Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. 😉 What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to ‹a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to  300° F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until ‹a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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Fresh Strawberry Gelato

I am always a little apprehensive to make strawberry ice cream. In the past, I’ve tried various strategies to keep the berries from becoming icy and hard in the finished product. Pureeing the berries in this gelato was the perfect solution. My beautiful freshly picked berries may have helped too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Katrina and Carmelo Turillo, owners of La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans, via Bon Appetit. I didn’t strain the puree, chilled the base overnight in the refrigerator, and churned the gelato for 25 minutes in my ice cream maker. I may add some vanilla extract next time. It was excellent!

Yield: Makes about 4 cups
  • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream.
  3. Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl.
  4. Immerse bowl in prepared ice water to cool, stirring occasionally.
  5. Puree strawberries in processor. Stir into gelato base.
  6. Mix in pomegranate juice.
  7. Chill 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Transfer to container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and the container lid; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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Lattice-Top Strawberry Pie

One of our family traditions is to go strawberry picking in June. This year, we were able to pick them at the organic farm that produces our CSA share. The berries were absolutely perfect. The farm also grows many different varieties of berries, so it was fun to pick from different areas of the patch. We kept buying more containers to fill! We went home with eight quarts. 🙂

First, I made the “mandatory” Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam and Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. I also make strawberry pancakes and strawberry muffins. Of course, I had to try something new to make with my precious berries. This lattice-top pie was it. Lucky for us, I also had enough berries to make Strawberry Gelato as well. All delicious!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times. I adapted the recipe by using an all-butter crust from Martha Stewart. I also used an additional cup of berries in the filling, used a 6-piece lattice crust, and sprinkled the top crust with turbinado sugar prior to baking. I also covered the edge of the pie throughout the baking time to prevent over-browning.

Fresh and fabulous. 🙂

Yield: one 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10

For the Pate Brisee:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • coarse salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined.
  2. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
  3. Drizzle 1/3 cup ice water (5 tablespoons) evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture holds together when pressed between 2 fingers (dough should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse.
  4. Shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (I made the crusts a day in advance.)

For the Filling:

  • 2 Âœ pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved to make 6 to 7 cups
  • Ÿ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

To Finish:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, optional, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Make the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough round to fit a 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Fit the dough in the pie plate and spoon in the filling. Scatter the butter evenly over the top.
  5. Roll out the remaining dough, cut it into 1-inch strips (I cut mine into 6 pieces with a fluted pastry wheel) and weave a lattice top over the filling. Trim and crimp the edges.
  6. Brush the egg over the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  7. Cover the edge of the crust to prevent over-browning.
  8. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the crust is nicely browned and the filling bubbles thickly, 40-50 minutes.
  10. Place on a rack to cool completely, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Cut into wedges and serve, with or without vanilla ice cream, as desired.

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GĂąteau de CrĂȘpes

This incredible cake was a truly a Father’s Day tribute. I made it for my husband to celebrate what an amazing dad he is to our kids. ❀ We enjoyed it after spending the day at a gorgeous New York State Park, Planting Fields Arboretum.

Making a crĂȘpe cake was also a memorial to my dad. When I was growing up, my dad made crĂȘpes on Sundays for breakfast and he taught me how to make them. When my family brought me to college in Boston, we went downtown to a beautiful Williams-Sonoma and my dad selected crĂȘpe pans to give me as a “going away to school gift.” I treasure them.

I also built the cake on a special cake plate that once belonged to my French grandparents. ❀

I’ve wanted to make a crĂȘpe cake for quite some time. My food-blog friends Suzanne and Mimi inspired me to finally make this fabulous dessert. Thanks, ladies! 🙂 This recipe is from the New York Times, via Smitten Kitchen.com. The original recipe adapted the batter from ”Joy of Cooking” and the pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. I omitted the Kirsch, made the crepes in advance, and increased the sugar in the filling.

I’m sharing this special dessert at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #178. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 12

For the CrĂȘpe Batter:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For Assembly:

  • vegetable oil, such as canola or corn
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more ( I used 4 T in the cream plus 2 T for brĂ»lĂ©e)
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional (if not doing brĂ»lĂ©e)

The day before serving, make the crĂȘpe batter and the pastry cream.

To Make the Batter:

  1. In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside.
  2. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter.
  4. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Make the Pastry Cream:

  1. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl.
  6. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

To Make the CrĂȘpes & Assemble the Cake (the next day):

  1. Bring the batter to room temperature.
  2. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crĂȘpe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil (I used a brush), then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface.
  3. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crĂȘpe with your fingers or a thin metal spatula. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds.
  4. Flip the crĂȘpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crĂȘpes. (I made 22 crĂȘpes.) Note: I tightly wrapped the crĂȘpes in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for several hours before assembling the cake.
  5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more.
  6. Whip the heavy cream with the 1-4 T sugar and the Kirsch, if using. It won’t hold peaks.
  7. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  8. Lay 1 crĂȘpe on a cake plate.
  9. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup).
  10. Cover with a crĂȘpe and repeat to make a stack of 20 (or 22!), with the best-looking crĂȘpe on top.
  11. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crĂȘpe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.

