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.

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.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Sheet Cake

A year ago on April 19th I lost a very special friend, Debra, to cancer.  There was a celebration of life for family and friends  followed by a luncheon.  I made the chocolate mayonnaise sheet cake she loved and decorated it with the monkeys I had bought to use on her birthday cake.  She loved all animals but monkeys were a favorite of hers and always made her smile.  Whenever I saw cute monkey memes I would share them with her and I once gifted her a hideous pink sock monkey that I made.  She adored it.  My first and last attempt at sock monkeys.  Debbie had the gift of gab.  She loved to come down and sit and visit and have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee with a little rum chata in it.  And she had a sweet tooth.  She loved chocolate.  So if there was a cake or cookies or brownies she was a happy girl.  And if there were no baked goods, there was always a dish full of chocolate candy and that’s where she’d head.  I’ll always think of her when I make this cake.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups hot, strong coffee

1 cup cocoa

3 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350.

Whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa and let stand for 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl combine the sugar and eggs.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Beat in the mayonnaise and vanilla.

Alternate flour mixture and coffee/cocoa mixture beating after each addition and beginning and ending with flour.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured sheet pan.  Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

To make this cake easier to serve to a crowd I cut the cake, used cupcake lines to separate individual pieces, and then iced each piece.  I made a peanut butter icing but you can use any flavor icing you like.

This post is for you my beautiful friend.  I miss talking to you and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea with you at my kitchen island.  I hope there is a lot of chocolate in heaven.  And monkeys.  A lot of monkeys.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

King Arthur has some really great recipes and this one is no exception.  They called this a Blueberry Breakfast Cake but I think it’s more like a Fruit Danish.  I used blueberries, which the recipe called for, but this would be great with raspberries, apple, peaches…almost any fruit.  Because of the ricotta cheese and sour cream it has a consistency similar to a cream cheese danish.  It is simple to make and not cloying.  Great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

heaping 1/2 cup of sugar

6 T melted butter

1 cup small curd cottage cheese or part skim ricotta

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8” round pan that is at least 2” deep.  If your 8” pan is too shallow, use a 9” round pan or an 8” square.  Shape really doesn’t matter.

Beat the eggs and sugar together.  And yes, a HEAPING 1/2 cup of sugar.  First time I’ve seen that in a recipe.

Add the melted butter, cottage or ricotta cheese, sour cream and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder,  add to creamed ingredients, and stir or beat gently until combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and scatter berries over the top.

Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out moist but with no obvious smears of raw batter.  The edges should be lightly browned.  It should appear set throughout but jiggle a little when you gently shake it.  Baking time is between 45 and 50 minutes.

Once it comes out of the oven generously sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.  Let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to firm.  Cut into wedges or squares, depending on the pan you used, and serve warm.

Enjoy!

NOTE”. I baked mine in a 9” round pan for 45 minutes.  I recommend checking it after 40 minutes.  Much depends on your oven and the size of your pan.  I will try this with  a combination of apple and cranberries next.  A little bit of sweet and tart together.   Also, the cinnamon sugar is optional.  Instead you might want to lightly dust with powdered sugar as you serve it or make a glaze and drizzle a little over the cake.

Blueberry Muffins

A few times a year King Arthur Flour publishes a magazine called Sift.  Every time one comes out my friend Jane and I pick up a copy.  So many wonder recipes!  This muffin recipe is from the Spring 2019 edition.  I made these today to accompany our crab meat quiche for a perfect brunch.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar plus 2 T for sprinkling

2 large eggs

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups  fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a muffin tin with papers and lightly grease the papers.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition.

Stir in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  Add the flour, alternating with the milk, stirring gently until combined.  Scrape bottom and sides of the bowl.  Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries and add mashed and whole blueberries to the batter stirring  to combine and distribute.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.  I used my ice cream scoop.  Sprinkle tops with the remaining 2 T of sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

I served ours with crab quiche but they’re perfect for breakfast on their own with a cup of hot coffee or a glass of milk.

