Oatmeal Cake

So at work today one of the teachers asked me to stop with all the sweets.  She's too tempted.  I'm sorry.  I felt bad.  I did offer some advice (make the stuff and share) but I'm not sure it helped.  I'm not setting out to have a baking blog here.  Not at all.  In fact, I really want to make sure that I'm balanced in my postings... or at least varied.  And yet here I am posting another cake.
Thing is, I despise bought treats.  I can't tell you how much they make me crazy.  The bought cookies, candies, cakes... they're not tasty, they're full of god-knows-what and we eat too much of them when they're around.  (I've decided - unilaterally - to donate some of our hallowe'en treats BTW)  It seems that when I make homemade treats we don't gorge.  We appreciate.  They taste better and somehow they're more filling... and special.  My kids love homemade treats way more than other stuff.  I'm not trying to be snobby in the least.  This is a conscious decision that we've made in our house.  No bought sweets, no sugar cereal, no pre-made food.
It's a pain in the neck sometimes.
I can't just open the cupboard and grab.  OH.  True confessions here... I do buy treats sometimes... chips.  Not often but sometimes.  Almost forgot and it's good to make sure that it gets off my chest.  What if you came to my house and found my chips.  For the most part though... I make my own ice cream, my own cookies, cupcakes, muffins, dips... and if I can't make it them we pretty much don't eat it.  As a consolation prize, your house is probably way cleaner and tidier than mine.  Trust me... I'm no hero.

When we make it ourselves, we think about it more.  We use up what we have in the house.  We use oats... in our cake.  Who uses oats in a cake?  Actually the best cake I've ever had was an oatmeal/date cake that I made for this elderly rich couple in Montreal.  I was in University and they hired me to come in multiple days a week and serve them afternoon tea on their silver (with homemade ginger cookies of course) and then dinner in their dining room... from their silver.  Yup, just the two of them.  The oatmeal/date cake was from the Chicago Symphony cookbook... or maybe the Philadelphia Symphony cookbook... jeez I can't remember which flippin' symphony but the cake was outta this world and I've lost it forever.  If anyone has it PLEASE send it to me and I'll post it.  So, I make cake with oats.  And it's awesome.  It should've been quick oats but I just used the regular stuff and it's just as good.

I'm sorry for posting yet another sweet.  I'm sorry that it's so tempting.  It's my awesome-ass photography skills that make it look so good.  For chocolate lovers, I'm sorry that it doesn't have chocolate in it but damn - like haven't you had enough chocolate from me lately.  For oatmeal lovers:  I'm sorry that I didn't' get a chance to share with you.  For me:  I'm not sorry that I took a little bit of it to work everyday.

Oatmeal Cake adapted from 'More With Less'
makes 1 9x13 inch cake

1 cup oatmeal
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9x13 inch cake pan.
Combine the oatmeal and boiling water.  Set aside for 20 minutes.
Cream together the brown sugar, sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Add the oatmeal mixture and mix well.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
Add the flour to the liquid mixture.  Mix until well incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Or you can cool it in the pan and just cut it out from there.

1 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp vanilla
1 - 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients and pour onto the cooled cake.

Cornmeal Yeast Bread

So I've been thinking a lot about my perceptions lately.  Mostly because D is reading this book and he keeps talking about it so much that I feel like now I don't really need to read it only I have to read because I've committed to doing it already and once I've done that then I just have to see it through.  That's just me.
So with perception.  Yeah.  You know first impressions and all that.  It partly makes me sad that we believe  that we've summed up another human being so quickly.  It makes me realize that we are sometimes the shallow creatures that we complain about.  It also makes me think that I need to clean up my own act.  I think that the reality is that 'first impressions' become lasting impressions and that the world kinda functions around that a whole lot more than it doesn't.  Part of me just has to get past the 'this is so shallow' and move on.
I always thought that 'politics' at work or anywhere else was really really bad.  I thought that my work would be my merit badge and that would stand out all by itself.  I thought that manipulation was a terrible, no good, very bad thing.  But the more I move through this life I've been given the more I realize that politics exits everywhere... from the bedroom to the boardroom.  Manipulation in some form or other is just a part of things functioning in life.  God help you if you try to parent or teach anybody anything without using some kind of manipulation (hopefully not the  'If you don't do this now I'll...' kind.  I certainly never have).  I guess that right now in my life I'm kind of ok with it.  Most of the time I can see the 'impressions' happening.  I can eye the politics going on in front of me and I can make a decision about whether or not I want to play along with the manipulation.  I get it.
Of course there's the really bad stuff that is totally destructive and should never be tolerated.  Seen.  I'm not talking about that stuff though.  I mean when you really think about it how many times a day do you try to get someone to see your side of things or wonder how you should handle a situation.  It's called making it work... right?  (see I gotya there)
Anyway... I'm just thinkin'.  It's cool.  It's probably not coherent yet but it's fun having stuff lolling around in my head for a while.

