Strawberry-Cornmeal-Olive Oil Snacking Cake

My family really embraces strawberry season. We can’t get enough freshly picked Long Island berries! 🙂 After making our essential Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam, I made this super moist, coarse-textured snack cake which incorporated my special jam.

I baked the cake a day in advance and served it for dessert with homemade Fresh Strawberry Gelato. Yes, it was over the top! We ate the leftovers for breakfast. In retrospect, although it is sweet enough to be a dessert, I think that I would serve it for breakfast, or as a special snack with tea or coffee, next time. It was a wonderful breakfast- such a treat.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I modified the baking time and used homemade jam. The jam sinks to the bottom of the cake and, with the granulated sugar coating, forms a crispy, caramelized crust. Yum.

Yield: One 13×9-inch sheet cake

  • 8 to 10 oz strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 238 g (1 cup plus 3 T) granulated sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan (or use cooking spray for pan)
  • 188 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cornmeal, preferably finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T sour cream
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, stirred (original recipe recommends Bonne Maman Intense)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Gently toss strawberries, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
  3. Grease a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with oil or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 long sides.
  4. Grease parchment with oil or cooking oil spray. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
  5. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 200 g (1 cup) sugar, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine.
  8. Using a spatula, gradually fold in 3/4 cup oil until batter is smooth and homogenous with all of the oil incorporated.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  10. Stir the strawberry jam to make more fluid. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. (I made 36 small dollops over the surface of the cake.) Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently swirl jam into batter.
  11. Arrange reserved strawberries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points. (You may have extra sliced berries; reserve for another use.) See note.
  12. Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  13. Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40–45 minutes in a standard oven.

Note: Because the strawberries will shrink and sink a bit during baking (how much depends on their size and sweetness), make sure they’re placed shoulder to shoulder on top of the batter. (My design didn’t hold up very well during the baking process but no one seemed to mind.)

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Garlic Knots

We have pizza night once a week- usually on Sundays. We vary the type and toppings, of course. 🙂 During the initial lockdown, we started experimenting with many variations of garlic knots to eat with our special pizza. I now realize that pizzeria versions are soaked in an incredible amount of oil.  I opted for a drizzle before and after baking instead.

We made them with different doughs and determined that a 24-hour pizza dough (one of my favorites) resulted in our preferred garlic knots. We also attempted to make them with sourdough pizza dough (of course!) but they were too puffy. We experimented with different baking temperatures as well. I found that a higher oven temperature and shorter baking time resulted in more tender garlic knots.

This recipe makes two batches of eight knots; I froze half and thawed them in the refrigerator prior to baking with excellent results. Great.

Yield: about 16 garlic knots

For the Dough:

  • 153 grams (1 1/4 cups) 00 Flour
  • 153 grams (1 1/4 cups) King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
  • 8 grams (scant 2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 2 grams (scant 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast OR 4 grams (scant 1 teaspoon) fresh yeast
  • 4 grams (scant 1 teaspoon) good olive oil
  • 202 grams (1 cup minus 1 T) lukewarm water

For the Topping: (make half if freezing half of the garlic knots)

  • 5 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 pinches coarse salt
  • dash of red pepper flakes, or more to taste, optional
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

To Serve:

  • marinara sauce, optional
  • minced parsley, for garnish, optional

To Make the Dough (24 to 48-hours in advance):

  1. In a bowl, thoroughly combine the flours and salt; make a well in the center.
  2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the yeast, olive oil, and lukewarm water.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the well in the dry mixture and begin mixing the two together with your hands, gradually incorporating the dry into the wet. This process will be more like mixing than kneading.
  4. After about 3 minutes, when the wet and dry are well combined, set the mixture aside and let it rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. This allows time for the flour to absorb the moisture.
  5. Flour your hands and the work surface. Gently but firmly knead the mixture on the work surface for about 3 minutes. Reflour your hands and the surface as necessary. The dough will be nice and sticky, but after a few minutes of kneading it should come together into a smooth mass.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, shape them gently into balls, and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 24 and up to 48 hours before using. This process, called proofing, allows for the fermentation that gives the dough structure- which results in a chewy, pliable crust with great flavor.

