Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Really Good Pumpkin Bread

The pumpkin bread of your dreams, complete with a cinnamon-y streusel topping.
The pumpkin bread of your dreams, complete with a cinnamon-y streusel topping.

It’s called “really good.”

But I think it’s actually “really great.”

“Really Good Pumpkin Bread” really is everything you want in this homespun, seasonal treat.

It’s from “Cook’s Illustrated Revolutionary Recipes: Groundbreaking Techniques. Compelling Voices. One-Of-A-Kind Recipes” by America’s Test Kitchen (2018), which features 180 of the magazine’s most innovative recipes.

It’s incredibly moist and tender. It’s full of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — enough to add a lovely autumnal warmth, but not so much as to obscure the pumpkin taste.

The recipe makes enough for two loaves. If you think that's too much, you can always freeze one for later.
The recipe makes enough for two loaves. If you think that’s too much, you can always freeze one for later.

It also employs the convenience of canned pumpkin — but goes one better by briefly cooking it on the stovetop to concentrate its flavor and eliminate any characteristic metallic taste from the can. Moreover, it adds cream cheese for a subtle tang to bring out the pumpkin taste even more.

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Sponsored Post: Wrapples with Pazazz

Pazazz apples, along with layer upon layer of buttery, flaky crust, make up this cute little hand pie known as a "Williamsburg Wrapple.''
Pazazz apples, along with layer upon layer of buttery, flaky crust, make up this cute little hand pie known as a “Williamsburg Wrapple.”

Given the trials and tribulations of this unprecedented year, who can be blamed for wanting plenty of snuggle time underneath layers of warmth and comfort?

That’s why when I received samples of juicy, red Pazazz apples, I figured they rightfully deserved their own cocooning time, too. Under fold upon fold of buttery, flaky, golden crust, that is.

The joyfully named “Williamsburg Wrapples” are an ideal treat for this time of year when apples are at their peak. They’re like hand pies, but sport three layers of apples and four of crust instead, because they are not filled and folded over once like a turnover, but multiple times like a jelly roll. That means you get even more buttery pastry in every bite. A win-win.

With their very crisp texture, Pazazz apples work great in this recipe because they hold their shape well and their sweet yet gentle tart flavor doesn’t get lost in all those layers of crust.

Red-skinned with a cream-colored flesh, Pazazz apples are available at Albertsons.
Red-skinned with a cream-colored flesh, Pazazz apples are available at Albertsons.

Pazazz were developed by Honeybear Brands of Minnesota, a leading grower and developer of apple varieties. Indeed, they’re the ones who brought you the ever-popular Honeycrisp.

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Alice Medrich’s Walnut-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise

A simple, soft, satisfying cake when times are anything but.
A simple, soft, satisfying cake when times are anything but.

Could this year get any more surreal?

At a time when life seems more chaotic than ever and more inconceivable by the second, that’s when we need to pause, take a deep breath, close our eyes — and have a piece of cake.

Yes, times like this call for equal measures of comfort, sweetness, and escape.

Cake does all of that.

Not one dressed to the nines in layers, swirls, swooshes, and a flourish of doodads.

But a simple one that’s honest and straightforward — characteristics we sadly seem to be in short supply of these days.

“Walnut-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise” embodies all of that. It’s just one layer. It’s baked in one pan. It doesn’t even require frosting. It’s also gluten-free — but doesn’t taste like it, if you get my drift.

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August Means Ricotta and Olive Oil Muffins with Figs

Moist and fluffy from ricotta and olive oil, these incredible muffins get crowned with a honey-drizzled fig half.
Moist and fluffy from ricotta and olive oil, these incredible muffins get crowned with a honey-drizzled fig half.

If you’re blessed with your own backyard fig tree, you never have this problem.

But for those of us who are left with buying fresh figs at the market or through grocery delivery services these days, figs can be a bit confounding. You want them squishy-ripe so they’re at their sweetest — yet that’s also when they’re prone to go moldy in a flash. If you happen to find yourself with ones that are not soft at all, you wait with bated breath, checking them each day, in hopes that they will finally yield to the push of a fingertip.

But you realize soon enough that’s all in vain because figs actually don’t ripen much once they are picked. And if they are picked too early, forget about it.

However, less than ideal figs can be salvaged by baking or roasting them. Their natural sugars, no matter how modest, will exude and caramelize in the heat of an oven, rendering them enjoyable after all.

That’s what prompted me to bake a batch of “Ricotta and Olive Oil Muffins with Figs.”

This wonderful recipe more than rescued my less-than-perfect figs. It’s from the cookbook, “365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking” (Prestel, 2019) by James Beard Award-winning Meike Peters, a food writer who splits her time between Berlin and Malta.

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Going Goaty, Part II: Angel Biscuits

Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.
Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.

Yeast in bread. Yeast in cinnamon rolls. Yeast in sticky buns.

But yeast in biscuits?

Yes, apparently so.

The unusual “Angel Biscuits” is from “Muffins & Biscuits: 50 Recipes to Start Your Day with a Smile” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Heidi Gibson, owner of the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco.

These old-fashioned biscuits, Gibson writes in the book, used to be called “Bride’s Biscuits” — OK, yes, in a rather sexist way — because it was thought that not even just-married women new to cooking could screw them up.

That’s because these biscuits have not only baking powder and baking soda in them, but active dry yeast, as well. With three leaveners, it’s nearly guaranteed these puppies will indeed rise.

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