Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

This is a really great banana bread recipe from Nancy Silverton’s pastry book from La Brea Bakery. It’s really moist and flavorful. I substituted black walnuts for the pecans, and only toasted the regular walnuts. Black walnuts can be difficult to find but are well worth tracking down. If you’re from New England, you will recognize them as what makes that delightful and intoxicating turpentine- like smell when you run over them in the rain.

2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup pecans (or black walnuts)
4 bananas, mashed (Nancy has you mashing 3 to make 1 1/4 cups and using one whole banana for garnish. We made a half- recipe with 2 bananas and used them all mashed in the bread.
2 extra- large eggs
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 1/4 t baking soda
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t kosher salt (i used sea salt)
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
scant 1/4 t ground cloves
1 T poppy seeds (we used 1 T for our half- recipe. We love poppy seeds)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (we used coconut palm sugar, normally used in place of brown sugar but has no molasses flavor, so…)
1/4 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 and toast the nuts until lightly brown (if you use black walnuts in place of the pecans, only toast the traditional, English walnuts), about 8-10 minutes. Cool, chop coarsely, set aside. Turn oven up to 350.

Whisk banana puree, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and poppy seeds. mix on med-low until softened. Add sugars and turn up speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping sides as necessary. Add the flour and banana mixture in parts starting with the flour, mixing enough to just combine. Remove paddle and mix in nuts by hand. Pour into prepared loaf pan (I greased liberally with coconut oil and then floured). If you saved the 4th banana, cut 2, 1/4″ strips from the banana, lengthwise. Place on top, slightly interlocking the arcs. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes. We did a half recipe, which turned out to be about 40 minutes. Test with skewer, it should be not gooey. Don’t over bake!

Allow to cool in pan slightly, then turn out onto cooling rack. SLice and eat with butter, immediately.


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Just in time for sunday brunch. Allow almost an hour to bake in a well- preheated 375 degree oven. You can make any size recipe, the basic formula is for 1 egg – 1/3 c milk, 1/3 c flour and a pinch of salt and a grating of nutmeg. So for a recipe that makes about 8: 4 eggs, 1 1/3 c milk, 1 1/3 c flour, 1/2 t salt, grating of nutmeg. Beat eggs and milk together. Add flour, salt and nutmeg. Beat until there are no lumps. Melt about 1/2+ stick of butter.* Brush cups liberally with melted butter and beat the remaining melted butter into the batter. Fill cups about 2/3 and place cups on a cookie sheet, staggered to allow for air circulation. If you are making a large recipe I would use the convection setting or up the temp to 380. Bake until they have risen and browned nicely. About the cups… you can find popover cups at tag sales or antique/thrift shops. They should be of a taller proportion so the egg batter can “crawl” up the sides and create the lightness, height, and volume they are known for. Pull them open and add more butter if you’re so inclined, or slather them with jam. Or eat them plain, as I do… Don’t forget the bacon and coffee…

I have another recipe for popovers, it’s basically the same recipe. This recipe gives you a formula to expand the recipe as you want, rather than making the fixed amount. The other post has nicer photos, however. https://lambaste.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/popovers/

* The original recipe calles for a lot more butter– they are good no matter how much butter you put in, although I wouldn’t get carried away in either extreme.

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so, baking is not really my thing, but i’m trying to be more well- rounded in many areas of my life. i admit i may have a small obsession with blood oranges and pomegranates [my daughter just told me to delete the word ‘small’]. i couldn’t find pomegranates in the market, so just bought the juice; but i admit there is something zen- like about dismantling a whole fruit, seed by seed. pomegranates are exalted in many cultures, and with good reason; they are mysterious, gorgeous, and sexy.

as with any cooking experience, i learned a lot here. developing baking recipes is not my forte, and what i usually do is start with a recipe, deconstruct it, then rebuild it into something that comes close to what i was shooting for. if i were writing for a cookbook,
i would make this a dozen times, but really i was just satiating a craving for blood oranges.

