Monday, December 30, 2019

Top JennyBakes Recipes in 2019

This list is based on my own opinion, not necessarily by popularity of the post.
  1. Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies (from Stella Parks @bravetart in Instagram)
  2. Peanut Butter (and Chocolate) Chess Pie (from South by Sean Brock) 
  3. Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
  4. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup (from The Bacon Bible)
  5. "Featherlite" Pancakes (from Rosa Parks via the National Archives)
  6. Chocolate Chunk Cookies (from Genuine Pizza)
  7. Chocolate Sheet Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Ganache Frosting (from Edd Kimber @theboywhobakes on Instagram)
  8. Orange Honey Cake (from Icing on the Cake)
  9. Brown Butter Blondies
  10. Pumpkin Tea Cake (from Tartine)
You know a recipe is good when you repeat it. I've made #9 at least three times this year.

I liked #7 and then went and made a different cake for my birthday, one I threw away without even finishing the first piece! Boo.

This was my last year with the Abrams Dinner Party, and recipes #4, 6, and 8 came from cookbooks they sent my way. 

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

I was wandering Lidl or Aldi and came across a large jar of sour cherries, and it brought to mind this ancient recipe of Nigella Lawson's show where she makes a chocolate cherry trifle, in her inviting, no stress way of making the viewer feel they can cook or bake just as easily as she can! (You can see that original video and see what I mean.) The unfortunate thing in my household is that I'm the only person who loves cherries, so I knew I'd need to make it for the annual library holiday lunch. I feel like it was a good choice; I saw a few people go back for seconds.

Nigella buys small chocolate pound cakes from the store but I didn't have that option; I did however have an aging chocolate cake mix in the pantry, and made this pound cake recipe using it as the base. It was just fine and worked well. A few notes at the end of this post about other differences I picked up along the way.

Chocolate Cherry Trifle


2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolate pound cakes
1/2 cup black cherry jam
1/2 cup cherry brandy
2 cups drained bottled sour cherries (recommended: Morello)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 cups heavy cream
1-ounce bittersweet chocolate
Special Equipment: Large wide trifle bowl


  1. Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the drained cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
  2. Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, ser aside while you get on with the custard.
  3. In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and
  4. whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.
  5. The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  6. When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in plastic wrap overnight.
  7. When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top. 
Notes from JennyBakes:

The custard made me nervous and I feel I undercooked it, but I was worried from this recipe that it would get too thick or burned. I sure wish they included a temperature!

I added a little powdered sugar to the whipped cream because I felt strange adding it unsweetened.

Since this was a daytime function, I replaced the cherry brandy with the cherry juice from the canned cherries, but did put 2 tbsp of kirsch to make up the 1/2 cup. This way there was plenty of flavor but not an overwhelming amount of alcohol.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Buckwheat Double Chocolate Orange Cookies (gluten-free)

I came across this recipe while looking for new cookies for the holidays, and thought it sounded tasty enough to apply to everyone. I was disappointed when I made them because the gluten-free flour combination resulted in that somewhat bitter aftertaste I think most people who have baked gluten-free will be familiar with. Well boo, I thought, I'll just freeze them and send them to my family when I'm ready to send that box, which wasn't quite when I made these.

This morning I decided to taste one to see how they did post-freezer and discovered - no bitter aftertaste! Dang! They are actually quite soft and delicious! And I could have included them in my cookie boxes after all, which were all already packed. Ah well. Hopefully my sister will enjoy them. I'm wondering if a quick trip to the freezer will solve all my gluten-free flours taste woes and plan to try that strategy again.

Buckwheat Double Chocolate Orange Cookies 
(from fixfeastflair, where they call them Buckwheat Orange Double Chocolate Cookies)


  • 6 Tbsp. (85 g) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. (345 g) bittersweet chocolate (60–70% cacao mass), chopped (about 2 1⁄4 cups), plus several chunks for the tops of the cookies
  • 11⁄2 tsp. (1 g) packed finely grated zest from 1 medium orange (or bergamot if you can find it!)
  • 1⁄2 c. (65 g) buckwheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. (15 g) tapioca flour
  • 3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. (130 g) organic granulated cane sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Flaky salt such as Maldon, for the tops


  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Line 2 rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over the lowest possible heat. Add
  3. 8 ounces (230 g) of the chocolate and the orange zest, and melt together, stirring frequently to prevent the chocolate from scorching. Continue cooking until the mixture is pleasantly warm, but not super hot, to the touch. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Sift the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place the eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and stir in the vanilla until just combined, then the warm chocolate butter mixture. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a flexible silicone spatula to fold in the remaining 4 ounces (115 g) chopped chocolate.
  5. If the batter is very runny, let it cool for a few minutes until it firms to the consistency of a thick brownie batter. Use a #40* spring-loaded ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Top each cookie with a few chunks of chocolate and a few flecks of flaky salt.
  6. Bake the cookies until puffed and cracked and the edges are set, 8–12 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Let cool on the pans. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. The cookies are best the day of baking but will keep, airtight at room temperature, for up to 3 days. 


