Monday, April 06, 2020

Lemony Turmeric Tea Cake

Once I saw this cake and its name, I knew I was destined to make it. It's so bright! So cheery! And what will turmeric taste like with lemon? The description says, "Just slicing into it makes a bad day better..." and couldn't we use a little bit of that right now!

I felt like I overbaked it a little to get the middle to finish baking. I used yogurt instead of sour cream (both options are given) because I had previously made a citrusy cake that used yogurt. This has a somewhat strange order of ingredients in that the butter is folded in last; I'm not sure what this accomplishes. The sliced lemons on top aren't super edible but I liked sucking the insides out for a little sour boost before eating a bite of cake (I might be a weirdo.) I couldn't taste the turmeric but it does lend a brilliant color to the cake.

Lemony Turmeric Tea Cake
(from NYT Cooking, recipe from Alison Roman)


Nonstick cooking spray or butter, for greasing the pan
1 ½ cups/215 grams all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 lemons
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
¾ cup/180 milliliters sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt, plus more for serving (optional)
2 large eggs
½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
Whipped cream (optional)


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 4-by-9-inch loaf pan (see Tip) with nonstick cooking spray or butter, and line it with parchment, leaving some overhang on both of the longer sides so you’re able to easily lift the cake out after baking. 
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and turmeric in a large bowl. 
  3. Grate 2 tablespoons zest from 1 lemon into a medium bowl. Halve the zested lemon and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice into a small bowl. Cut half the remaining whole lemon into thin rounds, discarding seeds (save the other half for another use). 
  4. Add 1 cup sugar to the lemon zest in the medium bowl; rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is fragrant and tinted yellow. Whisk in the sour cream, eggs and the 2 tablespoons lemon juice until well blended. 
  5. Using a spatula, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just to blend. Fold in the melted butter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Scatter the top with the lemon slices and 2 tablespoons sugar. 
  6. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. (If the lemons are getting too dark, lay a piece of foil on top to prevent burning.) Let cool before slicing. (Cake can be baked up to 5 days ahead, wrapped tightly, and stored at room temperature.) Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've had buckwheat flour in my cupboards for a while, leftover from a gluten-free cookie recipe I made during the holidays. So considering the #coronabaking trending in Instagram and the pantry cooking/baking group I was invited to in Facebook, I decided to try to make something for which I already had ingredients on hand. I had half a bittersweet chocolate bar as well. I started with the Bon Appetit recipe but made half a recipe, decided to do half and half buckwheat flour and regular flour, and used 1 egg instead of having to figure out how to do half of an egg. So my cookies probably don't look quite the same as they are pictured in the original recipe; the recipe below is the original. I didn't add the extra salt either, as I found the dough to be salty enough.

Salty Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies




  1. Heat ½ cup (1 stick) butter in a small saucepan over the lowest heat possible until melted (you don’t want it to sputter or brown), about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour, ½ cup (63 grams) buckwheat flour, ½ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, and 1¼ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Coarsely chop 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Set aside a handful of chocolate in a small bowl.
  4. Scrape butter into a large bowl and add ⅔ cup (133 grams) brown sugar and ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar. Whisk vigorously until butter has been absorbed into the sugar and no big lumps remain, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add 1 large egg, then 2 large egg yolks, one at a time, whisking until fully combined after each addition. Whisk in 1 tsp. vanilla extract. At this point, your mixture should look much lighter in color and be smooth, almost creamy.
  6. Add dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir until just incorporated and almost no dry streaks remain. Add chopped chocolate (but not the chocolate you reserved in the small bowl) to batter. Gently mix just to distribute. Cover bowl with an airtight bowl cover, a kitchen towel, or plastic wrap and chill 2 hours. (If you’re crunched for time, 1 hour will do, but cookies will be best after 2.)
  7. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out scant 2-Tbsp. portions of dough (or, if you have a scoop, this is a leveled-off #30 or a heaping #40) until you have 10 portions divided between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets (you want five per sheet—these will spread a bit!). Roll portions into balls and gently press a piece or 2 of reserved chocolate into each one. It’s okay to cram the chocolate on there—some pieces can even be vertical. Cover and chill any remaining dough.
  8. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are golden brown and centers are puffed, 8–10 minutes. (Pull at 8 if you like your cookies softer and want to guarantee they’re still soft the next day!)
  9. Working one at a time, pull baking sheets out of the oven and tap lightly on the stove to deflate cookies. Sprinkle with Diamond Crystal kosher salt (if you’re using Morton, skip it: the crystals are too large). Let cookies cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Let baking sheets cool (to do this fast, run them under cold water), then turn parchment paper over. Repeat process with remaining dough, dividing evenly between baking sheets, to make 6–8 more cookies.
  10. Do Ahead: Cookies can be baked 3 days ahead. Let cool; store airtight at room temperature.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Easy Scones

