3/4loafBread, torn into chunks– Grandma Sycamore, or Challah, etc, about 20 oz give or take (very forgiving)
3cupsmilk– whole or 2%
Tear bread into small to medium chunks
Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish. You can use other sizes or kinds of dish, but the baking time will have to be adjusted.
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, other than the bread
Add the bread chunks to the liquid in the large bowl, and gently stir or fold into the liquid. it should get it all wet, but do not overmix. It should be chunky and not an even mixture; as long as it all gets wet, it will be good.
Pour the mixture into the buttered dish, and spread it until even. It will be goopy. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for an hour.
About ten minutes before the mixture has sat for an hour, preheat your oven to 325 degrees (160 for those using metric)
Remove the plastic wrap and bake for one hour and forty minutes, or until the tops is golden brown and an inserted fork comes out clean.
Cool until room temperature, then cover again with plastic wrap.
While it can be eaten immediately, it is far better if you refrigerate for two days.
Slice into portions, and heat up (microwave for 40-50 seconds usually does it). Serve with caramel sauce (not included in recipe) and whipped cream.
I love a good Yellow Cake. It is the de facto cake for many a fine dessert, and if you have a good one, you will rarely find anyone who is willing to complain about it. A good Yellow Cake is moist, with a delicate crumb and a little spongy. Ok, technically, it is a sponge cake, or even called a butter cake, but everyone thinks of it as a Yellow Cake. You know, because of the color.
(If you get a bad one, they are dry, crumbly, and hard to make taste good with anything. So let’s not make a bad one, ok?)
When we add a simple buttercream frosting, and you cannot go wrong. Chocolate frosting and you have something wonderful. Put strawberries and whipped cream on it, and you have something amazing. Put pastry cream in it, with Chocolate Ganache over the top and you have Boston Cream Pie, which is spectacular. I’ll put that into another post, because it is really (REALLY) worth doing.
Today, however, is the sublime, delicate, and incredible Yellow Cake.
Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl, with a whisk or a fork. Mix the wet ingredients into a measuring cup. You can skip the stirring of the wet stuff.
Grease and flour your pans. Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and blend in.
Alternatively add dry and wet ingredients in multiple additions, starting and ending with the dry. (You know: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry).
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. I use a scale to get them close. They don’t have to be perfect, but if they are close they will cook evenly. Once the batter is divided into the pans, use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
Bake them for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Once a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, but not goopy, set them on a wire rack for ten minutes. Run a knife (plastic knife for non-stick pans!) around the edges and turn onto the wire rack, making sure they are upside down.
Here is the trick to keeping them moist and wonderful. While they are cooling for the ten minutes in the pan, before you turn them out onto the wire rack, you need to make a simple syrup. That is heating 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar over heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. The photo is of the syrup, with the sugar dissolved. Ok, maybe not, but it looks the same.
As soon as the cakes are turned out of the pans, you want to slowly coat the bottoms of the cakes with the syrup. Spread it evenly, between both cakes. You can tell that you are going at the right speed when it is soaking in and not beading up, or pouring around to any low spot.
Once all the syrup is soaked in, let the cakes completely cool before you frost them or wrap them up for later. I find they are even better the next day, so I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and put them far back on the counter where the little kids don’t play with them, leaving them upside down so gravity can continue to help the syrup distribute through the cake.
In case you’re curious, my son helped me frost that cake.
Have you ever had the desire to show off at the end of a meal, and create a simple but amazing dish that will get everyone to Ooh and Ah? My friends, I present for your consideration, French Crepes!’
(Please note, these are dessert crepes, so are slightly sweeter than the kind you would make for the main meal. Those are awesome as well, but for a different day.)
French Crepes are easy to make (with only a little practice), very few ingredients (all of which are common), and will delight and inspire your guests. I invite the guests to join me in the kitchen, and sit around the island talking while I make them, switching between two pans on the stove-top to get them done a little faster. The guests then fill them with an assortment of fillings, based on what i liked that day. Fresh fruits, like strawberries and blueberries, chocolate spread (I prefer Justin’s Hazelnut Butter over Nutella), whipped cream, caramel syrup, nuts, and almost all Sundae Toppings are always a hit.
If there is a trick to this, and I am not saying there is, it would be to figure out the heat setting on your stove to cook them to golden brown without cooking them too quickly, so you have time to swirl them around the pan before they set. Say, start with medium, and let the pan get warm for a couple of minutes before you start. Oh, and a good non-stick pan is a major help. Oh, and make the batter the night before you want to cook them so the it can rest, or at least a few hours before.
Don;t let any of that intimidate you. The batter is cheap, mostly flour and butter, so make twice what you want and play with it. It really is worth doing.
Let’s bring on the photos!
Make the batter beforehand, in a blender. It beats hand whisking every time (at least for crepes).
When ready, I use a measuring cup to get the right amount for the pan. I use 1/3 cup for a 10″ pan. Once the pan is good and hot, i wipe it down with a little butter on a paper towel, not a lot, just a hint of it. Then pour in the measures batter all at once, and start swirling the pan to make a nice thin coating across the entire bottom of the pan.
Let that cook over the heat for a little bit, may 30-60 seconds, then check under the edge with a spatula. You are looking for a nice, golden brown, and a little shake on the pan should have the crepe move loosely.
When it looks good, flip it over. My inner self always wants to do a large flourish of the pan to flip it, but that’s just me wanting to show off. It is much easier to use the spatula and kind of pick it up in the middle and unfold it on it’s other side. It also ends up with a lot less broken, lost, or messed up crepes.
The second side needs less time than the first side, and won’t get all golden brown, but it will set and get some brown spots, then slide it out of the pan and onto a waiting plate. Cover the plate with a clean dish towel, or right onto a guests plate, but be careful to not burn them with the pan.
And that’s it! add some filling, less is often more so don’t overfill them, and roll them up.
Your guests will thank you. Several times.
Recipe is taken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the wonderful Julia Childs. If you don’t have it, go buy it. Now. I’ll wait. It’s simple instructions and detailed recipes will make you a better cook, and the book is truly amazing.
As dessert crepes, they are slightly sweeter than the savory kind, and can be wrapped around many things for a sublime after dinner treat. Best when the batter gets to rest for 2-24 hours. Try to make the night before you want them.
¾ cup milk
¾ cup cold water
3 egg yokes
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons melted butter
Put all the ingredients into the blender in the order they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides and blend again for a few seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or better overnight.
heat a non-stick pan over medium heat for a few minutes until hot. Wipe with a very small amount of butter. Pour in about ⅓ cup of batter and slowly swirl around until the bottom of the pan is covered. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until golden brown, then flip over (using spatula, fingers, or wrist flip of the pan. Be careful to not burn yourself.) 30 seconds on the second side, and remove from pan.