5 Days of Coffee and Sweets with Irene’s Beans: Crumb Cake Donuts

Coffee was never a drink that was associated with my friends Irene and Andy. Wine yes, beer definitely! But now they are in the coffee bean roasting business, Irene’s Beans– and even though Irene is late to the coffee drinking party- her beans are quite delicious and her passion as intense.
After a full adult life without coffee, a chance cup post dinner in Mexico opened the heavens for Irene, and got her onto this new path. Her beans come from many different places, including Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Barundi and from where I am writing now, Antigua, Guatemala.
Irene sent me 5 different beans, all with very different flavor profiles. They are all so yummy that I felt it best to showcase them all. So for the next 5 posts I will feature a different sweet to go with each of Irene’s Beans.
The first of the five coffees is the Mexican Altura which started the craze. It has a fruity, caramel aroma with a hint of chocolate. I paired it with a baked cake donut, that has a hint of brightness from the buttermilk in the recipe and a simple, crunchy, crumb sugar topping that offsets the bitterness in the coffee.
Though I truly adore donuts- and fresh out of the grease is truly the ONLY way to go- but they can be such calorie bombs, which is only insulting because who can eat only one? This baked version is surprising and light for the heftier cake version, as opposed to a yeasted version. The cake part itself is also not terribly sweet, so the sugar topping adds a nice texture and zap of sugar.
To make these I purchased a donut pan Though I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets with a singular purpose, this pan is so worth it. The donuts turned out perfectly and slipped out of the pan with ease. I’m also going to confess, that the fact that the pan only made 6 donuts was a blessing- small batches are the way to go, and even sticking to eating two is difficult.
Baked Crumb Cake Donuts
(adapted from Wilton Recipe)
makes 6
1c all purpose flour
6T granulated sugar
1t baking powder
.5t salt
6T buttermilk, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1T neutral olive oil
1t vanilla
6T granulated sugar
3T all purpose flour
2 T neutral olive oil
pinch of salt
.5c Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 425˚
In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, bp, and salt. Stir to combine.
In separate bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, olive oil and vanilla.
Similarly to making pancakes, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir swiftly and only until incorporated. The acid in the buttermilk will react with the bp immediately and you don’t want to beat that down.
Carefully spoon the batter into each of the rings and using the back of a spoon, spread evenly.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and oil for the topping. Mix together with your fingers and pinch into lumps. Feel free to adjust ratio here to get that effect.
Distribute the crumb topping over the donuts evenly. These are not the traditional heavy crumbs, they are more of a crusting and not a heavy layer like in a coffee cake.
Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes. The donuts should spring back to the touch when pressed.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Then remove the donuts onto a cooling rack. Wait another 2 minutes and then dust with powdered sugar.

Saffron Potato Croquettes With Soft Boiled Quail Eggs

I have returned from Gosling Pond, laden with incredible treats! I have quail eggs, hen eggs, and a gorgeous piece of free range lamb roast- that are all begging for attention.
Sadly-devastatingly sadly- I forgot to bring the CF card for my camera (always doing that, *sigh*). As a result I had to fall back on my iPhone to take photos- which I promise I will share with you soon. They will take a little photoshopping- so please be patient. I will also promise a return visit this summer when everything is in full bloom and I have my proper equipment.
In the meantime I will start you out here with a little delight I made this morning using a couple of the quail eggs. Kate’s 4 new quail, Morton, Malady, Maeve and Matilda have not yet matured enough to start laying (well, Morton never will, obviously), though they should start any day now.  These eggs are from the dearly beloved and recently passed Pat, who started Kate’s craze.
I’ve seen plenty of quail eggs before, and though they never cease to amaze me, there is something magical about the fact that PAT made these. Kate’s baby did that! And so, they are even more gorgeous to behold.
Since the eggs are so small and delicate, and SO special, I wanted to make something that celebrated that- and so here we go. I infused some oil with a hearty chunk of garlic and saffron, and then tossed that into mashed potatoes. I carefully made them into tiny patties and pan fried them in the oil that remained behind in the pan.
The quail eggs were fun. I simmered them for a mere 90 seconds and they were soft boiled to perfection. They’re so teeny tiny to peel, but so worth it.
It’s a delicate and earthy tate profile, fit for a princess. I hope you enjoy!
Saffron Potato Croquettes with Soft Boiled Quail Eggs
6 servings
12 beautiful fresh quail eggs
2c mashed potatoes
1 large or two medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 hearty pinches of saffron threads
oil for frying
Place 2-3T of mild oil in a small frying pan and gently warm
Add garlic and saffron and gently cook to draw out the flavors of both aromatics.
Toss into mashed potatoes and stir, adding salt to taste. Reserve oil laced pan to the side.
With hands take about 2T of mashed potatoes and roll into a ball and pat into a disk-make 12.
Warm oil in pan and gently fry croquettes, adding more oil if needed.
In small saucepan bring water to boil. Lower to a high simmer and submerge quail eggs. 
With an eye on the second hand, boil gently for 90 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and run under cold water.
Gently peel eggs and serve on the croquettes. 
You may poach the eggs in advance and hold in cool water. Before serving warm for a quick minute in simmering water.

