Blueberry Buckle

It’s official–My baking block is over! I’m back to cooking too. The long work hours, new wifehood, and zumba take up a lot of a girl’s time and doesn’t leave time for much of anything else. Most of the time, I get home from work or class and all I feel like doing is plopping. My little bro and I call it “potato time”. (Oh, did I mention–my younger brother is now living with me? Yes, in my studio. He has a mattress all the way on the other side of the coffee table. I’ll get more into it later, but it’s actually pretty great. I like having him around!)

Anyway, potato time. Its been my go-to home hobby for the past, oh, 6 months. So much has happened. I started my dream job, Liam moved in, I fell in love with zumba–and I got married. And as a result, I stopped cooking, baking, and sometimes even cleaning. But it’s all over now. I’m back!

Yesterday was Sunday–my new LMA (leave me alone) day. And I baked this pretty little blueberry buckle. Much like the French apple tart recipe from my last post, fruit is the leading lady. It’s like a pound of blueberries, a simple batter, and streusel topping.

Love: The streusel is the batter mix before adding liquid.
Love: Berries start on top and sink to through the batter while baking.
Love: Super transportable for taking to work.

Don’t love: I had to bake 20 min. longer than stated in the recipe.

It’s tart and über-berry. I think you’ll like it. So here’s the recipe and a few pics of the sweet thing.

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French Apple Cake

I think it’s been 6 months since I last posted. I even thought about giving up my little blog. In the end, though, I think I’ll keep going.

I’ve been wanting to this cake for weeks. It’s simple, custardy, and more apple than cake. Here’s the link to the recipe. It’s delicious and super fruity. Make it. Oh, an eat it with ice cream.

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Peach Apricot Slices

Peach Apricot Slices

Sugary whole wheat crust filled with custard made from pureed peaches and apricots and topped with sweet California peaches

Amaaaaazing! Super creamy, fruity and fresh. Here’s the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

Dried Fruit and Seed Crackers

These crackers could be healthy. I mean, they are  if you eat just a few. The problem is that they are just epically good and nearly impossible to stop eating!

The recipe (from Honeycomb) is a long list of good-for-you things like dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Also, it’s lightening quick to put together (though a bit time consuming to freeze and bake twice). I especially like the freezing stage of the process. After baking, you freeze it and then once solid, slice and bake. So brilliant; I would totally make a few loaves at once, freeze them and then slice off only what I need.

I’ve made this a few times and each time I throw in a different combination of fruit and nuts, i.e., whatever I have in my cupboard. This time I went with dried banana chips (homemade from here), raisins, almonds, flax and sesame seeds. Previously, I’ve used coconut flakes, walnuts, cranberries and sesame. Oh, and I never put in the rosemary. I think it would taste nice, but I keep forgetting to pick it up from the store. Next time, I guess!

Just a few tips:

-No buttermilk? Make your own. 1 cup milk plus 4 1/2 tsp lemon juice will give you a little over 1 cup. The full recipe calls for 2.

-Freezing into a completely frozen loaf is hard. Let it thaw ca. 5 minutes. Just don’t leave it out too long–it won’t slice well if it’s too soft.

-Bake time depends on how thin you slice. Mine are always on the thin side, so I usually bake 10-12 minutes on each side.

Here’s the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

A Reason to Make Cake

I need a reason to make. this. cake.

Chocolate cake – peanut butter frosting – chocolate/peanut butter glaze

Walnut Raisin Bread

Wow, this bread is seriously good! When I showed it to my friend LazyEaterSF, she was like, “It looks like real bread.” It does, doesn’t it?

I found the recipe on Bakies blog and I believe the original is from British Larder. It’s a great recipe, though  I encountered some difficulties with the amounts, probably due to conversion to cups. Maybe my Recipe Converter app is off. Anyway, this always seems to happen when trying to convert measurements. The dry to liquid ingredients wasn’t right, so I ended up adding about 1 cup more water than was specified. Also, my dough took a lot more time to proof than was stated in the original. This is probably because I don’t have instant yeast and only have active dry at home. In any case, I let the dough proof overnight and then divided it into two and let it rise another 2 or so hours until doubled in size.

I did make a few ingredient changes: used all white flour instead of half wheat, but only because I didn’t have any wheat on hand. I also replaced half the original amount of walnuts with raisins.

*All changes – converted amounts and added ingredients are reflected in the recipe below.

One thing, no, two things I love about this recipe are 1) the poolish or starter or whatever you call it was fast acting  (not overnight) and 2) I could dump all the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid, including nuts and raisin, and leave everything to mix on its own. Super easy.

Apart from measurement conversion issues, the bread is everything I hoped it would be and more! So gorgeously golden and crisp on the outside and light, soft and airy on the inside. I love the additions of the raisins. They give such a nice sweetness to the bread.

Oh, yes, I am definitely making this again.

Enjoy!

