Friday, August 28, 2009

Watermelon Ice

     Chocolate is my favorite food group and I am not sure why the USDA has not included it in their food pyramid, but they should. We put chocolate in anything, from pancakes to chili. But, there is one thing that surpasses my love for chocolate, and that is a cold, ripe, sweet, juicy watermelon.
   Now for me, picking a perfect watermelon is not a sure thing. I rely mostly on the yellow belly and thump methods and usually I get a pretty good watermelon, but sometimes I miss and the melon is just okay. When that happens we make watermelon ice. It's cold and refreshing and the addition of lime juice and a little sugar greatly improves the flavor of a lack luster watermelon.

Watermelon Ice
Juice of one lime or lemon
Sugar to taste
Blend all in the blender until smooth.  Pour into a shallow pan and freeze, stiring every once in a while to breakup the ice.  When frozen you can either scrape it with a fork into ice crystal or toss it the the food processer and pulse 3 or 4 times.
 We make fruit ice with any fruit we have an abundance of, peaches, lemons, limes, strawberries, blackberries and once the fruit is frozen, your just a step away from a frozen margarita. Our favorite is a peach margarita, I use a blender and pulse the frozen fruit with a shot of tequila and a dash or two of amaretto.  For the kids we blend the fruit ice with lemon/lime soda and it makes a nice non alcoholic margarita. Perfect for the hot weather!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker's August Challenge Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte

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The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. It is a long recipe and can be found on the Daring Bakers web site.

Thank You for such an enjoyable challenge.

Although this was not the prettiest cake we have made it, was delicious. We only made 1/2 the recipe, which made 6, 6-inch layers of cake. We used semi sweet chocolate in the butter cream, but next time I would use a darker chocolate to balance the sweetness of the butter cream and the orange syrup. This is a relatively easy torte to make. I used a pastry bag to pipe the cake batter on a cookie sheet, this made for layers of an even size and thickness. When assembling the torte we brush the layers with an orange syrup. The key to this cake is the caramel layer, it need to be thin and crisp. We pre cut the cake layer, and quickly poured the carmel over it. The extra caramel was used for decorations.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

In late summer you never know when zucchini might make an appearance in your meal. Zucchini is great in casseroles, pasta, or bread. It's delicious grilled and topped with olive oil, Italian parsley and garlic. You can even serve it stuffed with cracker crumbs and cheese. But the best way to use up your supply of zucchini is in this easy, moist chocolate cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
½ c. soft butter
½ c. vegetable oil
1 ¾ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ c. Buttermilk or sour milk*
2 ½ c all purpose flour
4 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ teaspoon each clove, cinnamon and salt
2 c. grated zucchini
¾ c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray with cooking spray a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a small bowl mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices.
Cream together butter, oil and sugar.
Add eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; blend well.
Add dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Add zucchini and stir until incorporated.
Pour batter in prepared baking pan, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and the chopped nuts.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan.
When cake is cool drizzle with icing.

1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

Combine butter and milk in a mixing bowl and heat in the microwave until butter melts, about 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla. Add enough powdered sugar to make a glaze that forms ribbons when dripped from the end of a spoon. Drizzle icing over the top of the cake.
*sour milk;1 teaspoon vinegar to ½ c milk let sit about ten minutes.
I have made this cake with both sour milk and buttermilk with no difference in the cake texture or flavor.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hamburger buns

I bake bread. I always have. I don't use a bread machine. Sometimes I use my KitchenAide to beat a dough that need to develop a lot of gluten, but mostly I use my hands. Since we usually hang around the house on Sunday, it has become our family bread day . In the winter months, we have a soup and bread dinner, but in the summer it's buns. The buns are soft, buttery, slightly sweet and they make anything (pulled pork, chicken patties, or hamburgers) taste great.
You don't need any special skill or equipment to bake bread just a few hours of time. Always proof your yeast (step 1). Most doughs mix up in under twenty minutes, then you need time to allow it to rise, shape and bake. Easy to do when pulling weeds, doing laundry or reading a book. It you have dry yeast left over you can store it in the freezer to keep it fresh longer.
Hamburger buns
Makes 12
Step 1:
1 Tablespoon Yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water stirring to make sure all of the yeast is dissolved. Add teaspoon sugar, mix and let sit until creamy about 5-10 minutes.

