French Strawberry Cake

A friend shared this wonderful recipe with me knowing that I go strawberry picking every June. I couldn’t wait for my fresh picked berries to make it though. 😉 It was such a crowd pleaser, I will have to make it again with my special berries! It’s a summertime version of French Apple Cake. We ate it for dessert but it would also be fabulous as a coffee cake.

This recipe was adapted from Foodtastic Mom, via The View from the Great Island. I used 3 large eggs instead of jumbo eggs and modified the baking time. The recipe suggests baking the cake in a springform pan or a cast iron skillet. Next time, I’ll have to try the skillet version. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  1. Set oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with cooking oil spray. (Alternatively, a 10-inch cast iron skillet can be used.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  4. Cream the soft butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar in a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl a couple of times.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  6. Stir the sour cream and buttermilk together, and then add the flour to the mixing bowl alternately with the wet, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  7. Fold in the berries and turn into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top. Sprinkle the surface of the cake liberally with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake no longer jiggles in the center and the top is golden and slightly crackled. This cake is meant to be custardy in the center. The exact cooking time will depend on the pan size you use. You can insert a toothpick in the center to test. (I baked mine for 38 minutes in a 9-inch springform pan.)
  9. Let cool briefly, and then unlatch the spring and remove the outer ring. I like to run a spreading knife along the edge first to loosen any parts of the cake that are sticking to the pan. If using a skillet, serve the cake right out of the pan.
  10. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Notes:

  • This version uses half sour cream and half buttermilk, but you can use all sour cream, all buttermilk, half and half, full fat yogurt, or full fat milk for this cake.
  • Other berries or fruit can be substituted for the strawberries.

One Year Ago: Berry Breeze and Blueberry Muffin Tops with Streusel Topping

Two Years Ago: Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins with Orange Streusel

Three Years Ago: Dori Sanders’ Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Four Years Ago: Alton Brown’s Berry Muffins

Five Years Ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

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Raspberry Crumb Muffins

A couple of my friends thought that I was joking when I told them that I try not to bake that much! I am trying not to… 😉

That being said, I was dying to make these as soon as I saw them on Marisa’s Italian Kitchen.  She made them in the most darling muffin pan too. This recipe was adapted from New York City’s Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook, via Marisa’s Italian Kitchen. I incorporated white whole wheat flour, modified the proportions, and reduced the baking time.

They were a very special breakfast. 🙂

Yield: 10 muffins

For the Crumb Topping:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cubed

For the Muffin Batter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • a teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries, plus 10 additional raspberries for topping (or 20+ blueberries)
  • Crumb Topping (above)
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all the Crumb Topping ingredients using a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate the crumb mixture until your ready to use it. (This can be prepared in advance.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  3. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper muffin cups or coat with cooking oil spray.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg and the lemon zest to the mixture and blend until combined.
  6. Whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl.
  7. Mix in ¼ cup of the sour cream into the butter mixture, then half of the flour mixture and repeat with the rest of the sour cream and flour mixture. Do not over mix!
  8. Gently fold in the 1 cup of raspberries with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed.
  9. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the Crumb Mix and a raspberry.
  10. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, on a middle rack, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool, then serve.

One Year Ago: Crisp Toffee Bars

Three Years Ago: Tate’s Shortbread and Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Easter Challah

Happy Belated Easter!

I was so proud of myself because I learned how to make a four-strand braid to make this special loaf. 🙂 The challenge in the original recipe was to learn how to make a six-strand braid, but a four-strand seemed like enough of a challenge at the time. 😉 I loved how it looked too.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I modified the braid and used a proofing oven. I learned the four-strand braiding technique from Tori Avey.com. This link actually has very useful steps for several challah braiding techniques.

Challah is best eaten the day it is made. Because I made the challah the day before Easter, we ate it toasted with butter and jam. I thought it was a perfect holiday breakfast along with our colored Easter eggs. Lovely!

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 17 ounces (4 cups) unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T instant yeast
  • cooking oil spray, for coating the bowl

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 T water

To Prepare the Dough:

  1. Weigh out 17 ounces of flour; or measure 4 cups of flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. The more accurately you measure your flour, the better your bread will be; too much flour will yield a dry, heavy loaf.
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients, except the cooking oil spray, and mix to make a rough dough.
  3. Knead the dough — by hand, using a stand mixer, or in a bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough. It’ll still have a slightly rough surface; that’s fine. (I kneaded the dough in a stand mixer using a dough hook for about 5 minutes.)
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  5. Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours. (I placed the bowl in a proofing oven.) It won’t necessarily double in bulk, but should become noticeably (if not dramatically) puffy.
  6. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
  7. You may braid the challah the traditional way, into a three-strand braid. I chose a four-strand braid. (Instructions for these and a six-strand are in the link above.)
  8. Divide the dough into four pieces, or into equal pieces for desired braiding techniques. A scale is a big help in dividing the dough evenly.
  9. Shape each piece into a rough log.
  10. Cover the logs with plastic wrap, and let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  11. Roll each piece into a long rope. Your goal is ropes about 20″ long; if the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and let it rest again for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling. The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax.

