Iced Lemon Loaf

Is it a cake or is it a bread? Last weekend I made this lovely lemon loaf and a blueberry walnut loaf in celebration of a friend’s birthday. This is another of Tieghan Gerard’s recipes from Half Baked Harvest. I’ve made several of her recipes, both sweet and savory, and have enjoyed all of them. This was no exception. It’s very moist and not overly sweet. Since it is made with almond flour it is perfect for anyone looking for a gluten free, low carb dessert. Almond flour can be substituted for AP flour in most recipes and, because it is made from finely ground blanched almonds, it has a higher fat content resulting in slightly moister baked goods.

Ingredients:

8 T salted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup honey

2 T lemon zest

3 T lemon juice

3 large eggs at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

4-6 oz cream cheese melted

Icing

1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 T lemon juice

2 tsp honey

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan. I lined mine with parchment paper leaving an overhang to make the loaf easier to remove.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, honey, and 1 T lemon zest until combined. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until combined.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and yogurt or sour cream. The combination of dairy and lemon juice makes the batter look curdled, so don’t worry that something went wrong.
Add the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat just until combined. In a smaller bowl mix together the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
Spoon half of your batter into your prepared pan. Dollop teaspoon amounts of the cream cheese mixture over the batter using about 1/3 of the cream cheese. Gently swirl the cream cheese using an offset spatula.

Repeat with the remaining batter and cream cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is just set. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and allow to cool.

While the loaf is cooling make the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and the honey. Pour over the loaf and let set for an hour or so.

Slice and enjoy!

NOTE: You can substitute AP flour for almond flour 1 to 1, but I have not tried it with this recipe.

I used 6 oz of cream cheese because how can you possibly have too much cream cheese??

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

I recently subscribed to Food and Wine magazine. I subscribed mostly because my favorite cooking show ever is Top Chef, and each season the winner is featured in Food and Wine. Of course the magazine also has some excellent recipes, including the amazing Veggie Burger recipe I blogged a few months ago. This recipe is actually from the November 2002 issue. I stumbled on it looking for date recipes. I had shared some dates with my daughter at Christmas for an appetizer recipe, and she used the rest of hers to make a babka filling. I read reviews from people who had made this pudding cake and one lady referred to the recipe as ”life changing.” It has become her go to holiday dessert. I still had plenty of dates so how could I resist a life changing recipe!

While doing my date homework I learned that they are mentioned in the Bible more than 50 times, and 20 times in the Qur’an. Dates are a fruit that comes from a date palm which is native to the Middle East. They are naturally very sweet, high in fiber, high in antioxidants, and a good source of potassium and vitamin B6. We all know it helps to rationalize how healthy our sweet treats are! Just think of this dessert as a life changing health food that tastes amazing.

Cake Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) of chopped, pitted dates

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 T unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sauce Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp brandy (I used bourbon)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10 inch round pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. In a saucepan cover the dates with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the baking soda. It will foam up. Allow the dates to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. In a medium size bowl (or stand mixer) cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In 2 alternating batches, beat in the dry ingredients and the date mixture until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking make the sauce. In a heavy, medium size sauce pan bring the brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream to a boil over moderate heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Simmer and continue whisking for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, brandy (or bourbon), and salt. Keep warm.

When the cake is done allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a rack and peel off the parchment paper. Carefully return the cake, top side down, to the pan and poke about 15-20 holes in the cake with a skewer.

Pour half of the warm sauce over the cake and let stand until the sauce has absorbed into the cake.
Invert onto a platter and poke another 15-20 holes in the top. Pour the remaining sauce over the top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche or whipping cream.

Enjoy every bite of this healthy, life changing dessert.

Apple Fritter Bread

A couple days ago my friend Patti brought me a bag of Wolf River apples.  I had never heard of Wolf River apples.  No one else I asked had heard of them.  I’ve made a lot of pies, apple crisps, and apple sauce over the years, been to numerous orchards, and I’ve never met a Wolf River apple.  So I went where all curious people go…the internet.  Apparently Wolf River apples are one of the stars of an orchard in Northport Michigan.  People are said to travel from Detroit, Chicago, and even oversees to taste the long forgotten apple varieties at the Northport orchard including the Wolf River.  These apples are use mainly for cooking and are notable for their large size.  They are not the best eating apple, but they keep their shape when cooked and need very little additional sugar.

