Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cozy

This is going to be a post with no cooking or baking, just some happenings and photos.

Sweetie's friends who are, as he is, former Peace Corps folks, came and visited this week. It was delightful!

We spent a lot of time while they were visiting on our back deck. Since we fitted it last year with comfy rockers and couch, it has been a great spot to hang out. This year, thanks to our generous daughter, we also have a fire pit, which can double as a table thanks to the wood top that Sweetie created. We also have a nice teak round dining table, chairs, benches and lots of umbrellas and a sun sail to keep excessive sun at bay. I'll try to add some photos of the back deck soon.

They stayed in a cozy farmhouse and really enjoyed it. We agreed to take some photos and share since they were so taken with it. Here are some photos of the farmhouse, starting by the entry door by the kitchen. 





To the right you have the microwave (with popcorn no less!) and a hot beverage area. To the left you have all of the cabinets and even a basket with sunscreen and a flashlight, plus fresh flowers.

Moving into the farmhouse you reach the living room area.





From there you can go left past the waste cans in the hall that goes to the bathroom and the two bedrooms, or go right past the couch to the stairs to the upper bedroom.

Let's go down the hall to the colorful bedroom.



I was told that the bed was very comfy!

To the left of the colorful bedroom is the second bedroom, which also serves as a sitting room because there is a Murphy bed that folds up.




The middle is a photo of the provided basket with all kinds of items you might forget to bring. Thoughtful. The bottom photo is of the Murphy bed.

If you go towards the street in the front room, you enter the office/closet, down one step.



This area also has a DVD player and some music DVDs, plus bins instead of a dresser, plus a full mirror and a large mirror to the left of the two Japanese prints. The door leads to a small deck which is the emergency escape for both the front and colorful bedrooms (which accesses the deck via a large window.

The bathroom has the usual sink, toilet, and shower, plus towels, etc., decorated in shades of aqua and blue, plus white.

If you go back down the hall and behind the couch, you reach a door that opens to the stairway hall to reach the upper bedroom.




I was struck by the simple beauty of the door into the upper bedroom.




The upper bedroom has a twin bed/daybed and also a dresser and closet, but it also serves as an office.

That's the end of the tour. Hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, July 23, 2021

New To Me


Being allergic to dairy is old hat by now and I have figured out ways to still enjoy cooking and baking...and eating without cream, butter, milk, cheese. Still haven't found a good replacement for most cheese, although I have found a good ricotta...Kite Hill brand, but I also was missing whipped cream. Even when I could have dairy it wasn't a frequent part of my diet, but every now and then, especially when ripe strawberries just beg to be made into strawberry shortcake, I did wish for something better than aquafaba.

Well, there is a produce now in at least two local markets that fills the bill...Silk brand whipping cream. Maybe you already knew about it, but it was new to me until this week.

Some good friends...two sets actually...came to visit on Wednesday, so we had dinner on the back deck. For dessert we had strawberry shortcakes, using individual sweet biscuits, based on my Mom's self-rising flour biscuit recipe, plus local strawberries that Sweetie prepared, and a big bowl of whipped Silk "whipped cream". It was a hit and everyone enjoyed it. 

I didn't tell anyone until we had finished that the whipped cream wasn't dairy whipped cream. Astonishment was rampant. So if you want a non-dairy whipped cream that is good enough for company, give it a try if your store carries it. If they don't, you might want to ask if they could...it's that good. Just so you know, I don't get anything from Silk for telling you about this great product.

By the way, we were having such a good time visiting that I almost forgot to take a photo. What you get are two shots of the shortcake being enjoyed! No Instagram-perfect photo of this dessert.



Summer Strawberry Shortcakes

serves six with some biscuits left over

The Sweet Biscuits: These are the kind that use self-rising flour.
3 C Sifted self-rising flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 C milk (plain or buttermilk)
 1/2 C shortening

Place flour and brown sugar in a large bowl. Use a fork to blend the sugar into the flour and then stir to combine thoroughly. Cut shortening into the flour until consistency of coarse meal. Add enough milk to make a soft dough (may be slightly more or less than one cup). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently about ten strokes. Roll 1/2 the thickness of desired finished biscuit height. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter (or drinking glass rim). Place biscuits on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 14 two-inch biscuits. For shortcake, you can use a slightly larger cutter than two-inch if desired, and you will get about 12 biscuits.