To Shape the Dough:

  1. Roll each dough ball into an 8-inch log.
  2. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut each log into 8 pieces (approximately 1-inch each and equal in size).
  3. Roll each piece into and 8-inch long rope. (You will have 16 ropes.)(I did this by hand but my kids also used a rolling pin.)
  4. Tie each rope into a knot. (The ends can be tucked underneath or left out.)
  5. Arrange the knots on two aluminum foil-lined baking sheets. (I ultimately preferred aluminum foil over parchment paper because of the high oven temperature.)(At this point some of the garlic knots can be frozen- see note below.)
  6. Lightly cover and let them rest in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes. (I used a proofing oven.)
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (I used the baking stone setting with a stone placed in the lowest position.)
  8. When the rise time is nearly complete, prepare the topping.

To Prepare the Topping:

  1. Combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes, if using, in a small skillet.
  2. Cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and reserve.

To Bake & Serve the Garlic Knots:

  1. When the rise time is complete, brush the top of the garlic knots with a little more than half of the garlic-olive oil topping.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Remove from oven and brush with remaining garlic-olive oil topping.
  4. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and/or parsley, as desired. Serve plain or with marinara sauce for dipping.

Note: Cover and store leftover garlic knots in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Freeze Dough Prior to Baking:  Arrange the shaped knots on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet. Freeze, uncovered, for 1-2 hours. Remove from the freezer. Knots should be frozen and no longer sticky. Place into a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter. Bring to room temperature, arrange on 2 foil-lined baking sheets, cover lightly, and allow to rest/rise in a warm spot for 1 hour before baking as above.

Marcella Hazan’s Sicilian-Style Swordfish

This was such an elegant, fresh, tasty, and quick-cooking dish. It is part of a recipe collection that Food and Wine published for their 40th anniversary titled “Food & Wine: Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.”

The recipe was contributed to this special issue by Marcella Hazan. I modified the ratio, using less swordfish but the same amount of sauce. By serving the fish over a bed of rice, the rice absorbed all of the extra deliciousness.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons table salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut 1/2 inch thick (I cut 1-inch thick steaks in half)
  1. Light a grill or preheat the broiler.
  2. Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the salt until the salt dissolves. (I used coarse salt- which took quite a while to dissolve.) Stir in the oregano. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season generously with pepper.
  3. Grill the swordfish steaks over high heat (as close to the heat as possible), turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total).
  4. Transfer the fish to a platter. (I covered the platter with a bed of rice first.)
  5. Prick each fish steak in several places with a fork to allow the sauce to penetrate. Using a spoon, beat the sauce, then drizzle it over the fish (and rice, if desired). Serve at once.

Baker’s Banana-Nut Bread

Yes! Another sourdough recipe- all so good! I love that this recipe combines two of the most popular items to bake during this period of self-isolation- sourdough and banana bread. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour, added turbinado sugar to the topping, and baked the loaf in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I loved that this version included olive oil for moisture and honey for sweetness. Lovely.

We ate it as-is, but the original recipe recommends spreading full-fat Greek yogurt over the top of each slice.

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas (almost black and mushy)
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • turbinado sugar, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ÂşF, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and a teaspoon or two of turbinado sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil.
  8. Add in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  10. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts or pecans and lemon zest.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped nuts and sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a Pullman loaf pan or 55-65 minutes in a standard loaf pan. (It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist.)
  14. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Note: This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purĂ©e (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (can substitute pecans)
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

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.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins

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My kids needed a rock star snack for the first week of school. I had plans to make a Martha Stewart zucchini bread until I saw this recipe on Fiesta Friday. I loved the use of olive oil- and they looked delicious! You are thinking that zucchini bread doesn’t sound like much of a rock star snack- right? But… zucchini-chocolate chip mini-muffins were a perfect (rock star?) snack! 🙂 I am such a muffin fan. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The Joy of Cooking, via simple pairings.com. I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour, slightly increased the sugar, and modified the baking time. I made 1 1/2 times the recipe (the amount of zucchini I had on hand) and made 12 standard muffins and 18 mini-muffins. Healthy and delicious! Great!! My kids were pleased. 🙂

Yield: Makes 12 large muffins or 36 mini-muffins

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (important, because these muffins tend to stick.) (or 36 mini-muffin liners)
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, olive oil, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the dry ingredients. Keep stirring until the mixture is thoroughly blended, being careful not to over-mix.
  4. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips, and stir until well combined. You’ll see the mixture loosen up again, resembling a standard muffin batter.
  5. Divide amongst the lined muffin tin cups. Bake standard muffins for 22 minutes (on convection), up to 30-40 minutes in a conventional oven, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin tests cleanly; I baked the mini-muffins for 12 minutes on convection. Serve warm, or let cool completely and then store in an air-tight container. The muffins will keep well for a few days.

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