Archive | June, 2011

Peach Crumble

28 Jun

One thing I can’t resist in the summertime, besides lounging on the beach with a cold drink, is incorporating fruit into my baking. Fruit has a way of making every bite sweeter, more refreshing, and (in my mind) healthier!

My favorite fruits to bake with are apples and peaches. At this point in the year I’ve usually exhausted my excitement for apples after the numerous apple pies I make in the Fall for Thanksgiving, so I use the spring to enjoy baking with peaches. While perusing through several different recipes incorporating peaches, I can across a very simple Peach Crumble. There aren’t too many ingredients and all of them are household staples.

To learn  more about the types of peaches to buy, how to store them and tell if they’re ripe check out All You Need to Know… Peaches.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 Pounds Fresh Peaches: Peeled, Pitted and Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg, beaten
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter, melted

To Prepare:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Butter an 11 x 7 inch baking dish

Directions:

If you recall the Peach Upside Down Cake from May 17, 2011, it be time-consuming to peel, slice and pit peaches so if you’d like feel free to purchased pre-sliced peaches from your supermarket. If you have a little extra time on your hands check out my Baking Tips for Peeling, Slicing and Pitting peaches for some helpful hints.

Once the peaches are sliced, combine them in a bowl with the brown sugar and blend well. Pour into the buttered 11 x 7 inch baking dish and set aside.


Combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Once blended, add the beaten egg. Stir lightly until it comes together in a crumb mixture.


Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the peaches and then drizzle with the melted butter.


Bake the peach crumble for about an hour and a half or until the crumble is lightly browned.


Once out of the oven, let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It’s that simple!

Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

19 Jun

It’s been a while since my last post, and I’m happy to be able to finally schedule in some much-needed baking time.

There haven’t been many weekends lately that I’ve spent home. I’ve either been away at the beach or celebrating my best friend moving to Manhattan. Even this weekend, I was supposed to be visiting one of my best friends from college in RI, but due to inclement weather and a disaster with Amtrak (its turning into a pattern!) I ended up staying in the heat of Manhattan. What better way to spend the 85 degree day, with my roof deck closed for construction and no swimable water in walking distance, than in my air-conditioned apartment (yes, I finally broke down!) baking.

My rooftop in NYC

While laying in bed this morning, with several baking books surrounding me, I was trying to find something that really caught my tastes as well as something my dad would enjoy when I see him for dinner tomorrow night. I bought a baking book a couple of months ago called All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray and I really wanted to break it in, but an extravagant layer cake was definitely not in the plans for today. As I flipped through the pages I saw Brown Sugar Pound Cake and my mouth immediately started watering. This sounded delicious, simple to make and as an added incentive, all the ingredients were already in my fridge! I stumbled out of bed, closed my window, put the air conditioning on and prepared all the ingredients for the day.

Needless to say, Brown Sugar Pound Cake is a fabulous mid day snack and the perfect Father’s Day treat for my Dad!

Happy Father’s Day! Love you Dad!

What You’ll Need:

For the Cake

  • 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening
  • 16 Ounces (2 1/4 Cups) brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 5 large Eggs
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/s Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 Tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup chopped Pecans (optional)

For the Frosting

  • 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 16 Ounces Confectioners’ Sugar

To Prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the middle of the oven
  • Line the bottom of a 10-in tube pan (or 10-in cake pan) with parchment paper and spray the sides and bottom with baking spray
  • 1 hour before you begin, take out the butter and eggs so they can warm to room temperature

Directions:

Cake:

This whole recipe is reliant on the technique of ‘creaming’. When you combine sugar, butter and eggs together, you need to make sure the fats and sugars aren’t separating, but are fully combined. The key to this is working with room temperature ingredients. An hour or so before you being baking, make sure to take out the butter and eggs, place them on the counter and let them warm to room temperature. You should be able to press the paper of the butter with your thumb and leave an imprint.

Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and place them into a bowl with an electric mixer. If you don’t have an electric mixer, a rubber spatula will work the best. Also, if you forgot to leave the butter out to let it warm, check out Baking Tips: Softening Butter for an alternative way to soften butter. Cut the shortening into tablespoon sized portions and place them in the bowl with the butter. Cream the butter and shortening together on medium speed until smooth.

