Autumn Fig, Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake

This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

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For best outcome, everything should be room temperature including eggs and yogurt before you begin.

8 servings or 12 muffins

  • 1 cup heirloom, spelt, or whole wheat  flour

  • 3/4 cup ground almonds

  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 3/4 to 1 cup organic sugar

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or kefir

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp orange flower water (optional)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 basket fresh green or purple figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts, optional

  • Sweetened crème fraîche to serve with cake (optional)

A 9-inch cast iron skillet,  cake pan with removable bottom, or standard muffin tin with paper liners

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper or put cupcake liners in cupcake tin.

  2. In a bowl to fit the dry ingredients, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt well.

  3. In a medium bowl, put the sugar, spices and lemon zest. Working with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar to release the lemon oil. Massage until the sugar is moist and aromatic.

  4. Add the yogurt or kefir, eggs, vanilla and orange flower water to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended.

  5. Whisk in half of the dry ingredients until smooth. Now add the remaining flour and the walnuts and with a spatula, stir and fold in the remaining flour just until blended.

  6. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top and place the figs on the batter gently, cut side up in a pattern. If using the muffin tins, place two or three fig halves on each filled cup.

  7. For the cake, bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool. If using the cake pan, cool for 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and un-mold to cool right-side up.

  8. For the muffins, bake for 18-24 minutes, testing with a toothpick at 18 minutes.

Serve cake with a little sweetened crème fraîche

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Very adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan





Three Berry Streusel Pie

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Berry pie is a summer tradition and has to be made at least once during berry season. It’s coming to the end of summer but beautiful berries are still at the farmers market. If you use ripe organic or homegrown berries, cut the sugar to one cup or less. Some sugar is needed however, to create a syrupy sauce. This pie is also pretty tasty for breakfast with yogurt or kefir.

Makes One 9-inch pie

  • One recipe single crust pie dough (see my Butter and/or Lard Pie Dough recipe below)

  • One recipe streusel or granola topping below

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1 cup raspberries or blackberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1 ½ cups (or less) sugar

  • 5 Tbls quick cook tapioca

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Streusel Topping

  • 2 cups flour of choice

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil

Granola Topping

  • 1 cup granola

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat

  • 1/2 brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil

To make the pie:

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow the disc to set on the counter for 10 minutes.

  2. Make either crumble by blending all of the dry ingredients using whichever recipe you choose, streusel or granola. Add the melted butter or oil and blend to combine. Set aside.

  3. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 15-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim the dough overhang to one inch. Fold the overhang underneath itself and crimp decoratively, forming a high-standing rim.

  4. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 375˚f.

  6. In a bowl large enough for the fruit, mix berry filling ingredients and set aside.

  7. Remove crust from the freezer and spoon the filling into crust.

  8. Using your hands, sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Squeeze some of the topping in your hands to create different sizes of “clumps”, large, medium and small. Crumble topping evenly over filling.

  9. Bake until the filling is bubbling and clear rather than opaque and the topping is golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cover loosely with a sheet of foil if topping browns too quickly.

  10. Transfer pie to rack and cool for at least 3 hours.

Lard or Butter Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch pie. Double the recipe for a two crust pie.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup cold rendered leaf lard or unsalted butter, cold

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. sugar (for a sweet pie, optional)

  • 1/4 cup ice cold water

  • 1 tsp. white vinegar

  1. In a small bowl, mix the water and vinegar which helps to keep the gluten from developing and makes a tender crust.

  2. Mix one cup of the flour, salt and sugar, if using, together lightly in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor.

  3. Add the lard in chunks and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together in clumps.

  4. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix lightly or pulse the processor two or three times. Do not over mix this flour. At this point if using a food processor, remove the flour/fat mixture to a medium bowl.

  5. Sprinkle the water over the dough and with hands or a wooden spoon, mix the dough just until the dough holds together. Loosley form it into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and chill for one hour or more.

Notes:

  • You can also use all butter or half butter and half lard which makes a sturdier dough for things like slab pies, tarts or hand pies.



Meringue Mascarpone Cake (gf)

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

Makes 1 cake and serves 8 or more. Options for a smaller cake below.

