almond puff loaf

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Sometimes I get my inspiration from restaurants or a particular craving I have. Sometimes they just come to me from my wild imagination or another food blog. But sometimes, it’s literally sent to me… like this one which I received in my Sunday morning King Arthur Flour recipe e-mail. This recipe falls into the latter category.

This almond puff loaf looks fancy, with its layers of fluffy pastry and dense almond, but is actually incredibly easy to make. The texture is almost akin to that of a danish, but not nearly as sweet. The majority of the sweetness in this comes from the jam and icing on top, with the pastry merely serving as a vessel for the almond flavor and delightful flaky yet creamy texture.

You will need a mixer for this, unless you’ve been doing a lot of working out and have some crazy upper body strength. The first layer comes together after just a few minutes in the stand mixer, while the second layer starts off in a saucepan and is then transferred to the mixture and beat until cool. It will form a very thick batter that is spread on top of the bottom layer and then baked. You will want to use a large baking pan (I used a half sheet pan) for these as they will puff quite a bit in the oven. Once puffed and golden brown, you remove them from the oven and spread them with jam so it warms and melts and gets nice and gooey. Then, top with a drizzle of icing and you’re done!
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almond puff loaf

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

    For the bottom layer:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the middle layer
  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the top layer
  • 2/3 cup jam or preserves
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
  • For the icing
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a half sheet pan with parchment.
  2. Make the bottom layer
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  4. Cut butter into flour using a pastry blender (or hands) until everything is crumbly. Stir in water until the mixture forms a cohesive dough.
  5. Diving dough in half (each half should be about 4 5/8 ounces). Using wet hands, shape each half into a rectangle approximately 10-by-3 inches on the baking sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between the two (they will puff!).
  6. Make the middle layer:
  7. In a small bowl, mix the flour and salt.
  8. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, butter, and salt until the mixture comes to a boil.
  9. Add the flour mixture to the saucepan all at once, and stir until the mixture thickens and bgins to pull away from the sides of the pan. It should take less than a minute.
  10. Carefully transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed for about 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the mixture to cool some. If it is too hot, it will cook your eggs when you add them.
  11. Add sugar and beat until incorporated.
  12. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Continue beating the batter until each egg is totally absorbed and the batter no longer looks slimy.
  13. Add almond and vanilla extracts and beat until incorporated.
  14. Divide batter n half, spreading half of the batter over each of the dough strips on the baking sheet. They should be completely covered by the second layer of batter.
  15. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the pastry is a deep, golden brown and is very puffy.
  16. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack.
  17. For the top layer
  18. While still warm, spread each pastry with jam (I used strawberry for one and boysenberry for the other). The heat of the pastry should help the jam to spread. Sprinkle with toasted almonds (if using).
  19. Make the icing:
  20. Stir together powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until it forms a thick, pourable icing. If the mixture is too thick, add another teaspoon of milk. If the mixture is too thin, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar.
  21. Drizzle icing over pastries and cut into strips to serve.

Notes

* Allow your pastry to cool a bit before drizzling the icing to get nice, clean icing drizzle lines (unlike some of us who don't seem to have the patience to do so).

* If desired, top with toasted almonds for extra crunch and almond flavor.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/07/19/almond-puff-loaf/

[ Recipe source: King Arthur Flour ]

 

grilled pineapple upside down cake

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Remember that mochi cake I made last week? Well, the reasons for making it were two-fold. First, I had been eyeballing that recipe ever since I got that book and, second, I’ve been planning to make this grilled pineapple upside down cake concoction for months now, and I required a cake or pound-cake-like substance to do it.

“Why on earth would someone grill pineapple upside down cake?” you ask? Well, why not? It’s summer and people are grilling things and grilling things is fun. The grill imparts a great toasty char and slightly smoky flavor to the cake and caramelizes the pineapple’s sugar, which take the cake up a notch and really just sings “summer”. Add to that a drizzle of homemade brown sugar sauce to take the place of the brown sugar glaze usually baked into the cake. Additionally, I replaced the bright maraschino cherries that are usually dotting the top of a pineapple upside down cake with a fresh cherry sauce, then finished it all off with some Talenti vanilla gelato. Any vanilla ice cream will do, I just happen to be a fan of Talenti.

