Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peanut Buttah & Pumpkins

Recipe time.

We wanted edible playdough today, so I looked 'round the internets to find a recipe. Guess what? 99% of the recipes I found call for milk, mostly powdered. For an art/cooking project? Has anybody tried eating that stuff lately, because what I remember from my own childhood is that powdered milk has more flavors in common with licking the outside of the animal than the sweet stuff from the udder. (Not that I get to ingest milk anymore - lactose is not my friend.)

So, experimentation time. Here's what we did:

crunchy peanut butter
brown rice flour

I warmed the honey and the peanut butter for easier mixing, then sprinkled in rice flour until the little guy liked the texture. This is obviously a very easy process, and doesn't need exact measurement. I wouldn't recommend using a peanut butter than already has sugar (you know who you are), or if you must then omit some or all of the honey. I'm also quite sure that cashew or almond butter would sub in well if peanuts are an issue.

* ~ As a health warning, if your child is under three, you might want to skip this recipe. It sounds fun, but you're more likely to have problems with both peanuts and honey if you're under three. ~ *

Last nights recipe actually included measurements. Well, most of the ingredients did. Pumpkins are undoubtedly my son's favorite part of Hallowe'en, so we buy them early and often. But then I have to cook them up, so I needed a creative way to use up a few things I had in the fridge (oh, that yogurt is still good, I promise). Here's the what-for's:

1 small pumpkin, baked, skinned and gutted
2 sticks butter, or 1 cup, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups plain yogurt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

First, prepare the pumpkin. For me this means splitting the sucker down the middle, greasing a pan with a little olive oil, then throwing the pumpkin in the greased pan into the oven (at 350 degrees) until the skin starts to turn brown and the whole thing has give when pressed.

Second, prep the yogurt. Say what? If you've seen Alton Brown's Good Eats episode on recipes for lactose-free folks, you've seen him make yogurt cheese. The stuff is brilliant - it makes fantastic ice cream, "cream cheese" frosting, bagel schmear, or sour cream substitute. Here's a quick run-down of AB's recipe: scoop a cup or more of yogurt into a moistened multi-layer cheese cloth. Twist the cloth into a tight little bundle - the whey will start to release immediately and run out. You can either hand squeeze for a while, or you can weigh the bundle down with couple cans on top and inside a strainer. I just squoozed mine until I felt like enough whey had come out - this will drastically reduce the volume of the yogurt.

Okay, cake time.

Cream the sugars and butter together in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy. As the butter/sugar mix creams, combine the flour, leavening, spices and salt and sift together. In another bowl combine the pumpkin, yogurt cheese, vanilla and eggs. If you think the wet mix is too thick, add the second cup of yogurt a little at a time, stopping when the wets resemble pancake batter. Alternate adding flour and pumpkin into the creamed butter and sugar. When everything is well mixed, it should be very fluffy and pale orange.

Butter and flour two loaf pans. Set the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the batter between the pans and bake an hour at 350 or until the cakes test for doneness.

Beware, this cake tried very hard to collapse on me right out of the oven. The crumb will be very moist and tender. Wait until the loaves fully cool to avoid total collapse.

I will probably revise this recipe to include more flour so that it has a little more structure. The tender, pudding-like texture was really yummy, but very unprofessional.

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