I learned something new.  And perhaps you did too.  Now that  I had the apples I wanted to use them for something, and  the next morning I spotted a recipe on FB for Amish Apple Fritter Bread.  I doubled the recipe and made two loaves so don’t be confused by my photos.  The bread is excellent!  The recipe comes from Fadma Akir’s Homecooking Page so I must give credit where credit is due.  The recipe is for a single loaf.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple (tossed with a little sugar and cinnamon to coat)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with Pam.  Peel and dice the apples and toss with just enough sugar and cinnamon to coat.

Measure out the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a medium size bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  (Remember, there are 4 eggs in the picture because I doubled the recipe.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into the butter and egg mixture.  Stir in the milk.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared loaf pan.

Top with half of the apples, gently pressing them into the batter.

Repeat with the second half of the batter and apples.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on the top.

Bake for 60-70 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.  Mix the glaze while the bread is cooling.

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 T room temperature butter

2 T milk

1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together.  Once the bread has cooled for 30 minutes drizzle with the glaze.

NOTE:  I used 2 cups of apples per loaf.

The bread is very moist and kind of a cross between a quick bread and a coffee cake.  I used the Wolf River Apples but I think any good baking apple like Braeburn, Jonathan, Cortland or Northern Spy would work well in this recipe.

Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite food magazines, and I have subscribed to several over the years, is Cuisine At Home.  I found this cinnamon roll recipe in the June 2007 issue and have been making them ever since.  They are best warm, right out of the oven, and most people love them slathered with cream cheese icing, except my dad.  The icing knife barely glazed the top of his roll but, he did love the rolls.  These have become our traditional Thanksgiving Day breakfast.  I make them the day before we’ll be eating them, cover them with press and seal, and refrigerate them overnight.  In the morning I let them come to room temperature while the oven is preheating, bake and enjoy!  My Cincinnati brother and sister-in-law and their family come by us the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.  They’ve occasionally gotten to sample leftover rolls so, when I knew they’d be here last weekend, I decided to let them enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls instead of 2 day olds.  With all the bread making that has apparently been going on lately, if you have yeast, you need to try these.  You’ll be really glad you did.

Dough Ingredients:

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 T sugar

2 T unsalted butter (room temperature)

5 cups of flour (divided)

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer proof the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes or until foamy.

While the yeast is proofing warm milk to 100 degrees in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the warmed milk, buttermilk, sugar, butter, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of flour to the proofed yeast.  With the paddle attachment of your mixer mix on low speed until combined.  Then increase the speed to high and beat for two minutes.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour.  Mix on low speed until incorporated , then increase the speed to medium.  Mix for 5-7 minutes or until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  If necessary add a tablespoon or two of additional flour.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, butter two 9” round pans and prepare the filling.

Filling Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup ground cinnamon

Soften the butter for the filling in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.  You don’t want it to melt completely.  Use a hand mixer to blend in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.  Do not chill.

Once the dough has risen, hook your fingers under the edges to release the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface.  Gently press out air bubbles and sprinkle flour on the top.  Divide the dough in half and roll one portion into a rectangle about 10×16”.

Spread half of the filling onto the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch border.

Roll the dough, jelly roll style, into a log.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Transfer logs to a baking sheet and freeze for about 10 minutes to make them easier to slice.  Slice each log into 6 rolls and arrange them in the prepared pans.

At this point I cover both pans or rolls with press and seal and refrigerate them overnight.  Or, you can cover with a towel and let them rise for one hour.

While the rolls are refrigerated or rising, make the cream cheese icing.

Icing Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

zest of one orange

Beat all ingredients together with a hand mixer.

I put the icing in a container and let people us as much or as little as they want.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Once the rolls have risen, uncover and bake for 25-30 minutes.  If you refrigerated the rolls allow them to come to room temperature before baking.

Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove.  Ice.  And enjoy.

NOTE:  I use dental floss (not the mint kind) to slice the logs into rolls.  It makes for quick, easy cuts without flattening the rolls.

Lace Oat Cookies with Hazelnuts

A few years ago my daughter gave me a cookbook for Christmas called Nordic Bakery.

