Homemade Muesli Streusel Swirl Breakfast Bread

cutloaf2Homemade muesli has become a staple in our house year round. I love to keep quart-sized mason jars full of it in the fridge to have handy for a cold cereal breakfast or to sprinkle over yogurt. It’s so easy to make and so much tastier and healthier than commercially made muesli or cold cereals with additives. But what exactly is muesli, you may ask?

Muesli has Swiss and German roots, hence the decidedly non-english name. It is simply a dish based on raw rolled oats and other ingredients including grains, fresh or dried fruits, seeds and nuts, and is usually eaten for breakfast, but sometimes eaten as a light evening dish in Germany and Switzerland.

In the year 1900, a Swiss physician named Max Bircher-Benner first introduced muesli to patients in his hospital as part of a rich fresh fruit and vegetable diet that was an essential component of therapy. Evidently, he was inspired by a similar “strange” dish he encountered in the Swiss Alps while he and his wife were hiking. The original Bircher-Benner “fresh” muesli recipe consisted of all parts of a fresh apple including the seeds, pips and core, rolled oats soaked in water for 12 hours, nuts, lemon juice and milk or cream and honey mixed together and served immediately before the apple could turn brown. Today’s more commonly known convenient version of a dry or packaged muesli can be stored for months and served quickly with milk, nut milk or soy milk, or it can be soaked overnight and served with fresh fruit. Muesli first became popular in the United States during the 1960’s as part of the wave of interest in health foods and vegetarianism associated with the hippie movement and beyond.

An interesting history, but the bottom line is does it taste good? Why yes it does. And guess what? It tastes even better when you go a step further and make some of it into a streusel for this wonderfully moist and delicious Muesli Streusel Swirl Breakfast Bread that I’m going to tell you about.

You see I had this idea while I was eating my muesli for breakfast one morning. I love cooking with oats and I love incorporating some of the ground oats as a substitution for flour in quick breads to add both flavor and texture, as well as a healthful aspect. So what if I created a bread like that and added a delicious ribbon of streusel made from muesli with all of its dried fruits and nuts…how could you go wrong? I decided to give it a whirl and here’s the result: A fragrant and delectable loaf of quick bread with a very moist crumb and a satisfyingly crunchy topping. It’s a great way to start off your day right or a lovely way to end it with a not too sweet dessert. The orange zest in the batter is key and provides a tiny hit of citrus essence to the bread, enhancing the fruit and nuts in the streusel.

Muesli Streusel Swirl Breakfast Bread certainly is perfect for the fall season, but much like muesli, it’s also great for any time of the year. I’ll be making this bread over and over again and may even try adding some fresh grated apple to the batter (but not the core, seeds and pips) as an homage to the father of muesli. Thanks, Dr. Bircher-Benner!

This is a two-for-one recipe. Try the muesli on its own and experiment with your favorite ingredients, then make this bread and enjoy.


Homemade Muesli
Makes about 10 cups, can be halved

(A variation on Mark Bittman’s recipe, you can use your own personal mix of dried fruit and seeds or nuts. This is what I used to make the muesli in this bread recipe.)

7 generous cups dry, raw rolled oats (not quick cooking or steel cut)
1 cup total mixed raw nuts and seeds (I used sliced, skin-on almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin (pepita) seeds and golden flax seed
1 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I use cherries, cranberries and currants)
1/2 cup unsweetened, dry grated coconut
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a very large bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in airtight containers in fridge for up to 2-3 months. To serve, put 1/2 cup in a bowl and top with 1/4 cup milk, nut milk or soy milk. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before eating and the oats will soften and absorb the sweetness of the fruit.

Muesli Streusel Swirl Breakfast Bread
Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf

For the streusel:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup homemade muesli (see above)
2 tablespoons of chopped pecans
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of kosher salt
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

For the bread:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, processed to a fine flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cups of granulated sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon high quality pure vanilla extract (I use Madagascar bourbon vanilla)
zest of one orange
1/2 cup 2% or whole plain Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup low fat milk whisked to combine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan by greasing it with butter and set aside.