I made this two ways, one as a “deconstructed cake” – layering the cake, pineapple, and sauces, with a scoop of ice cream on the side. Second, I made it as a parfait, just layering the components in a straight-sided glass. Neither was particularly photogenic. In fact, I could argue that they were both extremely UN-photogenic.

Apparently my 80-degree kithcen is not ice-cream friendly, which turned my parfait into soup in about three seconds flat. I remedied this by stashing my pineapple upside down parfait soup in the freezer to re-solidify and enjoyed it later. Despite not being much to look at, both were super delicious and I highly recommend them. If going the parfait route, though, be sure to chill your cake and pineapple first, to avoid ending up with soup.

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grilled pineapple upside down cake

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared pound cake or mochi cake
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • Coconut oil (I love this spray from Trader Joes, which is much cheaper if you purchase it at the store) or other neutral oil
  • For the pineapple:
  • 1 pineapple, cut into rings
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • For the cherries:
  • 1 pound cherries, washed and pitted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste)
  • zest from half of one medium lemon
  • For the brown sugar sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Cut cake into 1/2-inch thick slices and spray with oil or brush with melted butter.
  3. Cook over the grill until slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. For the pineapple
  5. Press pineapple into brown sugar on both sides, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, or until ready to grill.
  6. When ready to grill, heat grill to medium-high heat and cook pineapple 2 to 3 minutes until grill marks appear. Flip and cook other side 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat on each side, pineapple should be slightly softened and charred.
  7. For the cherries
  8. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  9. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the cherries are dark red and the sauce has thickened - when you dip a spoon into the mixture it should be coated with a relatively thick cherry coating when you pull it back out.
  10. Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a 8 ounce jar or airtight storage container.
  11. Will keep in the fridge up to 1 month
  12. For the brown sugar sauce
  13. Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.
  14. Transfer to airtight storage container (I used 8 ounces but it probably made closer to 9 or 10 ounces of sauce).
  15. Will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  16. For the assembly
  17. Either as a parfait or sundae - with cake on the bottom, topped with brown sugar sauce, pineapple, cherries, and ice cream.
  18. Enjoy!

Notes

* The brown sugar sauce will solidify when chilled, but can be re-warmed in the microwave for about a minute to return to its liquid state. Allow to cool slightly before assembling.

* The cherries are also great for sundae toppings, mixed into yogurt, or to make home-made Shirley Temples... or just as a snack.

* Pre-assembled parfaits can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and stashed in the freezer until serving time.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/07/11/grilled-pineapple-upside-down-cake/

[ Cake from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts ]

[ Sauce adapted from Pioneer Woman ]

[ Cherries adapted from Bon Appetit ]

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blueberry crumb cake

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I would like to say that I knew July was Blueberry Month and that I made this recipe to be timely and trendy… I would like to say that I have my finger on the pulse of the food community and I was ready with blueberries for the month of July… but that would be a lie. I made this recipe because for some reason I thought that I needed the 5-pound clamshell of blueberries that I saw at Costco. I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

After attempting to eat my way through said blueberries for a week, I still had at least two pounds left and was almost positive that if I ate one more blueberry I would go all Violet Beauregarde and Mr. Eats would have to roll me around until they finally found a cure for a blueberry overdose.

I thought about muffins and pancakes and even ice cream, but then I saw this post on my Facebook and I just knew. It was like love at first sight, but with coffee cake. I was pretty sure the cake-to-blueberry ratio was enough that it would allow me to still enjoy my remaining blueberries without becoming one.

I barely tweaked a thing and this recipe came out beautifully! The cake was super soft and springy, filled with bursting blueberries and topped with a crunchy, spiced crumb.