-Usually I ignore recipes that say to scoop all cookie dough onto cookie sheets at once. For this recipe, you really should, because the tapioca flour will keep thickening the dough.
-Seriously, freeze these cookies overnight before eating.

Monday, December 16, 2019


I've been circling David Lebovitz's recipe for Panforte for a few years. I couldn't decide if it was just like fruitcake or more like candy. If it was sweet or decidedly not too sweet. Last year, I bought all the ingredients for it but never made it, leaving me cleaning out candied fruit and rancid nuts that really should have been used, whoops. This year I was determined to try it so even though it was the last thing I made for my holiday boxes of baked goods that I give out to a select few, I extended my baking by a day to make it. And honestly unless you are candying your own fruit it is not that complicated, I don't know why I get recipe hangups sometimes.

The most important thing to know is that this recipe looks to be something that a baker can improvise with (see my extensive notes after the recipe for more), it keeps forever, and at least in this iteration, it smells super Christmasy while you are making it. I hope I did it justice.


(recipe from David Lebovitz, a pastry chef I admire, go buy his books and read his blog!)

To skin hazelnuts, rub the still-warm toasted nuts in a tea towel, to get off as much of the skins as possible. The nuts can be toasted in a 350ºF/180ºC oven for about 10 minutes first. If you want to make your own candied citron, you can find [David's] recipe at that link. You'll often see Panforte baked on rice paper (or made of another edible starch), which is harder to get than parchment paper. You can buy sheets of wafer paper online, and cut them to size.
5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
2 1/2 cups (325g) nuts; any mix of walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup (110g) flour
1 cup (200g) chopped candied citron or another candied citrus
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
3 ounces (85g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (200g) sugar
3/4 cup (210g) honey
extra cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting the panforte
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC.)
2. Spray a 9 to 10-inch (22-23cm) springform pan with nonstick spray. Dust the inside with cocoa powder, making sure to get it up the sides. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, nuts, flour, candied citrus, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, and red chile powder. Use your fingers to make sure all the ingredients are separate.
4. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.
5. In a pan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and honey until the temperature reads 240ºF (115ºC.)
6. Pour the hot honey syrup over the nut mixture, add the melted chocolate, and stir well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. I start by using a spatula and as the mixture cools, once it’s cool enough to touch, I use a dampened hand to get it flat.
7. Bake the panforte for 30 – 35 minutes; the center will feel soft, like just-baked custard; if you touch it, your finger will come away clean when it’s done. (Do not overcook it, or it will be too firm once cooled.) Let the panforte cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan. Remove the springform carefully (sticky edges might tear, so keep an eye out), then let cool completely.
Once cool, remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Sprinkle the panforte with powdered sugar and rub it in with your hands.
Storage: Panforte can be kept for several months, well wrapped, at room temperature.

Notes from JennyBakes:

- I am down one regular sized springform pan and knew I'd be cutting this up, if it worked out, to put into holiday boxes. Since I saw quite a few panforte around the internet in square forms, I felt okay baking it in my 9" pyrex with two overlapping sheets of parchment paper, which I sprayed with nonstick spray. These recipes are sticky so you want some way to get that sucker out of there.

- I have not had hazelnuts for a few years. I grew up with them and sometimes my Mom sends them for the holidays but I have not found a way to buy them online without buying in bulk or spending astronomic amounts. I thought I had almonds but they had gone bad, so all I used were walnuts. That wasn't what I would have done on purpose and I think it's best either with his mix of nuts or just some kind of variety. I did toast the walnuts I had for 10 minutes and let them cool before making the recipe.

- I wish I had followed David's direction on step 6 to put more effort into making the mixture flat on top before baking. Unlike a cake which would settle, the panforte retained the shape it started, and so when I added the powdered sugary it looked quite nobbly.

- I still am not certain of the desired texture and since my candy thermometer somehow only goes up to 222, I only know my sugar boiled beyond that. The pieces are slightly gooey but still hold up on their own so it's possible I either underboiled or underbaked, but I was equally wary of overboiling and overbaking. I may ask one of my colleagues who travels often in Italy, in case she's had the chance to eat it from the source.