ORANGE CURD [filling]

i used the zest of three blood oranges, but only the juice of two.

juice two of the blood oranges, until you have just under 1/3 cup. add enough pomegranate juice to make it 1/3 cup total. you can add a couple more tablespoons of pomegranate juice if needed. to the bowl of a double boiler add the juice, 5 egg yolks,
1 cup sugar, and the blood orange zest. place one or two inches of water into the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a boil. put the bowl of the double boiler with the orange mixture over the double boiler and whisk until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. do not allow the bottom of the top bowl rest *in* the water; it should be above. when the mixture has thickened, remove the bowl from the pan and stir in 1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces. put them in a few at a time and allow them to melt before adding more. set aside and allow to cool. at this point you can refrigerate it if you like and assemble the tarts later, or you can use the curd for scones or toast.


i like this crust because it’s not just a shell for the filling; the eggs make it puff a bit, and equal the filling in presence. i like this especially to balance the richness and sweetness of the orange curd. this crust should not be overworked, it will get tough. it doesn’t bother me so much, i’m not a big pastry snob; if you are, you might want to try a less finicky recipe, like without eggs.

put 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of a food processor. add a 1″ chunk of ginger, cut up into small pieces, and 1 T of dried ginger. blend the sugar and ginger until the ginger is completely mixed in. add 2 sticks of butter, cut into large pieces, and pulse until combined. add 2 eggs, beaten, and pulse until just mixed. add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour and pulse until just blended. pour out onto a cutting board or marble slab and pat into
2 large circles. put one in the refrigerator or freezer and reserve for another day. divide the second half into 8 pieces.

roll out a circle of tart dough into a circle a little thinner than 1/4″. maneuver the circle over into the tart pan and push against corners and edges to evenly distribute the dough. take a knife or bench scraper and cut the crust at the top of the pan.

i only had two spring-form tart pans, so for the other tarts i used normal baking rings and 3″ x 3/4″ circle cookie cutters. because they did not have bottoms, i constructed them right on top of parchment on the cookie sheet.

to keep the bottoms of the tarts from rising from the pan, cut small pieces of parchment and weigh with dry beans or pie weights. bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until brown. remove the beans after about 15 minutes, and continue to let the shells bake until just tan. don’t over- bake.

fill tart shells with the orange curd and refrigerate.

in a small pan with high sides, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of pomegranate juice and a large piece of fresh ginger cut into quarters. boil the liquid until it becomes syrup, and easily coats the back of a spoon. cool slightly, and pour over chilled tarts. i also used a tablespoon or so to sweeten the whipped cream instead of sugar and vanilla.

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this morning i brought the baby in from the porch, fed it, and made english muffins.
i can’t remember for the life of me what inspired me, but oh my god they are good.
i guessed on the recipe, looking at a few different ones; i think the only change i would make is to add a bit more salt. i used 1 t and i should have used 1 1/2 t. you need to have baker’s rings to make english muffins.

first i made a sponge in the bowl of my mixer with 1 package of dry yeast, 1 T barley malt syrup, 2 cups of milk, 3 T canola oil, and 2 cups high- gluten bread flour. if i had whole wheat, i would have made a third whole wheat and the rest high- gluten bread flour. let the sponge rest for about an hour, until it’s puffy. the photo is not so appetizing, but you can kind of get a feel for the consistency.

add 2 more cups of flour, 1 1/2 t sea salt, and 2 cups of sourdough starter. if you have read previous posts, this is my “baby”; a starter i made using nancy silverton’s bread book. if you do not have a sourdough starter, i would recommend mixing 1 cup of water (about 78 degrees) and 1 cup of bread flour and leaving it out uncovered for a day.

mix with the paddle attachment until it’s stretchy and wet, but cleans the inside of the bowl. it will take a few minutes for the flour to absorb the water and will initially stick to the bowl. just be patient, you want a wet dough, it will give you better holes in your muffins; you know, to hold the butter!

sprinkle a marble slab or cutting board liberally with cornmeal. dump the dough into the middle, and spread it out with your hands until it has made a large disk about 3/4 ” thick. wet your hands so it does not stick. sprinkle with more cornmeal, then put a towel over it. let it rest until it’s puffy and flabby, about an hour and a half to two hours.

