Posts Tagged ‘baking’

irish soda bread

There are a million recipes floating around this week, all with Guinness or corned beef.  While I definitely want to make Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness cake (here’s the original UK version) – because who wouldn’t? – I’m going simple this St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m making Irish Soda Bread.  Simple, fast, makes great toast.

Start with good wheat flour:

Look at how this whole wheat bread flour from Wild Hive Farm compares to unbleached all-purpose flour (on the right):

Whisk in baking soda and salt.  Add buttermilk:

Mix together, shape on a well-floured board, then transfer to a floured baking sheet.  You can find this recipe for whole wheat Irish Soda Bread on Eating Well.

Make the bread today and have fabulous toast tomorrow.  Enjoy!

happy hanukkah/solstice/christmas/kwanzaa/new years


Usually this time of year I start baking like a fiend Thanksgiving weekend and don’t stop until the weekend before Christmas.  All peoples around me would receive beautifully packaged bags of treats.  This year, I’ve been painting (bedroom walls) every weekend and surviving a never-ending work acquisition during the weekdays, so the baking extravaganza has not been happening.  I feel off-kilter.

However, I have to eat so I have been cooking a little.  We made latkes for the first night of Hanukkah, and might squeeze in one more meal of latkes before the end (tonight).

Christmas Eve morning I decided to do a baked pumpkin steel cut oatmeal –  I’d made it once before and it had been good.  This time it was essentially Christmas gruel.  Blech.  Yummily, lunch was the hors d’oeuvres meal that I’d planned for dinner.  With a bottle of wine.  My OH had to take a nap after that.  Dinner was with dear friends on Warren Street.  He wanted to know why I hadn’t covered his demented displays in this blog.  His wife and I pointed out that I’m only interested in food.  He pointed out the inflatable turkey that he’d used earlier this season.  Touche’.  I’ll have to work on being more observant.

I have no real traditions for Christmas meals, other than hors d’oeuvres for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother has always made a Swedish tea ring but I’ve never been drawn to make it my tradition.  I just like it when Mom makes breakfast.  So this year I took on someone else’s tradition and their Holiday Breakfast Wreath.  I did not have the dried cranberries called for in the recipe, so I chopped up dried prunes and soaked them in brandy before adding to the filling.  Quite delicious, I must say.

just before glazing

And it opens up the whole new world of yeast baked goods.  As much as I bake, I never make anything using yeast as I’ve never understood the whole rising and kneading process.  This time it worked.  I’m very excited.

Mid-day, we wanted to get out of the house to walk/hike off past meals (and prepare for the next) so we headed out to Bash Bish Falls.  What a lovely place.  I don’t know why it took so many years to get there.  Definitely must return in the summer.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening preparing dinner, which was Chef Peter Berley’s Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Sage Bechamel, and Gruyere.  If you decide to tackle this delicious meal, give yourself a couple of hours and some staff.  And don’t leave the bechamel for last since you need some steeping time.  There’s a lot of prep work, as there often is when you prepare everything from scratch.  But the results are worth it.  My photos do not do the dish justice, but click on the link above for a tasty image.

What’s next?  I might start on my Christmas cookies (no time like the present, right?) – except that at the moment I’m not hungry.  This is not a normal sensation.  O dear.

national cookie day!

Yes, today (Sunday December 4th) is National Cookie Day.  Much thanks to a coworker who brought this to my attention. I always like to say that when I grow up I’m going to bake cookies for a living.

Are you compelled to bake some cookies?   –  Wait!  Why not?

For the best chocolate chip  cookies, try the Jacques Torres recipe.  You must think ahead – it requires cake and bread flours and bittersweet chocolate chips (semi-sweet will work if necessary) and time – it must rest in the fridge overnight.  Absolutely the best chocolate chip cookies.  Try it.  Trust me.

Are you an oatmeal cookie fiend?  I’ve always depended on the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal cookie recipe.  I’m not a huge fan of raisins (weird childhood thing since mother wanted raisins in everything) so I always add dried cranberries instead.  And use the old fashioned oats.

