The Fabulous Baker Girl

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Let’s Add Apple Crisp to the List June 8, 2009

Filed under: Crisps and Cobblers,Dessert,Dorie Greenspan,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 1:49 am
Tags: , ,

I’ve notice that my last few entries have been a bit long.  I guess it’s no secret that I can be a little long winded.  I

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

promise that I’ll try to keep this one short.

Friday was the last day of school.  My daughter’s last day of being a second grader.  I promised myself I wouldn’t cry but as I watched her walk in the building a second grader knowing that when she came out again she’d be a third grader, I got a little bit teary eyed.  These kinds of moments are always bittersweet.  I am so in trouble when she graduates.

To celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, I asked my daughter what she wanted for dinner.

Let me tell you a little bit about her.  She loves food.  She doesn’t just like to eat.  She loves food.  She’s a huge fan of the Food Network (and is eagerly awaiting the premiere of “The Next Food Network Star” tonight).  She loves watching the Challenge shows, particularly the cake ones.  She likes the show “Chopped”.  She’s a big help in the kitchen and can even help cut up soft things.  Her favorite food is shrimp.  She  is probably the only 7-year-old I know who knows what cilantro is.  Knowing all this, I was pretty sure we weren’t going to have hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese.

And I was right.  She wanted steak, potatoes, and green beans with Apple Crisp for dessert.   She has impeccible taste.

Apple crisp is not in my usual repoitre so I had to look it up.  The first one I found was from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan.  It was actually a cran-apple crisp but it was easy enough to throw together with ingredients that I had mostly on hand.  I left out the cranberries and just stuck with the apples.  I also added peanuts to the topping.

The recipe was straight foward: peel and slice the apples, mix with sugar and flour, stick all the topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse.  Easy peasy!

I stuck it in the oven and soon, despite it being early June, the scent of October wafted through my house.  I may not be into fruit as dessert but the scent of cooked apples is just heavenly.

The crisp finished cooking shortly after we sat down to dinner.  By the time we were ready for dessert it had cooled off enough for it to be pleasantly warm.  My husband and I usually eat our dessert after the girls go to bed in order to get maximum enjoyment our of it but as per our daughter’s request, we ate with the girls.

I took a bite and thought, “Well…this isn’t bad.”

I took another bite and thought, “Hmmm…this is pretty good.”

I took another bite and said aloud, “Hey…this is really good!”

My husband looked and me and said, “You sound surprised.”

The truth is, I was.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste so satisfying and comforting, and just plain delicious (especially since I got distracted and forgot to add the cinnamon and ginger to the topping).  I used 2 granny smith apples, 1 fuji, and 1 golden delicious.  This was a really nice combination of flavors and textures.  It wasn’t too sweet and the consistency of the thickened juice was just right.  The topping was equally nice.  It had a nice crunch to it but wasn’t so overwhelming that it took over the apples.  The peanuts, while not doing much for flavor, added a nice bit of texture here and there.  Since  I forgot to add the cinnamon and ginger to the topping when I made it, I sprinkled just a little cinnamon on top.  To be honest, I really didn’t think it needed anything else.  There was just a faint hint of the cinnamon so it wasn’t overpowering at all.

All in all, I have to say that this was a success.  I definately have to add it to my list of acceptable fruit dessert — please see “Pineapple Upside Down Cake” to see the short, but complete list.

Apple Crisp

based on the recipe for Cran-Apple Crisp from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan


4 medium apples (I used 2 granny smith, 1 fuji, and 1 golden delicious), peeled, cored, and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup peanuts

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces.

Cinnamon, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

The original recipe calls for buttering 8 ovenproof 1-cup bowls but I used one big, stone baking dish.

Toss together apples, sugar, and flour.  Pour into your baking dish(es).

Pul all of the topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms big curds.  (This can be prepared 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight bag.)  Sprinkle topping over the apples.  You will have extra of the topping.  Since I left out the cranberries, there wasn’t as much filling as in the original recipe but I didn’t adjust the amounts in the topping to this.  Next time I would.

