Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited! I like summer in theory (long days, trips to the beach, bottles of chilled rosé), but in practice, we don’t have A/C, so I just feel uncomfortable and lazy most of the time. Not to mention sweaty. I will miss the summer fruit for sure, but luckily I can still get peaches and plums for another couple of weeks. Even though I have avoided turning on the oven for most of the past two months, now is a great time to get baking.
I’m quite fond of upside-down cakes, and don’t mind experimenting with them. Fruit cooked in caramel goo…ain’t nothing wrong with that. And they’re pretty, too. We know an upside-down cake is really all about the caramelized fruit, but the cakey part shouldn’t be neglected either (trust me). This cake has the right balance of sturdiness and softness. Almond meal and a bit of barley flour help with that texture, and also give it some real flavor (as in we’re not just relying on the fruit). It’s equally delicious made with peaches, nectarines or plums. I’ve had it all three ways…maybe next summer I’ll do a combo? Unless we have company, it takes the two of us four nights to go through an 8-inch cake, and I didn’t feel like this one suffered at all. (I stored the cakes wrapped in the fridge and brought slices to room temperature as we wanted them).
Don’t you just love how plum skins look like jewels when cooked down?
Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake– makes an 8-inch cake
Steph’s Notes: If you don’t have pre-ground almond meal, grind an equal amount of whole almonds, along with 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour, in the food processor until fine. You can replace the barley flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour, if you wish.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
1 cup sugar
3-4 medium peaches, plums or nectarines, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup barley flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
-Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter an 8-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).
-To make the topping, put 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet over medium heat. It should look like wet sand. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the skillet with a wet pastry brush. Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away. Add 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it in until smooth. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble a bit when the butter goes in.
-Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and tilt to coat. Arrange the fruit wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed. It doesn’t matter if the caramel sets up while you are doing this.
-Combine the flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
-Beat the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, like I do) in a large bowl with a mixer (or in a stand mixer with the paddle) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
-Spread the batter evenly over the fruit and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
-Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely before serving.
Tags: baking, breakfast, fruit, muffins
Yesterday was the first Labor Day in many years where I myself did not have to labor. Any holiday is typically an extra busy, extra intense day for those who work in the food biz. It was sort of odd then that I chose to celebrate by getting up a little early to make Rick Katz’s Blueberry Muffins for breakfast. Baked goods for breakfast are a bit of a treat around here, as they should be, I guess. Not only are they an indulgence, but OMG, the wait for prep, baking and cool down is almost too much!
Really, though, blueberry muffins are no big deal (they’re not like sticky buns, or anything), and I’ve made them here before. This particular recipe is unusual in that it uses cake flour and calls for creaming the butter and sugar (instead of the “muffin-method’s” usual melted butter or oil). The results are more like little tea cakes than sturdy coffee shop muffins. They aren’t too sweet and they are loaded with the last-of-season blueberries. They look sort of dainty and unassuming from the outside, but inside they are basically blueberry jam!
Tags: baking, cobbler, dessert, fruit
I made Johanne Killeen’s Johnnycake Cobbler twice, both times with peaches and red currants. The first time, I thought the biscuit layer was too thick and the fruit was getting lost underneath all that cornmeal topping. So I tried again, reducing the topping ingredients by a third. Now the cobbler to fruit ratio was in much better proportion. Even with less biscuit on top, in order to get it cooked through, I still had to bake the cobbler for several minutes longer than the recipe stated.
I should warn you that the johnnycake topping uses lots of cream. Like lots. I just couldn’t do it– both times, I used a combo of milk and sour cream to replace it (essentially making a higher fat buttermilk-type liquid). I’m sure it was less rich than the original, but at least I could justify having a little scoop of ice cream alongside.
I’ve been seeing plums at the market, so I’ll probably be giving this a third try soon!
