Tag : fruit
Tag : fruit
The first time I ever made my apple chai-der pie (an idea that I shamelessly stole from the Internet, but eventually made my own), I thought I had died and done gone to heaven, y’all. The apples were good and the spiced black tea filling even better, but the real kicker was the streusel. Every time I make the streusel I have to remind myself that it’s going on top of another pastry and I can’t just eat all of it raw (and every time, my willpower fails and I eat most of it raw anyway.)
It’s also good baked.
I think it’s the cinnamon that makes streusel so addicting. And for some reason, I decided to swap out the cinnamon for orange zest in this recipe. What a strange idea.
I honestly could not tell you why I felt inspired to do orange-infused/scented anything, but just like my lemon cravings from last summer and early this spring, I started having these odd cravings for orange-flavored things. Orange cinnamon coffee cake muffins, orange shortbread, dark chocolate orange cakes. All of these things are on my mind.
This pie is overflowing with the four major spring/summer berries that we grow in North Carolina: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. It’s currently the peak of strawberry season so strawberries are providing the decorative accents to my citrus fantasies. They’re also taking up all of the space in my refrigerator and freezer.
I went to the farmer’s market a few weeks ago to get strawberries for jam, intending to buy two pounds of the berries, and accidentally, shamelessly going home with one five-pound basket. Most of those ended up in a failed strawberry-rhubarb pie, four of the berries went moldy, three pounds became jam, and the rest became the strawberry balsamic muffins.
The citrus counter-note to the berries, and the liquid base of the filling, is Cointreau, but could easily be orange juice, Triple Sec, or any other orange-flavored liquid. On top of the liqueur-laced berry filling is a streusel flavored with orange zest. Overall, it’s a much brighter, warm-weather version of the spicy apple original.
very berry spring pie with orange streusel
makes one 7″ pie (double the recipe for a 9″ pie)
loosely based on my apple chai-der pie recipe
Make the pie pastry, divide into discs for 7″ (or 9″) pies, wrap in plastic and freeze. If you plan to use the dough within 24 hours, refrigerate it instead. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight before rolling it out and filling the shell.
You can also prepare the pie shell all at once and freeze that until the streusel and filling are ready.
Make the streusel and chill or freeze, unbaked, until the pie shell is filled.
And finally, you can assemble the entire pie and freeze it, unbaked, until you’re ready to put it in the oven. The entire pie can go into the hot oven frozen.
2 oz all-purpose flour
2 oz granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
zest of 1/4 of a large orange or 1/2 of a small-ish orange
4 Tbsp (2 oz) butter, softened
1 oz orange juice or Cointreau
4 oz fresh/frozen blueberries
4 oz fresh/frozen blackberries
4 oz fresh/frozen raspberries
4 oz fresh/frozen strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
2.5 oz granulated sugar
1 oz all-purpose flour or cornstarch
dash of salt
preparing the pie shell
Let the pie pastry warm up slightly, for about 15 minutes on the counter, just so you can roll it out without the dough cracking too much.
Sandwich the dough disc between sheets of plastic or parchment, floured lightly to keep the dough from sticking a lot. Depending on the day, and on exactly how much water you use to make the dough (which varies based on how much water you need), the dough can be on the wet side or dry side.
Roll the dough until it’s about 2 inches wider in diameter than the top of the pie pan, and approximately a quarter of an inch thick (so just around half or a third of a centimeter.)
Place the dough into the pie plate, and press it into the bottom and corners of the plate, lifting up the edges and placing them into the plate as you go, to avoid stretching. Roll the edges up under themselves so they rest on the edges of the pie plate and add about an inch of depth, then shape, press, or crimp the edges as you like.
I usually form a zigzag edge using my pointer and thumb of one hand and the pointer finger of the other hand. By creating more height/depth, you can add more filling.
Freeze the pie shell, unwrapped if you’re baking it the same day, or wrapped if you’re not baking it within 24 hours.
making the streusel
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the butter.
Mix in the butter, just until it forms crumbs.
Using a fork or pastry blender, break up any large-ish clumps of dough into smaller pieces.
Chill/refrigerate or freeze the streusel in a sealed container until the pie shell is filled.
filling the shell
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and starch (flour or cornstarch). This will make it easier to incorporate these with the juice/liqueur and berries.
In a large bowl, toss together berries, juice/liqueur, salt, and sugar-starch mixture until all the berries are coated with the juice/liqueur and sugar-starch mix. Mash up some of the berries.
Pour the berry filling into the frozen shell, spreading the filling out to fill up as much space as possible. The filled pie should be mounded, approximately 1.5-2x the depth of the shell. The filled shell can be frozen until ready to top and bake.
assembling and baking the pie
Preheat oven to 425 F/ C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to catch the over-boiled pie filling.
