As soon as summer hits, it’s only a matter of time before I start buying up berries (and also often peaches). As much as I love vegetables, I’m not overly fond of fruit. Sure, I like it OK, but most fruit items in my cupboard or refrigerator are as likely to go bad as I am to eat them before they rot.
But I have my favorites.
I love on-sale cherries, too-hard white peaches, and berries in the summertime.
So, I couldn’t help but buy up blackberries when they were on sale and make it into a Dutch oven cobbler.
I consulted no fewer than three recipes to come up with my perfect summer dessert, but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. My sweetie suggested blackberries among the berries, and none of the recipes quite worked. Most were, of course, for peach cobblers, which called for cinnamon and often nutmeg. Betty Crocker wisely suggested skipping that step (hers only called for cinnamon) if one were making blueberry cobbler. I felt the same should be true of blackberries.
But I also thought it needed a little something more. Maybe true, maybe not, but I have to say I quite liked my ultimate addition: a small sprinkling of ground ginger.
I admit this cobbler won’t be for everyone. I skimped on the sweet, leaned into the tartness, and added the spice. But my sweetie and I devoured the whole thing with glee and in record time for us two savory-food lovers. It was a real treat.
Here’s what I did:
8 T. (1 stick) butter, divided
4 pints (about 5 c.) blackberries
6 T. sugar, divided
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. salt, divided
1 t. ground ginger
1 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
½ to ¾ c. buttermilk
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
On the stovetop, melt 4 T. butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the blackberries, 2 T. sugar, ½ t. salt, and the ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Once the blackberries have started to break down, add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Turn off or remove from heat.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, 2 T. sugar, and remaining ½ t. salt. Cut in the remaining 4 T. of butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives or your fingers, until small chickpea-sized chunks form. Add ½ c. buttermilk and stir with a fork until combined to form a wet shaggy dough, adding more buttermilk as necessary.
Drop spoonfuls of the dough on top of the blackberry mixture (it’s OK if some open spots show through). Sprinkle the remaining 2 T. on top of the mixture, and carefully place the Dutch oven, uncovered, in the oven. Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the cobbler on top is lightly golden brown. Remove from oven, let mostly cool, and enjoy (a la mode, if desired)!
During my year of bread, babka — or the similar povitica — was always on my list but I was too afraid to spend the time needed to make this beautiful treat.
Fate tempted me back when I found a wonderful looking babka recipe in my Cook It In Your Dutch Oven cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen.
I won’t lie, it’s a multi-day affair. That bothers me less now that I work your standard 9 to 5 with weekends free. But it does take some planning, say, when you’re scheduled to have 3 hours of your afternoon spent at the theater with Avengers: Endgame.
Even with that, I found it to be worth the effort. So much so that I made it two weeks in a row. (I may have also seen Endgame two weeks in a row.)
Mostly I just wanted to try to redo the recipe with my favorite filling. I know, I know it’s sacrilege to think there’s something better than chocolate, but I frickin’ love cream cheese filling.
The second time worked slightly better in some ways, but I think that’s mostly just the nature of breads. Sometimes the mix needs some tweaking.
My first attempt had the stand mixer get the dough perfectly concocted in well short of the 10 to 12 minutes recommended, so I stopped it. But that meant that I had to let my dough rise for longer because the yeast didn’t activate as well. The second time it was sticky and slow like it was supposed to so everything rose well.
The second time my filling was softer because I probably could have used a little more cream cheese. (I replaced 12 oz. of chocolate chunks/cocoa with 8 oz. cream cheese, and I think 12 oz. may have made a better, thicker consistency, but it still worked.) The first time it was smooth and just stiff enough to spread and keep a nice firm shape.
Either way, as long as you’ve done a handful of breads before, I think anyone can make this one. It wasn’t even *that* hard to make it look pretty.
Here’s what I did:
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. yeast (The recipe calls for instant or rapid-rise, which I didn’t use. If you knead well in the stand mixer, it didn’t seem to matter. I had a good rise the second time.)
1 t. salt
1 c. whole milk (I used 2% the second time and didn’t notice any major differences.)