We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Nancy and Johanne making the cobbler together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread, savory
Lord knows I’m not above making a pita pizza from time to time, but usually it’s out of sheer convenience (and sometimes out of desperation). Before Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas, I certainly wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of making my own pita dough for one. Not that it was a hard dough to make or anything, but like any yeast bread, it does take time.
The topping for these pizzas is lamb (although I used ground turkey) sautéed with onions and garlic, tomatoes and pine nuts. Mine wound up a little on the dry side, probably because I used cherry tomatoes, which didn’t give off much juice. I tried to jazz up my finished pizza with some feta and chopped scallions, but if I make it again, I’ll make sure the topping has just a touch of sauciness to coat the meat.
The bread dough has a fair amount of whole wheat flour in it, which gives it a slightly nutty taste. The recipe calls for baking individual pizzas, but I made a double-sized one instead and baked it on my pizza stone.
Since I had to make pita dough before I could make the base of my pizza, I went ahead and made some actual pita breads with it as well. And then we had warm pita and hummus snack. I was quite pleased that my pitas puffed enough to get a pocket– my husband initially didn’t believe that I made these, as I always get my pitas at the great Damascus Bakery here in Brooklyn. The next morning, I took my last homemade pita, opened its pocket, and made a fried egg sandwich out of it. Tasty!
We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Jeffery and Naomi making the dough and pizzas with Julia. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, savory
Gale Gand’s Summer Vegetable Tart at first sounded so promising. My CSA is throwing all kinds of vegetables my way, and it can be a challenge (a fun challenge) to get them taken care of before the next week’s batch takes over my fridge. I was kind of surprised, then, to see that the “summer vegetables” in the recipe are just garlic, onions, red peppers and mushrooms. Those are more like “whenever vegetables,” so I took some creative license and added zucchini and summer squash to the mix.
The tart is simple enough– the shell is just layers of butter-brushed phyllo baked till golden. The veggies are sautéed separately and then loaded into the baked shell along with some cheese. That’s it, all done and ready to serve. It’s okay. It certainly isn’t bad, just a little dull, even though I tried to pep mine up with some hot pepper flakes and fresh parsley. The phyllo shell gets soggy in a hurry, and because the filling is never baked, it stays loose and messy. I prefer the Cheese and Tomato Galette we did last month, and I think a riff on that will be my next attempt at a summer veggie tart.
Tags: baking, fruit, tarts
Leslie Mackie ‘s Baked Yogurt Tart was one that I was rooting for in this month’s recipe nominations. The combination of fruit and yogurt in a pie crust sounded pretty good to me!
Instead of using berries for my tart, I pitted some of the sweet cherries I got from my CSA. I see now that I could have squeezed lots more cherries in there…I’ll keep that in mind when I make this again (which may be for this weekend’s BBQ with the in-laws). Also, I left the chopped almonds off my tart and added in a little almond extract instead.
The recipe says to bake it till brown on top. Mine took the full baking time but was nowhere near golden brown afterwards. I didn’t want to overbake it and since I could tell the custard was set, I just went ahead and took it out. When cut, this tart held its shape and reminded me of a cheesecake. I actually thought the filling could be a tad softer– I’m not sure if it was the thick Greek yogurt I used, or if the amount of flour used to thicken the filling could be reduced a bit (3/4 cup is a lot of flour!). I may fiddle with a couple of things next time I make this, but, all in all, it’s a tasty spin on a summer fruit tart.
Tags: baking, savory
Flo Braker’s Cheese and Tomato Galette uses the same cornmeal and sour cream dough as the Crunchy Summer Fruit Galette we did last summer. The dough was still as sticky as I remembered, but I rolled and formed it directly on the parchment I used for baking, so I didn’t tear my hair out.
The recipe specifies the filling as tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and jack, but you can play around with the herbs and melting cheeses. You can see I used dill in lieu of basil, and while I did have mozz in here, I used a more flavorful washed rind cow cheese instead of Monterey jack. Also, I sprinkled a little s&p on the tomatoes because I like them seasoned. When I turned my galette in the oven, I noticed the tomatoes had given off some liquid. I just tipped it out with a spoon so it wouldn’t make my tart watery.
