Hint of Spring Orange Raspberry Cakelets

There are so many things to love about being a food blogger. Chief among them is all of theIMG_4560 discoveries you make almost daily, of other bloggers, artisanal makers, baby brands, established brands you’ve never heard of. And of course the endless falling in love, over and over, with recipes, tastes, and photos. Food porn is real as you. well. know.

In the past year, I’ve discovered many delicious things going on in the UK and Down Under. You’ve all been there, you Like one thing on FB and then see something it Likes and you’re down a rabbit hole of Eat Me and Drink Me discovery. This particular journey started with the Great British Baking Show (on Netflix and then on PBS). Not only was each guest lovelier and more adorable than then next, but the judges were rigorous and the challenges significant. Plus I learned (learnt?) a lot of new terminology, including “checking the bake” which is the quality/crumb of the finished product.

From there, I somehow ran into delicious.magazine, also from the UK, that has a terrific social media presence and great recipe links/photos on FB (from which I made the Chocolate Molasses Buttons holiday cookies). And from there, I encountered Dish magazine from New Zealand – more lovely recipes for things I never heard of like Caramel IMG_4557Slice (aka Millionaire Shortbread) and this week’s delicious little bites.

The great thing about these orange raspberry mini loaves is how easy they are to make, which was key this past weekend because, as you likely know, we in the US “sprIMG_4546ang forward,” losing an hour of sleep. I also always seem to crave citrus and berries on spring forward Sunday, so the recipe was perfect. The extra special bonus was that I had an excuse to buy silicone financier pans – my first time baking in silicone and in that shape. The fun never ends!

The pans were terrific to work with, the perfect little loaves just popped out. The results are delicious, wonderful with tea. I don’t normally go for glaze but it adds a nice note here. If you look at the picture accompanying the recipe via the link above, you’ll see they have a pristine white glaze. I do not know how OJ and confectionery sugar would ever be snow white. C’est la vie. They taste terrific.

Note: You have to love nutmeg. I used powdered, jarred nutmeg which might have a stronger flavor than fresh. If you do the same, I suggest you halve the amount if you’re not a nutmeg fan. Also, the poppy seeds don’t add much to the result so don’t run to the store for them if you have everything else.

Next time I make these, I’m going to try lemon instead of orange. I just love lemons and raspberries together.

Happy spring!

Raspberry Orange Cakelets

Adapted from a recipe by Dish Magazine

Ingredients

2 sticks plus 1 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1¼ c granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 c flour

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ½ tsp powdered nutmeg from a jar)

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 Tbs poppy seeds (optional)

2 Tbs plain yogurt

Juice of half medium orange

Finely grated zest of one medium orange

2 cups frozen raspberries

Glaze

1½ cups confectionery sugar

Juice of 1 orange

Preparation

rasp batterPreheat oven to 350. Arrange two 12-hole silicone financier pans on baking sheets and set aside.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the yogurt, orange juice and orange zest together; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stop the mixer and add both the dry ingredients and the yogurt/OJ mixture to the butter. Mix on low until just combined.

Add the raspberries and, using a large rubber spatula, gently fold into the batter. Note: if you use raspberries right from the freezer your batter will rasp pansharden a bit around them.

Use a #20 ice cream scoop to drop scant scoops of batter into each section of the pans. (You’ll get 15-18 cakes.) Smooth tops with a small offset spatula.

Put the cookie sheets with the financier pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.

IMG_4558Cool in the molds for 30 minutes before removing to a rack and cooling completely.

Glaze: Stir enough orange juice into the confectionery sugar to make a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cakes.

Store the cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 15-18 cakes.

 If you don’t have the mini loaf tin you can use standard muffin tins. You will probably get 14–15 cakes from the mixture as the tin capacity is smaller.

Enjoy!

 

Bonus Holiday Cookie!

OK, so yes, we completed the Seven Days of Cookies, but in the course ofIMG_3696 all that baking, I came across a recipe from Alice Medrich that cried out to be tried. So even though I’ve been rolling [in] dough for a week, I had to make one more batch of cookies.

These are called Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares. The recipe is from Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. These are beyond delicious, a crispy-chewy sandwich of delightfulness.

Notes

  • Alice says these cookies can be customized to your taste through your choice of fruit and spice. I love cranberry and orange so I used dried cranberries and candied orange peel with just a touch of cinnamon.
  • Make sure your fruit is moist! If it’s not, Alice says to soak it in water, juice or spirits for about 20 minutes (any longer and it will be too mushy to use). Pat dry before using.
  • Do the best you can when rolling the dough. It was a bit sticky so I rolled it between two pieces of parchment, flipping it several times and smoothing the paper. Even then I fell short of the desired 16.5 inch length.