So this bread.  Yeah.  What can I say about bread right?  You should try making bread though, Yo.  It's fun.  I like the kneading part.  It's soothing for my soul.  And when I smell it starting to get all yeasty and rising and crap it feels awesome.
To be honest this stuff is like a cross between corn bread and challah.  Yum.  I don't know for sure if I would split this into two loaves.  If I try it again I might just do one big one.  If you try it before I do then definitely let me know.
p.s.  I downloaded this a few days ago and it's just stupid fluffy fun.  I'm embarrassed but there it is.  I downloaded other stuff too that's much more 'proper'.

Cornmeal Yeast Bread from 'More With Less'
makes 2 loaves

Take 2 pkg dry yeast
dissolve in 1/2 cup lukewarm water
Set aside.
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup scalded milk (milk that's brought to a boil them removed from the stove)
Cool to lukewarm.

1 egg
the milk mixture
the yeast mixture
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal

Mix until it forms a soft dough.
turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes adding more flour as needed (up to another 1 cup)
The dough should feel pretty smooth.
Place in a greased bowl.  Cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled - about an hour.
Punch down.  Divide in half.
Place in 2 greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until almost doubled - about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the bread anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes.  The top should be golden brown.

Another Brownie and an ice bath.

It seems odd to me that in the same week - in fact the very next day - my kids are collecting bags of treats which include at least a ton of chocolate that I'm making brownies.  And what's with the brownies?  Why my obsession?  Haven't I given you enough brownie recipes?  I don't even understand it myself.  Truly.  Here's the real kicker, I've still got more brownie recipes that I want to try out.  Damn.  Even as I'm writing it sounds like sheer lunacy.
All I can offer as explanation is that sometimes the search for the gooiest, chocolatiest, moistest brownie never ends AND other times only a brownie will satisfy the craving.  In all honesty, when it comes to satisfying cravings this brownie was pretty exceptional.

I went through this thing in the spring and summer where I was baking with fruit.  It's so wonderful.  Fresh fruit.  It starts with Rhubarb and just goes on from there.  Yeah.  I know that I could be baking with pears (already done that) and apples (yeah... that too) and pumpkin (I gotta get on that one) but if I'm completely honest chocolate is what I'm craving at the moment.  The pears and the apples will still be one the menu don't worry.  I'll be making some apple cake or other just now.  In the right here and the right now... it's all chocolate all the time.
Maybe it's a lament.  Like when you were dumped by your first boyfriend... remember that?  What did you want to do.  Go out and eat... a whole crap load of chocolate and/or chocolate ice cream.  My flavour of choice was Haagen dazs peanut butter ice cream with chocolate and other crap in it.  They don't even make it anymore.  Probably 'cause I was the only one who bought it and I never had enough boyfriends to keep the flavour in production.  I never had a favourite chocolate bar.  It always changed.  I could never decide.  Is it Twix?  Is it Reese?  Is it Snickers?  Anyway, I'm figuring that my chocolate craving is my way of throwing a pity party for myself now that summer has gone and dumped me.  Just like a two month boyfriend that runs off and disappears.  Never calls again.  No explantation even.  I'm sore about it and I'm not gonna let it go for a while.  I can feel it.  Not even Christmas is gonna make up for it.
The day after hallowe'en I was probably the only person in Toronto firing up the oven to bake.  I had this recipe earmarked and I needed brownies in my life.  Sometimes nature calls and no matter what you've gotta just go with it.  This recipe caught my eye because it is supposed to be under baked and then cooled in an ice bath.  Normally ice baths are torturous but in this case they're heavenly.

Steve's Ritual Brownies adapted slightly from Alice Medrich 'Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy'
makes 1 8inch square pan

8 tbsp (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
good pinch of salt
2 lg eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the butter and chocolate together in a heat proof bowl over a barely simmering pot of water.  Stir until the mixture is melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat and the pot.
Add in the sugar, vanilla, salt and espresso powder.  Mix.
Add in 1 egg and mix.
Add in the next egg and mix.
Add in the flour.  Mix vigorously by hand for about a minute.  The batter should pull away from the bowl.
Pour the batter into the foil lined baking pan.
Bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  The brownies should just barely pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove from the heat and place in an ice bath 3/4 of an inch deep.
Cool completely in the ice bath.
Remove from the pan and slice up.  Store in an airtight container - they won't last long but will keep well for about 3 days if necessary.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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