Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

One of the biggest (and ongoing) lessons of my adult life has been to find ways to celebrate myself. They don’t have to be ((and mine typically are not) huge, grand, pricey gestures. But they are necessary. And, mind tend to taste really good.

This past week, I turned 33. Per a tradition I’ve been keeping for about nine years, every year for my birthday, I bake a new cake to celebrate…well, myself. 32 was an amazing year for me. There was a lot of new changes, a lot hard work, and a lot of great accomplishments–among them, getting a year older.

Great accomplishments always call for great cake. I’ve made quite a few great pound cakes in past years for past birthdays, but the pound cake will jus† always be my favorite, so here we go again for Year 33.

This year’s pound cake is pretty simple in terms of ingredients, but I did a few things differently that set it apart from some of the other ones I’ve made.

First, I used brown sugar instead of white to give it a deeper, more caramel-y sweetness. Combined with the five eggs, using brown sugar also gives the cake a denser texture, which I’m a huge fan of. So far as mix-ins, I added Heath Toffee Bits, which I’ve also never used in a cake before but thought they would pair well with the brown sugar and denseness of the cake. The other new addition was the browned butter frosting, which I’ve done in glazes before, but not frosting itself.

While I do think the cake is delicious enough to eat on its own, I do think the browned butter frosting added a really pleasant, nutty flavor to it that cut through some of the sweetness. Also, toffee bits are now a new favorite add in for me, so you’ll probably be seeing those used a bit more in baked goods to come on here.

I really liked my 33rd birthday, and I really liked this cake.

*********************************************

Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Bake From Scratch

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla emulsion
  • 1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits

For Browned Butter Frosting

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla Emulsion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Combine the milk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk-extract mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined after each addition.

Stir in toffee bits and pecans.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Tap the pan a few times on the countertop to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

For Browned Butter Frosting

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer

Carefully pour butter into a bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to butter, and stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add more milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Place in the refrigerator to allow frosting to set, about 30 minutes.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #452.

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

So, oatmeal cookies. They’re a pretty polarizing food. In my experience, people either love them or they absolutely hate them. I’m somewhat in the middle. I admit that when oatmeal cookies are bad, they are truly wretched.

But oh, when they are good…

I think that the biggest potential downfall of an oatmeal cookies comes down to the texture. If the balance between the oats and the cookie’s moisture isn’t found, then the whole thing ends up giving someone the feeling that they’re chewing dried cud, very quickly, and within seconds they’re reaching for a glass of milk or water to wash the whole thing down.

Flavor is also key. A lot of typical and ‘gourmet’ oatmeal cookies are made with purple raisins. I think this is a huge mistake. The flavor of purple raisins is very pungent, and in this circumstance, not in a good way. In my opinion, it doesn’t complement the flavor of rolled oats very well. Other dried fruits work much better; dried cherries, cranberries, or even golden raisins are all better than purple.

Most recently, I’ve found that another huge boost to oatmeal cookies (both in terms of preserving moisture and enhancing flavor) is adding peanut butter. This isn’t entirely surprising; there are very few things that peanut butter cannot enhance or make better. But I’ll be honest and admit that until I tried today’s recipe I had never thought of putting peanut butter in oatmeal cookies.

But I’ll tell you: whoever did think of it first was really onto something.

So are these peanut butter cookies, or oatmeal cookies? I truly think they’re both. The oats provide the dominant texture, but the chunky peanut butter also adds texture from the nuts AND added moisture from its fats. It’s a really really good combination that would be a good enough cookie on all its own, even if it weren’t for the other add-ins.

The title of this recipe really does say it all. On top of the oats and chunky peanut butter, it also contains semisweet chocolate chips, toffee bits, and mini-peanut butter cups that I diced up into halves to make for better dispersement. The result is a bite that has so many different things going on, but has a really hearty, and yet also (somehow) richness to it that is really delicious.