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Sour Cream & Blueberry Coffee Cake

I love an excuse to make a special breakfast. This time, it was a cold and rainy Saturday morning at home with my daughter. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from San Francisco’s Hobee’s Restaurant via Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. I loved that Batali noted that this coffee cake is “suspiciously under the heading ‘Light Bites'” on their menu. 🙂 I suppose it doesn’t incorporate that much butter… 😉

I adapted the recipe by incorporating whole wheat pastry flour, increasing the baking time, and modifying the topping. Instead of using a 9×9-inch baking pan, I used an 8×8-inch equivalent baking pan (it has a berry pattern on it!), which was a little bit too small… Still yummy, thank goodness.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Brown Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Make the Cake: Rinse the berries in cold water and then toss them in 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.
  4. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl, and pour the berries into the sieve. Shake the excess flour off into the bowl; set berries aside.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl, along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to incorporate.
  6. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and granulated sugar until well combined.
  7. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms.
  8. Pour half the butter in the pan and scatter most of the berries over.
  9. Pour in the rest of the batter and drop the rest of the berries on top.
  10. Make the Brown Sugar Topping: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine throughly using a pastry blender.
  11. Spread topping over the top of the batter.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is uniformly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool before serving.

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Apple-Cider Doughnut Cake

I had my first apple-cider doughnut this past fall at a beautiful farm on the East end of Long Island. It was freshly made, hot, and delicious. Naturally, this recipe caught my eye. It is a giant version of fabulousness- even incorporating whole wheat flour and olive oil.

This cake was magnificent. I will make it again in the fall, although I think it is truly season-less. The olive oil and applesauce made it incredibly moist as well. This recipe was adapted from A New Way to Bake, via Martha Stewart Living. I reduced the baking temperature because my Bundt pan has a dark non-stick coating. I also reduced the amount of cinnamon sugar topping. We enjoyed it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Yield: One 10-inch Bundt Cake
For the Cake:
  • room temperature unsalted butter, or melted butter, for the pan
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh apple cider
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional

For the Topping:

  • 2 T natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a dark pan, or 350 degrees in a standard pan, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. (This step in incredibly important in a Bundt pan- make sure all of the crevices are coated.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups sugar, cider, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; whisk until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  5. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; let cool 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together 2 T sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  7. Invert warm cake onto rack. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
  8. Let cool completely before serving. Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature up to 2 days.

Chocolate Babka

I have wanted to bake this special cake ever since first seeing photos of it from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book all over the blogosphere. It always looks stunning and delicious.

This version is an adaptation of the Chocolate Krantz Cakes in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi from Smitten Kitchen.com. I loved that she had already made this babka FIVE times, and modified the recipe to perfection. Tried and true. Thank you, Deb Perelman! 🙂

Perelman’s adaptations included omitting the nuts, using granulated instead of superfine sugar, large instead of extra-large eggs, and reducing the amount of sugar syrup topping. She also modified the technique for ease. I melted the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and let the dough rise in a proofing drawer as well.

We enjoyed it warm from the oven for Easter dessert. Rich and wonderful.

Yield: 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

For the Dough:

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (rapid rise)
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces), at room temperature
  • Sunflower, Canola, other neutral oil, or cooking oil spray, for greasing

For the Filling:

  • 4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • scant 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar

Make the dough:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the paddle or dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple of minutes. (If it doesn’t come together, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass.)
  3. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough.
  4. If using the paddle, switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. After 10 minutes, the dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.
  5. Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Leave in fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight. The dough will not fully double, so don’t be concerned if it doesn’t look like it grew by more than half.

Make the filling:

  1. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Add cinnamon.

Assemble the loaves:

  1. Coat two 9-by-4-inch (2 1/4 or 1 kg) loaf pans with cooking spray, oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper.
  2. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.
  3. Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
  4. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log.
  5. Transfer the log to a plastic wrap-lined, rimmed baking tray. Place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. (This allows the log to be cut in half more easily.) Repeat with second dough.
  6. Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. (The dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry if the pan isn’t filled.) Note: Next time I would try crossing the dough more than once, if possible.
  7. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a proofing drawer or at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F (190°C), preferably on convection.
  2. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If your babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While the babkas are baking, make the sugar syrup:

  1. Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat.
  2. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist.
  3. Let babkas cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating. (or serve warm!)

Do ahead: Babkas keep for a few days at room temperature. Reheat prior to serving, if desired. If longer, freeze them. They freeze and defrost well.

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