Showing posts with label fruit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fruit. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blueberry Spice Spelt Muffins

These are supposed to be blueberry ginger muffins. But while I love ginger in savoury dishes, I'm not a huge fan of it in sweets. So I omitted the crystallized ginger. But the muffins still tasted strongly of ginger due to the 2 teaspoons of ground ginger. In the future I'd change the spice levels and combination. I'd probably use 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves (my favourite spice) and 1/4 teaspoon ginger. I will definitely make these again, as I loved how nice and soft they were.

Abby looks either like she's about to fall off the pillow, or like I'm annoying her. Both are likely.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pineapple Carrot Ginger Muffins
Bakery-Style Berry Muffins
Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins
Coconut Banana Muffins

Blueberry Spice Spelt Muffins
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup yogurt (soy yogurt for vegan muffins)
1 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened plain soy)
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare muffin tins with oil or liners.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk, canola oil and vanilla. Stir to combine. Fold in the blueberries.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin; it should almost fill the entire tin. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the tin before transferring the muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gumdrop Cake

Have you guys started planning out what Christmas baking you're going to do? I loooove making my list and would love to hear what you guys are planning on making or have already made. So far I've made:
+Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies
+Pecan Tassies
+my grandma's shortbread
+this gumdrop cake!

gumdrop cake

I plan on also making my grandma's chocolate coconut snowballs, and maybe some other things. But anyway, onto the gumdrop cake. We were waiting in line at the grocery store and I came across this recipe in a Canadian Living holiday magazine. Gumdrop cake!! That sounded exciting. I've never baked with gumdrops. And it has a jar of maraschino cherries, which I love. Basically it's like a different version of fruitcake, though I've never made fruitcake and have rarely eaten it. But that's what I think.

gumdrop cake

The recipe they printed in the magazine was a bit vague so I was scared how it would turn out but I'm happy with the results. The cake is tinged pink from the maraschino cherry "juice". I wasn't sure how I'd like gumdrops in a cake but it turns out I love them - at least in this style of cake. The cherries and raisins are great too, the cherries more than the raisins. I was wary of the almond extract as I detest that fake almond flavour, but I went with it. And it turned out successfully. It's not something you'd want to eat a lot of given its strong flavour and sweetness, but to have a little nibble, it's great and something different.

I love giving out Christmas baking, but I'm just wondering - is anyone else as OCD as me about it? I can't handle putting different types of cookies with different textures, dryness levels and flavours all in one tin. The mint from the mint chocolate cookies might make the snickerdoodles minty! Or the shortberad might absorb moisture from the pecan tassies and make them dry! I love how a mixed tin of cookies looks, but I have to put them in separate bags first, then into the tin. What do you do? Anyone have a good solution to my cookie mingling problem?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Perfection Pound Cake with Lemon Curd
All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
Cream Cheese Pound Cake and Strawberry Sauce
Toasted Pecan Eggnog Ring

Gumdrop Cake
Adapted from Mrs. P. Ramsay in Victoria (found in Canadian Living holiday magazine)

The original recipe stated "1 package of raisins, 1 package of gumdrops and 1 jar of maraschino cherries". Not sure what size was intended to be used, but I just used what was available at the store and have noted the sizes I used in the recipe.

375 g package raisins
375 mL jar maraschino cherries, drained with juice reserved, and sliced in half
200 g package gumdrops
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup milk plus juice from the cherries (I used unsweetened almond milk)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Soak the raisins for 1/2 hour in hot water. Drain well. Mix together the raisins, cherries, gumdrops and 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a bundt pan by buttering it, making sure to get into all the crevices. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla extract, almond extract, milk and juice from the cherries. In another separate bowl, whisk together the 3 1/2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and liquid mixture, starting with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the fruit mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes, then 300F for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely in the pan before turning it out.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

High Protein Quinoa Almond Fruit Salad

I know I'm terrible for posting dishes that involve out of season fruit or vegetables. But things can always be substituted or recipes can be saved for next year! I thought this quinoa fruit salad was really interesting. It's such a unique way to combine fruit and protein for a great snack. I used yellow plums, blueberries and cherries but I'm sure other fruit like apples, oranges (mandarin oranges!) and persimmons would be good too. Whatever you like, really.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cocoa Nibbles
Apple Fennel Celery Salad
Coconut Raspberry Walnut Power Bars
Sunny Jungle Bars

High Protein Quinoa Almond Fruit Salad
Adapted from Oh She Glows

Makes about 4-5 snack size servings

3/4 cup dry quinoa
3 cups plums
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup almonds, chopped

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, chop the fruit and place in a large bowl.

