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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chewy Chunky Blondies and a Catch-up: Lots of Ways Banana Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

First, the Blondies. Umm....! Chocolate, coconut, butterscotch chips, a combination not to be resisted, plus a chance to make some blondies, which I have not made before.
I halved the recipe and used an 8-inch square pan. Baking time was about 43 minutes. The top has a nice crust on it, quite flaky. Unfortunately quite a few cracks appeared when I flipped the cake onto the second tray; oh well, I think it's going to taste good even though it looks a bit like paving stones.
The recipe is here on Nicole's blog. Thank you, Nicole - it looks like a really good choice.
The Banana Cake was due last Tuesday but I had problems with unripe bananas. This time I had two beautiful, speckled bananas for the cake (also using half the recipe), so here it is. It's an easy cake to get together and I was grateful that I did not have to spend too much time in the kitchen, while NY is reaching record high temperatures and humidity.
This is another 8-inch square cake; I halved Dorie's recipe and baked it for just over 35 minutes. I'm going to keep it simple and just sprinkle some caster sugar over the top - the weather is too hot and sticky to think about frosting.
The recipe is on Kimberley's blog, here. It was an excellent choice.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Glaze

No Tuesdays with Dorie Banana Cake yet - I have some not ripe enough bananas hopefully ripening in the kitchen; I'll make the cake when the bananas get brown spots.

I wanted something easy, cool and quite plain as the heat is unbearable here, so I chose a lemon sheet cake - no frosting, just a glaze, a dollop of cream and an oven temp. of only 325 degrees F. Here's the recipe:

Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Glaze (from Texas Cooking website)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest from 2 lemons
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high setting for 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually, beating for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat until incorporated. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn mixer speed to low and add the sifted flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Scrape down sides of mixer bowl as needed, and beat until the batter is uniformly smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for just under 50 minutes or until the sides begin to pull away and a sharp knife dipped comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and turn on to cooling rack.

Make the glaze:

juice from 2 Lemons
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon light rum

Mix all ingredients and stir well several times until sugar is dissolved. When the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, brush the surface with the glaze using a pastry brush. Use all the glaze.
This is indeed a wonderful cake, a great success. It has a light lemon flavor in the base of the cake yet the glaze is delightfully tangy. This was a hit at work. It's an ideal cake for a crowd - two or three batches would bake up beautifully for a reception or a party. Even without the cream it is delicious and would do nicely for an outdoor event.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brrrrr-ownies - Tuesdays with Dorie

How nice to only have to spend about 15 minutes in the kitchen getting these together. They are quick and easy to make. It is so outrageously hot here in NY that it's difficult to think of doing anything at all except staying close to the air conditioner.

I'm excited about this recipe; I cut the York Peppermint Patties into 1/8ths and placed them on a layer of the batter, covered by the remaining batter. I'm hoping that way they won't get too gooey.

Well, they are indeed pretty ugly - there are bumps of peppermint chocolate sticking everywhere and it was a battle prizing the foil off the bottom. A pretty ugly picture too. But, beauty is not everything. They are amazing! I had such a nice treat of two brownies when I came home this evening - cool and chewy, straight out of the refrigerator.

Now I can't wait to take them to work tomorrow.

The recipe is on Karen's blog, here. Thanks, Karen; it's a super choice.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm always searching for nice, traditional American cookies to send to our Troops in the Middle East (I belong to the Baking Gals group). What could be more traditional than Betty Crocker peanut butter cookies!

These cookies are delicious; sweet (but not too sweet) and with a light, quite delicate texture. I used crunchy peanut butter, which gave them a nice munch/crunch quality. I'm mailing them tomorrow, with some other "traditionals" as well - cocoa drop cookies and coconut cookies. I'm am told that our troops really appreciate the packages the Baking Gals group sends them; I try to make a batch every month.
If you would like more information on the Baking Gals, check us out at

Recipe - Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
2. Heat oven to 375ºF.
3. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with fork dipped into sugar.
4. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tarte Noire (or Tart with Milk Chocolate) - Tuesdays with Dorie

It's a 7-inch tart with Lindt milk chocolate filling, topped with some toasted hazelnuts. I'm looking forward to a thin slice. I have not yet found a better sweet dough recipe than Dorie's; it's so easy to make and never fails, unless it's overbaked like my first effort this week. (I forgot to freeze the tart before popping it in the oven and did not cover it enough with the foil, so the end result was tart edges that tasted quite burned and a brownish looking base.)

On to the next effort. This tart was much better - I kept it in the freezer overnight before baking it, fully covered the frills with foil and baked it for only 15 minutes before removing the foil and baking it open for about 7 minutes. It's come out very nicely.

Now the filling - I also had two goes at this; the first, where I halved the cream, chocolate and butter exactly, was way too liquidy. My second attempt had only 1/3 cup cream so it has come out nice and glossy with a firm consistency. I'm keeping it in the fridge overnight - the weather is so steaming hot here in New York I don't want to leave anything out on the table.

The recipe is posted here.