Time For Coffee And Cake

Time For Coffee And Cake

Time for coffee and cake . . . Happy National Coffee Cake Day!

Bake and celebrate:

Hungarian Coffee Cake, pieces of buttery dough dipped into butter, rolled in cinnamon/sugar, piled into an Angel food cake pan, baked and topped with frosting. That’s Hungarian Coffee Cake . . . it became known as monkey bread, a beloved breakfast treat!

Essential Equipment:

Time for coffee and cake . . . bake a Hungarian Coffee Cake and celebrate National Coffee Cake Day!

Hungarian Coffee Cake

Hungarian coffee cake became known as monkey bread. It is a beloved dessert and breakfast treat!


  • 2 pkg. active dry yeast 1/2
  • 1/4 cup warm water(110ºF.)
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk, scalded and cooled
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Dip: 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup pecans, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Frosting: 3 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons whole milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; add more milk to desired consistency.


  1. Proof the yeast: in a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup, add the water, yeast, and sugar; set aside to proof for 5 - 10 minutes.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the proofed yeast, cooled milk, shortening, sugar, salt, eggs and flour; blend together. Switch the paddle attachment to the dough-hook attachment, knead the dough until smooth, possibly adding a bit of flour. At this point, do not leave the Kitchen Aid mixer. It can rock off the table!

  3. Add a couple of teaspoons of corn oil to a bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean dish towel; set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Punch down dough. Set aside for a second rise; 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

  4. On a lightly floured silicone baking mat, pour out the dough. Using a pastry scraper, cut the dough into walnut-size pieces, brush with butter, dip each piece in the sugar/cinnamon mixture, and drop into an Angle Food cake pan. Cover with a clean dish towel, set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 30 - 45 minutes to rise.

  5. During the rising, preheat oven to 375ºF.

  6. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, watching carefully towards the end. If it begins to brown too much, cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil.

    When the coffee cake is fully baked, the internal temperature should be between 195ºF. - 205ºF.

  7. Cool on a rack.

  8. Remove from pan, smooth the frosting over the top and just over the top's edges.


Only The Pure Of Heart

Only The Pure Of Heart

Only the pure of heart can make good soup.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

“The sweetest, juiciest part of an asparagus is in its stalk; the thicker the stalk the more of that sweet, pale green flesh there is.” says Marcella Hazan in her book, Ingredients.

How to buy asparagus:

  • Purchase thin asparagus for pasta sauces, such as an asparagus, cream and prosciutto sauce, frittatas or risotto. For this use, discard half of the stalk.
  • Purchase thick asparagus for use on its own, such as roasted asparagus or steamed asparagus. Be sure to peel the stalks!

How to store asparagus:

  • In a jar large enough to hold the bunch of asparagus, place a crumbled piece of paper towel in it, pour in enough water to cover it by 1″, place the asparagus in it and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • It will keep for up to a week this way.

How to prepare asparagus:

  1. Before peeling, slice off the bottom of the thick stalk.
  2. If the bottom of the stalk is dry, cut off 1″ more from the bottom of the stalk.
  3. Using a swivel blade vegetable peeler, carefully hold the top of a piece of asparagus, remove the top layer of the dark skin, rotating the stalk of asparagus until the entire stalk’s pale core is exposed.
  4. Repeat with the remaining stalks of asparagus.

As Ludwig van Beethoven said, “Only the pure of heart can make good soup.” . . .  make some Cream of Asparagus Soup and show your pure heart!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Delicious asparagus soup, homemade chicken stock is the secret ingredient!


  • 2 lbs. Asparagus, peeled; tips reserved and blanched for about a minute in boiling salted water
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 1/2 quarts Homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy cream
  • 1 T. Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings: blanched asparagus tips and creme fraiche.


  1. In a saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter, when it sizzles, add the onion, saute without browning.

  2. Add the chicken stock.

  3. Once the chicken stock is simmering, add the asparagus.

  4. Simmer until the asparagus is tender (if it cooks too long the asparagus will change color).

  5. Add the cream, bring to a simmer without boiling.

  6. Puree the soup with a hand held immersion blender.

  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add lemon juice.

  8. Serve with blanched asparagus tips and creme fraiche.

Staying Passionate About What I Do

Staying Passionate About What I Do

Staying passionate about what I do is JT Osgood Hayler’s business motto. Her passion is contagious and resonates throughout The Songbird Society. When this coronavirus quarantine is behind us, step inside The Songbird Society and see for yourself!

At my recent appointment at The Songbird Society, I asked JT a couple of questions. Here is what I learned . . .

How do you stay passionate about your work?

JT said, “It takes practice.”

  • Practicing meditation
  • Listening to Eckhart Tolle.
  • Studying spiritual leaders.
  • Challenging myself to go deeper.
  • Being aware – reacting more positively.
  • Working out with a personal trainer

The Songbird Society’s atmosphere is calm and peaceful. How do you create this unique culture?

  • “Having empathy for people is a top priority.”
  • I do a lot of watching. I search for and hire people that share the things that are important to me.
  • Culture takes time. It’s a patina that doesn’t come overnight.
  • I value a salon with a tight knit community of a caring and passionate staff.

How do you handle the challenges of operating a salon?

  • I am watching and asking questions. If I see a problem, I don’t sweep it under the rug. I tend to talk about it. I have to be patient in order to nurture The Songbird Society’s culture.

