Baking Fools

by Cate on September 26, 2006

After I picked up Nicholas from school today, we ran a couple of errands and didn’t get home until 6:30. I was in the mood to bake and while I heated up leftovers for us for dinner, I got busy … very busy.

First up, in a wave to the Fall season, I started with Cooking Light‘s Cinnamon-Apple Cake. This is one is a long-standing tried-and-true recipe in our household; my Mom would tell you that it’s one of my “signature dishes,” and it’s actually the first Cooking Light recipe I ever made, back in the days when I was single and living in a teeny tiny apartment near a bustling train station. Everything about it says Fall to me, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. I have to recharge the batteries on my camera, so tonight you’re going to have to do some creative visualization. Just picture a round cake packed with fresh-picked apples, a cake so moist that you need a serrated knife to cut it, with just a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. Mmmm, nothing says Fall like Cooking Light’s Cinnamon-Apple Cake; well, except maybe a stew, or soup or some roasted vegetables. ;)

Next up, Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins. I had a few past-their-prime bananas on the counter, begging to be made into something delicious, so muffins it was. Another tried-and-true recipe, Nicholas has already polished one off, and packed another one in his lunchbox for tomorrow.

And lastly, Homemade Granola Bars. I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for awhile, so it’s not ready to share with the world yet, but they beat storebought granola bars any day.

So what’s baking in YOUR oven these days?

Until tomorrow…

P.S. The Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe from last night is posted below as well. Enjoy!

A year ago today … just another day.

Cinnamon-Apple Cake
From Cooking Light

The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture. Because it’s so tender, use a serrated knife for cutting.

1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped peeled Rome apple (about 2 large) {I always use 3-4 apples}
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl, and stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line twelve 1/3 muffins cups with foil muffin liners or spray the cups with cooking spray. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Mix mashed banana, egg, melted butter and milk in medium bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle tops with just a smidge of brown sugar. Bake muffins until tops are pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out with some melted chocolate attached, but no crumbs, about 32 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack; cool.

Chinese Lemon Chicken
Courtesy of Fresh magazine
Serves 4

This is many people’s choice when they go to a Chinese restaurant. It’s clean, fresh and very easy to make.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced (I used minced)
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
flour, for dipping
freshly ground black pepper
Noodles, to serve

For the lemon sauce:
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar

First, make the sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a small pan and simmering until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, then add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, dip the chicken in the egg, then the flour so they’re coated in a very basic, light batter. Fry them for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon sauce and stir in. Fry for 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked. Season and serve on a bed of noodles.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alisha September 26, 2006 at 3:40 am

I’m a new poster to your blog but really enjoy reading it everyday. :-) Many a happy idea has come from reading here.

Anyway, my last “fall” baking creation was some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies(http://polarbee.typepad.com/weblog/2006/09/pumpkin_chocola.html)- they were awesome and I highly recommend them!

Tomorrow I’m going to be trying a Lemon-Zucchini Pound Cake in this month’s Betty Crocker Fall Baking cookmagazine – hopefully that’ll be a success.

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Alysha September 26, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Hi Cate. I have baking fever too, only I’m limiting myself to no more than one item a day…… ;) I’m back into my whole grain mode.

I just made some 5-Grain muffins – trying to lower the fat content, but alas, what I like about these muffins is the butter and brown sugar combo.

Up later this week, some apple-pumpkin muffins, apple butter, and also on my list, some banana muffins. We’ll see what actually gets done………

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patsy September 26, 2006 at 12:30 pm

I LOVE the CL Cinamon Apple Cake! It’s been a favorite at our house since it first came out!

My baking will be various types of cookies to “feed” my freezer for the upcoming holidays. I want to do gift baskets to various people who have been good to us over this past year. I think I’ll have to add those Choc. Chip Banana Muffins to my list too… do you think they will freeze well?

I also got a cooking “lesson” on a favorite Rosh Hashanah dish this past weekend so I’ll be making that for my new cooking club soon… Stuffed Chicken in Phyllo dough… yummy! And, it definitely says “fall” to me.

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Claire September 27, 2006 at 1:21 am

I was wanting to ask for the chicken recipe…you read my mind! I hope that I get to do a baking day like that soon!

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Cate September 27, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Alisha – thanks for coming out of lurkdom. Those cookies sound awesome! How’d the bread turn out?

Alysha – What are the odds? Too Alysha/Alisha comments in a row? ;) Mmmm, apple butter – love the stuff!

Patsy – isn’t that cake great? A definite favorite. Good luck with your supper club — I miss mine sometimes.

Claire – hope you like it. :)

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