Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blueberries & Cream Crumb Bars




Blueberries and cream is a match made in heaven.  Although it is now possible to get blueberries year-round, this is the time of year that they are the most affordable. Fresh blueberries make a great snack on their own but when you add them to baked goods the results are amazing.

Recently I used them when I made some scones, but this time I wanted a creamy layer for them to nestle in.  While looking for recipes I saw a lot of blueberry crumb bars and a few blueberry custard bars, but none that combined the custard and a crumb topping.  I decided to use the base and crumb topping from my recent post for Razzeleberry bars and a custard filling, and the combination was a great success.

Last night I had a compulsory parent meeting for my daughters JV volleyball team, and there was to be a potluck afterwards, so I thought these would be perfect.  I think they must have been because when the container I brought them in was returned to me there were a few crumbs and a lone blueberry in the bottom.  I was so glad that I had kept a few small pieces at home or I would not have gotten to try the bars at all.

I just love the base of these bars.  The almond meal gives it such a distinct nutty taste, and the hint of lemon complimented the blueberries perfectly, and it just seems to melt in your mouth once you bite into it. They were prefect on their own, but I think that a la mode may just put them over the top.






Blueberries & Cream Crumb Bars
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients
Base/Topping ~
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¾ cups almond meal
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling
Custard ~
  • 3 eggs
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups blueberries
Preparation
Crust ~
  1. Preheat the oven to 375℉. 
  2. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together until combined. 
  4. In the bowl of a food processor add ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 2½ cups flour, salt, and baking powder; pulse to blend. 
  5. Add cold butter; pulse until small crumbs appear. 
  6. Remove half of the crumbs and set aside. 
  7. Add almond meal, remaining ½ cup of flour, lemon zest, and egg/vanilla mixture to the food processor; pulse until mix comes together. 
  8. Press the almond meal-flour mixture evenly into the bottom of prepared pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and cool slightly.
  9. While the base is baking prepare the custard filling.
Custard ~
  1. Place eggs in a medium-sized bowl and whisk the eggs until combined.
  2. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until foamy.
  3. Add the sour cream, flour, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt and whisk until incorporated. 
  4. Fold in the blueberries. 
  5. Pour the custard mixture over the crust and smooth the top.
  6. Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over the custard. 
  7. Bake until the center is set and the topping is golden, about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Let cool, then refrigerate.
  9. Once cold, sift powdered sugar over the top and cut into bars/squares/triangles.

Recipe by All That's Left Are The Crumbs©


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chai Latte Biscotti





I am a little chai obsessed and a little biscotti obsessed so this was a match made in heaven for me. The recipe comes from an Australian Women's Weekly cookbook called Sweet Things, which I received for Mother's Day from one of my daughters.  She knows me well, and after looking through the book I gave up putting sticky notes on the recipes I wanted to try since it was obvious that I wanted to try them all!  Look for more treats from this book as I bake my way through it.




Biscotti is the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea or coffee.  My preference is for a slightly thicker biscotti so that I can dunk it - yes, I am a dunker - so after the first bake I cut mine slightly thicker than the recipe suggests.  I need a little structural integrity to my biscotti because the dunking does weaken them, and there is nothing worse than a sinking cookie in your beverage.  Also, be careful not to over bake them because they will turn into lethal weapons for your teeth.






The spice mix in these cookies is really nice, but the next time I bake them I will probably up the quantities a little bit.  The original recipe did not call for star anise or peppercorn, but I love the flavor of a spicy chai.  Also, in an effort to start cleaning out my pantry, I used salted shelled pistachios because I have a big bag of them that I purchased from Sam's Club.  It didn't seem to make the recipe too salty, so if that is what you have I say go for it.






Chai Latte Biscotti
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 English Breakfast tea bag
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground star anise
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black peppercorn
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup roasted, unsalted pistachios


Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment.
  3. To the bowl of a food processor; add the contents of the teabag, flours and spices and process until fine.
  4. Whisk brown sugar, egg and honey in a medium bowl until well combined.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture and nuts.
  6. Using you hands make sure everything comes together and then place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  7. Shape the dough into a log, about 10 inches long and place on prepared sheet.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, and then cool completely on sheet.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 300℉.
  10. Using a serrated knife, cut the log diagonally into 1/4-inch slices, and place slices in a single layer back on the sheet.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn them over.
  12. Return sheet to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until biscotti are dry and crisp.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe slightly adapted from Sweet Things by the Australian Women's Weekly.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Brandied Peach Crumble Bundt with a Spiced Glaze - #BundtAMonth



I am a little late to the BundtAMonth party, but better late than never. The good news is that I won't be late in the future because I have joined the group so you are guaranteed at least one bundt a month from me.  I am super excited to be bundting-along with the other members of the group and getting to know everyone.  Special thanks to Laura from The Spiced Life for introducing me to the group.