heat an iron skillet on medium- low heat and add a little bit of cornmeal in the bottom. brush the inside of your baker’s ring with melted butter, then cut out a piece of dough as if you were cutting out cookies. slide a metal spatula with a sharp edge or a bench scraper under the ring and dough. keep it tight and transfer to the skillet. try and keep dough from creeping out from under the ring. i scraped the excess off with my spatula. after you have as many as you can fit in the pan, spray the dough with water, then put a lid on the pan. allow the muffins to steam for about 5 minutes. you can check them, and add more water. they should puff up to about double in size and you should be able to tell that the dough is spongy and full of holes. i recommend brushing the inside of the lid with butter or oil, as sometimes when they rise they will hit the lid.

at this point i transferred them to a cast iron griddle [also with a bit of cornmeal] to continue the cooking so i could do another batch in the pan and make more in less time. when the muffins were nicely brown on one side, i turned them over. i gave them about three minutes on this side then removed the rings so i could do another batch.
factory work.

the griddle should not be too hot; you want the muffins to cook through without burning on the outside. you can also bake these in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, then flip them. i prefer using a skillet; the oven bakes them more evenly all over, like a roll, and the insides get dry. cooked on an iron skillet, the edges (and therefore inside) remain lighter as the top and bottom slightly brown. if you tried each method side- by- side you would observe a dramatic difference (although if you eat them right out of the oven simply slathered with butter the differences seem less significant).

it makes, well, a lot. about 18 or so. and don’t forget to split them with a FORK! don’t cut them.

[on the bay’s english muffin package it always said “fork split”. i always wondered if that meant you should split them with a fork, or they were already fork- split. i spent more mental energy on that then i care to admit. i almost wrote them a note. shouldda]

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this is probably the best pie i have ever made, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

the recipe is a combination of my mom’s orange marmalade pie, and a shaker lemon pie. the marmalade pie has been a frequent staple during the holidays since i was a kid. there’s something about the fresh, crisp, clean citrus in the winter; it’s like mother nature taking pity on us.

the recipe uses blood oranges and meyer lemons; i have no idea why anyone would use anything other than blood oranges and meyer lemons when available; the color and flavor are superior. i’m game for any recipe that uses citrus rind, i might try something with grapefruit… hmmm…

the oranges and lemons are prepared separately, then combined in the shell and baked. i prepare the different parts and let them rest overnight, but you could start it in the morning and bake in the afternoon. it’s important to let the lemons soak with the sugar.


this recipe makes a very flaky crust, and it’s pretty easy. the trick to making good pastry, i think, is really cold butter. when i make scones, i use frozen butter. the thermostat in my refrigerator is busted, so my butter is pretty much frozen anyway.

measure 3 cups flour into a bowl. dissolve 1/2 t of sea salt in 2/3 cups very cold water and set aside.

cut 2 sticks of unsalted butter, and 4 T of vegetable shortening into very small chunks and toss in the flour mixture, breaking up the clumps of cubes and coating them with flour. with your cold hands, reach in and grab the chunks of butter, and squish them between your thumbs and fingers, kind of smearing the butter and flour together in a big, thick flake. toss around and continue to do this until all of the flour chunks have been smooshed this way. or, use a pastry blender. you can also use a food processor, but only use the “pulse” feature, and don’t over blend.

the mixture should look combined, but with the large flakes of butter. do not over- mix, or your dough will not be flaky, nor will it be tender. drizzle in the water and salt mixture a little at a time, quickly tossing with a fork. i like to use a big serving fork. when it is combined but still rough, let it rest for a minute to allow the water to be absorbed by the flour, then shape the mass into two discs, wrap, and refrigerate.


with a sharp peeler [oxo makes the absolute best peeler], peel zest from two blood oranges. take a very sharp knife, cut off the ends to make the orange stable on the cutting board, then carefully cut off the white pithy part of the peel just inside the membrane, leaving as much of the flesh as possible.

over a pan, run a sharp knife down beside the membranes that separate each section and remove the sections. squeeze excess juice out of the remaining orange flesh into the pan.