Like with the vast majority of cookie recipes on this blog, I strongly recommend letting the dough rest in the fridge for a while to let it get nice and chilled before baking. That way, you’ll get rounded cookies with decent lift rather than flat pancakes. The taste won’t be that different, but one is prettier to look at than the other. Your choice.

***********************************

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (Don’t use natural pb here, it won’t come out the same)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark, it doesn’t matter)
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Spread the oats on a large baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool. Line 2 separate baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted rolled oats, chocolate chips, toffee bits and mini peanut butter cups. Stir with a fork and set aside.

Combine the peanut butter and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the dry ingredients, just until combined.

Scoop out 12 equal mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup each), arranging the dough balls in a resealable plastic container you’ve lined with parchment paper or foil.

Refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.

Arrange cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Lightly flatten with your fingers.

Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the edges of the cookies are set but still soft, 20 to 24 minutes. If any cookies are misshapen, use a spatula to press the edges back into a round shape. Let the cookies cool 10 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a rack to cool completely (the cookies will hold together best when fully cooled).

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.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #451.

Southwest Strata

I got into making stratas a few years ago, when I found myself in need of a relatively easy and quick dish to make for brinner, and happened to have a lot of bread sitting around that I didn’t want to go to waste.

A strata is basically a casserole thingy where stale bread and veggies are baked and set in an eggy-milk mixture. The possibilities of how you choose to compose it are pretty endless so far as the mix-ins are concerned. I’ve made two before that I’ve shared on here, with really great results. (Here, and here.) Today, I’m sharing a third.

While the meat- base itself is like others in having sausage, this time, I decided to make a strata with a southwestern flavor profile; put another way, the mix-ins and spices matched with things I typically like to put in my tacos and burritos. I used sauteed red peppers, onions, green chiles, spinach and corn as my veggies. I also seasoned the egg base with a good deal of cumin and smoked paprika.

One thing I will say when it comes to the egg-milk base: it’s always better to have too much than too little. If there’s not enough egg-milk custard poured over the strata and allowed to set, then it’s not going to bind and hold together while it bakes.

Another thing to be mindful of is the size of the baking dish you use. You want to make sure it’s high enough to be able to accommodate/fit both the ingredients and the egg custard, so I would strongly recommend using one that’s between 2.5-3 inches high, and also placing the bakign dish itself on top of a sheet pan while it bakes–just in case there’s seepage.

Keep in mind that because stratas are so customizable/adaptable, you can be very preferential with how you choose to fill this thing. For instance, I didn’t use mushrooms, beans or salsa , but those are all mix-in options that would work very well in this. You can also feel free to use whichever cheese you prefer on top.

If you’re in need of a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast/brunch dish that feeds a crowd (especially on/for holidays, for instance) look no further. This strata is the way to go. For such a small and relatively simply list of ingredients, it makes a TON of food that’s very filling and quite delicious if I say so myself.

**************************************

Southwest Strata

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cups lightly packed garlic or herb flavored bread, slightly stale and cubed (I used leftover rolls from this recipe, but really any sturdy herb-y bread will work)
  • 3 lbs. ground pork sausage (or turkey sausage, if you prefer)
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped into cubes or strips, your preference
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions, chopped into cubes or strips, your preference
  • 20 oz frozen spinach, cooked according to package and squeezed completely dry
  • 8 oz. canned diced green chiles
  • 15 oz. canned yellow corn
  • 16 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • Onion powder, garlic powder, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumim
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican Blend cheese

Directions

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish (I recommend one that’s roughly 3 inches high) with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil to medium heat.

Brown the sausage, then drain off excess grease. Set the sausage aside in a large-medium size bowl.

Add some more oil the skillet, and saute first the bell peppers, then the onions until they are softened and translucent. Combine the peppers and onions with the canned corn and green chiles in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings until well combined and yolks are broken.