This months theme was peaches.  I really wish that I was able to say that I used fresh peaches just purchased at the Farmers' Market, but the truth is that every peach available here is imported from thousands of miles away.  Each time I go to the store I see the boxes of peaches with the slogan "I'm Ripe", but I know that they are just pretending to be ripe.  One gentle squeeze told me that the peaches were rock hard, and having been fooled once or twice before, I have found that most of the time they do get soft but they have a mealy texture.  I decided not to tempt fate and used canned peaches.  At least this way I knew what I was getting and I wasn't paying $10.99 for inedible peaches.





As soon as I saw the theme peaches I immediately thought of peach crumble.  It just seemed like a good combination to translate into a bundt.  I also knew that I wanted some sort of glaze to drizzle over the top of the bundt.  It seemed natural to use a combination of powdered sugar, the syrup left behind after the peaches had been mixed with the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and brandy, and a little of the peach juice from the can.  Yep, that definitely worked.  I may have used my fingers to scoop out what was left in the bowl after spooning the glaze over the bundt, but I'm not telling.  The cake itself was delicious too.  Do make sure that you drain the peaches well before you layer them in the cake, or you will have a problem with the cake splitting.  Mine was a little closer than I would have liked to this scenario.

There were so many great bundts this month featuring the wonderful peach, so please take a look at the list here.  I know I am going to be saving quite a few of the recipes to try out soon. The BundtAMonth group also has a Facebook page featuring all of the wonderful bundts made each month and a Pinterest page with so many amazing recipes (and gorgeous pictures).






Brandied Peach Crumble Bundt with a Spiced Glaze
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients ~ 
Bundt
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup sour cream
Brandied Peaches 
  • 1 15 oz tin peaches, diced and drained (reserving the liquid), about 1cup
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons brandy (optional)
Crumble
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
Spiced Glaze
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • reserved liquid from brandied peaches & drained peaches
Preparation ~ 
Brandied Peaches
  1. Dice the peaches and place in a medium bowl. 
  2. Toss with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and brandy. 
  3. Set aside until ready to use.
Crumble
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Using a fork, press the cold butter into the mixture until it's the consistency of a course meal.
  3. Set aside until ready to use.
Bundt
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ degrees. 
  2. Generously grease and flour the inside of a bundt pan, shaking out any excess flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. One at a time, add the eggs, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the vanilla and combine.
  7. In three additions, add the flour alternating with sour cream.
  8. Fill the pan about ⅓ of the way with batter.
  9. Using a slotted spoon to drain the liquid, layer the peaches on top of the batter evenly (reserve the liquid from the peaches). 
  10. Sprinkle the crumble over the peaches.
  11. Scoop batter on top of the peaches and crumble and smooth out using an offset spatula. Make sure you leave about 1 inch of room from the top of the bundt pan.
  12. Bake for 60-80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Allow to cool for ONLY 5 minutes in pan before removing a a plate/rack to cool.
Spiced Glaze
  1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  2. Gradually whisk in the reserved brandied peach liquid, and if needed some of the drained peach liquid, until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Drizzle glaze over the bundt so it covers the top and drizzles down the edges.

Recipe by ATLATC, adapted from Java Cupcake.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers August 2013 - Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing




Today is the 20th of the month so it must be the Cake Slice Baker's time.  This month's cake, winning by a narrow margin, was the Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing.  Such a big mouthful for such a light cake. It is hard to believe that we only have a couple of cakes to go before we reveal our next book.

I am notorious for leaving the baking of my cake for the group to the last minute each month.  It was all planned for me to have a relaxing baking day on Sunday, but that went out the window on Friday night when I found out that my youngest daughter had been asked to join a paddling crew on Sunday for the Duke's Ocean Fest.  What we thought was going to be a morning race turned into an all-day event.  And I may have been fried to a crisp in the process, which is so unlike me since I am usually so good about applying sunscreen. Regardless, it was a great day and her all-girl team certainly gave the boys and mixed teams a run for their money. And the cake did not get baked, only I did.





