Tuesday, May 1, 2012

BWJ - Hungarian Shortbread

This is a cookie?  A cake?  Hungarian shortbread is one of the most interesting recipes I've tried.  What seems like a cookie dough is frozen, then grated into the pan. 
Following the suggestions of other bakers, I baked this bottom layer for 20 minutes.  Without cooling it, I spread the jam - I used a strained raspberry jam - and then grated the second layer on top and continued baking for another 40 minutes.  Both layers were nicely baked through. 
This confection was rich and light and wonderfully melt in the mouth.  I would certainly make it again as a special occasion dessert.
The recipe can be found at Cher's blog The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler or at Lynette's blog 1Small Kitchen.
Is it a flower?  Is it a tree?  Those not-yet-open buds are on the branches of an Eastern Redbud Tree.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TWD: Kids' Thumbprints

My earliest happy memories rose in the kitchen.  Standing on a chair by my bubie’s side, I watched her break eggs, fold with a spatula, operate her Mixmaster, spread, roll and knead and dip a little finger in to taste.  My bubie’s been gone for forty-five years, but she gave me an unshakable love for warm, sweet, salty, yeasty, soft, crunchy, aromatic, handmade food.

I have grown up as Bubie’s Little Baker.  Whatever kitchen I was in, I tried to recreate – with mixer and mortar and pestle – her edible love.

When you make virtually every recipe from a chef’s cookbook, you’re learning their techniques and tastes.  You’re also learning about the person. 

The Dorie Greenspan I’ve come to know is so accomplished her skill is ingrained in her touch.  Is the dough sticky or does it pull away from the bowl?  Does the batter ribbon?  Is the dough chilled enough to roll?  She is decisive but leaves room to haggle.  Plums are preferred, but if apricots are in season change the spices accordingly.  As nice as it is to get to the eating, it’s equally important to set the table with a complementary cup of tea or coffee.  Earl Grey or espresso?

The most important lesson I am taking away is that baking is not just dessert but a course of equal importance to the rest of the meal.  I saw this in my bubie’s hands as she carefully portioned her pinwheels.  I understand this now as an adult through Dorie’s skillful, precise teaching and her intimate stories of baking from her home to mine.

I’ll always be Bubie’s Little Baker, but today I’m also Dorie’s Little Baker.  Thank you Dorie Greenspan for this wonderful experience!

It’s fitting that we end with the delicious childhood combination of peanut butter and jam.  I’ve made this recipe before and will make it again.  And again.  Today I have used three homemade jams – apricot, strawberry and grape jelly.

Please stop by Dorie’s blog to read her post about our baking group, get the recipe and say thanks for her hard work in writing this important baking cookbook.

Also, a heartfelt thanks to Laurie and Julie and everyone who has organized and managed and kept going the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group.  If you haven't been to the Tuesdays With Dorie website, please drop in and say hi and maybe stay for the next round of baking.  Starting in February, we will take on Dorie Greenspan's Baking With Julia.  I hope you'll join us!




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Bundt Cake Day!

I'm celebrating National Bundt Cake Day.  It's an American holiday, but if there ever was one that transcended national boundaries, it's this.  In the baking blogosphere the standard-bearer of this day is Mary the Food Librarian.  In her third annual culinary feat, Mary has produced I Like Big Bundts 3 - 30 Days of Bundt Cakes.

My small offering to this joyous event is Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze and Caramel Sauce.

This recipe comes from Canadian master chef and baker Bonnie Stern.  Her cookbook Friday Night Dinners is a culinary world tour that satisfy all tastes.  She offers this cake as a finale to a Greek dinner, so, of course, I used Greek yogurt and baked the cake about 6 minutes longer.

If you do make this one - Don't Skip The Caramel Sauce.  Trust me.  Lemon and caramel are the new pb&j.
Congrats again to Mary for creating 30 of the most amazing bundts cakes you've ever seen.  Please go to her blog The Food Librarian and enjoy!

Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze and Caramel Sauce
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp grated lemon peel
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk

Lemon Glaze
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup whipping cream

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Beat in vanilla and lemon peel.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Add flour to butter mixture alternating with yogurt in three or four additions, beginning and ending with flour.  After each addition, stir until just combined.
4. Spoon batter into well greased bundt pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
5. Cool pan for 10 minutes.  Loosen cake around edges, remove from pan and transfer to a rack.
6. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and icing sugar.  Mixture should be runny.  When cake is cool, drizzle glaze over cake.
Serve with Caramel Sauce.

