Poppy seed coffee cake

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This past week at work, I had a brown-bag lunch presentation where I spent basically 0 hours preparing, in spite of having about two months to do so. I kept telling myself, ah, I’ll focus on it right beforehand so I have the presentation all fresh in my mind and I don’t stumble. That said, I also realized the weekend before that I was in no way going to be actually prepared. So, I decided the best remedy was to bring some food to share. Everyone likes free food. It wasn’t going to do a lot for those calling in from Fairbanks and Juneau (sorry guys), but I thought it might help a bit on the Anchorage side. I pulled out my go-to sharing dish – poppy seed coffee cakes. It’s a family favorite that comes down from my moms side and it’s possibly my favorite comfort food. If it didn’t take two days to prepare, I’d make it every month until I was 375 pounds and required someone to physically roll me around. As it is, the size of the recipe is such that I only make it about once a year or so. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try it with some adjustments to be allergy friendly.

Needless to say, after blowing my weekend getting it together, I forgot the pies and home on the day. I had to run around the corner and buy some bread. The bread was good, and it turns out I’ve been doing this job long enough (last year not withstanding) that I can literally talk about it for hours off the top of my head, which is what I did for an hour. I think the presentation went okay, though I think I bit off too much to chew.

I did manage to remember the coffee cakes on Friday and they received positive reviews, which is good, because, as I said, I’d have eaten both pies I brought by myself. You can’t really find anything like this in the wild, short of an eastern European bakery, and even then it’s not nearly so good as this one. My favorite way to eat it is just this side of frozen. I did make some adjustments for allergies, which involved using Full-fat coconut milk cut with cashew milk, and goose eggs instead of chicken eggs. The use of the coconut milk made a tasty dough, but the consistency and rise was not what I am accustomed to. If you can, I’d recommend sticking to the ingredients listed below.

A couple warnings: This makes 6 pies and takes 2 days, so be prepared for a weekend effort & plenty left over to share.

Dough:

  • 3 Eggs (1 goose egg or 2 duck eggs)
  • ½ C. sugar
  • 1 C. cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ C. Shortening (Lard works too, I do not recommend butter, it will make it too rich)
  • 4 C. all-purpose flower
  • 1 Cake of active dry yeast

Mix the dry ingredients & yeast, and cut in the shortening, like a pie dough except with yeast. Mix up the dough ingredients until you’ve got a nice soft ball of dough. Wrap this in cling-wrap and put it into the fridge overnight.

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THE NEXT DAY!

Preheat the oven to 350. Take the ball of dough out of the fridge and split into 6 pieces (or 5 if you want a slightly thicker crust). Roll them out to fit 8” pie-pans. It’s easiest if you do this while it’s still cold, much like a pie-dough. Let these rise in the pans for about 30 minutes after you’ve rolled them out. Make up the filling and topping while you wait:

Filling

  • 1 12oz can poppy seed filling
  • 1 C. applesauce
  • 1 C. raisins (I use golden)
  • 2 eggs (2 small duck eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour

Beat the eggs, add in the rest of the wet ingredients including the poppyseed filling. Whisk in the flour and sugar. When the pies are done rising, pour a thin layer of filling into each.

Topping:

  • 1 C. Flour
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • ¼ lb. Butter (If you must, butter flavor Crisco works okay too)
  • A sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter. This is a crumble topping and so should be a bit lumpy. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the filling in the pies.

Bake these at 350 for about 20 minutes. The crust should be just golden brown. Let cool and enjoy.

Pancakes and Opinions

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Somewhere earlier this year, I committed myself to writing a post a week on this site and also having guest blogs. Guess what I haven’t done? Why? No idea. None whatsoever. I write an article every week for the Seward Journal newspaper. It would literally take me an extra 2 minutes to paste it on to the website and share. Anyhow. I’m totally ready to fix that, starting TODAY! I’ll start by going back, at least as well as I can, to some of the recipes I’ve sent into the Seward Journal and to other random crap I’ve cooked up.