- I came across this wonderful article in The Guardian about making the perfect panforte and there are so many interesting variations. I was also comforted by the one pictured from Nigella Lawson, because the top looked like mine after baking - slightly sticky, darker around the edges, maybe a bit of a feeling of goo.  That feature makes it sound like many of the ingredients are interchangeable, although at some point it is no longer a traditional recipe. I saw one recipe in my searching that was a ginger apricot version, and that sounded delicious, as did one that used dried figs.

- I am not certain how this differs from a fruitcake, although I am recognizing that there is no booze in this recipe, which I think of as central in a fruitcake.

- For even more information, check out the historical entry on Panforte di Siena from Fine Dining Lovers

Monday, December 09, 2019

Cheddar Biscuits with Pecans

Martha Stewart calls this a "Southern hors d'oeuvre" and it's true that I was first gifted a tube of these during the holidays in the south. I knew I'd want to make them as gifts in the future, and that future is now. These are a super easy food-processor recipe, you just need chilling time. I think this is similar to the mixture used for cheese straws but rolled up and sliced is a bit easier. I apply the egg white prior to pressing the pecan on, because that made more sense to me, but you should try it however it makes sense. I added very little cayenne but if you are baking for people who have higher spice tolerance, you can play with that as well.

Cheddar Biscuits with Pecans
(recipe from Martha Stewart)

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
30 pecan halves
2 egg whites, lightly beaten


Place cheese, butter, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in the bowl of a food processor; process until a dough is formed, about 10 seconds. Turn dough out onto work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log; wrap with wax or parchment paper and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Unwrap dough and slice each log crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place dough rounds on prepared baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart; gently press a pecan half into the center of each. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Bake biscuits until crisp, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Biscuits may be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Pecan Pie and Thanksgiving with the -Stans

We traditionally have anything but tradition at Thanksgiving - a practice born of vegetarianism and not needing to make anyone else happy but us. So we've had tamales, two years of Native American foods, paella, Italian, even Thanksgivukkah the year Thanksgiving landed on the first day of Hanukkah.

This year I took inspiration from one of my reading goals for 2019 - to finish reading a book from every country in Asia. This has opened up the steppes making up much of the former USSR and byproducts of English colonialism. I've played with some Southeast Asian cuisine but decided to dig into the -stans. I had fun researching traditional foods of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Krgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. I didn't end up making food from everywhere, especially since the two most traditional foods of Kazakhstan are horse and mutton.

I made sabzi (spinach) and gulpi (cauliflower) from Afghanistan, one of many dal recipes from Pakistan, also a comfort-food rice recipe called khichri from Pakistan, and attempted dumplings from a YouTuber I found from Uzbekistan. I ended up not making a few recipes I had marked that would fulfill more -stans, but we had plenty for two people. I let Trader Joes make the flatbread because I was wiped, and I didn't fully make a pulao/plov rice recipe that is very much prominent in this region - it also usually includes meat as a main ingredient so I just didn't have a way to replicate it. I did, however, use a half-ton of onions across the board.

My husband asked for pecan pie for dessert. Somehow, in my entire life, I'd never made a normal pecan pie. I once burned a chocolate pecan pie, which wasn't a good memory. So I embarked on research. I have found if you search for "best" alongside practically any recipe, you'll find your way to some pretty good recipes. There were quite a few mentions of the Texas State Fair recipe, which I suspect is one of the standard southern versions that has made the rounds. But then I found a guy named Craig who had blogged his hunt for the best pecan pie. He ended up combining the best parts of his grandmother's pie with the best parts of the Texas State Fair pie.

I decided to use a crust recipe I liked best, but that's when I really ran into an issue - do you prebake the crust or not? Craig says to bake the crust 40 minutes (!!) while some of the recipes he had used didn't prebake at all. King Arthur Flour says 10 minutes but it was still pretty pale. I cut the difference and baked it 20 minutes. But since I didn't have any dried beans in my pantry, a few places the crust sank down a bit. (I know how to bake a pie crust but didn't do a good job doing what I know, honestly.)

I had filled the crust to its capacity, taking into account the low sides, but there was still some dark brown sugary mixture in the pan so what did I do, when I knew better? I went ahead and poured it into the crust. So it carmelized on the bottom. While I did not have a soggy bottom, I definitely had a crispy, caremlized crust that did not want to come out of the pan in a solid piece. Ah well. We ate a few pieces and threw the rest away... I guess maybe pecan pie isn't really my thing. I linked you to Craig's recipes above, so I won't repeat it here, since I'm not sure I did it right anyway.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Cranberry Cobbler

Back in 2018, I mentioned in a post about Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake that I hoped to someday come back to this recipe for Cranberry Cobbler. I bought all the ingredients for Cranberry Nut Bread (which I've made religiously every year since 9th grade) but wanted to do something different with some of the cranberries, so I started combing through my cookbooks until I hit inspiration. Turns out it's a recipe that inspired me once before, but I couldn't find any more fresh cranberries in the stores. This year, I made it in time.