Layer a third of the cubed bread in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of the sausage. Add a layer of the vegetables. Add a layer of the spinach. Repeat until you’ve layered all the bread, vegetables and sausage in the dish.

Pour the egg-milk mixture over the strata, using a rubber spatula to ensure that it gets into the corners and absorbs all of the ingredients. This may take some patience to allow the liquid to seep into the bread. (It’s also okay if you don’t use all of it in this step. Save the excess for later.)

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours. (If chilling for later, be sure to let the strata sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have excess milk-egg mixture leftover, pour the remainder over the strata, using a rubber spatula to help absorb it into the ingredients. Place the baking dish on top of a foil lined sheet pan and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake the strata until puffed, golden brown around the edges, and set in the center, about 60-70 minutes. (Insert a knife in the center; if it comes out clean and without eggy residue, it’s ready.)

Remove the strata from the oven, remove the foil, and preheat broiler.

Sprinkle the top with the 1 cup or as much cheese as desired. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #448.

Overnight Olive Oil Sourdough Bread

At the start of this year, I checked off one of the things that been on my Baking Bucket List for years by deciding to practice/teach myself how to bake sourdough bread. It took some determination and more than a little trial/error, but I can report that it’s been going rather well.

I’ve found that the most important thing when baking sourdough is maintaining your sourdough starter. It’s often called a pet, and for good reason. You have to give it regular, measured ‘feedings’ and store it in specific way so as to keep it from going bad. The longer you can keep this up, the better quality of your starter, and thus, the better ‘sour’ flavor of your bread.

As the sourdough chronicles continue in my kitchen, my starter pet/baby Donatello (named after the turtle, not the sculptor) is now just about to turn nine months old. He’s full of pep, vigor, yeast and bacteria (the good kind). I’m a pretty proud and satisfied mama.

Ever since the first sourdough bread recipe I shared on the blog, I have been experimenting with others, to see what I like or don’t like and what works best for me and Donatello. The latest one has worked out so well that it’s become a regular staple in our house, to the point where I make it just about every other week.

There are two things about this bread that I think set it apart from some of the other sourdough recipes I’ve tried out over the past few months. First, the actual labor is spread out over two days so that it’s really easy and relatively quick to put together. Because the sponge (the flour, water and starter mixture that’s made on Day 1) is left to set overnight, I also think it improves the fermentation of the dough and overall flavor. Second, the addition of olive oil to the dough gives it AMAZING texture, and flavor. I went ahead and added a blend of my favorite dried herbs to the dough as well, which paired well with the oil.

There’s a reason why this is our new favorite bread. If you’re a sourdough lover/baker, I highly recommend giving this one a try.

***********************************************

Overnight Olive Oil Sourdough Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, ripe (fed)
  • 1 2/3 cups (379g) warm water, plus 1/4 a cup, divided
  • 5 1/2 cups (660g) All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite dried herbs (I usually do a mix of rosemary, thyme and basil)
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling

Directions

On Day 1:

In a medium size bowl, combine the sourdough starter, the 1 2/3 cups of warm water and 3 cups (362 grams) of the all purpose flour. Use a fork or whisk to stir together briskly, until well combine.

Loosely cover the top with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours (I usually let mine sit in the microwave).

After 2 hours have passed, place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow to rest overnight and/or up to 16 hours.

On Day 2:

Pour the 1/4 cup of warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for ten minutes until proofed and frothy.

Take the bowl out of the fridge and add the remaining flour, the salt, the olive oil, the proofed yeast and the dried herbs. Use the dough hooks on a handheld mixer (or a fork) to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or oiled work surface, and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until it’s smooth and springs back when you poke it. If the dough feels too stiff, add a few more teaspoons of olive oil to soften it.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for 2 hours at moderate room temperature (below 80°F or so). The dough should become puffy.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (somewhat like a tomato shape) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE ON THE LID IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and sprinkle it with cornmeal. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Allow to bake, undisturbed for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #447.

