Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ahh. . .Music!

Recently I  have stumbled upon two very wonderful songs. The cool thing is, they are both combinations of other songs, and they are instrumental versions. I thought I would share them both with you.

The first one is my favorite. It combines two current popular songs (both of which I like), Love Story by Taylor Swift, and Viva la Vida by Coldplay, and combines them into the prettiest arrangement. Check it out!

The second one is by the same pianist, and is one my friend brought to my attention. It is called Pachelbel Meets U2 and although I haven't the faintest idea what the U2 song is that it mashes the Pachelbel Canon with, it's a beautiful arrangement.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

12 in 12 Challenge: January - Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I am not making a lot of resolutions this year. I find that I rarely keep them even when I do, so it is not worth it. However, one thing I would like to do this year is to make one new recipe each month. Now, I do know how to cook - and I enjoy doing it! But the purpose of this challenge/resolution would be to make 12 different NEW recipes! This would give me more experience cooking and more of a repertoire. . .plus it is always fun to cook new recipes! And then, of course, I can share them with all of you, along with my comments and, of course, pictures.

So, to start things off, here is January's contribution to my 12 in 12 Challenge:

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
From Cook's Illustrated

Lemon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. finely grated zest from one lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup + 7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1-2 lemons
4 large eggs
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1. For the Topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350-degrees. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds. Set aside.

2. For the Cake: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with padle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

3. Reserve 1-1/4 cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons of sugar, lemon juice and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about  minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful not to drag filling to bottom or edges of pan [easier said than done!]  Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.

4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45-50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1-1/2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Makes 1 10-inch cake, serving 12-16. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.

My Comments: 

I thought this coffee cake was delicious. The lemon flavor was perfect - not overpowering, but not so faint it was unnoticeable, either. The cream cheese filling was also excellent. I had some trouble keeping the filling 1" from the edge of the pan, but it turned out delicious anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about that next time.

You can see from the picture that it makes a pretty presentation even when cut. We put half of it in the freezer for another day, and the rest is in the refrigerator ready for us to eat some more.

It was delicious and I recommend it.