chop orange zest into tiny 1/16″ slices and add it to the pan. simmer the zest, sections, and juice until the liquid [not everything] is reduced to about 1/2 cup. stir in 1/2 cup of sugar and 3T of triple sec and let rest until cool [i left it overnight].

trim off the stem end of the two meyer lemons, then with a peeler, peel the zest off the other end, about an inch from the top. this keeps your fingers from slipping while you slice. cut the lemons in half lengthwise, and with the flesh side down, slice them as thin as possible. it helps if the lemons are very cold [which mine are because, as previously stated, my thermometer is busted on my fridge]. chop the zest from the end as you did with oranges, and add the lemon slices and chopped zest in a non-reactive bowl with 2 cups of sugar. cover and let sit overnight.

the next morning, roll out one of the tart dough disks to a thickness of about 1/4″, and place in the bottom of a 10″ pie pan or tart pan with removable bottom. make sure the tart dough extends a bit beyond the edge of the top, as you will be adhering a top crust.

mix 1 t cornstarch into the orange mixture and distribute orange pieces and liquid evenly around the bottom. beat together 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks and 1/2 t salt. whisk in the sugar and liquid from the lemons. pour about 1/2 cup of the egg and sugar mixture over the orange layer.

carefully lay lemon slices evenly on the top, trying not to disturb the orange layer. check that any leftover seeds are removed. spoon the remainder of the egg mixture over the lemons; going from outside [near crust] to inside.

beat two egg yolks with 2 T of heavy cream. brush around edge of bottom crust. roll out the second crust and lay over the top. press around edges to adhere, then crimp around the edges as you would do regularly for a pie. sprinkle with a semi- coarse sugar, and cut vent holes in the top of the pie. place a large piece of foil on the rack below the pie [not under the pan]. bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. set a timer for 30 minutes and check.

this pie must cool completely before it is cut so that it will properly set up. i can never resist having a warm slice and wreck it every time. try and show restraint…

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this is normally a quick sour cream coffee cake that i make from joy of cooking, but i replaced the cup of sour cream with eggnog. the crumb was very moist, as the batter was a bit more wet, but it was really great for a quick coffee cake. this is so easy, even russell could make it…

beat well, 1 cup of eggnog with 2 eggs. sift together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 2 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/4 t salt. add to egg mixture with 1 cup of sugar.
mix until just combined, over- mixing will make the cake tough. pour into a greased
9 x 9 pan. i used a 10″ cast iron skillet that i had put on a burner and melted about 2 T of butter and 1/2 T of vegetable oil in [brush butter and oil around entire inside of pan/skillet].

in a small bowl mix 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pinch of salt, and chopped pecans. drop, unevenly, around the top of the cake batter. bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. invite your friends over so you don’t eat the whole damned thing. and send them home with the rest [minus one slice].

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these popovers have been a family tradition since i was a kid. they pair especially well with the sunday new york times and raging sage coffee. this is the smallest recipe and makes four smallish popovers. double for 6 large popovers.

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

beat 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk [i use 1%]. mix in 1/2 cup of flour, 1 t salt, and a grating of fresh nutmeg. don’t over-beat once you add the flour.

melt 3-4 T butter.

drizzle about 1/2 T of the melted butter in each popover cup and brush inside to coat the entire inside of cup. you can use souffle dishes if you like, but the more vertical the dish, the higher the popover will be. they like to ‘climb’ the sides as they bake. beat the remaining butter into the batter, and pour batter into each dish, filling it a bit more than half way.

bake until they are tall and brown. run a knife around the popover if they stick, then serve with butter, jam, and honey. and coffee.

for a savory popover, add some chopped fresh thyme [optional] and grated gruyere cheese [about 1/4 cup] to batter, and sprinkle some grated [not powdered] parmesan cheese mixed with a bit of flour in the buttered cups. if you do a prime rib roast you can grease the cups with the fat from the roasting pan and bake while the roast rests. the popovers bake in about 45 minutes, but you could turn up the heat to 400 degrees and bake them a bit faster, just keep an eye on them.

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