Archive for Baking and Sweet Endings

Crunchy Top Grape Muffins

For the past couple of years, in the fall, I’ve been making lovely little Coronation grape cakes for dessert.  And while doing a freezer tidy-up recently, I found a small bag of the grapes tucked away. Hmmm…well I don’t have enough to make those cakes but maybe I could turn them into muffins! And I don’t think I mentioned that the aforementioned little cakes uses Vin Santo as it’s liquid.…and as chance would have it…there’s 1 or 2 tablespoons still left in the fridge. I think these muffins might be darned good! And so they are!!!

Makes 12 Muffins

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup orange juice (or substitute 1-2 Tbsp. Vin Santo for some of the juice)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange peel
1 ½ cups whole small dark, seedless grapes

Topping:

Approximately 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Make the muffins:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners (I’ve found the parchment ones work 100% better than the old paper liners I used to use).  Nothing of the muffin gets stuck to the paper liners once you peel them off.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt  & cardamom.

In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, orange juice, Vin Santo (if using), orange peel, oil & eggs; pour over flour mixture. Fold ingredients together but not completely; there still should be flour not incorporated into the dough; add the grapes & complete folding until ingredients are just combined, being careful not to over mix.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups (I find an ice-cream scoop does a great job here).

Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp. of the sugar over each muffin.

Bake in centre of the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until tops are firm to the touch.

Greek Butter Cookies

Getting a “leg-up” on my Christmas baking by starting with these buttery little morsels that have just a hint of anise flavour. They’re good keepers and freeze well!  You can use either blanched or unblanched almonds to make the cookies.  I’ve been baking these off and on for over 40 years…the original recipe is taped together and has suffered somewhat by coming into contact with butter & flour over the years!  Aaah memories!

Makes About 4 ½ Dozen Cookies

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
¾ cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large  egg yolk
1 Tbsp. Greek Ouzo or Galliano liqueur
4 ¼ cups sifted unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup very finely chopped blanched almonds
Whole cloves
Icing sugar for dusting cookies after baking

Make the Cookies:

Beat butter & sugar in a large bowl until fluffy & light using either a stand-mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla & liqueur.  Blend in the almonds.

Combine sifted flour & baking powder; add to the butter-sugar mixture; blend well. Chill the dough 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Shape the dough into balls, using about 1 Tbsp. dough for each cookie. If the dough becomes sticky, lightly flour the palms of your hands. Place each cookie 2” apart, as rolled, on a baking parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Stud each cookie with a single whole clove.

Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes or until cookies are a very light sandy colour. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, then carefully place on wire racks, using a metal spatula.  Sift icing sugar over tops of cookies while they are still warm.  Allow to cool completely before putting into the container you will be storing them in.

Save some for Santa!

 

 

Walnut Cinnamon Buns

Now I ask you, who doesn’t like a warm sticky cinnamon bun? It only takes a short time to put together the dough and then it’s just a quick matter to put together the filling and the mixture for the bottom of the pan that becomes the topping of the buns when turned out of the pan. These cinnamon buns are so light and the topping is so good! I think you’ll love them! And they freeze very well. What a nice thing to have on hand!

For the Dough:

DSC_7214 nx2½ cup each homogenized milk & water
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. instant yeast, not traditional (an 8 g. package)
3 ¾ to 4 cups unbleached flour

For the Topping:

½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

For the Filling:

2 Tbsp. butter, melted
¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts

Make the Dough: (using a stand mixer)

Heat the milk, water, sugar, butter & salt in a medium-size pot until lukewarm, stirring to dissolve the sugar & melt the butter. Place the mixture into the bowl of the mixer & immediately beat in the beaten eggs & yeast, then add 1 cup of flour to the mixture, beating well. Attach the dough hook & gradually work in enough of the remaining flour so the dough is smooth, elastic & just slightly bit sticky, approximately 4 minutes. Remove the dough to a floured work surface & knead for a minute or so, adding a little more flour until the dough is no longer sticky but not so much as to make a stiff dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with greased wax paper & a towel; place in a warm spot & allow to rise for 40 minutes or until doubled.

Make the Topping:

Combine all the topping ingredients; spray a 9 x 13” metal baking pan with non-stick cooking spray & pour the topping mixture into the pan, spreading evenly. Set aside.