For the meringue:

  • 8 large egg whites with no yolk, room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper

For the mascarpone cream:

  • 1 ½ cup mascarpone cream also known as mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup 2 heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbls. sugar or to taste

To finish:

  • 2 to 3 cups fresh berries
  • 2 Tbls. powdered sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
  2. Draw 3 circles of approximately 9-inches using a plate as a guide on the parchment-lined sheets. Turn the sheet so the pencil drawing is under the paper.
  3. In a *clean metal bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the salt until they're holding soft peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you've got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy and fairly stiff meringue.
  4. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vanilla, and vinegar on top and whisk just to combine.
  5. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchments in three equal “blobs”. Use the back of the spoon or spatula to create flat, wavy discs.
  6. Put the sheet pans into the oven and and bake for 30 minutes. Switch the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. If they begin to brown, prop a wooden spoon in the oven door to cool the temperature slightly. You want them to stay white.
  7. Turn the oven off; let meringues stand in closed oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or overnight,  until surface is dry and meringues can be lifted from paper without sticking.

Put a Post-it on the oven so that you don’t forget they are in there!

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, whisk (or use a beater) the mascarpone cream ingredients just until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  2. Save the prettiest disc for the top.
  3. Place a meringue disc on a platter and spread with 1/2 of the mascarpone cream or to taste.
  4. On top of the cream, sprinkle one third of the berries.
  5. Place the second disc on top and repeat. Add the third disk and decorate with remaining berries.
  6. Just before serving, use a sieve to sprinkle cake with powdered sugar.

Tips:

  • *To clean a metal bowl for whipping egg whites, rinse the bowl with hot water and soap and then rinse with white vinegar and wipe the bowl dry with paper towel. On oily bowl or bits of fatty egg yolk will keep whites from whipping.
  • The cake can be served immediately and will be crunchy. It can also be chilled for up to two hours. The longer it’s chilled the softer the meringue will be. Both equally delicious.
  • Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
  • Pastry cream or lemon curd can be exchanged for mascarpone cream.
  • Add 1 to 2 tsp. (or more) instant espresso powder and more sugar (to taste) to the whipped cream. Use the coffee cream as your filling between the meringues.
  • For a smaller crowd simply make four smaller discs. The baked meringue freezes well and can be assembled frozen. Freeze two of the discs flat on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once frozen, wrap with foil and place in a protected area of the freezer. Use the other two for your cake and cut the filling recipe in half.



 

Coconut Energy Balls with Flavor Options

Coconut Energy Balls with Flavor Options

These little guys are addictive. They're also easy to make and store well. I use the coconut nectar because it's low glycemic and not as sweet as agave. You could also use maple syrup, pecans and ... I can't help but keep thinking of combinations!

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This recipe is originally from an ice cream & sandwich shop in Santa Cruz known as The Bank Dick after a 1940’s film starring W.C. Fields. I’ve been making it since I was 15 and I still love it.          

Serves 8-10  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter divided into two 1/4-cup amounts
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour, soy flour, corn flour or fine corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Butter for buttering the pan (optional, read on)

Mix the two flours in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan or pie dish with parchment paper or, butter the dish well.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip the eggs until frothy. Add the 1 cup of brown sugar slowly and whip until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the cranberries and nuts over the parchment-lined pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the butter over the brown sugar and set aside.

Back to the cake: once the eggs are very fluffy and light yellow and using a spatula, gently fold in the flours just until blended. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter and fold into the batter, again, just until blended; a few streaks of butter is ok. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and spread evenly.                                                                                                             Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much, reduce heat to 325˚F and/or loosely cover with foil.

Once done, remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes; it should still be warm. Run a knife around the cake to loosen. Place a plate or serving platter over the cake and flip, holding both plate and cake pan, to un-mold the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper and replace any cranberries stuck to the paper.

Cool and serve at room temperature with ice cream (salted caramel is delish), crème fraîche, or whipped cream.

P.S. If you're Swedish and have lingonberries, use them instead of or mixed with the cranberries.

Honey Marshmallows

Depending on the honey you use, these marshmallows will have a mild to strong honey flavor which is delicious in a marshmallow. Minced herbs like lemon verbena, nuts, shredded coconut, or cocoa nibs can be beaten in at the end to add a yummy texture and flavor.

  • 2 1/2 Tbls. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup organic cane sugar or regular sugar
  • 1 cup light honey
  • scant 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, more or less
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch, more or less

Lightly coat a rimmed half sheet or jelly-roll pan lightly with oil and set it aside. Measure all of your ingredients.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water in a large metal bowl. It’s best if you use a free-stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over water. Combine granulated sugar, honey, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved trying not to splash sugar up the sides of the pan. Wash down the sides of the pan with a clean, wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan and raise heat to med-high. Continue to wash the sides of the pan and cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244˚F (firm-ball stage). 

Immediately remove the pan from heat and with the mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to medium gradually and then to high. Beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Slowly add vanilla and almond extract and butter, beat to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix the the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Lightly oil a sheet pan or 9X13” pan, both bottom and sides. Sprinkle half of the sugar-cornstarch mixture over the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. 