I wasn’t sure whatIMG_3697 to expect from this cookie. I knew it would be good (Medrich, dried fruit, butter), but I wasn’t prepared for just how good. The kind of good that makes you laugh out loud.

Which is truly the best way to conclude a “baker’s dozen” of Seven Days of Cookies.

Enjoy! And have a beautiful Christmas!

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares

Adapted from Alice Medrich

Ingredients

1 3/4 c plus 2 Tbs flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

3/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated zest of one medium lemon and one smallish orange

1/2 c moist candied orange peel

½ c moist dried cranberries (coarsely chopped to about the same size as the orange peel)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup crystal sugar

Preparation

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

squareIn a medium bowl (with a mixer set on low), beat butter with the granulated sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and both zests, and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the dried fruits with the cinnamon.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes to soften slightly.

IMG_3682On a sheet of parchment at least 17 inches long, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle 8.5 inches by 16.5 inches. With a short side facing you, scatter half of the dried fruit on the bottom half of the dough. Fold top half of the dough over fruit, using the paper as a handle. Gently peel paper from the top of dough. (If it sticks, chill dough for a few minutes until the paper peels easily.)

Press the top of the dough down lightly, then dust with half of the coarse sugar, again patting it lightly to make sure the sugar adheres. Use a heavy knife to trim thIMG_3683e edges. Then cut it into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 4 pieces to make 16 squares. Place cookies 2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, fruit, and sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Rotate pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Let cool on sheets for about 10 minutes, then move to racks to cool completely.

Cookies keep in an airtight container for a week. Yields 24 to 32 squares. I wasn’t able to roll my dough to the full 16.5 inches so I ended up with about 24 cookies.

These are insane.

 

 

Fall Back Orange Cranberry Scones

I hope everyone had a gentle “fall back” on the weekend. I, myself, fell into a BloodyFullSizeRender_1 copy Mary and sumptuous grilled cheese at the Napa Valley Grille. Followed by a nap. So my usual Sunday bake was not on.

Monday morning, though, was a different story: I’d made a mushroom pasta on Friday so had leftover crème fraiche; I also had leftover candied orange peel from last week’s chocolate orange soda bread. I don’t know what that says to you, but it says scones to me!

I’ve been making this recipe for so long I don’t remember its origins. All I can tell you is that it’s delicious and foolproof. And fun, if you get your hands in there. I read somewhere that Irish scones vary from the touch of the hand of the woman who made them. So if you cut in the butter with your fingertips, you’ll be part of a long tradition and you’ll impart your uniqueness to the dough. And you’ll have the tenderest scones ever.

Nothing wrong with that.

These come together fast and in one bowl. They’ll be ready pretty much when the tea is. Perfect for just about any morning, but especially great for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m calling ’em “Fall Back” scones, not only because that’s what we just did, but because they’re so easy, they’ll be your fall back breakfast in no time.

Fall Back Orange Cranberry Scones

Ingredients

2 c flour

1/3 c sugar

2 Tbs grated orange peel

1 Tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch dice

½ c dried cranberries

¼ – ½ c diced candied orange peel

¼ cup sour cream (or crème fraiche)

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 large egg

Turbinado sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

UntitledWhisk together flour, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add diced butter. Using fingertips or a wire pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cranberries and diced candied orange peel.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream (or crème fraiche), orange juice and egg. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the bowl. Pour in the wet ingredients, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the dough just comes together and there’s no dry flour in the bowl.

Knead the dough gently in the bowl for a few turns to eliminate some of the stickiness. Then pat dough into an 8-inch circle on the prepared bakinFullSizeRender_3g pan. Using a pizza cutter, cut the circle in half one way, then in the other direction. Then cut across in a diagonal to create 8 equal wedges. Use the edge of the cutter to scooch them apart a little bit. Sprinkle with a generous amount of turbinado.

Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving with lots of good butter and jam. (They are also fantastic on their own.) These keep in a Ziploc on the counter for a day or two, or in the freezer for about a month.

IMG_2915Enjoy!

Trusting yourself + Everything Seasonal Bread

I know I’m not the only person who reads cookbooks like novels. (Especially since they are more and more often one-part memoir and two-parts recipes.) I always have. My motherFullSizeRender (1) had some real oldies I liked to read sitting at the kitchen table while she cooked. I adored the Better Homes & Gardens gingham book for its ring binding. I spent many childhood hours moving the pages around, sorting favorites or putting together “menus.” To this day, the BHG Baked Custard recipe is my go-to for almost instant homey gratification. (And, ps, if you use ½ milk, ½ heavy cream, it sets up with a moussey texture on the bottom and shiny custard on the top. Complete happiness.)