I’ve made several recipes from this book including the one pictured on the cover (Blueberry Tart with rye base) as well as some excellent savory dishes like their Vegetable and Blue Cheese Tart which I’ve made several times.  It’s a very interesting collection of recipes.  For some time I’ve been wanting to try these Lace cookies.  I had visions of shaping them into a bowl and adding a small scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and berries.  Or rolling them into logs.  Neither of those things happened.  Maybe next time.  While they are definitely delicious, I found these a little extra challenging.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter melted

2 T heavy cream

Drizzle of honey

1/2 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup rolled oats

2 T AP flour

1/4 cup raisins chopped

2 oz dark, bittersweet chocolate chopped

1/2 cup hazelnuts chopped

Reading the ingredients you may ask, “what is caster sugar?”  It is superfine sugar.  I didn’t have any, so I made my own using my coffee grinder.

Preheat your oven to 400 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Make sure your chocolate, nuts, and raisins are all chopped.

Put the melted butter, cream and honey in a small bowl and mix well.

In a larger bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together.  Pour the butter mixture into the bowl and stir well.

Drop one tablespoon of the batter per cookie onto the prepared baking sheet.  The cookies will spread.  I did four cookies per sheet.  Seems silly, I know.  But trust me.  Four cookies per sheet.  Also, flatten them out a bit with a fork before baking.

Bake until golden brown, between 5-10 minutes.  Check on them after 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing them from the baking sheet.  This will allow them to set up properly as they cool.

The book suggested creating shapes before the cookies have cooled by laying them over a cup (or small bowl) or draping them over a rolling pin and letting them set up.  I think my inability to shape my cookies was a lack of patience.  I slid the cookies off of the baking sheet and allowed them to cool on a wire rack making it difficult to even get them off the rack intact.  Next time I will be more patient.  The book also suggests storing them in an airtight container with greaseproof paper between each cookie.  Mine remain “stored” on the wire cooling rack and they get munched on as we walk by.

NOTE:  This recipe makes about a dozen cookies.  It also calls for 1 oz of white chocolate and 1 oz of dark chocolate.  I had no white chocolate so I used all dark chocolate.  The next time I make these I will be patient and shape them.  And when I do I will come back here and post more pictures.

Jane’s Shortbread Chocolate Chunk Cookies

More pandemic baking.  I got this recipe from my friend Jane, hence the blog title.  Everyone in my family who has eaten these cookies loves them.  They are a little bit sweet, a little bit salty.  Not too soft, not too crunchy.  I like them better with no chocolate, but I did all chocolate when I baked these.  They’re very easy to make and the dough can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to bake.  If you like warm cookies best, just bake a few at a time.  Every house has at least one Cookie Monster and these will be big hit.

Ingredients:

18 T cold, salted butter (2 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups AP flour

6 oz semi-sweet or bitter-sweet dark chocolate chopped

1 large egg beaten

Demerara sugar for rolling

Salt flakes for topping

Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces.  Put the cubed butter, granulated and brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Using the paddle attachment beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low speed slowly add the flour followed by the chocolate chunks.   Beat just to blend.

I happened to have mini chocolate chips so I used those.  If the only chocolate chips you have are regular size, chop them up a bit.  Or chop a 6 oz block of semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate.  Slicing the cookie dough will be much easier with smaller pieces of chocolate.  Once the dough is mixed divide it in half.  Place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and form the dough into a log about 2” in diameter.  Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Brush each of the rolls with the egg wash and roll in the Demerara sugar for delicious crispy edges.  Demerara sugar is raw, brown granulated sugar.  I used coarse sparkling sugar because it’s what I had.

Slice into 1/2” thick rounds and place about a half inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each cookie with a few salt flakes.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack and enjoy!

NOTE:  These are excellent with no chocolate.  At least from my perspective.  I put 4 cookies per zip lock bag and freeze them.  Perfect to pull out when you have a craving for something sweet.  Like I mentioned earlier, the dough can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen.  Make a double batch if you want to do half with chocolate, half without.

Wacky Cake

During this Coronavirus Pandemic we are all spending more time on the internet.  Food has become a preoccupation and, if we aren’t cooking, we’re on line looking for recipes.   A week or so ago I came across a post with this recipe for Wacky Cake.  This particular version is from a cookbook called “Really Cookin” by Carol Ferguson.  Credit where credit is due.  I messaged this recipe to my friend Georgia and asked if this was the same recipe she uses.  She said yes.  She has been making this cake for years and she always doubles the recipe.  It’s one of their family favorites.  The recipe was created as a result of rationing during World War II when milk and eggs were scarce.  If you research the recipe it’s also called Crazy Cake, World War II Cake, and Depression Cake.  One of the few cake recipes I’ve seen that has you use an ungreased pan and actually has you mix the cake right in the pan.  I did make a double batch  so that I could share one pan with our neighbors.  I mixed it in my mixing bowl and divided the batter between two ungreased pans.  But I get the logic of mixing the batter right in the pan…much less cleanup.