Lemon Raspberry Cookie Cake

The heat where I live has been pretty intense these past few weeks. It keeps my tastebuds in a summer mood, and with that summer mood comes a craving for citrus, fresh fruit, and/or both.

So far as I’m concerned, lemon is good at any time of year, but there’s just something about the summer and heat that makes it taste even better. Same thing with raspberries. Whenever and however you put them together, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a perfect summer-y bite.

I’ve said it on here before, but one of the most important things in a good dessert for me is texture. I’m typically not a fan of ones that are completely ‘smooth’ or creamy, even when it comes to ice cream. I want to be able to have some use for my teeth.

I’ve made a lot of cakes, but they’re not typically my favorite dessert, mainly because most of the time, cake is a ‘one-note’ dessert in terms of texture. When it’s made right, it’s supposed to be light and soft and smooth. There are only a couple of exceptions to that rule; the cookie cake is one of them.

I first started making cookie cakes several years ago and fell in love with them mainly because they’re everything I like in a dessert, especially when it comes to the texture. While on the one hand, it’s a ‘cake’ it’s also a very loose cookie dough so the finished texture comes out ultra dense, rich and chewy– just the way I happen to like it.

The base of this recipe is an ultra lemon cookie dough batter. And when I say ultra, I do mean ultra; lemon juice, lemon extract and the zest of two full lemons are in this thing. I promise, you will taste the lemon. Added to that are fresh raspberries that I layered throughout the cake. As they baked, they burst and bled out, rather beautifully I think.

I ate this with a huge scoop of whipped cream on top, and it made for several bites of pure summery bliss. Enjoy.

********************************************

Lemon Raspberry Cookie Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Lady Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 oz fresh raspberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9-10 inch deep dish pie dish and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest and stir together with a fork. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat butter and sugar with a mixer at high speed until creamy. Add eggs, beating until well combined. Stir in lemon juice and extracts.

Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture in 2 batches, stirring just until combined.

Use a spatula, to spread exactly half of the batter into the bottom of the pie dish. Sprinkle exactly half of the berries on top, lightly pressing them into the batter so that they are partially submerged. Spread the other half of the batter on top, and sprinkle/press the rest of the berries on top.

Bake until light golden brown and almost set in the center, approximately 50 to 65 minutes. (The middle should be puffed up and slightly firm to the touch.) Cover loosely with foil you’ve sprayed with cooking spray to prevent excess browning if need be.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #445.

Peach Frangipane Breakfast Bundt

Hey guys. After an unexpectedly extended hiatus, I’m finally back.

Long story short, July was extremely busy for me. It was a month of a lot of travel, a lot of work, a lot of studying and very little time, and as such, I found myself having to prioritize where I directed my attention. Unfortunately, blogging kept getting pushed further down the list.

I’m pushing it back up to the top for today, though. Not just because food blogging is a stress-reliever for me, and I could always use some of that, but also because I was really pleased with how today’s recipe turned out when I originally made it and I feel pretty strongly that any of you who decide to try it out will be too.

Peaches are the summer fruit, so far as I’m concerned. And while the go-to desserts are cobblers or pies, I like to try to find as many other ways to bake with them as I can besides just dessert, if for no other reason than to give myself excuses to eat them at all hours.

Frangipane is a smooth rich almond cream that gets made from a mixture of eggs, butter, sugar and almond flour/meal. I’d never made it before now, but I’d always heard that it pairs wonderfully with peaches, so I figure now was as good as ever a time to test that theory out for myself.

What I did for this was put together a standard sweet bread dough, and then an almond frangipane cream that I smeared onto the rolled out dough. Fresh peaches were sprinkled on top, and then the whole thing was rolled into a thick log. I cut the log into slices, then arranged the slices into a tube bundt pan. After a second rise, I baked it off in the oven, then drizzled a thin icing on top.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but I’ll tell you myself that the frangipane is the real star of this bake. When it’s finished baking, it formed a streusel-like texture inside the dough that gave it a richness that isn’t overpowering or too sweet, and pairs so well with the freshness of the peaches.

