Category Archives: Fruits

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Pie 6 main
I am glad to do the Daring Baker’s Challenge this month. Considering all that’s been going around me…Oh life can’t get any busier? Just when I think its time to relax something else pops up. I am a stay at home Mom and feel that I am more occupied than my Husband. There are days I wish I was given a “time out” lol!
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Rachael from Pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie.

Pies and Tarts have always been everyones favorite at home. After all the strawberry picking that we do every year, Strawberry Pies and Tarts are the first thing that comes to my mind.I was completely intrigued by the recipe of “Momofukus Milk Bars” famous “CRACK PIE”. The name itself sounds interesting.
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Bon Appetit says about Crack Pie, “Anyone who has taken a bite of this Milk Bar best seller immediately knows the reason for the sassy name. Once you start eating this rich, salty-sweet pie with its oat cookie crust, you won’t be able to stop.” A thick, chewy crust filled with an outrageously sweet gooey filling, it’s a wicked sugar-rush. You’ll want small servings!
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Crostate are traditional Italian sweet treat most often filled with Jam, preserved or fresh fruit or any nut based fillings or pastry cream. Since I had lot of Strawberry Preserves at home I decided to make a “Strawberry Crostata”.

I decided to make a small Crack Pie. So I halved the recipe and followed the instructions. Though I loved this Pie, but it was definitely too very sweet for me. I had infact reduced the amount of sugar by two tablespoon but looks like that wasn’t good enough. Having said that, this has by far been one of the most delicious Pies I have ever baked. The goey filling which tasted like caramel with an oats cookie crust was to die for. I had this with some whipped cream on top…ummm sinful:)

Crack Pie

Ingredients

  • Oats Cookie Crust
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided (3 & 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided (2 & ½ tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • a pinch baking powder
  • a pinch baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Filling
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 3 1/4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Oat Cookie Crust
  2. 1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 350°F. Line a 18" square baking pan with parchment (baking) paper. Lightly spray or butter 4" pie dish.
  3. 2. Combine 3 tablespoons of the softened butter, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and the white sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. 3. Beat an egg, discard half of it, add the remaining to the mixer and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  5. 4. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
  6. 5. Dump oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan.
  7. 6. Bake until light golden, might take around 12 minutes. Transfer baking pan to wire rack and cool cookie completely, about an hour.
  8. 7. Using your fingertips, crumble the cookie a into large bowl - there should be no identifiable pieces of cookie remaining. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
  9. 8. Transfer cookie crust mixture to pie dish. Using your fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish (about 1 inch/2.5cm up the sides if your pie dish is deep). If your pie dish is shallow, place it on a baking sheet in case of overflow.
  10. Filling
  11. 1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 350°F. If possible, use bottom-only heat, or the filling may brown too quickly.
  12. 2. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  13. 3. Add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  14. 4. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  15. 5. Pour filling into crust.
  16. 6. Bake 25 minutes (filling may begin to bubble up). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake until filling is brown on top and set around edges but center still jiggles slightly, about 20 minutes longer.
  17. 7. Cool pie completely in pie dish on wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight.
  18. 8. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges and serve cold.
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Crostata Di Marmellata

Ingredients

  • Pasta Frolla ( Basic Italian Pie Pastry)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch salt
  • Filling
  • 2 cups Strawberry Preserves
  • Glaze
  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. 1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 - 5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it's lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
  2. 2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  3. 3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
  4. 4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
  5. 5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  6. 6. Lightly grease a shallow 9"/24cm metal pie dish.
  7. 7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. I prefer to use parchment with a circle traced on it so I can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
  8. 8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
  9. 9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
  10. 10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4..
  11. 11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
  12. 12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
  13. 13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
  14. 14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.
  15. 15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.
  16. 16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides - you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I've done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
  17. 17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.
  18. Glaze
  19. 1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
  20. 2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
  21. 3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
  22. 4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.
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Thanks Rachael for the lovely challenge!

Bon Appétit

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FB Scones 4 main

The WHOLE GRAIN bug seems to have caught me too. It’s been a while that I have been thinking of switching to whole grains but somehow it never happened. A few weeks back while shopping at Whole Foods I was overwhelmed looking at different kinds of flours available there. I immediately bought – rye, spelt and buckwheat flour. With Rye flour, I baked a Raisin Rye Bread which never made it to my blog as we wiped it even before I could photograph it. With Spelt,I plan to make some biscuits – so watch out for this space:).