Step 2:
Add to the yeast mixture:
1/3 cup soft margarine
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½- 4 cups unbleached flour.

Mix well.
Step 3:
Knead dough 5- 10 minutes, until smooth and soft, but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When double, punch the dough down, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double again, about 45 minutes.

Step 4:
Punch down dough and divide in to twelve equal pieces. Shape each piece in to a smooth ball and flatten with you hand to form your buns about ½ inch thick and 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on greased or silpat cover cookie sheet, cover with a clean towel and let rise until double, about 30 minutes
Before rising
After rising

While buns are rising, pre heat oven to 375 F. When buns have risen, bake for 9-12 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and rub a pat of butter over the surface of the cooked rolls, this creates a soft crust.Cool, slice and enjoy.
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printable recipe

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake

Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Why an empty cake plate you ask?
Well, there has been an abundance of blueberries in our area, so I searched the web for a lemon blueberry cake and found this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake on Monica's blog, Lick the Bowl Good. It's a beautiful three layer cake, with homemade blueberry jam as the filling and a light lemon buttercream frosting. I made a few minor modifications to the original Sky High recipe, my tasters (the kids) thought the buttercream tasted too much like butter, so I added 1/2 cup powdered sugar and that seemed to please them. Also, as per Monica, I omitted the ginger and added lemon zest. My version of the recipe is below. The cake was so good that by the time I went to photograph it, all I had was an empty cake plate. It truly was an excellent cake. So, if you want to see pictures of what this beautiful cake looks like, drop by Lick The Bowl Good and while your there you'll see an awesome blog get more great recipes.

Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake
adapted from Sky High
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1½ tsp lemon extract
7 egg whites
3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans(I used 9 inch pans). Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

1. In a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.
3. Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remaining equally among the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. This gives you a smooth surface to work with.
4. Add 2½ tbsp of the lemon blueberry jam to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Use a skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.

5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the center comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool completely.
Blueberry Lemon Jam
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp grated lemon zest

1. Puree the blueberries with any juices that have exuded in a blender. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.

2. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, and zest .
3.Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat, stirring often for 20 minutes, or until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup.

To check the proper thickness place a small amount of a saucer and put in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through it. If a clear path is made through the preserve then it is ready. Let the preserves cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

Lemon Buttercream

1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 eggs
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon zest

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.

2. In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15-20 minutes.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter.
Beat in the lemon juice, zest and powdered sugar, the frosting is ready to use.

Assembly: To assemble the cake, place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread half of the lemon blueberry jam over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining jam over it. Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream. Decorate with fresh blueberries and serve.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blackberry Pies Squares

Blackberry pie squares

Summer in California is synonymous with fresh produce. Back yard gardens are a real treasure. If you don't grow it yourself, someone you know will. We don't have a blackberry patch, but we have a friend who does, so we were blessed with some fresh blackberries.
Just when the blackberries arrived I saw this recipe on Ingrid's blog, 3 B's .... Baseall, Baking & Books, so I decide to give it a try.
It was super simple to make and you could use almost any fruit (fresh or frozen) in place of the black berries. Don't skip the lemon sugar, that is what makes this pie a standout.

Blackberry Pie Bars with Lemon Sugar

Crust and Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
zest of two lemons

Blackberry Filling
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen blackberries, defrosted and drained
(You can also use 6 cups of fresh blackberries, or 1 (16-ounce) package frozen blackberries and 3 cups of fresh blackberries)

To make the crust and topping-

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch backing pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside. Zest two lemons. Measure out the sugar onto a clean work surface. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with a bench scraper or the back of a spoon. Rubbing the zest into the sugar will release oils from the zest and create a lemon scented sugar.
Combine lemon sugar, flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Beat the ingredients on medium speed until the mixture looks dry and crumbly.
Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crust mixture to use as the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes until it is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes while you make the filling.

To make the filling-

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar, sour cream, flour and salt. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. You may have to distribute the blackberries evenly around.
Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Cool for 1 hour before slicing.