I love you...

like a [phat] kid loves [cheese]cake

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Under My Nutella-ella-ella French Toast

"When the sun shines, we'll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be a friend
Took an oath Imma stick it out till the end"
- Rihanna

Happy World Nutella Day! If you didn't know about it, it's okay, because I found out a few days ago. But the fact that there is a Web site devoted to this day, I only found about right now. Who knew?

My Nutella Day celebrations began before I even knew they did. On Friday, as I was strolling down upper Sproul (something I don't normally do, as all you flyer-avoiders know), I noticed the Hillel table selling homemade chocolate chip challah. After trying a sample -- or two, or three -- visions of French toast started dancing around my head, and I bargained down with the seller (sorry, it's the Indian in me) to secure myself a loaf.

And then I found it was going to be World Nutella Day, and my plan was set: a Saturday brunch of allspice and nutmeg Nutella French toast with (pure) maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Yea, what.

Even though French toast was not created in France, it is still delicious and super easy to make. My typical eggs-to-milk ratio is 1 egg: 1/4 cup of milk, but feel free to play around to make the batter more or less eggier. You can also switch up the spices as you wish. While I only soaked my toasts for 6 or 7 minutes, I would recommend leaving them for 15 minutes, if not more. You can also soak them overnight in the fridge, so in the morning all you have to do is cook them, which hardly takes 10 minutes. And depending on how hungry you are, eating them might only take 2 minutes.

Nutella French Toast (Serves 2-3)

8 slices of challah, or any other slightly stale bread you have on hand
4 Tbsp Nutella
1 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Maple syrup, chocolate sauce (for garnish)

Preheat a griddle over medium heat.
Spread the 4 tablespoons of Nutella on 4 slices. Sandwich together with the other slices and set aside.
In a shallow mixing bowl, whish together butter, eggs, milk, and spices. Going one by one, place a sandwich into the mix, making sure both sides are covered. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
Place sandwich on griddle and cook until both sides are golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with maple syrup, chocolate sauce, or anything else you want (I snuck whipped cream onto one of the plates - delicious).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Back on My Grizzy, and a Sticky Apple Cake

"Like the Energizer bunny with a battery pack
Boy that drummer keep drummin', like B-r-r-at-at-at-tat"
- Lil Wayne

Aaaaaaaand it's 2011. Welcome.

So much has happened since I last posted (when was that, 4 months ago? Jeez..) I won't bore with you with the details, but in short, I did a lot less cooking and a lot more eating. Last semester, I began working at at restaurant in San Francisco as a pastry cook, which meant preparing and plating desserts for 25 hours a week. By the time I got home, all I would want is the biggest slice of cheese pizza ever (Fat Slice, anyone).

Once sugar became my job, I didn't have time, nor did I really want to, do any additional baking at home. There was no way in hell I was going to use my mediocre apartment oven that is 25 degrees off (I learned that the hard way). No way was I going to use my meager counter space; and as for doing dishes? Hell to the no. Save it for work, I just want to sleep.

Janky pans that I have to deal with at home

It sounds like I'm complaining, but in reality, I loved my job. My coworkers were so talented, and they took the time to teach me a lot of things. I loved the warm baguettes we would sneakily eat with organic goat butter, and the leftover pastries that would become my (and the boy's) breakfast the next morning. I loved how at 8 p.m. the dessert rush began and how fast I could bust out plates until it was midnight before I realised.

It was tough, for sure. Especially with BART, which meant I would reach Berkeley at 1 a.m and then wake up for 8 a.m. class the next morning. I hardly saw any friends or family, but somehow, somehow, it was worth it. Because now I can pipe out gougères at lightning speed, and I have left my mark at the restaurant as the crazy Jellyfish. It's weird, but it's awesome.

But now, I am back to school, searching for a job, reconnecting with friends, relearning how my decrepit kitchen operates, and dousing myself in sugar. Back on my grizzy. Weezy knows what's up.

The great thing about this cake is that it can last for days given that (a) it is stored properly and (b) a bunch of fraternity boys don't storm it. The addition of whole wheat flour and semolina make it protein-rich and hearty, and the buttery topping keeps the apples from drying out and burning in the oven. Make sure all your ingredients (butter, eggs) are at room temperature beforehand, or else your batter will seize up and you will end up with a chunky mess that won't bake properly. I usually keep my ingredients out in the morning if I know I'm going to bake in the evening, or else I leave them overnight and get to work when I wake up. Either, way be prepared, and prepare to nom.

Sticky Apple Cake (Makes 1 loaf)

Note: If you don't have whole-wheat flour or semolina, substitute 1 1/4 cup AP flour. And if you don't have parchment paper, make sure to grease your pan very well.

For the cake:

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup semolina

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup oil

1 egg

1/2 apple, cored and thinly sliced

7 dates, chopped

For the topping:

5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan, cut out a piece of parchment paper and fit into the bottom of it, and grease again.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Set aside.

Whisk together milk, oil, and egg. Slowly add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and scatter the date pieces over the top. Arrange the apple slices on top in a decorative pattern (I just did rows).

For the topping, combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat until combined.

Bake cake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the topping over the apples evenly. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool for 10 minutes before serving.

To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. It will keep for about 1 week (unless you know some hungry boys who decide to stop by).