The Strawberries: For six people, prepare two pints of fresh, ripe strawberries by removing the hull and slicing into a bowl, keeping as much of the juice as you can. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

The "Whipped Cream": Chill a stand mixer bowl (preferred), or other large bowl, plus the beaters, preferably the whip or whisk, in the freezer for at least an hour. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and add the pint of Silk 'whipping cream' (or a pint of dairy whipping cream if you prefer) to the chilled bowl. Attach the beaters/whisk attachment to the stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer and beat on medium-high 30 seconds. Gradually add 1 tablespoons granulated sugar, then increase speed to as high as it will go and beat until cream is thickened, but still a little soft.

Assembly: On each plate, place one of the biscuits, split or not as preferred. Top with a generous helping of the prepared strawberries, then dollop with some whipped cream. Serve with forks. Enjoy!

Note: The strawberries can be replaced by any other berry that is ripe and sweet, or with peeled, pitted and sliced peaches, sliced and pitted nectarines or plums, or pitted cherries. Summer's sweetness is captured so well in this dessert.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Fruit Enhanced Mini Cakes


A very kind neighbor dropped off at least three pints of wonderful, tart, ripe, mini plums the other day. We only got a few of our own plums this year, so I was delighted. I immediately thought of Dorie Greenspan's recipe for dimply plum cake. The lightly spice moist and delicious cake is enhanced by the juicy ripe plums, including the zing of the tart peel.

Last month when I was having lunch in Benicia with Natasha and another dear friend, we stopped at a Goodwill in the same shopping center as the lunch place. Natasha found me an adorable cake pan which had six heart shaped pans built in...sort of like a jazzed up muffin tin. Each heart shaped pan held more batter than a regular cupcake and that seemed to be perfect for turning the dimply plum cake into little heart shaped cakes to give to a Forestville friend for her birthday...and it was perfect.

Once I had the cake batter finished, I put about three tablespoons of the batter in the bottom of each little pan. I had already buttered and floured them as directed by the recipe. Then I spread the batter out to the edges of the pan, added some of the fruit, then topped that with about the same amount of batter, spread it out and topped that with more fruit. Each little pan was about half filled with fruit and batter. In the oven the batter rose and the fruit on top cooked and it was a bit difficult to make sure that the cake was cooked through. I added two minutes a couple of times to the 15 minutes I started with.

Once cooled, I removed the little cakes from the pan and fully cooled them on a wire rack. They deflated just a bit, but were still taller and wider than standard cupcakes. The best part was that they smelled sooooo good!

At the birthday party, five of us were able to share one of the little cakes, leaving the birthday girl with lots more for another day. I really liked the way that there was fruit throughout and that the lemon zest I used added more zing. The hint of nutmeg was just right, too.

Since you are unlikely to have this cute pan with the heart shapes, you can make this in a square cake pan - eight-inch preferred and that's the way I wrote up the directions below. You can play with the citrus zest, too. Orange, lemon, lime, even grapefruit can work. If you prefer cardamom or cake spice to nutmeg, try that. Any stone fruit works well, but some of my little cakes had strawberries, some raspberries and one had blueberries. Peaches, nectarines, cherries, figs would all work well. I did sprinkle some sanding sugar on top of each for a bit of sparkle and crunch, but it's optional.

Do try this at home since the Northern hemisphere is in the middle of summer fruit season so ripe, delicious fruit is easy to find and will be happy-making combined with this cake!


Simple Fresh Fruit Cake

Based on Dorie Greenspan’s Dimply Plum Cake in Baking:From my home to yours

½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

5 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
Grated zest of one lemon
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract or the same amount of pure vanilla paste
¼ cup safflower or other plain neutral tasting vegetable oil
3 small to medium green, red or purple plums, halved and pitted, with the skins left on
¼ cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
¼ cup fresh strawberries, rinsed, green top removed, cut in halves
¼ cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a square 8-inch baking pan. Center a rack in the middle of the oven.

