Monday, July 25, 2016

The Pies of Summer: Apricot Pie

Today is the 10th anniversary of JennyBakes (if you count my first actual baking post and not my introduction.) Happy blogiversary to me! That day was peaches, so this day will be apricots.

I have been waiting for apricot season ever since I saw this recipe in Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life. It sounded amazing. I was in Oregon for a week starting on the 4th of July, and mentioned it to my Mom, but assumed that it was not yet time for apricots in Oregon. Instead I found out that she "has a guy" who "she can call" and "meet in a parking lot" for some types of fruit. And somehow their season started early, so that was the last week to order apricots. She ordered a big box, and I made this for my belated birthday dessert with my family.

I was surprised by the incredible tartness of this recipe. I suspect that unless the apricots you are using are just about to turn, they are so ripe and sweet, that this pie may be too tart for you! It was too tart for me. I ended up making another version where I left out the crust and just did fruit and topping, and that was a step better. I think I might try mixing apricots with other fruits.

But it also may be that the tartness is the thing, that you aren't sure at first but it's the taste that brings you back, that becomes summer to you. It's a clear favorite among Ruth Reichl's friends and family, so there must be something to it. Try it and report back!

Apricot Pie
(as seen in book above and
1 recipe pie dough (for a single crust pie)
2 pounds apricots (Jenny's note: I used 16!)
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
fresh nutmeg

Roll out the pie dough, fit it into a 9 inch pie pan, crimp the edges and put it into the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Break the apricots apart with your fingers; do not peel them, but remove the pits.

Melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar (brown sugar is fine), then the flour.  Grate in a bit of nutmeg.
Put the apricots into the unbaked shell.  Cover them with the sugar mixture and put the pie on the bottom rack of your oven. After ten minutes turn the heat down to 375 and bake for 35 or 40 minutes more, until the top is crusty and golden. Transfer to a cake rack and cool before serving.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bakery Review: Asheville Biscuitry (Asheville, NC)

I made a visit to the Asheville Biscuitry earlier this summer. It was an accident that I even came across it, all because I got lost trying to go south from the UNC Asheville campus. My bad sense of direction meant another bakery adventur e.

The sign says biscuitry but they must be in the back; doughnuts on the other hand are everywhere! The menu has biscuit sandwiches and grilled doughnuts, and you can also get a cinnamon bun. And being Asheville, there are plenty of options for vegheads.

I chose four square filled doughnuts - two boston cream and two mango-coconut. I was most definitely not disappointed!

The most pleasant surprise comes from the obviously handcrafted flavors. The coconut cream had actual coconut, and the boston cream filling had vanilla beans. These are not commercial doughnuts only dipped in sugar, these have a nuance of flavor and a skill in preparation. Definitely worth a trip! And I'd like to return to try some of the creative sandwich creations.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Crispy Grain-Free Waffles

This is our favorite lower-carb, grain-free waffle recipe yet! We've tried a lot of stinkers but this one had a great texture. The tiger nut flour is completely optional - I only used it because I ran out of almond flour and had some on hand. But who knows, maybe it is the answer to why these tasted so good. We enjoyed ours with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Crispy Grain-Free Waffles
(adapted from a recipe on Simply Nourished Recipes)

  • 2 cups almond flour (or 1.5 cups almond flour and .5 cup tiger nut flour)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  1. Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, tiger nut flour, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, and baking powder. Whisk or stir to combine well.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined.
  4. Use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter at a time and use waffle maker as directed.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Cherries

I made these cookies because a friend liked them so much she posted about them in Facebook! The chewy texture and bittersweet chocolate make these divine, the perfect adult cookie.

I made a few changes right off the bat. 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate in the original made sense if you were melting it and it was a major component of the batter, but just to chop it up and add to the cookie seemed expensive and excessive. I should have bought a bag of chips. As it was I only used one of the Ghiradelli bars (4 oz).  I also found tart dried cherries everywhere but not really "sour" so I just went with it, also with probably 5 oz instead of 9. The online recipe also directs the baker to make cookies out of 1/4 cup dough for each cookie - um, no, that's crazy. They'll never bake! I will post the recipe I made and not Martha's, although surely her recipe will be more decadent. It will also be more difficult to handle since there is less batter holding the cookies together, and a higher percentage of things that melt.

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Cherries
(adapted from Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sour Cherries by Martha Stewart)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cups dried cherries, firmly packed (5 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed, until just combined. Do not overbeat. With a wooden spoon, fold in chocolate and cherries. (Dough can be frozen at this point, wrapped well in plastic, up to 1 month; thaw completely before baking.)
  3. Use a cookie scoop or form balls of roughly 1- 1.5 inches. Bake until puffed and cracked, 9 to 11 minutes but do not overbake.Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 3 days. 
Recipe Notes from JennyBakes
  1. There is a lot of controversy on Martha's website; I think at some point there were no eggs listed. Clearly the recipe needs eggs, so just use what I have listed. There was also confusion over whether 1 1/4 cups of butter is the same as 2 1/2 sticks. It is in the USA... just go with 20 tbsp.
  2. If you really want to use 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, buy a bag of chips! Having to chop up the chocolate and then mix it in is a killer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Paleo Blueberry Bars

This is a lot like what happens if you made a muffin batter but didn't want to take the time to make muffins. But hey, we all have mornings like that. And this is a pretty healthful recipe that can be adapted to almost any fruit combination. The original used blackberries, I used blueberries, just make it what you can!

