A pic­nic-wor­thy treat served with­out ants

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - DORIE GREENSPAN Wash­ing­ton Post

If you’ve ever come to one of my pic­nics, you know that you never get closer to the great outdoors than peer­ing at it through a win­dow.

No itchy blan­kets; no pesky bugs; no beach sand, park dirt or tickly grass; no threat of rain; no sun­burns and no plas­tic wine­glasses.

I hold all my pic­nics in­doors, on the din­ing room ta­ble.

I’ll al­ways have a cake of some kind: a plain cake that’s good on its own and good with fruit or jam or ice cream. My cur­rent fave in the cake depart­ment is sour cream with a crunchy swirl. I bake the bat­ter in mini-loaf pans, so the cakes are pic­nic-wor­thy.

The car­damom is op­tional, but it’s so good with the cin­na­mon.

Sour Cream Swirl Pic­nic Cakelettes MAKES 16 SERV­INGS (4 MINI LOAVES)

You’ll need mini loaf pans that mea­sure 5¾ by 3¼ inches or a bit smaller; dis­pos­able ones are OK to use here. For the swirl ½ cup mini cho­co­late chips (or chopped cho­co­late) ½ cup chopped nuts, such as wal­nuts, pecans or al­monds 1/3 cup gran­u­lated su­gar ¼ cup raisins or small bits of other dried fruit (make sure the fruit is moist and plump) ¼ tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon Pinch fine sea salt For the cakes 2 cups flour 1 tsp bak­ing pow­der ¼ tsp ground cin­na­mon ¼ tsp ground car­damom (may sub­sti­tute that much more ground cin­na­mon) 16 ta­ble­spoons (2 sticks) un­salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture 1 cup gran­u­lated su­gar 2/3 cup packed light brown su­gar ½ tsp fine sea salt 2 large eggs, at room tem­per­a­ture 1½ tsp pure vanilla ex­tract 1 cup sour cream (re­move from the fridge 20 min­utes be­fore us­ing)

Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees. Use baker’s spray to grease four mini loaf pans; place them on a bak­ing sheet.

For the swirl: Combine the mini cho­co­late chips, nuts, gran­u­lated su­gar, raisins or other dried fruit, cin­na­mon and salt in a small bowl, mix­ing to evenly dis­trib­ute.

For the cakes: Whisk to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der, cin­na­mon and car­damom, if us­ing, in a mix­ing bowl. Combine the but­ter, gran­u­lated and brown sug­ars and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held mixer; beat on medium speed, scrap­ing down the beater and bowl as needed, un­til light, smooth and creamy, about three min­utes.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat for a minute after each goes in; beat in the vanilla ex­tract. Scrape in the sour cream and beat on low speed to in­cor­po­rate. The bat­ter may look cur­dled, but it will come to­gether once the dry ingredients are blended in.

Stop the mixer, add half of the flour mix­ture and pulse the mixer on low speed to start in­cor­po­rat­ing it. Once most of the flour mix­ture is in, add the rest; pulse again and then work on low speed to form a well-blended bat­ter. Scrape the bowl to make cer­tain there are no clumps of flour lurk­ing at the bot­tom.

Use a large (3-ta­ble­spoon-ca­pac­ity) cookie scoop to fill the pans, or you can heap the bat­ter on a large spoon. Put two large scoops of bat­ter in each pan and smooth them with an ic­ing spat­ula or but­ter knife.

Stir the swirl mix­ture, then sprin­kle ¼ cup of it into each pan, scat­ter­ing it evenly over the bat­ter. Top with two more scoops of bat­ter, spread­ing them evenly.

Turn what­ever swirl mix­ture is left into the bowl with the re­main­ing bat­ter, stir to blend and then di­vide among the pans, smooth­ing the tops.

Bake (mid­dle rack) for 50 to 55 min­utes, ro­tat­ing the bak­ing sheet from front to back after 25 min­utes, un­til they are golden brown. (They may start to come away from the sides of the pans.)

Most im­por­tant: a tester in­serted into the cen­tre of the cakes should come out clean. Trans­fer the mini loaves to a wire rack and al­low them to cool (in their pans) for five min­utes be­fore turn­ing them out onto the rack to cool .

GO­RAN KOSANOVIC, FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Sour cream swirl pic­nic cakelettes are easy to han­dle … even if you’ve skipped the pic­nic to eat inside.

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