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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

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I went blueberry picking last Saturday. It was short, and my friend and I quickly realized that we had gone too late in the season (good, ripe, berries were few and far between). I did manage to get about 3 lbs though. And although I won’t be making my blueberry jam again this year, I will be using it to make a various, and large, assortment of baked goods. I think that’s only fair.

I realized that I was in the mood for pie but not for the double crust prep, nor the extra steps to ensure the pie was cooked all the way through, and the berries would be soft, but not too juicy and fall apart. Blueberry is very hard to make. I saw my friend make one with her blueberries and it was a mess. I mean, she did great, but I don’t think I could have that sort of patience. Instead, I picked up some raspberries and nectarines and decided a galette (or crostata, as some say) would suffice.

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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

  • 2 small nectarines, or any stone fruit of your choice such as one large peach, or 2-3 apricots
  • 8 oz of raspberries (one of those containers at the super market)
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • teaspoon of butter
  • teaspoon of vanilla
  • teaspoon of Australian Pink Salt ( just got this today, from Williams-Sonoma, use any salt you like)
  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 1 egg (for egg wash, optional)

In a medium pot, over low heat, melt the butter. In a bowl mix the berries and brown sugar. Add berries to pot and stir in vanilla. Cook for about 15 minutes or so on low heat to allow the juices to escape. Add salt, and turn off heat. Allow to cool for about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet by adding and greasing your parchment paper.

Roll out your down, either homemade or store bought.

With a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries into the center of the dough. Slice up the stone fruit and layer on top of the berries. Fold over the dough leaving an opening in the center of the pie. I like to put a round piece of stone fruit in the center, almost like an eye. Crack an egg in a bowl and quickly whisk. Brush over the crust of the pie and in the center. If you like, you can also sprinkle some raw sugar over the crust for added crispiness.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to sit for a good 15 minutes before transferring as the berry juices will not be stable. Some of my mine leaked out, but that wasn’t not a problem, the point of this sort of pie, is that it’s rustic, and a few small holes in the crust, where juices leaked out, are just fine.

 

Enjoy~

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Train Rides and Nutella Muffins

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This weekend was pretty darn close to perfect. I went on a vintage train with Boyfriend and we got lots of time to do homework together, do errands together, and even pretty up my apartment… together! We did everything together and I must say it was a great and lovely time.

Fillmore and Western Railway Train

Inside the amazing and old train

we were on a “scenic” weekend tour… it was a lot of farm land and trailer parks

LOOSE CABOOSE mini chicken farm

This fan is probably older than my grandfather!

 

I even looked after a friend’s doggies this weekend. My first time pet sitting for someone that isn’t my mom and Miss Kitty Cat. I’m excited to say that they are very healthy, well fed, and happy. I hope my friend doesn’t mind me showing off her pooches, they were really adorable. And a little insane cause of the lack of attention. Nonetheless, you can see they were still fun.

 

 

As a result of this very fruitful and amazing weekend I decided to clean and bake for the first time in about two-three weeks. The fact that I’ve been too busy to bake has been astonishing for me, the person that would sometimes bake cookies or muffins and a cake in the same day to have “variety” for the rest of the week.

I’ve had a small sweet tooth for warmth lately. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but that’s what I’ve been craving: cinnamon, apples, brown sugar, caramel, all those amazing things.

I’ve had this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction pinned on google chrome for a while now. And the last time I baked something I used one of her recipes, so I figured now is as good at time as any to get on the nutella train, knowing what I’d make would be delicious.

 

 

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

makes 8-9 muffins

  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk, but regular is fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  DO NOT overmix – stir until *just* combined.

Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity.  Layer with 1 tsp Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top.  If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok.  They will not overflow.  Repeat layering batter + Nutella into each muffin tin.  I got exactly 8 muffins.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.

While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.  Enjoy!*

 

 

*I didn’t make the streusal topping because I added a bit more nutella and I didn’t want them so sweet that I wouldn’t eat them, so I sprinkled some raw sugar over the top instead.

Tarte Fine Aux Pommes (Apple-Puff Pastry Galette)

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I haven’t baked anything in such a long time. Dare I say, in over a month! I’ve got to stop being so neglectful of my oven, and skills, if I say so myself. Today I got the itch. Between the laundry and the homework, I gave in, and made this lovely apple galette.

Although  it’s not really a galette, Nigella refers to it by it’s French term, and as I know nothing of French language or food (officially anyway), I’ll describe as she does. Regardless of the name it’s called, this lovely pastry is the most amazing thing I’ve tasted all month. Well, last month, as this is September after all.