When the oven is fully heated, sprinkle the chilled streusel crumbs onto the filled pie shell so as much surface is covered as possible. Spread the streusel around if needed, and fill in some of the gaps made by the crimped pie crust.
Place the assembled pie onto the baking sheet and bake for 50 – 60 minutes until nicely browned and actively bubbling.
Remove from the oven and cool the pie on a wire rack.
Bon apple-tite, y’all
previous fruit-y monthly muffins:
The first time I ever roasted strawberries was during my short stint working in a restaurant. In fact, the first time I’d ever eaten roasted strawberries was during that job. We filled hotel pans (deep baking pans) with whole hulled strawberries (leaves and dense white core removed), a hefty layer of sugar, and a generous sprinkling of thick balsamic vinegar, and then we popped them in the oven until darkened, softened, and swimming in a thick, sweet strawberry syrup.
I may not have been enamored with that job, but with those strawberries, I was in heaven. To be entirely honest, hulling and prepping strawberries is sort of therapeutic. I prepped pounds (like, humans’-worths of pounds) of strawberries for roasting to serve with French tartlets, for slicing to decorate the tarts, and for plating with cheese, fruit, and local greens for a cheese plate.
I did vow never to make another gelatin-based dessert again, but I held on fast to my strawberry roasting and prepping knowledge.
I’ve recently begun experimenting with jam-making, and though the final product still leaves something to be desired, I can break down a village’s worth of strawberries in a breeze. You should see my freezer. I went to the farmer’s market for the first time in a very, very long time a few weeks ago, searching for 3 pounds of local berries for jam, and went home with 5.5 pounds. Now my pantry is full up with attempts at different flavors of strawberry jam (strawberry margarita jam, strawberry-orange marmalade, strawberry rhubarb jam, etc.) The last weekend of May, because I just can’t help myself when spring berries are involved, I went berry picking with a friend in Raleigh and made the best d**ned strawberry-basil jam I ever did lay my tastebuds on.
Ever since coming up with the two berry-based muffins last summer, I’ve wanted to do something with strawberries. Something a little bit…different. It wasn’t too hard, as I’ve never actually had a strawberry muffin before. I guess strawberries aren’t popular muffin berries. I figured it might be nice to put my balsamic roasting skills to the test and do a roasted strawberry and balsamic-flavored thing. I also figured, cleverly, that if I’m using vinegar, I can easily make these vegan (vinegar + baking soda = eggs.) I then thought, stupidly, that I could just replace all the liquid with balsamic or red wine vinegar for a real powerful vinegar taste.
And then I discovered why people don’t normally make vinegar-flavored things. The first batch quickly found its way into the trash and I’m still trying to convince people that no these are not “vinegar muffins” nor do they taste like vinegar.
I used both roasted and fresh berries to get the balsamic-roastiness and the juicy sweetness of un-roasted strawberries, and then I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to the glaze just to make people aware of the vinegar’s presence in the pastry. The muffins themselves are whole wheat muffins and all of the sugar ends up roasting with the berries to produce a blood-red syrup, so the muffins end up seductively ruddy.
balsamic-roasted strawberry muffins with balsamic vinegar glaze
makes one dozen
vaguely based on previous muffin recipes
Roast the strawberries for half an hour at 375 F/ C, until the sugar syrup is foaming and boiling. Let the roasted berries cool, then strain out the syrup and set it aside. Store syrup and strawberries in refrigerator in sealed plastic containers. You can store them combined or separated, but you’ll end up straining them before you make the muffin batter so you might as well separate them now anyway.
roasted strawberries ingredients
8 oz fresh strawberries, hulled (and halved if you want)
4 oz granulated sugar
1 oz balsamic vinegar
5 oz whole wheat flour
5 oz all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
4 oz butter, melted and cooled, or canola oil
2 large eggs
7 oz whole milk or buttermilk
4 oz powdered sugar
0.4 oz balsamic vinegar
0.6 oz whole milk
roasting the strawberries
Preheat the oven to 375 F/ C.
Hull the roasting strawberries (and halve if you want), and arrange in a single layer in a cake or brownie pan, or a hotel pan at least two inches deep, with the cut end down and the tip pointing up.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the strawberries, then sprinkle the vinegar over them as well. You should have one layer of strawberries with a heavy layer of sugar and a splattering of balsamic vinegar.
Roast the berries for about 30 – 45 minutes until the sugar and vinegar have formed a syrup and the syrup is boiling/foaming. The strawberries should be very tender.
Remove and let cool. Strain out the syrup and set it aside. You’ll mix the syrup into the muffin batter before you add the roasted berries.
making the muffins
Preheat (or change the temperature) the oven to 350 F/ C, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine the flours, salt, and baking powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter/oil, and cooled strawberry-balsamic syrup (without the berries.)
Quickly whisk together the dry and wet ingredients in the large bowl, and fold in both the fresh and roasted berries.