On a sheet of waxed paper or in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is soft and creamy, about 3 minutes at medium mixer speed.

Add the dark brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. On medium speed, add the lemon zest, vanilla or vanilla paste, and the vegetable oil and beat to combine completely. Reduce mixer speed to low and blend in the dry ingredient mixture, beating until just combined. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. and mix again briefly if needed to mix in any flour from the sides or bottom of the bowl.

Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out in the pan. Arrange half of the fruit on top of the batter, pushing the fruit down a bit in the batter. Take note of where each of the fruits are in the pan (if grouped together with one variety in one corner, another in a different corner, etc.) but you can also just mix the fruit and scatter evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter, spread out over the fruit, then top with the remaining fruit, settling the fruit down into the batter and grouping the same fruit on top of that below the batter if doing it that way. If not, just mix the fruit and scatter evenly, then press down. If desired, sprinkle a tablespoon sanding sugar over the whole top evenly (optional).

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and puffed around the plums. A thin knife inserted in the center will come out clean.

Place the cake on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool with the fruit side up. Serves 8.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

You Get Used To It


Another year has passed without our loved and loving son in it. It's been over twenty years. A lot has gone on in those years and it's tempting to wonder what his life would have been like if he had lived, but instead I try to focus on what a wonderful life he had and how much fun it was to be part of that life. You never get over losing a child, but you do get used to it...at least I have. Some years I don't post much about Max in July, waiting until his birthday in August to celebrate his life, but this year I've been depressed (mostly by the ongoing pandemic and the unfortunate choices that are heating it up again) so I'm telling stories to remind myself to grab ahold of life and enjoy it as he did.

My family started doing a once a month Zoom gathering when the pandemic hit and we are still doing so. Many thanks to Natasha for making it happen! We met last Sunday and I asked those who gathered to bring a story about Max if they could. It was really nice to hear the stories. I was especially taken with the one where we were visiting my Mom and mashed potatoes were planned for dinner. Apparently Max and his sister asked if the potatoes would be peeled or not and then explained...simultaneously... that we don't peel ours, "because we're from California". I can just see them doing that. Makes me smile to think of it. I also feel really lucky to have our daughter as a friend, too, and as someone I can count on and who always makes me smile. In the photo above she is reading to her brother. She gave him more of herself than she remembers.

I got an email yesterday from a sister who missed the gathering. She described Max as a treasure, combining seriousness and mischief. She saw him as having a life full of enthusiasm, and that he provided both joy and challenge to his parents as we tried to keep up with his embrace of life. Those are her words and they fit. Remembering when he was young and soooo curious, so that I really had to keep an eagle eye on him all the time, I know of the challenge. The joy was frequent and intense. 

She also said that he crammed a lot of living into the short space of time that he was shared with us. I love that part! He did share so much with us and, to quote Calvin, the days were just packed! I remember that he assured me that the way to get so much life out of life was balance...he felt it was important to have a balance of work and fun. Some of it was both at the same time. Imagine knowing about that balance where you are nine years old. The following year, or maybe the year after that, he assured me that he was careful who he hung out with in middle school. He said that the people who were worried about being popular had to make decisions that he didn't want to have to make. He never specified what decisions, but he was pretty young to have even figured that out.

He left us via an auto accident on the same day the John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife lost their lives in a plane crash. A lot has happened in the world since then. He would have really enjoyed so much of the changes in tech since that was an area he excelled in. I'm glad that he missed things like 9/11, the pandemic, and 1/6/21. I still have hope that one of his friends or one of their kids will figure out how to 'Beam Me Up Scotty' before I die, not that I would do that but it's something I hope happens one day for moving people around. Sweetie says that we'll use that kind of technology to move garbage first since who cares it it comes back together the same way?

Have gotten way off track! Here's to Maximum Max! Let his passing remind us to enjoy life, keep a balance between work and play, to be sure to tell those we love that we do love them...and frequently. None of us knows how much time we have left in this world. Find your joy where you can.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Babes Bake a Hybrid


 The Bread Baking Babes have been baking bread for quite a while now and since we don't want to repeat ourselves, it has become almost a bigger challenge to find an interesting new bread to bake as it is to bake it. Aparna did a wonderful job!