So Monday morning I got the girls off to school, went out for my usual five mile walk/run, and came back ready to get baking.  I don't know what made me grab my carton of cream out of the fridge to check if it was ok (the expiry date was Sept 7), but I did and it was definitely not going in this recipe.  So off I went to Costco again to replace it.  This seems to be a recurring theme with my Cake Slice Baker's cakes at the moment.  I really must try to kick that habit.

I have heard people say that chiffon cakes can be difficult and fussy, but I have never found this to be the case. This cake was very easy to put together and came out exactly as described.  The instructions to place parchment paper on the bottom seemed a little strange to me but I was determined to follow the recipe as stated.  I removed the middle tube, traced a circle and cut it out, then folded it in half and cut a semi-circle from the straight side to make it fit perfectly in the pan. The mixed cake seemed light and fluffy, and baked beautifully in the oven for exactly 50 minutes. Unfortunately my angel food cake pan  does not have feet so I could not flip it upside down in the traditional way.  Last time I made this type of cake I turned it upside down and stuck a wine bottle in the tube part to support it.  Naturally I thought this would work again but I guess I don't have the same wine now and the bottle was too big.  Now it was time to panic because I did not want the cake to sink.  It was quite comical to see me running around the kitchen pulling out every bottle I had to see if it would fit.  Thank goodness I finally found one.   So learn from my mistake and, if you do not have a pan with feet, find a suitable bottle to use before the cake is in the pan.




The cake itself was quite good, with a nutty flavor and a light texture.  The icing was another story. Whilst the flavor was quite good, the mixture kept looking like it was going to separate, especially when it was out on the counter. Nobody wants a cake that looks like it is melting off of the plate. Now in fairness it was a hot day here today, but I really wish I had just gone with a light glaze instead.  I did cut the measurements for the icing in half since with a few of the previous cakes I had left-over frosting, and I did use all of this one.  I am not sure if cutting it in half threw off the balance of ingredients, but the butter appeared to blend in and then once I iced the cake it look like it was separating.  It did not make for very attractive photos, so sorry about that.

I can't wait to see all of the cakes from my fellow bakers.  Please join me in visiting their blogs by clicking on the individual photos shown below.  Also, don't forget that the Cake Slice Baker's have a Facebook page, where you not only get to see each months' creations, but also great tips and other treats that we have been baking.






Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients ~ Cake
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup toasted finely chopped pecans

Ingredients ~ Brown Butter Icing
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup heavy cream (plus a little more to thin icing as required)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine sea salt

Preparation ~ Cake
  1. Prepare an angel food cake pan with feet by lining the bottom with parchment paper, ungreased.
  2. Adjust a rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325℉. 
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar and whisk the mixture by hand to combine. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, maple syrup, water, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. 
  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture and briskly stir with a rubber spatula until just smooth. Do not overmix. 
  6. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. 
  7. Turn the mixer down to medium speed and gradually add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Kick the mixer up to high speed and whip until the whites just hold firm (not stiff!) glossy peaks. 
  8. Fold a third of the whites into the batter using as few strokes as possible. Add the remaining whites, folding only until evenly incorporated. Lightly fold in the pecans during the last few strokes. 
  9. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when touched or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached, 50 to 55 minutes. 
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool upside down by inverting the cake pan onto its legs. To remove the cooled cake from the pan, slide a long thin knife or spatula along the sides to loosen and knock the pan sharply on a hard surface until the cake drops out.
  11. Frost the top and sides with brown butter icing. To cut the cake, use an angel food cake cutter or a serrated knife and a sawing (rather than a slicing) motion. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Preparation ~ Brown Butter Icing
  1. Put the confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. 
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a pan with a light-colored bottom will help you keep track of the color. Let the color of the butter darken from lemony to golden brown (swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even heating). Once the butter is dark brown and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat. 
  3. You can either pour the butter off carefully to leave behind the milk solids that have collected on the bottom of the pan, or you can keep and use the butter solids. Either way, pour the butter into the bowl containing the confectioners’ sugar and add the cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. 
  4. As the butter cools, the icing will become firmer. If using the icing as a glaze, use it immediately. If you plan to use the icing as a frosting, allow it to cool to a good spreading consistency. 

