“Are you self-hosted? How do you deal with lighting issues? Have you had your blog custom designed? I get my cool plates for food staging from thrift shops around my house for $1!” Although my fellow L.A. bloggers and I were there at lunch to discuss the upcoming bake sale for the Great American Bake Sale for Share Our Strength, we all had pressing issues on our minds.
Issues that our friends and family probably just can’t relate to and bores them to tears. Issues, that unless you are food blogger, you just couldn’t give a flying leap about. Hands down, the best topic of the luncheon was how Food Gawker hurts our feelings.
I have a long list of declined photos that have been tossed aside by these food porn sites.
Yes, my photos are often “too tight” and my composition does NOT include a toille napkin or a bamboo place mat with an icy glass of lemonade next to it, and I don’t own a light box, but how do so many people know how to execute such professional looking food styling or take such beautifully lit pictures? That boggles my mind even after reading photos books and taking a class. Food photography was a popular topic at our table.
We all longed for better traffic and picked each other’s brains for the best referral sites; the most popular being Pinterest lately. Stumble Upon and Tumblr were also a discussion and it was interesting to note that others have also experienced a huge surge in traffic on obscure days for obscure posts from these sites. Hmmm…
I now understand the huge draw of these blogger conferences sponsored by Food Buzz and the like because truly no one understands this cult phenomenon of food blogging quite like another blogger. Like a Trekkie, we have our own lingo, our favorite characters whether it’s Joy the Baker or Deb of the Smitten Kitchen or Rhee, The Pioneer Woman. Maybe we need a hand signal or a button to wear so we can identify fellow food bloggers out in the world so we can say, “Was your post Pinned today?” or “How about them lighting issues…what’s that about?”
Anyhow, I actually DID bake this morning, and truly this glorious, mind bending Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart should have taken center stage here. It got served to our normal Sunday Dinner “focus group” and has been depleted hours ago. Rave reviews doesn’t even seem to touch how enamored people were with this bread. Me too. It is resplendent. Totally.
It is a time drain to make…no doubt ’bout it. But it’s SPECTACULAR! I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that I believe it has a moderately high degree of difficulty if you are not typically a bread baker. I am not, but I do make some mean cinnamon rolls and that knowledge came in handy today. It was well worth the toil and trouble, and if you just dig in and get the job done, you will not be disappointed. It will make you and everyone around you very happy.
Very, very happy indeed.
Chocolate Chip Yeasted Coffee Cake
Taken verbatim from Martha Stewart’s site
2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus a pinch of granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowl, pan, and parchment
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
For the filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
For the crumb topping:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Make the cake: Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar over milk in a medium bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk together remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the egg, and yolk. Whisk into yeast mixture.Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a mixer. Add egg mixture. Beat on low speed until almost fully combined, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough-hook attachment. Add butter. Beat until smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.
Butter a large bowl. Turn out dough onto a floured surface; knead a few times until smooth. Place in bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Make the filling: Combine chocolate, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until combined.Punch down dough. Transfer to a floured work surface. Let stand for 5 minutes. Roll out to an 18-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick). Brush edges with egg wash. Spread filling over dough, reserving 1/2 cup and leaving a 1-inch border. Tightly roll dough like a jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal, and fold in half to bring ends together to form a U. Twist 2 or 3 times to “braid.” Butter a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan, and line with parchment, leaving 1-inch overhangs; butter parchment. Transfer dough to pan. Brush top with egg wash.
Make the crumb topping: Combine confectioners’ sugar, flour, and butter. Sprinkle topping and reserved 1/2 cup filling over cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drape plastic wrap over dough. Let stand in a warm place until risen by half, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, and bake, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until deeply golden, 15 to 20 minutes more (cover with foil if top gets too dark). Transfer pan to a wire rack. Let cake cool.