All that childhood reading has contributed to a sense for flavors and which will be complementary (on both the savory and sweet side). While I don’t have the most adventurous palate (“delicacies” are not my thing), I do think it’s fairly sophisticated. I can tell by the way a recipe is written whether it’s great or just serviceable, and I know when it will work and when it won’t.

Usually.

On the weekend I made a chocolate cake using a recipe from a respectable source. I had reservations – it called for cocoa and buttermilk which don’t harmonize for me – but since it was only one stick of butter, I gave it a go. Oy, friends. Bad. The overly sweet batter tasted “chocolaty” and the cake was…. Well, it was pretty: Dark. Good crumb. Good texture. It just tasted terrible. Thinking it might be my palate, I offered it around. No one cared for it. Well, one of my neighbor’s said, “It’s good. But I don’t want any more of it.” I let it sit for a day, loosely wrapped in plastic, to see if anything would meld or bloom. No. Bad. I trashed it (along with, apparently, all photos of it).

Lesson: Trust yourself. In the kitchen and in life.

IMG_2840So then I had the rest of a quart of buttermilk. And it is autumn, which calls for cozy, which calls for bread. Specifically Dark Chocolate Orange Soda Bread. Super easy, super fun, and super delicious. You can never go wrong with chocolate and orange, and it’s bread! Who cares if I have to run the AC in order to turn on the oven?

This is a recipe from Epicurious. I don’t make any changes to it. The dough is sticky sticky sticky. Scarily so. Be brave, dear reader, and don’t add a ton more flour to make it easier to handle! Just roll it around on your lightly floured work surface until you can take your hand off it without taking half of it with you. It can be done. I have a “vintage” kitchen that has tiled countertops (the horror!), so I work on a marble slab. And use a bench scraper to nudge my mound of dough off the marble and onto the prepared baking sheet.

I first made this last December for a holiday event. The dough was so crazy sticky that I just mounded it onto the sheet and said a prayer. Holy patron saint of bakers, is this stuff delicious! I mean seriously. For its ease and nothing fancy ingredients, it comes together like a trip to heaven. I’d never made soda bread before. I think I’d had it once at a St. Patrick’s dinner 30 years ago and that version was too rusk-like for me. The chocolate and orange drew me in like a moth to a flame. And, turns out, that 30 year old memory? That was just a bad loaf.

IMG_2836As to ingredients, I use Valhrona Manjari 64%FullSizeRender coarsely chopped and candied orange peel from local cooks’ store (oft mentioned here), Surfa’s. I’ve made this bread many times since, using orange peel from the Berkeley Bowl (similar to Surfa’s) and from the supermarket. The supermarket tubs (usually available only around the holidays) are a sweeter, stickier product. The orange bits tend to clump together in the bread, but it still tastes wonderful.

Important: Mind the time! Because the dough is so difficult to manage, my loaves have turned out differently every time. Sometimes wider and flatter, sometimes taller and more compact. The recipe calls for 70 minutes baking. I have never needed that much time, neither when using a fancy calibrated Wolf range nor when using the Home Depot special oven in my current place. The loaf needs to be brown, firm, with a tester coming out clean.IMG_2841 Check it at 40 minutes. I’ll be surprised if you need more than 60 total. It tastes as wonderful regardless of how the loaves appear.

It’s best to let this bread fully cool before cutting. Then you can slather it with butter, toast it, do whatever you like to do with bread. Baked up with a little vanilla custard, it also makes a nice bread pudding.

This baby will take you straight from Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s brunch.

It’s that good.

Dark Chocolate Orange Soda Bread

From Epicurious

Ingredients

3 c unbleached all purpose flour

½ c plus 2 Tbs sugar

2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

6 Tbs (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened), cut into 1/3-inch pieces

6 ounces candied orange peel, diced

1 ¼ c buttermilk

1 large egg

Preparation

UntitledPosition rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; butter parchment. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently just until dough comes together, about 5 turns. Form dough into 6 1/2-inch-diameter round, about 2 to 2 1/2IMG_2839 inches high. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep, 3-inch-long slits in top of bread, forming sunburst pattern.

Bake bread until well browned and very firm when pressed and tester inserted into center comes out clean, turning baking sheet halfway through baking, about 1 hour 10 minutes total. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.)

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