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July is over, and I got in 7 recipes if you count the fail.  Sweet!

It doesn’t seem like July would be the kind of month you’d want to make granola in.  Granola is kind of a Fall and Winter dish.  Hearty, needs baking, full of toasted treats.  However, when my Mom talked to me about her desire to make a granola recipe she had seen in the Times, I realized taht deep down it was something I was dying to do!

She sent over this recipe: Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricot .  I was in.  I headed to Whole Foods to do the supply shopping.  I couldn’t find the sulpher dried apricots.  All they had were good old fashioned, no sulpher added apricots.  They were an ugly brown, oh well- I went with them.  The rest of the ingredients were easy to find.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 cup coconut chips

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine.

Who knew, well most people probably know, that making granola was so easy?  The only problem I had was having to stir the granola every 10 minutes.  It make the apartment smell great, the cardamon and cinnamon make for a delicious smell, and I couldn’t resist tasting it as soon as it cooled down a bit.  Yum.  I’ve been eating it for breakfast for a week with soy milk.  Double yum.  As soon as I was done with this granola, I wanted to make another and change it up a bit too.  Add different nuts, etc.  I also wanted to get some of the lovely bright orange dried apricots and toss them in.  So I went for it!

I bought raw cashews and pecans and dried apricots.  I still had plenty of oats and the left over pumpkin seeds.  This is what creation looked like in recipe form:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raw pecans

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup coconut chips

1/4 cup pure maple syrup- I ran out!

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil- To make up for the maple syrup

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom- It is a strong flavor!

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes.  I stirred it twice, but the parchment ensures it won’t burn!

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine.

Looking back on this try- I would have chopped the nuts a little bit.  Not only would it spread them out, but they are big nuts in general.

Overall- both of these recipes are easy, and delicious.  I will definitely be making granola in my future!

So after the fail of my Dimply Plum Cake, I was a little scared about the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake I’d be baking the next morning, so scared I cooked it a little longer than necessary- but let me tell you, it was delish!

This dough is easy to make, and the buttermilk was easy to make too- I highly recommend making your own- you need very little and unless you’re planning on using it for something else, it will probably be a waste of buttermilk.

I got scared when I looked at the amount of batter and the size of the pan (I used a 10inch pan as that’s all we had).  I thought it would be too thin and the cake would dry out and crumble.  But I went with it, and I’m happy I did.  Although Smitten is a little anal and places her raspberries perfectly, I just let loose and threw those suckers all over the top- using more than the listed amount too, my Husband said, “What can go wrong, more raspberry taste is good!”

My cake wouldn’t come out of the pan, so I just served it straight from there and people ate it so quickly they didn’t care how it was served.

To make up for the Dimply Plum cake I whipped up another batch of these oh so easy and oh so yummy Blueberry Crumb Bars.  Now is the time to make them- blueberries galore.  Go do it!  (Hint, you don’t need the zest, and you can swab in any other citrus juice, I used Orange this time since all the lemons had been snatched for the lemonade!)

In addition, I made a batch of the Watermelon Lemonade.  What a perfect summertime treat!  I setthe husband to work juicing the lemons and I cut up some watermelon, made simple syrup and mixed it all up.  Easy and delicious.  This a tart drink that is not weighed down by the watermelon. so have no fear.  (We thought it might be too watery).

Now I want to have July 4th all  over again!

You can head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipes and photos, but I realized I like listing them out here too- so here you go!

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Makes one thin 9-inch cake (or 10-inch), Serves about 8, or 4 with seconds.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened(I’m pretty sure I used salted, didn’t make a lick of difference)
2/3 cup  plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries- or a few more, if you’re feeling reckless!

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup  sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.  This felt like a lot of sugar, but go with it, it works!

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.  I let mine stay in for about 30, not only because of the plum fiasco, but also I had added in a few more raspberries so I want to make sure it was cooked evenly.  In addition, I didn’t cool mine this way and it was still gobbled down!

Make your own buttermilk: No need to buy buttermilk especially for this or any recipe. Add one teaspoon tablespoon [updated, as an astute reader pointed out that the larger amount is more common] of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit until it clabbers, about 10 minutes. Voila, buttermilk!  DO IT!

Watermelon Lemonade

Makes enough to fill two glasses with ice cubes; I think we did this recipe by 5 to bring to a party.  It was the perfect amount with other drinks on offer.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh watermelon puree, strained through a coarse strainer to remove seeds
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) simple syrup*
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold water or seltzer

Cube watermelon and put in to blender to puree.  After straining, don’t just throw out what’s left, it is still watermelon and is yummy!

Stir it all together and serve over ice. Garnish it with a thin watermelon or lemon wedge, if you’re feeling fancy.

Spritzy variation: I have never met a beverage I didn’t think would taste better bubbly, thus, if you’re looking for a spritzier version of this, swap one-third (1/4 cup) or more of the water with seltzer or sparkling water.

Boozy variation: My husband thinks this would taste even better with a splash of vodka. I am not one to argue.  I tried it, it is good, dangerously good.