For my taste, I think I'd either double the fruit portion or make half the biscuit portion, to have a little more fruit action. On the other hand, cranberry is pretty tart, so maybe this is the right proportion.

Cranberry Cobbler
(from Wintersweet)

12 oz (340 g) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) apple cider*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground ginger*

2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (170 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 1 tsp milk, plus more as needed, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C.) Butter a 9-inch pie plate.

For the filling: combine the cranberries, sugar, apple cider, vanilla, and ginger in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate and cocver it with foil. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the berries start to split their skins and spill their juices, 20-25 minutes.

For the biscuits: add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms a coarse meal. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of the milk. Fluff it with a fork until a scrappy dough forms. (If you don't have a food processor, you can cut the butter in with a pastry blender or pinch the butter apart with your fingers until the pieces look like tiny peas.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead it briefly, just utnil it comes together. If it seems too crumbly, add another spoon or two of milk. Press or roll it out into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. With a biscuit cutter or jelly jar, cut the dough into circles, enought to cover the cobbler.

Remove the berreis from the oven, uncover them, and stir. Arrange the biscuits on top. Brush the biscuits with the remaining 1 tsp of milk and sprinkle them with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake the cobbler uncovered until the biscutis are golden brown and the mixture is bubbling, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving with ice cream. 

Wrap lightly and keep for a few days at room temperature.

*Notes from JennyBakes:

-I didn't have apple cider but I had orange juice, so that's what I used. It seemed to work okay.
-I doubled up on ginger and still didn't really taste it, so I think there's room for some flavor layering here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cardamom Cake

I continue my experiments from The Nordic Baking Book, but don't want to post all recipes just in respect to others actually buying the book. Instead I thought I'd reflect on my experience to see if I could do better next time.

I love cardamom, and love that the Swedish love cardamom, so when I saw a recipe for cardamom cake I knew I'd end up trying it. The recipe is fairly simple but I should have known when I saw it was a butter cake that I would struggle.

Why does the world want to make butter cakes when they are always dry? Or what is it that I do wrong that everyone else does right? The recipe says the batter will be quite thick, and it was. But it also took at least 20 minutes longer than specified for the toothpicks to come out mostly clean, and I still had a stripe of somewhat less baked cake in the rise of the upper half.

In the one picture of this cake in the giant cookbook, it's in a smaller bundt type shape, and it makes me wonder if it doesn't bake more evenly in that kind of shape. But the recipe calls for a loaf pan.

I liked the idea in the beginning of the recipe of adding the generous amount of spice during the butter and sugar creaming process. I would like to try that for more recipes (the only other time I have done this is when rubbing citrus zest into sugar before creaming, always with positive returns.)

This recipe also calls for 3/4 cup sour cream. I had some leftover ricotta in the fridge and almost just tried half and half on a whim, but thought I should make it as stated first. The batter was a rather unappealing gray after adding the sour cream (to the cardamom infused butter and sugar which was already a strange color.)

I'm going to try some of the "cake moistening" tips I found on the internet when I eat this for breakfast, but I'm also wondering if the conversion might be at fault, either in temperature or measurements. I was reading the section about yeast, because I want to make buns, which seem very important in nordic nations, but wow who would have expected yeast to vary so substantially in different countries? But it does. Fresh yeast is preferred and simply what is used in Scandinavia. It would be hard for me to find in South Carolina, and even if I did, it would not necessarily be the same amount by weight. And I will need to convert it to dry yeast. But - should I convert it against Scandinavian equivalents or American? Argh. It is currently clear as mud but I suppose all I can do is try one way and then evaluate.

Can I make french toast out of a cake like this? Maybe that would be a better use of it.... I can at least toast it. It's pretty dang dense.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chokladsnittar or Chocolate Cuts

I continue to bake my way through The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson. I started trying some of the cookie recipes to see if I wanted to give them away for the holidays. Today I made a chocolate cookie that you bake in logs and then cut while still hot, but I made the logs the wrong shape and they were never going to bake on the inside, so I made somewhat of a Swedish biscotti (cut them and baked one more time.) Not exactly a success but they smelled good and tasted good, even if I did it wrong and maybe invented something new.