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BUCKWHEAT is a very healthy grain with very high nutritional values. It has a strong and distinctive flavor, so not many prefer this flour. It’s usually grounded with the outer bran resulting in a rich grey/purple color with dark flecks. The black flecks/hull is the reason for its pleasant bitterness. Buckwheat is said to be something of an acquired taste.. Since I was working with it for the first time, I so wanted to like it – mainly because its healthy. With the flour, all I could think was to make Pancakes. Since I wanted to bake, I decided to go with the Scones.

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Also as it does not contain gluten, it’s very good for people with gluten allergies. If you are planning to introduce Buckwheat in your cooking, these Scones are the best way to start:). The scones tasted nutty and delicious. I didn’t have time to make the fig butter so picked up a bottle from Trader Joe’s. The fig butter and the buckwheat were meant to be together,they paired so well. I even spread a little on top of the baked scones….gosh it was heaven!!!

FIGGY BUCKWHEAT SCONES

Makes about 12
Ingredients:
Dry Mix – ½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Wet Mix
4 tablespoon butter (cut into small pieces)
½ cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup fig butter ( or more)
Directions: Sift dry ingredients into a large bow, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers,breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is coarsely ground and feels like grains of rice. The faster you do this,the more butter will stay solid,which is important for the success of this recipe. Add cream and gently mix it into the flour with a spatula until the dough is just combined.

Using a spatula or pastry scrapper transfer the dough into a well floured surface. It will be sticky so flour your hands with the flour and pat the dough into a rectangle that is about 8 x 16 inches and 3/4 inch thick. I rolled it out a little too thin so ended up with 12 scones. Ideally for this recipe you should get about 6-8 scones. If at any time the dough rolls off in a different direction,use your hands to square the corners and pat it back into shape. As you’re running periodically run a pastry scrapper or spatula underneath to loosen the dough,flour the surface and continue rolling. This keeps the dough from sticking. Flour the top of the dough with flour if the dough is sticking. Spread the fig butter over the dough.Roll the long edge of the dough,patting the dough as you roll so that it forms a neat 16 inches long roll. Roll the finished log so that the seam is on the bottom and the weight of the roll seals the edge.

Using a knife,slice the roll in half. Put the halves on a baking sheet,cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes( The dough can be kept covered in the refrigerator for upto 2 days).While the dough is chilling preheat the oven to 350F. Line the Baking sheet with parchment paper.

After 30 minutes,take the logs out and cut each half into slices about 1 1/4 inches wide. Place each scone flat ,with the spiral of the fig butter facing up. Give the scones a squeeze to shape them into rounds. Bake for about 35-40minutes,rotating sheets halfway through. The scones are ready to come out when their undersides are golden brown.

They are best eaten warm from the oven or later the same day. They start becoming a little soft after a day or so.

The above recipe was adapted from Good to the Grain book by Kim Boyce.

Bon Apetite!

Nina

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I love the Holiday seasonits fun,festive and everyone’s just happy during this time of the year.Starting from Costumes+Halloween party + Candies to thanksgiving+ doorbusters+blackfriday shopping to Cakes+ Santa+ lights +some more shopping and last but not the least the brand new yearA New beginning , a New Hope. Can this get any better??? When I think about Christmas the first thing that comes to my mind is the “Christmas Fruit Cake”Is there anything better than this?:-)

Each one has their own recipe; some follow their traditional one, while others have recipe passed on from generations. They are made in a variety of ways – dark & light,with or without yeast,plain / frosted/glazed, some are dense,some are dry,with or without alcohol and so on.

This year, I started baking my cakes well in advance. Fruitcakes need a lot of care and pampering as they taste best when they age and mature. A good cake is the one which is fed well with alcohol either rum or brandy, thus allowing the flavors to set in and intensify. Feeding  with alcohol gives the cake a unique flavor; moistness which in turn reduces sweetness and thus making it very rich and scrumptious It’s a real  cake loaded with all the goodness;-) . A traditional Cake contains sultanas, glace cherries, figs, apricots, currants, raisins, candied peel, prunes etc.

I found it easy to use the fruit cake mix (contains– orange and lemon peel,cherries,pineapple,citron, corn syrup) along with raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries. Though there wasn’t any change to the taste; I think I baked my cake for little longer than required; as a result it wasn’t as soft as expected.  Also, I felt that it was a little too sweet. Since the readymade fruit mix that I used already had corn syrup, I should have reduced the amount of sugar. The next time I would use ¾ to a cup.

