In my world breakfast doesn’t begin until coffee is present and accounted for. More often than not it’s thick, black espresso, lovingly nicknamed “jet fuel” made on the stove top in an old fashioned percolator. If I’m not at home, it’s a coffee shop Americano, but either way I want it to be strong, dark and bold. I don’t add cream or sugar to my coffee, but I do enjoy coffee in sweets like my Coffee and Cream Cake or warm coffee over vanilla bean ice cream for a classic affogato. Bittersweet is a flavor profile I really love. Coffee and cinnamon both fall into this category and I find them quite remarkable together, so these Cinnamon Espresso Oats were a somewhat obvious breakfast hybrid for me. They are simple to prepare – this is barely a recipe – but they make up for it in the complexity of their nuanced flavor. I’ve dressed them up here with some creamy slices of banana and crunchy green pumpkin seeds because I find oats to be at their best when they are part of a textural landscape with a variety of things going on. All alone they can be a bit, well, stodgy, but add a crunchy crisp something or a soft fruit and they get infinitely more exciting.
I love strawberry and rhubarb together so, so much. They really are a perfect combo and I like them together like I like blueberry and cinnamon, blackberry and lemon, or raspberry and coconut. This is not at all the first time I’ve dabbled in Strawberry Rhubarb goodness, no, no, no. There was an epic open faced, unadorned Graham Crust Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that was essentially jam in a cookie crust. There was an understated and elegant whole wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake and of course, the adorably photogenic Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts with Ground Almond Crusts . So you see, I’m no stranger to the straw-barb game, in fact, it’s a flavor combo I seek out wherever possible and I love how it always tastes homey and rustic, and perfectly like summer. (more…)
If we are Twitter pals, you may recall that a couple weeks ago I tweeted a smattering of frantic SOS-like questions pertaining to the exact whereabouts of a particular lemon and blueberry loaf that I was so sure I had seen and read, then forgotten, then remembered, and ultimately misplaced. I still haven’t found it. It is somewhere, out in the blog-osphere, taunting me. One day I will find it.
The reason for the panic was that I had been talking food (what else?) with my dear friend, Janna, who is a real delight and understands that all cannot be right with the world when one is on the hunt for a recipe. See, I had promised to forward it to her, but then I’d forgotten where I had seen it, and I was trying to appear organized, resourceful and master of my baking domain. Instead, I failed and flailed, but being the excellent friend that she is, Janna sent me a recipe instead. Her mother’s cinnamon loaf recipe, to be exact.
I read it through. It seemed simple enough. It called for soured milk (nothing a spritz of lemon wouldn’t solve) but I happened to have buttermilk. The cinnamon and brown sugar promised an intoxicating aroma, and as Janna put it, “Your whole house will smell sweet. It just takes over!”. Sold.
But there I was, still with the lemon blueberry loaf on my mind, and then it hit me … blueberries and cinnamon. Oh yes. Oh. Yes. So I whipped up the batter (shockingly runny!) and layered it with the cinnamon sugar, then deftly thwacked the heavy, dark berries into the surface. Into the oven it went. As if by magic, or the delicious psychic-ism of old friends, the phone rang. Who else but Janna?
“I’m making your mom’s cinnamon loaf. ”
“Oooooooh I bet your house smells like my childhood right now!”
“I added blueberries and used buttermilk.”
“Oh. Well, it will still be really good.”
An hour later, the phone call over, the cake emerged, golden, spiced and berries bubbling. I was glad I had baked it in a heart shaped dish — it made me smile. Cooled and cut, dusted with powdered sugar, it was fantastic; simple and homey. It was a far cry from lemon but somehow, thanks to the thoughtfulness of a friend and a dependable recipe, all was right with the world.
Cinnamon Blueberry Tea Cake
adapted from a family recipe
preheat your oven to 350°
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C butter
1 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen. if frozen, do not thaw)
Grease and flour a standard loaf pan or 8×8 square pan, set aside.
Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat until pale, fluffy and well incorporated.
In a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
Pour approximately one 3rd of the dry mixture into the wet mixture, incorporate swiftly without over mixing. Add 1/2 the buttermilk, again, incorporating swiftly. Repeat, alternating with the remaining 2/3 of the dry ingredients and the second 1/2 of the buttermilk. The batter will be quite wet, similar to pancake batter.
Pour a thin layer of the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle over some of cinnamon sugar mixture. Alternate, making layers until both the batter and the cinnamon sugar are used. Swirl the layers with a knife, chopstick, skewer, etc.
Drop the blueberries, in a single layer all over the surface. Push some of them down into the batter and let others remain on top.
Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 mins. The cake will be done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in its center comes out clean.
Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then turn the cake out to cool completely. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Vancouver has had an unseasonably cold spring. Usually by now we are seeing fairly consistent sunshine and the afternoons and evenings have become a bit balmy. Instead, we have had temperamental rain, very cool temperatures over night (close to freezing!) and even if the sun is out and seems warm, if you step into the shade, you will shiver. This kind of weather is crummy when you’re ready for some heat and you want to see and feel the world thaw a bit.
The one thing that this weather is good for is baking. Occasionally you just want to whip up a batch of cookies or a quick loaf and when the weather gets warm, that starts to seem like a bad idea. If it’s still baking temperature where you are, give these humble beauties a try. They are soft, chewy, and fragrant with cinnamon. Don’t love cinnamon? Dial it back to just a pinch. Prefer your oatmeal cookies with a smattering of raisins? Chocolate bits? Chocolate covered raisins? Toss them in! Jazz them up or leave them plain and simple – either way, they are worth trying before it’s too warm to imagine turning on the oven.
Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
preheat the oven to 350 degrees
1/2 a cup of butter or margarine
3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, gently packed
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup of flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
2/3 of a cup of oats
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well to combine. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir well.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Once fully mixed, stir in the oats.
Drop my rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. They will spread to be about 50% wider than their original diameter, so leave plenty of room. Bake for 14 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 16 – 20 cookies, depending on how “rounded” your teaspoonfuls are.