Using a large cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake the muffins for 20 – 25 minutes.
The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, or when they spring back like foam when pressed lightly.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Let the muffins cool completely before glazing.
glazing the muffins
Whisk together powdered sugar, vinegar, and milk until smooth. The glaze should be like a thick syrup: runny but slow. Taste and adjust, adding more of any ingredient as needed.
Using a spoon or whisk, drizzle the glaze over the muffins and let it set up before eating.
You can wrap the muffins, glazed or unglazed, individually in plastic wrap and keep them at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for a bit longer. If the muffins start to go stale or firm, then microwave them for 10 – 15 seconds before eating.
previous monthly muffins
Herbert’s first birthday was already three weeks ago, but the celebration never stops with him. He’s a little party starter.
My farmor (paternal grandma) used to send us massive boxes full of english muffins, in about a dozen different flavors. There were so many of them, we have to keep the muffins in the freezer. Regardless, they never lasted long (they were damn good, and also my dad eats a lot of english muffins.)
We would have the traditional unflavored variety, whole wheat muffins, and the popular cinnamon raisin, but there were also jalapeño muffins, herb muffins, and other fruit flavors. When I started making my own english muffins a year ago, I wanted to be able to compete with the ones we used to have (I’m still lagging in second place, I think), and work through all the flavors I could remember.
To be honest, though, I can only remember four, so after I’ve mastered jalapeño english muffins, I’ll just have to start making up my own flavor combinations (anchovy asparagus muffins, perhaps?)
The recipe here is adapted from my other two recipes and it turns out best with plenty of milk and butter in the dough. More fat means a softer muffin, but like any bread, they’re still amazing without the fat and without the dairy. I always err on the side of not enough flour, because too much flour makes the muffins dense like bricks.
cinnamon raisin english muffins
adapted from my whole wheat english muffins
makes 12 medium-sized muffins
*vegan substitutions included
200 g sourdough starter**
150 g buttermilk, yogurt, or water
110 g water
90 g whole wheat flour
350 g all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping the dough
dash of salt
40 g dark brown sugar
56 g oil or melted butter (2 oz/4 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c raisins
vegetable oil or butter for frying
cornmeal for dusting
**If you’d rather use active baker’s yeast, then substitute 7 g of yeast, 100 g all-purpose flour, and 100 g water.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine starter, buttermilk, water, flours, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and oil/melted butter.
Using a dough hook, wooden spoon, or your hands, beat/knead the dough until it forms a slightly sticky, cohesive mass, about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease another large bowl, and transfer the dough, flipping it over once to oil the entire surface.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof/rise until doubled, at least 6 hours (2 if using baker’s yeast.) You can let the dough rise in a warm oven (100 F/ C), on the counter at room temperature, or in the refrigerator. If using sourdough starter, the proofing will take a lot longer than if you’re using baker’s yeast.
When in doubt, let it double. The size is really the indication that it’s ready.
When the dough is done proofing, turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface (the countertop, a pastry board, or a bread cloth, for example.) Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, using a scale for consistency, if desired, and roll each portion into a ball.
Dust a baking sheet liberally with cornmeal and arrange the dough on top, leaving an inch or so between each piece. Gently press down on each muffin with the palm of your hand to flatten it into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let proof/rise another half an hour, until puffy.
While the muffins are proofing again, preheat the oven to 350 F/ C.
When the muffins are ready, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, and add about 1-2 Tbsp of oil/butter. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear/brown the muffins on each side, working in batches and leaving space between the muffins on the stove. Let the muffins brown for about 3 – 5 minutes on each side, and rearrange on the cookie sheet.
Dust the muffins one more time with cornmeal, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until puffed up and plump.
Let the muffins cool on a wire rack, then store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic. Muffins last about a week stored correctly.
Chop, chop, y’all!
vegan peanut butter cookies || vegan snickerdoodles|| lemon sugar cookies || lemon white chocolate biscotti || loaded brown sugar cookies || ginger turmeric sugar cookies || basic sugar cookies || cardamom shortbread || salted, spiced double chocolate cookies || chocolate chip cookies || cardamom molasses cookies || black tea butter cookies
The holidays seemed so far off in January, and yet here they are, looming over us menacingly. Maybe not menacingly. I love winter.
This winter feels different, though, because I started back in school in August and am still working part time. Next winter may be the same, or it may be better. The winter after that, who knows? And someday I’ll have a full time job again, and I’ll be just a little bit older than I am now (probably), so the winters will zoom on by, impatient and clumsy.
I love winter.
Originally, I was going to reveal some macaron recipes, the first macaron recipes of the Kitchen Klutz Blog, but those stubborn bastards were frustrating me so much, I gave up. I still have at least a dozen egg whites aging in the fridge and freezer, but I dread those little meringue shells and creamy centers so. This year I went with something I never would have done in the past.