Ingredients Doubled:

3 cups AP flour

2 cups sugar

6 T cocoa

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 T white vinegar

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups warm water (or coffee…I used coffee)

No mixer.  No bowl.  Simple directions.  Get out one 9×13 pan or 2 8×8 pans.  Or don’t double and just use one 8×8 pan if you want less cake to tempt you.  Preheat your oven to 350.  Combine all of your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.

Once the dry ingredients have been mixed, level off the top and make three wells.  Pour your oil in one, your vinegar in one and your vanilla in one.

Now pour your warm water or coffee over everything and mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk.

Put your pans in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes.

Once the cake is done remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack,

When your cake has cooled completely you can dust with powdered sugar or ice with a ganache or a chocolate  buttercream.  I used a chocolate butter cream.

Slice and enjoy.

NOTE:  I can’t eat chocolate but I’m thinking this might also be good with a peanut butter icing or a vanilla butter cream.  I substituted warm leftover coffee for the water because I’m told that coffee brings out the rich chocolate flavors.

Would really have to search to find a cake recipe easier than this one.  And it will be perfect during our Coronavirus Pandemic if you are short of eggs and/or milk.

 

Babka

During this Coronavirus pandemic many of us have been busy cooking and baking. The stores, at least temporarily, are out of yeast and flour. Fortunately we had a small stockpile. Last week my friend Jane and I were on voluntary quarantine with my daughter in Chicago. We decided baking bread was a good project to pass the time. Our first loaf of bread was an herb loaf that we apparently allowed to rise too long. It fell during baking and, while it tasted okay hot out of the oven, it was too dense and it later became croutons. A second batch of dough didn’t want to rise at all. We tried deep frying dough balls to simulate donut holes on the theory that anything tastes good deep fried. Wrong. Everything does not taste good deep fried. Our “donut holes” were overcooked on the outside and raw in the center. Even liberal dosing with cinnamon sugar didn’t help. Then we decided to make a Babka. Babka is a traditional Polish Jewish bread. In Polish Babka means old lady or grandmother. If I was a grandmother I wouldn’t mind being called Babka. Soft and sweet and smelling of cinnamon and vanilla. Babka is thought to have originated in the early 1800s when extra challah dough would be spread with cinnamon or jelly and rolled up before baking. The recipe we used is a King Arthur Cinnamon Babka recipe with golden raisins and pecans. Last week we made an initial babka run. I failed at reading the instructions correctly and we cut the dough wrong. It still tasted great! Once I got back home I made another loaf of babka. This time I knew how to properly cut the dough.

Dough Ingredients:

3 cups (361g) AP flour

2 tsp instant yeast

1/4 tsp cinnamo

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg

5 T unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all of your dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl, starting with the lesser amount of water. With a wooden spoon mix all of the ingredients together until everything is moistened. If necessary add more of the water until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Remove the dough to a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and smooth. Place the dough into a lightly buttered bowl, cover, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough is quite puffy.

While your dough is rising make your filling.

Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tsp cinnamon

1 T AP flour

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup diced pecans

1/2 cup golden raisins


Just before you’re ready to shape the dough combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon and stir in the water and melted butter. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen place it on a clean, lightly floured surface and shape into a 9” by 18” rectangle that should be about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is fighting you let it rest about 10 minutes, then stretch some more. I used my hands to shape the dough.

Smear the dough with the filling coming to within an inch of the edges. Sprinkle with the nuts and raisins.

Starting with the short end roll the dough gently into a log sealing the seam and ends.

Using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise, not crosswise.  You should have two pieces of dough, each about 10” long.  Take care to prevent too much filling from spilling out.  With the filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath.  Place the twisted loaf into a lightly greased 9×5 loaf pan.

Whisk an egg with a pinch of salt and brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.  Cover the loaf and let it rise until very puffy and crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Toward the end of the rise time preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now the bread is ready for the oven.  Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil during the final 15 to 20 minutes of baking.  The loaf should be a deep golden brown and the internal temperature should be about 195.

