Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gooey butter cake and random bits of nothing...

This first paragraph is fascinating. Please read to the end of the entire post. It might get better, but I'm uncertain. It's January and it's been cold. I never wear a coat and I'm wearing a coat. It snowed on Monday. I had my teeth cleaned on Tuesday. I made a menu for a baby shower for Saturday (quiche and Greek salad again). I returned my (unread) library books that were making me feel bad about myself first thing this morning, on the way to the office. About one hour ago I realized I'm over the adjustment phase of a new calling (5 months in) and moving into the this is wonderful phase of it all.

No segue.

Best Thing I Ever Ate, I love you. I saw the Gooey Butter Cake (a famous St. Louis tradition) and was intrigued. Most recipes you see out there in the blogosphere are made with a cake mix. This is the New York Times recipe. Typically I shy away from all things yeast. Maybe using yeast is one of my New Year's Resolutions?

3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.

1. In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.
2. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Press dough into an ungreased 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
5. Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.

Yield: 16 to 20 servings

The cake mix version has cream cheese in it. And I once saw Paula Deen make a version of her Gooey Butter Cake with some toffee bits. Another time with some pumpkin.

I don't know why, but everyone seems to be talking about Gooey Butter Cake lately. Smitten Kitchen, also awesome. She is the pop culture queen of foodies.

No segue.

Sunday I asked my grandson, "Do you like my red nails? I don't usually have red nails, so I'm wondering if you like them." Pensive. More thinking. "I don't really care about nails." Point taken. So I press on. "But what do you think when you look at them? I'm asking because one day some girl is going to ask you the same sort of question . . .and if you don't answer her she's going to think you don't care about her." I said that. He said, "Grandma, you're not my girlfriend." End of story.

No segue.

I was reading a book (not one of the books I returned unread to the library, which I guess is fairly obvious) that quoted the famous "unknown author" - it said, "Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Who wouldn't google this? I'm really asking. I just wanted to know, WHO said this? So I set out on a quest to discover the source. Two hours later (don't worry, I only missed a little bit of bad reality television) I accepted the fact that the author was really unknown. And then I thought, well, that's pretty sad. Here's this awesome sentiment that is pretty well known . . . and we don't even know you, author. Shouldn't someone know you? And then I realized that someone that wise would never care if they received the credit. And that's when I felt a little like my granddaughter Grace, who said this to her mother in the car the other day:

Every time I think of the name Megan I think of the nickname Meggie. Every time I think of the nickname Meggie I think of the name Meg. Every time I think of the name Meg I think of the girl from Hercules. Every time I think of Meg from Hercules I think of Meg Whitman. Every time I think of Meg Whitman I think of that guy that won and how much I can't stand him. And every time I think of that I think of how I talk too much.

I wonder who came up with the idea for gooey butter cake, anyway?

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