To make Caramel Sauce:
In a large saucepan, stir sugar and water over medium-high heat until sugar comes to a boil.  Brush any sugar down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.  Cook without stirring for 6-8 minutes or until caramel turns deep golden.  Remove from heat and carefully add whipping cream.  Stir gently until smooth.  Cool.

Monday, November 14, 2011

TWD - Bittersweet Brownies





I'll make this one short and sweet - Happy Birthday to my Baby Boy Adult Son!  What could be nicer than a plate of brownies.  These gems are light in texture (okay, maybe I overbeat the eggs) and loaded with flavour.  I threw in some walnuts for crunch and they were perfect.

Many thanks to Leslie of Lethally Delicious for choosing this recipe.  Whenever I need a dessert inspiration, I go to Leslie's blog.  It feels like she's been everywhere on the internet and road-tested all the best recipes.  You can't go wrong following her palate.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TWD - Depths of Fall Butternut Squash Pie

Even before it was cut, this pie was a winner.The aroma of softly cooked squash and pears with brown sugar called to my family.
We dived in and weren't disappointed.  The flavour was like a delicate pumpkin.  A perfect warm sweet for the oncoming cold nights.

Thanks to Valerie of the blog Une Gamine dans la Cuisine for choosing this perfect pie.

Now, do you want to see what happened to my trusty Cuisinart blade while making the pie crust?  After ten hardworking years, it split apart.  A steel blade.  Impressive, eh?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TWD - Far Breton, Honey Nut Scones, A Fig Cake for Fall

It's hard to believe but after three years we have almost completed all the recipes in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: from my home to yours.  This month we have doubled up on recipes to make a final push through the book.

But first, last week's recipe was A Fig Cake For Fall.  This is a lovely and not-too-sweet cake made with cornmeal.  I think a finer grain of cornmeal than the one I used would have prevented it from drying out the next day.  Instead of figs, I stewed Italian plums in port.  They were delicious and provided a great syrup.  It was chosen by Alvarosa of the blog Cookie Rookie.
 Next up is Honey Nut Scones.  I took Nancy's suggestion and scored, then froze it and baked it the next morning as one large piece.  This photo doesn't do justice to how light and fluffy it turned out.  I baked it up on Saturday morning and it was quickly gone.  Sunday morning the family woke up disappointed that I hadn't baked another one.  Everyone can get the recipe over at Jeannette's blog The Whimsical Cupcake.
Lastly, this is a dessert called Far Breton.  It's a pudding-like cake, typically made with dried and stewed fruit.  I made mine with pecans (which floated), chocolate chips (which sunk to the bottom) and little clumps of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter (which dispersed nicely throughout the cake). 
To me it tasted like a pecan pie but with eggy custard where there should be treacle.  My tastebuds were confused and not satisfied, but the family loved it.
Try it for yourself.  The recipe is at Nicole's blog Cookies on Friday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TWD - Ginger-Jazzed Brownies and More!

Isn't this the perfect brownie, set against the fall asters?  I'm thrilled to be once again hosting a recipe for our wonderful group Tuesdays With Dorie.  I'm mere days away from my three year anniversary as a member of the "Dorie Bakers".  So much happens in three years.  I'm so pleased that I've kept up the blog and, more, that I've challenged myself to learn so many recipes and techniques.

Not too many challenges today.  This is a great brownie recipe with or without the ginger.  I was worried when I first took it out of the oven.  It looked very cake-y.
Happily, it cooled to a familiar gooey texture.  Overnight, the ginger flavour grew to almost too much for my tastes.  Actually, there weren't many left the next day, so it didn't really matter.  Here's another photo.  This one surrounded by an odd, but lovely fall flower called Turtlehead.
I had one problem with this recipe.  Both times I made it, it took an hour to properly bake.  What did everyone else find? 

Here's my tip for melting chocolate in a microwave:  For every three ounces of chocolate, add one tablespoon of water to the bowl.  Then microwave on 70% setting.

Enjoy the recipe!

