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Coffee and Carbs

Here's to the homey treats that go with latte.

March 22, 2000|MARCY GOLDMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Most people approach coffee or tea and an accompanying treat in one of a few ways. Either you are (a) the dainty sip-and-nibble sort, (b) the expedient bite-and-gulp variety or (c) an eat-first, wash-it-all-down-later type.

Where we converge is in agreeing that the ritual of the coffee break or tea time makes the mundane marvelous.

Always a welcome pause, the coffee or tea break is a poor man's or woman's urban jungle Club Med, a virtual oasis unlike anything else in our jam-packed lives.

Best of all, it is a ritual that calls for the best in homey little treats. Miniature cheesecakes, delicate scones, buttery rugelach, lavishly swirled marble cake are just some delights that are perfect for a coffee hour recipe collection.

All are easy; none is cloyingly sweet or heavily frosted. These are wonderful just warm from the oven or even a day or two later. This is the type of baking that is solidly rooted in the home kitchen.

So bake a batch of something and brew a pot, then sit back and anticipate that small endorphin rush. Second cup is on the house.

Goldman runs the Baker Boulanger Web site hhhp://www.betterbaking.com.

Sour Cream Rugelach (Mock Danish)

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus 20 minutes chilling

This dough, allowed to rise, is a good shortcut to Danish-style pastry. Baked right away, it's a crisp pastry. Either way it's great for almost any filling; try cheese, butter, prune spread or other preserves or mini-chocolate chips.

3 cups flour, plus more for rolling

1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for garnish

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 16 chunks

4 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast

Sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup sour cream

2 eggs, separated

2 to 4 drops almond extract

2 to 4 drops lemon extract

2 to 4 drops vanilla extract, optional

1/2 cup strained and slightly warmed apricot jam or preserves

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups ground walnuts or pecans

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

* Place flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor, and place cut-up butter on top. Pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture is grainy and mealy. It doesn't matter if the mixture is a little uneven. (If doing by hand, break butter into flour using fingertips.)

* Stir yeast, dash of sugar and water together in small bowl to dissolve yeast. Add to flour mixture, along with sour cream, 2 egg yolks and extracts. (Reserve egg whites for glazing.) Process mixture just until it forms a ball, 8 to 10 seconds. (By hand, stir to make sticky mass.)

* Divide dough into 2 sections. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 20 minutes or overnight.

* On lightly floured board, roll each dough section 1/8 inch thick, then trim into 12-inch circle. Smear each with 1/4 cup warmed apricot jam, then half of brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon. Cut into 12 wedges and roll from wide side to point into crescent shapes. Beat egg whites and brush crescents with them. Lightly sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar. Place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and place in 375-degree oven. Immediately reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake until medium brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

24 rugelach. Each rugelach: 225 calories; 114 mg sodium; 40 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.45 gram fiber.

The Best Marble Swirl Cake

Active Work Time: 35 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

CHOCOLATE SYRUP

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Whisk together cocoa, water, baking soda and vanilla in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

CAKE

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour, plus more for preparing pan

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract or 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil

2 drops almond extract

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

Shortening, for greasing

* Stir together flour, cornstarch and baking powder; set aside.

* Cream butter with sugar and salt in mixing bowl until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, lemon and almond extracts, then eggs, a little at a time. Fold in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Blend on slow speed for a smooth batter.

* Grease 12-cup bundt pan and flour lightly. Pour two-thirds batter into pan. Mix remaining one-third with Chocolate Syrup and pour chocolate batter over batter in pan. Do not stir or mix. Chocolate portion will seep down, creating marbling effect as it bakes. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Decorate with Chocolate Glaze or powdered sugar.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoons cornstarch

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