Chocolate Cuts (Chokladsnittar)

7 3/4 oz (1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp) sugar
7 oz (1 + 3/4 sticks), at room temperature
11 oz (2 1/2 cups) weak (soft) wheat flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla sugar

To decorate:
egg wash
pearl sugar

1. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until pale and fluffy.
2. Add the remaining dry ingredients by sifting them into the bowl. Work until just combined. Don't overwork the dough or you will get a poor texture.
3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work counter, and divide it into four equal pieces.
4. Roll each piece out into a roll, about 3 cm/ 1 1/4 inches in diameter, and place them on the prepared baking sheets, 2 rolls on each sheet, as they will spread out a little.
5. Press each roll down lightly to flatten it slightly.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line two baking sheets with baking (parchment) paper.
7. Brush each roll lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar, if you like.
8. Bake them for about 12 minutes. They should not get any real color from baking, but still need to be cooked through and not to become chewy. They should fluff up and crack a bit during baking.
9. Remove from the oven and leave the hot and slightly flattened rolls to cool down a little. When they are still warm and starting to firm up, use a sharp knife to cut diagonally across the rolls into pieces. Leave to cool completely.

Notes from JennyBakes:

This is a crumbly dough. I saw a few versions online that included egg, which might have helped bring the dough together a bit, but I really struggled. I added a bit of vanilla extract since I didn't have vanilla sugar. But baking them twice did make them a bit crunchy, probably perfect with coffee!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Thick Oven-Baked Pancake with Apple (Appelpannkaka)

I've been slowly baking my way through the pancakes & waffles section of The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson, avoiding the salt-pork and blood pancake versions for now. I had some apples I still hadn't used from North Carolina and a longer morning, so I made a 1/4 version of what will follow to try to make an individual pancake. In the end I wish I'd baked it for the full time because the best parts were the fully browned parts, but it was good enough to share... knowing I'd probably improve it if I make it again.

Appelpannkaka (Swedish Thick Oven-Baked Pancake)

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

250 g/9 oz (2 cups plus 1 tbsp) weak (soft) wheat flour*
4 eggs
good pinch of salt
1 litre/34 fl oz (4 1/4 cups) milk
50g/2 oz (3 1/2 tbsp butter)
2 apples, cut into slices**
sugar and ground cinnamon, to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 C/Gas Mark 7.

Combine the flour, eggs, salt and half the milk in a mixing bowl and whisk until no lumps remain. Add the rest of the milk, whisking continuously.

Put the butter into a 30x40 cm/12x16 inch roasting pan and heat in the oven until the butter has completely melted.

Add the 2 sliced apples and sprinkle some sugar and ground cinnamon on top.

Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until it is dark golden and completely set.

Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 5 minutes, which will make it much easier to remove from the pan. Serve with your preferred combination of accompaniments.***

Notes from JennyBakes:

* - I used all-purpose flour
** - I peeled my apple and used about half of a mutsu
*** - Original non-apple recipe suggests sugared lingonberries and cream, or with jam and a sprinkling of sugar.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Pumpkin Tea Cake

 Another recipe from the revised Tartine cookbook, because I had leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge that was going to go bad otherwise. I was hoping for a loaf cake similar to the Starbucks pumpkin loaf because it is one of those things I find myself ordering too often a certain time of year.

It gets close! I held back from adding things like white chocolate chips or anything on top to respect the original recipe the first time, and this cake is very tasty, but I definitely would have liked it even more with a bit of texture, whether it came from pepitas on top or some kind of chunk throughout.

Pumpkin Tea Cake


1 3/4 cups (230 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup (255 g) pumpkin puree
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil such as safflower or sunflower
1 1/3 cups (265 g) sugar, plus more for topping
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9x5 in (23x12 cm) loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, beat together the pumpkin puree, oil, sugar, and salt on medium speed or by hand until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 5-10 seconds to make a smooth batter. The butter should have the consistency of a thick puree.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tbsp of sugar. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto the rack, turn rightside up, and let cool completely. Serve the cake at room temperature. It will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for 4 days or in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
 Notes from JennyBakes:
  • I used a review copy of this cookbook with this recipe in it so it may not be accurate or official, but it is the recipe I made! Ha. 
  • I actually think I only used 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or so because 2 seemed like a lot... in the end there is enough batter that it probably could have taken it.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies

I follow Stella Parks (bravetart) in Instagram, and she is a baker who develops recipes for Serious Eats. She kept posting about these cookies so even though I went to the apple orchard and had a peck of apples to deal with, I made these cookies instead. I have no regrets.

Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies
(recipe and more information about process and troubleshooting on Serious Eats)

  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (about 10 tablespoons; 140g)
  • 7 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 cup; 195g)
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25g) baking soda
  • 4 ounces cold ricotta (about 1/2 cup; 110g), strained if watery
  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g)

Getting Ready: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. When it has completely melted, add vanilla pod (if using) and increase heat to medium. Simmer, stirring and scraping with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. When butter is golden yellow and perfectly silent, remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl, making sure to scrape up all the toasty brown bits from along the bottom. Cool until slightly thickened and opaque, but still slightly warm, around 80°F (27°C). This will take about 75 minutes at room temperature or 25 minutes in the fridge; if refrigerating, stir butter every 6 minutes or so to prevent it from hardening around the edges of the bowl.