½ c. granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 t. vanilla extract
2 sticks (16 T.) butter, softened
For Chocolate Filling
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick (8 T.) butter
6 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
For Cream Cheese Filling
8 to 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick (8 T.) butter
½ c. confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 large egg, lightly beaten, with 1 T. water and pinch of salt
Whisk together flour, yeast, and salt, in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a separate bowl (that holds at least 4 c.), mix together the milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla, until the sugar has dissolved. Use a dough hook attachment on low, and begin to slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and continue to mix until the dough starts to form.
Increase the speed on the stand mixer to medium-low, and add the 2 sticks of butter 1 T. at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to knead in the stand mixer for another 10 to 12 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic, and clears the sides of the bowls. (Like I said, this happened within a couple minutes the first time, and I should have kneaded by hand for longer instead of stopping when a clump formed, but the second time it was definitely too sticky to handle until about 10 to 12 minutes, and I even added a titch more flour.)
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 30 seconds and form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough, seam side down, in a large greased bowl. Cover and let rise by about half for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Once risen, refrigerate dough until it is firm, at least 1 hour to up to 24 hours (an ideal time to go watch a long action-packed superhero movie). Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes if you refrigerate for much longer than an hour.
For (either) Filling
Microwave the chocolate chunks, cocoa, and butter OR the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl for about 3 minutes at 50 percent power, stirring often, until the mixture has melted and a smooth, soft filling forms. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and then let cool for about 30 minutes. Then, whisk in the egg whites, until fully combined and the mixture looks glossy (less noticeable with the cream cheese filling, so mix well).
Press the dough down to deflate, and then transfer to a lightly floured counter (I had to use my whole damn kitchen table so make sure you have space). Roll dough into an 18 inch by 24 inch rectangle, keeping the shorter side parallel to the counter. Once rolled out, spread the filling on the dough, leaving about a ½ inch border around the edge.
Roll the dough away from you into a firm, taut cylinder. Pinch to close the seam. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate (on a large baking sheet if possible but mine weren’t big enough so I just cleared a space on a shelf) for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make a foil sling for the Dutch oven by folding in half 2 long sheets of aluminum foil, so you have 2 long, roughly 7 inch sheets. Place sheets perpendicular to each other, like a lowercase t, and carefully smooth down into the Dutch oven bowl. Spray with a little bit of oil.
When dough is ready, transfer the log back to the lightly floured counter with the short end facing you. Carefully cut the dough in half lengthwise so that you will have the swirls of filling facing up to you. Pinch together the two dough halves and then braid end over end, as tightly as possible. Pinch the second end together, and then wrap into a spiral with the ends tucked underneath.
Put the dough in the prepared Dutch oven, and let rise for another 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and brush the egg mixture on top of the dough.
Cover pot, and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover, rotate pot, and continue to bake for another 35 to 45 minutes, until the loaf is a deep golden brown.
Lift dough out of pot using the foil overhang, and let cool completely (about 3 hours) on a wire rack, and then finally, enjoy!
Long before I called a sheet pan a sheet pan, it was a jelly roll pan. I think it almost certainly stems from my mom making a Yule log regularly throughout my childhood.
I had no idea why my mom made the Christmas cake annually or what a log has to do with Christmas, and a quick perusal of Wikipedia doesn’t offer any clear answers to the latter.
Mom tells me she started making it for her dad, my Papa, and he liked it so much, she kept doing it. Wikipedia also says the cake originated in the region that includes his ancestral home of Belgium, but apparently that’s a coincidence.
Which is fair, it’s just a damn good cake.
The Yule log, also called a buche de Noel, has few ingredients but they’re used to make three separate parts that make it time-consuming if not difficult. There’s the eggy chocolate cake. There’s the vanilla cream filling. There’s the mocha buttercream frosting. And then, there’s the assembly.
Despite the difficulty, though, my sweetie rightly describes it as similar but easier tiramisu.
And besides, it’s a Christmas cake, so you make it just once a year. That makes it totally worth it.