Ginger-Jazzed Brownies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet, chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Getting Ready:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk the flour, salt and ground ginger together.
Put the minced fresh ginger and 1 1/2 tbsp of the sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside.  (If you do this a day ahead, cover the bowl with plastic wrap; if you do it several days ahead, cover and refrigerate.)
Melt the chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, or melt them in a microwave oven; keep the heat low so the chocolates do not get very hot.  Set aside to cool.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and creamy.  Beat in the corn syrup, then the remaining 1 cup sugar, and continue to beat for another 2 minutes or so, until the butter is smooth again and the sugar is incorporated.  Add the vanilla.  On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each one goes in and scraping the bowl down as needed.  Beat for 1 minute more, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the macerated ginger (and any liquid), then the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour disappears.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, gently and thoroughly stir in the melted chocolate.  Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minute, or until the top forms an even sugar crust; a thin knife inserted into the center of the brownies should have streaks of moist, fudgy chocolate on it.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
When the brownies are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 1/4 inches on a side.

I'm also using this post to do some catching up from earlier this month.  Two weeks ago Katrina of Baking and Boys! chose Apple Nut Muffin Cake.  I turned it back into muffins and the result was awesome.  I added pecans and currants and used half whole wheat flour and they were gone in a flash.  I'll make these again soon.
Last week Jennifer of Cooking For Comfort chose Basic Biscuits.  A light hand brings a delicious result.  Is my biscuit grimacing?
Cheers, all!  I can't wait to read your posts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Honey Cake For a Sweet New Year

We begin the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, tonight at sundown.  Always part of the celebration is honey.  Apple slices dipped in honey for a sweet year.  Honey cake.

My honey cake recipe comes from my first recipe book.  It's Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cookbook (pub. 1961).  Nothing to tweak in this recipe.  It's perfect as is.  Though, I added my own icing because, well, we like icing. 

Happy New Year to everyone!

Honey Cake
 4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey (I used wildflower.)
1/2 cup strong coffee
2 tbsp oil (I used canola.)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts.)
1/2 cup raisins (I used currants.)
1/2 cup citron, finely cut
2 tbsp cognac (I omitted this.)

Preheat oven to 300F.  Line a 10 x 15 x 2 1/4" pan with waxed paper.  (I used a lined 12x9" pyrex.)
Beat the eggs lightly.  Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Combine the honey and coffee and stir it into the oil.  Blend the mixture into the eggs and sugar.
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and spices together.  Stir in the nuts, raisins and citron and blend the mixture into the egg mixture.  Stir in the cognac and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake one hour.  Cool and cut into squares.

Icing
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup Crisco
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Cream the soft ingredients.  Add the vanilla.  Slowly mix in the icing sugar, tasting after each 1/2 cup. 
Spread over cake.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TWD - Flip Over Fig Cake

With the bounty of ripe fruit now available, how does anyone decide what to use in this recipe.  Luckily, you don't have to.  I've made this cake with a variety of stone fruit and it always tastes great.  I've even thrown unpeeled sliced apples into the fruit mix. 

This week, I bought a case of figs and made a couple of different desserts.  For the Flip Over Cake I was concerned that the fruit wouldn't soften, so I poached it in a mixture of butter and sugar with a splash of port.  Then I carefully spooned them into the batter.
Other than the eating, this is my favourite moment in the cake.  The half cup of butter has been melted sizzling hot in the pyrex dish.  I add the batter and it immediately starts to cook and form a lovely buttery crisp crust up the sides of the dish.

Please go over to Becky's blog Project Domestication where she will have the recipe up later today.  This is an easy must-have recipe. 
With the rest of the figs I made a variation on Dorie's Cranberry Upside-downer.  I love the coffee cake-like texture of this recipe.

Cranberry Upside-Downer
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup minus 2 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups cranberries-fresh or frozen(if frozen, do not thaw) I used  8 fresh figs cut into quarters.
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 whole milk
1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing the cake
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Put a 8X2 inch round cake pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Melt 6 TBSP of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 TBSP of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter over the nuts and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down gently with your fingertips. Set aside.
Working with a stand mixer, preferabley fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan-as they might-just scrape them off with a table knife and return them to the cake.
Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave oven. Gently brush the glaze over the hot cake.





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TWD - Cocoa Salt and Pepper Shortbread

This week's recipe was chosen by Tia of the amazing blog Buttercream Barbie.  Go there.  You will need this recipe.  Like good shortbread, it's not dominated by sugar.  Instead, the sweet is balanced with two bitters - cocoa and pepper.  It's a delicious, mature cookie.  I could eat a plateful.  I certainly tried.

When Dorie suggested, in her recipe, to flatten the dough into a rectangle and then roll it into a log, I thought this was the perfect fix for a very sticky batter.  She even advised that you make sure the log is solid, so you are not left with a hole in the centre.