Things to keep in mind while baking – These cakes should always be baked in low temperatures. And since it bakes for a long time, ensure to line the cake tin/pan with parchment on the base as well as the sides. Once baked you may also wrap the cake in cheesecloth before feeding it. For an alcohol free cake, use orange juice instead of rum/brandy. From my personal experience, I feel the batter needs to be heavy enough for the dried fruit and nuts to be suspended in it , if it is thin the fruits might sink in the bottom. Usually while baking cakes with nuts or dry fruits its suggested to toss them with a little bit of flour ( to avoid them to sink down), but in this case it’s not possible as we have soaked it in alcohol.

Once the cake was done, the most difficult part was the wait time. It was right in front of us for a week, the longer we looked, the stronger was our temptation. I wrote so much about feeding ….maturing…ageing and so on. Unfortunately mine didn’t last for more than a week for the entire process. Christmas is yet to come but my cake is gone!!! There isn’t a scrap left and all the flavors were truly delicious!.  Guess  its time to bake another one!

CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE

Makes one 8” round cake

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cup fruit mix

1/2 cup dried cranberries,blueberries and sultanas

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup rum + li’l more for feeding

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon all spice mix

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 ¼ cup brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tablespoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of a lemon and orange

Directions : Place the fruitcake mix along with raisins, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries in a large bowl and pour rum over it. Mix well and cover and leave to stand overnight. I kept mine for almost 36 hours.

Preheat oven at 300F. Line the base and sides of an 8 x 3” round pan with parchment paper. Mix  flour, baking powder, all spice powder & salt and set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Once all the eggs are well incorporated, add vanilla extract, molasses, lemon and orange zest. Stir in the flour. When completely mixed, add the fruits and nuts ;  do not over beat. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 2 hours or until a skewer inserted to the center comes out clean .If the top of the cake starts to brown, cover it with a foil and bake.

Once done, remove the cake from the oven , allow it to rest and bring it to room temperature. Using a skewer  gently poke a few holes on top of the cake. Feed the cake with rum, a tablespoon at a time once every week. You may also brush the cake with rum . Just before serving you may want to decorate it. Either sprinkle confectioner’s sugar or cover it with Marzipan or frost it the way you like….or simply eat it the way it is!

Bon Apetit!

Nina

 

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CLAFOUTI pronounced as kla-fu-te is a French Country dessert and is very easy to prepare. Since Bing cherries were in season, I couldn’t think of anything other than “Cherry Clafoutis”.

Oh boy working with the cherries was a nightmare; I am talking about pitting it. I don’t know if its just me or is it something common for everyone.The right approach is usually to relieve the cherry from its pit without completely mangling the flesh. I wanted to keep the cherry whole but removing the pit was quite a task. So I took the easier way out. Simply cut it open and removed the pit!!

I was watching an old episode of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa in which she was baking Pear Clafoutis. She mentioned that clafoutis are like “ pancake batter over fruits” and followed a recipe of her own with flour, eggs and milk. What she said sounded simple and therefore I went about using my readily available pan cake mix. I did add couple of eggs and milk to make the batter. I filled the batter upto the end ie to the rim, and there you go-while baking it began to flow all over the sides. Luckily I had placed the tart pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once baked, all the cherries settled in the bottom and looked as though a sponge cake was covering it. It tasted OK but definitely nothing to write home about. So I tried something on my own.

Ceramic pans work the best for this one, I used the one that I picked up at Daiso in SFO. All it requires is six easy ingredients.It took me about ten minutes to put everything together.The most time intensive part was pitting the cherries. Here is how I made it:

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Makes two 8” pan
Time – 1 hour(including baking)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups bing cherries, washed, pitted and cut into half
2 eggs
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven at 350F. Grease a quiche or tart pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs and 3/4 cup of sugar; whisk until light and yellow. With the motor running, add in the vanilla extract and milk. Gradually add in the flour. You will end up with a smooth batter.

Toss cherries with a tablespoon sugar and spread it on the greased pan. Slowly pour the batter over the cherries and place it in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Just before serving garnish with powdered sugar. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Do not over bake it.

The Clafoutis tastes like a cross between custard and a pancake. If you have sweet tooth do add a little more sugar.We loved this dessert,it was delicious.

*updated – My husband remarked that there were too many cherries in the clafoutis. The next time I would reduce it to 1 cup.

Bon Appetit!

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