Power Packed Oat Scones: One healthy, the other healthier

As I have been packing up all my various china (and mind you, there is a quite a bit of it) I am reminded of my days when I would have friends over for High Tea. This was back in the early 90’s when Victoriana was the rage. For those parties I made teeny cucumber sandwiches, bitty raspberry tartlets and, of course, cream scones. We would gather all lady like and I would set out a spread, all served on pretty little plates, with delicate cups and saucers, silver trays and lace linen napkins. Mind you, this was in my funky railroad East Village apartment.
Those were the days…
I’m a big fan of the scone. Not too sweet, not too buttery and a mouthful that requires huge slugs of tea or coffee to wash it down. When I first moved to NYC I lived off of them. I was a darkroom hack in those days just out of art school, with student loans and no money. From the Korean deli on the corner I could buy a huge boulder of a scone for a buck, and for another 75 cents get a giant cup of coffee. There was always a lump of scone sitting at my bench slowly getting nibbled away, keeping me company in the dark.
Yesterday I had a hankering for a healthier oat version. Something that I could grab on the way to the gym and not feel guilty for it. Something that would nourish me mid afternoon after a few hours of packing.
I started out with a recipe that I found in Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Bakery– but that was only a guideline. I added in wheat germ, flax seed oil and protein powder. The recipe calls for whole wheat flour and a smattering of rolled oats and I exchanged the butter for vegetable oil. I tossed in some cranberries at the last second.
The result was a hearty scone that in my opinion could have used a bit more milk. Lovely though. These will not win any culinary awards for scone of the year, but considering the power packed ingredients, these are wonderful.

The second batch was a recipe I took from my old cookbook Simply Scones, originally printed in ’88. I made their Oat Currant Scones, using raisins in lieu of currants, oil instead of butter, and milk instead of heavy cream.

The consistency was more right on and they baked up the way a scone should. Honestly, I think there were both pretty close. You can see from the photo below the crumb was pretty much the same. Using oil made them a little denser than they would have been had I used butter, but again, a healthier version was the goal here and with that in mind, these were great.

Whole Wheat Oat Power Scone
adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea
makes 12 2″ scones
1.75 c AP flour
.5c whole wheat flour
.5c rolled oats
.25c wheat germ
1 scoop protein powder
1 heaped T bp
.5t salt
.25c sugar
2T flax seed oil
.75c vegetable oil
6T milk
2c fresh cranberries
Oven set to 400˚
Mix flours, wheat germ, protein powder, BP, salt and sugar into a bowl and toss to combine. Toss in Cranberries
Stir in oils and mix with hands to incorporate into flour. This will be mealy and lumpy.
Add the milk and swiftly, carefully pull the dough together. Turn out onto work table dusted with flour, and give a turn or three kneading the scone.
Pat into 1.5″ thick mass and cut out 2″ scones and place on paper lined baking sheet.
Glaze with a little milk or beaten egg if desired and bake for 20-25 mins.
Raisin Oat Scones
adapted from Simply Scones
makes 8 wedges
2c AP flour
1c rolled oats
.25c sugar
1T bp
.5t salt
.25t cream of tartar
.5c milk
.5c vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large handfuls of raisins
Oven set to 400˚
In large bowl combine dry ingredients.
Add in oil and work in with fingers to get a lumpy mealy texture.
Add in milk and eggs, give a turn or two then toss in raisins. Pull dough together, turn out onto floured worktable.
Pat into an 8″ diameter circle. But into 8 wedges and place onto baking sheet.
Bake 15-20 mins