Where does your inner strength come from?

  • Growing up in Louisiana.
  • I pray and pray.
  • I like to grow and evolve.
  • I really look at myself, when things happen? I ask, “What can I do?”

From The Songbird Society’s website, I learned how they continue to serve their clients while the salon is closed:

  • Favorite products and e-gift cards are available.
  • Touch up kits for your color are available.

The Songbird Society plans to re-open on Friday, May 1st 2020. We are looking forward to being together at The Songbird Society soon! 







Making A Difference During Uncertain Times

Making A Difference During Uncertain Times

Making a difference during uncertain times is a stress reliever. In our hearts, we all want to make a difference. It’s in our DNA. During the coronavirus pandemic, we can make a difference.

One of the best ways is by supporting local, family-owned businesses. Simple, easy and the BEST way to give back and make a difference. It is critical for the economic vitality of local businesses as well as our communities.

No doubt there is fear and concern surrounding this outbreak. However, in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s think long term for a moment. Once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, how will our communities and local businesses look? Will our favorite mom and pop stores still be around for customers?

Making a difference together. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are fighting for the safety and health of every person. We are staying home, events have been cancelled, our world has been turned upside down. With these losses, how are we feeling?

During a recent podcast with Brene Brown, David Kessler, said “It’s good to name the emotion. It is grief.” He advises to find meaningful moments during our days.  Very wise advice. While we are searching for ways to do this, one choice is by shopping at local, family-owned businesses(mostly grocery stores, hardware stores, nurseries and restaurant take-outs that remain open). By making this choice, in our hearts, we know we that are making a difference.

Making a difference with fundraising:

Remember the last time you attended a fundraiser . . . who were the business that underwrote the event? Most likely, they were family-owned, local businesses because they can be counted on every time. It’s so easy to walk into a family-owned business and ask for a donation. They continually give back to local communities.

Now is the time to pay it back by supporting local, family-owned businesses with your shopping dollars. Every single shopping dollar is critical. Together, we can make a difference!

Are the savings truly worth it?

In many ways, we have been led to believe that shopping at the big box stores, (not named because everyone knows who they are) are the answer. In good times perhaps they are helpful. During our current economic situation, perhaps there is a better way . . .

Making a difference during uncertain times:

  1. Shopping locally
  2. Cooking more frugally
  3. Finding peace
  4. Loving our family and friends

Together, we can make a difference during these uncertain times!

Feed The Soul: Bake Some Bread

Feed The Soul: Bake Some Bread

Feed the soul . . . bake some bread. Since it’s National Sourdough Bread Day, let’s bake some Sourdough French Bread! We’ll start with a Preferment, poolish. It is a bit of a short cut to sourdough french bread. It’s perfect for a home baker! Every bit as delicious without the challenges of developing and maintaining a true sourdough starter.

“Pre-ferments are the secret to great tasting bread!” – Thomas Keller of The French Laundry

The night before, make the poolish.Pre-ferment - poolishJust before baking, brush the loaf with water.Sourdough Bread- 1st riseMake diagonal slashes across the top with a sharp knife.Sourdough Bread - diagonal slicesBake in preheated 400ºF. oven for 35 – 45 minutes.

Slice and serve! Sourdough Bread

So here’s the scoop on pre-ferments are simply a yeast preparation that has been actively growing for a few hours or more before blending into a dough. Simple!!

Two preferment types:

  • A poolish is mixture of flour, water, and yeast.
  • A levain is made by combining equal parts of flour and water; set aside for 24 hours. Next, it must be fed because the natural yeast and bacteria in the mixture are living organisms that need food to multiply. If the levain isn’t fed it will die.

As much as I love baking and the thought of producing Sourdough French Bread that rivals San Francisco bakeries, I am happy to take a simple, short cut and achieve a beautiful loaf of bread!

Feed the soul: bake some bread!


This type of pre-ferment is known as a poolish because it contains flour, water, and instant yeast. It is easy to make. Simply mix the yeast, warm water and flour together; cover; let stand in a warm place overnight. The following day, it's ready to mix into the dough.


  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cups warm water(approximately 110ºF.)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together and beat the ingredients until smooth. Cover with a clean dishtowel; let stand in a warm, draft-free place overnight.

  2. Measure out the amount needed for the recipe and use as directed.

Sourdough French Bread

When added to the dough, the poolish's complex fermented flavors enrich the french bread's flavor.


  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water(about 110ºF.)
  • 1 cup poolish
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddles attachment, add the yeast, water, sourdough starter; blend together.

  2. In a bowl, whisk together 4 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add to the sourdough starter mixture; blend for about 3 minutes.

  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to a large bowl, turn dough into the bowl and coat all sides with the oil; cover with a clean dish towel; set aside in a warm, draft-free place for

    1 1/2 - 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

  4. In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour with the baking soda.

  5. Return the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook; gradually add the flour/baking soda mixture until the dough cannot absorb any more flour; knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 - 7 minutes.

  6. Separate the dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured silicone baking mat, roll out one piece of dough into a rectangle; starting at one long end, roll up into a cylinder, place on a silicone baking mat sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until nearly doubled in volume.

  7. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. when the loaves have about 30 minutes left to rise. Just before baking, brush the loaves with water. Make diagonal slits in the loaves.

  8. Place a shallow pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Bake for 45 or 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.