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and using a lightly oiled spatula, spread it evenly into the pan. Dust the top with the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

To cut, tap the pan over a cutting board so the powdered sugar mixtures falls onto the cutting board. Spread it onto the board adding more if needed. Turn out the marshmallow, peeling it out of the pan. Cut into squares (large or small) using a pizza wheel very lightly oiled and/or dusted with the powdered sugar mixture. Once cut, toss the marshmallows with the remaining sugar mixture to coat all sides. Store in an airtight container layered with wax paper for up to 3 weeks.

  • Food color (paste is best) can be added in the middle of the beating process once the mixture has cooled down.
  • Try flavorings other than vanilla.
  • Using mixer, stir in fresh herbs, cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, or nuts when the marshmallow is just about done and before putting into the pan to “dry”.

Ginger, Cardamon & Pear Cake with Roasted Pears & Crème Fraîche

This cake is the perfect Autumn cake. The whole wheat and spices shouldn't be hidden so I skip the overly sugary glaze and leave it as is serving it with lovely roasted pears and Crème Fraîche or whipped cream. A simple slice for breakfast is just fine too. 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar (or 1 cup brown & 1 cup coconut or date sugar)
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp. cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground dry ginger
  • 4 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup milk, apple or pear juice, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup minced crystalized ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups (300g or 11 oz.) aerated white whole wheat flour 
  • 1 pear
  • 9- or 10- cup bundt pan, lightly buttered
  • Whipped Crème Fraîche or cream with a touch of sugar or honey

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and spices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar(s) and spice-baking powder-salt blend at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the minced ginger and blend.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once fluffy,  add the flour, one-third at a time, alternating with milk. Scrape the bottom after each addition and blend just until incorporated.

Place just enough batter into the bottom of the pan to cover the bottom; this will keep the pear chunks from sticking to the pan.

Peel (optional), core, and dice pear then stir pieces into the batter and pour into bundt pan. Level the top with the back of a spoon. 

Bake the the cake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on oven and type of pan used. Check often and record how long it takes on your recipe for next time. (wink)

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Gently pull cake away from the sides to loosen the cake. Place a cooling rack over the cake and flip the cake over, gently removing pan. Cool completely.

Roasted Pears

These pears are yummy on their own, see post for Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah and they are best served at room temperature baked on the day you plan to serve them. Although, leftovers are always tasty! 

  • 6 firm pears, quartered and seeds removed but stems left on 
  • 1 lemon or orange
  • 2 Tbls. honey  
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over fruit and toss to keep the pears from browning. Leave pears cut-side up. They should not be squished together. 

Drizzle with honey and then sprinkle with sugar-cardamon mixture. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy. 

Remove from the oven and cool. 

 

 

Summer Corn & Nectarine Muffins

These muffins are lightly sweetened by summer nectarines and just a hint of honey and a nice texture with the added corn. Serve with more honey.

Makes about 20 regular muffins or one 9” or 10” square pan*

  • 2 cups (240g) einkorn, whole wheat or all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups (240g) yellow cornmeal OR: 1 cup yellow corn flour (not cornstarch) which makes the muffins yellow and more cake-like plus 1 cup cornmeal 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole fat yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbls.) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 large or 3 medium ripe but firm nectarines; farmer’s market fruit will be the sweetest
  • 1 cup cooked fresh or thawed, frozen corn kernels

Preheat the oven to 375° for muffins and 350˚ for cornbread and put cupcake liners into pans or butter a deep 9” or 10” pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, cornflour (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt, honey, vanilla, and eggs.

Pour the liquid all at once into the flour mixture, stirring quickly and gently until just combined. Once the mixture is almost incorporated, stir in the melted butter or coconut oil and blend just until combined; a few streaks left is fine. Set aside to rest.

Dice 1-1/2 of the nectarines. Slice the last half into thin, attractive slices. Fold the diced nectarine and corn into the batter just until blended and scoop the batter into the prepared pan, filling the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Place one slice of nectarine onto each muffin pressing lightly or place on batter in the deep 9” pan in a decorative pattern.

Muffins: bake for 12-14 minutes, until one of the center muffins tests done: the top should spring back lightly, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you can safely handle them, transfer them to a rack. 

Cornbread: bake 30-45 minutes depending on pan type, until one of the center it tests done: the top should spring back lightly, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

  • Yummy with 2 Tbls. minced fresh basil added
  • Serve warm with honey
  • A 9X13” pan works well too and makes thinner piece