This month our lovely Kitchen of the Month is Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and she has challenged us to bake Cruffins. This is a hybrid bread...a cross between a croissant and a muffin. The bread is a yeast bread, just like a croissant and it has thin layers and butter between them like a croissant, but it's shaped to bake in a muffin tin and so the resulting bread looks like ... a cruffin!

The recipe we were given was for a plain cruffin, only lightly sweetened. That meant that the person eating it could add sugar on top or some jam or just enjoy it's pure flavor which is buttery. I was making mine to share. One of the persons I shared with just loves cinnamon rolls, so I added an extra two tablespoons of sugar to the dough and some cinnamon sugar to mine before I started rolling up the dough. Because I like walnuts with my cinnamon rolls, I also sprinkled some chopped walnuts over the cinnamon sugar. That was a winning combo! You could also try maple sugar instead of cinnamon sugar, you could use granulated sugar worked together with a citrus peel like lemon or orange...so many ways to play with this delightful bread!

The dough for this treat is a rich dough, using both butter and milk, although there are no eggs, so allow enough time for it to rise. Mine rose fairly slowly. Allow time for rolling out the dough, too, because this is another one where the dough needs to be really thin so that you get those lovely layers. The filled rolls rose slowly, too, which helps to explain, a bit, why I burned mine on top. It was late in the evening when I baked them and I neglected to move my oven rack to a lower setting, so they burned on top

which is not that surprising with a sweet dough like this. The rest of the cruffin was just fine, so I sliced off the burnt top and sprinkled on some powdered sugar and all was well.



These are delicious and can also be fun to eat if you like to sort of peel away the layers and eat them one at a time. I have to admit that I enjoyed just biting in and getting the full cinnamon experience.

Do consider being a Buddy. Just bake the recipe and send Aparna an email by July 29th with your URL and a short description of your bake, plus a photo. She will send you a Buddy Badge.

Also, be sure to visit the blogs of fellow Bread Baking Babes to see what they have done with this recipe!



This recipe makes 8 Cruffins

INGREDIENTS : 

For the Dough :

1/4 cup sugar (more for sweeter cruffin) (I used 2 tablespoons proofing the yeast plus 1/4 cup with the flour)
1 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
50 gm unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

For Lamination :
120 to 150 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 oz. cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

To Decorate/ Serve :
Icing sugar/Cinnamon sugar/ Melted chocolate, etc

DIRECTIONS :

If proofing yeast, mix together 1 tsp of the sugar, yeast and lukewarm water. Keep aside for 5 to 10 minutes till frothy.  Otherwise just add the dry yeast directly to the flour with other ingredients and then add the water while kneading.

 In a large bowl or the bowl of kneading machine, mix together the proofed yeast, sugar, salt and chilled butter cut into small pieces. Add milk and knead into a soft and elastic dough that comes away from the side of the bowl. The dough should not be sticky. Add a little more milk or flour, as required to achieve this consistency of dough.

 Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to an oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it well. Cover and let the dough rise till double in volume. This should take between an hour to two depending on ambient temperature.

 In the meanwhile prepare your baking pan and keep aside. Butter and very lightly flour the cavities of your muffin or popover tray.

 Dust your working surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out. Lightly knead to deflate the dough. Divide into four equal pieces. Roll out each piece to a 60x20cm sized piece. The dough sheet will be very thin. If you have a pasta machine you can use that as it is easier to roll out thin sheets with it. I cut the dough into two pieces (60cm x 40cm each) and cut into 4 pieces after buttering each.

 Spread about 30 to 38 gm butter (depending on whether you’re using 120 gm or 150 gm of butter) of soft butter over each rolled out piece of dough. Cut each piece into half, lengthwise, creating two thin strips.

Roll one thin strip into a tight roll. Place this at the edge of the second strip and continue rolling till you have one thick roll. This will give your cruffins more layers.