*************************************************

Peach Frangipane Breakfast Bundt

Recipe Adapted from NordicWare and King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For Bread

  • 3¼ to 3½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2⅛ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg , room temperature and lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon LorAnn Sweet Dough Bakery Emulsion* optional

For Peach-Frangipane Filling

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups almond Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large, ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes.
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on dough

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions

Grease and flour a 16-cup bunt pan and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook milk and softened butter over medium heat until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Sprinkle the active yeast on top of the milk, then add the 1 tablespoon of white sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is activated and frothy.

Meanwhile, In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl) use a fork or a wire whisk to mix 1¼ cups flour, the cinnamon, the nutmeg the rest of the granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt at low speed until combined.

(If using a standing mixer, use the dough hook attachment or if using a handheld mixer, use the dough hook attachments.) Add warm milk-yeast mixture to flour mixture; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg; beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2 cups (250 grams) flour, beating until combined.

Beat at medium-low speed, adding remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time as needed, until a soft, somewhat tacky dough forms, 6 to 8 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook. (Depending on the time of year and the temperature of your kitchen, you may or may not need to use it all.)

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 3 to 4 minutes at high speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl midway through to incorporate any residue.

Add the almond flour and cinnamon, stirring to incorporate.

Add the 3 eggs and beat until smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate the filling until you’re ready to use it.

Once the dough has finished rising, Lightly punch down dough. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and roll into a 26×7-inch rectangle.  Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1 inch border uncovered. Spread the chopped peaches on top of the filling.

Starting with long side opposite border, roll up dough, jelly roll style; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down, and gently shape to 26 inches long and even thickness, if necessary. (If you have time, I would recommend placing the log in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. This will make the next step a lot less messy; but it’s okay if you’re short on time)

Using a serrated knife, cut log into 26 slices (about 1 inch thick each); dip knife in flour as needed.

Arrange slices evenly in prepared pan as desired, placing some slices with cut sides facing out around edges of pan and recoiling any slices tighter as necessary; press slices firmly into each other and grooves of pan. (It’s okay if almond filling spills out, just tuck/smear it back in between the slices once you place them in the pan.)

Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and dough holds an indentation when pressed, 25 to 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers at least 190°F (88°C), 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Invert loaf onto a serving plate.

Stir together icing ingredients to desire consistency. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle icing on top of bundt. Allow to harden about 10-15 minutes.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #444.

Strawberry Cookie Tart

There are some desserts that for me, are like some people in my life; they’ll just always be special. The moment of realization with people can come in an interesting conversation we’re having or a fun experience we’re having. With dessert, it’s usually in that first bite. But regardless of which one, I have the same thought: “Yeah. This one is a keeper.”

It’s one of the best feelings ever, and as such, I try to re-experience it as often as I can. This blog makes that relatively easy for me to do with food, which is what we’re doing here today.

For the 12 Days of Christmas 2020, I shared a recipe for a cranberry cookie tart. I raved about it back then as one of the best desserts I’d ever made, and that is still very much true. It’s become a staple holiday dessert for us, and probably always will be.

The only downside is that cranberries are a seasonal ingredient that are mostly only sold for about 2 months during the latter part of the year in the winter. And that’s all well and good, but…what am I supposed to do during the summer?

The answer/solution I came to was making a couple of simple ‘seasonal’ ingredient adjustments so that my new favorite winter-y holiday dessert could become a favorite summertime one.

Whereas cranberries are pretty easy to get during the wintertime, strawberries are just as easy to get during summer, so I decided to swap one out for the other. The filling is the only thing I changed from the original recipe so that instead of cranberries and cranberry sauce, the tart is filled with fresh, chopped strawberries and strawberry preserves. I also threw in some lemon zest to give it an added fresh flavor.