Bake the crisp for about 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filing is bubbling away.  Let rest for a few minutes (at least 10 for individual crisps and 15 for one big one) before serving.


An International Affair March 20, 2009

Irish Soda Bread 


Irish Soda Bread


This was a busy week.  St. Patrick’s Day just screamed at me to make Irish Soda Bread.  Tuesdays with Dorie called and, of course, I had baking class.  Oh…so many things to bake.  So little time.  


My daughters and I had a playdate on Monday.  A friend of ours had a little St. Patrick’s Day lunch.  I offered to bring the Irish Soda Bread.  A group in my baknig class had made this last week and I loved its yellow hue and tender crumb.  If you’ve never had soda bread, it’s a bit like scones only bigger.  It’s not very sweet but the raisins offer a nice contrast to this.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  That is precisely why I added a nice dusting of sugar on the top of my loaf.  It added a subtle crunch as well as a little sweetness.  Personally, I could have used even more sugar on top.  I found this recipe to be a little too bland.  A few more raisins would help too.

Normally, I would post all the projects we made in baking class but I forgot my camera.  Our group made bread this week.  We made olive oil bread, a fabulous recipe created by our lab assistant.  It’s a soft, squishy bread flavored lightly with olive oil and molasses.  Fresh out of the oven, it is brushed with an olive oil, salt, and garlic mixture.  Oh…it is a thing of beauty.  We also made foccacia topped with carmalized onions, tomatoes, and olives.  This stuff is amazing.  It’s my new favorite.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Lastly, although not bread, we made biscotti.  Dipped in chocolate.   Again…dee-licious!  I had actually never had biscotti before.  I’m not a fan of hard cookies, but these were really good.  They were studded with pecans, cranberries, and white chocolate.  Very nice.

So…this brings me to Tuesdays with Dorie.  The selection for the week was French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze.  This sounded good to me.  It wasn’t chocolate, but it seemed like a nice choice.  It was super easy to make.  I would

French Yogurt Cake

French Yogurt Cake

venture to guess even a novice could make it.  It didn’t require any fancy equipment and, all except for the lemon marmalade, the ingredients were pretty common.  I whipped this cake up in the midst of kitchen chaos.  A mini tornado in the form of a 19-month-old girl who decided to empty out my baking cabinet.  Somehow, I managed to bake it up without breaking anything.  


When the cake was done baking, it was a deep brown.  I was worried it might be too dry if I overbaked it.  While still warm, I brushed it with orange marmalde (couldn’t find the lemon).  The top turned all glisten-y and inviting.   Sitting on my counter, it still drew a lot of attention.  I could barely control my desire to just break off a piece.  One of my daughters cleaned her plate to make sure she got a piece.  That’s a feat in and of itself.

Dessert time came.  I whipped up some lightly sweetened cream to top off the cake.  I served it up to my three girls first.  All three of them devoured it and not just the whipped cream.  Another feat!  My husband thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  As for me?  Well…let me tell you a little story.

Today after lunch, I wanted something a little sweet.  On my counter was the last remaining peice of French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze and a 3-pack of Ferrero-Rocher chocolate hazelnut candy (my favorite!).  I reached for the candy.  My intention was to only take one piece…but, alas…I decided on the cake instead.  That is how good this cake is.  No — it’s never going to replace chocolate but it is a nice change.  It’s not too sweet and the marmalade glaze made a sticky goodness that I loved.  The cake was actually moist and even though it was a deeper shade of brown than I expected, that added a nice change in texture from the cake itself.  It’s the kind of desset that doesn’t seem like a dessert at all, but is still satisfying.