Here’s what I did following Mom’s recipe:
5 eggs, separated
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 T. flour, plus more for sheet pan
1 c. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
1 T. confectioner’s sugar
Mocha buttercream frosting
1 c. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing sheet pan
1/2 confectioner’s sugar
1 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 T. instant coffee
1 t. warm water
2 T. finely-chopped pistachio nuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll (sheet) pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and lightly flour paper, tapping off excess flour.
Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form.
Separately, beat egg yolks in a large bowl at high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is thick and pale in color. Beat in cocoa and flour at low speed.
Fold beaten egg whites into yolk mixture until no streaks of white remain.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven when cake springs back to a light touch
Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.
Mocha buttercream frosting
While cake bakes, prepare the frosting. Beat the softened butter until fluffy in a small bowl. Beat in sugar and cocoa.
Dissolve coffee in water, and beat into butter mixture.
Store in cool (but not cold) place as you don’t want the butter to melt, but you don’t want the frosting to get too solid to spread.
When cake is cool, remove it from the pan by inverting onto a towel or *carefully* lifting using parchment paper.
Cut off 1/2 to 1 inch from the edges of all four sides of the cake (to remove the crunchier bits) and reserve for later use.
Beat heavy cream until thickened. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff enough to spread.
Spread mixture evenly across the cake. Roll up the cake, starting with one of the shorter sides. Place cake roll seam-side down on a serving tray.
Frost the cake roll all over (including ends) with the mocha buttercream frosting. Roll up some or all of the reserved cake ends and set onto the frosted cake (these are supposed to look like cut-off branches). Frost these well.
Run a fork across the frosted cake to mimic bark lines. Use the fork to create the same lines along the sides of the “branches” to create “age rings” in the center of these “branches.”
Press some of the chopped pistachios into the “cut” ends of the log (ends and the circular “branches) to mimic some moss/lichens.
Dust with confectioner’s sugar (to mimic dusting of snow). Enjoy and Merry Christmas/happy holidays to all who celebrate the season.
I’m going to say right up front that I forked this one up royally from beginning to end. So, I can’t say that it was a great recipe, but I do think that it’s salvageable, as in, the blame lies with me.
And, to be honest, I still had a lot of fun making it.
It’s been a stressful week, and I came home grumpy. But once I started to make this week’s poppy seed streusel and listening to podcasts about “DoctorWho” (*nerd alert*), I felt immensely better. I didn’t even really care that I was forking up.
I have loved my Amy Thielen “The New Midwestern Table” cookbook, so the fact that this recipe didn’t turn out I think is a fluke. I have made a lot of things from it, including hand pies this year.
And, seriously, it has a butt-ton of butter, sugar, and flour, so it should have been perfect.
Also, while her recipe said to bake for a half hour, I knew it looked done about 7 minutes early, and instead of trusting my gut, I let it go for another 5.
So, the fact that it’s hard as a rock, is on me.
Then, the second page of the recipe really spends a lot of time on the importance of grinding the poppy seeds well. This was after I had, uh, not done that. See, I bought a bunch of cream and figured there was not harm in replacing whole milk with cream. Except that, obviously, cream whips quite quickly. So, when I mixed them together in the blender, there was whipped cream well before poppy seed broke and bruised.
I made up for it by adding water instead of more cream later … but the damage (or lack thereof to the poppy seeds) was done.
So, the fact that the poppy seeds are intact and the innards of the streusel didn’t turn out as expected, is also on me.
Again, though, it was an adventure to make, and I’m pretty sure if I follow the recipe, and trust my gut, I’ll nail it next time.
Here’s what I did. Actually, scratch that, here’s what I should have done:
¾ c. poppy seeds
¾ c. whole milk (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE)
1 c. raisins
3 c. sugar, divided
½ c. heavy cream
2 t. apple cider vinegar
3 c. all-purpose flour
½ t. sea salt
3 sticks butter (the recipe calls for salted; I used un- so hopefully that didn’t mess things up), and more for coating the pan, all at room temperature
Combine poppy seeds and MILK in a blender and process on high until the poppy seeds have broken down down. Add the raisins, 1 c. sugar, the cream, and the vinegar. Process until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a medium skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir often to prevent it from sticking, and continue reducing heat to keep the mixture at a slow bubble. Keep cooking until the mixture thickens to like jam, about 30 minutes. I’d say a little less but that might just be because I overcooked the thing from top to bottom in the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees, and lightly butter a 9-inch by 13-inch sheet pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 2 c. sugar, salt, and the butter. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until well combined, and the mixture holds its shape when squeezed together.