To Make a Four-Strand Braid:

  1. Pinch together the ends of the strands so that all six strands are joined at one end.
  2. Take the strand furthest to the right and weave it towards the left through the other strands using this pattern: over, under, over.
  3. Take the strand furthest to the right and repeat the weaving pattern again: over, under, over. Repeat this pattern, always starting with the strand furthest to the right, until the whole loaf is braided.
  4. Pinch the ends of the loose strands together and tuck them under on both ends of the challah loaf to create a nice shape.
  5. Gently pick up the braided loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

To Finish:

  1. Cover the braided loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it’s very puffy, 90 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature or in a proofing oven.
  2. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Whisk together the large egg and 1 tablespoon water to create the egg wash. Brush this glaze over the risen loaf.
  4. Nest the challah on its baking sheet into another baking sheet, if you have one. This double layering of pans will help prevent the challah’s bottom crust from browning too quickly.
  5. Put the challah into the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes. If it’s a deep golden brown, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. If it’s not as brown as you like, check it again at 30 minutes.
  6. Once you’ve tented the challah, bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf looks and feels set and its interior registers at least 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

Note: Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. While challah does tend to dry out after a day or so, it’s always good toasted or made into grilled sandwiches or French toast.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Babka and Easter Paska

Three Years Ago: Easter Babka

Four Years Ago: Low-Fat Oat & Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

Five Years Ago:

Irish Soda Scones with Orange Glaze

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I like to try a new version of soda bread as part of our celebration. 🙂 This version was great- light and fluffy with sweetness from the glaze. Everyone really enjoyed them.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used raisins instead of currants, reduced the size and baking time, and made half of the batch with caraway seeds (for me) and half of the batch without seeds (kids!). We ate them for breakfast but they would be wonderful with a cup of afternoon tea as well.

Yield: 18 to 20 scones

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces; work into flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until dough resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add currants/raisins, caraway seeds, and buttermilk; stir until just combined.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake until bottoms are golden, about 12 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
  8. Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and orange zest. Drizzle over scones; serve.

One Year Ago: Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Two Years Ago: Irish Soda Bread Buns

Three Years Ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Banana Honey Muffins

I loved these wholesome, naturally sweetened muffins more than everyone else in my house. The cookbook described them as “a great alternative to a heavier banana bread.” Agreed! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour and wheat bran for the wheat germ.

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or wheat bran
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed, fully ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flours, wheat germ/bran, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter. Add honey, vanilla, and mashed banana.
  5. Add butter mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly.
  6. Spoon mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

One Year Ago: Applesauce Oatmeal Bread

Two Years Ago: No-Knead Bread from Sullivan Street Bakery

Three Years Ago: 

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Pumpkin-Orange Bread

I have to make some sort of pumpkin bread in the fall. This orange variation sounded lovely and resulted in a moist and tender loaf. My family didn’t appreciate the pepita garnish on the top of the loaf, but I thought that it added a nice crunch and contrasting texture. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour and baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan. Nice.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • grated orange zest from 1 large orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1/2 large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and nutmeg, 30 seconds.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together butter, pumpkin, eggs, orange zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Make a well in flour mixture and pour pumpkin mixture into it.
  5. Stir together just until combined and no dry flour remains (do not overmix).
  6. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle top evenly with pepitas, pressing lightly to adhere.
  7. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes for a standard loaf or about 35 minutes for a Pullman loaf.
  8. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer loaf to a wire rack and let cool completely. Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in parchment-lined foil, up to 3 days.
 One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

I am drawn to cinnamon-sugary desserts in the fall. Especially if streusel is involved. 🙂 I wanted to bake this snickerdoodle-coffee cake hybrid dessert the second I saw the recipe. I was not disappointed! These cookie bars are not only delicious, they are versatile as well. They could be served for a special breakfast, snack, or dessert.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We ate them for dessert. They were extra-fabulous served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For the Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), cut into pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  1. Make the Streusel: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until small to medium clumps form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the Topping: Stir together cinnamon and granulated sugar; set aside.
  3. Make the Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter parchment. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, both sugars, and eggs. Add flour mixture; stir to combine.
  6. Spread half of batter into bottom of dish.
  7. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar.
  8. Dollop remaining batter on top; spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  9. Sprinkle evenly with streusel, then remaining cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake until a tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes in a convection oven, or 30 to 35 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely. (In order to keep the layers intact, the cake must be completely cool before cutting it into bars.)
  12. Transfer to a cutting board using parchment overhang and cut into bars to serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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