I think this one is a keeper!

with Fresh Whipped Cream

with Fresh Whipped Cream











French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

from Baking From My Home to Yours

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 ground almonds (or just use 1/2 cup extra flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used an orange)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 1/2 cup flavorless oil, like canola or safflower

 For the Glaze

 1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained (I used orange)

1 teaspoon water

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter an 81/2-x-41/2-inch loaf pan and place pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the zest in the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is well blended.  Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula adn fold in the oil.  You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.  Scrape batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan.  It should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan.  Unmold and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl.  STirl i nthe the water adn heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.


Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake March 16, 2009


Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Some of my friends and I get together every year for St. Patrick’s Day.  We’ve been doing this for years now.  We’ve lost track exactly how long, but we estimate about 9 years.  Every year we threaten to keep notes because inevitably, we always try to figure out when something or other happened.  The tradition is to go out to dinner at Bennigan’s and then come back to our house for dessert.


This  year I felt a little pressure to make something fabulous.  Everyone knows I”m in baking school, so how could I make something second rate?  After careful deliberation, I decided whatever I made had to be chocolate.  All right, I didn’t really deliberate at all.  I always knew it would be chocolate…but what?? 

Of course, I began to look through Baking from My Home to Yours.  And this is what I found…Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake.  Who…I ask you…who could resist that?  (Besides someone with a peanut allergy…)  

A full page photo of the cake showed a rich chocolate cake drenched in caramel and topped with peanuts.  It looked amazing.  I knew this was it!

The cake was very easy to make.  Not much to it really, just a basic chocolate cake recipe.  In fact, it was so basic, I was a bit disappointed.  Not at the ease of it.  Gosh, no…I love ease.  The problem was that it seemed, well, ordinary.  It was a dry and not as chocolatey as I had hoped.  I also thought the name was misleading.  It didn’t really resemble a brownie.  All of that could have been my fault.  I am notorious for overmixing my cakes.  I was really careful though so I don’t think it was.

The caramel topping, on the other had was fabulous.  FAB-U-LOUS!  There is nothing like homemade caramel.  You just can’t buy that stuff in a jar.  The peanuts were stirred into the caramel and were completely covered with the gooey stuff before the whole pot was poured over the cake top.  The caramel oozed over the sides just a bit.  The peanuts sat on top in all their glory.  It was a beautiful cake to look at the.  

And it tasted good.  Don’t get me wrong about it being dry and ordinary.  It still tasted good.  The caramel and peanuts made the cake though.  Without them I wouldn’t have wanted to serve it.  The peanuts gave it a nice, yummy crunch that was a nice contrast to the cake.  The caramel firmed up and was just a touch chewey which gave the whole thing a bit more complexity.  

Everyone like it.  I don’t think anyone didn’t.  But I didn’t get the WOW factor I was hoping for.  Oh well…I guess there is always next year.  

Just a slice

Just a slice


Great Grain Muffins March 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking From My Home to Yours,Dorie Greenspan,Muffins — amynb2008 @ 2:34 pm


Great Grains Muffin

Great Grains Muffin

I’ve been wanting some muffins.  Usually I  go for blueberry but since I have a new cookbook I figured I’d peruse it for a new recipe.  I came across the Great Grains Muffins.  These muffins contain three different grains and dried fruit so they seemed to have some measure of healthfulness.   The picture looked nice and I had all the ingredients, so I decided to give it a go.  My new friend, Dorie likes quartered prunes in these but as  I don’t generally have prunes just lying around I decided on a combination of dried blueberries and dried cranberries.  


These muffins are just slightly sweetened with both sugar and maple syrup.  I personally thought they needed a bit more sweetness.  But that’s just me.  The dried fruit really helped in that area, also offering a plump chewy texture that I really enjoyed.  The oatmeal in the muffin seems to disapppear but you can really detect the cornmeal, not so much in the flavor as in the texture.  It has a slightly cornbread-like texture, drier than most muffin but unpleasantly so.  The best part of these muffins were the crunchy edge around the top.  As with most muffins, you really need to eat these the same day they are made.  The texture dries out by the next day.  They are still edible, just not quite as nice.  Although I haven’t tried it, they might be nice the next day toasted a little bit with some butter spread on.  Dorie also suggests serving with cream cheese, jam, or cheddar cheese.  