I split this with my husband– it’s little. With a salad and a glass of wine, it was a nice summery dinner. I have an extra round of dough in the freezer, so I’ll make this one again.
Tags: baking, bread
When work gets super busy, it’s nice to have a dinner you can essentially pull out of the freezer, like Nancy Silverton’s Savory Brioche Pockets stuffed with asparagus, potatoes and cheese (or whatever you fancy, really). The last time I made her base brioche dough, I assembled a bunch of these little gourmet hot pockets and froze them, unbaked. Waiting for me until I need them, like everything should, right? Asparagus is in full swing at the farmers’ markets here, and this makes a great light springtime dinner with a salad and glass of wine. I can also see these being a good vehicle for those random leftover veggie bits and pieces that are usually kicking around my fridge.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Carie’s Loaves and Stitches. There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the pockets together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Ummm…hello? It’s been radio silent here on this blog for almost a month. How embarrassing, but I just haven’t been baking much lately. We went to the beach (and didn’t want to come back). Then when we did come back, I was given what I can only assume was a punishment schedule at work for having taken vacation time. But, now I’m back in the game, and with rhubarb no less!
I tried really hard to find local rhubarb to make Johanne Killeen’s Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake. I feel like it should be around these parts by now, but after striking out at three different farmers’ markets, I stopped wasting my time (and MetroCard swipes) and just got a few stalks from the grocery.
This recipe is intended to make several little baby cakes, but I just baked it off as one big mama in a cast iron skillet. It wasn’t super goopy so it wasn’t too scary to flip out of the skillet. Dark brown sugar gives this upside-down topping real character, and crème fraiche makes the cake batter extra tender. I threw a splash of vanilla into the batter, too, which maybe wasn’t totally necessary since it wasn’t called for in the recipe…and since I had vanilla ice cream with it anyway…but whatevs.
I can see this also being a tasty base recipe for stone fruit or even mango upside-down cake. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Erin’s When in Doubt…Leave it at 350. It’s also here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I am a master procrastinator. I should be spring cleaning my disaster of a closet right now. Instead, I am blogging about cake…a cake that I made two days ago, when I was also off work and also should have been spring cleaning my closet. Housekeeping gives me the blues, but cake makes me happy!
I always buy too many bananas at once, so I have this perpetual stash of them in my freezer, waiting to be turned into smoothies or baked with. Although I want to make every single thing in the book Vintage Cakes, I figured I’d start with a cake that would put some of those bananas to use. I’ve made one, no two, banana layer cakes here before, so forgive me if I seem like I’m repeating myself. They’re all good….moist, and most definitely cake and not banana bread.
I think banana cake is a good match for lots of frostings…cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter. I didn’t use the coffee walnut buttercream that is paired with this cake in the book. Instead I frosted it with some leftover chocolate frosting that I brought home from work a couple months ago and stuck in the freezer. It’s actually too sweet for my tastes, and isn’t a recipe I’d make at home (which is why I’m not providing it below), so I had to temper that sweetness a bit by rewhipping it with a little cream cheese and some instant espresso. OMG, wait–I used bananas and frosting from the freezer…doesn’t that mean I did some spring cleaning after all?
Banana Layer Cake- makes an 8″ three-layer cake, serving 8-12
adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: I halved the recipe to make 6″ rounds. They took a little less time to bake, about 24 minutes. Frost it with your favorite frosting.
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
-Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8″ round cake pans and line them with parchment circles.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, then whisk them together. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, combine the banana with the buttermilk.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and the paddle with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the banana mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the four. After each addition scrape the bowl well. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.
-Divide the thick batter equally among the prepared pans, and tap the pans on the counter to settle.
-Bake until the centers spring back when lightly touched, 28 – 30 minutes.
-Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip them out and let them continue to cool on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature. Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.
-Fill and frost with your favorite frosting.