Blueberry and Nectarine Buckle

I have noticed something in the last few weeks, perhaps you have to. It seems that I have unintentionally become the queen of the crisps and cobblers. I’m not totally sure how this happened; I don’t recall pulling a sword out of a stone nor do I remember a long lost grandmother inviting me over to her mansion for tea before dropping the royal bomb.

    My exact reaction if my grandmother WAS either a queen or Julie Andrews

My exact reaction if my grandmother WAS either a queen or Julie Andrews

Seriously, when I was baking this dessert I found myself thinking, “Gee, I have been making a lot of stuff with crumb toppings lately.” One look at my blog later and I realized that throughout this summer I have made a crisp, a streusel, ‘pie bars’ which are essentially a kind of cobbler, and now, I am adding a buckle to the mix. See what I mean about being queen of the crisps and cobblers? As much as I do enjoy being the queen of something, I think I will be handing in my crown soon. All of these recipes have been super delicious but I think after this one, I’m gonna try and do something a little different. I will add the the combination of blueberries and nectarines makes for an absolutely mouth watering summer dessert. While nectarine season may be ending, give this dessert a shot next summer; your family will thank you for it.

Prep bowls for the win!!!

Prep bowls for the win!!!

By the way, if you are like me and have no idea what the difference is between a buckle and a crisp, let me enlighten you.

A buckle: These desserts are a single layer, have fruit in the middle, and feature a streusel like topping, which gives the dessert its buckled  appearance

A crisp: Baked with fruit (duh) and have a crumb topping. Similar to a buckle, neither dessert has a bottom.

A cobbler: A deep-dish dessert with a fruit filling and a thick topping.

A brown betty or betty: Usually made with apples but other fruit can be used as well. Unlike the other three, this dessert is layered, with the fruit sandwiched between a crumb crust and topping. *Given this information, I think my strawberry-rhubarb dessert is technically a betty not a crisp*

Blueberry and Nectarine Buckle

From The Sono Baking company Cookbook Serves 8 to 10

Streusel Topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cub into small cubes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons purse vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries’2 cups diced (!/2-inch) nectarines (about 2 nectarines)
Confectioners’ sugar

1. To make the streusel: In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the butter, and using your fingertips, quickly work it into the dry ingredients until pea size crumbs formal set aside in the fridge

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside

3. Set the oven rack in middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9 by 12 inch baking dish; set aside. Pull a baking sheet to set the dish on while baking

4. In the bowl of a standing mister fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until absorbed. Fold in the fruit. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the streusel over the top

5. Set the baking dish on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating the sheet about two thirds of the way through the cooking time, until a cake tester interred into the thickest part of the buckle comes out clean and the topping is nicely browned and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares.

I ended up using margarine for some of my butter so mine may be a bit more buttery than it should be

I ended up using margarine for some of my butter so mine may be a bit more buttery than it should be

Recipe Write Up: Blueberry-Blackberry Pie Bars

IMG_20130713_205239_20130718180125168So sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile, the last week has been pretty crazy. As I will discuss in greater detail in a future post, I was in New York City Sunday with a friend. Then on Monday, I took off to Boston to see a concert last night as well as to catch up with a buddy from my undergrad days. With so much traveling, walking, IMG_20130713_190840_20130718175738150and dying from the heat, I haven’t had a chance until now to share this simple yet yummy recipe.

Still a bit bitter about the whole egg white thing I decided that my inner baker need something of an ego boost. While the urge to do something ambitious was rather strong, I resisted the temptation and decided to try something a little less complicated though still highly satisfying to make. Bar desserts you see, have always been a thorn in my side. Sure, I can make a batch of brownies and blondies, but they never come out totally perfect, perfect in the sense of appearance not flavor. There is just something that bothers me when the shape is warped; it should be square or rectangle, not a convex polygon! However, it seems that the baking gods were on my side Saturday night since I nailed the flavor and shape! My little square pie (which it technically is) was met with rave reviews. I think my close friend’s reaction was the best. It kind of looked like this.

Gus's reaction say's it all: pure dessert bliss

Gus’s reaction say’s it all: pure dessert bliss

Ego boost achieved!