Inspired by our compliance with social distancing, one of the English faculty members suggested we all make the same recipe together this weekend - easy scones, allegedy from Mary Berry but posted on the Easy Online Baking Lessons website. So that means they are English style. I paid attention to the tips in the recipe because there are things that can make a scone not rise very high. I couldn't find a medium biscuit cutter, so I used a wine glass.

The one step of the recipe I disobeyed was when it said to let the butter come to room temperature? Never in my life have I heard that advice for scones or biscuits, it was always the colder the better. So I used butter straight from the fridge. I used oat milk because that was the only kind I had on hand. I also made a half recipe because let's be honest, I would be the only one in my house eating any.

I did get quite a rise on the scones, and pictured is my shining star. The instructions say to only glaze the very top, making sure it does not drip on the sides, and I definitely had one wonky scone where the glaze had dripped. Interesting!

Easy Scones


450g Self-raising Flour OR (3 & 2/3 cups AP/Plain Flour plus 5 + 1/2 (level) tsp Baking powder + scant 1 tsp salt) 
2 tsp Baking Powder
50g Castor Sugar (level ¼ cup*)
75g Butter, cubed & at room temp (level 2/3 stick or 1/3 cup)
2 Eggs
225ml Milk (up to 1 cup)

1. Weigh out the butter whilst cubing it and leave out to come to room temperature.

2. Lightly oil or grease the baking tray(s) and place baking/parchment paper on top.

3. Weigh or measure in the flour into the bowl, spoon in the baking powder, give it a mix through & drop in the butter.

4. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour & continue to do this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, (very tiny pieces). Or use a pastry cutter.

5. Put the bowl back onto the scales and weigh in the sugar. Give it a good mix.

6. Beat the eggs in a jug and then top up to the 300ml (10 fl oz) mark with the milk, (depending on the size of the eggs, you might not need as much milk).

7. Give the liquid a good mix and then take 2 tbsp of it out and place in a small bowl to use later.

8. Gradually add the egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients until a soft dough is formed. Be aware that the dough being a little sticky is good for the scones to rise. So only add enough of the liquid until just sticky.

9. Flour a pastry board or worktop or use some baking/parchment paper with a little flour on top.

10. Heat up the oven to: 220c/200c Fan Oven/425f/Gas Mark 6.

11. Meanwhile put the dough down and flatten gently with your hands until you have a level piece of dough about 1 inch (2.5cm) high. Try not to go smaller than this. Don’t be tempted to roll out the dough as this won’t help the scones to rise.

12. Flour the cutter or glass and cut out the scones. Push the cutter down and DO NOT TWIST the cutter. Use a spatula or knife to very carefully transfer to the prepared baking tray. (or let it fall onto the prepared tray). Try to touch the sides of the scones as little as possible.

13. Gently roll up the scraps of dough by hand and flatten out to cut out however more scones you can get, remembering not to knead and handle as little as possible.

14. Now using a pastry brush, very carefully brush the egg/milk liquid you reserved earlier onto the tops of the scones only. If the liquid goes down the sides, it can ruin the rise of the scones. So, the best way to avoid it is by shaking the brush before moving to the scone and starting to brush from the center and go outwards, so there is less liquid on the brush to spill down the sides.

15. Bake for 8-12 minutes until well risen and golden in color. Turn and rotate the baking trays between the shelves during baking, to ensure an even bake.