While the butter and shortening are creaming, combine the sugars in a separate brown. Then, 1/2 cup at a time, add them to the creamed mixture, beating 1 – 2 minutes between additions.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating 1 – 2 minutes between additions like you did with the sugar mixture.

While the mixture is creaming for a couple of minutes, whisk the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl. Slow the mixture down to low-speed and, alternating between the 2, add the flour mixture and milk into the batter. For every 1 cup of the flower mixture, add 1/3 cup of the milk. Beat the mixture after each addition. Once all the ingredients are added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 1 more minute. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the vanilla extract. After about 1 minute, slow the mixer as low as you can and add the pecans (Optional).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and center in the oven. The recipe calls for a 10-inch tube pan, but I didn’t have one available, so I used two 7″ by 3″ cake pans. They worked just as well, but I just had to divide the batter into both the pans.  Bake for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack for about an hour, or until fully cooled.

Frosting:

In the meantime, if you’d like to cover the cake with cream cheese frosting, while the cake is cooling is the perfect time to prepare. The pound cake is perfect on its own, but frosting is a great way to moisten up a slightly dry cake or fancy it up a bit. As with the cake, to make the frosting, we will cream together butter cream cheese and sugar together.

Place 1 tablespoon sized pieces of butter in the bowl with a mixer and add in tablespoon sized pieces of cream cheese. Cream together on medium speed until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and continue creaming for another 1 – 2 minutes. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar about a half a cup at a time. Beat for about 1 minute between each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, beat until smooth.

If you’re finding that the frosting is a bit too thin, add a little more confectioners’ sugar and if you’re finding it too stiff, add a tablespoon of butter at a time until you reach the consistency you desire.

Just frost the top of the cake and let the frosting drip down the sides.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Truffles

1 Jun

I never thought that there was such a thing as clean and easy baking. I’ve always been the type to make everything from scratch, from cakes and frosting to puff pastry. These chocolate truffles however, are just as fabulous using boxed cake and canned frosting whipped up in an hour versus home-made cake and frosting that could take a couple of hours. It is also a much easier clean up using the box!

I came across this recipe about a year ago. It was one of those hot summer days spent on the beach and I was looking for a small and refreshing snack to cool down. With a frozen chocolate coating surrounding soft cake, these are the perfect truffles to snack on coming off the beach or out of the pool, and with the heat that we’ve had in NYC in the past week these are the perfect snack to cool down with.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 box of Moist Chocolate Cake (I used Betty Crocker, but any brand will work)
  • 1 can of Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 bags of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 bag of White Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • Crushed Oreos (Optional)
  • Sprinkles (Optional)

To Prepare:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Grease a 13″ x 9″ pan

Directions:

Mix and bake the cake per the directions on the box.

Once out of the oven, let the cake cool completely, a minimum 1 hour. After the cake is completely cool, crumple it into a large bowl and mix in the whole can of frosting. With a rubber spatula, mix the cake and frosting until fully combined. It may seem like the mixture will never come together, but keep folding the batter over itself and eventually the mixture will turn into a bit of a mush.

Scoop up roughly 1 tbs of the mixture, roll into a ball and place on an un-greased baking sheet. Continue until all of the mixture is rolled into mini-balls. Place the sheet(s) in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.

Just before you’re about to take the chocolate balls out of the freezer, melt the semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler. Dip each ball of chocolate in the melted chocolate and place back on the baking sheet.

This is where your creativity comes into play. Once dipped in chocolate, decorate with any topping you’d life. Drizzle melted white chocolate over the top or sprinkle with crushed Oreos or sprinkles. Use your imagination, nothing is out of the question when it comes to decorating chocolate truffles. One thing to keep in mind, if you are decorating with sprinkles or any kind of crushed candy, make sure to sprinkle them right after the truffle is dipped in chocolate so that the candies stick to the truffles, don’t let the chocolate dry.

The Truffles can be served at room temperature, but I find them most enjoyable right out of the freezer or fridge.

Enjoy!

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