It all started with the vegan chocolate muffins of November. I’ve never been much of a fan of chocolate muffins, and yet I posted two chocolate muffin recipes in a row. Those two muffins opened a kind of floodgate inside me, and I decided I wanted to do something with white chocolate. As little as I have liked chocolate muffins, I have always liked white chocolate less, and yet here we are, experimenting with white chocolate.
Spoiler: I ended up deciding not to make white chocolate anything this winter, but what’s important is that I was inspired to try.
Instead, I made cranberry orange cookies. Orange isn’t something I bake with a lot, and cranberries even more so, but after making a cranberry sage pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds for Thanksgiving, I wanted to do more with those tart, red pimples.
These cookies are based on a snickerdoodle recipe, because of all the sugar cookies I’ve ever had, snickerdoodles have the best texture and flavor: tart, lively, and chewy. Instead of cinnamon and vanilla, I used Cointreau, orange zest, dried cranberries, and diced fresh cranberries, and instead of rolling them in a cinnamon-sugar, I topped them with homemade candied orange peel.
One thing I (re-)learned the hard way when making these and other cookies is that how successfully you cream the butter determines how much dough you end up producing. I rarely see a qualitative difference when I cream the butter superbly versus when I only beat it a little bit, but if you beat the butter, sugar, and liquids for a combined total of at least 7-ish minutes, you could end up with 9 extra cookies.
cranberry orange cookies with candied orange peel
makes four dozen small (2 tsp) cookies, or one dozen large (3 Tbsp) cookies
candied orange peel (for one large orange)
335 g water
300 g granulated sugar, plus an extra half cup of sugar for coating
peel of one large orange, including pith
350 g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 c butter, softened and at room temperature
300 g granulated sugar
2 eggs (~104 g total)
zest of 1/2 of a large orange
1 tsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier
candied orange peel, cut into 12 – 48 small pieces
Do-ahead: Make the candied orange peels. They dry overnight and can be kept for up to 10 days in a container after dried.
Make the candied orange peel
Combine the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Peel the orange and cut the rind into strips, about half an inch or a centimeter wide.
Add the orange peel to the boiling syrup and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Let simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the peel is tender.
Drain the peel and toss with extra sugar on a cookie sheet. Let cool and dry on a sheet of aluminum foil, uncovered, overnight.
Keep candied peel in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make the cookies
Preheat oven to 350 F/190 C and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 2-3 minutes after each until well combined. After both eggs are added, keep beating for a few minutes until fluffy.
Beat in the zest and liqueur.
In 2-3 batches, beat in the flour mixture.
Finally, fold in the dried and diced fresh cranberries, and beat until dough is uniform.
Using a small (2 tsp) or large (3 Tbsp) cookie scoop, or a spoon, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets, and space the cookies about 2-3 inches apart. You’ll have one dozen small cookies on each sheet.
Top the cookies with candied orange peel and sprinkle with sugar. Alternately, when scooping the dough, drop it into a bowl of sugar and press down lightly on the back with your pointer and middle fingers to form a disc coated in sugar on the bottom, then lift the dough out and place on the cookie sheet, sugared side facing up. Press a piece of the candied orange into the center.
If you have extra dough after 2 cookie sheets are full, loosely cover it in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden or bronze on the edges.
Remove from the oven, let cool in the cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling, and continue baking the rest of the dough.
Happy merry, to you and your kinfolks,
The Endlessly Humble Saint Nick-Claus
I remember the good ol’ days of getting out of my car at 10:00 p.m. and watching my glasses fog up immediately. Those precious “is that sweat, rain, or the humidity?” moments. The 5:00 am sunrise and “will the sun ever set?” times.
But those are over now. My glasses don’t fog up anymore and I can walk around without fainting.
I’ve finally finished up all the frozen summer berries and started stocking up on pumpkin puree, sweet potatoes, and various apples in anticipation of autumn sweets, and let me tell you, I’m anticipating a lot of sweets.
About a year ago I started really exploring pie crust. I watched every YouTube video and read every recipe I could find. I tried every possible technique the Web would show me, and even did a bit of scientific experimentation, complete with sticky labels and test batches and all.
It was very official, y’all.
And then I took an autumn pie workshop at Scratch Bakery last October, and everything I thought I had figured out was flipped, turned right upside down on its very head. I stuck with the recipes from that workshop for months, until I took a pie class at work, and everything was made even simpler by the pastry chef. The first thing she taught us when we got to work on the dough was a universal ratio for the dough: 3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter, 1 part ice water.
It was pie-vana. I had a pie-alization. The flaky, buttery dough, the rich summer berries, the dark almond-flavored cherries, they all came together to form one simple truth:
Pie is easy.