3. Mix the dressing ingredients (maple syrup, balsamic, lime juice, salt) in a small jar and adjust to taste if necessary. Note: You may have to double the dressing recipe if your salad is quite large.

4. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and add to large bowl with fruit. Combine. Pour on dressing and mix well. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until serving time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freshly Fruited Yeast Bread

Thanks everyone for all your nice comments about our wedding photos. :)

This yeasted fruit bread was so flavourful and delicious. It has cranberries, banana, apple, lemon and orange - though you don't taste the apple and banana much. The texture was perfect for me - dense sort of like a pound cake (but it's yeast bread), and still soft. I loved eating it toasted with butter smeared on top mmm. I'm submitting this bread to yeastspotting.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Bon Ton Bakery Cinnamon Bread
Noreen Kinney's Irish Soda Bread
Braided Lemon Bread
Hot Crossed Buns

Freshly Fruited Yeast Bread
Adapted from The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest

The apple and banana I used were small, so I ended up adding less unbleach white flour than was called for, which is why I put a range of 3-5 cups (instead of the original recipe which says 4-5 cups). Next time I'd be sure to use the full 1 cup grated apple then I'd probably need more flour.

The Sponge:
1 cup wrist-temperature water
2/3 cup orange juice
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
drop of honey
2 cups unbleached white flour

Combine water and juice in a large bowl. Add yeast and honey; beat in the flour. Cover; let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

The Mix:
1 cup finely minced dried cranberries
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1 packed cup grated peeled apple (I used 1 small apple which was ~1/2 cup)
1 tbsp grated orange rind
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp melted butter

Beat into risen sponge.

2 cups whole wheat bread flour
Approximately 3 to 5 more cups unbleached white flour
a little butter or oil for the pans or baking tray

Add the flour a cup at a time, beating at first with a wooden spoon, then kneading it in with a floured hand and dumping it out onto a smooth floured surface. Continue adding flour and kneading the dough until the dough loses its stickiness, about 15 minutes. Oil or butter a bowl generously. Place the dough in it, swish it around (to oil the surface of the dough). Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise until it has doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). After it has doubled, punch down the dough.

Grease two 8"x4" loaf pans. Divide the dough in 2. Place the dough into the greased pans, press it hard into the corners and bottom of the pan. Cover the dough with a damp cloth, and put it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled, about 30-45 minutes. (Mine didn't rise much in the pans.)

Preheat the oven to 350F at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake at 350F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the pans. Cool for at least 30 minutes on a rack before slicing.

(Ashley note: Johanna made this bread also and said her bread didn't rise much - which was a problem I also had. The recipe in an older version of the cookbook suggests baking it at 425F so I'll try that next time and then not bake it for as long.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Easy Nectarine Cobbler

The colours in this photo are kind of weird because I was playing (unsuccessfully) with settings on our new camera. (Not a fancy new camera, just a point and shoot.)

This cobbler is really yummy and easy to put together. The top is like those perfect crunchy muffin tops, and the bottom is buttery and gooey. When I made this recipe, I halved it and baked it in a 5 inch round pan instead of an 8 inch square pan. I made this a while ago and I remember thinking that I had messed up somehow so I ended up making the recipe again immediately - which means I made the whole recipe, in two halves. And I couldn't fit all the nectarines in there - I only ended up using 1/2 cup for 1/2 the recipe (when I was supposed to use 1 1/2 cups nectarines for 1/2 the recipe). Despite my confusion with what I was doing, both halves ended up turning out the same and a delicious time was had by all.

Note: I think this cobbler is different than what's typically thought of as a cobbler (with fruit on the bottom and pieces of biscuit on top). But whatever you call it, it's good!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cocoa-Nana Bread
Plum Sour Cream Kuchen
Strawberry Cream Cake
Strawberry Lemon Sunflower Seed Muffins

Easy Nectarine Cobbler
Adapted from Joy the Baker who adapted from The Pastry Queen

If you want you can add whipped cream or iced cream but we ate it without and it was delicious.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup milk
3 cups sliced nectarines, skins left on
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan set over medium high heat until it bubbles and turns a nut brown color. Watch the butter closely, as it can go from browned to burnt in just a few seconds. The butter will have all sorts of browned bits in it.

Pour the butter into an 8-inch or 9-inch square or round baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder and spices. Add milk and stir.