Blueberry-Blackberry Pie Bars

Adapted from a recipe found here

Ingredients
For the crust and topping
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of half a lemon
¾ cup (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold

For the filling
2 large eggs
1 cups sugar
½ cup sour cream
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemonIMG_20130713_205517_20130718180318859
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Full package of Blackberries (6 ounces)
8 ounces Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture for topping the bars.  Add the rest of the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before proceeding.

In a medium bowl, make the filling mixture.  Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula.  Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan.  Crumble the reserved topping mixture over the filling evenly.

Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill to firm up before slicing and serving.

Recipe Write Up: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb is an interesting fruit. For someone like me, who until a few days ago had never even tried it before, the taste is one that can catch one off guard. It’s sweet, kind of. It’s also tart, but not too tart. When paired with strawberries, the two play off the others distinct flavor profiles, creating a new flavor that is just makes your mouth water. Throw in a buttery crumb topping and you have a summer dessert that anyone should be proud of.IMG_4188

This dessert is a milestone moment for me: it is my first time making a crisp! Needless to say, I as a bit worried about mucking the recipe up. While I wasn’t bracing myself for another food disaster (unlike a certain chocolate cake), I was a wee bit worried about preparing the rhubarb. As you will see below, the recipe asks for four cups of peeled rhubarb. Not totally sure about peeling rhubarb, I went to my go-to source, Baker’s Illustratedjust to verify that peeling was indeed the right way to go. Although BI insisted that peeling rhubarb was the correct thing to do, I wasn’t 100% convinced so I sought aid from the internet. Apparently, there is a big debate surrounding rhubarb. To peel or not to peel. Some sources say yes, others say don’t, that peeling rhubarb will remove some of the flavor. Slightly worried about what to do, I decided to go with the directions in my BI. The process was a bit tedious since I did have a quite a bit of rhubarb to go through and a cat that wouldn’t stop playing with the shavings but an hour later, the rhubarb prep was over!!!! Throw in my slices of strawberries and the two made quite the pair. IMG_4200

In the end, peeling seemed like the right choice. The flavor was still there though I am curious about trying it the other way next time. As for the family? They loved it, marking this as a new family favorite. Except for my older sister. She is allergic to strawberries. Ooops. Sorry D.IMG_4202

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

From The Back in The Day Bakery Cookbook (serves 8 to 10)

For the Topping:
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon of canola oil

For the Filling:
2 cups of strawberries
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled rhubarb
1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar*
3 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch

*If you do not have turbinado sugar like I didn’t, you can substitute it with brown sugar. Don’t worry, the required amount stays the same.

Method:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, cornmeal, cinnamon, salt, butter, and oil with a fork hand mixer on low until completely blended. Set aside.

Filling: In another bowl, combine the strawberries and rhubarb with the turbinado sugar, flour, and cornstarch, stirring to coat the fruit.

Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Place the pie plate on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown and crispy. Let cool slightly.

Serve the crisp warm. It is best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!!!!

Recipe Write Up: Stovetop Broccoli and Cheese Chicken Pasta

Recall how awhile ago I referred to something called the parent factor? If not, here is a bit of a refresher. The parent factor refers to what happens when my parents personal preferences clash with mine. Case in point, I love frosting, my parents do not. When I am baking at home, frosting is a no-no. Taadaa! The parent factor! What does this have to do with today’s post? Well last week, the parent factor came into play yet again. This time, it was over dinner.

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As I have mentioned before, my mom isn’t the most flexible eater out there. She knows what she likes and that is the simple stuff. With a fridge not exactly full, our options were somewhat limited. Now, had my mom had her way, we probably would have had oatmeal or sandwiches for dinner. However, I was not going to let that happen. With a quick assessment of our options in the fridge and what we had down in the pantry, I hopped online to find a simple recipe for dinner. Keeping in mind my mother’s picky tastes, I had quite a bit of recipes that I needed to overlook. It took sometime, but eventually, I hit the jackpot! All I needed was some chicken, broccoli, milk, pasta, and cheese. Lady Luck was definitely on my side since we just so happened to have all of that stuff lying around. On top of that, what I ended up finding was not only easy to make, but quick to put together. It doesn’t get any better than that! As for mom, she was content with the dish though she made it known to me that if she had been on her own, she would have just gone with oatmeal. Oh mom.