 Cut roll in half lengthwise. Roll each half, like a circle (cinnamon roll style)with the cut layers side showing the outside. Make sure to tuck both ends under so it doesn’t open up on baking. Place the roll in the prepared muffin or popover pan.

 Repeat with all the dough pieces. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. The rolls should look puffy and have risen to almost the edge of the cavities.

Bake the cruffins at 190C (375F) for about 30 minutes or till golden brown and done. Turn them out onto a rack and let the cool. Dust with icing sugar or brush tops the with melted butter and dredge in cinnamon sugar. Serve warm with coffee or tea.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blueberry Season Pancakes



July is not only lily season, it's also blueberry season here in Northern California. 

When we lived in Berkeley we used to come up in July and buy a flat of freshly picked blueberries out at the blueberry farm near Forestville. Now we buy our blueberries from the farm stand on Hwy 12 coming into Sebastopol. They aren't huge ones, like the organic ones you can buy near where High School Rd comes into Occidental Rd., but the small ones are more useful for baking, in my opinion, and they have plenty of flavor, too.

Today we had some neighbors over for breakfast and I made German Pancakes, also known as Dutch Babies, with blueberries added because I like my blueberries cooked better than raw. I also served a fruit mixture of mixed berries with the baked pancake. I used a recipe from the blog Tastes Better From Scratch and it's a winner! Called German Pancakes, it uses very basic pantry items and six egg and 1 cup milk. I like that it's baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan instead of a round shape. Makes it easy to serve since you just run a knife down the center (long side) and twice across the short side to make six rectangles.

This makes a eggy, delicious, delicate pancake with a dramatic puff in the oven, which sinks down after it comes out of the oven (which makes it easier to serve!), but it isn't very sweet and has no leaveners, so you can make the batter up ahead of time, ready to pour over the hot, melted butter in the pan. The oven really, really needs to be fully preheated when you do put the pan back in. Otherwise, you won't get that puff.

Traditional accompaniments are maple syrup, lemon juice and powder sugar, fruit either fresh or jam.



German Pancakes with Blueberries

Serves 5-6

5 tablespoons butter (or non-dairy margarine or 'butter')
6 large eggs
1 cup milk (or nut milk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a few drops lemon oil (optional)
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and drained and picked over for stems or over-ripe berries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

As oven preheats, put the butter in an ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan and place in the oven, just until the butter is melted. (Mine started to brown slightly at the edges)

Place the eggs, milk, flour, salt and vanilla, (and lemon oil, if using) in a blender and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides, if needed, and process again for a few seconds.

Pour the batter into the hot baking pan, over the melted butter. Sprinkle with the blueberries and with the sugar (if using).

Bake, for 20-27 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Pancake will puff up, but will sink down again as it cools once removed from the oven.

Serve at once. Can sprinkle with powdered sugar, with lemon juice, or serve with maple syrup and/or more berries.

Note: you can make this without berries, too, and it will still puff up gloriously and taste wonderful.

Friday, July 09, 2021

In Monterey


My Sweetie, looking' good and eating healthy! At the Wave Street Cafe. Great breakfasts & service.

 

Monday, July 05, 2021

Rosemary Pesto Perks Up Steak


 At dinner time recently we were keeping it simple with steak, lamb chops and green salad, so I made a condiment that perked up the meat...fresh rosemary pesto. 

I'd seen the recipe on my phone but decided to use it as a condiment on the grilled meat instead of as a marinade paste on the meat before it was cooked. That made it a bit stronger since the garlic wasn't cooked but it was quite delicious! It's these little touches that keep mealtime exciting. The leftover bit was refrigerated for a few days and was even better than the fresh pesto!

This is a basic pesto with the usual basil being replaced with fresh rosemary. To remove the leaves from fresh rosemary stems, start at the bottom and run your fingers up the stem, dislodging the leaves as you go. Since these will be chopped in the blender or food processor, just measure the dislodged leaves and put into the appliance. Stems can be used to flavor grilled meats and poultry...just place on the charcoal if fresh, or soak in water and then put on the charcoal. If using another type of grill, place in a foil pan, then place below the grill grids.