And now a full year later, making the dough is like second nature: I toss everything into a food processor, no gimmicks or silly tricks, squeeze it into a ball, and freeze it. And it turns out well every time!
Now that the crust is a breeze, I want to expand on my fillings. Last year, I made Spiced Chai Apple Streusel Pie and Boozy Pecan Rum Pie for the holidays. I’m already dreaming up new autumn and winter combinations for this year (Pear and Fennel, Chocolate Peppermint, or Limoncello Brûlée?)
I’ve also been playing around a little bit with free-form tarts (Italian: crostata; French: galette) and just filling them with a layer of fruit and spices. One evening, when I was really feeling the impending leaf-changing and air-crisping, I sliced up some apples (skins on because I can’t be bothered to peel them), and mixed up some sugar and spices. I threw in some dried rosemary and assembled the tart, then when it was in the oven, I placed some leftover rosemary sprigs (I had made focaccia that day, as well) on top for an extra flavor infusion, and voila!
rosemary spiced apple crostata (crostata di mele e rosmarino)
makes two 7″, or one 9-10″ crostata
200 – 300 g red apples
50 g granulated sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs (with or without leaves)
1 egg yolk, for washing
1 spoonful raw, turbinado, or demerara sugar, for coating
Core and slice the apples. You can peel them if you want, but they’re just as good with the skin on. Set the slices aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, and spices. Set aside.
Roll dough out into a circle or a square a few millimeters thick. With a bench scraper or spatula, mark approximately halfway (both vertically and horizontally) between edges, then 2/3 of the way between the outer edge of the dough and your marking. You should now have slight marks/scores 1/6 of the way in from the edge of the dough, and halfway across. This is just a guide for how much of the dough to fill and how much to fold.
Spread about 2/3 of the spice mixture between the outer markings (so the middle 2/3 of the dough, leaving the outer 1/3 border empty.)
Layer the apples on top of the spices, and sprinkle the other 1/3 of the spices over the apples.
Fold the edges of the dough in, pinching them together where they overlap.
Freeze the tart for at least half an hour to let it chill.
Preheat your oven to 425 F/220 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Brush the edges of the tart with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the tart for 30 – 40 minutes until the crust is bronze and the filling is bubbly.
Remove and transfer to a wire rack with the parchment paper underneath the tart.
Cut and enjoy!
Tarts to you later,
previous monthly muffins
Many people claim that North Carolina summers last until October, but the mornings and evenings are already feeling less like that place where my upper arm meets my ribcage and more like autumn. And the sun is sleeping much longer. Gone are the days of bright, sunny six o’clock in the morning, and here has come the season of seven o’clock sunsets.
Soon I’ll be able to step outside without my glasses fogging up. Huzzay.
We don’t normally think of blueberries as autumn fruits, but it is yet early autumn/late summer, and as long as the farmers are selling them, I’m sure as hell buying them. I’ve had blueberries in my freezer all season and am only just beginning to finish them up (I just really like blueberries muffins and pancakes, okay?)
Blueberry muffins, with lemon zest and/or buttermilk, are a classic, but I was curious to see if I could make them gluten-free. It took a lot of flour combinations and binder substitutions (I don’t buy xanthan gum; I’ve heard some people say they don’t like it when doing gluten-free baking), but now at the end of the hot and stormy season, I have found a few combinations that work for me, and I’m hoping they’ll work for you, too.
There’s no xanthan gum or anything super crazy in these muffins (though the agar-agar batch did turn out pretty well), and the flours are pretty common: white rice is always my base for gluten-free pastries, plus brown rice, chickpea, or soy flour (choose one or any combination thereof), or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, buckwheat, and bound together with any starch (corn, tapioca, potato), baking soda, and baking powder. The first few batches tasted metallic, and most of the middle batches were gummy or crumbly, but the last few held together like their glutinous brethren and actually tasted like they were meant to taste.
These muffins will be more tender than glutinous muffins, naturally, and they pack an intense lemon flavor. I use about 2 cups or 200 grams of blueberries for a dozen muffins, but by all means, add more.
Muffins aren’t meant to last more than a day, and certainly no more than 48 hours. If you want to keep them overnight, wait until they’ve cooled off and wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap. They can be left out at room temperature once they’re wrapped up. I usually microwave the muffins the next day, to bring back a little vitality and make them soft again.
gluten-free blueberry buttermilk muffins
adapted from blueberry buttermilk muffins, from Mom’s Big Book of Baking
makes 1 dozen
100 g white rice flour
100 g other gluten-free flour (bean flours recommended, but you can also use brown rice or buckwheat)
100 g starch (corn, tapioca, potato, etc.)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 large eggs (2-ounce/52-gram eggs), at room temperature
150 g granulated sugar
200 g buttermilk, at room temperature
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries (~200 g)
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine flours, starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Whisk in melted and cooled butter until combined.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then stir in the blueberries. It doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed, as ingredients will continue to combine when they bake, and you want to work as quickly as possible.