How about peanut butter cookies?  These have always been part of my repertoire, because they were my dad’s absolute favorite cookie.  Betty Crocker was the ruling cookbook in our household growing up, so this is my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.  Again, think ahead as this takes a couple hours of sitting in the fridge.  Also, instead of just dipping the fork in sugar, I like to roll the entire cookie ball in sugar and then make the cross marks with a fork.  And, if I’m really feeling fancy, I make just one fork imprint (not the hatch mark) and pipe melted dark chocolate into the tracks once the cookies are cool.  Again, trust me on this one.

I haven’t even begun to talk about Christmas cookies – snowballs, peppermint balls, decorated sugar cookies, gingerbread boys, pfeffernuesse…

Happy Cookie day!  Eat cookies!

happy pie day, er, Thanksgiving

May you be further ahead in your baking than I…  If you need last minute recipes, Ina Garten teamed up with Google for more than just a logo…

the last of the plums

What a gorgeous weekend and week!

In my attempt to focus on baking with seasonal fruit before it is only apple this-and-that, I’ve been buying plums like I’ll never see them again.  Or at least not for another 11 months.

A couple of weeks ago I tried the NY Times recipe for adult jello, using plums instead of white peaches.  Not so yummy – more like weird knox blox.  Since I had guests over that had expectations for yummy dessert, I scrambled for another quick plum recipe, and found this one tucked away from Mrs. Baker of Don Baker Farm.  It was simple and amazing.  We ate it before I could take a picture…

Original Plum TorteC/O Mrs Baker of Don Baker Farm
1 stick unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup plus 1-2 tbl sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 lrg eggs
12 Italian Prune Plums halved and pitted
1 tsp ground cinnamon

350 oven

cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar. add eggs one at a time. then add dry ingredients(flour, bp, salt).
spoon the batter into an ungreased 9-10″ springform pan.
cover the top with plums skin side down.
mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top.

bake 40-50 min.

leftovers go very well with coffee the next morning…


The recipe that is next on my list is from Orangette, through several references online.  Fruit topped with crumble is always de-lish.

Plum Crumblefrom blog Orangette
2 Tbsp. lightly packed brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
12 to 14 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted

Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten well
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the seasoning for the plums: the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and crystallized ginger. Add the plums, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the plums skin side up in an ungreased deep 9-inch pie plate.

In another medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping: the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the egg. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the plums.

Spoon the butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is browned and the plums yield easily when pricked with toothpick. Cool.

Serve crumble warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, thick yogurt, or unsweetened whipped cream.

Yield: about 6 servings

Note: To reheat leftovers, it’s best to do it slowly, in an oven set to 300 degrees.


But mostly what I’ve been doing with the plums is pricking them all over with a pin and piling into a large jar with sugar, flavorings and lots of brandy. This recipe is also courtesy of the NY Times, and in 6 weeks I’ll try it with vanilla gelato.  Or straight out of the jar.  In pictures they look like shapes floating in embalming fluid.  Which is brandy.  I am *very* excited about these plums.

I think everyone is getting brandied plums for Christmas this year…

sour cherries. now. (um, next year)

The season has already ended.  It’s all moving way too fast.

Hopefully you read the NY Times article recently, prominently featuring many of our local growers.  Or perhaps you read local writer and blogger Kara Thurmond’s article in the Register-Star a short while back.  I definitely want to try the Sour Cherry infused Vodka.

I’ve managed to make a clafouti (a warm pudding cake that I make the traditional – and lazy – way: leaving the pits in) again this year, and my new favorite recipe, Cherry Upside-Down Cake.

It’s not burnt!  This one looks so dark because I didn’t have enough cherries but I did have black currants – so I pressed down the cherries and filled in with currants.  I also used almond extract instead of vanilla extract.  I think I like it better with almond.  You might need to have two slices to decide if you like it…

Cherry Upside-Down Cakeadapted from Bon Appetit June 1997

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
14 ounces cherries, halved, pitted

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For topping:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter sides of 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same pan set over low heat. Add brown sugar; whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Spread mixture over bottom of pan. Arrange cherries, cut side down, in single layer in bottom of pan and press lightly to adhere. Set aside.