Scoop 5 loose cups of the butter mixture onto the sheet pan, and use your hands to spread evenly, and then gently press down. Bake for about 10 minutes, and then let cool for about 10 minutes.
Then, pour the poppy seed mixture on top, and spread until smooth. Then squeeze the remaining butter mixture on top of the poppy seed mix to make decorative nuggets, leaving some space for the filling to show through.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until LIGHTLY golden brown, *checking often*, and then cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Enjoy, if you got this far and succeeded!
As promised, I am posting this week’s recipe pre-Thanksgiving early so people can enjoy their loved ones. Or, at least tune out of the world wide web for a few days.
My recipe this week is my Grandma Crippes’ pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made them many, many times before, and I almost get them wrong every time.
That’s because the recipe I use is on an index card my grandma gave me years ago when I asked for some of her favorites. It’s carefully hand-written before her arthritis got too bad for her to even cook anymore.
But her wonderful absent-mindedness that I have frustratingly inherited means that the ingredient list doesn’t mention eggs, even though one of the first directions is to cream crisco and sugar, and then add eggs. It doesn’t even say how many.
Since it’s plural, I’ve assumed two eggs for years, and the recipe comes out right so it works either way.
Now that grandma’s gone, those recipes are among my most prized possessions. Especially since these days, most loving notes are typed instead of carefully — or not-so-carefully — handwritten. (And get off my lawn, you kids.)
As I think about this year, and because of my natural pessimism (another Crippes trait), I mostly remember the worst things about it. There’s no doubt it’s been a challenging year, not just for the country but also for my loved ones and for myself.
But this Thanksgiving as we’re literally giving thanks, I am also reminded that it hasn’t been all bad. My sweetie, myself, my Pookie, and a couple of our kitties have had some health scares this year, but everyone’s mostly OK managing chronic conditions. Not everyone is still with us, but so many still are.
Not every goal for the year has been achieved, but there’s still time. So, I’ll stop wasting my readers’ time, and let them get to work giving thanks, visiting loved ones, remembering those who are gone, and — hopefully — baking cookies.
Here’s what I did:
½ c. crisco
1 c. sugar
1 c. Libby’s pumpkin
2 c. all-purpose flour
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 ½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. ground ginger (I used more)
1 ½ c. chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a large sheet pan. (This makes about 3 dozen cookies so you should grease multiple sheet pans or plan to grease/reuse the pan.)
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
Cream the crisco; and add sugar gradually. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, and pumpkin, and mix well. Add the mixed dry ingredients, and mix until blended.
Add the chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the greased sheet pan (leaving a little room between them), and bake for 15 minutes — they don’t change shape much so I usually touch lightly to make sure they’re puffy, and then take out of the oven. Repeat as necessary to use up all the dough, and enjoy!
So, one year on a whim, and because it was summer, I made a S’mores pie to share with my sweets-loving family. It was so well received that I decided to do it again the next year.
Since I’m doing sheet pans this year, I wanted to try something different. Pretty early in the year, well before cookout season, I Googled to ensure that sheet pan S’mores recipes abounded. No surprise, they did.
My plan was set. When we had our Crippes clan get together, I would surprise everyone — particularly my cousin Madison who raves about the S’mores pie — with sheet pan S’mores.
When I finally started looking before the mini-family reunion, I of course, saw several recipes that were simply laying graham crackers onto a sheet pan, topping with Hershey’s, and a marshmallow, and calling it good. I couldn’t do that. I had to impress. So, I found something that was a little more effort. A pseudo graham cracker crust, semi-sweet chocolate chips for ease of melting, and a beautiful broil to make the mallows just right.