Rosemary Garlic Pesto
Adapted from CooksAid.com

2 servings

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons olive oil1/2 - 1 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine garlic, rosemary, parsley and pine nuts in a blender or food processor until finely chopped. Drizzle in the oil and continue blending until it forms a thick paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in salt...start with smaller amount and increase if needed, to taste. Stir in pepper. Use at once as a condiment, or put into a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to four days to deepen the flavor.

Note: This mixture can be used to coat a steak. Cover tightly after coating and refrigerate overnight, then grill.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Berries For Dad - Various Ways


This time of year is berry season in my mind. Our local strawberry farmer puts in different varieties, so we still have lots of ripe local strawberries. The ollalieberries that are like blackberries on steroids, full of juice and lively flavor, are covering the bushes down by the road, and blueberries from Watsonville are here, too, in the market. Is it any wonder that Sweetie wanted berry pie for Father's Day? I was happy to comply. What was a little unusual is that he wanted it for breakfast, not as a dinner dessert, so that's what we did. We shared it with friends, too, so I made two...one with olla berries and peaches and nectarines and a second just loaded with strawberries, ollalieberries and blueberries. What a treat!

If you are making this pie (or these pies) with Pillsbury ReadyCrust or any other pre-formed pie dough, be sure to let it come to room temperature before unrolling the dough. That will help keep it from sticking and will also mean that it will be pliable for rolling out, since you want to roll the dough into a circle about 12-inches in diameter for this kind of pie. That allows for plenty of room to spread out the filling with some still left to fold over much of the fruit.  A pie that is too tall and narrow will take longer to bake and some of the fruit might still be uncooked when the crust has browned.



While we still had plenty of blueberries after making the pies, I also made Sweetie a breakfast of Blubes, otherwise known as blueberry pancakes. I know that using a baking mix like Bisquick is faster, but this from scratch recipe is really, really better, so take the few extra minutes and a bit of extra washing up and make your favorite a special, seasonal summer breakfast, too.




Mixed Berry or Nectarine-Blueberry Galette

1-crust pie dough, rolled out into a 12-inch circle (I use Pillsbury ReadyCrust, rolled out thinner)
1/4 cup sugar (or less if fruit is ripe and sweet)
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
4-5 cups fresh fruit - wash, hull, peel, pit, slice as needed
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Sanding sugar (Optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the rolled out dough circle on a piece of parchment which is on a 12-inc pizza pan or large cookie sheet.
In a small bowl mix together the sugar and lemon zest, rubbing together with clean fingers until sugar is looks like damp sand. Mix in the cornstarch and bread crumbs.

In the center of the dough, place the bread crumb mixture and spread out evenly, leaving the outer 3 inches or so bare.


Place the fruit in the center of the dough and spread out over the crumb mixture. Fold up the outer 3 inches or so over the fruit, pleating as needed.
Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the pleated dough.  If desired, sprinkle with about a tablespoon sanding sugar while egg is still wet.
Turn down the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until fruit is bubbly and crust is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.
Serves 8


Blueberry  Pancakes
based on a recipe for plain pancakes in The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

1 egg
2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon since the butter was salted)
1 cup (about) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

Whisk the egg with the water. Set aside. Melt the butter over low heat in a small pot. When melted, add the milk, stir to combine and let cool. When cool, whisk in the egg mixture.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chopped pecans and bacon. Add the butter/milk/egg mixture and stir until just combined. If too thick, add a little more water.

On a preheated, greased skillet or griddle, over medium-high heat, place enough batter for a 4 -5 inch pancake. Top with some of the blueberries, pushing the berries down into the batter a bit. Repeat to fill the skillet or griddle. When small bubbles form around the sides of each pancake, turn the pancake and let the berry side cook until dark brown. Remove pancakes to a plate as they finish cooking. Continue cooking until all of the batter has been used up.