Remove the babka from the oven and immediately loosen the edges with a spatula or kitchen knife.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice and enjoy.

NOTE:  King Arthur suggests a topping (also known as supreming) consisting of:

2 T AP flour

1 T brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 T cold butter

Mix the topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over the loaf before rising.  

I used the topping on one loaf but not on the other.  We also omitted the raisins in the first loaf.  As with so many recipes, it’s all a matter of personal preference.  

It seems like it would make excellent French toast but I haven’t tried that.  It is excellent briefly warmed in the microwave or oven.

 

Pound Cake

Eating Well was not the source for the pound cake recipe, but it’s one of my favorite foodie magazines and it seemed like a perfect placemat for enjoying a piece of cake with ice cream.  I’m sure there are literally hundreds of pound cake recipes on the internet and in cookbooks.  Some call for sour cream, fruit juice and zest, extracts, even a shot or two of rum.  The one I made today is one of the very basic of recipes that consists of a pound of this, a pound of that.  According to the internets, pound cake apparently dates back to the early 18th century and originated in Europe.  A pound cake recipe was published in the first American cookbook, “American Cookery”, published in 1796.  In France the pound cake is called “quatre-quarts” which means four quarters.  In Mexico it’s called “panque’” with the most common variant being the addition of raisins or walnuts.  This recipe makes two loaf pans, two pounds each.  It’s a lot of cake, but it’s the perfect vehicle for berries and whipped cream or a scoop or two of ice cream.  It’s also a very simple cake to make and most of us have all of the ingredients on hand.

Ingredients:

1 pound of sugar (approximately 2 1/4 cups)

1 pound of butter (4 sticks at room temperature)

1 pound of flour (approximately 4 cups)

1 doz eggs

Preheat your oven to 325.  Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment paper.

Cream together the sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  With the mixer running, slowly add the flour and mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter, as evenly as possible, into the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Loosen edges, remove cakes from the pans, peel off parchment, and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar or drizzle with a glaze.  I whisked together 2 cups of powdered sugar and 3-4 T of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  A little sweet, a little tart.

Slice and enjoy.

NOTE:  This cake freezes well.  I froze individual slices in zip lock bags.  While this time I did not add any flavorings, this recipe is excellent with some vanilla paste, or a little rum, or juiced citrus and zest.  Toasted nuts, raisins, dried cherries, or chocolate chips would also make great additions.  It’s pretty much a blank slate.

 

Peanut Butter Fudge

One of my most requested recipes around the holidays is for peanut butter fudge.  Years ago I worked with someone who brought in peanut butter fudge that his wife made every Christmas.  It was excellent. But when I asked for the recipe he said it was a family secret and he would not share it.  After that I tried several different recipes for peanut butter fudge and finally stumbled on this one that I’ve been using for the last 20 years or more.  I have no idea where I found it, but it is every bit as good, if not better, than the “family recipe” my coworker refused to share.  The fudge pictured above is my version of Reese which is my daughter’s favorite.  A layer of peanut butter fudge and a layer of chocolate.  Of course I end up with two 9×13 pans of this, but I guess that’s not a bad thing.  And I’m all about sharing recipes!

Ingredients:

4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 cup evaporated milk

1 T white vinegar

1 T light corn syrup

dash of salt

12 oz creamy peanut butter

13 oz jar marshmallow creme

1 tsp vanilla

Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil, allowing a generous overhang on each side, and lightly butter the foil and the pan.  This makes the fudge easy to lift out and cut.

Combine the sugar, butter, milk, vinegar, corn syrup and salt in a deep heavy kettle like a Dutch oven.  Stirring constantly cook over medium high heat until your candy thermometer reads 236 degrees.  Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and marshmallow cream until completely incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla.

Pour into your prepared pan and allow it to cool completely.

This fudge is a perfect addition to our Christmas cookie trays.

NOTE:  I’ve never made this with chunky peanut butter and I’ve never added peanuts, but either of those modifications might be good.  If you want to make our Reese version the chocolate fudge recipe I use is also on my blog.  For some reason I only make this a Christmas but I’m thinking fudge is good any time of year.  My good friend and cookie baking partner gives a whole pan to her sister who cuts it up and freezes it.  When she is craving some peanut butter goodness she takes a piece or two out of the freezer.