Make the Dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). When brown butter has cooled, remove vanilla pod (if using) and stir in sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda. Stir until baking soda is well distributed, about 1 minute, then fold in cold ricotta. Once ingredients are combined, stir in flour to form a soft dough.

Portioning the Dough: Divide into 1-tablespoon portions and arrange on a parchment-lined half sheet pan, leaving about 4 inches between cookies to account for their significant spread. (If you like, the dough can be placed on a parchment-lined plate and frozen until firm, then transferred to a zip-top bag for storage. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.)

Bake until cookies are lacy, thin, and golden brown around the edges, but still rather pale in the middle, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet, as the cookies will be doughy and soft while warm. Enjoy after cooling, or store up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes from JennyBakes:

  •  I was pondering sandwich cookies after making these and so did Stella. She tried them with chocolate hazelnut spread, and I think that would be good, maybe also a fruit butter for fall!
  • Those that I baked only 12 minutes, I liked better in the coming days. More than that and they became a stale crunchy while the 12 minute bakes were soft in the best ways.
  • There are some more complicated ingredients in the original recipe, please see links for those. I removed for simplification and to reflect what I actually did.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Peanut Butter Chess Pie from Sean Brock's South

The recipes in South by Sean Brock focus on perfecting the craft for the best version of old standards. You can feel Sean's painstaking attention to detail in the recipes as well.

I was thrilled to find some creative spins on desserts and knew I needed to make this pie, especially since it had a chocolate cornmeal crust. I did have a copy from the publisher, but hey, the cookbook comes out tomorrow (October 15, 2019.)

I followed the directions carefully for this pie, which meant a lot more fridge time than I would normally give a pie. I'm not sure if I made it right but the insides settle into a pecan pie like center without the nuts, topped by some peanut butter cakey layer, which is topped with ganache. I suspect the peanut butter and the sugar were supposed to be better blended, but this all happened while t baked. The crust rolled out beautifully after letting it chill as recommended.

Peanut Butter Chess Pie

1 recipe Chocolate Cornmeal Crust dough (recipe in cookbook)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream

For the Crust: See the cookbook.

For the Filling: Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Combine the butter and peanut butter in the top of a double boiler. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, set over low heat, and insert the top. The water shoudl not touch thte bottom of the insert and should never be hotter than a simmer. Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula until the butter has melted and hte mixture is compeltely combined, scraping down the sides as necessary and being careful not to incorporate air. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside.

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the milk, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the peanut butter mixture.

Place the piecrust on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is gently shaken. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

When the pie is completely cool, make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a heatproof container. Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover, and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir to completely combine the melted chocolate and cream.

Pour the ganache over the top of the pie, rotating the pie if necesary to ensure that the ganache topping is even. Cool for 5 minutes, then refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours to allow the topping to set before serving.

Serve the pie chilled. Tightly cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

South by Sean Brock
Available 15 October 2019

Other recipes I marked to try:

  • Sea Island Red Pea Spread with Cucumber Tomato Salad
  • Chilled Summer Squash Soup with Buttermilk and Sunflower Seeds
  • Tomato-Okra Stew
  • Sorghum Seed Crackers
  • Blackberry Cobbler
  • Magnolia Vinegar and Brown Butter Pie (what?)!
  • Buttermilk Pie
  • Hand-Churned Peach Sherbert

Monday, October 07, 2019

Brownies from Tartine

I think anyone who bakes has Tartine on their radar, one of the bakeries that brought artisan baking to the forefront in the United States. Their cookbook of the same name was originally published in 2006, and a revised edition with 68 new recipes came out October 1, 2019. I had a copy to play with from the publisher through NetGalley. I'll put a list of the recipes I want to try at the end of this post, but my husband always tries brownies at a new bakery as a "test" so I decided to go with something simple.

I was surprised to find a different technique than I'd ever used for brownies, and I've made a lot of brownies. This is clearly a recipe they have perfected over time, and a note in the recipe says this reflects their preference for "fudgy" brownies. They also have a recipe for making this same recipe slightly differently for ice-cream sandwiches, and a version that is for rocky road brownies. I went rogue and made a halfish recipe because I had misremembered how much chocolate I needed to buy.