Serve while hot with real maple syrup. We didn't need extra butter with these, but you could if you prefer your pancakes that way.
Serves 3 - 4.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Babes Bake Hungarian


The Bread Baking Babes group has been baking for so many years now that it is something of a challenge just to find breads we haven't baked yet. This month I'm Kitchen of the Month for the Babes, but I've had the recipe ready for months. It's similar to last month's challenge, Povitica, in that it requires a thin, rich dough. It also has a filling using nuts, but this filling is very different. The shaping method is also different, so I do hope that if you like to bake bread that you'll try this one. I'm sorry that this wasn't posted this morning, but we were having work done on the house and my computer was covered with dust cloths until just a little while ago.

I found the recipe for this month's bread during the pandemic, when I was throwing out old magazines. It's from Sunset Magazine from 2001. I used to have a subscription but it's been a while since I had a subscription to any magazine. When I first came to California from the east coast, Sunset was a great resource for living the west coast lifestyle. This recipe isn't Californian, or even west coast, because it's a recipe for a nut roll from Hungary. 


One of the reasons I chose it is because, once baked, it keeps for a week, meaning there is a treat waiting at tea time for that long without heating up the oven again, especially since it is a 2-pound loaf. Another reason is that I was fascinated by the idea of a filling made with cooked milk and almonds. 

The dough is basically a brioche dough, so don't expect a big rise out of it. It is rich tasting and goes really well with the almond and dried fruit filling. I used dried cherries which I soaked for an hour in Kirsch. I'm not sure that you can tell that they were soaked in a liqueur, but they are nice and soft.

I did have some trouble with rolling the dough using a cloth. I used a linen couche and thought that I had it well floured, but it stuck quite a bit as I rolled it. Still, once baked you couldn't really tell. Will probably try this again with an actual tablecloth.

The filling is really fun. You start with a slurry of milk, almonds and dried fruit but with enough heat, it turns into an almost creamy filling with great flavor and fragrance. I did add a few drops of almond extract along with the vanilla because almond flavor really goes well with cherries.

Do try this yourself. If you'd like to be a Buddy, bake it and then email me by June 29th to be included in the round-up. I'd love a photo and a short description of your experience with this bake. Plachman -at-sonic-dot-net.

Also, be sure to visit the other Babes blogs to see what they have done with this tea time treat!



Gigi's Hungarian Almond Roll

 Makes one 2-pound loaf

From Sunset Magazine, Dec 2001

1 package active dry yeast
6 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks (divided)
About 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Almond Filling (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon milk or water

 Have all ingredients at room temperature except warm water, which should be about 108-110 degrees F.

 In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over the 6 tablespoons warm (about 110 degrees F) water; let stand until soft, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, 1 egg yolk, 6 tablespoons butter pieces, and 1 1/2 cups flour; stir until evenly moistened.

 To knead with a dough hook, beat at medium speed until dough pulls cleanly from bowl, about 5 minutes. To knead by hand, scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding flour (as little as possible) if necessary to prevent sticking; return to bowl.

 Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it's puffy enough to hold an impression when pressed with a finger (dough won't double in volume), about 1 hour.

 With dough hook or your hands, punch air out of dough; lift dough from bowl and shape into a smooth ball. Set on the center of a floured pastry cloth or clean, smooth-textured dish towel. Pat dough flat; with a rolling pin, roll into a 14-inch to 15-inch square.


 

Spread or evenly dot Almond Filling over dough to within 1-inch of edges. Lift cloth from one side to roll dough into a compact loaf. Gently lift loaf and lay, seam side down, on a buttered 12-inch x 17-inch baking sheet. Pinch ends to seal, then fold under.

 





Cover loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until dough is slightly puffy, about 45 minutes.

 


In a small bowl, mix remaining egg yolk with milk. Brush loaf with yolk mixture; discard any remaining.

 


Bake loaf on the center rack in a 325 degree F regular or convection oven until rich golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool at least 1 hour. Serve at room temperature. Cut cross-wise into 1/4-inch thick slices.

 


Almond Filling: In a food processor, whirl 1 cup un-blanched almonds to fine meal. Ina a 10-12-inch nonstick frying pan, combine almonds, 3/4 cup raisins, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest. Stir over high heat until mixture is thick enough to hold a clean trail for a few seconds when you draw a spoon across pan bottom. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Let cool at least 30 minutes.