Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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A Dense & Delicious Poppyseed Cake

Every so many years, my birthday coincides with Father’s Day; such was the case this year.  Sadly, my father passed away in 2008 and my husband’s father in 1985.  We celebrated our fathers along with my birthday.  Also, yesterday Maui Girl Cooks turned one year old!  On Sunday, in honor of all of these events,  I made a cake {it really was just my birthday cake}.  Lest you think one should not bake one’s own birthday cake, it is no problem at all; I do not mind.  Many foodies have been known to make their own birthday cakes.  All kinds of possibilities tumbled around in my head.  What should I make?  I thought a lot about what kind of cake I wanted–chocolate cake with mocha frosting, Boston Cream Pie, chocolate rum cake, apple galette, this strawberry cheesecake and poppyseed cake were all in the running for the occasion {yes, I know those are not all cakes}.  I finally decided on poppyseed cake with this lemon curd.  Time did not allow for the lemon curd, but I will make it soon, and you will be among the first to know how it goes; I have no doubt that it will be delightful.  My ideas for variations on this poppyseed cake are many and I will share the results with you when I make them.  I baked this cake once before, sometime within the last year I think {last year’s birthday cake too maybe??}.  It was excellent, but I tweaked it just a bit this time, reducing the sugar a tad and adding lemon zest.  Next time I will add more lemon zest.  It was a fine birthday cake! Slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone {Deborah Madison}

1 cup poppyseeds stirred into 1/2 cup hot milk {when ready to use, drain off any unabsorbed milk}
2 cups {10 oz.} whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 cup sugar minus about 1 tbsp {5 3/4 oz}
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream or buttermilk {I had neither, so I used 1 tbsp white vinegar with milk to make 1 cup}
Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic {next time I will use 2 lemons}

Set the poppy seeds aside to soak in the milk until needed {if you have time, soak the seeds for a couple hours}.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter and flour {or spray} a 9-inch springform pan.  Mix the dry ingredients together and set them aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they form firm but moist peaks and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then beat in the yolks one at a time until smooth.  Scrape down the bowl, then stir in the sour cream or buttermilk, drained poppy seeds and lemon zest.  Add the dry ingredients in thirds.  If using a mixer, this can be done on low speed.  Scrape up the batter from the bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s well mixed, then stir in a quarter of the beaten egg whites before folding in the rest.  Smooth the batter into the pan, then bake until golden, firm. and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven, set the cake on a rack, and gently remove the rim so that the cake can cool. We have always enjoyed this cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it would be delicious with fresh strawberries and softly whipped cream, as Madison suggests. Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 10-12.

Bon appétit!

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Amazingly Delicious Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Muffins final

If you are a banana nut bread lover, you must try these muffins.  They are dense, moist, banana-y, and just plain delicious.  I have put my own spin on them to make them healthier and even tastier than the original recipe.  The list of ingredients is perhaps a little longer than most muffin recipes, but they go together quickly, and are definitely worth your time.

As far as I’m concerned, any banana bread or muffin must contain walnuts & be eaten with butter;  preferably the bread is cool enough so that the butter just sits on top so you can really taste it.  There is something special about the flavor combination of sweet banana bread, crunchy walnuts & creamy butter.  Another “must ingredient” for me in these muffins is cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are one of my favorite ingredients.  As you can see from the package, they are a Mayan Superfood, with antioxidants, iron & magnesium! Don’t expect to snack on them from the package, because they have no sweetening, so aren’t like popping chocolate chips.   I buy these from Amazon:

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite.  What's not to like about that?

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite. What’s not to like about that?

The original recipe calls for strong coffee & suggests water if you don’t have coffee.  I highly recommend using coffee, even if you are not a coffee drinker, because it adds a layer of flavor that you can’t detect as coffee; it’s just good.  I buy the Starbucks Via packages from Costco when they go on special.

Starbucks Via fina;

Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from http://busterbucks.hubpages.com/hub/Worlds-Best-and-easiest-Banana-Nut-Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. strong coffee {you can use water, but I highly recommend the coffee}
Milk, buttermilk or coconut milk-enough to make 2 cups TOTAL wet ingredients {if you use 3 bananas you may only need a few tablespoons; if you use one banana, you may need to add 2/3 cup or more}

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp. ground flax seed {preferably grind your own from whole flax seeds}
2 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. raw cacao nibs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg {I use whole nutmeg, freshly grated on a rasp.  Definitely worth it!}
1 cup broken walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Be sure to put the muffins in a fully preheated oven.

In a small bowl, put all of your wet ingredients-make sure you mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork.  Stir in the egg with the fork, and then add the remaining wet ingredients.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix your dry ingredients.  I always put the measured baking soda & baking powder in my hand & smash any lumps; it’s not pleasant to bite into a lump of baking soda in your muffin.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir gently {12-14 quick strokes}.  Do not over mix-this will result in tough muffins.  Who wants tough muffins?  There may be a few streaks of flour but that is ok.

Spray your muffin tins with coconut oil spray {or Pam}, or grease them with butter.   Lightly spoon in your batter {don’t pack it in}.  You can fill the tins up to the top.

Put the muffin tin into the preheated oven & bake for 20 minutes {I always start checking at 18 minutes}.  They are done when a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Leave the muffins in the tins for 5-10 minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack.  Enjoy with butter!

Here are a few other ingredients I like to use.

Penzeys Nutmeg2

Hemp Seeds

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

Penzeys Cinnamon final