Paleo Blueberry Bars
(adapted from What Runs Lori)
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut* 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (or berry of choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the coconut flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add in the coconut sugar, mixing again.

In the same bowl, add in the bananas, eggs, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond milk. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

Fold in the berries and spoon the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the sides are golden.

Remove from oven and cool. Cut into about 16 squares.

Recipe Notes from JennyBakes
  1. The original recipe said 1/4 cup - 1 cup of almond milk but as this is a coconut flour recipe you NEED at least 1 cup. If the batter is looking more like cookie batter than muffin, you might want to add even more. Or experiment by adding another egg.
  2. This was almost not sweet enough. If I made these again I would use 1/2 cup coconut sugar. It isn't as sweet as some of the chemical sugar subs so sometimes a recipe needs more of it, not just a straight trade.
  3. *I sometimes find adding shredded coconut adds dryness, something this recipe doesn't need. I left it out.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Brick Street Cafe Chocolate Cake

The Brick Street Cafe is located in Greenville, SC, roughly fifteen minutes from me. I've never actually sat down and had a meal there, but I have had their cake. Sweet potato, chocolate, etc. All delicious, a well deserved cake reputation. When I saw a random blog claiming to have their recipe for chocolate cake, I had to give it a try. I'm not sure it's the same cake but it was a big hit regardless!

If the cake looks a bit squatty, it is completely my fault. I didn't pay attention to the pan requirement and realized too late (for the hundredth time) that I do not HAVE a tube pan, which is what the recipe calls for. The two pans hold similar amounts, but there is a marked difference in how easy it is to get the cake back out in the end. The top of the cake stayed in the pan, and was consumed for breakfast with fresh strawberries. Oh how I suffer.

I brought this to a book club meeting, our annual dinner where we discuss nominations for the next year's list. We had 53 candidates that had to be narrowed to 10! Sometimes when you get a bunch of women together, everyone pretends not to eat dessert, so I was a little nervous about bringing one. But I just couldn't find salad inspiration like I had previously, so I went with my instincts. And some people had two servings! I would consider that success. I had to Julia Childs it a little and still ended up telling about the cake top, but like Julia, poured myself a glass of wine and served it anyway.

I do think if I made it again I'd bake it in 2-3 cake layers and make a rich chocolate buttercream or a ganache mousse combo, because what I love better than a rich chocolate cake is a rich chocolate cake in layers with other rich things.

Brick Street Cafe Chocolate Cake (allegedly)
(as discovered on the Through Her Looking Glass blog)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup baking cocoa, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup instant chocolate pudding mix (small box)
  • 2¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Icing:
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup baking cocoa, sifted
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (more or less for consistency)


  1. Preheat regular, conventional oven to 350°.
  2. Beat sugar, butter & vanilla in large bowl.
  3. Beat in eggs.
  4. Mix in cake flour, baking cocoa, soda, salt, chocolate pudding and buttermilk.
  5. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into greased tube pan.
  7. Bake in regular, conventional oven at 350° for 30 minutes.
  8. Adjust baking temperature down to 325° and continue baking 30-40 minutes more, until cake tester comes out clean.
  9. (Check with cake tester at the one hour mark.)
  10. Cool cake completely before icing.
Chocolate Icing:
  1. Heat water, butter and vanilla together in sauce pan on stovetop until melted.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in one cup cocoa.
  4. Stir in powdered sugar, sifted.
  5. Stir in heavy cream, up to 3 tablespoons (or more) until you get the desired consistency.
  6. Ice cake by filling the hole in the middle of the cake first, then spread icing over cake top and pour over the sides. Icing will harden as it cools.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grain-Free Blueberry Scones (gluten-free, paleo, naturally sweetened)

It is blueberry season and it is HOT outside. Hot and humid. That is when I start craving blueberry baked goods with iced coffee. I looked at a few lower carb, grain-free recipes, and ended up adapting one. I guess that makes this my recipe! We liked these. They aren't mushy like some grain-free recipes can be.

Blueberry Scones (grain-free, paleo, naturally sweetened)
(adapted from a recipe by Allison Nichols)

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 eggs, whisked a little
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the almond flour, ¼ cup arrowroot flour, coconut sugar, sea salt, and baking powder.
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add your blueberries along with the last ¼ cup of arrowroot flour.
  4. Form the batter into a ball and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Press into a circle and cut 8 wedges.
  6. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes from JennyBakes
  1. I replaced the maple syrup with coconut sugar since it is lower on the glycemic index. I knew that would leave me without some of hte moisture. As it was, the comments on the original recipe complained of dryness. My simple solution was to just use 2 eggs. I could have used 1/4 cup almond or almond-coconut milk in addition to the 1 egg. The batter was a bit sticky but after they baked it was a nice sconelike texture.
  2. I prefer coconut oil to butter when working with almond flour. I have seen it make a big difference in texture. I don't understand the science but have started making that replacement across the board. 
  3. Fresh blueberries got a bit demolished in the final mixing step; frozen berries might work better here.