Prepare the streusel by combining the brown sugar, muesli, pecans, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until well combined. Set aside.

For the bread, combine the flour, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat the 5 tablespoons of butter and the granulated sugar on medium high speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended. Add the vanilla and orange zest and beat on low speed until well blended. Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture and yogurt-milk mixture alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel mixture. Spread the remaining batter over the streusel. Swirl the batter and streusel mixture with a knife or spoon and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the top of the batter.

Bake at 350 F. degrees for about 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on top of a wire rack. Gently run the edge of a table knife around the edges of the loaf and carefully remove the loaf from the pan by slightly inverting it, trying to avoid losing any of the streusel topping. Cool completely on the rack, streusel side up. Cut into slices and enjoy. As a whole loaf or cut into individual slices and carefully wrapped, this bread freezes beautifully.

*****

What’s up next? My take on a sausage, pepper and onion favorite. Stay tuned…

 

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Breaking the Fast: Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake

A slice of this cake is just the right way to start off your day!

A slice of this cake is just the right way to start off your day!

It’s very hard for me to believe that it’s now October. Summer came and went. Fall swept in before we knew it, and now my birthday has come and gone and the leaves are turning and falling.

I’ve always thought that life was like—and indeed I’ve experienced it as—a series of waves. There are the crests, when you are flying so high and all of your neurons are firing…you’re so excited to get up each day and see what life brings. And then there are the troughs, when you’re riding so low you can’t see the horizon anymore.

These crests and troughs can take many forms, and there’s much that can be learned from both of these life phases. Without the one, you can’t fully appreciate the other. It’s important to remember this. It’s what will get you through the tough times.

From the moment that the lightning exploded on the morning of June 26th until now, our lives have been a roller coaster of emotions, health issues, disruptions, delays, frustration and expense. A trough cycle. But at the same time, we were so incredibly blessed that no life was lost, no item couldn’t be replaced. The house and our day to day lives and health could be restored. And, much was learned. Hopefully it’s information I won’t have to utilize again in the future! As far as the house is concerned, we still have carpet to be installed this week, furniture and books to move back into place, our repaired and restored paintings to hang, cleaned rugs to put down and HVAC cleaning at the end of the month. But at long last, we see that light at the end of the tunnel approaching, and if feels good. Very good indeed.

So I think the best way to break this little fast from posting is to start with the dawn of a new day. A happy little cake that’s just the ticket for a morning breakfast treat, a brunch addition, or to have with your tea in the afternoon. This Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping is rich with flavor and texture. The fresh raspberries make a tart, colorful and lively foil for the underlying almond flavored cake and the sweet crunch of the streusel topping. A little hint of lemon zest brightens the flavors and adds some zing, binding the whole together into one delicious bite!

We’ve enjoyed this as a pick me up this week for breakfast, and even for dessert. It will sit for a day at room temperature, and refrigerates well for up to 3 more days. I think you will like it a lot, too.

Thank you all for staying with me during this summer of rather erratic posting and seemingly endless references to our calamity in June. I hope your Fall season has started off well, and may you all be on the “crest” of life right now.

Cheers to happy days, good health and good eating ahead!

Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
Makes 24 slices

Topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats, pulsed in a food processor until they are roughly ground
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:
2 scant cups granulated cane sugar
12 Tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 ounces fresh raspberries, washed and very gently patted dry

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter an 8 1/2 x 13 inch cake pan.

In a small bowl, combine the pulsed oats, brown sugar cinnamon. Cut the 3 tablespoons of cold butter into the dry mixture, then combine with your hands until it makes a crumbly texture. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar and softened butter, beating it with a hand or stand mixer on medium low speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest and almond extract and beat on low speed until well blended and smooth, then add the flour and salt and mix on low until just blended and all the dry ingredients are well moistened and the mixture is just smooth. Don’t over mix. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with a knife or spatula to even it out. Sprinkle the fresh raspberries evenly across the top, then sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over that.

Bake in the 350 degree F. oven for 28-30 minutes until the cake is done, slightly golden on top, and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the cake on a wire rack to cool for an hour, then cut into 24 slices.