So, what is today’s adventure in undernourishment? How about something totally beyond mundane… Pancakes. Pancakes are easily recognized as one of the main staples in the standard dad cooking play-book. As such, we’ve all got pretty specific ideas about how to cook pancakes. There are two basic approaches, mine, and everyone else’s, which might possibly be like mine, in which case it’s correct. To start, the right way NEVER involves oil. None at all. Oil and pancakes are like oil and a grease fire. You would not add oil to a grease fire, so why would you add it to pancakes?

The best part of cooking pancakes like this is that it’s dramatically cheaper than cereal & milk. I think we’re pushing $5/box for the good stuff? Sure, you can get the cheap stuff for, um, cheaper, but the problem with that is that the cheap stuff tends to be less filling and so your children eat more, which more or less negates the cost savings. Plus, you can’t get around the volumes of milk needed to drive a cereal breakfast. If you triple this batch and refrigerate the results, it’ll keep three pre-teens fed for at least a week. Instead of spending $20 on three boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk, you’ve spent probably a total of $5 for the week.

What you need:

  • A pinch of salt, like less than 1/8th tsp.
  • 1 egg
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 ¼ C. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately with a whisk, then whisk them together. It’ll be a bit lumpy and that’s fine, so long as it’s not too lumpy.

Pour 1/8th-1/4 C. mix on to a hot, ungreased, non-stick grittle. I do mine at a medium-low, but it’s going to depend a lot on your stove top. Cook until the edges are dry and the bubbles on top are starting to pop, then flip. Cook for another minute or so. That’s it. You’re done. If the tops are too dark when you flip, turn the heat down, if they’re too pale, turn the heat up.

 

Biscuits and Gravy

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Good morning & Merry Christmas. I went to bed last night cooking my rear off in order to feed everyone last night and also make sure everyone is fed today. The one advantage is that I didn’t have time to watch too much TV and get all ‘festive’ meaning that today’s headache is fully related to sleep deprivation. Before I go on, I just want to be clear, I AM NOT ALONE! My wife is also cooking her ass off as well, there’s just a shitload to be done. So, if you happen to be a husband reading this and you’ve spent your morning playing vintage NES. You need to get off your ass and fucking help. This shit is hard.

To start off my day, after opening 3 bottles of whiskeys that etiquette suggests I can’t drink for some 12 hours  yet, I launched into breakfast mode. With egg and dairy allergies, my go-to egg mash-up is completely off the table. What wasn’t off the table is biscuits and gravy. So, what’s the status of that? Well, the biscuits weren’t quite right for this and the sausage gravy is basically perfect.

For your biscuits, use literally anything. I used the royal baking company’s oatmeal biscuits. these are sweet and would work well in something like a strawberry shortcake, but they did make for a nice contrast in this one.

  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Royal Baking Company Baking Powder*
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 6Tbsp shortening
  • 1 1/3 C. Cooked oatmeal (steel cut or something – NOT instant!)

I used egg substitute, which generally works fine for baking. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients then mix them together. If by some miracle, you manage to get a dry enough dough to roll out and cut, do that. Otherwise, pour into a clean, well seasoned, and well oiled cast iron skillet. Put into the oven for ~30-35 min at 350. Even when the fork comes out basically dry, it’s going to come out of the oven pretty soggy, it’s largely due to the moisture content of the oats, it should be fine, if a bit thick.

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For the sausage gravy:

  • 1 Lb breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 C. flour
  • Lots of milk (I used Almond/Cashew)
  • Pepper to taste – Use a lot, like a whole Tsp, probably.

Brown the sausage and slowly add in the flour while stirring the browned sausage. Once all of the flour is coating the sausage, start pouring in milk at about 1/2 C. at a time, allow it to thicken and add more until you have a nice thick gravy. Add your pepper and maybe a hint of salt. If you add too much milk, let it cook a bit, it should thicken, if not sprinkle just a bit more flour on.

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* To make Royal baking powder sift together 2T Cream of tartar, 1T cornstarch & 1T baking soda. This is a baking powder without the aluminum phosphate and can be used on a lot of vintage recipes.