Walnut Raisin Bread (converted and adapted from a recipe found on Bakies)

Makes 2 round loaves

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp table salt

3/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 Tbsp honey

2 1/2 cups warm water, divided

1/2 cup walnut halves

1/2 cup raisins

 

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

3/4 cup cold water

METHOD

  1. Place yeast, 1/2 cup flour and honey in a small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the warm water, mix well, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm spot or until the mixture starts to bubble. (Mine took about an hour.)
  2. In the bowl of a mixer add the remaining flour, bubbling yeast mixture, walnuts, raisins, salt and the remaining warm water together. Attach the dough hook and mix the bread dough on slow speed for 10 minutes.
  3. Grease a large mixing bowl. Once the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the bread dough into a smooth ball. Place the smooth bread dough into the greased mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to proof until the dough has risen to double in size. (I left it overnight.)
  4. Dust two baking sheets or pie pans with flour, set aside.
  5. Gently turn the bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even halves.
  6. Roll each half into an evenly shaped smooth ball, place each ball onto your already floured trays or pie pans, cover gently with plastic wrap and leave to proof for the second time until nearly double in size.
  7. In the oven, move one of the racks to the very bottom and place an empty baking sheet on top. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Once the dough has risen, brush the risen bread carefully with the egg wash and use a knife to make small cuts at the top of the risen bread. (I just cut a simple “x”.)
  9. Place the baking sheets or pie pans in the preheated oven and pour 3/4 cup of cold water directly into the pan at the bottom of the oven and shut the door quickly. The water will give a burst of steam that will help the loaves to puff and form a golden crust.
  10. After about 10-12 minutes, place a sheet of foil over the bread.
  11. Continue baking the loaves for 35-40 minutes, give the bread a tap at the bottom and if it sounds hollow it means the bread is done. Place the bread onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

Photo Teaser: Daifuku

Look what my friend and I made last night! Japanese pounded rice cakes (mochi) filled with sweet azuki bean paste. I didn’t believe it was possible, but I believe now. I do, I do!

Daifuku

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Photo Teaser: Jiauzi (Chinese Dumplings)

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Cooking with my mom in Portland today. She taught me how to make “jiauzi” or Chinese style gyoza. Yum!

The dough was made by hand. And the filling is a combination of shrimp, sole, green onion and chives.

Recipe to come.

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

I better get a move on with all these recipes. Christmas is almost here and I’m still trying to catch upon everything from Thanksgiving! So I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

What: Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

Where: From 101 Cookbooks

Why it’s special: The filling is made with coconut milk and the edge is lined with roasted almond paste. (The paste SHOULD have been a spread for the crust, but I forgot and only remembered last minute to use it.)

Coconut Pumpkin Pie (recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Butter)

INGREDIENTS

Crust (Makes enough for 2)

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 1/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted (I used almonds.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Form two disc from the  dough and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the nut paste

  1. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the ‘crumble’ stage. Set aside.
  2. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside separately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked. (I forgot this entire part and only as an afterthought did I use the paste to line the edge of the pie. Spread on the crust would have been better.)

For the filling

  1. To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When you are ready to make your pie, remove one of the discs of pastry from the fridge. (The other you can save for your next pie.)
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles.
  5. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.
  6. Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Someone's excited for pie!


Classic Apple Pie with a Braided Crust

There are no surprises when it comes to apple pie, which is probably one of the reasons it’s such a classic and beloved dessert. Flaky crust; sweet and tart filling–a good one will soothe and fill every heart, soul and tummy with content!

That said, this pie did surprise me: First, by it’s interesting cook-before-you-bake filling and second, by its overwhelming popularity. It was more popular than the coconut pumpkin (recipe to come soon) AND I was asked to make a second, larger one just two days later!

It’s basically one recipe I used here, from Butter. The filling requires stewing before baking, which was a new concept to me. I was worried that the apples would end up a smushy mess, but they didn’t. They totally held they’re shape. The cooking softened the tartness and allowed the juices and spice to really marry and develop. As for the crust, it’s basic and really good–flaky, buttery, light. As with any crust, just be careful not to over work it when you roll it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be super simple and so very delicate and pretty!

I love this pie: yummy filling, lovely crust. The first one was great and the second was even better! I threw a handful of raisins in with the apples. They added a nice juicy pop, I thought. Also, I was able to serve the pie still warm and it was awesome. I’d definitely suggest serving it warm if you can.

Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie (recipe courtesy of Butter and Food For My Family)

Serves 8-10.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

8 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornflour

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Take a third of the dough, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. This will be your lattice. Form a disc with the remaining dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. This will be your crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Cook, over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Drain the juice from the apples into a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour until it dissolves and return this mixture to the apples. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. When you are ready to make your pie, remove the larger disc of pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 365 F and grease a pie dish well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the apple filling.
  5. Remove the smaller disc of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover your pie dish. Trim the extra dough so that you create an even lip that just reaches the edge of the dish.
  6. Roll out the excess dough and cut into thin, long strips. Then braid and line the edge of the pie. Press gently to seal.
  7. Brush the entire pie with water or egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown.

Pretty braided crust

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