Divide the batter out among the muffin cups (I use a large cookie scoop), and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until muffins are springy to the touch. If they seem to be browning quickly, turn the oven down to 325 F/160 C.
Leggo my PSL, yo,
previous monthly muffins
It is, as of last Monday, officially summer, and berries are in abundance.
I’ll admit, I used to hate summer with a burning passion (#pun.) The humidity that makes it feel as if you’re swimming every time you step outside your door, the mosquitoes throwing parties more lavish than the Great Gatsby’s (and always booking their events on my ankles without calling ahead), and the heat. The oppressive heat.
That’s all changed gradually over the past few years. For the first two years out of college, I lived in a country where houses were not insulated (it’s an earthquake country, so the lighter the building material, the safer the home), and in a city where bikes were the norm. In fact, I was not even allowed to own a motor vehicle. ‘Twas explicitly forbidden*. As a result, I experienced the seasons as I had never experienced them before: exposed and vulnerable on my city bike for at least half an hour a day, for over 800 days, and in a place where the difference between extremes was moderate (from below freezing in December, to nearly 100 F in July.) Home was no sanctuary, either. In winter, I had to wait an hour for my space heater to make my kitchen warm enough that I could get naked and take a shower (the door to the shower was in the kitchen), and in the summer I was never not blasting my air conditioning (the reason I had hardly any money when I moved back to the U.S., my air conditioner.)
*Most apartment complexes didn’t have a lot of parking, and because we lived in a small city, all but two of the people on my program were not allowed to own cars.
All of this led to me hating the winters and growing accustomed to the summers, or at least learning how to deal with them.
Now that I am back in a country where 1) I am allowed to own a car, and 2) houses are insulated and centrally-conditioned, I can enjoy the best of the seasons and forget about the worst of them, usually.
So now I love summer. I love being able to let my legs breathe, picking out a pair of shorts for every occasion (swimsuits that double as casual daytime shorts, athletic shorts that look nice enough to be worn as casual daytime shorts, shorts that are specifically meant to be casual daytime shorts, and evening khaki shorts), and not having to hide inside a poofy, gray parka every day.
But most of all, I love the fruit. Don’t get me wrong, I am so here for peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes, but last winter, I was running out of ideas for monthly muffins and pastries, because North Carolina is not known for winter fruits. Now that berries are in season, though, I can get lost in blueberry buttermilk muffins, summer fruit pies, raspberry macarons, and dark, ooze-y cobblers.
And let’s not forget: berries are fruit and fruit is healthy and absolutely nobody can tell you otherwise when your face is smeared with almond and dark cherry compote.
While I was at the restaurant job, there was never enough time, or I never had the energy, for baking for myself. Most of the previous season went into that kitchen’s Thermodor oven, but as of Memorial Day, I’m free, and I can get back to what I do best: muffins.
I may have missed out on the spring, but summer has only just begun. I don’t start school until late August, and summer doesn’t end until mid-September, so we’ve got the whole hot season ahead of us, and it’s crumbles, crostatas, and cupcakes as far as the tongue can taste, y’all.
By far my favorite flavor in the world of sweets is almond, and I’ll find any excuse I can to throw some almond extract into my pastries. I even make chocolate chip cookies with almond extract instead of vanilla. Now, when I choose a flavor, I don’t take that flavor lightly. Tastebuds are not a trifle matter. These aren’t just blueberry muffins with blackberries and almond extract: I’ve added toasted almonds, almond milk, and a portion of almond flour.
That’s a lotta almonds, y’all.
blackberry almond muffins
makes 1 dozen muffins, based on Mom’s Big Book of Baking
200 g all-purpose flour
100 g almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
150 g granulated sugar
2 large eggs (100 g total)
200 g almond milk, unsweetened
1 tsp almond extract
1 c fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 c sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 F/ C and line a muffin pan with paper cups.
In a dry skillet or on a cookie sheet in the oven, toast the sliced almonds until just starting to brown a little bit. Remove and let cool.
In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a larger bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, almond milk, and almond extract. Whisk in butter.
Mix dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, and fold in blackberries. You can chop the blackberries in half if you want them distributed more evenly.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way and sprinkle toasted, sliced almonds on top.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes until they spring back when lightly pressed with a finger and are just starting to brown a little bit.
Remove and let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and finish cooling.
I’ll be blackberry,
If yesterday’s pecan pie wasn’t enough, here’s another that you can prepare ahead of time and assemble on the day of baking!
