Summer Baking

Summer in the Pacific Northwest means berries. Strawberries, then raspberries, wild salmon berries, huckleberries, blueberries, and finally blackberries.

Oakleigh is obsessed with berries (or as she calls them: buhs) of all kinds. She and Daddy pick them on their afternoon walks. On the weekends, she and I have been setting out in the stroller to stock up on blackberries. Every handful that goes into the container, she gets one, and is ecstatic every single time. Que enthusiastic “Mmmmm!”

There are two great berry cake recipes that I found over the past few years.

The first is actually for plums, but would probably be great with any kind of buh instead 🙂

From the NY Times:

Fresh Plum Torte

plum cake

plum torte with homemade whiskey vanilla ice cream

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  •  Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

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This second recipe is a new find this year. I was in search of a fruit heavy coffee cake with crumb topping. After scouring the internet I combined two different recipes and am hooked on this new combo. We tried it with raspberries and blackberries…both are excellent. You can load it up with berries and it still comes out light and beautiful!

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Berry Crumb Top Coffee Cake

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter-chilled and cubed

For the Cake:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 4-5 cups fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries are our favorites)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the topping: Combine sugar, flour and chilled cubed butter in a bowl. Stir with a fork (ok) or pastry blender (ideal) until the mixture is crumbly.( Make sure the mix is in pea-sized crumbs)
  2. Make the Cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a round 9-inch cake pan (or 8×8, or other pan…it really does not matter just adjust baking time accordingly). Optional: line the bottom of the pan with parchment, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan. Or just butter and flour the pan. Both work fine, but the parchment keeps the cake slightly lighter on the bottom if any berries come in contact with the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then add eggs one at a time; beat for 5 to 10 seconds, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). Reduce the mixer speed to low, then gradually add the flour mixture and beat slowly until the flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing until no flour pockets remain (the batter will be very heavy and thick). Add berries and allow the mixer to turn 3-5 more times to roughly distribute and mush the berries (you can also just do this by hand with a spatula to keep them whole)
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; gently spread the batter evenly to the pan edges and smooth the surface. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter.
  5. Bake until the top is deep golden brown and a thin knife inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Place on a wire rack for 20 minutes (the cake will fall slightly as it cools).
  6. Run a thin knife around the sides of cake. Invert the cake, then peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake and discard. Turn the cake right-side-up onto a cooling rack or serving dish. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.
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Adventures in Free – as in dairy, gluten, soy, chocolate, coconut (sigh)

Breastfeeding has made my daily diet a bit wonky…I am currently doing an elimination diet to see what is making poor Oakleigh have tummy troubles. Without our go-to no knead bread (oh how I miss it!) I wanted a cornbread that I could eat with soup. So many recipes are gluten free, some are dairy free but use a dairy substitute. So I decided to give it a go with just water and see what happened.

AMAZING cornbread!!! We may not even go back…

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Perfect Cornbread

  • 2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs molasses or honey
  • 4 Tbs bacon fat, coconut oil or butter

+

Fat for greasing pan

  1. In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Add the water, molasses and eggs to the dry ingredients, and mix until blended.
  3. Let corn mixture sit for a half hour, stirring occasionally if you remember.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet or cast iron muffin pan in oven, and preheat to 400 (for about 30 minutes while the cornmeal continues to soak, 1 hour total)
  5. When oven is hot, mix in vinegar to the corn mix.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven, and melt 2-3 Tbs butter/oil/fat to coat the pan. (or drop a large pea size chunk of butter or fat/oil in each muffin hole) and immediately pour in the batter. Return the skillet to the oven, and bake at 375 for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the center is just cooked through. Check a few minutes early as all ovens vary and add a few extra minutes if needed. Taking care not to over-bake will ensure moist cornbread.

Some Favorite Recipes

We were down all last week with a terrible, horrible, no good very bad stomach bug. It was awful. Matt and I are rarely sick at the same time, but this round took us both out for the whole week. We could barely eat, drink or even move…let alone work on the mountain of projects that we have in the works.

But that sickness is starting to become a memory, and we are regaining our stregth. Last night we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday with a homemade cake. I have been on the search for a really excellent basic, from scratch yellow cake. They are always too dense and almost cornbread like. This one make have proved me wrong. For good measure, I also threw in our favorite cookie recipe below.

Fluffy, Moist Homemade Yellow Cake

source: Divas Can Cook
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature (do not microwave)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. F. (do not use convection like I did…cooked too fast to start)
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Add in egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  5. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Mix until batter is fluffy but be careful not to over mix.
  8. Beat egg whites until stiff and thick. (holds a nice peak)
  9. Very gently fold egg whites into batter and mix JUST until incorporated.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread into even layers.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cake cool in pans until pans are warm to the touch.
  13. Carefully remove cakes from pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  14. When cakes are completely cooled frost with chocolate buttercream frosting.

