food

when we're making eggnog coffee cake, talking book two, wedding, and blog

Is this eggnog coffeecake? No. That's what happens when you lose the photos of the coffeecake. You post pictures of other random food items.

Is this eggnog coffeecake? No. That's what happens when you lose the photos of the coffeecake. You post pictures of other random food items.

Word to the wise: you shouldn't go to Trader Joe's when you're hungry. You really shouldn't go to Trader Joe's when you're hungry and nostalgic.

This year I left Christmas Day to spend two weeks with Hilary and her family, which was wonderful but meant that I had to jam all of the usual holiday feasting with my own family in before I left. This resulted in some ridiculous insistence that we do everything like we always did except more. We watched a lot of holiday movies. We drank a lot of eggnog. We left up the tree so that when Hilary comes next week she can see what our house looks like at Christmas.

Wait, we need to talk about the eggnog.

I bought a lot of it. Like, a lot. Like I bought six cartons for four people and then I left for Boston and Hilary two days later only to come home to four cartons of eggnog that will go bad tomorrow. Outside of a sickening amount of consumption -- not exactly helped given that my parents don't drink so there's no rum to be had -- there's not a lot of options to salvage this, except two: ice cream and coffee cake.

It's winter in Texas, which means the low is the mid-40s, so ice cream still makes sense. The coffeecake was a last-ditch effort, but one that turned out to be not just pretty good, but pretty great. It's warm, sticky, and crunchy. It's just nice enough that you don't feel like you were moments before standing at your fridge contemplating drinking eggnog straight from the carton because at this point you could just assign everyone in the house a carton to get rid of however they saw fit. Rather, it looks like you actually planned this all along and that you intentionally bought this eggnog just to make this coffee cake.

Which you totally did. High-five for planning ahead!

Now, before you side-eye this as just another coffeecake -- which, what is wrong with you? because carbs -- there's a secret punch in the mix: cardamon. The aromatic spice lends an earthy underbelly here that offsets the sweet perfectly. This coffeecake stands up all on its own and you could trot it out at a brunch without shame.

Or you could stand at your kitchen counter and eat the whole pan while watching Game of Thrones.

No judgement. We're all friends here.

Now, before we get to the recipe, let's do some housekeeping.

How we'll keep up.

I don't know how to Internet sometimes. For reasons that are beyond me, Facebook doesn't like pages anymore, so the best way to keep up with me and my posts is to follow my personal page. I'll be putting up public content there, so we can engage and chat and question together. (Thanks to Tsh for explaining the crazy of Facebook marketing to me.)

Book Two

"I have lived in six kitchens."

So begins book two.

My editor called just before the holidays to let me know that Zondervan has green-lit my idea, a written form of the Sacramental Baking course I am entering my fourth session of teaching next week. We're still discussing the title *cough cough I want Out of the House of Bread cough cough* but the content is secure. We'll journey through the making of one loaf of bread and the spiritual disciplines that it invokes us to consider and practice.

"More than anything, I want to teach people different ways to pray." That's what I told my editor last September when we were brainstorming the project, and it looks like I have a chance to do just that. Release date, things like that, are still in the works. For now, just know I'm writing away on something I love.

The Blog

Trying to write a book and a blog at the same time is a bit maddening. But it's needed. It keeps me asking big questions and asking them well. My incredible fiancée reminded me of that last night. So. Well then. On Monday, the blog is returning with some sort of regularity. Really. I mean it.

What Women Want [from the Church]

I've loved hosting the What Women Want [from the Church] series and the response has been overwhelming. Early on I began to wonder what the next step would be, once the series took off. The natural progression leant itself to gaining traction here, in this space, before passing the project along.

To that end, I will continue to host What Women Want through March and then hand it over to my good friend Elora, who will serve as the new host and curator of the project from April on. You are welcome to keep submitting posts, but note that I may refer you to Elora soon.

The Wedding

Hilary and I spent a lot of time thinking over the guest list for our wedding since it is going to be a small ceremony. Accordingly, we were unable to invite many people who have been significant to us particularly in the online space. We're thinking through ways to circle some of you up in the future for dinner parties and hangouts, but for now know that you are in no small way thanked and loved and cherished. You can see details about the wedding, and check out photos of how beautiful my future wife is, here.

Alright, alright, we'll get to it ...