For cake:

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until creamy. Mix in egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk.

Using electric mixer fitted with clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of whites into cake batter to lighten. Using rubber spatula, gently fold remaining whites into batter. Spoon batter atop cherries in pan. Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.

Whip cream, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl to soft peaks.

Run small knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Place platter over cake and invert onto platter. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove pan. Serve cake warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

(Cake and whipped cream can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover cake and let stand at room temperature. Cover and chill whipped cream.)

Yield: Makes 8 Servings


On to blueberries.

who could this be and could it be for me???

Create Your Own Wholesale/Retail Bakery

Date: 2009-12-26, 5:46PM

We’ve got the idea, the location and the business plan. Need an entrepreneur/partner. Will offer very favorable rental terms and help launch the business. Plenty of commercial space. Captive customer on site. Retail location on site also possible. Supply local restaurants and caterers with all types of breads and baked goods. If you are a baker and looking to start your own business this is the opportunity you’ve been looking for. Serious inquiries only. Must have experience.

  • Location: Hudson, NY
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests


Original URL:


A friend forwarded this to me earlier this week.  As much as I love to bake I’m just not sure…

it’s mac-n-cheese season

I love any excuse

I pity anyone that gives up dairy and wheat for this reason alone.  Apologies to all vegans/celiacs. 

I’m not sure if I’ve perfected the ultimate macaroni & cheese recipe yet…  must. keep. trying.

’tis the season

Time for last minute baking…  I think I will try snowballs, raspberry thumbprints, maybe pfeffernusse, bread for dinner and coconut chocolate bread for tomorrow’s breakfast.  What am I missing????

restorative baking

Is there anything better than butter & sugar?  My mother said she knew I would have a good week since I was going to spend it baking – although someone baking in the middle of humid summer days should probably have her head examined…

chocolate chip

My uncle is having triple-bypass heart surgery, so I decided he needed a little love from this chocolate master – no Nestle poison for him this time.

 lemon cheesecake

A very cute 3-year-old is having a birthday and her parents asked for the lemon cheesecake that I’ve been making lately – it will make parents and kid(s) alike happy and fat.

ling cookies

Just in case, I made these cookies spelling out the birthday girl’s name…

gooseberry tart

And just for me – my OH bought me gooseberries this week remembering that I was curious about them but had never really eaten them.  I made this gooseberry tart – such an easy summer dessert (especially if you have a food processor), and I love the sweet / tart balance of the gooseberries.  The recipe is from The Tenth Muse; My Life in Food from Judith Jones.

Gooseberry Tart – adapted from Judith Jones

  • 1 sweet Tart Dough (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup gooseberry jam or currant jelly
  • 2 cups gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 2/3 cup sugar (use slightly less)

Roll the dough out into a circle approximately 9 or 10 inches in diameter.  If the dough is very cold before rolling out, let it warm up slighltly at room temperature.  Transfer the dough to an 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom, tucking it into the inside rim firmly.  Trim the dough all around, leaving enough on the rim so you can fold it over inward, then crimp it all around.   Paint the bottom of the dough with the gooseberry jam (currant jelly). Arrange the gooseberries on top., and sprinkle the sugar over them.  (Extremely important – put tart pan on baking sheet with rim to catch overflow of fruit juices – unless you like cleaning your oven). Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.

Tart Dough – adapted from Judith Jones

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (only for a sweet tart)
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar, if using, in the bowl of a food processor.  Cut the butter into small pieces, drop them through the tube of the processor, and pulse long enough to say “alligator” fifteen times. Pour in the ice water and process long enough to say “alligator” ten times.  Transfer the dough to a work surface, preferably marble, and smear it out in small increments with the heel of your hand, then gather the dough together into a round.  Sprinkle with flour, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or until ready to use. (I didn’t say alligator though she says it’s a fool proof method. And I don’t have a marble work surface.  Someday.)

I’ve managed to give most of this away – except for the gooseberry tart which I’ve eaten almost all of…