 

Lauren’s Amazing Cookies (coconut, chocolate, oatmeal)

  • 1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 bag chocolate chips

 

Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix in coconut and chocolate chips. Make into 1-2 inch balls and flatten slightly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to turn slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool. They will continue to darken out of the oven. Enjoy!

Tea Time: Digestive Biscuits Recipe

If you have ever been to England, you probably know the tea time staple: McVitties digestive biscuits. Crisp and substantial, sometimes covered in chocolate, these are a unique treat somewhere between graham crackers and shortbread…but really, quite different from both. They are getting easier to find here in the US, but I stumbled upon a copycat recipe and decided to give it a try. Verdict: amazing. These are light and crispy and exactly what you want with tea. I expect they will be on regular rotation in our house.

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Digestive Biscuits

Makes 12-14 cookies. I recommend doubling the batch as these go fast!

3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1⁄4 cup wheat bran

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons half-and-half

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar with a pastry blender. Mix in sugar with the hand pastry blender (food processors or mixers will work, but the crumb and texture will not be as flaky in the final product). Mix in fats with the pastry blender. The mix at this point should be crumbly and uniform. Mix the vanilla in the half-n-half and add to the mix. Mix with pastry blender until it is uniform and resembles soft, crumbly playdoh. Do not overwork the dough.

Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle. Roll out dough between two pieces of waxed paper to approximately 1/8″ thickness. Cut into rounds with cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Transfer to cookie sheets with silpats or parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes (adjust the baking time up to dry them out more if the biscuits are too soft and fluffy), or until golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Optional: spread the backs of the cooled biscuits with melted chocolate and let harden.

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Bricks and Cinnamon Rolls

Matt and I spent a weekend at home. I literally left the house once, and that was to walk around the frosty garden.

He worked on laying brick on our new hearth while I cooked. We listened to our weekend radio shows, ate good food, and made good progress on the house. I’d say it was exactly what we needed.

img_89161

As part of our weekend food fest, I whipped up a batch of cinnamon rolls with a new recipe I wanted to try. Simply Recipes is my go to source for inspiration, and this one was a winner. I tweaked a few things and added a cream cheese frosting (we wanted something between a sticky bun and a frosted cinnamon roll) and they were epic.

Carmel Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese frosting

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Pan base:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Method

1 Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, salt and 3 cups flour. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.

2 Make the filling. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.

3 Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle (or wider…wider = more swirls!). Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 12 slices.

4 For the pan prep, grease sides with butter. Pour 4 oz melted butter into bottom and evenly spread. Sprinkle brown sugar on butter.

5 Evenly place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

6 Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the oven pre-heats. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm as is or with frosting if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting (totally unnecessary but totally delicious)

Cream together 1 package cream cheese, 4tbs softened butter, a pinch of salt, vanilla and powdered sugar to taste (1/3-1/2 cup). Frosting will be thick. If you would rather have icing, thin with milk and drizzle.

 

 

Summer: Season of Zuchinni

Last year our zucchini growing efforts were unsuccessful. I am still not sure how that was possible but it was.

This year is the total opposite. We have plants that are literally almost thigh high, with leaves like platters. HUGE flowers are producing lots of zucchini and we are thrilled. Ask me again in a month if I still feel this way!

Sunday morning I took our largest friend on the kitchen counter and turned him into two beautiful loaves of scrumptious chocolate chip zucchini bread. I have never had a standard recipe so here is what I made this time.

This made two loaves.

  • 1.5  cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted if solid)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed in a towel to dry a bit
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method: in a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and sugar. Stir together gently. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Do not overmix!

Bake in two loaf pans lined with parchment at 350 for ~40 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Hummus & Bread

We are on a few culinary kicks. First off, cooking on a one burner induction hotplate. With the kitchen out of full function (and soon to be worse when we rip of countertops, backsplash and add more cabinets!) we are trying to utilize our grill and oven more. Enter: no knead bread. I have read this recipe for years now and decided to give it a try. We are hooked. My modification is using half whole wheat flour and half regular bread flour. Perfect hole-y inside, chewy outside and beautiful to look at.

No-Knead Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (I use half whole wheat, half bread flour)
  • oat bran
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Bake in a cast iron pot with a lid. See method hereIMG_2835[1].

Next up: something to go on that bread, hummus. To be honest, I have never really loved hummus. It was ok, but this changed my mind. It rocked my world and is all I want to eat! With veggie stick, by the spoonful, and best of all, on fresh bread (see above!) Matt’s thrown together version of a fresh lemon pesto hummus is wonderful.

Lemon Pesto Hummus

  • 2 cans beans, drained (garbanzo, white or a combo of the two)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste…it should have a lemony zing!)
  • 1 cup-ish of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Optional: sun dried tomatoes

Method: In food processor, blend all ingredients until very smooth. If too stiff, add more olive oil.