Well, I prefer to think of it as a dimple.
Now, don't sit around navel-gazing.  Go over to Buttercream Barbie and try out this recipe.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TWD - Classic Brownies

How much chocolate does it take to make a double recipe of Classic Brownies?  This much!
 My double recipe filled a 12" x 6" pan.  In our chocolate-loving household these lasted only two days.  What good days they were!  Please head to Anne Strawberry's blog for the recipe.
And, because he got in the way of the camera, here's a shot of the view from my desk chair - Neelix's tail.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

TWD - Chocolate Spice Quickies and More!

Today's recipe was chosen by Jessica of My Baking Heart.  Please check out her blog for the recipe.  This is one you will want to make again.  In fact, as soon as I get time, I'm going to make a couple dough logs and freeze them just to have on hand.

Everyone who tasted them, fell in love with these cookies.  By "in love" I mean couldn't keep their hands off the plate.  The flavour delicately balances chocolate, spice and almond.
Here, I've paired the cookie with the last of my Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet.  That was a recipe chosen earlier in the summer by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon.  This being my first sorbet, I was very surprised by the creamy texture.  Delicious and so easy to put together.

Last week's recipe, Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf, was the pick of Caitin from Engineer Baker.  I love anything with cornmeal, so this recipe had me at hello.  I liked the density of the added grated apples - I omitted any dried fruit.  The bread made a lovely morning toast with a slight spread of jam.
Lastly, my favourite recipe of the summer was Carrot Spice Muffins, the choice of Nancy at The Dog Eats The Crumbs.   I made this several times over the summer and will continue to make it until my family cries "uncle".  To me, this is the perfect breakfast muffin.  Dense, filling and not too sweet, if you don't count the drizzle.  I substituted a half cup of rolled oats for the coconut and ws generous with the currants and walnuts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TWD - Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins and More!

 Call it muffin or call it cupcake - just don't spend too long talking because while you debate, someone else will eat the whole plate.  I loved the not-too-sweet batter of these.  It allowed for many sweet additions.  I used half a cup each of white and dark mini chocolate chips and a quarter cup of skor pieces.  Or you could follow Dorie's pictured choice and simply dollop on some jam.  The recipe is on Bridget's blog The Way the Cookie Crumbles.  It's a keeper.

Here are last week's Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Cookies.  These weren't a favourite.  Neither here nor there, even with my addition of peanut butter chips.  Spike of Spike Bakes has the recipe and she came up with the great idea to use them in an ice cream sandwich.  That would work perfectly.  I wish I'd thought of it.

 Date Nut Loaf.  I had neither dates nor walnuts, so I softened Mission figs in hot water and chopped up some pecans and voila!  This was a delicious loaf.  Good fresh, it was great toasted the next morning.  Now this is a breakfast food I could get used to.  Thanks to  Mary at Popsicles and Sandy Feet for this recipe choice.

Finally, here's a rewind.  Does anyone remember the Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise of two years ago?  I love a dacquoise but the combination of pineapple and white chocolate in this recipe was just too much.  I recently remade it using rhubarb.  Rhubarb provided an excellent balance to the sweetness of the cake.  It was a winner!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TWD - Chocolate Biscotti

Like the multi-toned variegated weigela in the photo, these delicious biscotti hit many notes.  One bite tastes of almond, the next bittersweet chocolate.  With crunch and a turbino sugar topping in every mouthful.

I remember the last time we made biscotti.  For the second baking of these cookies, they are supposed to be stood on end like an army of cookies.  I completely missed that the first time and wasn't going to let that happen again.  However, I should have anticipated that to stand the cookies would need a flat end.  I've made note of this on the recipe and next time I will get it right.

Instead, I leaned my biscotti into each other.  This might have worked out better had I not used chunks of chocolate.  Baked, they created weak spots. 
And led to the downfall of several good soldiers.
Nonetheless, these cookies were awesomely delicious.  Thanks to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for choosing this recipe.  Please head to her blog and grab this recipe.



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

TWD - Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake


Lovely classic square cake.  Flavourful with perfect light texture.  Plain - never.  This one disappeared almost before I could snap the photo.  I forgot to cover the blueberries in flour so they sank.  That didn't take away from the pleasure of enjoying this cake.

The recipe this week was chosen by the enthusiastic Cindy of the blog Everyday Insanity.  She's wonderful dedicated blogger.  Please go grab the recipe, then become a regular visitor to the blog.