I first learned to do apple pie at a workshop in downtown Durham, at Scratch Bakery. I’d been trying to do double-crust apple pie for a few weeks before but it was too much work so I gave up and decided to follow Phoebe Lawless’s method, covering the pie in streusel. The streusel itself is easy and you can really make it any way you want. Streusel is defined as “n., a crumbly topping made from fat, flour, sugar, and nuts/spices, often cinnamon, used as a topping or filling for cakes”, so you can add oats, brown sugar, different types of flours, spices, and so on. I like the streusel combination I used here (flour, sugar, oats, butter, salt, and cinnamon) and I’ll end up using it fairly often, like for the pumpkin streusel muffins.
Coring, peeling, and chopping the apples by hand was a pain the first few times I made the pie, so I bought one of those old-fashioned hand-crank spiralizers: 3-in-one, cores, slices, and peels the apples all at once. And it looks cool, too.
That being said, sometimes the most tedious aspects of cooking or baking can also be the most relaxing. If you have plenty of time, the kitchen to yourself, a bottle of red wine (it has to be red wine because red wine is the best wine), and your favorite Spotify playlist (I like anything acoustic or morning-oriented, even in the evening), then you can just focus on the apples and let everything else fall away. I like doing the repetitive, menial things because I usually have a hard time focusing on one thing or committing to anything, so these kinds of tasks help ground me.
I haven’t tried the recipe with very many different types of apples yet, although I bought some green apples to make today’s pie, then decided it might not be so good with green apples. Someday, I’d like to go through a few iterations of the tart trying out different types of apples. Maybe even different types of black tea.
So much to do! So little money to buy the things to do the things I want to do (*cries publicly*).
And now, after three months of wading through pies and tarts and apple skins and dark rum, one would logically assume that I’ll be taking a break from pie for, like, a full year.
One would be wrong.
Now it’s time to work on some winter crumb tarts and gluten-free recipes. I tried gluten-free pie dough earlier and it was…so-so. It’s kind of a pain to work with because, due to a lack of gluten, it doesn’t hold together so you can’t pick it up, turn it, flip it, etc. You have to roll it out on parchment or wax paper and transfer it gently to the pie pan, then press it in. I was getting frustrated with the dough so I figured I could simplify everything by working on crumb crusts.
Call me in a month to see how they’re turning out.
This apple pie is unbelievable, y’all. The crust is finally flaky and buttery (thank you, Phoebe Lawless, the Pie Pastry Queen), the tea is lightly fragrant and the spices are rich, perfect for the season. The apples soften while the cider thickens, and the crispy streusel just floats around in all of it. It can be a little messy or runny, or it can hold up with integrity. At the workshop, Ms. Lawless mentioned that she likes to change recipes to cram in as many different flavors as possible, and when I saw a recipe for chai spiced apple pie online, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to add one more flavor: buttery pie crust, spiced black tea, apples, and streusel.
apple chai-der pie with streusel topping
makes one 7-inch tart (with 9-in measurements in parentheses)
one 7-inch buttery pie crust, recipe here
30 g all-purpose flour (45 g)
30 g granulated sugar (45 g)
a dash of cinnamon (a dash and a half)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
1 ounce (2 T) unsalted butter, melted (1.5 ounce/3 T)
250 – 300 g red apples (2 large apples) (350 – 450 g)
70 g granulated sugar (105 g)
20 g all-purpose flour (30 g)
1 tsp cinnamon (1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp cardamom (3/4 tsp)
1 bag black tea, cut open (1 bag)
1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
50 g apple cider (75 g)
Follow the recipe to make a disc of pie crust. The night before, or the morning of, baking, transfer dough from the freezer to the fridge, and when ready to roll out, take out of the fridge and let thaw on counter for 15 – 20 minutes before rolling.
Roll out on a liberally-floured surface, turning and flipping the disc as you go.
Lay dough into pie pan and crimp the edges. This doesn’t need any pre-baking so you can chill/freeze until everything else is ready.
In a small food processor, blend together everything except the butter.
Slowly blend in the butter. If it clumps up, break clumps apart with your hands or a fork.
Chill until ready to use.
Peel, core, and chop the apples (quarter and slice, or chop however you like.)
Mix together sugar, flour, spices, salt, and loose tea in a small bowl.
Combine apples and dry mix in a large bowl, then pour in apple cider and mix.
You can either save the filling for later or fill the pie shell now. Let the filling pile up a few inches above the rim of the pan.
Dump the streusel on top of the unbaked pie.
You can freeze the whole pie assembled and unbaked.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
Bake the pie for 50 – 60 minutes until the streusel and crust are browned and the filling is visibly bubbling.
Let cool and enjoy!
Happy Food, y’all!
Whenever I’m home, I like to peruse the farmer’s market and learn about what’s in season at the moment. You can buy pretty much anything at any time of year at the supermarkets, but for the best gustatory (look I used a word) experiences, it’s good to remain seasonal. Unfortunately, that means no more pesto or repeats of the unbe-leaf-able spicy basil beef I made last month (I devoured an army’s share.) But it also means I can spend the next 8 months thinking of way to use the herb before it comes back around, so I can be prepared to have The Best Spring and Summer Ever in My Mouth.