Much like the cranberry tart, the strawberry one was delicious. Which now means I’ve got a ‘keeper’ on my hands for both times of year.

*************************************

Strawberry Cookie Tart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of strawberry preserves
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F/160C. Grease a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan* and place this on a baking tray.

Using a food processor or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and brown sugar vigorously until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. It’s an important step to beat the butter and sugar well together when making shortbread as this ensures the shortbread is light, crisp and will hold together.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until blended (forming large clumps). Turn onto a floured surface and using floured hands, press two-thirds of the mixture evenly into the prepared pan (including the sides).

Spread with the strawberry preserves evenly over the dough, leaving a 1⁄4-inch border and then scatter with the chopped strawberries and the lemon zest.

Crumble the remaining dough into large crumbs and scatter evenly over the filling, covering most of the surface.Bake the tart for 40 – 45 minutes, until lightly browned.

Leave to cool completely in the pan.

*If you do not have a tart pan, I do think that this would also work in a 9-inch round cake pan, you just won’t be able to lift the whole tart out of it. It’ll still taste great though.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #439.

Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

More than a few of the recipes on this blog came about from me buying a kitchen gadget. It’s a minor obsession of mine. Sometimes this obsession can get pricey, but most times not so much (at least that’s how I always justify it to myself.)

These are one of the most recents buys I’ve made. I wanted it to see how they would work for molding slice & bake cookie dough.

Slice and Bake cookies are one of my go-tos for quick and easy batch desserts. They’re also versatile enough recipe to where there are a lot of different possibilities for ways to flavor/enhance them.

If I had any one complaint about Slice & Bakes as a recipe, it’s the shaping step. After mixing the cookie dough you shape it into a log and refrigerate it, after which you can ‘slice & bake’ as many cookies as you want. But as the dough log rests in the fridge, it typically rests on a flat surface, which flattens it out on the bottom and makes it harder to maintain that perfect cyndrilical shape. There’s no effect on the taste whatsoever, it’s just an aesthetic thing.

It’s probably the food blogger in me, but I like a nice presentation when it comes to baking especially, so I was interested in getting the molds not just for the sake of maintaining a consistent shape in cookie, but also being able to make square cookies that reminded me of the ones that come in the blue tins.

For my first go round with the molds, I kept things simple. Almond cookies are some of my favorite, so I decided to go with those. I did grind my almonds up fresh in my Ninja, with the skins on, as I think it adds more flavor. Using almond meal as opposed to almond flour also gives it a more robust texture.

The cookies themselves are buttery, crisp and the ground almonds and almond extract gives them that bakery-style flavor that I think pairs perfect with coffee or tea. They’d also make amazing Christmas cookie gifts. And because they’re slice and bake you don’t even have to bake them all at once. Regardless of whether you choose to get the mold or not, it’s a really good cookie.

**************************************

Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of almond flour or meal
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, almond flour/meal and salt. Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl use a handheld or standing mixer with paddle attachment to cream the butter and white sugar together until creamy. Add the extracts and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in in 2 batches, mixing just until combined. Scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula and mold it into 2 long, rectangular logs .

Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and shape into a square shape. (I used these molds, but using a bench scraper or the inside of a 13 x 9 baking dish works as well). If using the molds, press the plastic wrapped log into the molds, then refrigerate both overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Remove the logs from the molds and unwrap. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, slice cookies about 1/4 inch thick (or to your desired preference). Place about 1 inch apart on prepared pans and sprinkle tops with sugar. (Depending on how thick you cut them, this makes quite a few cookies; you’ll probably have to do this in a few batches)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

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.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #438, co-hosted by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.

Cornmeal Angel Biscuits

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m always testing out new biscuit recipes, to the point where there’s a pretty good collection of them to be found in the Index. You’ll also know that I have a huge appreciation for cornmeal as a baking ingredient, and as such, there’s a pretty sizable collection of cornmeal recipes to be found here too.