Pour the mixture on top of the melted butter. Do not stir. Without mixing, arrange the fruit evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top turns golden brown.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Caramel-Pear Tart with a Graham Shortbread Crust

I went to Caprial's Desserts to look up the recipe for this tart that I made, and I discovered that I hadn't written any notes on it! Whenever I make something, I always (or so I thought) write on the recipe any modifications I made, what I thought, if I'd make it again, etc. I used to hate the idea of defacing a book in such a way but now I love it. I love flipping through a cookbook and seeing all the writing on the recipes. So with this one, I will have to try and just dredge it up from my less than stellar memory!

I made this pie for Canada Day back in July. Ever since I got this cookbook I've wanted to make this pie - pears poached in 5 cups of wine, caramel filling with pear brandy, and a graham shortbread crust. Sounded irresistible. The result was good but it tasted more like a fairly regular apple pie, and less like the amazing thing I had hoped for. I think what ruined it for me was the nutmeg in the caramel filling - only 1/2 teaspoon but it killed the delicate flavours of everything else. I bet this pie would be much closer to my high expectations without it. The caramel filling did not taste like pear brandy! Sob. Well maybe a little bit but not distinctly (damn nutmeg). The crust turned out kind of soft, but I think that's partly due to the fact that I didn't have time to let it cool completely before taking it to dinner.

I've made another pear pie from this same cookbook, and what I can conclude is that pear pies taste like apple pies, they just sound fancier. Oh and the recipe says to reserve the poaching liquid for another use - what could you possibly use it for?

Hope all the Canadians have a good Thanksgiving!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pear Pie
Pecan Tassies
Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Streusel Topping
Coconut Cream Pie

Caramel-Pear Tart with a Graham Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Caprial's Desserts

The recipe recommends a 9 or 10 inch tart shell, and I used an 8" one. I had caramel filling and LOTS of pears leftover. I think I used about 3 1/2 or 4 pears, but they were quite huge. You can bake the extra caramel and pears together in ramekins.

Poached Pears
5 cups white wine
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1 inch thick) slice of fresh ginger
5 or 6 firm pears, peeled, halved and cored (Ashley note: I think this is 5 or 6 small pears, and probably about 3 or 4 large ones.)

Graham Shortbread Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup graham flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

Caramel Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup pear brandy
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I'd definitely omit this next time.)

Poach the pears:
Combine everything but the pears in a large heavy saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pears, lower the heat to medium, and poach until fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool the pears in the liquid and refrigerate until ready to use. (For the best flavour, refrigerate them in the liquid overnight, if possible.)

Make the crust:
Preheat a standard oven to 375F.

Place everything but the butter in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the butter and process until the dough forms a ball on top of the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor; if it's too soft to work with, refrigerate until it's easier to handle. Press the dough into a well-greased 10" tart pan. (The easiest way to do this is to first press it into the sides of the pan, then finish with the bottom of the pan.) Bake just until set but not brown, about 10 minutes; let cool completely.

Lower the oven temperature to 350F.

Make the caramel filling:
Meanwhile, to prepare the caramel filling, place the sugar in a large saute pan with sides or a heavy saucepan. Gently moisten the sugar with the water, being careful not to splash the water and sugar onto the sides of the pan. Cook the sugar mixture over high heat, without stirring, until you see any part of it turning brown, then swirl the pan to even out the colour. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Carefully add the cream to the hot sugar, taking care to pour it in slowly because it will bubble up very violently. Add the brandy and cook, again without stirring, until the caramelized sugar has liquefied again and the mixture is very smooth and a deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool until tepid, then whisk in the egg and nutmeg.

To assemble:
Cut the poached pears into 1/4 inch thick slices, reserving the poach liquid for another use. Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles in the cooled tart shell, pour the caramel filling into the shell, and bake until the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Serve warm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I've written "I've always wanted to try..." so many times and this is another one of those times. I've always wanted to try making (and eating!) pineapple upside-down cake. My friend and I made it in high school once but we forgot to put the pineapple on the bottom of the cake pan. It was delicious but I wouldn't quite count it as pineapple upside-down cake. A while ago I saw a recipe for it on Smitten Kitchen and put it in the back of my mind to make some time. I also thought my boyfriend would love it. (Turns out he thought it was good but not anything special.)

One of the great thing about this cake is that it's incredibly moist. And while it is a very good cake, it's not a personal favourite. I'm posting about it because I think it's a good recipe, it's just not my thing. I'm sure there are other versions of pineapple upside-down cake that I might like better, but this one resulted in a wet bottom (that sounds weird when talking about cake). You pour rum over the flipped cake (so on the bottom where the pineapple is). And I only poured half of the recommended amount when it had already become too mushy. Anyway, lots of people liked it and the taste is really great but I'd prefer it if the pineapples had lots of gooey caramel with them (there is some but not enough).