Stovetop Broccoli and Cheese Chicken Pasta

Recipe adapted (slightly) from http://picky-palate.com

1/2 pound Pasta (any kind)
1/2 stick Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 1/4 cups Low Sodium Chicken broth
3/4 cup Shredded Cheese (we used mix cheese though cheddar works as well)
1 cup Shredded Chicken
1/2 pound Broccoli Florets, steamed
3/4 cup Milk

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and run under cool water to stop cooking.

2. Melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper, whisking until thick and combined. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until combined. Increase heat to high and whisk until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted.

3. Transfer cooked noodles to a large dutch oven or pot over low-medium heat. Add chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce, stirring; will be thick. Stir in milk to loosen sauce to your liking. Serve immediately. This dish does best when served as soon as possible. If needed to be prepared ahead of time, add additional milk or chicken broth to loosen sauce

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(Should make about 3-4 servings but ours was more like 4-6. Not sure how that happened)

Till next time,

Litbaker

Recipe Write Up: Coffee Cupcakes

Recall how last week I mentioned that I was taking a cake decorating class. Well, for my most recent class, we were instructed to bring in six cupcakes so we could decorate them. They either could be baked or purchased at a supermarket so long as they were regular size, flavor certainly didn’t really matter. Considering how well received my cake from a previous class was, I was understandably hesitant to tell my parents. By the way, Mr. Cake has officially be evicted from our fridge and now resides at the top of some trash heap. Remarkably, my mom took the news well. But then, she threw me a curve ball. Instead of buying my cupcakes, she insisted I bake mine from scratch. “After all”, she said nonchalantly, “cupcakes are your specialty.” Just a few days before she was lamenting about the limited space in our fridge and the fact that neither she or my dad really eat baked goods. Yet, here she is challenging me to make something she knows I can’t resist. Talk about mixed signals

She isn’t wrong though, cupcakes are indeed my favorite thing to make. They can be simplistic or complex. Truly, with a cupcake, the possibilities are relatively endless. And, as always, every time an occasion arises that calls for cupcakes, I always strive to make something new, to challenge my baking skills. After going through a few of the food blogs that I read religiously occasionally, I finally settled on one. Coffee flavored cupcakes with a beautiful vanilla butter cream frosting. Combined together, the taste would be something reminiscent of a vanilla latte. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be getting the full latte effect. Confession time: I leave out the frosting when I bake cupcakes at home. Why? Well, let’s just call it the parent factor. As I learned years ago, none of my parents really like frosting and when frosted, you are basically giving your cupcakes an expiration date. Freezing them really isn’t an option. Trust me, if it wasn’t for the parent factor, I’d be making frosting whenever I could. However, even without the vanilla butter cream, these cupcakes tasted fine, especially when eaten while drinking my favorite tea, vanilla chai. PicsArt_1371485867733

Then again, I never doubted the taste; I kind of helped myself to the batter left in the bowl. Ok, I helped my self to a  lot of the batter that was left in the bowl. Since I don’t actually drink any kind of caffeinated beverages (with the exception of the occasional mocha and latte), I am, according to my dad, constantly caffeine deficient. Since the batter has both espresso powder and brewed coffee in it, my normally yawning and exhaustive self suddenly was moving like the Energizer Bunny.

Oh, and ironies of ironies. We never got to the actual decorating part in my cake decorating class. We ran out of time. At the end of the two hour class, all I had to show for my hard work was one frosted cupcake out of the six I brought. In all honesty, I think it’s better this way. I know my mom wouldn’t have been happy if I had brought back six fully decorated cupcakes. It doesn’t matter anyway. Next week is my final class and I HAVE to either fully decorate a cake or cupcakes. Let’s see how my mom tries to get around this one.

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Coffee Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe found on annies-eats.com

Makes about 18 cupcakes

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. espresso powder
½ cup strong brewed coffee
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. additional buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder.  Whisk to blend.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the coffee and buttermilk.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients alternating with the liquids, mixing each addition just until incorporated and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients

    Trying to improve my photo skills!

    I’m making an active effort to improve my photography skills. My day’s of snapping pics my with phone are OVER

  2. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

*Next time I’m going to put chocolate chips in the batter so I can have a mocha cupcake. Mhmmm, I love me a good mocha.

Before I sign off I just want to say that History of Cookbooks will be back soon with another installment! Sorry for the wait, but life has been a bit distracting lately.

Till next time,

Litbaker