Friday, September 23, 2011

Baking is Better

I think it's fair to say I am much more partial to baking than to cooking. Case in point: for dinner last night, I sauteed some tofu, mushrooms (pre-sliced), snow peas and edamame (pre-shelled), cooked up some brown rice and then...dumped it all into a bowl with Trader Joe's Sate Sauce poured over it. Healthy, yes. Gourmet...not so much. But the entire meal minus the rice was from TJs, so I get yuppy points.

And what about dessert? Well for dessert I adapted a recipe for pineapple muffins and turned it into this pina colada crumb cake:

Yes, definitely more of a baker, considering how excited I was to try this out and see if it would work. That's a problem I have you see (besides concentrating more on dessert than dinner): I have trouble making recipes as written. Cooking that's not a big deal, but baking tends to be more exact, with more room for error. This little experiment turned out pretty well, though.

The idea came about because of the 20-oz can of pineapple junks we picked up at TJs on sale one day and which has been taking up cabinet space ever since. I wanted a simple snacking-type recipe and so trolled the internet and came up with this recipe for Pineapple Muffins from Annie's Eats, a blog I don't follow but might start doing as it seems lovely. She actually got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman (ah, the blogger recipe chain). The original recipe uses Rachel's Yogurt in Exotic Mango-Pineapple-Passionfruit flavor, which sounds delicious, but my local grocery store doesn't carry that brand. The recipe says you can use any pineapple-flavored yogurt, but doesn't specify fat content or anything, so I went with the closest thing I could get, which was 1% Pina Colada yogurt. 

Rather than make 14 muffins (why such an odd number?) I decided to bake it in a cake pan (9 inches I think) so I wouldn't have to wash and reuse my muffin pan. The original recipe calls for a glaze made of the same yogurt and brown sugar to be applied right before serving, which is probably really yummy, but since I was doing a cake I decided to do a brown sugar streusel instead and make it a crumb cake. Had to bake it a lot longer (at 375 rather than 425 so the edges wouldn't get done faster than the center) than the 15-18 minutes called for because of my changes, but otherwise it seemed to work really well.

This cake is really moist from the yogurt and pineapple, with a nice thick crumb coating. Only problem? I totally forgot until I tried a piece that I really don't like pina coladas! Oh well, next time I'll try a different yogurt flavor. Though on the bright side, this ensure I won't eat the whole pan by myself, heh.

Pina Colada Crumb Cake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman via Annie's Eats

If you are using pina colada flavored yogurt like I did want to highlight that flavor even more, you could add some sweetened flaked coconut to the streusel topping, and maybe a splash of rum to the cake batter. 

For crumb topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into small pieces

For cake:
2 6 oz. cartons pineapple-flavored yogurt, any fat content (I used 1% pina colada flavored)
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, or 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple chunks (I used Trader's Joe's Sweet Pineapple Chunks in juice, drained)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In bowl of food processor combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and process until mixture is crumbly and thoroughly moistened (you could also do this in a bowl with a fork, pastry cutter or your hands). Set mixture aside.

In large bowl combine the yogurt and egg. Add oil, brown sugar and pineapple and mix to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated (batter will be thick). Pour into prepared pan and crumble streusel mixture evenly over. Bake for 35-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (cake will be moist inside). If topping is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil for final minutes of baking. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

I would serve this cake directly from the pan, since turning it out would probably result in the crumb topping coming off and getting everywhere. Not a fancy cake, but a good one!

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