NOTE:  My muffin pans are dark so I reduced my oven temperature to 350.

Thank you King Arthur for your great recipes that inspire!

Orange Cake

Our Thanksgiving tradition includes a traditional dinner on Thursday with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and rutabaga…and a “theme” dinner on Saturday with my brother Bob and his family.  Our theme Saturdays have typically been eithnic and this year we are doing Finnish food.  Finnish food in honor of my Dad who passed away on New Years Day.  Finnish food to honor our heritage.  I have fond memories of an orange cake that my mummu used to make and I recently found her recipe.  It was written in Finnish.  Well, some Finnish and some Finglish.  I was able to decipher all the ingredients and measurements (pretty proud of that) but I struggled with the directions.  I asked for help from my Finnish Food and Culture site on facebook and they came to my rescue.  Today I did a test run for Saturday’s dinner.

Ingredients:

1 orange (orenssi)

1 cup raisins (rusinaita)

1 cup sugar (sokeri)

2 eggs (munaa)

1/2 cup butter (voita) or lard

3/4 cup of buttermilk (kirnupiimaa)

1 teaspoon baking soda (suuta)

2 cups flour (jauhaja)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Juice the orange and set the juice aside.

Grind the orange peel and the raisins. This was my mummu’s grinder.  Then my dads.  And now it’s mine.  Just trying to make this orange cake authentic!

Cream together the sugar, butter, orange rind and raisins.  Add well beaten eggs.  Also my mummu’s mixer.

Sift together flour and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk.

The batter will be quite thick.  Spread the batter in a greased 8×8 square pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.  While the cake is cooling combine 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice from the orange.  Bring to a boil and pour over the slightly cooled cake.

Serve the cake as is or with a dollop of whipped cream.  This cake brought back wonderful memories.  And it will be a perfect addition to our Finnish Saturday.

NOTE:  You can grind the raisins and orange peel in your food processor and you can beat your eggs with a whisk.  I was trying to make this the way my grandmother did and she didn’t have my modern appliances.

Don’t check my Finnish.  Remember.  This was written in Finnish AND Finglish.

Double Chocolate Cake

When I’m scrolling through Facebook I see a lot of people posting recipes with pictures that look mouth watering.  So I ask, “have you made that?”  The most frequent response I get is, “no, but I’d like to.”  And then I’m a little leery.  What if someone accidentally left out a key ingredient?   We’ve all seen those pictures of Pinterest fails…recipes or projects that look easy and amazing and when someone attempts to replicate them they bear little resemblance to the original picture.  We had special friends coming for the weekend and a belated birthday to celebrate so when I saw this picture and recipe for a chocolate cake (that the person who posted had not yet made) I decided to give it a try anyway.  I can’t eat chocolate but everyone LOVED the cake and the icing so my efforts were worth the risk.  And I’ll make it again.  The other good thing about this particular recipe is that it made an 8”x8” cake which was the perfect size.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup boiling coffee

Preheat the oven to 325.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minute.

Gently stir in the boiling coffee.  The batter will be thin.  Pour into an 8”x8” pan that has been greased and floured.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing:

1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

This was the intriguing part.  To me.  I’ve never made an icing like this!  Melt the chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.  Once the chips are melted stir in the sour cream and vanilla.  Give it a good hard stir for a creamy consistency.

Viola!  You have icing that sets up beautifully.  Almost the consistency of fudge.  I inverted the cake and put it on a plate to ice but you could do it right in the pan.

I garnished the cake with fresh raspberries.  Slice and enjoy!

NOTE:  The cake is super moist.  I put it in the freezer for awhile prior to icing it…it is much easier to frost.  The recipe called for boiling water (or coffee) and I chose to use coffee.

I’m not sure whether this recipe would work doubled and baked in a 9×13 pan or as two layers.  Some recipes work that way, others don’t.