16. Cool a little on a cooling rack and enjoy warm with whatever fillings you enjoy.

**You can freeze these scones and once defrosted, heat a little in a warm oven.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake

I took a brief pause from the blog but come back to you with a five-star recipe from King Arthur Flour for a buttermilk cake with a pecan glaze. I brought it to the Faulkner class I'm auditing because it felt like it had several southern elements. It was tasty although my cake rose higher than the picture on the KA website.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" cake pan.
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together till smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating till smooth.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the baking soda, salt, and flour to the wet ingredients, beating till thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time, prepare the topping.
  8. Stir the butter and the sugar together. Add the milk, pecans, and salt. The glaze will be thick but pourable.
  9. Top the baked cake with the topping, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven. The topping will look very runny. You can eat the cake hot, with the glaze still gooey; or let the cake sit at room temperature for a few hours, by which time the glaze will have set.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Za'atar Bread

I recently read a novel about Palestinian refugees living in America, and a few generations of children (A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum.) Near the end, the granddaughter of the original refugees learns to make her mother's recipe for za'atar from her grandfather. Za'atar seems to be able to refer to the spice blend - thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seed - but also the flatbread/pita type bread with the spice blend mixed with olive oil that can be spread on top. The book seemed to refer to both, so I went search for a good recipe, and came across one that just makes four at a time, which seemed like a good fit. Instead of blending the spices, I used a preblended zatar (seems to be an alternate spelling) that I just happened to have on hand (thanks Pita House.)

Za'atar Bread
1.5 Cup (8.5 oz / 240g) All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Yeast
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Sumac
1/2 Tsp Salt


1- Heat 1/2 cup water to 110º F, 43º C for the dough.



1- Combine sugar and yeast in a large bowl.
2- Add 1/2 cup warm water, stir and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
3- In a separate bowl, mix flour and 1/2 tsp salt.
 4- Pour in 1 tbsp olive oil.
5- Gradually, Stir in the yeast mixture.
6- Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes. Note: Add more water if needed.
7- Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic bag and allow to rest for an hour at room temperature.


8- Combine dried oregano, basil, sumac and sesame seeds.
9- Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and stir thoroughly.


10- Divide the dough in four and roll out into a thin round shape on a well floured working surface. 11- Top the dough with a thin layer of the topping.
12- Add a pinch of salt (Optional).
13- Preheat oven to 400º F (204º C), Place a flatbread pan and while preheating the oven.
14- Bake the bread for 8 minutes or as desired.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I added extra toasted sesame seeds and the recommended salt, and I would definitely do that again. I heated a flat cookie sheet in the oven when the oven preheated, and mine were small enough that I baked all four at once. (The video of the recipe shows them as a bit bigger than that.)

I ate one with my leftover carrot soup, a great combo.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Hippy Banana Bread from Shutterbean

I came across this recipe following a link to pickled carrots. Ah, the internet. What I loved about this one is how it invites substitution - while the original calls for sunflower seeds, pepitas, nuts, and dried cherries, I used a combination of things I had on hand and needed to use up from the pantry, and it was still a success! I can imagine going a chocolate direction as well.

Hippy Banana Bread
(recipe from Shutterbean)

makes 1 loaf
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup puree)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries*
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds*
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. Line pan with a sling of parchment paper, with the long sides overhanging. Lightly butter the parchment, then set the pan aside.

Whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and brown sugar, breaking up any lumps. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. With a wooden spoon, stir in the bananas. Add the flour mixture to the liquids, stirring until just combined. Stir in the walnuts, cherries, sunflower seeds and pepitas until fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan, evening out the top if necessary.

Place bread in the oven and bake until cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, and leave the bread to cool in its pan for 10 minutes. Using the parchment sling, lift the bread out of the pan, unwrap and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I ran out of maple syrup so I ended up using 2 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tbsp dark Karo syrup.

I used dried orange-scented cranberries instead of cherries, because I had leftovers from the holidays.

I used shredded coconut instead of sunflower seeds because I had it on hand.