* Make your own simple syrup: Please. I see it sold in stores and it just boggles my mind. Simmer one part water with one part sugar (I did a cup of each and ended up with more than I needed for a quadruple batch) until sugar has dissolved. Let cool. Or, you can use my speedier method where you simmer one part sugar with half as much water and once it has dissolved, add the second half of the water, cold, which cools the mixture down faster (when you like nothing to slow your pace to the nearest mocktail).  I have to agree with her here, I don’t see why anyone would pay for simple syrup- it has simple in it for a reason.

So, my first real fail of a recipe.  I should be happy it took 7 months to get there, however it means more baking for me today, and it thankfully it is a beautiful day!

Anyway, to get to it, since I want to get back outside!

I decided to cook a Smitten Kitchen cake for a 4th bbq and when I was told I was actually “doing dessert” for 17+ people I figured, I should probably making another cake too.  I had seen the Dimply Plum cake linked on her Raspberry Buttermilk cake recipe and figured, they’ll be perfect together!  So I tucked in to it.  The batter is really easy, but pretty sticky, be ready for a lot of banging your spatula against the bowl, and using multiple ones just to get it all out of the mixing bowl and in to the cake pan.  Then I started cutting the plums, and then I started looking at the small pan and the large amount of plums and I got confused.  So I just stuck as many plums as fit, which was about 6 halves total, and these were big halves, these were big plums.  I stuck it in the oven and went upstairs to read the comments on her post.  I finally found one that confirmed that her plums were tiny and most people hadn’t been able to fit 16 halves in the cake.  Okay- that made me feel better.  The cake became brown on the edges, puffed up around the plums and the knife I stuck in came out clean.  The cake was done!  I let it cool for the required 15 minutes and then I went to take it out of the pan to cool.

I tipped the pan, to get the cake to slide out- and then it happened.  The middle which wasn’t really all the way cooked broke, and the cake fell apart.  “I ruined the cake!” I yelled upstairs.  I got it all back in the pan and realized there was no going back, I couldn’t fix this.  The middle wasn’t cooked.  So, I took the cooked plums out to be used in something else (maybe a salsa!) and brought the ruined cake upstairs.  We ate the cooked parts quickly.  YUM.  This cake is delicious.  However, I realized while enjoying it immensley that it is more of a fall cake.  The cinnamon and orange flavor that prevails is perfect for an October evening, not so much a middle of summer finally it is sunny BBQ.

So, all in all the fail was probably okay since it was a little wrong for the occasion.  So what made it not work?  The plums.  Those suckers were way too big and the juices didn’t let the cake cook properly.  Next time, much smaller slices will go on and the cake will come out perfectly.  I hope!

Dimply Plum Cake

I stress ate my way through April and May, so not a lot of great cooking was going on.

Moving on…

June!

This weekend was good for trying new things without a recipe.

Saturday night I defrosted some shrimp from Whole Foods I had gotten weeks ago and never used, and was determined to cook them.  I’m a little scared of cooking seafood, and shrimp too- I need shrimp to be just right for me to enjoy them.  Just right.

I tossed these little suckers in some Drew’s Italian Dressing and threw ’em on the Gridle that Matt was searing a nice peice of meat on.  They cooked up quickly, and I “patting self on back” took them off in perfect time.  I ate them up greedily with some steamed snap peas and fresh bread with olive tapenade.  YUM.  I will definitely be making shrimp again, and have a recipe I’d like to try out for them!

Tonight, we wanted something light and I needed to pick some basil (so the plants keep prospering!) and had bought a pack of mixed heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s so a quick trip to the store yielded a ball of mozzerella and away we went!  I chopped up the tomatoes, mozzerella and basil, tossed it all with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar added S&P and it was done.  So easy, and so delightful.  A delicious summer treat, that could only have been made better if they were homegrown tomatoes, someday!

So we’re off and running here again with my resolution- I’ve got a week in NH coming up and some cooking should get done!

Heirloom Tomato SaladOh yeah, I made some cookies too- I’ve made this recipe before- second one on the page- so yummy and chocolatey!

summer09 013

As soon as I read this recipe over on Smitten Kitchen after being referred to it via Stephanie Klein I knew I had to make it over the long weekend.  While blueberries are not abundant right now, we have a lovely little produce shop down the street I knew would come through for me, on the yummy and not too pricey blueberry front.

The recipe as Smitten Ktichen says is very, very easy.  It was fun to dig my hands into the mixture and get the consistency I wanted instead of just watching it happen in a mixer.  Not to knock the mixer, I am ever so grateful to have one.  So, back to the easy factor.  I made these while on the phone, balancing over our Super who was fixing the dishwasher.  Seriously.  That’s how easy this is to put together.  I made one mistake, I put the lemon juice in the dough, so I used some fake stuff I had in the fridge for the blueberry mixture- I honestly don’t think it made any difference.

Yield: More than you’ll need, seriously I had too many and I gave a lot out.

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg, I just used my hands. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares, this helps a lot.

These came out gooey and smelled delicious.  The stayed delicous a week plus later.  The one problem, they go down too easy.  They’re not too sweat, have just the right tang and feel light and yet hearty.

The one thing I’d change is that I put too much of the dough mixture on the bottom of the pan and didn’t have enough to cover the blueberries, so they weren’t as bar looking or covered as I would have liked.

I will be revisiting these this summer for sure- they’d make a great 4th of July treat!

BlueSun Dappled

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