Make this for your 4th of July feast and your guests will beg you for the recipe. You could also make this for “national crumb cake day” which I am sure is a thing (or soon will be, if it’s not yet). These food ‘holidays’ are getting a bit out of hand…

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blueberry crumb cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the topping:
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (1 pint) fresh blueberries, clean and dry
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare a 9-by-2 inch round baking pan and line it with parchment.
  2. Make the topping:
  3. Stir together the sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Using a pastry blender*(see note), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Make the cake:
  6. Take 1 tablespoon of your flour and toss it with your berries, set aside.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  8. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and zest together until pale and well-mixed.
  9. Add egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until combined. About now, mine started to really look like a batter.
  10. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture and beat on low until just combined.
  11. Add half of the milk and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  12. Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix until combined. Add remaining milk, mixing until combined.
  13. Add last 1/3 of dry mixture and beat on low just until incorporated. The batter will be stiff.
  14. Fold blueberries into cake batter until evenly distributed.
  15. Bake the cake:
  16. Scoop cake batter into prepared pan and smooth the top as much as possible, and sprinkle top of the cake with all of the streusel. Really pile it on here.
  17. Bake in heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out batter-free.
  18. Cool cake for 20 minutes in the pan before flipping it out onto a cooling rack. Removing the parchment paper lining, and flip the cake back onto a plate, being careful not to lose your streusel.
  19. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

* Alternatively, you make the streusel by pulsing the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until combined. Add cubed butter and continue to pulse until the streusel has a sandy texture with pea-sized crumbs.

* You can be more or less generous with the blueberries in this recipe. I probably added two HEAPING cups of blueberries to mine in an attempt to work my way through as much of the remaining blueberries as possible. No blueberries? No problem, try this recipe with raspberries, blackberries, or whatever berries you have on hand!

* This cake can be stored wrapped in foil in the refrigerator for about 5 days, or you can freeze it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, for up to three months. Thaw overnight before serving.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/07/03/blueberry-crumb-cake/

[ Recipe from Smitten Kitchen ]

 

cherry clafoutis

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Cherry season is in full swing and we take advantage of these few short weeks be packing our refrigerator full of cherries – both red and rainier. We generally eat them plain, enjoying the sweet, firm fruit as an after-dinner or mid-day snack. However, I wanted to get a little creative to see what else I could do with these guys.

Clafoutis is something that I have been meaning to make for awhile now, not quite understanding what it was. Is it cake? Custard? What does it taste like? Where does it come from?

Well, the only way to get my answer was to finally buck-up and make the darn thing, so I did, with the help of this article from Serious Eats. And now I have my answers. The flavor is very similar to that of a dutch baby but with a thicker, richer, more custard-y center. The center should be set, so it won’t be pudding-style creamy, but it will still be soft and almost pillowy.

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Cherries are traditional, but if that’s not your style you can substitute stone fruits like apricot or peach, or probably even berries would do (though they may be more prone to bursting). I left my cherries whole but did pit them as our annual cherry consumption warrants owning this helpful little gadget – which makes pitting cherries easy as pie. (Well, probably easier than pie, actually.) You can halve the cherries if you like or leave the pits in, but I find that would make eating the clafoutis much less enjoyable.

While traditionally served for dessert, I think this would fare equally as well as a breakfast or brunch dish in place of a dutch baby, pancakes, or other bready sweet. Plus it has fruit, which means it’s good for you! You can enjoy your clafoutis warm or room temperature, or cold from the fridge for a midnight snack. I recommend a gentle dusting of powdered sugar, though it will still be delicious plain, or with a healthy dollop of whipped cream – the choice is yours!

cherry clafoutis

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 9 or 10-inch clafoutis (serves 8 - 10)

Serving Size: 1 slice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 3/4 pound sweet cherries, pitted
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  • Whipped cream , for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and butter a 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet. (I used this one)
  2. Scatter cherries (or other fruit) into the bottom of the buttered pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt until combined.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.
  5. Pour batter into the pan, over the fruit, and place pan on a baking sheet (in case it overflows) and carefully place into the oven.
  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the center is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool slightly before serving. Serve directly from the pan or carefully transfer onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!
http://wee-eats.com/2015/06/23/cherry-clafoutis/

[ Recipe from Serious Eats ]

wanna be starbucks cherry oat bars

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Apparently our local Starbucks has a new pastry in stock these days. I don’t know if it’s legit new or just “new to us” new, but it is called the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar… and it happens to be Mr. Eats’ new favorite thing these days. So, of course, he requested that I make a from-scratch version. When I told him that would be difficult to do having never tasted the sweet treat, one appeared at our home within days.

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