Make the Filling:

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts; set aside.

Punch the dough down & turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 18” x 14” rectangle. Brush with the melted butter, leaving a 1/4” border. Sprinkle the filling ingredients over the dough, very lightly pressing in. Starting with the long end closest to you, tightly roll up the dough jelly-roll fashion. Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the roll into thirds; then cut each third into 5 equal slices. Place the slices into the prepared pan, spacing evenly. Cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 F.

Place the risen buns in the oven & bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown & sound hollow when tapped; leave in the pan for 4 minutes then invert onto a cookie sheet & allow to cool to warm before enjoying!

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Mom’s Shortbread

Mom made these every Christmas, we loved them.  Talk about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar!  So buttery and delicious! When I worked as a corproate chef, I must have made thousands for work, us and family members every Christmas season. They store very well in a cool place. They are made entirely by hand, not using an electric mixer, the warmth from your hands seems to develop a really good texture.  My husband thinks that shortbread and scotch are a match made in heaven!

DSC_1895 nx2Makes 3 ½ to 4 dozen (the recipe can easily be doubled)

1 lb. salted butter
4 cups unbleached flour
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix together the flour, baking powder & salt. Cream the butter, using your hands; add the icing sugar, combining with your hands. Working in the flour until the dough becomes “putty” like (5 to 8 minutes).  I use both hands to speed things up a bit, just don’t answer the phone! Form into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, to a 1/3rd to ½” thickness. Cut out using a cookie cutter (I do mine in 2” rounds). You can sprinkle with a little coarse sugar before baking if you like. Place rounds on parchment lined, rimmed baking sheets.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they are very lightly coloured around the edges. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

I have found that if I store the shortbread for a couple of days before eating, the flavour really develops.

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Drei Augen (Three Eyes)

I wasn’t going to put this recipe for German shortbread on Oracibo for some reason or the other…but after receiving rave reviews all Christmas Season…I think I should! This is only the second time I have made them; the first time was back in the mists of time…I won’t wait that long again! The recipe for these absolutely wonderful little currant jelly filled beauties comes from the late Carol Field.  I was unable to find my pastry tip for the 3 holes and I had just cleaned out all the kitchen cabinets and tossed all the straws, so no 3 holes just one larger one! It did not affect the taste! I just told everyone they were non-Linzer cookies!   Don’t wait until next Christmas to bake up a batch!

DSC_2128 nx2Makes 2 ½ to 3 Dozen Cookies

10 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ cups unsifted unbleached flour
1 cup unblanched ground almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon

Garnish: Powdered sugar
Red or black currant jelly

Make the Cookies:

Either cream the butter in a stand mixer or use a hand-held mixer. Gradually beat in the sugar. Stir in the flour, nuts & cinnamon. Divide dough in half. Roll each piece between waxed or baking parchment to a thickness of 1/8”. Leave on the paper & place on baking sheets & place in the fridge until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Remove 1 piece of dough from the fridge & carefully peel the paper from the top. Cut dough into 1 ½” circles. In half of the circles cut out 3 small holes (an inverted pastry tip works well or a plastic straw). Repeat cutting the circles the same way, cutting the 3 holes in half of them. Place all the circles on prepared baking sheets & bake about 15 minutes. Don’t let the cookies brown too much, although the ground nuts will naturally colour them somewhat.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a minute, then very carefully transfer to a rack & cool completely. Dust cookies with holes generously with powdered sugar. Spread about ½ tsp. jelly over each solid cookie. Carefully top jellied cookie with a sugared one.

If you have any leftover dough you can roll it into a cylinder, wrap & chilled it; then slice 1/8” thick & bake as above.

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Scandinavian Apple Cake

Check out this new recipe!  Deliciously comforting apple cake…great with coffee or tea and also as a dessert with, perhaps a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream!  Or if you are really wanting to live dangerously…for breakfast!  For the recipe click the “Recipes” tab at the top of the page.  And as they say on The Great British Bake Off“BAKE”

Scandinavian Apple Cake

Both my hubby and I are of Scandinavian descent, which puts this cake most definitely in our lane!

