Strawberry Pound Cake

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel like I should give this post a theme. Let’s call it “When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.”

This cake didn’t turn out the way that I wanted it to. But it’s okay. So, I’m sharing it anyway.

A Poke Cake is a dessert where a baked, still warm cake gets holes poked through it while it’s still in the pan, then a warm liquid (usually a custard or curd) gets poured into the holes. Once it’s given time to set up, the liquid in the poked holes forms a pretty streaky filling in the cake.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.

But, as y’all can see: there is no streaky filling in my cake.

Those of you who are bakers know how this story goes. You try out a new recipe and hope for the best…and sometimes the best just doesn’t happen. It’s not the worst–but it’s not best either.

Had everything with this cake gone exactly according to my plan, then you guys would currently be able to see pretty strawberry streaks running up and down, all the way through it. Y’know, the way a Poke Cake is supposed to look. But unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. The cake itself baked up beautifully. The strawberry filling came together easily. But when it came time to poke the cake full of holes and pour the filling over the top so that it could seep inside, for some reason it just didn’t budge.

Bummer.

Some of you may be wondering, if the Strawberry Poke Cake didn’t work out, then why are you still posting the recipe, Jess?

Well first, it was still an absolutely delicious pound cake.  Second, although it may not qualify as a Poke Cake,  there was still a delicious strawberry filling on one side, and an equally delicious strawberry icing on the other. In light of that, I saw no reason why it couldn’t qualify as a Strawberry Pound Cake.

Third, I thought that maybe I’d go ahead and post the recipe anyway to see if one of you wanted to try it and might have better success than I did. Then maybe, you’ll come back here and post a comment to let me know how it turned out, and I can try to gauge where the heck I went wrong 😉

Regardless, this one of those”When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.” recipes, and I hope that it’s enjoyed.

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Strawberry Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or tube cake pan (at least 10 cup capacity).

Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt together in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and 3 cups of the sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed (or use a handheld mixer and a large bowl).

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed just until combined. Add the extracts.

Add to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined after each addition.

Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Pound cake is done at an inner temp of 195 degrees Fahrenheit)

Meanwhile, during last 20 minutes of the cake’s baking, pulse strawberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 45 seconds. Use a spatula to press the mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set aside 1/2 cup strawberry mixture.

Whisk together water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Combine cornstarch mixture and remaining strawberry mixture in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, just until mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer, poke holes about 1/2 inch apart into bottom of cake, wiggling skewer slightly to make holes about 1/8 inch wide. (Do not poke skewer all the way through top of cake.) Pour warm strawberry syrup over cake. Let stand until syrup is absorbed and pan is still warm but cool enough to handle, about 45 minutes.

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of a wire rack and lightly spray with cooking spray. Invert cake onto rack, and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Whisk together powdered sugar and reserved 1/2 cup strawberry mixture in a medium bowl until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle evenly over cooled cake. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to allow the icing to harden.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #277, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Chimichurri Meatballs

As the Spring winds down and we get geared up for summer, I start getting craving for certain flavors that I associate with summer. The flavor of fresh herbs reminds me of summer.

A few months back, I made chimichurri for the first time. I absolutely loved it.

It’s bright. It’s fresh. It’s sharp. It’s one of those condiments that I just want to put on everything.

So y’all know me: I’m definitely going to try.

My first chimichurri had a basil base. This one has a parsley and cilantro one. I know some people have a real hate-hate relationship with cilantro, so I actually think that you can use whichever combination of those herbs that you want and it’ll still turn out fine. But I do have to insist on the herbs being fresh, especially since they’re going in both the chimichurri and the meat itself.

One of the things I like most about this is how easy it is to put together. I even feel fairly confident about putting it in the “You Can’t Mess This Up. No, Seriously” categories on the blog. If that and the yummy pictures doesn’t give you enough incentive to try this out, I don’t know what will.

The base for the chimichurri actually doubles as as a seasoning for the meatballs themselves, which  means that you’re going to get double the chimichurri flavor in one bite. The herbs get blitzed together with some garlic in a blender, then half gets set aside, while half goes into the ground meat. (I’ve made this with both beef and turkey and it’s turned out great either way, so don’t worry about swapping out one for the other if you’re not a red meat person).

I prefer to bake my meatballs in the oven for a more even cook. To minimize the mess, I usually line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, then place a baking rack on top of that, sprayed with PAM. It makes for a pretty easy clean up. However, these can be cooked in a skillet. They probably won’t be as round by the end, but that definitely won’t affect the taste.

I actually made a double batch of the chimichurri sauce to have on the side with these. It’s just that good. The bright, fresh and zesty flavors lend themselves so well to the seasoning of the meat, and when it’s added as a condiment I wanted to have a bit of it with every bite. It tasted like summer and I couldn’t wait to share it here. Enjoy.

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Chimichurri Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder
  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Puree the parsley and cilantro with the garlic cloves in a blender.

In a large bowl, combine half of the garlic-herb mix with the ground beef. Season generously with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Add the beaten egg. Add the breadcrumbs. (Try to stir with your hands as quickly as possible, the more you stir, the tougher the meatballs can be)

Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased rack on an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.