Tartine Brownies
(from the Tartine Revised Ed. Cookbook)

Yields one 9x13 inch baking dish; 12 brownies

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter
1 lb (450 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
2 1/4 cups (400 g) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 salt
2 cups (200 g) nuts such as walnut or pecan halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter a 9x13 in glass baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. If the heat from the butter does not fully melt the chocolate, put the pan back over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4-5 minutes. Alternately, use a mixing bowl and a whisk to beat the ingredients until the mixture falls from the whisk in a wide ribbon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so that you don't deflate the air that's been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with the spatula. If you are using nuts, evenly distribute them across the batter. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve squares, or whatever size you desire. The brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

Notes from JennyBakes: Okay so this is my bad but I did a half recipe in a 9" square pan but used 3 eggs. I tried baking for 20 minutes but went to the full 25, was worried about overbaking and ended up underbaking, I think. A bit gooey in the middle but I stuck them in the fridge and they'll be fine. I also forgot to put the walnuts on until they'd baked 5 minutes. I loved the technique of beating the eggs and brown sugar - I've done that with white sugar before (see Alton Brown's cocoa brownies) but I've never used brown sugar in brownies. The texture before adding the chocolate and flour was very viscous and the batter was like chocolate marshmallows.

Tartine (Revised edition) came out October 1, 2019, and like I already stated, I had a review copy.

Other recipes I've marked to try:
  • English Muffins
  • Savory Scones
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
  • Devil's Food Layer Cake
  • Victoria Sponge
  • Almond-Lemon Tea Cake
  • Honey Spice Cake
  • Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl
  • Sweet Potato Cake with Meringue
  • Buttermilk Scones
  • Quiche
  • Chocolate Chess Pie
  • Dutch Apple Pie
  • Matcha Streusel Tart
  • Cake Aux Olives
  • Pumpkin Tea Cake

Monday, September 30, 2019

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

I always look for baking cookbooks in my lists of books to review, but when I saw The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs, I thought I probably had too much experience to give it a fair review. However my husband Nathaniel has not baked a lot, so I asked him to select a recipe to try. He chose Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) because it was savory, lower-carb, and cheesy.

Overall, the cookbook comes from America's Test Kitchen, so you know the recipes have been tested and tweaked and should be pretty solid. They give great advice for new chefs without talking down to kids, explaining concepts such as "mise en place" and adding safety tips. You will see in this recipe that it tells you when to ask an adult for help. With shows on like Master Chef Junior, this would be an excellent cookbook gift for your rising bakers and pastry chefs!

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

Vegetable oil spray
1 cup (8 oz) whole milk
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (2 oz)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
2 cups (8 oz) tapioca starch*
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray (making sure to get inside each cup).
  2. Add milk, cheddar cheese, Pecorino cheese, oil, eggs, and salt to blender. Add tapioca starch. (Make sure to add tapioca starch last, or the mixture will turn to glue in the blender.) Place lid on top of blender and hold lid firmly in place with folded dish towel. Process on high speed for 30 seconds. Stop blender.
  3. Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of blender jar. Replace lid and replace on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour batter evenly into greased muffin tin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  4. Place muffin tin in oven and bake until rolls are golden and puffed, 25-30 minutes.
  5. Use oven mitts to remove muffin tin from oven (ask an adult for help.) Place muffin tin on cooling rack and let rolls cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes.
  6. Run butter knife around edges of roll to loosen from muffin tin (ask an adult for help - muffin tin will be very hot.) Using your finger tips, gently wiggle rolls to remove from muffin tin and transfer directly to cooling rack. Serve warm. 
Jenny received a copy of this cookbook from the publisher through Edelweiss. It comes out October 1, 2019, the day after this posts.

Notes from JennyBakes:

These notes are actually from Jenny's husband, Nathaniel.

Tapioca starch is also sold as Tapioca Flour, and in my experience that was much easier to find, but I did not realize they were interchangeable at first.

I took them out when they began to be golden but should have waited a bit longer.

Follow the instructions where it says tin if you want them to rise properly. Silicone won't rise as far. I wouldn't describe them as chewy, more as gummy, a level beyond chewiness (this could have been underbaking.) They still come out as very cheesy even if the batter doesn't look very cheesy after the blender.

One note from Jenny: I really like to use these as buns for the giant tofurkey vegetarian sausages, cut into smaller pieces. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Molasses Coffee Cake

As fall approaches, but fall temperatures do not, I find myself drawn more to caramel and salted caramel and molasses than the usual pumpkin and apple. Last week I posted a molasses quick bread recipe, and that one was a bit lighter than this one, which approaches a fancy gingerbread with the glaze. It comes from Dorie Greenspan's Everyday Dorie.

