Tag Archives: baking

New York Crumb Cake

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I recently decided to make a crumb cake for my parents. They are both big fans. Anybody from New Jersey or New York knows that you need the right crumb to cake ratio for a successful crumb cake (apx 2/3 crumbs to 1/3 cake); this is something that many bakeries down the shore and up north have mastered. Crumb cake is one item I was surprised we didn’t have a family recipe for. We only have a variation that includes ricotta for a crumb/cheese cake. After searching around the internet for a bit I thought Martha Stewart’s recipe for New York Crumb Cake looked like it would be great for experimenting.

New York Crumb Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart
Yield: Makes one 9″ by 12 1/2″ cake

2 Tbs canola oil, plus more for pan
4 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 Cup milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. (Tracie’s note: You may want to work with your fingers a bit at the end to make sure you combine the mixture into as many large crumbs as possible. Any small crumbles will just fall right off of the cake and the rubber spatula will leave you with a lot of useless tiny crumbles.) Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I think the cake portion was pretty excellent; I could tell even as I spread the batter into the pan. The crumbs were okay, but something seemed a bit off with the consistency. Not sure if it was too much sugar, maybe? I think they will need a little more experimenting next go around. Overall, I think the recipe is a keeper.

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Apple Sharlotka

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A sharlotka is a traditional Russian dessert – their version of an apple pie, though it’s not very pie-like. The closest thing I had ever made was a clafoutis but even that is not a great comparison. If I had to file this in a dessert sub-category I suppose I would choose “cakes & pies”.

Last month a friend of mine described to me the version that she makes for the holidays every year; an old family recipe. I decided to create my own recipe for a sharlotka as a Valentine’s treat for my family.

Apple Sharlotka
Recipe from Handmade By Tracie

3 Granny Smith Apples
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
Dash of Cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Peel and chop the apples and set aside.

Cream the sugar and egg together with an electric beater. Mix in the vanilla. Mix in the flour and cinnamon.

Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper. Using butter, grease the paper well along with the sides of the pan.

Add the apples to the pan. Spoon the batter over top of the apples and press it down a little so it settles.

Bake in a 350* oven until cake tester comes out clean, approximately 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it’s easy to over-cook!

Let cool. Remove from springform pan. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar and cinnamon if desired.

I imagine this would be delicious served warm with some vanilla ice cream!

Lillian’s Lemon Bread

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A friend of mine shared this recipe with me. In discussing some baking recipes together we got onto the topic of lemons (we are both big fans) and she mentioned a lemon bread that sounded delicious. I have to say – this recipe did not disappoint! I highly recommend it if you enjoy lemons.

Lillian’s Lemon Bread
Recipe from Farmhouse Cookbook
Yield: 2 loaves

3 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
2 cups Sugar
4 Large Eggs
Minced Zest of 2 Lemons
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Coarsely Chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line two 9×4 inch loaf pans with parchment paper. Generously butter the paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together onto a piece of waxed paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is pale yellow and light. Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until it is incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the lemon zest and mix well. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix or the bread will be tough. Fold in the walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans, smoothing it out on top. Bake in the center of the oven until the breads are golden and spring back lightly when touched, 45 to 50 minutes.

While the breads are baking, mix the lemon juice with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Set it aside. (Tracie’s Note: I used 1 full cup of lemon juice and was very pleased with the result.)

When the breads are baked, transfer the pans to wire racks to cool. While the loaves are still hot, poke several holes in the top of the breads with a fork or a cake tester, and pour the lemon juice mixture over them. (Tracie’s Note: I used a wooden skewer and would recommend this – you can poke the holes deeper this way.) Let the loaves cool, then turn them out of the pans. Remove the parchment paper if you plan to serve them immediately. Otherwise, leave the paper on the breads, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil, and freeze.

Pumpkin Bread

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October is here and when it comes to food, pumpkin is the word that comes to mind. I have been thinking of my Great Aunt Marie’s pumpkin bread for weeks. On this chilly Fall day, the time had finally come to whip some up!

If you are going to bake one pumpkin bread this season, this is the recipe to try! It is moist, has a smooth texture, a great pumpkin flavor and just the right amount of spice to enhance yet not overpower the pumpkin. It is delicious.

AUNT MARIE’S PUMPKIN BREAD
Recipe from Aunt Marie Caruso

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add pumpkin and water to the mixture. In separate bowl, sift together flour, powder, soda, salt and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Add nuts and blend into mixture. Grease pans well and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350* until cake tester comes out clean.

The recipe was paraphrased a little bit in my shorthand. Also, while it did not call for vanilla extract, I threw in a teaspoon to my batter. For breads I tend to use canola oil as my shortening (for cookies it’s butter). I generally use walnuts in this recipe, or even no nuts, but I think pecans would be good to try. I think I erred during the dry ingredient step and used less baking soda on this go around, but my bread still turned out delish! I baked most of the batter in a loaf pan for close to one hour, and the rest in two pumpkin-shaped forms for about thirty minutes.

This recipe can be baked into many different forms. My aunt has traditionally baked it in cans (like the kind you buy your beans, diced tomatoes, etc in), you can also use a cake pan, a loaf pan, cupcake pans, some cute pumpkin silicone forms or whatever you have on hand! Just be mindful that your cooking time will vary depending on your baking form. This bread also freezes very well which can come in handy if you want to prep ahead for an evening of entertaining, some out of town guests, or just to have something available when you get that unexpected craving!

I hope all of you enjoy this recipe. Let me know how yours turns out!

Welcoming Fall: Banana Apple Cranberry Bread

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Today is the first day of Fall! My favorite season. What better way to welcome in the cool weather with a nice warm baked treat?

Banana bread has always been a frequent visitor in my family (I say visitor because it doesn’t stick around very long). I remember when my brother went to college, I would always bake him banana bread when he came back for breaks. I still do make it when he comes up to the NE for a visit.

This recipe is my family’s favorite for banana bread. It comes from an old vintage book, McCall’s Cook Book: The Absolutely Complete Step-By-Step Cooking and Serving Guide (from 1963), and has certainly stood the test of time. As a side note, one of my great aunts used to be a pattern maker for McCall’s. They would bring in the latest fashions and women such as my aunt would write a pattern so all those crafty people out there who know their way around a sewing machine could sew their own designer digs!

Every time I make this bread and share it with others, somebody always asks for the recipe! It is light and fluffy; a definite crowd pleaser.

BANANA BREAD
Recipe from McCall’s

2 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 or 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease well and flour two bread pans.
2. Into large bowl of electic mixer, sift flour with baking powder, soda, salt and sugar.
3. Add shortening, bananas and vanilla; at low speed, beat just until ingredients are combined.
4. At medium speed, beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping side of bowl and guiding mixture into beaters with rubber scraper.
5. Add eggs and buttermilk; beat 2 minutes longer.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans; bake 40 to 45 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip.
7. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool thoroughly on wire racks. Slice and enjoy!
* To sour milk: Place 1 1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add milk to measure 1/2 cup. Let stand a few minutes before using.

Note: You can embellish the recipe any way you like. Whenever I make this banana bread, I generally add apples and cinnamon to the mix. On occasion (depending on who I am making it for) I will add nuts or chocolate chips. As this is the start of Fall I thought cranberries would be a nice touch.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: the rain outside

Unbirthday Cupcakes

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My friend comes to town a few times a year. She wasn’t around for her birthday, so we decided to celebrate this summer with brunch at Isabella’s, a walk through the park, a trip to MoMA, and some yummy cupcakes for dessert. A very merry unbirthday to her!


CHOCOLATE BERRY CUPCAKES
Recipe from Wild About Cupcakes: Over 130 Recipes

For Cupcakes:
3 oz. Dark Chocolate
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 cup mixed berries

For Frosting:
3 oz. Dark Chocolate
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/3 cup Heavy Cream (I subbed 1/2 & 1/2 since I didn’t have heavy cream)
Additional berries to top the cupcakes
2 Tbsp Confectioner’s Sugar to dust (I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 325* and place liners into cupcake pan.

Cupcakes:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water until smooth. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Pour the melted chocolate and the milk into the mixed dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir the 1 cup of berries in by hand. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cool completely before removing the cupcakes.

Frosting:
Melt the chocolate, butter and cream in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes and top with extra berries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

From Wikipedia: The phrase mad as a hatter is likely a reference to mercury poisoning, as mercury-based compounds were once used in the manufacture of felt hats in the 18th and 19th century. (The Mad Hatter character of Alice in Wonderland was almost certainly inspired by an eccentric furniture dealer named Theophilus Carter. Carter was not a victim of mad hatter disease although Lewis Carrol would have been familiar with the phenomenon of dementia that occurred among hatters.)

Homemade Fig Newtons

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I have been searching for a few years for just the right Fig Newton recipe. As posted a few weeks ago, I was excited to find one that sounded delicious!

Named for a small town in Massachusetts, Fig Newtons are a cookie made with an outer dough and a delicious fig filling. You can also jazz up the filling adding apples, raspberries or any other flavor you like.

The Oh Nuts blog posted this recipe recently and I had to try it out.

I made a couple of adjustments:
1. In the dough I used about 75-80% zest of one orange instead of 50%. This gave a stronger orange flavor. The dough was so perfect (way better than store bought Fig Newtons).
2. In the fig filling I omitted the orange zest and instead added the juice of 1/2 an orange. (I drank the juice from the other half. Fresh squeezed and delicious!)

I never use apple juice so buying it specifically for this recipe I did not want to get an entire bottle. It turns out that the little Apple & Eve juice boxes contain exactly 1 cup! Perfect! They sell them in a 3-pack so I still have 2 left to use for future baking endeavors.

The cookies really are better the day after. They have that crisp texture the first day and in comparison to the cookies on the 2nd day, the cripsness almost overtakes the cookie. I didn’t realize how great the dough and filling were until the 2nd day.

I put some in a ziploc in the freezer and so far they are freezing quite well. To be determined if they thaw well and still taste the same…

Date Nut Bread

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I love date nut bread. It is delicious! I was at Wegman’s bulk section and couldn’t resist the beautiful dates they had. It is so easy to pit the dates that I would much rather buy from the bulk section (where the only ingredient is dates) vs. buying pre-packaged on the shelf where all they had was Dole (lots of unnecessary ingredients added to the dates).

This recipe has been in my family ever since I can remember. My grandmother got the recipe from Lucille.

DATE NUT BREAD
Recipe from Lucille

8 oz Chopped Dates
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups Boiling Water
2 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Eggs, separated
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Dash of Salt

Sprinkle baking soda over dates. Add boiling water. Let stand until cool. Mix Sugar, butter and beaten egg yolks. Mix with flour and salt. Add date mixture, vanilla and nuts. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into flour mixture. Bake at 325* for about an hour. Yield: 2 loaves **Note: It is important to butter and flour the bread pans so that the date nut bread does not stick.

My family’s usual way of eating this is to spread a little (reduced-fat) cream cheese on top. It also goes great with coffee or tea.

Boston Cream Banana Pie

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I wanted to make a special dessert for my sister-in-law’s birthday. I had bananas and cocoa powder so I pulled out the Hershey’s 100th Anniversary: 100 Years of Hershey’s Favorites book in search of the perfect recipe. (You should check out that Amazon link I posted – they have copies of the book as low as 14 cents!)

I found a recipe for “Classic Boston Cream Pie” which sounded delicious. This is a layer cake so I knew it would be easy to incorporate the bananas I wanted to use.

The recipe called for a 9″ pan, but I only had an 8″ round cake pan. This made the cake layers pretty thick… if you only have an 8″ pan I would suggest not using all of the batter.

After cutting the cake in half, I layered bananas before putting on the cream layer. Looking great already!

I added the top layer back on the cake then I poured the chocolate on top. Into the refrigerator it went! Couldn’t wait to try this one. It was pretty great and I really loved it with the bananas.

HERSHEY’S CLASSIC BOSTON CREAM PIE

1/3 cup shortening (I used canola oil, but you could easily use softened butter.)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
Rich Filling (recipe follows)
Dark Cocoa Glaze (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350*F. Grease and flour 9″ round baking pan. In large mixer bowl, beat shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking poder and salt; add alternately with milk to shortening mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Note: Since I used an 8″ pan and all of the batter, my cook time was a good 5-7 minutes longer. Again, this ended up with a very thick cake so I would use less batter if going with an 8″ pan. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare Rich Filling. With long serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally. Place one layer, cut side up, on serving plate; spread with prepared filling. Note: Before spreading the filling on the cake I cut 2 bananas into thin slices and covered the top of the cake. I added the filling on top of the banana layer. Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Prepare Dark Cocoa Glaze; spread over cake, allowing glaze to run down sides. Refrigerate several hours or until cold. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate any leftover pie.

RICH FILLING

1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs corn starch
1 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch; gradually add milk and egg yolks, stirring until blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cover; refrigerate several hours or until cold.

DARK COCOA GLAZE

3 Tbs water
2 Tbs butter
3 Tbs Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In small saucepan over medium heat, heat water and butter until mixture comes to a boil; remove from heat. Immediately stir in cocoa. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating with whisk until smooth and of desired consistency; cool slightly.

Homemade Goldfish Crackers

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I posted two weeks ago about this recipe on Miss Anthropist’s blog. My sister-in-law was over for a visit and we went to work on it!
First we worked on making our little cookie cutters.

We made goldfish (of course) in three different sizes. We also created a couple of stars for the holiday.

I picked up some delicious vegeratian white cheddar from Whole Foods (uses vegetable rennet instead of animal rennet). I love the Whole Foods cheese department. The people who work in the fromagerie have a list behind the counter of which cheeses are vegetarian.

We made the dough in the food processor and it took less than 5 minutes! We added in 1 tsp of baking soda and subbed a pinch of garlic powder for the onion powder. Then I wrapped the dough and put it in the refrigerator. We didn’t roll it out until the next day.

Since this dough was made with white cheddar, it would be very easy to add a few drops of food coloring to create colorful crackers. Red and blue stars for any patriotic holiday, colorful goldfish for your kids, green Christmas trees, orange pumpkins, or anything you can imagine!

The next day we rolled the dough out to cut up the crackers. Tip: when the dough comes out of the refrigerator it will be crumbly and hard to roll out. I found that working it in your hands for a minute to soften and bring it together made for a much easier time rolling out the dough.

After cutting the crackers out, they were placed on a silpat mat on a cookie sheet and into the oven they went.

For the first tray I put the timer on for 3 minutes less than the recipe called for to check on them and they were overdone! The second tray I cooked for a minute or two less.

The crackers were very good. They were definitely crispier the first day. Stored in a ziploc bag, they were softer the next day… but still a great snack for walking around Central Park!