Makes one 9” Round Cake

3 – 4 medium-size apples
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sour cream

To Finish the Cake:

¼ cup apple jelly, melted
2 Tbsp. toasted sliced almonds

Either coat a 9” springform pan with baking spray or butter the pan & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F

Sift flour again with baking powder & salt onto wax paper.

Peel apples; remove cores & cut into 6 wedges; place apple wedges in a large bowl.

Combine butter, sugar, eggs & vanilla in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with electric mixer at medium-high speed, scraping bowl often, for 3 – 5 minutes or until very light & fluffy.

Stir in half the flour mixture along with the sour cream. Add remaining flour, mixing well until batter is smooth; pour into prepared pan. Toss apples with 2 Tbsp. sugar & the cinnamon. Arrange apple wedges on top of cake batter, pushing pieces partly into batter.

Bake for 1 hour & 15 minutes, checking after 60 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cake around edge with knife; release spring & carefully life off side of pan.

Brush top of cake with melted apple jelly; sprinkle with nuts. Serve warm or cold.

Apple Nut Muffins

Come the fall this is a “must” in my muffin repertoire! It was such a popular muffin at the many coffee-breakfasts I catered in the olden days! If you have apple butter on hand it would be a very nice spread on a muffin.

Makes 10-12 Medium Size Muffins

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Spray the muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with muffin liners.

Topping: (Note: you will probably have more than enough for the muffins, so store in the fridge or freeze for another batch of muffins).

½ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
¼ tsp. ground allspiceDSC_5523 nx2
¼ tsp. ground cardamom

For the Muffins:

2 cups unbleached flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups peeled, grated Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2 large)
½ cup toasted walnuts

Combine the topping ingredients & set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, remaining 2/3 cups of sugar, ¾ tsp. allspice & ½ tsp. cardamom in large bowl.

Whisk eggs, sour cream & butter in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in the apple; fold into the flour mixture; add the remaining ½ cup nuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups (I like to use an ice cream scoop); sprinkle topping over the tops of the muffins & bake until tester inserted into the centre of the muffin in the middle of the pan comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Let muffins cool for a couple of minutes, then remove to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Blueberry Lemon Loaf

It’s well known that I adore the combination of berries with lemon! Here is a lovely quick bread that’s easy to make and darned right delish!  The lemon glaze topping is addictive!

DSC_7905 nx2Makes 1 Loaf

For the Loaf:

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups of sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon peel (a microplane does a great job)
½ cup milk (not low-fat)
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, preferably fresh (thawed & drained frozen berries would also work)

Topping: 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Butter a 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½” loaf pan or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Whisk together the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl until mixture is light & fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; add the lemon peel. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning & ending with dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries; spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown & a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes. (I would check after 1 hour). When loaf tests done remove to a baking rack.

Meanwhile, bring remaining 1/3 cup sugar & lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Pierce the top of the hot loaf all over with a toothpick; pour hot lemon mixture over loaf in pan. Cool 30 minutes in the pan on a rack. Turn bread out of the pan & cool completely on the rack.

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Blueberry Pie

Just picked up a box of fresh blueberries from  Gelderman’s Farms so it’s all blue this week! I always prefer to use glass pie plates as they give such a nice crisp crust!

Makes Enough For One 9” Pie

Prepared pie dough for a 2 crust pie; either your favourite crust or see below for the link to to mine!

DSC_7976 nx26 cups fresh blueberries
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. Minit Quick Cooking tapioca
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cinnamon
1½ Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ¼” cubes

2 Tbsp. cream for glazing the pie
1 Tbsp. or two of sugar (opt.)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Combine the sugar, tapioca & cinnamon in a large bowl; add the blueberries & lemon juice & fold together. Allow the mixture to stand while you roll out the pie dough.

Once you have lined the bottom of the pie plate with the rolled out crust, add the blueberry filling, place the top crust over, trim & crimp the edges to your liking, cut vents into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush the crust with cream & sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Place the pie onto a baking sheet & bake for approximately 45 minutes, checking after 35 minutes. If the pie is browning too quickly, loosely lay a piece of foil over the pie and continue baking until the filling is bubbly and the crust is browned.

Place the pie on a baking rack to cool completely. Serve with ice cream if desired or a combination of lightly whipped cream & either sour cream or mascarpone!

For the recipe to my pie crust, click here.

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