What an idiot.
I was nervous from the outset. Despite following the recipe — a random site I won’t link to so as not to besmirch a recipe that didn’t work for me or to discredit them where I deviated slightly from the recipe — the crust didn’t seem like it came together all that well. Oh well, I said, once it bakes, it’ll probably be better. I baked it, and it looked fine. So far, so good.
Then, I added the chips, and let them sit. They didn’t melt well. Then, I put them back in the oven to melt better and for ease of spreading. No dice. OK, use up some more mini chips from my Aunt Sue’s supply. Give up on spreading when still nothing worked.
Finally, broil the marshmallows on top. Perfection.
Cut into the monstrosity I’d created, and &#*S@%#, the crust didn’t really work after all.
The good news is that no one cared. My aunt who is a professional caterer and foodie like myself gave encouraging tips and troubleshooting advice. My cousin Maddy couldn’t have been more pleased no matter how messy, and everyone else, enjoyed them as well.
I guess it turns out that no matter how badly you mess up S’mores, they’re impossible to screw up. For that, I’m quite grateful. But next time, I’ll stick to the campfire.
Here’s what I did for any adventuring souls, or those who want to figure out what I did wrong:
1 (13.5 oz.) box graham cracker crumbs
¼ c. (½ stick) unsalted butter
½ t. cinnamon
¼ c. sugar
1 ½ (~12 oz.) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
36 marshmallows (they make square S’mores-specific ones now!)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and the two eggs. Pour and press mixture into a large, rimmed sheet pan. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden.
Spread on the chocolate chip pieces, and allow to melt. Perhaps by putting in the oven if spreading isn’t going well?
Let cool for 30 minutes or until close to ready to serve.
Heat oven to broil.
Place marshmallows on top of the chocolate, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mallows are cooked to desired brownness, watching constantly. Serve immediately, and enjoy the mess!
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but for the third week in a row, I was in search of a recipe that was easy and quick. In fact, this is the first time this year that I made this week’s recipe on the same day I posted my blog.
Like any (recovering) journalist, I live for a deadline.
Thankfully, I picked another recipe this week that not only was as simple as it seemed but came together with little effort. I needed the latter after losing an altercation with a cat that has left my right hand only partially usable.
Strawberry shortcake bars also happen to be delicious and the kind of treat that will please my in-laws as we head to St. Louis this weekend to see them.
Everything’s coming up Christinia!
Because I’m cutting it down to the wire (again), two quick notes on this recipe:
It’s pretty strong on the shortcake, which I like, but it may be a bit dry for others’ tastes. If that’s not your thing, maybe cut down on the flour or add a little more whipped cream to the topping.
It doesn’t specifically call for it, but a stand mixer works really well for this recipe. Creaming both the cake and the topping is enough of a pain when one’s hand is healthy but it was pretty much a requirement for me this week. A hand mixer would also work, but I really appreciated saving the labor this week.
Here’s what I did, mostly following a recipe I found randomly online:
For the bars:
1 c. (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus a little more for coating the sheet pan (I used to use salted but we’re *trying* to be healthier)
2 c. sugar (like I said, trying)
4 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
5 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
½ t. baking soda
For the topping:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped (or 8 oz Cool Whip but I like real cream, again, trying)
About 1 lb. strawberries, sliced
Heat oven to 375 degrees, and grease a large rimmed sheet pan.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then, add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add in vanilla and stir until combined.
In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to the wet mixture and beat until combined. (The dough will look like cookie dough.)
Spread the mixture on the sheet pan, using greased hands to spread evenly onto the pan.
Bake shortcake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and remaining vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, and chill until the bars are cool.
Spread the cream mixture on top of the shortcake, and then cover with the sliced strawberries. Eat immediately, or chill until ready to serve to in-laws, and enjoy!
A week late but I found the perfect “I don’t have time for this” sheet pan recipe.
The good news is it’s been another hectic week that meant I also didn’t have a lot of time to make something this week either; the bad news is, well, it’s been another hectic week. Please someone older than me tell me that life gets less stressful eventually.
