Daily Archives: March 9, 2007

Butts across America, and my giant bran muffin

A friend of mine alerted me to the fact that NordicWare, the creator of the Bundt (TM) cake pan and undoubtedly a company high on your list of kitchen favorites, will soon be accepting entries for this year’s Bundts Across America baking contest, where contestants are invited to bake a bundt cake that’s somehow inspired by their home state. (And how, may I ask, is one supposed to read that contest title without wanting to call it “Butts Across America”?) Last year, Washington’s winner made something that had to do with coffee, and she made it to the top ten. (The overall winner got to go to The Martha Stewart Show, yippee!)

We have some friends coming into town tonight (actually, we’re loading up the car and heading to Whistler for a few days, so again, technology willing, you’ll get your daily recipe but I won’t be around), and I’d purchased ingredients for a coffee cake, including some of the oat bran Trader Joe’s now sells.

In an effort to mimic Seattle’s healthy attitude, I wanted to make a healthier bundt cake (read: hippie coffee cake in a bundt pan), with a whole wheat or multigrain base, a little oat bran, and perhaps a sprinkling of Northwest berries hidden in the center. First, I had to borrow a bundt pan from my neighbor, because it turns out I don’t even have one. I baked away, feeling angelic and optimistic as I chose canola oil over butter and fat-free yogurt over sour cream.

It certainly looked bundty enough, but it tastes like America’s biggest bran muffin. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just . . . not sweet or fatty enough. Not a failure, I wouldn’t go that far, but definitely . . .healthy. Why did I think putting good-for-you ingredients in a form typically associated with caloric intake would make the good ingredients more tasty?

In an article this week in the Toronto Star, food editor Susan Sampson talks about how completely illiterate Americans have become when it comes to recipes. In general, I’d agree – I spend a fair amount of time writing things like “in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attaachment, mix the sugar eggs on high speed until increased in volume and lightened in color, about 3 to 4 minutes” instead of “ribbon eggs and sugar.” And yes, to a certain extent, I believe people should know how to tell when, say, a cake is done (she says nonchalantly before realizing she’d never have this skill without having attended culinary school). In the spirit of Sampson’s piece, I’ve taken the hand-holding out of this recipe – but since there’s no ribboning, tempering, reducing, deglazing, or chiffonading (it’s really quite a straight-forward recipe), you’ll probably be fine even if you don’t know your stirring from your folding.

Don’t forget to put flowers in the middle when you serve it.

And no, I will not be entering the contest. But if you want to, they start taking recipes April 1st.

Bran Bundt Cake wtih Berry Streusel

Recipe for Oat Bran Bundt Cake with Mixed Berries
Recipe 68 of 365

Ever wonder how to make the world’s biggest bran muffin? You got it right here. I’ve written this recipe for a more kitchen-literate crowd; please write me if you have any questions about when to tell if it’s done, etc. I’ll answer, I promise.

And yes, you can substitute melted butter for the oil and full-fat sour cream for the yogurt, if you’d like. Add a little more sugar, while you’re at it.

TIME: 25 minutes
MAKES: 12 servings, at least

Butter and flour for the pan (or a baking spray with flour in it)

For streusel:
1/2 (packed) cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or a mix

For cake:
3 cups plain lowfat yogurt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 (packed) cup brown sugar
2 cups oat bran
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup whole flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a bundt cake pan.

Combine the streusel ingredients and set aside.

Whisk the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk the dry ingredients (no baking powder or sugar lumps!) in a giant mixing bowl. Add the wet to the dry, fold until just blended.

Pour half the batter in the pan, smooth it down, add the berries, then add the rest of the batter, and smooth down the top. (The batter will come almost to the top of the pan.) Bake on the middle rack 55 to 65 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in the pan, invert onto a plate, and serve warm or room temperature, with plenty of butter.

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