Recipe by Julie Richardson from Vintage Cakes.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers - It's our 5th Anniversary!




Today we are celebrating an anniversary.  The Cake Slice Bakers are celebrating five years baking as a group.  The group has baked from five different books throughout this time - Sky High CakesSouthern CakesCake Keeper Cakes, The Cake Book, and Vintage Cakes.  People have come and gone over this period of time, but the group has stayed together for the most part, and it has been an amazing experience.  One of our members, Monica from Lick The Bowl Good,  has been with the group from the very beginning - wow!  It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of our baking experience with our latest book, and are ready to select a new one.

For anyone who is new to hearing about the Cake Slice Bakers we are a dedicated group of bakers from all around the world. Every year we bake from a different cake book and in 2012 - 2013 we have been baking from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. Each month a selection of cakes are presented and we vote on which cake to bake next from our current book. We then have a month to bake it in secret before we all blog about it on the same day each month – the 20th – never before. At the end of our cake reveal posts each month we link to our fellow bakers via the Cake Slice Blogroll so that you can see how creative everyone has been. We also have a Facebook page where you can see not only each months cakes, but also other delicious treats baked by our members and helpful baking tips. Please come and visit us!  There are a few rules that we follow but the most important one is to have fun and enjoy eating cake.

Good intentions to bake this cake earlier went out the window when we were notified that we had Tropical Storm Flossie nearby.  Most of the time it is paradise here, but when there is bad weather heading our way we always need to be prepared.  Having lived in Guam (and been through many typhoons - and earthquakes - during that time) I knew what needed to be done and what I needed to have on hand.  We were fortunate that Flossie fizzled out and we just had some heavy rain.

I had decided that I wanted to make some sort of tropical cake to reflect the islands.  Mango was out since I can't eat it, so I thought that a take on a Hummingbird Cake would be good.  A quick search revealed a cake on the Bakerella site.  After looking through the recipe I knew that I wanted to swap out the pecans for macadamia nuts, and add some coconut to the cake.

In hindsight I think I would prefer to bake this cake as two layers rather than three because the cake has a large ratio of soft fruit and nuts to cake so it was a little delicate.  I also think I may have been a little shy of the amount of powdered sugar that should have been added to the frosting, so it was a little soft, so learn from me and don't try to use a cup measurement.  It did look a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa once I cut it, but the flavor of the cake was wonderful.

Congratulations to all of my fellow Cake Slice Bakers on this special occasion, and here's to many more years baking and friendship. I want to give special thanks to our fearless leader, Paloma from The Coffee Shop, who has been just fantastic in not only coordinating everything to do with the group, but also growing it in a new direction.  Since we will be starting a new book soon there is going to be an opportunity to join the group and bake along with us, so drop Paloma an email if you are interested.




Please click here to see all of the other cakes created to celebrate this special occasion, and click on the photos to visit the members blogs.


Aloha Sunshine Cake 
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients ~ Cake
  • 3 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, liquid included 
  • 2 cups chopped ripe bananas
  • ½ cup coconut
  • 2 cups macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted 

Ingredients ~ Frosting 
  • 16 oz cream cheese 
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 32 oz. confectioner's sugar 
  • toasted coconut to decorate, optional

Preparation ~ Cake 
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and grease and line with parchment 3 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Chop macadamia nuts into small pieces and place on a parchment covered baking sheet, bake for 5 minutes - watch them carefully as they burn quickly. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. Add lightly beaten eggs, oil and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Add crushed pineapple, coconut, and cut up bananas and stir until combined. 
  6. Stir in 1 cup of chopped toasted macadamia nuts, reserving the remainder to sprinkle on top of the cake. 
  7. Divide the batter evenly amongst the cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and let cool. 
  8. To assemble the cake, gently level cakes using a large serrated knife to remove any mounded tops. Place first layer cut side down and spread frosting on top with an offset spatula. Continue with the remaining two layers and then frost the sides. 
  9. Add toasted macadamia nuts to the sides, and toasted coconut to the top. Store in fridge.

Preparation ~ Frosting
  1. In a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. 
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add confectioner's sugar a little at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl often.

Recipe inspired Bakerella.