I wrote about this a little bit on the dead blog, and in order to keep this one going while I find some recipes I can feel confident sharing, I’m going to post monthly about what’s in season here in North Carolina, and maybe even in other areas, while also writing about what will soon be in season the next month so that we can all prepare ahead of time.
Here’s what’s good this month in North Carolina:
september fruits (take a peek here, too):
non-sweet fruits ‘n’ things:
september vegetables and other such things:
recipe ideas (without links because I don’t want to take away from other sources, so you can search for specific recipes as you like):
curried or candied sweet potatoes | | sautéed greens with black pepper and lemon juice, or vinegar | | roasted cabbage wheels with olive oil and spices | | roasted pumpkin seeds | | pumpkin soup | | pickled cucumbers | | cucumber soup | | tomato soup (and grilled cheese sandwiches!) | | tomato sauce/marinara sauce | | salsa (for football season!!) | | peanut butter | | peanut butter pie | | peanut collard green salad | | peach cupcakes | | peach tarts and crostadas | | peach cobbler or crumble | | peach streusel muffins | | raspberry jam | | raspberry muffins | | raspberry-blackberry pie | | fig pudding | | olive oil fig cake | | apple brown sugar cake | | apple pie | | apple whole wheat muffins | | apple cider (for the really stressful days)
Thinking of all this produce is making me hungry and the itch to cook is far too strong to resist. I need a pumpkin spice latte (don’t judge.)
Categories: seasonal produce
High on sugar cookies from my last baking endeavor, and surrounded by spring, spring everywhere, I wanted to make more sugar cookies, but I wanted to do something exciting…and fresh.
I love lemons almost as much as I love cheese or orange juice. Lemonade brings back childhood memories of cul-de-sac parties and dangerous neighborhood fireworks displays on July 4th. It also brings back memories of a failed lemon meringue pie that tasted like feet.
Lemons are an all-year-round fruit but lemon things are best in the summer. I made these cookies for the first time a few years ago, my last year in college, during my last semester. I only made them once but they were unbelievable the first time. The original recipe called for lemon frosting, an orgasmic addition to an already orgasmic cookie, but I wanted to make them my own this time…and I just didn’t have the energy to make any frosting. I played with the recipe a few times (approximately five times), and once I had settled on something…a few more times (approximately a hundred more times.) I don’t remember them being this addictive three years ago.
Unlike the previous recipe (basic sugar cookies), these are simple and forgiving. The dough doesn’t have a lot of flour and it’s very light. You don’t have to fight to make it cooperate, and because you roll and bake (rather than rolling, cutting, and baking), you can use up all the dough immediately (or save some for a midnight snack.) But be careful you don’t go crazy with the lemon. They are pretty intense cookies, and I love all the lemon, but one batch collapsed before I added the flour because I was little…overzealous…with the lemon juice.
And if you intend to share them with friends, make two batches: one for you, one for everyone else to deal with. Or hide the first batch from yourself, because they’re seriously addictive like the cheese and olives at my grandma’s house. Make sure, though, that you can find them again when it’s time to share.
There’s something special about lemon, I discovered while making these cookies. It tingles all over your mouth but especially along the sides and the back, making you salivate. It’s addictive. I tried making these without the sugar coating and, while they’re still amazing and addictive, the extra sugar on top makes the difference. It’s a clean, refreshing contrast to the texture of the cookie, and adds a sweet balance to the tart lemon. It’s like salt on the rim of a margarita glass, a precursor to something sensational.
lemon sugar cookies
makes 30 ~ 36 cookies
226 g unsalted butter, softened
240 g granulated sugar, plus a few tablespoons for coating
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 T lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
480 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
milk and lemon juice, if needed
If using a conventional oven, preheat to 350 F/175 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 1-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until consistent and fully mixed in, 2-3 minutes.
Add the lemon zest a little at a time (~4 additions) and beat.
In a separate smaller bowl, combine salt, flour and baking powder.
Beat the flour mixture into the batter slowly, at least 8 additions and combining fully each time. The dough should be light and fluffy, almost like frosting, but not stick to your hands too much. If it’s too stiff or dry, add a little bit of milk or lemon juice until it’s a good consistency.
Fill a small, shallow bowl with the extra granulated sugar, and another with some flour (a few tablespoons.) Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, scoop the dough and roll between your hands so it forms a ball. Flour your hands if you need to. Then, roll the dough balls in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet a few centimeters apart, and bake for 10 minutes, until they’re dry on top. Don’t let them brown too much except on the bottom, or they’ll burn. They’re best taken out a little early, and they’ll firm up as they cool.
If using a toaster oven, toast at 740 W for the same length of time.
Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and finish cooling, and prepare yourself for Heaven.
Lemon Love Y’all