Since I’m doubtful that someone will reach out to me, I’ll take solace in the fact that simple sumptuous scones exist and help make life worth living.
Lavender and lemon combine to make the perfect airy, floral, summery breakfast.
And as I might have mentioned, they’re fairly simple.
I’m not super picky when it comes to scones, and one of my favorites is Betty Crocker’s, but these had a nice fluffy texture that made it almost cake-like, while not really having more sugar than any other scone. They were a delight, and I’m absolutely sure I’ll make them again. I might even try to change it up and use different flavors, like my favorite raspberry and white chocolate chip.
Three quick notes:
The recipe calls for 2 sheet pans. I almost didn’t but decided to trust the recipe, especially since it’s from the the typically trustworthy Epicurious, and I’m glad I did. The scones don’t look so big but they expand, so use 2 sheet pans or bake in batches.
It also suggests serving with store-bought lemon curd. While lemon curd is a treat and does go well with the scones, lavender is such a subtle flavor that the lemon tends to overpower it, especially when lemon zest is already in the scones. So, use with that warning or feel free to pass if you love lavender.
Lavender made sound hard to come by, but my favorite spice shop Allspice in Des Moines has lavender flowers, and they ship if you can’t get to Iowa’s capital. And, if you don’t want to include them, I’m sure they’d be OK without it, if less exciting.
Did I mention these were simple and amazing? OK, here’s what I did:
3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for light kneading
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 T. baking powder
2 t. dried lavender buds (recipe called for 1 t., but like I said, subtle; I also sprinkled just a few on top of each scone for plating purposes and for a bit more taste, but you do you)
1 t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 ½ sticks butter (preferably unsalted), cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 c. buttermilk, plus more for brushing (2-4 T.)
Zest from one lemon
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. demerara sugar, or granulated sugar, for topping
Lemon curd, optional and to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees, and arrange racks on upper and lower thirds of oven. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the 3 c. flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter, using two knives, your fingers, or a pastry blender. Stir in the lemon zest.
Make a well in the dried ingredients and add the buttermilk and vanilla.
Stir slowly to mix. I found a fork worked really well.
Once a shaggy dough forms, turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead until the dough forms together.
Use your hands to pat into an about 10-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then cut each square into four squares. Cut each square into two triangles, so you have 16 triangles of dough.
Divide the triangles between the prepared baking sheets. Brush with the buttermilk and then sprinkle with the additional sugar.
Bake until scones are golden, about 13 to 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature with lemon curd, if desired.
I had family in town this weekend, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by making a killer rhubarb pie to impress my mom and stepdad and also something that’d fit for my year of sheet pans.
Luckily, I came across a rhubarb crostata (if you didn’t know, and I didn’t, it’s basically a free-form pie) recipe from Food and Wine a few weeks ago and ripped out the recipe to make it for their impending visit.
It was the perfect time for a lot of reasons, but mostly because my stepdad loves rhubarb and, frankly, so do the rest of us.
While he’s been the most vocal, I learned from Mom this past weekend that she grew up eating the stalks (home-grown) like they were celery and dipping them into a bowl of sugar. And my stepdad loves another rhubarb pie recipe that my sweetie’s mom made him growing up. And, well, I’m not in the habit of making things I won’t enjoy myself as well.
But another reason it was great is because it was so easy.
Sure, like any pie, it took time, but it was small, bite-size bits of active time followed by plenty of down time to do things like go buy the wine or finally eat lunch after a day of cleaning. It was perfect for being impressive and fitting my schedule.
Oh, and it was amazing.
It probably won’t replace the rhubarb custard that was my sweetie’s childhood recipe, but it is quicker and comes with a creamy topping that makes it a reasonable substitute when we’re in a pinch.