I love combining my favorite ingredients together in baking and seeing what happens, and that’s pretty much what today’s recipe is doing. This isn’t the first time I’ve made cornmeal biscuits on the blog, but it is the first time I applied the angel yeast roll technique to my go-to biscuit making process.

Angel yeast rolls are very akin to parker house butter rolls that are extremely rich, and yet extremely light in texture. The only possible way to improve them is to make them in biscuit form, something I’ve been aware of for a long time thanks to my grandmother. Combining the angel roll with the biscuit really comes down to incorporating yeast into the recipe. I don’t know who thought of it originally, but it was a really good idea.

My favorite thing about this recipe are all the different textures it has. My biscuit-making techniques do their job in make it flaky, but the yeast also comes in to give it a light, inner fluffy texture that normal biscuits typically don’t have. But then the cornmeal also comes through to give it a sturdy and robustness and flavor that’s just enough to give it a really pleasant chew.

These made amazing breakfast sandwiches, they also make for really good accompaniments to hearty stews or braises, and they’re yet another winning biscuit recipe to add to the arsenal.

*******************************************

Cornmeal Angel Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (about 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 cup white sugar, divided
  • 8 cups all purpose flour, (plus more if needed)
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup cold vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk (plus more if needed)

Directions

Pour warm water in to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the water, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top. Allow to proof for about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, corn meal, salt, baking soda, remaining sugar, and black pepper and stir with a fork.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter and frozen shortening directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together until evenly combined.

Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and stir together with the fork first, then use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk 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 biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large knife to divide dough in half. Stack one half on top of each other, then roll into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops of the biscuits with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter and place in oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. (You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #437.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

I almost always mark the arrival of summer by when I can start baking with stone fruit. I’ve said multiple times before that the taste of peaches always reminds me of summer, and although I love nectarines and red plums, peaches will always be my first choice to eat or bake. A little over a week ago, my grocery store finally started stocking peaches; so you guys all know what had to happen.

I don’t think summer baking needs to be super complicated. In the first place, it’s hot, so when/if you use it, you don’t really want the oven to be on any longer than necessary. In the second place, the fruit’s delicious enough to where it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment/fancy stuff done to it. Just keep things simple.

This is definitely one of those recipes that colors safely within the Keep it Simple lines. The ingredients are minimal, there’s very little embellishment given to them, and it comes together relatively quickly as well.

It starts out with a quick vanilla cinnamon crust that gets pressed down into the tart pan and pre-baked ahead of time, which prevents the bottom from becoming soggy from all of the lovely fruit juices. While the crust bakes, you can put together the other two components: the fruit filling, and the streusel topping.

As I say in the recipe itself, one of the best things about this dessert is its flexibility; meaning, the fruit itself can be swapped out for substitutions of whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer. Peaches are my first choice, but any other stone fruit will work as well. Similarly, if you’re not a fan of blueberries or don’t have any on hand, raspberries or blackberries or strawberries will work just as well.

The star of the streusel topping for me are the almonds. They add both flavor and texture that plays really well against the flavors and texture of the fruit.

This is a perfect dessert for a summer cookout. I wasn’t at one when I made it, but in case you’re reading this and need a dessert/to make and take along with you to one, look no further: this is the one you want.

******************************

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

For Tart/Crust

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries*
  • 2 cups fresh sliced peaches*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottomm cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract just until blended and dough clumps together. (If it’s still too dry and you need to add in a tablespoon or so of water, that’s fine.)

Use your hands to press the dough into tart pan, making sure it’s evenly spread/layered to the edges.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine blueberries, peaches, honey and extracts; toss to coat.

For streusel topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds.
Spoon fruit mixture into crust; Sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Note: the peaches can be swapped out for any other stone fruit (nectarines, plums, even apricots) and the blueberries can be swapped out for any other berry.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #436.