But I digress, this recipe speaks for itself.

 

* (edit) Side note: This would be great with some honey drizzled over it once it’s still warm and out of the oven. Apples, honey, this sounding familiar to anyone? It’s the traditional dessert for Rosh Hashanah. It’s an idea that my friend gave me, which  I thought I’d share with you in case some readers out there were wondering what to make next weekend*

 

Taken from Nigella Express

  •  2 Large Granny Smith apples, or 3 smaller Fugi apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 (1 sheet) of a 17.2 oz package all-butter puff pastry, measuring 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, separated
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preheat over to 425 degrees.

Core the apples, cut them in half. Pour lemon juice into a wide shallow dish and fill it with some cold water. Immerse the apple halves in the lemony water; this will stop them turning brown.

Lay the sheet of puff pastry onto a large baking sheet, and either using the back of a large carving knife, or a steel ruler, mark a 1/2 inch border all the way around the edge of the pastry. You need to score the lines on the pastry rather than cutting all the way down and through it. This will allow the frame to rise above the apple filling.

Pat the apples dry and cut each half into quarters, then slice each as thinly as you can muster.

Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the base. Working from the inside edge, place the apple slices closely overlapping within the border of the frame. Create neat lines of apple slices until the pastry is covered.

Heat the butter with the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small pan, and let both bubble for a few minutes, until a light caramel color appears. Dribble and drizzle this syrup over the apples and put tart in the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, by which time the puff pastry should have risen with a nice border, and the fruit will be soft and slightly colored. If the apples have given off a juice, go ahead and let the pastry sit for 5 minutes.

Serves about 6-8

Easy Peasy Snickerdoodles

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These are Boyfriend’s favorite cookies. There aren’t many desserts he likes so I figured I’d give him a treat.

This recipe isn’t my first choice; I usually follow the one that’s in my Betty Crocker: Best of Baking cookbook. However, this one was infinitely easier. I did learn something about this recipe, while sometimes they say to space appropriately because the cookies will flatten and widen while baking (but barely do), they really do!

What I learned was that a 2 inch diameter ball was the best, spread about 2-3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. The smaller balls melted too much, therefore were almost cracker-like, they were so crispy! Of course, everything is to taste, and if you like the thinner, crispier cookies, by all means make your balls of dough small.

Snickerdoodles

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Mix
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees (I had mine on 325).
Cream the butter and the sugar. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and roll the cookie dough into balls*.
Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place the rolled balls on a greased baking sheet.
Leave as balls because they will flatten as they bake. Bake the cookies  for 10 to 15 minutes (I baked mine at about 12 minutes). The bottoms should be light golden. They will set a little as they cool.
*note: As you can see the dough is made quickly, therefore there was really one chance to slow down long enough to take a photo during this cookie making post. The dough will form quickly as well. I used my stand mixer and once the rest of the ingredients (ie. the flour) were added and mixed into the creamed sugar-butter mixture, it formed into a dough in less than 15 seconds! Therefore, don’t over beat!

Hazelnut Biscotti

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a bit obsessed with biscotti. They’re a pretty great cookie, really. Nothing more lovelier, even on a 100 degree So. Cal. summer day than some hot tea (or coffee) and biscotti to chew on. Since my first biscotti was so successful, I’ve decided to go ahead and make another one.

I’m sure I’ll be making my own biscotti for years to come.

This recipe was easier when I omitted servicing the nuts. Simply because I don’t mind a bit of roughage which the skins provide, and I enjoyed that slight bitter edge it gave the biscotti, contrasting nicely between the sweetness of my teas. Overall, two thumbs up!

 

Taken from Homemade and Wholesome’s TWD post

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unblanched (raw) hazelnuts

*I skipped this step, my nuts weren’t skinned, and were totally fine.

  • 1  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Preparing the Nuts– To skin the hazelnuts, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the baking soda and the nuts, and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the water turns black. To test if the skins have loosened sufficiently, drop a nut into a bowl of cold water and rub lightly against the skin- if the skin just slides off, the nuts are ready to go. Turn the nuts into a colander and run cold water over them. Slip off the skins, toss the nuts onto a towel, pat dry, and transfer to a jelly-roll pan.

Place the pan in the oven and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The best way to test for total toastiness is to bite into a nut- it should be brown to the center. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.

When the nuts are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and set them aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve until needed.

Making the Dough– Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk just to blend. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add the nuts and continue to mix, just until well incorporated. (Since the dough is stiff, sticky, and hard to stir, you might find it easier just to reach in and mix it with your hands.)