I should figure out some more exciting ways to photograph my food but sometimes it's just enough of a challenge to take a picture with natural light (and now that it's getting darker to be home to take a picture with natural light).

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Carrot Coconut Cake (with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Coconut Lemon Bundt cake
Key Lime Pie
Orange Berry Muffins

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen from Gourmet, February 2000

1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by buttering sides.

Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in pan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour into 9 inch round cake pan. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

I was so excited to find out that Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'? chose this month's Daring Bakers' challenge to be a danish braid! I knew this would be a real challenge for me because I've never made anything like it before. But I've wanted to make a laminated dough for a while and I really want to try making my own croissants, so this was just perfect. And how awesome does the pastry look when it's braided??

I definitely had some butter oozing out the sides (due to the butter block) and air bubbles being formed when I was rolling out the dough, but overall it went well! I didn't add the cardamom, and I don't think I'd make it using so much orange next time. I dreamed about how delicious a lemon curd filling would be enveloped in this beautiful danish braid, but then went the easy route and did the caramelized apples. And my boyfriend loves apple pie so I thought I'd be nice.

Of course I tried it right out of the oven, and as gorgeous as it looked it didn't have the texture I was expecting. I think I expected a more flakey croissant type pastry (which I realize was probably a strange thing to expect), but it was a little bit chewy? I don't know if that's the way this dough is, or if it was me (quite possible). When I had it after it had been refrigerated though, the texture was just perfect.

Edit: I just realized that I was not paying attention and didn't realize that this was enough dough for TWO danish braids, so I used the entire dough to make one braid. My braid was twice as big as it should've been! Ah well - it still turned out okay and hopefully I learn to read recipes more carefully. ;)

Other Daring Bakers' challenges I've done:
Cheesecake Pops
Perfect Party Cake
Lemon Meringue Free Form Tarts
Yule Log

Caramelized Apple Danish Braid
The Secrets of Baking

Danish Dough

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Apple Filling
Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Danish Braid (putting it all together)
Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pomegranate Smoothie

This is the first beverage I've ever posted about, and possibly the last. I like trying out different drinks but I don't really care that much about making them at home. Except for smoothies, which I make with yogurt, frozen fruit and fruit juice. Not that I've been making many recently due to the cold weather. (Where are you summer? And who ever thought I'd be wanting summer to come and not relishing the cold weather?)

Anyway, so I subscribe to Everyday Food magazine but haven't been looking through the issues recently. I came across this pomegranate smoothie recipe and was both sad that I had missed it in the issue, but also happy that I had stumbled across it on the internet. It's really quite a perfect, delicious and healthy smoothie. The silken tofu gives it this really nice mouthfeel (a term I've gleaned from my food technology program) - as though there's heavy cream in there or something and it doesn't taste like tofu at all. And it's full of antioxidants, especially if you use frozen berries.

Pomegranate Smoothie
Adapted from March 08 Everyday Food magazine (found on Husband Tested Recipes From Alice's Kitchen)

1/3 cup silken tofu (about 3 oz.)
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon honey (add more if you like it sweeter)
2 ice cubes (or just omit because the frozen berries make them kind of pointless)

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Puree until smooth. Serve immediately. (If the smoothie seems too thick, just add a bit more pomegranate juice.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mini Pear Loaves

This recipe is originally for pear ginger "bread" (not sure why it's called bread though as it's really more muffin/loaf-y). Anyway I thought - pear and ginger? That sounds good. Well I was wrong! The recipe calls for 3 tbsp fresh ginger which is a lot of ginger, too much for me and I love ginger. But I think I prefer it in savoury things like beet and tofu salad. Or at least in the dried form for baked goods, though I've never tried crystallized ginger.

Anyway, the great thing about these little loaves is that they're so deliciously soft and the pear in them is just perfect and doesn't make them mushy, as I've found apples can in muffin recipes. I tried a pear, cardamom and pumpkin seed muffin version of this recipe and while I liked the sound of it, I didn't really like the cardamom in there. I plan to try out other variations on this recipe adding different spices, nuts and fruit (and of course I'd like to try out a version that involves chocolate!) I modified the recipe to be healthier, as with most other muffin recipes I make (unless I just want to go all out).

If this sounds good, you might like:
Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Almond Coconut Muffins
Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

Mini Pear Loaves
adapted from The Garden of Vegan

Makes 8 mini loaves or 12 muffins.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup applesauce
1 banana, mashed
1 large pear, cored and cubed
1/2 cup nuts or seeds (pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in sugar, apple juice, applesauce, banana, pear, and nuts/seeds. Stir together gently until "just mixed." Pour batter into a lightly oiled mini loaf pan or muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.