Pulse the remaining herb mix in a blender with the olive or vegetable oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve with the meatballs.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #276, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Sometimes I feel like I could be doing this whole ‘food blogger’ thing so much better than I am.

Looking back at where I’ve started, it goes without saying that I’ve stepped my game up on the photography end. Those first few posts were downright cringeworthy (And no, do not go back to look at them. I beg of you.)

But when it comes to the social media engagement part of this food blog gig…meh. I’m slacking off on that end, and I know it.

I only post new recipes once a week. That’s pretty sparse in comparison to the normal grind of food blogging. And even if it were the norm to post new recipes once a week, I still don’t do anything throughout the week in the meantime between time. I don’t do flashback posts on the FB page. I don’t ask questions, or post tips for cooking or baking. I don’t do that whole What I Ate/Am Eating for Lunch and/or Dinner thing (which I think is weird anyway, no offense to those of you who do participate)

I very much stay in my lane. I make my tiny little blog post on Fridays, I link it up to Fiesta Friday, then to a few other social media outlets (Pinterest, FB, Twitter & Instagram), and then I go about my business.

I wish I could promise y’all that I’m gonna “do better” and start posting more recipes, much more often. But that would feel slightly disingenuous. I’ve been doing the one-post-a-week routine for several years now and it’s one that works for me. Most of the time, it keeps me from feeling pressured or stressed about constantly putting out new content. The minute food blogging starts feeling stressful is the minute I’ll stop doing it. My posting schedule works for me; if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

There is one thing that I admit would be worth the effort for me to do more of on here. I want to be better about showing the actual process of the recipes, step by step. If you’re not experienced (especially with baking) sometimes written instructions fall a little short, even if they’re as detailed as I try to make mine. It’s not practical for me to keep my pricey shooting camera around while I have stuff out and messy in the kitchen ( as I definitely can’t afford to fix it should the worst happen). But I have recently been trying to make better use of my phone for those purposes.

If you guys check out my Instagram profile page, you’ll see where I’ve saved past Stories I’ve made into permanent Highlights. These Highlights are pretty much step by step instructions of particular recipes, DIY ingredients and special techniques that I use while baking. So far I’ve covered things like DIY Candied Ginger & Ginger Syrup, Perfect Pancakes and Roasted Garlic. Today’s recipe happens to be the subject of my latest Highlight. So if you’re interested in seeing the ‘play by play’, you should go ahead and check out the Highlight, then come right back here to read the recipe itself.

So far as the actual process goes, I’ll let the Highlight do most of the work, but I will say here that the heavy cream is what makes ALL the difference with these scones. The more that I make scones and biscuits, the more I’m starting to appreciate the differences between them, as sometimes I think the lines get blurred.  A good rule of thumb would be to use heavy cream for scones, and buttermilk for biscuits. The heavy cream produces a ‘cakier’ crumb, while the buttermilk will contribute more to a flaky, layered one.

 

These scones are my new favorite. Try them and you’ll understand why.

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Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from TeaTime Magazine

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • The zest of 1 large orange
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (plus more if needed) cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

 

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, orange zest and cranberries together in a bowl and stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center.  Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Sprinkle the tops with white sugar. Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake until scones are golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

It’s been a while since I last have, so in today’s post I’m back to sing all of Browned Butter’s praises. It’s worthy of plenty.

Butter itself consists of fat, water and milk proteins. When you cook it long enough in the bottom of a heavy pan, all of the water gets cooked out of the butter and the remaining solids (the milk proteins) become browned. When they brown, it takes on a warm golden color and a warm, golden brown, almost nutty flavor.

That flavor is all of the things. It does the most godly (or ungodly, however you want to think of it) things to the tastebuds, and never fails to enhance pretty much anything you want to add it to, whether sweet or savory. From my very first go at Browned Butter I was hooked and as a result, have trying to build up the Browned Butter Collection on here.

So far, I’ve made it to Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, a Browned Butter Spice Cake, and Browned Butter Banana Bread. All were a huge success, and I highly recommend you check them out before coming back here to check out today’s recipe, which I think makes a quick, easy, and perfect addition to the club.

The process of making browned butter goes pretty quick. I’ve made this recipe twice already and what I typically will do is make myself a batch of it right before bed, pop it in the fridge overnight, then take it back out the next day when I’m ready to bake. Let it come to the room temperature that regular butter should be at for creaming, and from there things couldn’t be easier. The main tip to remember with spritz cookies is to get your baking sheets as freezing cold as possible–it will make the dough come out of the cookie press so much easier and neater.

Although I used a cookie press to make these, a cookie press certainly isn’t a necessity. So, I’ve also included alternate instructions in the recipe just in case you’d like to make them into simple circle cookies. I promise it will not affect the taste. They’re light, crisp, and full of that sweet nutty buttery flavor. It was hard for me to stop at just one and share with anyone else; I think it’ll be pretty difficult for you too.

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Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to a plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly. Let the browned butter come to room temperature, until it is softened.

Place the browned butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with the paddle until light and creamy. Add the flour in 1 cup increments, just until combined.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Place chilled dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Alternately, for those without a cookie press: Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with tines of fork. 8-11 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely)

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Linking to Fiesta Friday #274, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.