – and as it turns out, it’s quite simple, SO MUCH FUN to serve, and using a tried-and-true cake recipe, also really delicious. As long as you’ve got general baking equipment (baking pans, cooling racks, etc), the only special tools needed are specifically sized cookie cutters.
The recipes I’ve included for the cake and frosting are adaptable; I wanted to do a black-and-white cake so that there was as stark difference in the color on the inside. The buttercream can be easily adapted (just remove the cinnamon and it’s a simple but delicious buttercream), and with some red food dye it’s a brilliant Valentine’s Day cake.
Me neither! These cookies are a perfect chunky, sweet and hearty combination of ALL GOOD ingredients. I saw these cookies on Bon Appétit and immediately knew I had to try them to round out multigrain month here at Strudel & Streusel. So let me go on record…
These may very well be my favorite cookie EVER! They are that good!
If there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s gluten. I think gluten is glorious – it makes baked things chewy and airy and adds to their overall deliciousness. So when Streusel and determined that we’d focus on healthier baking this month, I had no plans to bake anything gluten-free. And then I came across a recipe for this super interesting Nut and Seed Bread that just so happened to be gluten-free. And I decided that I shouldn’t pre-judge a bread just because it doesn’t have flour, and especially when it’s full of crunchy nuts and hearty oats.
This bread is unlike anything I’ve baked before – while it certainly won’t take the place of a warm, crusty loaf for sandwiches, it’s so full of flavorful, filling ingredients that it’s created it’s own place in my daily menu. I’ve taken to toasting it and spreading on some almond butter for a filling breakfast or afternoon snack. Also a tasty option (that will definitely keep you full for a few hours): on top of the almond butter, add some some sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey.