Tag Archives: cake

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!

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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.

Independence Day Chocolate Berry Torte

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On July 4th I went to The Berry Farm to pick some fresh red and black raspberries.

This place has great fruit and everything is chemical & pesticide free!

Freshly picked black raspberries! Half of these are destined to become dessert at our family dinner.

Next time I may have to try this jam recipe. This was posted on the back of the berry stand.

Or maybe the pie recipe will come next… this was painted on the door of the berry stand.

The above photo is the final result of my Independence Day dessert! I modified the “Cherry Glazed Chocolate Torte” recipe from Hershey’s 100th Anniversary: 100 Years of Hershey’s Favorites recipe book to suit the freshly picked berries I had on hand. And check out those amazing biscotti my sister got from Del Ponte’s Bakery!

I made the following torte recipe with modifications as noted below.

HERSHEY’S CHERRY GLAZED CHOCOLATE TORTE
(ie: Independence Day Raspberry Chocolate Torte)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cream Layer (recipe follows)
1 can (21oz) cherry pie filling, divided (I made my own berry topping instead of using the pie filling – see below.)

Heat oven to 350*F. Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan. In large bowl, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; using spoon, beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake is set. (Cake will be fudgey and will not test done.) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Prepare Cream Layer; spread over top of cake. Spread 1 cup cherry pie filling over Cream Layer; refridgerate 3 hours. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan; remove side of pan. Serve with remaining pie filling. Garnish as desired.

CREAM LAYER

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened (I used the reduced fat version.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (I substituted 1 cup dairy whipped cream.)

In small mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.

TRACIE’S FRESH BERRY TOPPING

1 – 1 1/2 cup raspberries
1 – 2 tsp sugar (I added this because black raspberries are a bit more tart than red. If I used red raspberries I would not have added the sugar.)

Mix items in a small pot. Heat over med-low heat until berries cook down a little, for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency. (You still want good-sized berries, but sitting in a little sauce.

The torte was delicious! The perfect ratio of chocolate, berries and cream.

We ended the day with a walk down to the boardwalk to see the Asbury Park fireworks. We were a couple of towns down, but still had a decent view. As we were getting ready to leave we saw some of the Point Pleasant fireworks going off to the South.