Here’s what I did, sticking close to the recipe:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. and 2 T. granulated sugar, divided
1 t. salt, divided
1 ½ sticks butter
¼-½ c. ice water
2 T. cornstarch
2 lbs. fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed, cut into ½-inch pieces, divided
1 T. lemon juice
¼ c. chopped candied ginger, chopped (I did a heaping cup because we like ginger too)
Zest from one orange
1 egg, mixed with 1 T. water
2 t. demerara sugar
1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone
2 T. heavy cream
3 T. powdered sugar
Make the crust: Combine flour, 2 T. granulated sugar, and ¾ t. salt in a medium bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add into the flour mix using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, until pea-size chunks form. Slowly add the ice water and stir until the mixture starts to come together. Pat into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Make the filling: Stir together the remaining 1 c. granulated sugar, the remaining salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add in 2 c. of the rhubarb and the lemon juice, and cook over medium heat stirring frequently. Cook until the mixture has thickened and the rhubarb has broken down (it’ll look like a lumpy jam). The recipe says this takes about 12 minutes; I didn’t time it exactly but it felt like nothing was happening and then it was totally thick, so keep a good eye on it.
Meanwhile, place the remainder of the rhubarb into a large bowl. When the cooked rhubarb mixture is done, pour it over the raw rhubarb. Add the chopped ginger and orange zest, and stir until well combined.
Put together the pie: Unwrap the dough, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 13-14 inches. Transfer to a parchment-paper lined rimmed sheet pan, and cut into a 12-inch round, discarding scraps. Spoon the rhubarb mixture onto the dough, trying to leave about 2 ½ inches around the border; I did less and it was a really full but it worked. Pleat the edges as necessary and press down to secure.
Finish the pie: Brush the dough with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the dough is firm. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The recipe says to cool completely before serving but we liked it better the second day where we re-warmed it, so I’d say cool for an hour or 2 and then enjoy with whipped mascarpone!
Whip mascarpone for serving on top: While the pie cooks, or before serving, mix together the mascarpone cheese, the powdered sugar, and heavy cream. Use a hand blender or a whisk to blend for 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy. Serve on top of the warm pie and enjoy!
I’ve been blogging about food for a decade now, but this is the first time my platform has been my own. If you’re a follower of my work the past few years, the format is going to be mostly the same. If you’re new here, my blogging habits are a weekly adventure in a common theme for a year.
In the past I’ve done pies, breads, casseroles, and soups and salads. This year I’m taking Mom’s advice, and I’m going to start doing a year using a common kitchen item. Starting with my underutilized sheet pan. (Still taking suggestions for 2019.)
The point of the exercise, aside from enjoying good food and filling my body with nutrients, is to show the versatility of the cookware already lurking in most kitchens.
I thought I’d start off with something easy — peanut brittle — and managed to bungle it both times. Alas.
It made me think some about failure, which I might address in a future blog post. But for now, it’s best to just quote the man from Indiana, John Mellencamp: “What is there to be afraid of? The worst thing that can happen is you fail. So what? I failed at a lot of things. My first record was horrible.”
I feel the same way about cooking, and in particular about this week’s failure. If I had given up making candy the first time I failed at it, I would have stopped trying in about 7th grade, when I determinedly failed to make taffy. And I’ve totally successfully made peanut brittle before; it just didn’t work out that way this time.
Impatience and inattention have been my downfalls, but you know what, I’ve got a whole year to keep succeeding at sheet pan recipes. Or getting up off the mat and trying again.
In the meantime, here’s what I should have done with peanut brittle and actually listened to Betty Crocker’s sage advice:
1 ½ t. baking soda
1 t. water
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. water
1 c. light corn syrup
3 T. butter
1 lb. shelled unroasted peanuts
Heat oven to 200 degrees, and butter 2 sheet pans measuring 15 ½ x 12 inches (or so) and keep them warm in the oven.
Mix together the baking soda, 1 teaspoon water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix together sugar (1st attempt mistake, leaving out the sugar!), 1 cup water and the corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan (or so). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer (2nd attempt mistake, it wouldn’t budge from 225 degrees, so I tossed in next ingredients anyway!).
Once at 240 degrees, stir in the butter and peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, to 300 degrees. Immediately remove from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda mixture until light and foamy.
Quickly pour about half the candy mixture onto each sheet pan and spread until about ¼ inch thick. Cool for at least one hour; then break into pieces, and enjoy!