All in all, while I wouldn’t call them my favorite, these easy-to-make muffins are a solid choice and a nice one to add to your repertiore.  Besides that…my kids liked them.   And if they like them, I’m pretty sure yours will too.  


Great Grains Muffins

from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup quartered, moist, plump prunes or other dried fruit and/or nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter or spray a muffin tin (I used Pam spray for baking — love that!).  

In a large bowl, whish together the flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently, but quickly stir together.  Don’t worry about being thorough — if the batter is lumpy, that’s fine.  Stir in the fruit or nuts, if you are using them.  Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are gold and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.


Lemon Cup Custard March 12, 2009

It seems that anyone who loves baking knows about Tuesdays with Dorie.  This is a group of bakers who take turns

Lemon Cup Custard

Lemon Cup Custard

 each week choosing recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.  After they all make the recipe, they share it and their comments on their own blogs.  I had been eyeing this cookbook in the book store for awhile now, but I as I notoriously never look at the author (terrible of me, I know, after all the work they put into them), I didn’t know the significance of this particular book.  As soon as I put two and two together, I ran out to get it…okay I waited for a 30% off coupon from Borders , but still…


Although I am not a member, I have been wanting to try the recipes from Tuesdays with Dorie and now that I have the book, here’s my first attempt: Lemon Cup Custard.

I had read on other blogs that the custard was eggy and not very lemony so I made a few adjustments.  First, I decided to half the recipe.  I wasn’t sure of how successful this would be so I didn’t want to waste any.  I didn’t half the lemon zest.  I kept that as is and added 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract in hopes of making the custard more lemony.  I also steeped the zest for much longer than the 30 minutes it called for in the recipe.  Also, I decided not to strain out the lemon zest when adding the milk.  Although I was worried what this might do to the texture, I was really hoping to add some zing to the custard.

The results, in my opinion, are mixed.  I didn’t think it was very eggy at all.  Maybe it was because I expected it to be or maybe because it is a custard and custard is supposed to be, well, eggy.  The texture was very smooth and creamy, although, like I feared, this was disturbed by the zest.  Luckily, though, most of the zest rose to the top.  Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, it didn’t turn out very lemony at all.  My husband actually liked the subtle lemon flavor.  I would have preferred more tartness to it.  So, I guess my conclusion is that the execution was successful.  The custard itself was good and a super, super easy recipe to make.  If you’ve never made a custard before, this would be a good one with which to start.  The book offers a few different variations and you could definately come up with your own.  Personally, next time I make this, I will definately add more extract or something to bring out that lemon flavor more.

Lemon Cup Custard

From Baking From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 1/4 cups whole milk (I used skim and it turned out fine)

Grated zest from one lemon

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Pure lemon oil or lemon extract (I used 1/4 teaspoon for half this recipe)

Have six 6-ounce custard or coffee cups at hand.  Put the milk and zest in a saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Cover and set aside for 30 minutes so the zest can infuse the milk with its flavore.  Reheat the milk before mixing the custard.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels and put the custard or coffee cups in the pan.  Have a fine-mesh strainer at hand.  Fill a teakettle with water and put on to boil.  When the water boils, turn off the heat.

In a 1-quart glass measuring cup or a heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs adn sugar together until well blended.  Still whisking, strain in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk little by little — this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle.  Whisking all the while, slowly strain in the remaining milk.  Discard the zest remaining in the strainer.  If you’d like a stronger lemon flavor stir in a few drops of lemon oil or extract into the custard.  Don’t go overboard — 1/8 teaspoon extract, less if you’re using oil, is about all you’ll need.

With a spoon, skim the foam off the top of the custard, then pour the custard into the cups.  Very carefully slid the roasting pan into the oven, then pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups.

Bake the custards for 40-45 minutes, or until they jiggle only in the center when you tap the cups lightly.  Transfer the custard to a reack and cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.