I did use walnuts and pepitas, because I happened to have them...

Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake

On Episode 171 of the Reading Envy Podcast, I spoke with Jen Nathan Orris about foodie recommendations - cookbooks, memoirs, and more. She brought up Julia Turshen, cookbook author and recipe developer extraordinaire, and recommended all of her cookbooks, particularly Small Victories. Julia actually appeared on Jen's podcast, Skillet, where she cooked Chicken Pelau. (I would later discover Turshen also has her own podcast called Keep Calm and Cook On, which is on brand for her reputation of making cooking accessible.)

I am always excited when I learn about an author or cook (or both) who I haven't heard of before, because it gives me an excuse to dive into something new. So of course I listened to the podcasts and hunted down the cookbooks. I would actually love to try making the chicken pelau at some point, because I am still feeling a bit tentative about cooking chicken and it has some unique techniques like starting with burned sugar. 

I'm not sure if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes I will encounter a recipe in a blog, Instagram post, or cookbook, and it will stick with me. When I'm thinking of my grocery shopping lists it will come to mind again, and I'll make sure I have the ingredients in case I feel inspired to make it. This cake is one Turshen makes for her wife. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe and the strange (to me) ingredients in the frosting. I liked that it tasted better cold. The combination of chocolate and raspberry probably moved it up a few notches. And then when I needed to bake something to burn off some nervous energy, this was the thing. My husband was called home to Oregon at the last minute, and I must admit I've been eating this cake for breakfast (but you know, happy wife and all that.)

Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake
from Small Victories by Julia Turshen


1 1/4 cups (150 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3/4 cup (75 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (such as Guittard or Droste, sifted if lumpy)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 Tbsp (110 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (240 ml) strong black coffee, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract


3/4 cup (130 g) semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream, at room temperature
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup (160 g) raspberry jam (seeded or seedless, whatever your preference)

Raspberries for serving (optional)

To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of two 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans, then line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set the pans aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.

Bake until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes, still in their pans, to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cakes from the pans and invert them onto your work surface (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off and discard the parchment.

To make the frosting: Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Put the chocolate chips in a large stainless steel or heatproof glass bowl and set it over the pot (the water should not touch the bowl - if it does, simply pour some out). Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between increments.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and maple syrup. The frosting should be smooth and quite silky. Refrigerate the frosting until the cakes have cooled. It will thicken as it cools (a good thing).

Once the cakes are cool, put one on a serving platter upside-down so that the flat side is facing up. Spread the jam over the top. Put the second cake on top of the jam-slathered cake, again flat-side up—this way you get a nice flat top. (If the jam makes the layers slip and slide a bit, use a couple of skewers to hold the layers together while you frost the sides and then remove the skewers to frost the top). Using a small offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the frosting all over the sides and top of the cake. There’s no need to be perfect with this; I like it kind of rustic looking. But if you’re more of a type-A person, go ahead and smooth the top and sides (and you could even stick strips of parchment paper under the bottom of the cake before frosting it to keep your serving platter clean). Whatever makes you happy.

Let the cake sit for about 1 hour before serving. There’s something about letting each element get to know the others that serves this cake very well. In fact, I prefer to make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, and serve it cold. Either way, slice and serve with some fresh raspberries alongside if you’d like.

Note: If you only own a single cake pan, fear not! Simply pour the batter into the pan and bake it until a toothpick tests clean (it will take 10 to 15 minutes longer in the oven than the two separate layers). Once the cake cools completely, use a serrated knife to cut it into two layers. Voilà.  

Notes from JennyBakes:

I don't have a lot to say because the recipe is solid. I did specifically look for Dutch-processed cocoa at the store and even in the 21st century, I'd have to go to a specialty place for it, so I just went with a combination of the last of the Ecuadorian cocoa powder from Libby and the Ghiradelli I had in the cupboard. And it was fine. I also didn't wait for the coffee to cool and only quick thinking with the buttermilk saved my eggs from curdling, but all told this is a pretty forgiving recipe. The frosting was such an interesting texture from the start, and the tang of the sour cream is amazing with the raspberry.