Eggnog Coffeecake

(adapted from How Sweet it Is)

9x13 baking pan, butter to grease

the cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (divided into 1/4 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
3/4 cup brown sugar (divide into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you have bourbon vanilla extra on hand, use that)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 and 1/3 cups eggnog

the crumble

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

the glaze

1/3 cup eggnog
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Rub your 9×13 baking dish with a bit of butter to keep it from sticking. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup brown sugar with a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, set aside.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt. In a large bowl, add butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamon; whisk well. Add sugars and whisk again until smooth. Follow with the eggs one a time, mixing until well combined, then stir in the vanilla extract. To this, add the dry ingredients, gently mixing until a grainy mixture forms. Follow at last with the eggnog, mixing until just smooth. It will be thick.

Pour half of the batter into your baking dish, then follow with a sprinkle of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over top. Then cover with remaining batter, using a spatula to spread over sugar if needed. Sugar will peek through, more than likely. Don't fret.

Let's get on with the crumble. To make, simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until crumbly. Yeah, really that easy. Now sprinkle evenly over cake, then pop it into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake is set in the middle.

While cake is baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together all ingredients  and allow to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit, cooling, until the cake is finished.

After removing cake from oven, immediately poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick, then drizzle glaze over top. Let sit for ten minutes, then serve.

when we're making bourbon spiced apple pie

IMG_2324.jpg

I'm back. Or something. We're doing food again.

The first thing I ever learned to bake was apple pie. That was nearly a decade and a half ago.

It's been a standby for a long time. I've made it myriad ways: cheese in the crust, without sugar, with a carmel bottom.

But if you really want to do it, well, there's really only one way to go ...

IMG_2316.jpg

Bourbon and apples are a perfect match.

Seriously.

There's something about the apples with mellow sweetness coupled with the raw spice of the liquor.

The apples here are steeped and then drained and a sauce is made to concentrate the flavor while keeping the pie from getting soggy.

IMG_2317.jpg

(Also, I'm writing this post while watching NBC's The Sound of Music. Let's just have a moment of silence for that, okay? Because. Just. What.)

IMG_2320.jpg

This is the perfect winter dessert.

Sure, maybe, okay. Recipes always say that. Look, here's what I can tell you: this is delicious, this is actually pretty easy, and it's fun. If you can't do bourbon, just leave it out. You'll have less sauce at first, but it's really no big deal. Keep everything the same. Pie on.

Pie on?

Don't ask. Let's not talk about it.

Someone pass a fork.

(This Sound of Music is ROUGH.)

IMG_2322.jpg

Bourbon Spiced Apple Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie.

For the Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks (16 tbs.) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbs coconut oil or vegetable shortening
1 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water

For the Filling

3 Braeburn apples
3 Granny Smith apples
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup bourbon
1 tbs vanilla
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh, if possible)
3 tbs all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 400 F and get out a 9" pie tin.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter and coconut oil with your hands, some knives, or a pastry mixer. (Remember that coconut oil has a tendency to shard and shatter, so you may have to work it in a bit more.) Be gentle in combining to not overwork the dough, but you're looking for pellets and lumps. Then add a bit of ice water, a bit at a time, combing until a silky dough forms. You won't use all of the water, or you might. Go slow and see. Divide the dough in two and gently press into rounds about 3/4th an inch thick and cover in plastic wrap. Put in the fridge to chill for an hour. (Dough will last up to three days, if making in advance.)

Peel and slice your apples how you'd like. I have a gadget that cuts them into half circles, so that's how I tend to go. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and spices. Place in the fridge for a half hour.

Take the mixture from the fridge and empty it into a strainer over another bowl. Leave for twenty minutes to drain. Remove the spiced and bourbon-soaked apples and set aside. Empty the liquid into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Let simmer about ten to fifteen minutes, until thickened and the liquid has reduced by half to three-fourths. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Toss the apples with the three tablespoons of flour.

Pull the two rounds of dough from the fridge. Roll out the first on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit to your pie tin.

Dump the apples in, then pour over your sticky bourbon syrup. Don't add more than a 1/3 cup of liquid, the remainder can be used in drinks, as sauce over ice cream, etc.

Roll out the remaining crust and fit over the apples. Finish the edges with a fork or pinch with your fingers. Slit four opening in the top to release steam while baking.

Place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Let stand ten minutes, then serve.

IMG_2321.jpg