Flour your hands and lift half of the dough onto one side of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and squeeze the dough into a chubby log 12 to 13 inches long. Don’t worry about being neat or smoothing the dough- it will even out as much as it needs to in the oven. Repeat with the other half of the dough, leaving about 3 inches between the logs.

I decided to only use one log simply because I was lazy and I like biscotti that’s wide and thin.

First Baking– Bake the logs for exactly 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. At this point, the logs can remain on the pan overnight, if that’s more convenient for you.

Second Baking– Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices, cutting straight across or diagonally. (You can make the biscotti thinner or thicker, as you wish, and adjust the baking time accordingly.) Lay the biscotti on their sides on a cooling rack- you may need to use a second rack- the place the cooling rack in the 300F oven, directly on an oven rack. (Baking the biscotti like this allows the oven’s heat to circulate around the cookies, so there’s no need to turn them over.) The cookies may need to bake for as long as 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking them after about 10 minutes. When the biscotti are golden brown, dry and crisp, remove the cooling racks from the oven. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before packing them for storage.

Tea Party Part III: Butter Sugar Cookies in Festive Coating

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Going off of my Tea Party theme I seem to have adopted for the month of July, I decided to make something that goes so perfectly with tea, dare I say better than Biscotti, I’m surprised it took me almost a week to figure out what I was missing out on!

What I’m babbling on about is of course, sugar butter cookies. Almost like the Danish cookies you get for Christmas and devour, more or less, within the week, these cookies are amazingly soft but have great bite. Perfect for dunking, dipping and doing what you must to a cookie and a cup of tea.

I’ve got to admit that I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to making cookies like these, for no other reason than that I have to roll and cut them out, and having limited counter space, all the extra work of cleaning and prepping and cleaning and putting away is too daunting. Thank goodness I was in a cookie mood, no matter the extra chores.

taken from Life’s a Feast

For the cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs Amaretto, optional
  • ½ tsp vanilla – increase to 1 tsp if omitting the Amaretto
  • 3 ½ cups  flour

To decorate:

  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • Colored sugar crystals, sprinkles/jimmies or sugared flower petal nibs

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and the sugar until light and fluffy (I felt like being completely domestic and wearing an apron, I’m quite proud to say I creamed the butter with sugar by hand).

Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition just to incorporate.

Beat in the Amaretto and vanilla and then about a third of the flour until smooth. Gradually beat in as much of the remaining flour as possible using the electric beater, then stir in the rest with a wooden spoon or a spatula.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly; if you haven’t stirred in all of the flour you can knead in the rest quite easily. Once you have a smooth, homogeneous dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Working with about half the dough at a time, roll it out to a thickness of not less than 1/8-inch , being careful that the dough is very evenly rolled out.

Carefully cut out shapes with your cookie cutters. Gently transfer to a cookie sheet. If you want to decorate, just gently lift the cookies one by one, brush around the edges with a beaten egg, then dip in the decorative sugar before placing on the cookie sheets.

Bake for about 10 minutes. They will be set and appear cooked but they will NOT brown (I’m bolding this for  a reason: they won’t brown, seriously, don’t even attempt it or they will be dry crackers).  You’ll know they are done because they will slide right off the cookie sheet when just nudged with a spatula.

Remove from the oven and gently lift each cookie off of the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before enjoying.

Sour Cream Chocolate Coffee Cake for Weekend Mornings

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I’m having more time than usual with Boyfriend and I thought in case we’re going to be hiking, or running like mad men around the block, a burst of sugar in the morning could only help us in terms of energy.

This is were this coffee cake comes in. Not only does it have a full 12 oz of chocolate chips but it’s got over 2 cups of sugar in it (including the topping) and the hearty carbs in the cake part of the coffee cake will surly be a help when we’re out and about. At least that’s what I read happens to carbs and sugars when you’re active.

This is my first time experimenting with it in such a way. Usually, I go to my sofa and watch a good episode of  Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Either way, I think I’ll be happy.

Onto to recipe, which was taken from The Cherry On Top blog. I followed the recipe completely because I’ve never been one to experiment with coffee cakes, and in fact have only made 3 total.

 

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. If not nonstick coated, cover the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Set pan aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate bowl. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick. In a medium bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.

In a small dish, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.

Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a rubber or offset spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top.

Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips. With the palm of your hand, ever-so-gently press the chocolate chips a bit into the batter. No need to submerge them, you just want to make sure they adhere bit.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

That’s not overcooked cake, I just overdid it on the cinnamon.