Molasses Coffee Cake

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 stick (8 tbsp/4 oz/ 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (132 grams) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) hot coffee or espresso (can be made with instant coffee or espresso powder)

For the coffee glaze (optional):1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp boiling water
5 oz (142 grams) best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature

Whipped cream, for topping  

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan that's at least 2 inches high (use a springform if you don't have a regular pan that's tall enough), fit a round of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan, butter the paper and dust the interior with flour; tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger, five-spice powder, cinnamon, and pepper.

Working in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla. Turn the mixer off, add the flour mixture and pulse to begin incorporating it. Then beat on low speed only until the dry ingredients disappear into the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot coffee, again mixing only until it is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and swivel the pan to even it.

Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, until the cake is beautifully browned and has risen uniformly. It will pull away from the sides of the pan if gently tugged and a tested inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake rest for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the sides of the cake. Turn the cake out onto the rack, gently peel off the parchment, invert onto another rack and cool to room temperature; or, if you used a springform, simply remove the ring. The cake may develop a little dip in the center - that's its personality.

To make the optional glaze: Dissolve the instant espresso in the boiling water. Put the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil (you can do this in a microwave oven), stir in the espresso extract that you made, and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds and then, using a whisk or small heatproof spatula, stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter one piece at a time, stirring until it is melted and incorporated.

Set the cake, on the rack, on a piece of foil to catch drips. Pour as much of the glaze as you want over the cake and use a long spatula or a table knife to spread it.

Put the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set the glaze, then return it to room temperature before serving. Pass any remaining glaze at the table.

Notes from JennyBakes:

-I don't have a tall enough round pan, something that keeps happening (my old springform won't close) so I used a 9" square pan and thought it was fine!
-I bet you could play with the spices in this. Don't let not having 5-spice powder stop you!
-I feel like the dip in the middle is a failure of recipe but just made it as described first. Next I'll need to do a little research. More structure, maybe? Another egg?
-I didn't take the cake out as fast as it recommends but had no problems, unlike some true gingerbreads that stick like crazy
-Do not use white chocolate CHIPS for this recipe. I speak from glompy experience. I also misread the amount of cream in the glaze so mine was a little rubby.
-I used leftover coffee from breakfast (still hot) for the cake, but used espresso powder in the glaze. I didn't bother making an extract because I knew it would dissolve just fine in the hot cream.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Molasses Sweet Bread from The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery

I came across the up and coming revised edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery in NetGalley and knew I'd want to look through it. It is a pretty standard primary source in this region, and I've seen chefs mention it on shows like Mind of a Chef and in their own cookbooks.

More from the publisher:
From springhouse to smokehouse, from hearth to garden, Southern Appalachian foodways are celebrated afresh in this newly revised edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. First published in 1984—one of the wildly popular Foxfire books drawn from a wealth of material gathered by Foxfire students in Rabun Gap, Georgia—the volume combines hundreds of unpretentious, delectable recipes with the practical knowledge, wisdom, and riveting stories of those who have cooked this way for generations. A tremendous resource for all interested in the region’s culinary culture, it is now reimagined with today’s heightened interest in cultural-specific cooking and food-lovers culture in mind. This edition features new documentation, photographs, and recipes drawn from Foxfire’s extensive archives while maintaining all the reminiscences and sharp humor of the amazing people originally interviewed.
Appalachian-born chef Sean Brock contributes a passionate foreword to this edition, witnessing to the book’s spellbinding influence on him and its continued relevance. T. J. Smith, editor of the revised edition, provides a fascinating perspective on the book’s original creation and this revision. They invite you to join Foxfire for the first time or once again for a journey into the delicious world of wild foods, traditional favorites, and tastes found only in Southern Appalachia.
The pictures they have added to the revised edition are amazing and capture the faces of an aging white population. The information is useful to some and otherwise informative from a folklore and/or historical standpoint. I may never need to store items with ice blocks or skin a rabbit, but I am always interested in traditional baked goods that are usually made with seasonal ingredients or ingredients you would otherwise have on hand.

Molasses Sweet Bread

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup molasses or 2/3 cup molasses and 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Sift together dry ingredients and add melted butter and the molasses. Mix well, adding buttermilk and egg. Pour into a loaf pan and bake in a 350 F oven for 45-50 minutes.

This cookbook should be a staple in Southern and Appalachian kitchens, and then probably should be on hand for all preppers and anyone who wants to be prepared to live through an  apocalypse (let's be honest, survival is survival.)

Other baked goods I've marked to try:
  • Corn Cakes
  • Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
  • Arizona's Gingerbread (Arizona is a person)
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Honey Tea Cakes
  • Molasses Cookies
  • Vanilla Wafers
The revised edition comes out September 16, 2019, and I thank the publisher for providing me an early copy for review.